SAN FRANCISCO, November 10, 2013
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A Treasure Discovered
SAN FRANCISCO, September 8, 2013
The San Francisco Veterans Building is part of the War Memorial Performing Arts Center across Van Ness Avenue from San Francisco City Hall. It is the mirror image of the War Memorial Opera House. On the first of July, the building was closed for 2+ years for seismic retrofitting. The building had to be completely empty for the contractors to start work. The Veterans who occupy part of the building engaged in a ‘house cleaning’ that took place for several months prior to the closing discovered, finding ‘treasures that had been there for decades.
One of those treasures was a small booklet titled:The History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion by Buck Private McClullum. It is about a World War I battle when the 308th Battalion of the 77th Division, under the command of Major Charles Whittlesey, is ordered to attack into the German lines and seize an objective in the Argonne Forest. The battalion accomplishes its mission but its two flank battalions are stymied. The Germans surround Major Whittlesey’s battalion. For 5 days the battalion fights without resupply, communicating only by carrier pigeon to its higher headquarters. Nearly 700 soldiers start the battle; but less that 170 come out of the Argonne Forest.
The little booklet is dedicated, in Pvt McCollum's own words, "… to the memory of "My Buddies" who gave their all "Up There." It includes a tribute written by Lt. Col. Whittlesey dated November 11, 1920 and is followed by the address delivered at Lt. Col. Whittlesey's Memorial Service in 1923.
It contains some humorous poems, and some very touching rhymes about the hell of war. One such poem is reprinted below:
Oh! To get away from it all,
Those war-ridden thots, that come,
To blind forever those memories,
And the sound of the bullets’ hum.
To live once more, as I did before,
In Peace and quiet and rest;
To just forget for a little while,
That it took from my life the best.
At night, when all is quiet,
And I’m lying alone in bed,
There comes a vision of battlefields,
The fight, the maimed and the dead.
Will I never forget that hell “Over There,”
And the tales the battlefields tell,
Of the price my “Buddies” paid with “their all,
And the place in which they fell?
And there’s my two best “buddies”
I can see them plain as can be,
A layin’ “Out There” crumpled heaps,
And seems like they’re calling to me.
I can hear the big ‘uns screech and scream,
As they go flying o’er my head,
They seem to say, both night and day,
“Remember the dead—the dead”
And sometimes I think, as I sit alone,
Perhaps it might have been best,
If I too, had paid that great price,
And were out there now with the rest.
Oh! Those war cursed thots,
That haunt me night and day;
Dear God, Be merciful,
And take them forever away.
Read the history of "The Lost Battatlion">>
Read More: 'How the Lost Battatlion was Lost' by William Moore >>
Read More: Memorial Address (for Services of Lieut. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey), By COL. N. K. AVERILL >>
- Why a San Franisco Veterans Memorial?
95th Anniversary of "The Lost Battalion": Oct. 2 - 7: Follow our twitter feed today to read about the Lost Battalion's heroic five days in the Argonne forrest.
- September 7, 2013: How the Lost Battalion was Lost. Read More>>
- September 6, 2013: Posted: Memorial Address At Services of Lieut. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey by COL. N. K. AVERILL of the 308th Regiment. Read More >