Gordon Leslie MacDougalls Military Service During World War I 118 TH Regiment, 59 th Brigade, 30 th Division of the American Expeditionary Force
Crookston, Minnesota Gordon was working as a logger in Crookston, Minnesota when he decided to enlist in the U.S. Army along with a number of his fellow lumberjacks in early 1918, shortly after the U.S. declared war upon Germany. Crookston is approximately 40 miles west of Gordon parents, Hank and Ada, home in Oklee, Minnesota and about 25 miles southeast of his former home in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Crookston, Minnesota Gordon, along with the rest of the new recruits, was given a huge send-off on his way to Camp Dodge, just outside of Des Moines, Iowa, to begin basic training. Gordon remarked of the affair by saying: "Crookston gave us a great send-off, speeding our departure with a chicken banquet and a very inspiring program. You can probably imagine how I felt parading around in my lumberjack togs when everyone else was sporting broadcloth! The march from the armory to the depot was then one of the densest crowds I ever saw and, of course, the cheers were deafening. I dont think there was a dry-eyed woman in the bunch. They all displayed a shocking lack of self-control and common sense."
Crookston, Minnesota Gordons brothers, Randall and Bert along with Berts wife, Carrie, and Berts young daughter, Jean, traveled to Crookston to see Gordon off for his 500 mile train ride to Camp Dodge. Gordon wrote: I spied Randall looking around trying to spot me. I gave him the high sign and was soon shaking hands with him and Bert, Carrie and Jean. Randall replenished my sadly depleted treasury with two silver dollars so I felt quite flush again. Jean gave me a package containing a knitted wash rag, some candy and a letter. Bert gave me some stamped postcards, a Minneapolis journal and a Literary Digest while Carrie said she was working on some sort of an outfit for me.
Camp Dodge, Iowa Gordon arrived at Camp Dodge, Iowa in March of 1918. Gordon wrote the following to his mother, Ada, about his first days at Camp Dodge by saying: Each man is provided as soon as he gets in with a large bag containing three blankets, one quilt and a mess kit for which he is held personally responsible. He sleeps alone on a steel cot with straw tucked under him and must be dressed, washed and have his bed made and floor swept around and under his cot when the breakfast whistle blows in 30 minutes. The chow is OK, tho lots of fellows, of course, pick on it. The officers are a fine lot of men, in both appearance and character. Major Henisee commands our battalion and Colonel Henderson the regiment.
Camp Dodge, Iowa How different Camp Dodge must have been for Gordon after growing up in the backwoods of Minnesota. Gordon was assigned to Company A of the 349 th Infantry while undergoing basic training at Camp Dodge. After completing his basic training, Gordon shipped out for Camp Sevier in South Carolina in early April 1918.
Grand Forks, North Dakota Gordon left behind his sweetheart that he had met while the MacDougall family lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The MacDougalls previously had lived in the Blackduck area of Minnesota but decided to move back to Grand Forks in 1907 to be closer to their eldest son Berts family after the birth of their first grandchild, Jean. Lillian Josephine Greenwood was the name of the girl who had so completely captured his heart. Gordon was about twenty years of age when he first met Lillian at a Christian Endeavor meeting at the Grand Forks Presbyterian Church.
Grand Forks, North Dakota Joe Greenwood was a prosperous farmer who managed a large farm along the Red River outside of Grand Forks. Joe and his wife Mary had six children, five girls and one boy. Gordon wrote the following in his memoirs of the Greenwood girls: Norah, the eldest, was by some quirk of biology, a blond. Then came Lillian, Mabel, Marion and Grace, all brunettes. Randall thought that Mabel, with her regular features, slender figure and vivacious manner, was the "best looker" of the neighborhood. Well, perhaps she was, but I couldn't see her at all when Lil was around. Let the other swains court the rest of the Greenwood girls if they so wished, but my court was addressed to my one and only Lillian.
Camp Sevier, South Carolina In early April 1918, Gordon was shipped out to complete his military training at Camp Sevier just outside of Greenville, South Carolina and was assigned to Company B of the 118 th regiment of the 59 th brigade of the 30 th division. Gordon remarked in his memoirs that he found at times that it was difficult to understand the orders of the camp officers because of their southern drawl.
Camp Sevier, South Carolina In May of 1918, Gordon and the rest of his division rode the rails to New York City to board the troop ship U.S.S. Mercury that would take them across the Atlantic Ocean to Calais, France. Gordon sent the following amusing message to his father, Hank, regarding his trip to New York City: Dear Dad, Left Washington last night and woke in New York City. Don't know where we are going but are on our way. Gord
Calais, France The Old Hickory division, the nickname for the 30 th division of the American Expeditionary Force, arrived in Calais, France on May 24 th, 1918. The division was placed under the British II corps, Second Army and marched into Belgium on July 4 th to reinforce the British forces assigned to the Canal Sector at Ypres, Belgium.
Ypres, Belgium The 30 th division was assigned to the Canal Sector of Ypres, often referred to as Flanders, in support of an expected German offensive that summer. In early September, the 30 th division was sent into action and overran the German forces while capturing all its objectives.
Ypres, Belgium Gordon wrote his following observations of France to his mother, Ada as the 30 th division deployed to Ypres: Farm or rural life in France, so far as I am able to observe, is as different from that of America as can be imagined. Here the countryside is thickly dotted with little villages, or communities, connected by five highways which are usually paralleled on each side by a row of magnificent trees of a kind of hardwood. Hedges and shade trees, grass and flowers, white walls and red-tiled roofs all combine to form a landscape very charming and picturesque, and decidedly quaint.
Bellicourt, France The 30 th Division was reassigned to the Bellicourt region of France in late September 1918 in the Allies assault on the Germans heavily defended Hindenburg Line. The Allies overran the strong German defenses and advanced 4,000 yards while capturing approximately 1,500 German soldiers.
Bellicourt, France Gordon wrote to his brother Earle regarding the Allies great victory in capturing the Hindenburg Line by writing: The next day we advanced under the cover of a fog and disposed of several machine-gun nests, reaching our objective with ease. 'Fritz' appeared to have fled panic-stricken, that is, the infantry did, leaving behind him overcoats, sweaters, blankets, rifles, ammunition in great quantities, shells stacked up like cordwood, and even bread, potatoes, butter and every imaginable thing. No end of souvenirs, believe me. I now sport a German watch, pocketknife, and many of the boys are carrying Luger or Mauser automatics on their hips.
Somme, France The 30 th division continued to be an integral part of the Allies offensive to drive the Germans back to their Fatherland. During the middle of October, the Allies returned to Somme region of France and were strongly advancing against the German forces, often without artillery support. Gordon described the action to his brother Earle in a letter by saying: I witness that day a smashing cavalry charge by the Australians, for now the fighting is all in the open -- no wire, no trenches, just green, undulating, open country, with red-topped villages nestling in the hills and thousands of civilians overjoyed at being freed from the German yoke.
Tincourt-Boucly, France The 30 th division was relieved on October 20, 1918 and reassembled to the Tincourt-Boucly region of France. A week later, the division marched to the Amiens area where it remained until shortly after the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.
Le Mans, France In February of 1919, the 30 th division marched to the American Embarkation Center at Le Mans, France to begin their return to the United States. The following month, they marched to St. Nazaire, France where they boarded their troop ship that would return them to Charleston, South Carolina. Gordon was honorably discharged from the U. S. Army on April 10, 1919 at Camp Dodge, Iowa.
Grand Forks, North Dakota Gordon rose to the rank of Corporal during his service in the U.S. Army and was recommended for citation three times. Each recommendation was refused by the company commander. During the Battle of Bellicourt, he was gassed by the German forces but was never hospitalized. Gordon participated in the following battles while serving with the 30 th division: Voormazeel, Bellicourt, Brancourt, L Coteau, Vaux-Andigny along with many other conflicts. Gordon returned to Grand Forks shortly after his discharge from Camp Dodge where he proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Lillian.
Grand Forks, North Dakota Gordon and Lillian were married on June 20, 1920 at the Grand Forks Presbyterian Church. Gordons brother Earle was his best man while Lillians sister Grace was her bridesmaid. Gordon was 32, Lillian 33 at the time of their marriage. The newlyweds honeymooned in Winnipeg, Canada and took up farming in Oklee, Minnesota. Together they had four children: Amy, Grace, Donald and Stanley. In 1928, Gordon accepted a position with the Government Printing Office as a draftsman and moved his family to the Lanham area outside of Washington, D.C. Gordon died on February 2, 1952. Lillian died on Christmas Day in 1970.