World War I in Lawrence: 64-year-old veteran volunteers to serve again

At an age when many local men were content to retire from work, a Lawrence veteran wished to respond to a call for artillery men. “Although sixty-four years old, William R. Smith of this city wants to see active military service,” the Journal-World reported. “He is one of the latest recruits to volunteer to enlist in the headquarters company of the Field Artillery regiment of the Kansas National Guard. The application was regretfully refused by the recruiting officer because of the age of the applicant. Mr. Smith is a graduate of Columbia University and served for more than seven years as a sergeant in the regular army of the United States. He read of the appeal for men for the artillery headquarters company and longed to do his ‘bit’ on the battle field.”

In Topeka this week, state health board secretary Dr. S. J. Crumbine warned of an impending shortage of doctors on the home front. “The problem of securing medical men for the new army is serious,” said Dr. Crumbine, “and it may be necessary to resort to conscription to obtain them…. After the entire medical reserve is exhausted — this includes all the physicians who have volunteered their services — only one-fourth the number needed will have been supplied. To supply the demand, 40 per cent of the present effectives in the medical profession will be required…. The nation must take better care than ever of health problems, because the aged physicians, many of whom have practically retired, will have to care for the public. It is a condition which will remain for a long time, as it requires about seven years to turn out a man equipped to practice medicine.'”