Hezekiah Scovil Porter WW I Diary Transcription continued

There is no more to Hezekiah Scovil Porter's diary, save some brief notes on where he served, in someone else's handwriting.

On Monday, July 22, 1918, his unit went into battle, and Hez was killed.

From Yale in the World War (George Henry Nettleton, Yale University Press, 1925; pages 324-325), quoting a letter written shortly afterwards by a "Yale classmate and comrade-in-arms," comes this description of his death:

Two guns had been placed in a wood, and ammunition was needed. "Hez" was one of the detail to take it up. They had to cross a wheat field, and a splinter [shrapnel] caught him square in the chest.

History of the 101st Machine Gun Battalion has a longer description of the action from the "War Diary of a Machine Gunner," compiled from the field diaries of several of the soldiers by the Rev. Charles E. Hesselgrave, a Congregational minister serving overseas with the YMCA.

JULY 22. At daybreak both companies were sent out into some woods overlooking Trugny to assist the attack of Major Rau's battalion against the town. We could not locate any enemy to fire at, and the best we could do was to wait to protect Rau's left against possible counter-attack. We were shelled and M. G. bullets flew pretty thick. Bristol of C Co. was wounded. After a while the attack crumbled in spite of Rau's gallant efforts against impossible odds, and the troops were withdrawn to the old positions. A little later C Co. was sent over to the right to join Rau. There they found him with only a few of his men left. The guns were set up on the edge of the wood in a defensive position. B Co. got orders to support an attack of the 102d Inf. on the town of Epieds over on the left flank. The company formed a fourth wave behind the infantry, and spread out into a long skirmish line. The advance started over the open wheat field at a slow walk, with frequent halts during which each man flattened out so tliat no moving thing was visible in the field. M. G. bullets began to kick up little puffs of dust all around us, and the enemy artillery barrage came down fiercely just ahead. We knew we would have to go through this, and every nerve was tense. We soon found ourselves in the midst of it—direct fire at that, mostly from one pounders, and 105's and Austrian 88's which come with the shriek of a thousand devils. The fumes choked us and the concussions half stunned us. It was here that Hez Porter, following his platoon leader, was instantly killed. Corcoran, Dick and Wendt were wounded. An infantry captain just ahead called frantically to us to put an enemy M. G. out of business. He pointed out a pile of barrels where the gun was supposed to be hidden, and two guns of Lt. Sandberg's platoon, Sgt. Hart's section, went into action in the edge of some woods and peppered the spot for some time. It was here that the whole attack was checked, and we got word from the infantry that it was pulling back and that we should do the same on our own hook. The company was drawn to the left into cover of woods, reformed, and sent back, skirting around a rise for concealment. We assembled in a patch of wood a little way back and waited for possible counter-attack and to cover the withdrawal of the doughboys if necessary. They came filtering back, bringing their wounded with them, and soon we were also returned to our old place where the guns were set up to repel any attack that might come from the left. Dr. Hesselgrave appeared with cigarettes and chocolate which was indeed welcome, as we had nothing to eat. This was not a healthy place for the Doctor to be in, but we knew he would come to us when we needed him most. There was a dressing-station near us, and it was awful to see the wounded and shell-shocked fellows brought in. About 6 p. m. the Boche put down a fearful artillery barrage close in front of us, and we were pulled back a hundred yards to escape the effects of this fire. A detail had been digging a grave for Porter, but were unable to finish. A bit later, orders came from Division that we would go back into reserve for a time. We thought our troubles were about over for that day, but were mistaken. Down on the road near Champluisant Farm, just east of Sacerie, our machines were lined up, waiting to take us out, and as we were loading up there came the familiar shriek and two shell burst in the field close by. A moment later there came a deafening blast—all was confusion. Two more shell had exploded together right among our cars. Two of them were overturned. We got the wounded into cars as quickly as possible but, to make matters worse, a mule-cart had become wedged in the road ahead and blocked all traffic, so we could not move out. Finally the way was cleared and the cars with the wounded made for the first-aid station at Sacerie Farm. Harold Smith and Ralph Henry of B Co. died. Brackett, Weld, Olschefskie, Hampson, Haskins, Barber, Maun, Rogers, Burden, Fothergill, Mercer, Burnham, Sancyzk of B Co. and Fabryk of C Co. wounded. Robinson and Gunning of B Co. shell-shocked. Our cars had been doing fine service most all day in taking out wounded. Two of C Co's cars were hit and one wrecked. At last we found ourselves in bivouac in the woods.

July 25. ... A detail went back and buried Porter.

More details about his burial are from the Geni genealogical website entry for Hezekiah Scovil Porter, presumably compiled by Charles E. Rounds, Jr., grandson of Hezekiah's brother, Philip Wells Porter.

A photograph of the temporary gravesite is in the possession of Charles E. Rounds, Jr., 107 Mt. Vernon St., Boston, MA 02108 (2013). In the photograph are two of his comrades who had survived the battle. One is from Wethersfield, Connecticut (State Street) and one is from Waterbury, Vermont. The Vermonter is Wagoner Arthur A Barlow, a farmer, who was born Aug. 10, 1895. The Connecticut man is Sergeant Everett H. Hart, born July 10, 1894, who in civilian life had been a "member" of the Chas. C. Hart Seed Co. Bordering the field, just beyond the grave-site, is a thick forest of mostly birch saplings. The underbrush is heavy.

In a letter. dated July 27, 1918, more details of the initial "make-shift" interment of the remains of Hezekiah Scovil Porter are communicated in a letter from his commanding officer (Philip S. Wainwright) to Whitney Scovil Porter (one of Hezekiah's brothers): "...The grave is marked near the head by a cross-shaped blaze on a tree with "Hezekiah S. Porter--101st. M.G.B. U.S.A.--July 22d, 1918" carved into the wood. His helmet is also placed at the head on a bayonet with his name scratched on it. I removed his wallet which contained a small sum of French money and his diamond ring, which was all the personal property we could find." [The referenced wallet, which is bloodstained, is in the possession of William Porter Wightman, grandson of the said Whitney Scovil Porter (2017)].

Hez's remains were later retrieved and given a permanent resting place in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois (Aisne), France: Plot A, Row 4, Grave 18.

Requiescat in pace, Hezekiah Scovil Porter.

Previous posts: IntroductionPart 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, Part 34, Part 35, Part 36, Part 37, Part 38, Part 39, Part 40, Part 41, Part 42, Part 43, Part 44, Part 45, Part 46, Part 47, Part 48, Part 49, Part 50, Part 51, Part 52, Part 53, Part 54, Part 55, Part 56, Part 57, Part 58, Part 59, Part 61, Part 62, Part 63, Part 64, Part 65, Part 66, Part 67, Part 68, Part 69, Part 70, Part 71, Part 72, Part 73, Part 74, Part 75, Part 76, Part 77, Part 78, Part 79, Part 80, Part 81, Part 82, Part 83, Part 84, Part 85, Part 86, Part 87, Part 88, Part 89, Part 90, Part 91, Part 92, Part 93, Part 94, Part 95, Part 96, Part 97, Part 98, Part 99, Part 100, Part 101, Part 102, Part 103, Part 104, Part 105, Part 106, Part 108, Part 109, Part 110, Part 111, Part 112, Part 113, Part 114, Part 115, Part 116, Part 117, Part 118, Part 119, Part 120, Part 121, Part 122, Part 123, Part 124, Part 125, Part 126, Part 127, Part 128, Part 129, Part 130, Part 131, Part 132, Part 133, Part 134, Part 135, Part 136, Part 137, Part 138, Part 139, Part 140, Part 141, Part 142, Part 143, Part 144, Part 145, Part 146, Part 147, Part 148, Part 149, Part 150, Part 151, Part 152, Part 153, Part 154, Part 155, Part 156, Part 157, Part 158, Part 159, Part 160, Part 161, Part 162, Part 163

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