Pvt. Newton Willard Young, combat-wounded World War I Doughboy

Niceville, FL

Newton Willard Young is my grandfather. I spent many years researching and tracking down information on his service in World War I as well as information about his unit. As a veteran and grandson, I really wanted to know what he did and where he served. Like most families, everyone had a story about what Grandpa did. Sadly, I did not, because my grandfather died when I was 3. All I knew of him growing up was that he served in the war and did not talk about it. In my grandmother's house as a child, I saw a picture of him in uniform. I had no idea what the badges meant at the time. Many years later, after 20 years in uniform, I took that picture and turned it into a story, which ultimately led to my grandfather, Pvt. Newton Willard Young, being awarded the Purple Heart on 19 August 2012, for wounds received on 14 October 1918, during the Battle of the Argonne Forest.

What follows is his story and the story of the units he served in: 142nd IN, 36th IN Division and 167th IN, 42nd IN Division. It is not perfect, but it does tell my grandfather's story and the story of those he served with.

The Military History of Newton Willard Young, Private, M Company 167th Infantry Regiment 42nd Infantry Division, 14 June 1917 to 27 February 1919

Newton Willard Young was born on 28 April 1899 to Newton Edgar Young and Emily Caroline Young (Argo) in Decatur, Texas. He was one of 10 children, all of whom survived childhood. He attended school, but only completed elementary school and a little high school. After dropping out, he worked in the Stock Yards of Fort Worth, Texas, unloading cattle as they came in.

The following information is taken from his VA File and Form 545 - Rev. Jan. 1922. “Honorable Discharge from the United States Army” (Documents received on 17 July 2012 from VA by his grandson, Keith C. Young). And his World War I Service Card, received from the Texas State National Guard on 27 July 2012.

At the age of 18 ½, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on 14 June 1917 and was issue serial #1491248. He was single at the time of enlistment and had no children. He was inducted at Fort Worth. He joined the Texas National Guard and was assigned to Company H, 7th Infantry. He received his physical and initial training at Camp Bowie, Texas, and was found to have no physical defects and to be fit for general service. He was vaccinated 8/16/1917 for typhoid and paratyphoid. He would only be with the National Guard a few months. He was a private, unassigned to the non-commissioned officer corps, was not rated on marksmanship and was not trained in horsemanship. Basically, he was an infantry private.

After the National Guard was called into federal service, the 7th Infantry, Texas N.G. was changed to Company L. 142nd Infantry Regiment and assigned to the 36th Infantry Division. The 36th Infantry Division was organized at Camp Bowie (Fort Worth), Texas, 18 July 1917, from units of the Texas and Oklahoma National Guards. On 5 Aug 1917, while in Company L. 142nd Infantry, he was promoted to the rank of corporal. On Oct 15, 1917, he was reduced to private for unknown reasons. He would train stateside with the 142nd Infantry until the 36th Division deployed overseas. In July 1918, part of the 36th Division left Newport News, Va., for France. Pvt. Young was part of this group, but once overseas for reasons unknown he was assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division.

After assignment to the 42nd Infantry Division, Pvt. Young was assigned to Co M. 167th Infantry Regiment, 84th Brigade of the 42nd Infantry Division. (He served as a member of the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) from 11 July 1918 to 11 February 1919). I have no honest way of knowing what day Pvt. Young went into the fight with his regiment. I can say he was a replacement. The 167th Infantry, also known as the “Alabama Regiment,” was formed from the 4th Alabama Infantry, Alabama National Guard; the name change was mostly due to the fact the 4th Alabama fought against the Union in the Civil War. The 167th Infantry Regiment began its movement to France on 7 November 1917. They departed by ship from New York and sailed to France. The following is an account of the regiment's time in France. I am adding this to help one understand what Pvt. Young faced from July to October 1918 and after the surrender of Germany.
After reaching France and receiving some specialty training from the French army and a few newly established American schools, the 167th (Alabama), like all of the 42nd Division, was twinned with French army units in the Lunéville sector of Lorraine in February 1918. The 42nd Infantry Division, aka the “Rainbow,” was the third U.S. division to reach France. Engaging the Germans in trenches, on raids and in patrol action in Lorraine quickly brought it to veteran status in the eyes of anxious French, American and German observers.

On 21 June 1918, Supreme Commander Foch asked Gen. Pershing to move the “Rainbow” Division to the Champagne-Marne to help the French in the coming battle to save Paris. The entire 42nd Division took part in the defense that stopped the German “Peace Offensive” on 15 July 1918. The brunt of the Central Powers' assault in the Champagne was taken by the 167th (Alabama) Infantry Regiment and the 109th French Regiment. For that battle, Col. Screws replaced Maj. Hartley A. Moon as commander of his 2nd Battalion with Capt. Everett H. Jackson, placing Jackson’s PC in the command post of his French counterpart. It was the first change of leadership in the Alabama regiment, and all three battalions of the 167th were deemed by French commanders to have fought fiercely and well.
Foch immediately put the victorious Allied army on the offensive. Four days after winning in the Champagne, he ordered a Franco-American drive northeast from the town of Château-Thierry. The 167th (Alabama), with its sister regiment in the 84th Brigade, the 168th (Iowa), on its right flank, led the “Rainbow” Division push into a great battle at Croix Rouge Farm on 26 July 1918. There the Alabama Regiment lost 162, including three lieutenants and two captains, company commanders. More than 1,000 from the 167th (Alabama) were wounded. But their victory forced the Germans to retreat to positions on the east of the Ourcq River, about six miles from the Croix Rouge Farm.

The next day, 27 July, the weakened 167th (Alabama) and 168th (Iowa) regiments of the 84th Brigade were joined by the “Rainbow’s” fresh 83rd Brigade. Regiments abreast, the full “Rainbow” Division attacked across the Ourcq River on the morning of 28 July, and opened the battles on the hills east of the river. Corporal Sidney Manning of Company G of the 167th (Alabama) was recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic work in that morning’s attack.

The regimental operations officer, Capt. Mortimer H. Jordan, M.D. was wounded that day and died in a field hospital. Command of F Company, Gadsden, passed twice that morning due to wounds. Command of G. Company, Ozark, passed due to wounds. Command of the combined 1st and 3rd battalions was passed from Maj. Dallas B. Smith to Capt. Ravee Norris. Lt. Col. Bare, regimental executive officer, was gassed and evacuated. Maj. Carroll took over command of the forward PC from him but was wounded. Capt. Herman W. Thompson, commanding H Company, was seriously wounded and evacuated.

The 84th Brigade’s commander, Brig. Gen. Robert A. Brown, was relieved during the battle by Col. Douglas MacArthur on the recommendation of Maj. Gen. Menoher, commander of the “Rainbow.” The 168th (Iowa) regiment’s commander, Col. E. R. Bennett, was replaced by Lt. Col. Mathew A. Tinley. An Iowa battalion commander was also replaced.
After four days of hard fighting by both sides, the Germans began a massive retreat toward the Rhine River on 2 August 1918. Casualties in this operation for the “Rainbow” were 184 officers and 5,469 men.
*** This could be the point that Pvt. Young joined his unit. On his discharge papers he is credited with St. Mihiel 9/11/1918 and Argonne Froest 10/9/19 -10/15/18, both major battles fought by the 167th Inf and 42nd ID.
The 42nd Division, re-equipped and brought back to full strength, was ordered to take part in the all-American attack at St. Mihiel. After more than a week of night marches to the jumpoff position, the division attacked on 11 September 1918, delivering the main blow in the direction of the heights overlooking the Madine River. Just as at the Croix Rouge Farm, C Company and D Company of the 167th (Alabama) led the “Rainbow” assault force. The attack was a total surprise to the Germans and came at a time when they had begun to retreat. The 167th objective was accomplished by nightfall of the first day. Thirteen American divisions, about half a million men, took part in the highly successful operation.

The 42nd then moved 60 miles to join the million men of the 1st U.S. Army massing for the attack in the Argonne. The operation fell three weeks behind the schedule that Gen. Pershing had agreed to with Generalissimo Foch: its 4 October 1918 attack was pushed back, and the Americans retreated for the first time in the war. Battle-tested American divisions were brought into the battle. On 11 October, the “Rainbow” replaced the exhausted 1st U.S. Infantry Division, “the Big Red One,” which had had 1,750 killed in a weeklong unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Kriemhilde Stellung of the Hindenburg Line at the Côte de Châtillon.

The “Rainbow” attacked there with all regiments abreast on 14 October 1918. The 166th (Ohio) and 165th (New York) regiments were forced to pull back. Lt. Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan had remained on the point of the 165th until wounded, gaining a recommendation to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. On 15 October the 83rd Brigade's commander was relieved and the commander of the 165th (New York) regiment was also relieved.
The burden of taking the Côte de Châtillon shifted entirely to the infantry of the Alabama and Iowa regiments. The 3rd Battalion of the 167th (Alabama), which included M Company, had taken up the point of the attack at the base of the Côte, Hill 260. It made no progress on the first or second days (14-15 October 14). Its soldiers suffered without shelter other than a wet blanket.

On 14 October 1918 Pvt. Young was wounded and evacuated from the fight to Base Hospital 80 France.

His regiment continued to fight under constant fire in the rain and mud; the 1st Battalion of the 168th (Iowa) gained high ground at Hill 288, on 15 October. With heavy casualties and through hard fighting it created a position on the forward slope from which it could cover the assault of the 3rd Battalion of the 167th (Alabama) on 16 October 1918. Also key to that attack was the concentrated fire for 45 minutes, about a million rounds, from the 151st (Georgia) Machine Gun Battalion from the forward slope of Hill 263. Maj. Cooper D. Winn Jr. had personally placed every gun and assigned targets. Elements of the Alabama and Iowa regiments closed on the German position at the Côte de Châtillon at the same time and held it against a counterattack, sharing equal honors. Pvt. Thomas S. Neibaur of M Company of the 167th (Alabama) was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the assault.

Moving to Sedan, the Alabamians, along with the entire 42nd Division, took part in the general attack until the war ended on 11 November 1918.
The regiment entered Germany and served in the Army of Occupation in Sinzig.
After five months of occupation duty, some training, fraternizing and sightseeing, it traveled by rail to Brest, France, and sailed for home on 25 April 1919. Returning to Camp Meritt, N.J., the “Rainbow” dispatched all units to home states for discharge. The Alabama troops left for home by train on 7 May 1919, and were honored by triumphal parades in Gadsden, Anniston, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile before being discharged at Camp Shelby, Miss.

After being wounded, Pvt. Young would spend another three months in France before returning home. He would beat the 167th home, but would not participate in any of the parades. He would not enter Germany with the regiment and thus is not authorized the Army of Occupation Germany Medal (swarded to occupation troops, 12 Nov 1918 to 11 July 1923). The medal was created in 1941.

Pvt. Newton Willard Young was transported back to the United States aboard USS Princess Matoika (ID-2290) a transport ship for the U.S. Navy during World War I. He departed France on 11 February 1919. He spent a short time at the War Department, U.S. Army Debarkation Hospital No. 51 in Richmond, Va. A postcard was sent on 18 February 1919 to his father, N.E. Young, in Decatur, Texas, stating he had a gunshot wound to his hand and flat feet, but was in very good condition and was being sent to Camp Bowie, Texas. He eventually arrived at Camp Bowie, a convalescence camp/demobilization site. He arrived at Camp Bowie on 21 February 1919. He was discharged from the U.S. Army on 27 February 1919.
By an act of Congress in 1919, The World War One Victory Medal was established. They were not presented to the soldiers, but mailed en masse in 1921. Pvt. Young was authorized the St. Mihiel: 12-16 Sep 1918 & Meuse-Argonne: 26 Sep - 11 Nov 1918 Clasp. It is unknown if he received his medal or not.

By order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was revived on the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Orders No. 3, dated 22 February 1932. The criteria was announced in a War Department circular dated 22 February 1932 and authorized award to soldiers, upon their request, who had been awarded the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate or were authorized to wear wound chevrons subsequent to 5 April 1917. Having been wounded in action by an enemy of the United States of America, Pvt. Young is authorized the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart is awarded for death, wounds or concussion. It does not state to what degree or level of severity the wound must be. Thus, a scratch, to loss of limb, or loss of life, qualifies one for the Purple Heart. At the time this paper was originally written no documentation existed, however on 10 August 2012, Pvt. Newton W. Young 1419248 was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received on 14 October 2012. Thus, I am correcting this portion of this paper. There is no doubt he was wounded in battle and now this fact is part of official U.S. Army records, Permanent Order 223-01. All of the before and hereafter mentioned documents were used to justify and secure his award. On his discharge papers it states: Wounds received in service: Broken foot. Mich gun wound in R. hand, on the telegram sent to his father, it states Gun Shot wound- healed-flat feet. So I have no doubt he was wounded in action (WIA). His official certificates and order were received by his grandson, CPT Keith C. Young, on 20 August 2012.

After the war, Newton Willard Young would live in Texas, Kentucky and California. On 27 September 1926 he Married Margaret Dudley Geisbauer in Franklin, Ohio, and they went on to have five children: Newton Jr., William, Lillian, Betty Jean and James. Four of his children would follow his example and serve in the Armed Forces. Newton Jr., William and Lillian would serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Newton Jr. and William would serve in combat in Korea. James would serve in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, but did not serve overseas.

Newton Willard Young would work in the dry cleaning industry and eventually would become disabled due to flat feet he developed in the Army. He had a hard time standing for long periods of time. He would spend years fighting with the Veterans Bureau and later the Veterans Administration, with little to no success. He received a 10 percent disability for service-connected injuries incurred in the service.

He would live until 28 January 1973, and died at 73. He is buried in Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angles.

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