With orders for home, the 137th Regiment boarded trains at Sampigny on March 7. They arrived in the Le Mans area three days later. The companies were dispersed to surrounding towns and villages, Company M to Monfort-les-Gesnois. Far from the desolate battlefields, the men enjoyed a couple weeks of “the best accommodations since [their] arrival in France,” whether in billets or private homes.Easter Aboard the Manchuria
Following this respite, they moved to what was known as “the Belgian Camp,” where they slept in tents and were subjected to medical examinations, inoculations, and “cootie baths” to make them presentable to their mothers.
April 4, an overnight train from Champagne took the regiment to the coast at Brest, France’s westernmost port. After a week’s wait in cantonment, a morning march, loaded with all their gear, took them to the docks. From there, they were conveyed by light boats to a transport ship anchored a mile out in the bay. France, as its final farewell, drizzled rain on them.Easter Aboard the Manchuria
The Manchuria was a freighter converted to a troop ship. She steamed out of the bay on April 13, 1919, headed for Hoboken, New Jersey.
There were 4,771 men aboard. The conditions were cramped. There were bunk cots, three high and two feet apart. I’ll bet the men didn’t care. They were going home.
The voyage was uneventful.
On Sunday, April 20, the ship’s chaplain held Easter services on board.
Thanks to the journal-keeping Haterius, we know what meal Private B. F. Potts shared with his comrades that Sunday a century ago: “For our Easter dinner, beans were served—nothing more, nothing less—beans and beans only”.
Easter Aboard the Manchuria
Good old USA
The Manchuria docked at Hoboken on April 23, 1919.
Discharge and home
After a few days at Hoboken, the regiment took trains for Camp Funston, Kansas. They stopped in Topeka, Kansas on May 7 to parade down the main street. The All-Kansas regiment was back in Kansas.
Ralph and others received their discharge papers at Camp Funston on May 9 and 10.
They had spent nearly two years in service, traveled around 15,000 miles and helped break the great Hindenburg line to win the War!A History of the 137th Infantry – An All-Kansas Regiment
The soldiers were discharged and given a rail pass to Larned.
When we were inspecting Ralph’s uniform recently, we found his rail pass in his uniform pocket, just where he left it many years ago.
A visit to Indiana, and mother
Before Ralph returned to Larned, he made a trip to Indiana to visit his mother, Anna Burton Jarvis Mounts Stafford. Anna was living in Anderson, Indiana with her husband Samuel Stafford.
Ralph’s grandmother, Eliza Burton, was still living in Greensburg, Indiana. It seems Ralph visited her too, for he sent a postcard with a picture of the famous courthouse tree.
Larned at last
At last, Ralph was home in Larned. It had been a year and three-quarters since Company F had shipped out. Ralph was glad to be home. Chleo was glad he was there. They would take up their relationship once again.
- Quotations – A History of the 137th Infantry, An All-Kansas Regiment – Col. Charles H. Browne – 1940 – The Headlight Printshop – Horton, Kansas – https://mdh.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/wwiuh/id/5796
- Quotations – Kansas Army National Guard – Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_Army_National_Guard
- Quotations – 137th Infantry Regiment (United States) – Wikipedia –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/137th_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)
- Quotations – History of Kansas: State and People, Volume II – William E. Connelley – The American Historical Society (1928) – World War I: The 35th Infantry Division – Museum of the Kansas National Guard – http://www.kansasguardmuseum.com/world-war-i-the-35th-infantry-division/
- Newspaper articles – newspapers.com
- Postcards – Jarvis Family Documents – Chleo Webb Jarvis collection
- Photos of Ralph Jarvis, Jim Webb, and Ben Sooby – Jarvis Family Documents – Chleo Webb Jarvis collection
- Image – Ship Manifest – USS Manchuria – Ancestry.com
- Images – Enlistment and Discharge and rail pass – Ralph Jarvis – Jarvis Family Documents – Chleo Webb Jarvis collection
- Image – USS Manchuria – Troops on deck of Manchuria departing France – View from the bridge of USS Manchuria (ID #1633) looking down on deck, showing men on board waving “Goodbye” to people on docks as whistle blows departing warning. These men are from many different organizations, St. Nazaire, France, January 10, 1919. U.S. Army Signal Corps Photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WWI_AEF_U.S.Army_preparing_to_return_home_aboard_USS_Manchuria(ID_-1633)_(32279501953).jpg
- Quotation – Easter Aboard the Manchuria – A Very Muddy Place – Stephen Wendell – https://www.stephenwendell.com/2019/04/easter-aboard-the-manchuria.html
- Image – World War I, French family warmly welcoming an American soldier, Frontpage of French newspaper Le Petit Journal, June 9, 1918, (Photo by Leemage/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) – https://www.google.com/search?q=Le+Petit+Journal+Covers,+June+9,+1918&safe=active&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS615US620&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=ijtAd_Sqxs35KM%252CQjhZ3azlSf___M%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kSeO99ifZJi16O8bsjqCdBXkcIwYg&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiJtbuAq4jwAhWDG80KHXvCBQMQ9QF6BAgREAE&biw=1133&bih=792
- Map – Le Mans – Maps of The First World War: An Illustrated Essay and List of Select Maps in The Library of Congress – https://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/pdf/plp/occasional/OccPaper7.pdf