U.S. 305TH MOBILE VETERINARY SECTION WW1
I would like to thank Bruce W. Smith, Historian, his wife Cecelia M. Smith, Secretary and also the Descendants of 80th Division Veterans, for providing this information on the 305th Mobile Veterinary Section. The following are extracts from the copy of the original manuscript on the “History of the 80th Division in the A.E.F.”
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LOCATIONS OF THE 305TH MOBILE VETERINARY SECTION AFTER AUGUST 20,1918
August ?______Aignay-le-Duc (No date, but had to be after August 25th)
After Armistice at Cusy 15th Training Area, Department of Yoane
Department of Cote d’Or
HISTORY OF THE 305TH MOBILE VETERINARY SECTION WW1
The 305th Mobile Veterinary Section was organized at Camp Lee, Virginia March 21 1918, and place under the Command of 2nd Lt. John L. Wells, who was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant May 8 1918.
The Personnel consisted of but Eleven Men at the Time of Organization. These Men were secured by transfer from the different organizations in the Division. As the table of organization called for Twenty One Enlisted Men the 305th Mobile Veterinary Section was brought up to full strength by the transfer of Ten Enlisted Men from the 156 Depot Brigade on or about April 15 1918.
At the time of organization twelve riding horses were issued for training purposes and four draft mules for hauling forage and other supplies. Cavalry regulations were used in the training of the Personnel. This training consisted of long riding trips and jumping the hurdle or ditches and also climbing steep banks. A considerable part of the training period was taken up by the explanation of the different diseases an animal may contract and how to treat. Also the treatment of wounds was gone into detail. The last few weeks of the training period was given mostly to practical training of the transportation of animals by the use of a picket line.
On May 25 1918 this Organization left Camp Lee, Virginia and marching overland a distance of Nine miles reached City Point, Virginia, from which it took a boat for Newport News and on May 26 1918 left the United States for France.
The 305th Mobile Veterinary Section on Board the U.S.S. Huron landed at Brest, France on June 8 1918. After Three Days rest at the US Military camp at that place it left for Southwestern France in the Haute Marne Department. Traveling by rail for Four Days reached Sermme-Don and later moving to Ouge, a small Village in the same locality. After spending a month in this part of France departed by rail July 8 1918 for the British Sector. Reaching the British Sector July 12 1918 was stationed at the Village of Beauval, where the Division Headquarters was located. After resting for a short time and receiving full equipment brought 225 animals from the British remount station located at Abbeyville, France to Beauval for the Division.
1st Lieutenant John L Wells, the Section Commander was appointed Captain and assumes the duties of Division Veterinarian, 1st Lieutenant M Donahoe is appointed to command this Organization.
On August 8 1918 a Majority of the Personnel left Beauval for Pas where the British Mobile Veterinary Section was located the Organization moving to this Station 17, 1918. At this place the British Methods were studied and practical training secured. The Farriers treating wounded animals and the others helping to transport sick and wounded animals to a British evacuating Station, transportation being made by the use of the picket line.
On August 20 1918 the Organization left Pas and marched overland to Berneville, France from where it proceeded by rail with the Division enroute for the American Sector. Dis-entrained near the US Military camp at Chattillion, France and marched to Aigney-le-Duc, thence to Stainville. At the latter place animals were received and carried along to Tronville where the Organization was with the Division in reserve during the St Mihiel Offensive Sept 12 1918. While at Tronville more unserviceable animals were received and some evacuated in conjunction with the Mobile Veterinary Section of the 33rd Division. These animals being evacuated by rail to Veterinary evacuating station
Note of Stainville: The Stainville area had been occupied previously by French troops as a billeting center so that bath houses and latrines had been established in several locations. More frequently however such facilities were non-existent. But if bathing facilities were sadly deficient there was certainly no lack of water, rain fell practically every day. Everything was soaked: bushes and trees showered the troops at a touch and no fires by which to dry out were permitted.
The Organization left Tronville September15 1918 and traveling undercover of darkness reached Souilly area September 16 1918. Stationed at this place to September 21 1918. Other animals from the Division were received, treated and carried along: No Evacuating Station being available. Proceeded to Forest-la-Hazard Sept 21 1918. (Note: another part of this manuscript reports this: In the absence of evacuation facilities, it carried the Division’s sick animals with it when it moved on Sept 21 to the Bois la Ville area) at this place all unserviceable animals of the Division were evacuated overland to an Evacuating Station.
The Division going into the frontline September 26 1918 The 305th Mobile Veterinary Section left Forest-la-Hazard and arrived at Baylecourt Sept 26 1918. Receiving numerous animals another evacuation was made to the 3rd Corps Evacuating Station. On the night of the 27th the unit proceeded to the immediate rear of the Division’s advancing front but shelling prevented adequate care for the animals. As no suitable place could be found where the animals could be safely taken care of on account of shellfire it moved back to Fromereville Sept 28 1918
From Fromereville an advance post was established at Bethincourt September 28 1918 consisting of Enlisted Men of the Organization. All Organizations of the Division were notified of this post. Animals received at this post were given First Aid where necessary. A daily trip was made with animals back to the Station at Fromereville, and some days Two trips was necessary. By using a picket line from Twenty to Forty animals could be taken back on one trip.
At Fromereville all animals were kept overnight, were treated and when necessary were shod. The following day animals that were in condition to stand the trip were evacuated overland to Corps Evacuating Station. Those not in condition were cared for until such time as they would be.
On October 7 1918 the Corps Mobile Veterinary Hospital No 1 moved to the same Station as occupied by this Organization. Animals coming in from our advanced post daily and were in condition to be evacuated were turned over the next morning to that Organization.
The Division being relieved this Organization left Fromereville October 12 1918 and traveling overland reached Triaccurt October 15 1918. Here the Personnel were re-equipped and also veterinary supplies received. At this Station a few animals received for treatment. Those not returned as serviceable were evacuated to an evacuating station.
First Lieutenant M.Donahoe being transferred, First Lieutenant James A. Weigen takes command of the Organization October 23 1918.
On October 25 1918 the Organization under the Command of First Lieutenant James A. Weigen again left for the Battlefield. Arriving at Le Claon numerous animals were received and care for until such time as they could be evacuated. Again moving forward arrived at Montblainville Oct 31 1918. Here besides receiving animals from our own Division all the unserviceable animals of the Artillery Regiments and animals of the 82nd Division were received and cared for and also took over all unserviceable animals collected by the 307th Mobile Veterinary Section 82nd Division. Two days later this Organization moved to La-Forge. The Division still moving forward, unserviceable animals were evacuated from this Station, and the Organization moved to Imecourt from where an advance Post was established at Buzancy where the Commander directed the collection and transportation of all animals wounded in battle. Animals were taken back daily to the Station at Imeccurt where they were carefully treated and cared for. Evacuations were made daily from the Station to the Corps evacuating Station. All transportation being made by the use of picket-lines. A number of animals that had been carried along from Station to Station and had received careful treatment were pronounced serviceable and turned over to the Division Remount Officer before leaving this Station.
The Division again pulling out of the lines, this Organization left Imecourt November 10 1918. Just Twenty-Four hours before the Cheateau, which it occupied as billets was complety destroyed as the result of bombs or mines, which had been placed there by the Germans during their retreat.
Arriving at La Clacon November 11 1918 word was received that the war was practically over. Remaining here from November 11 1918 to November 18 1918 over Two Hundred animals from our own Division, the Artillery Regiments. 82nd Division and also the 307th Am. Tr. 82nd Division were received. All unserviceable animals were evacuated to the Corps Veterinary Hospital by the usual methods. The largest number ever evacuated in One day by this Organization was made from this Station November 18 1918. This was done by the use of Two Picket lines, with Thirty-Seven on One line and Forty-One on the other.
The 305th Mobile Veterinary Section left La Claon November 18 1918 for an overland journey of 150 miles to the 15th Training area carrying all equipment and veterinary supplies. Traveling from Town to Town or Village to Village as the case might be, enjoying One Days rest at Domeblain the Organization arrived in the 15th Training area November 29 1918. During the trip as high as Forty Kilometers was made in One day. On arrival the Organization was stationed at Cusy. Animals of the Division that became unserviceable due to the long trip were picked up and brought along to this place.
Soon after arrival at Cusy, numerous unserviceable animals were received from the different organizations of the Divisions. These animals were treated and evacuated to Veterinary Hospitals. All evacuations from this Station were made by rail. Owing to Veterinary Hospitals filling up a large number of animals were held and cared for by this Organization.
A sulphur chamber for treating mange cases was installed and in addition to caring for over One Hundred animals and with a personnel of but Twenty-One Enlisted men this Organization treated a large number of mange cases throughout the Division, everyone busy all the time. Also large number of serviceable animals being transferred from the Division were cared for and sometimes shipment was in charge of this Organization. The Section Commander with part of the personnel loaded a large number of animals of the Division before leaving this Station for an Embarkation Camp.
At all times the personnel was fully equipped and had comfortable sleeping quarters. Veterinary supplies received through the Division Veterinarian. Equipment and supplies were available at all times.
During the time the Division was in the lines, the Division Veterinarian and the Division Remount Officer were attached to the 305th Mobile Veterinary Section for rations and traveled with it from Station to Station. At all times the different Organizations of the Division were informed as to the location of the Mobile Veterinary Section. This was done through the Division Veterinarian, or the Section Commander. Also signs were put up at different points, which directed the way.
From October 23 1918 the time the 305th Mobile Veterinary Section under the Command of First Lieutenant James A. Weigen left for the Field of operations for the second time to April 2 1918 over Eight Hundred unserviceable animals were received, treated and evacuated with but a lost of Thirteen, about One Percent.
The 305th Mobile Veterinary Section using the horses first issued to it on the British Sector entered the Division Horse Show and took Second Prize in the Four-Line Team contest. With this Four-Line Team the Second Prize was again won at the First Army Corps Horse Show at Tonnerre. The One Team was taken to the First Army Show held at Bar-sur-Aube where it took FIRST PRIZE.
Mobile Veterinary Section No 305 arrived home from the war at New York on May 25 1919 on the Transport Troy
ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THE 305TH MOBILE VETERINARY SECTION
Bruce W. Smith, Historian, his wife Cecelia M. Smith have been kind enough to go through the records of the “Descendants of 80th Division Veterans” looking for any reference to the 305th Mobile Veterinary Section and below is a condensed version of those notes:
The several units detached from the Division: upon it arrival in France and assigned to the Sommadon-Ouge training area, in the Department of Haute-Saone, had been busy with specialized instruction. These units were elements of the 305 th Sanitary Train and the 305th Mobile Veterinary Section. The latter after one month in southeastern France departed by rail July 8 1918 for the British Sector and arrived at Beauval on July 12 1918. After receiving full equipment the Section personnel moved 225 transport animals from the British Remount Depot at Abbeville to Beauval for the use of the Division. The Section commander, 1 st Lt. John I. Wells was appointed Captain and Division Veterinarian. He was succeeded in command by 1 st Lt. Michael J. Donahoe. On August 8 1918 the bulk of the personnel left Beauval for the British Mobile Veterinary Section at Pas to learn British methods, including treatment of sick and wounded animals and their movement to a British evacuating station. The Veterinary section remained here until August 20 1918.
Animal transportation: was classed the most important equipment in the movement of supplies to the front, and detailed instructions were published concerning the care of animals, wagons and harness. The need for maintaining the Division transport in the best possible condition was emphasized by the Division Commander July 12, in the following summations:
“Conformity with the above requirements demands a large amount of labor, without this labor the transportation of both animals and vehicles will not be in the condition to supply the Division. Without this transportation in the highest possible condition of efficiency, which will enable it at all times to meet the demands made upon it in time of stress and action, it will be impossible to supply the Division with food, ordinance, ammunition, and other supplies which are obligatory. The responsibility for the execution of these different requirements rests with transport officers, drivers and wagon-men. They must be executed, and no excuse whatever will be taken for failure to comply with them”
Transport animals were scare and their care was stressed. Two collecting stations for evacuation of animals when the Division was in action were authorized established. A number of unserviceable animals received by the 305th Mobile Veterinary Section were evacuated by rail to veterinary stations. Organizational commanders were instructed to have the proper equipment loaded on combat wagons, not diverted to other uses and to see that water cart equipment was completed. A re-distribution and re-marking of all service wagons was ordered. Green brassards were prescribed for all scouts, observers and snipers the armbands permitting the wearers to pass at will in the zone of operations.
Not only was the 80th Division short of men, equipment and clothing its mobility was being threatened by lack of animals. In the artillery and transport, already short on September 26 1918 about 500 horses had been lost in two weeks despite every effort to save them. There were now only 3,581 in the division, many suffering from gas. Unable to supply the widely dispersed units by motor trucks the staff had to use the depleted horse transport instead of being able to rest the exhausted animals. The whole transport system was overburdened and even the “Y” had trouble in getting an occasional limber to a regiment. Chocolate and cigarettes were almost non-existent. The day after the Division arrived in its new billets the 1st Division had passed through on its march out of the line. Its full American transport aroused envy. It was good to see covered wagons, each drawn by four American mules, with extra led animals and even sergeants mounted! In the 80th Division there were only about 50 animals to a battalion, while four horses teams did not exist, the double limbers and British G.S. wagons alike being drawn by two animals, while few regiments possessed mounts for their senior staff officers, much less enlisted personnel.
The Battalion transport, as originally assigned by the British: consisted of 4 G.S. Wagons, 10 Double Limbers, 2 Water Carts, 4 Rolling Kitchens, 1 Maltese (Medical) Cart, and 1 Officer’s Mess Cart or 22 vehicles with about 60 animals including several officer’s mounts and 10 pack mules. Many of the animals were old and worn, and all or the harness and equipment was used but serviceable. British transport standards were consistently sought and stressed in the American Army but no official provision whatever was apparently made for the maintenance of these standards. Not even essential supplies for the care and preservation of the British equipment were issued. Everything had to be purchased with great difficulty out of organization funds, even soap, curry-combs and horse brushes, while the supplies necessary for the care of leather, steel bits, chains, stirrups and the brass of the heavily mounted British harness were almost impossible to obtain in the usual French stores. Nor did the methods applied to the use of the horse transport allow the animals and equipment to be properly rested and care for, since they were constantly in use, un-supplemented by motor transport as in the British Army.
Marching Troops: were cautioned to provide for protection against low flying enemy airplanes by means of machine-gun or rifle fire, since our aviators were powerless to cope with such planes. Commanders of machine-gun units were directed to improvise means of centering fire on German aircraft and to train their organizations in this firing, both on the march and from stationary positions. Special detachments of riflemen were ordered formed, where machine-guns were absent to combat the plane hazard, indiscriminate firing by individuals be prohibited.
Note: The German airplanes were well known for attacking the horse picket lines at camp, or on the march and at the battle lines, when artillery units were in firing positions.
Horse ShowsIn late December and in January a wave of horse shows spread over the entire A.E.F. reaching it climax in February1919.
Oddly enough these shows aroused generally a remarkable degree of enthusiasm, and probably in no unit of the A.E.F. did these shows attain such prominence as they enjoyed in the 80th Division. The first announcement of the forthcoming equine exhibitions appeared in the Division Bulletin of Dec. 24 1918 as follows:
“It is the desire of the Division Commander that each Brigade, Regiment, Battalion and separate units have a horse show, starting at once with the Battalions and separate units, winners of which will compete in the Regimental show. These winners in the Brigade and Brigade winners competing in the Division show. The winners of the Division show will compete in a Corps show to be held about March 1 1919 at Tonnerre. Individual prizes representing an expenditure of 1,000 franc, will be given at the Division show”
Date of the Division horse show was announced as Feb 1 1919 and the Corps horse show as of Feb 8 1919. A series of eight events and three rodeo contests was scheduled in the Division show with the ring located near Chassigneulles, a short distance from Ancy-le-Franc. Neither the adverse weather nor the influenza epidemic was permitted to interfere with the Battalion, Regimental and Brigade contests in January by which progressive eliminations entries were chosen for the Divisional show. A description of one of the Battalion exhibitions is supplied b the historian of the 2nd Battalion, 318th Infantry:
“An enclosure of white poles was made in a beautiful meadow near the village, tents set-up and a stand for the judges gaily decorated with bunting and flags. It was a gala occasion. Printed invitations were sent to the French citizens and to a number of the higher Officers of adjacent commands. The show was a splendid success. The animals and vehicles were in perfect condition and appeared to great advantage. The band played at frequent intervals and upon completion of the judging, competitive games was indulged in by the men. The winning entries attended the Regimental show held later at Cry…”
Following the elimination contests the Divisional show at Chassigneulles Feb 1 1919 evoked the praises of high Army and Corps spectators and heralded the command’s success in the climaxing events. Directed by Lt. Col. George P. Hawes, Jr., Adjutant of the 155th Artillery Brigade, the 318th Infantry led all entries in the Divisional competition and was awarded the silver cup for the unit winning the greatest number of points. The Machine Gun Company carried off first and second places with a total of nine points in the contest between teams of all Machine Gun units. Headquarters Company earned five points in the 37mm gun competition, taking second and fourth places against strong competition. The Supply Company boasted the Regiment’s total to 15 points by capturing fourth place in the competition between two-line teams. Previously, in the 159th Brigade show Jan 24, the Regiment had taken five first prizes out of seven different classes, five-second prizes and four third prizes, out distancing all other entrants by far. In the final event of the Divisional show, which counted no points but aroused keen interest various units presented unique entries. A little German burro captured at the front, wearing a huge Iron Cross and a German cap and drawing a little cart on which was mounted an “anti-aircraft rifle” represented the Supply Company of the 318th Infantry and was awarded first prize. Brought upon the field in the “Old Virginia” wagon of the 2nd Battalion, the entry was lifted out by hand and placed in the front of the judges amid a wave of lusty cheering. Further details appeared in the “Horse Show Edition” of a special divisional bulletin labeled “ The Blue Ridge News”:
“The 80th Division Horse Show was won today by the 318th Infantry with a total of 15 points. Headquarter Troop was second with 12 points. There were constellations, single twinkling stars, birdies, and a forest of silver and gold foliage in the distinguished audience today. Among the military visitors were: Lieutenant General Liggett, Commanding First Army, Major General Wright, Commanding the First Army Corps, Major General Sturgis, Commanding the 80th Division, Brigadier General Gassett, Chief of Staff, First Corps, Brigadier General Cruikshank, First Corps, Brigadier General Brett, Jamerson and Bryson of the 80th Division Brigades.”
“Rodeo events shared the interest with the more formal displays of sleek animals and shining equipment. An African dodger…and a pistol range were added attractions. A close finish added interest to the 20 kilometer relay race”
“80th Division hospitality was equal to the demands of the day. Guests and exhibitors were entertained at regular messes and buffet luncheons”
It yet remained for the command to demonstrate its quality in comparison with the transport standards of other Divisions. This opportunity presented itself at the 1st Corps Horse Show at Tonnerre on Feb 8, in which the 80th entered its previously winning material with confidence and easily defeated the Corps and the 36th and 78th Division. In a field of 33 events with a total value of 201 points it took first place in some 14 events and second place in eight events, for a total of 102 points. Its nearest competitor was the 78th Division with 46 points. Indicative of its superiority, the 80th Division received 10 points for having the best entry in the Corps show. Repeating its premier honors in the Division show, Battery D, 314th Field Artillery also let the Corps event in the gun section contest. The Divisional entries naturally shared liberally in the prize fund distribution of 4,000 francs, which had been raised by equal contributions by the 1st Corps and each of the three participating Division. General Sturgis urged on the contestants to greater victories:
“The 80th Division swept everything before it and set the standard for transport in the Corps while in the military team events and in Horsemanship, it clearly outclassed all competitors”
“It is a source of special gratification that the success of the Division was not confined to any one specialty but was general, extending to all varieties of military effort.”
“The long distance race with the grueling test of endurance was a triumph, the success of our band (317th Infantry), a fitting culmination of our victories”
“There is still another Horse Show ahead of us, and we must not relax our efforts. Our competitors are profiting by our example and we must push on to higher standards in order to keep ever in the lead.”
The Division was now called upon to carry the burden of 1st Corps entries and hopes in the climaxing event, the 1st Army Horse Show that was staged March 5 at Bar-sur-Aube. All animals and vehicles that represented the Division in the Corps show with the exception of riding and jumping classes and motor vehicles were called to report at La Folie Feb 7 with details of drivers and other necessary enlisted personnel for special training and instruction. The fruits of this extra coaching were evident in the 1st Corp’s easy victory a triumph made possible by the 80th Division’s undefeated entries. When the contest results were announced they revealed the 1st Corps winner with 63 points, followed in order by the 8th Corps with 49 points, the 5th Corps with 39 points and the 1st Army troops with 19 points. Of the 1st Corp’s total score of 63, no less than 53 points were credited to the 80th Division. Entered in 14 events the Division won 8 first, 3 second and 2 third prizes. The story of its enviable feat is best related in the language of the following day’s “Horse Show Bulletin”
“Yesterday was a great day for Bar-sur-Aube, a great day for the First Army, but a greater day the 80th Division”
“The world moves, two years ago such an exhibition as that held yesterday at Bar-sur-Aube would have been inconceivable to the American soldier. An Army Horse and Motor Show, such an assembly of the transport par excellence of an Army of over a quarter of a million for a single day’s competition and exhibit. Troops from all over the Army thronged to Bar-sur-Aube for the day. The enormous field was surrounded by the ranks of Officers and men from morning until late in the afternoon. The Army Commander and practically every general officer of the First Army were present. Half a dozen bands played from points around the three show rings of the enclosure. Overhead, Aerial Squadrons numbering more than two-score planes droned, darting and sailing, singly and by squadrons.
“In the three rings the Judges were kept intently occupied in deciding the events which followed each other in rapid succession. The competition of the selected entries of the Army made the judge’s task no easy. Seven Divisions, the Corps Troops of the First, Fifth and Eighth Corps, and the First Army Troops exhibited the flower of their transport. The keenness of the competition lent glory to the result. The transport exhibited was an education and an inspiration. It established a standard of excellence difficult of attainment more difficult of maintenance”
“We have hitched our wagons to stars (the judges have so decreed) Let’s keep them there”
Later, seven, five and three day leaves were granted the winners in the Division Corps and Army Shows.
Camp LeeIn late February plans had been approved for the development of Camp Lee to the extent of at least $1,000,000, with a community center, hotel, a larger hostess house and a motion picture theater among the projected improvements. Painting of the barracks was also contemplated in the program, which was in charge of a board headed by General Heiner. Second only to Camp Lewis in capacity and already equipped to accommodate 46,500 men, the cantonment was to be made capable of housing at least 50,000. It was assumed that Camp Lee would be maintained as a replacement center following the 80th Division’s departure, for it was known that the War Department planned to abolish depot brigades and to use certain seaboard cantonments for training replacements.
The 4th Engineer Officer’s Training Camp opened at Camp Lee on May 6 1918. There were 1,100 candidates enrolled from every state in the Union
Auxiliary Remount Depot No 305Established in September 1917 with 105 men under Captain Malbon Richardson. The cantonment’s Auxiliary Remount Depot No 305 was the largest animal training and conditioning station in its section of the United States. It served as a receiving and distribution depot for all horses and mules purchased by the Government in a huge district extending westward to Kansas City, MO. The Depot’s personnel had expanded to 450 men in March, with Major W.A. Austin now in command. Shipped in by rail and stabled in large corrals, the Depot’s animal population was normally 8,000 horses and 2,000 mules. After being classified, they were branded for use as Artillery, Cavalry, transport, pack and lead animals and were held six weeks before issued to units or shipment to ports.
A steady stream of men were sent from the cantonment to the Remount Depot for special training courses in horse-shoeing, wagon train work, pack trains and saddle-making. The station covering nearly a square mile, embraced the area of old Ft. Steadman where some of the bloodiest fighting in Grant’s siege of Petersburg had taken place.
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