WWI DISPATCH September 2021

A newsletter from the organization formerly known as the World War One Centennial Commission.

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September 2021

Bells of Peace 2021 at National WWI Memorial graphic

“Bells of Peace” takes place at the new National WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. for first time 11/11/21 at 11:00 EST

Since the centennial of the WWI Armistice in 2018, The Bells of Peace have been tolled in remembrance at 11am on Veterans Day. The national bell tolling commemorates the World War I Armistice – which happened on November 11, 2018 when the guns fell silent, and bells tolled on the Western Front after four years of brutal combat.

Each Veterans Day since 2018, Bells of Peace participants have taken a few moments at the 11th hour local to remember those who served in WWI with a remembrance of a 21-peal bell tolling. Tens of thousands have participated in this ritual including states, cities, municipalities, ships, military installations, churches, schools, veterans’ organizations, museums, and individuals.

For the first time, this year “Bells of Peace” will remember those who served with a ceremony at the National WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. Click here to read more, and learn how you can participate in Bells of Peace wherever you are on November 11 — even if you don’t have a bell.

The Hello Girls of WWI deserve to be recognized for their place in history.”

Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call book cover

Author Claudia Friddell, who specializes in narrative nonfiction books for children, was presented with a challenge and an opportunity when she encountered the story of the Hello Girls, the U.S. Army women telephone operators in WWI. The challenge: how to tell the story of WWI in a “kid-friendly way.” The opportunity: to “bring life to these World War l heroes, making them relatable for readers of all ages.” The result: Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call, an illustrated book that achieved the author’s objective “to share with young readers the remarkable story of the courageous female telephone operators who helped win World War l.” Click here to read more, and learn how an interview with the descendant of the lead Hello Girl gave unexpected life and richness to the book project.

The First Code Talkers: Native American Communicators in World War I

Code Talker

William C. Meadows is the author of six books on Native Americans. Meadows’ newest book, The First Code Talkers: Native American Communicators in World War I is an academic text that argues for recognition of the Choctaw Code Talkers during the First World War. Many are familiar with the Navajo Code Talkers from the Second World War, but few know of the Choctaw Nation Code Talkers of the First World War. Click here to read the entire review by David Retherford, and learn why “The First Code Talkers is different from other academic books in part because of its singular focus on the Choctaw Nation and the underlying notion of recognition.”

Long-lost letters dating back to WWI discovered in Chester County, PA

Sahler letter

Letters dating back more than 100 years are now considered a treasure for one history buff in Chester County, PA. The letters were written by Coatesville resident Cpl. Wellington Sahler, who gave his life while fighting in WWI. They’re a mark of freedom and the ultimate sacrifice. “It really mentions his love for Coatesville. He would go canoeing in a dam and he mentions that a lot. He mentions dancing going to parties,” said history buff Joseph Felice. Click here to read more, watch the video, and learn how a chance encounter with Sahler’s name led Felice to dig into the history of the local man who gave his life in the nation’s service.

The tie that binds: WWI soldier’s dog tag returned to his 85 year-old daughter

TX WWI dog tag returned

There were a lot of surprises for everyone in the case of the recovered World War I dog tag of U.S. Army Pvt. William Larkin Villines in Texas. First, Tracy McLoud of Belton was surprised when her metal detector led her to dig up the disc. She’d been over that ground before, she said. Then, she was surprised when, with the help of her sister, Stacy McLoud, and a friend, Roxann Patrick, she was able to identify the owner of the dog tags and locate his daughter, Perrie Bigham, 85, who lives in Temple. Click here to read more, and learn how the most surprised person of all was Bigham herself.

Human Condition: The story of one Louisiana WWI Gold Star Mother

LA Gold Star mother

After World War I, the United States Government was under great pressure from the families of soldiers who died in Europe. This had been the first major foreign war the U.S. had ever been involved in, so it was a bit of on-the-job-training when it came to the war dead. Although it took over 10 years after the signing of the Armistice in 1918, Congress voted to approve funding for what became known as “The Gold Star Mother’s Pilgrimage.” Lenora Vaughan was a Louisiana Gold Star Mother with a unique story. Click here to read more, and learn how Vaughn overcame adversity and challenges to visit her son’s grave site in France in 1930.

Colonel Clifford Carson and Virginia Tech’s Connection to Tractor Artillery Transport in the First World War

Colonel Clifford Carson

In January 1917,  Virginia Polytechnic Institute welcomed 41-year-old Captain Clifford C. Carson as Commandant and Professor of Military Science. But Carson’s tenure as VPI’s Commandant was cut short by America’s entry into the First World War. In need of qualified officers for the United States Army, Carson was pulled back to regular service in June 1917. Click here to read more, and learn how Carson’s wartime role helped craft a new doctrine of artillery transport which would be perfected by military thinkers in the decades after the war.

Field to Front exhibit at Penn State DuBois Library recalls WWI Veterans

Field to Front exhibit Penn State

A mobile exhibit on display in the Penn State DuBois Library this semester tells the story of Penn State athletes who served the United States during World War I. Titled “Field to Front,” this mobile display was created by the team at the Penn State All-Sports Museum at University Park, and will be open to the public in the campus library for the entire fall semester. During the course of World War I, 2,155 Penn State students, faculty, and alumni entered the military. Of these, 73 lost their lives with the majority falling due to enemy action. Among the over 200 former varsity lettermen who served, seven were killed in combat while an eighth was lost in a training accident shortly after the end of the war. Click here to read more, and learn how the Field to Front exhibit recognizes the service and sacrifice of these individuals.

Eureka Spring, AR World War I statue’s face smashed; suspect sought

Arkansas WWI statue damaged

Someone smashed the face of a historic Doughboy statue in Eureka Springs, Arkansas’ Basin Spring Park. According to Mayor Robert “Butch” Berry, the statue is about 11 feet tall, so some effort would have to be made to reach the face. “It’s just beyond my comprehension why somebody would destroy a historic statue representing our veterans,” Berry said. Click here to read more about the damage to the statue, and learn how local police think they will be closing on the perpetrator shortly.

Homer Peckham, Franklin, CT’s only African American World War I veteran

Homer Peckham headstone

Homer Peckham is part of a long history of African American farm laborers who, while living and working in Franklin, CT, served in the U.S. military. Homer Peckham registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 alongside many other Franklin residents. His draft card was marked with an “X”, meaning that he could not read or write. Almost a year later, on April 30, 1918, Homer Peckham was drafted into the U.S. Army. Click here to read more, and learn how Peckham saw action during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive which was one of the bloodiest battles in American history.

“Hello Girls” lecture highlights NJ library system’s 100th anniversary

Hello Girls at work

The year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Burlington County Library System (BCLS) will culminate in October with a collection of activities, programs and events designed to mark the important milestone. Branch events and activities include an Oct. 14 lecture about the U.S. Army Signal Corps telephone switchboard operators, also known as the “Hello Girls” and their importance to battlefield communications during World War I and their fight for veterans status. Click here to read more, and learn how to attend this and other events marking the library system’s centennial. 

Purple Hearts Reunited returns medal to Oconto County, WI family of WWI soldier

Purple Heart

The Purple Heart awarded to a World War I soldier was returned to his great nephew Purple Hearts Reunited. 78-year-old Jake Neta, Vietnam Veteran, U.S. Army, received his great uncles purple heart at the “return ceremony” in Lena, WI. PFC John Francis “Dutch” Hansel of Medford, WI served in the 32nd Infantry Division when he was wounded in World War I. His Purple Heart Medal and World War I Victory Medal were found in someone else’s home when they were moving out. “I was kind of surprised because I had no knowledge of my great uncle being in the service,” said Neta. Click here to read more, and learn what else the WWI veteran’s family discovered about Hansel’s service in World War I.

US WWI Memorial Unveiled in Ireland

Inishowen memorial snip

A new roadside memorial which pays homage to those who served at a World War I base in Donegal, Ireland more than a century ago has been unveiled in Inishowen. The Naval Air Station at Ture, Quigley’s Point was in operation for less than a year but served as a base for a number of attacks against the Germans and housed more than 400 servicemen. Click here to read more, and learn how the memorial that honors the Americans who served at the facility, which was closed in 1919, is located close to the last remaining building of the base. 

Lucie Oelrichs Jay and the American Anti-German Music Movement of WWI

Lucie Oelrichs Jay

On April 6, 1917 the United States joined its allies and officially entered World War I. Patriotism was at an all time high and Americans furiously attacked any traces of German culture in the country. German place names were changed, German books and newspapers were burned in the streets, and sauerkraut was even renamed “Liberty Cabbage.” When prominent & wealthy Lucie Oelrichs Jay became the face of the Anti-German music movement, a lot of orchestras in America changed their tune.  Click here to read more, and learn about the surprising family background of the woman who conducted the anti-German music campaign that continued long after the war.

US built 12 concrete ships for WWI


During World War I, steel for building ships was in short supply. While American President Woodrow Wilson (at least initially) was determined to keep the U.S. out of the war, he didn’t want America’s Merchant Marine to be left unbuilt. So he approved the construction of 24 ships made from concrete to the tune of $50 million ($11.4 billion adjusted for inflation) to help build American shipping capacity. So how well do you think concrete ships floated? Click here to read more, and learn that you were probably exactly right in what you thought – and that naming a concrete ship after Atlantis (a famous sinking island) was really probably not a good idea.

How a World War I jazz-playing Marine gave us the best weapon name ever


Arkansas native Bob Burns enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War I and sailed to France in 1918 as part of the 11th Regiment. The artillery detachment converted quickly to infantry for trench fighting but saw little action, allowing time for Sgt. Burns, the lead in the Marine Corps’ jazz band, to fashion a homemade instrument that would become a part of combat lore for decades to come. Click here to read more, and learn how a funky name from WWI was married to an even funkier weapon in WWII and beyond.

Doughboy MIA for September 2021

Wesley J. Creech

A man is only missing if he is forgotten.

Our Doughboy MIA this month is Private Wesley J. Creech. Born 15MAR1886, in Hallsboro, North Carolina, Wesley Jackson Creech was the fourth of six children that Henry and Martha Creech would rear. He signed his 05JUN1917 draft card at Bolton, North Carolina, where he listed himself as a lumber inspector and two months later married Miss Francis Williamson, age 19.

Creech received his draft call shortly thereafter, reporting for duty on 01OCT1917 and was sent to Camp Jackson for induction. From there he went to Camp Sevier for infantry training, and was placed in Company C, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30 the ‘Old Hickory’ Division.

Departing Boston, Massachusetts for overseas service on 12May1918 aboard the transport Bohemian, Creech’s division was brigaded with the British in the Somme sector that summer.

Records show Wesley Creech as being killed in action on 31AUG1918 and buried by a British unit; however, later identification of his grave by American Graves Registration personnel proved fruitless. As such, he is memorialized on the Tablets to the Missing at the Flanders Field American Cemetery at Waregem, Belgium.

Want to help solve Pvt. Creech’s case? Consider making a donation to Doughboy MIA at www.usww1cc.org/mia. It takes only a moment and your tax deductible contribution can be as large as you want, or as small as $10.00 on our ‘Ten for Them’ program. Your contribution helps us make a full accounting of all 4,423 US MIA’s from WWI, and keeps these lost men from being forgotten. Make your tax deductible donation now, with our thanks.

A man is only missing if he is forgotten.

Merchandise from the Official
Doughboy Foundation WWI Store

Morning Java Candle Mug

Soy Candle Camp Mug

  • A Doughboy.shop Exclusive!
  • This replica tin mug has been upcycled into an all-natural soy candle
  • Candle filled by Charleston Candleworks (USA)
  • Made from all organic soy wax, cotton wick, essential oils
  • The “Morning Java” scent will fill the room with a wonderful coffee aroma that includes just a hint of chocolate.
  • Camp mug is reusable once the candle has burned down
  • Makes a great 2-in-1 gift. (Reduce + Reuse)

Proceeds from the sale of this item will help build the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC.

This and many other items are available as Official Merchandise of the Doughboy Foundation.

Virtual Explorer logo

Click or scan the QR Code below to download the Virtual Explorer App for the National World War I Memorial, and explore what the Memorial will look like when work is completed.

QR Code for Virtual Explorer App download

Education Thumb Drive image

Free Self-Contained WWI History Web Site on YOUR computer

Sources, lessons, activities, videos, podcasts, images

We have packaged all the content we created for “How WWI Changed America” into a format that is essentially a web site on a drive. Download the content onto any drive (USB, external, or as a folder on your computer), and all the content is accessible in a web site type format even without an internet connection. Click here to learn more, and download this amazing educational resource for home or classroom use.

Genealogy book FREE DOWNLOAD

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Doughboy MIA

Pershing Sponsors

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Clayton Final Wheeler

A Story of Service from the Stories of Service section of ww1cc.org

Clayton Final Wheeler

Submitted by: Brian McCutcheon {Grandson}

My grandfather was a member of the Michigan National Guard and served in B Company, 16th Engineers (Railroad). His unit was one of the first units to enter France and one of the last to depart.

He left Michigan from the Michigan Central Terminal in Detroit. From there the unit went to New York awaiting transport to France. His unit entered France at Bordeaux.

During his time in France he served in multiple regions. At one time early in his deployment, his unit was attached to and under the command of the British, at a location near the English Channel. The Service Bars on his WW1 Victory Medal, which is in my possession show he served in the Lys Campaign, the Meuse Argonne and the Defensive Sector.

The majority of his time in France was spent in Camp Williams. Camp Williams which was located just outside of the village of Is Sur Tille, which is a short drive from Dijon. Camp Williams was the largest US Army Logistics Base in France during WW1. His uniform is now on display in the town museum.

Read Clayton Final Wheeler’s entire Story of Service here.

Submit your family’s Story of Service here.

Honor the Stories of Service of ALL Who Served.

Do Your Bit to Help Build the new National World War I Memorial.

Fundraising Progress Maquette ony 900K to go

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