Archive for Sunday, October 1, 2017

World War I in Lawrence: Military companies camp, hold drills

October 1, 2017

Editor’s note: As the U.S. marks the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I this year, local writer Sarah St. John will compile reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence at that time.

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In the days leading up to their departure for Fort Sill, Oklahoma, local military organizations continued to camp in Lawrence. Battery B, which had been staying at Woodland Park, was forced to vacate its sleeping quarters to make room for September’s Douglas County Fair. The battery moved into the Wilder Shirt Factory building at Sixth and New Hampshire streets. Drills were still held at Woodland Park.

Company M, the University national guard company, had been quartered in Robinson Gymnasium since August 5, but was required to move out to make room for registration and enrollment for the fall semester. “The company have their tents which were used on the border last summer and will probably pitch them on the level just north of Fowler shops,” the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

According to the Journal-World, Company M was also using part of the campus for its training for trench warfare: “‘Over the top and at ’em,’ is a slogan frequently heard on the campus. Company M has constructed a trench west of the east wing of the administration building and a row of dummies has been mounted near the trench. The soldiers rush over the top, through the dummies, using bayonets freely and properly as they go, and return to the trench….”

Due to a processing delay, the men stationed in Lawrence, numbering almost 600, had not received pay since their arrival on August 5. “The result that many of the men have ‘gone broke,’ and borrowing in companies with high rates of interest charged has been frequent. The army paymaster is understood to be due in Lawrence soon. If the men are paid here it will mean much to Lawrence merchants as the amount to be distributed will be close to $18,000. Privates are paid at the rate of $1 a day with non-commissioned officers receiving larger amounts.”

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