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York's famous Machinegun finds a home

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    I don't post very often but I was compelled to suggest that the national WWI museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City would be an excellent guardian of these artifacts. I think they would make an excellent tesimony of what really happened if displayed alongside Gary Cooper's Academy award which is currently on loan. If any members haven't visited this museum I strongly encourage you to.




      Right now it is really premature to start trying to figure out where all of the artifacts should go. Do not forget that there is an Army officer who claims to have found the correct site and his artifacts are evidently already on display or will be soon. This business needs to be sorted out first.

      My intent is to present to you all of the relevant facts that show where this event took place. Sunday night I will continue with the American documentation. Eventually I will show you what the German documentation really says so you will not be confused by what the Army officer claims to have found in the German archives. I have also been to the German archives.

      We will get this sorted out.

      If anyone has any questions about what I am presenting please ask so we can get any "grey" areas cleared up. Otherwise I am preparing more maps and photos for Sunday.


        I had a little extra time today and was able to prepare the following on the temporary burial location for the 6 men from the patrol who were killed and how this helped Dr. Nolan indentify where the fight took place.

        Before we start here is a list of all of the members of the patrol:

        Patrol Leader: Sergeant Bernard Early - WIA

        Squad Leader: Corporal Murray Savage - KIA
        Private Maryan Dymowski – KIA
        Private Ralph Weiler – KIA

        Squad Leader: Corporal William Cutting (aka: Ottis Merrithew) – WIA
        Private William Wine – KIA
        Private Fred Wareing – KIA
        Private Michael Saccina
        Private Patrick Donohue
        Private Feodor Sok
        Private George Wills

        Squad Leader: Corporal Alvin York
        Private Walter Swanson – KIA
        Private Marie Muzzi – WIA
        Private Percy Beardsley
        Private Joseph Konotski
        Private Thomas Johnson

        After the battle on 8 October, 1918 the men who were killed around Hill 223 and a short distance from Chatel Chehery were taken to the cemetery behind the church and buried there. The other men from E and G Company who were killed further into the valley west of Hill 223, on Hill 167 and the 6 members of the patrol who were killed in the ravine were not buried until 24 October 1918. Chaplain O’Farrely from the 303rd Engineer Regiment, 78th Division signed the Grave Location Blanks giving a grid coordinates for each grave. On several different occasions from 1919 to 1921 these men were disinterred and moved to the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery at Romagne. The reason it took so long to bury the men is unknown as well as the reason it took three years to locate and disinter all of the graves.

        Dr. Nolan retrieved the Grave Registration files for all six men from the patrol who were killed that day. I went a bit further for the sake of comparison and obtained copies of ALL of the men from both E and G Companies who were killed on 8 October, 1918.

        Here is a scan of the Grave Location Blank for Corporal Swanson signed by Chaplain O’Farrrelly on 25 October, 1918 and a scan of his Graves Registration Service card signed by a Quartermaster Sergeant at the time Swanson was disinterred on 2 September, 1919.

        Take notice to the discrepancy in grid coordinates between Chaplain O’Farrelly’s card and the one made by the Graves Registration Service in 1919. I will discuss this in some detail.
        Attached Files


          According to the records found at the NARA there were three separate graves for the patrol members killed.

          Cpl Swanson, Pvt Dymowski, Pvt Wareing and Pvt Weiler
          Chaplain O’Farrelly states that the grave was located at grid: 297.4 – 280.2 and the GRS disinterment card says the grave was found on 2 September, 1919 at grid: 296.6 – 279.8. It went on to describe the general location as being 1.1 kilometers west of Chatel Chehery, 20 yards west of a creek and 50 yards east of a path at the foot of a hill.

          Pvt Wine
          Chaplain O’Farrelly states that the grave was located at grid: 297.4 – 280.2 and the GRS disinterment card says the grave was found on 2 November, 1921 at grid: 296.7 – 279.9. It went on to describe the general location as being 1.1 kilometers west of Chatel Chehery, 30 yards west of a creek and 20 yards east of a path at the foot of a hill.

          Cpl Savage
          Chaplain O’Farrelly’s Grave Location Blank and the GRS disinterment card are both missing from his file. The disinterment records and other documents in his folder indicate that O’Farrelly burying Savage at grid: 297.4 – 280.5. The disinterment records state that Savage was removed from an isolated grave located at 279.05 – 297.18. (Not only is there the common error found in all of Chaplain O’Farrelly’s coordinates, there is a discrepancy with the way the GRS coordinates are recorded. Dr. Nolan is a geographer and has explained it in his dissertation much better than I can here.)

          As I looked further into the Grave Location Blanks filed out on 24 October, 1918 by Chaplain O’Farrelly I discovered that ALL of the cards he filled out on this day contained the same grid coordinates that shows the men being buried at the same place slightly northwest of Hill 223.

          To compare I found the burial records of 16 men from G Company and 8 men from E Company that were killed on 8 October, 1918. Chaplain O’Farrelly’s name is found on the cards of the 6 patrol members killed and on the cards of another 3 men from G Company who were killed in the valley between Hill 223 and Hill 167. All of O’Farrelly’s grid coordinates are erroneous and put the burial locations for all 9 men at the same place. He either did not know how to read a map or simply was not physically at the scene and recorded bad data brought back from the field by burial parties.

          The US Army Graves Registration Service did a much better job of recording accurate coordinates for the graves they disinterred as well as providing a general description.

          To unravel this I plotted all of the coordinates for all of the men Chaplain O’Farrelly buried on 24 October, 1918. Then I plotted the GRS coordinates from the time the graves were disinterred.

          Here is a map showing the burial locations according to Chaplain O’Farrelly. For comparison the graves of the other 3 G Company members are also shown. They were NOT members of this patrol.
          Attached Files


            This map shows the burial location according to the GRS records at the time of disinterment. There is still one discrepancy and that is with the reported location of Corporal Savage’s grave. Since it is known he was buried where he fell at the scene of the fight both sets of coordinates found in his file are incorrect. The actual GRS card filed out at the time of disinterment is missing from his file.

            In the case of the 4-man grave and that of Private Wine the Quartermaster Sergeant gave a general description of the area near the grave. As we discuss the archaeology a little later you will see that the suspected locations of these two graves identified by Dr. Nolan are situated very close to what the Quartermaster Sergeant describes.

            The Grave of Corporal Savage was somewhat of a mystery, but through a US Army Signal Corps photo and a distinctive artifact distribution remarkably similar to those found at the other two suspected grave locations Dr. Nolan was able to identify a 10x10 meter area with some certainty as to where Savage was buried.

            Here is the map depicting the GRS grave locations. For comparison the graves of the other 3 G Company members are also shown. They were NOT members of this patrol.
            Attached Files


              To summarize the contemporary geographic information documented by the US Army Graves Registration Service and the map and description provided by Major Buxton and Captain Danforth here is a modern map with the contemporary information superimposed on it.

              The blue circle is the area where Dr. Nolan concluded the fight must have taken place and where he concentrated his field research. The yellow circle is where the other group led by an Army officer claim they have found the exact spot where York stood and the .45 cartridges he fired from his pistol during the fight. Does not look far on the map, but on the ground it is way off and does matter. More on that later.
              Attached Files


                I want to refer back to the 82nd Division History I posted earlier. Here again are a few passages that describe where this fight took place. Here is map that depicts where the division history describes the fight taking place in addition to some of the information from the last map.

                1.) …“Early in the attack of this battalion, the progress of G Company on the left was seriously impeded by heavy machine gun fire from a hill directly south west across the valley from Hill 223.”

                2.) …“This detachment, under Acting Sergeant Early, encircled the hill from the southeast and by a very skilful reconnaissance passed through the heavy woods on the east crest and descended to the wooded ravine on the west side of the hill.”

                3.) …“The detachment in working through the underbrush came upon a German battalion….”

                4.) …“A force of machine gunners and infantrymen, however, were lying in fox holes fifty yards away on the western slope of the hill.”

                5.) …”Other machine gun detachments were located on the north and northeast slopes of this same wooded hill.”

                6.) …”On his way back over the hill he picked up a considerable number of additional prisoners from the north and northeast slopes of the hill.”
                Attached Files


                  All for today, more on Sunday.......


                    Starting back where I left off last night I want to show a little closer view of the area where the research was conducted in 2006 and April 2009. The area where the fight occurred is just behind (south of) an old medieval dam, the creek now flows through a gap in it.

                    This is where the Germans who were initially captured by the patrol were eating breakfast. On the western facing slope above the ravine, to the east, (right side of the photo) is where more Germans were. Once we get into the German side of the story I will explain the German positions in great detail.
                    Attached Files


                      This map shows where the GRS reported finding the graves of the four men buried together and that of Private Wine. The coordinates to Savage's grave were erroneous. It was through a US Army Signal Corps photo that the suspected site of his grave was located.

                      Remember, there were no human remains left, they were all removed to the Meuse-Argonne cemetary. What would be found are artifacts that would indicate a cassualty or where a grave possibly was.
                      Attached Files


                        In 2006 Dr. Nolan identified the site where he believed the 4-man grave had been located, but the site of Cpl Savage's grave and Pvt Wine's grave was not certain.

                        Additional archive research revealed more clues as to the location of these two graves and in April 2009 one artifact concentration from 2006 was re-examined as well as new artifacts found point to where Savage and Wine had been buried.

                        These are the grave locations based on 2006 - 2009 research.
                        Attached Files


                          Last year I requested several more photos taken in 1919 from the National Archives. This one was the clue to identifying Savage's burial site.

                          The GRS grid coordinates place the 4-man grave and Pvt Wine’s grave in the area just behind and in front of the old dam. The suspected 4-man grave was found south of the dam a very short distance from the GRS reported. Cpl Savage’s grave had to be within this general area.

                          The photo you see below that I found in the NARA gives us the clue. He was buried in a slight depression at the base of a seep slope. The only steep slope in this area is the western facing slope near the old dam. There two depressions were located. Around one of them is where an interesting group of artifacts were found by Dr. Nolan in 2006 that indicate an American casualty.
                          Attached Files


                            Here is a close up of the photo. You can see Savage's helmet under a blanket, his rifle with bayonet laying beside him and his torn cartridge belt and canteen cover on top of the grave.
                            Attached Files


                              Here is where DR. Nolan found artifacts that could indicate an American cassualty
                              Attached Files


                                In April 2009 we cleared the area of all leaves etc and searched the area thoroughly with metal detector.
                                Attached Files


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