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New York Guard in WWI

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Percy Toplis

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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Nov 2010 19:39    Onderwerp: New York Guard in WWI Reageer met quote

Remembering New York's Forgotten Veterans: New York Guard in WWI
Nov 10, 2010 Andrew Glikin-Gusinsky

Often overlooked in the history books, the men of the New York Guard bravely defended the state's infrastructure during World War I.

World War I was a truly devastating conflict and one that was global in scale. It killed millions and forever changed the face of modern warfare. It was during that war that new technologies such as tanks and chemical weapons first made their appearances.

While the battles of Verdun, The Somme, and Belleau Wood echo through the history books, there are other narratives of that conflict that also need to be remembered. Far from the mud-caked trenches and battlefields of Europe, there is another, often overlooked story from that war; that of the soldiers who guarded the home front. Soldiers like the men of the First Provisional Regiment of the New York Guard who stoically did their duty ensuring the safety of New Yorkís infrastructure. While their tale may not be as dramatic as some of the other episodes of the First World War, it is no less important.

New York Guard Formed in Wake of National Guard Federalization
Americaís entry into World War I meant the federalization of the countryís National Guard units. States from coast to coast were left without domestic military units to provide security and emergency service. New York was no different.

To meet the stateís military needs a new unit was raised, the New York Guard. The outfit consisted of men who were either too old or were otherwise disqualified from regular military service. They were equipped with a hodge-podge surplus of uniforms and equipment, much of it dating back to the Spanish-American War. In January of 1919 the New York Guardís overall strength was about 22,000 officers and men.

The New York Guard was comprised of two regiments. The Second Provisional Regiment guarded the Erie Canal. The First Provisional Regiment, commanded by Col. John B. Rose, guarded the Catskill Aqueduct which runs from the Catskill Mountains to Yonkers and still provides New York City with drinking water.

Guarding the Catskill Aqueduct

The Catskill Aqueduct spans much of the Hudson Valley, stretching over one hundred miles. With World War I raging, there were fears that New Yorkís water supply was in danger of being contaminated by saboteurs. To ensure the safety of the water supply, members of the First Provisional Regiment were posted along the aqueduct and patrolled its perimeter. The conditions were harsh and the men had to endure poor weather and long hours. Their mission was especially difficult given the shortcomings in their supplies.

The Influenza Pandemic Strikes the Guard

The influenza outbreak that that killed approximately 40 million people worldwide did not leave the men of the New York Guard unscathed. 32 Guard members perished as a result of that devastating epidemic.

Perhaps the most poignant story to emerge from that dark period is that of Pvt. Merville Harrington. Too young for regular service, Harrington enlisted in the Guard in June of 1918 at age 17. He enthusiastically and faithfully served until his flu-related death on February 28, 1919. Among the duties performed by Pvt. Harrington was the installation of the boulder that would become the First Provisional Regimentís monument in Sleepy Hollow, NY. His name was later added to that very memorial.

The New York Guard lost 40 men over the course of its service during and immediately after the First World War:

Sgt. Owen L. Adamy, Johnson City, N.Y., 12 October 1918
Sgt. Frank Avery, Vestal Center, N.Y., 6 December 1918
Pvt. Frank Baker, Corning, N.Y., 29 November 1918
Pvt. Carl Baley, Hornell, N.Y., 16 October 1918
Pvt. John L. Barton, Endicott, N.Y., 7 October 1918
Pvt. Chester Bennett, Swains, N.Y., 16 October 1918
Pvt. James Burke, New York, N.Y., 11 March 1918
Pvt. Halsey Conway, Corning, N.Y., 26 November 1918
Pvt. Frank De Costa, New York, N.Y., 3 December 1918
Sgt. Bienvenido Fajardo, New York, N.Y., 9 September 1918
Pvt. Leslie C. Fuller, Groton, N.Y., 2 December 1918
Sgt. Charles Garland, Binghamton, N.Y., 4 December 1918
Pvt. Raymond Gee, Trumansburg, N.Y., 30 November 1918
Pvt. John D. Greene, Elmira, N.Y., 5 October 1918
Pvt. Leslie Hallenack, Herkimer, N.Y., 3 December 1918
Pvt. Samuel Hallett, Clark Mills, N.Y., 13 October 1918
Pvt. Merville Harrington, Smithville, N.Y., 28 February 1919
Pvt. Fred Higgins, Groton, N.Y., 29 November 1918
Pvt. Percy J. Howell, N. Lansing, N.Y., 27 November 1918
Pvt. Aloysius Kelly, New York, N.Y., 9 March 1918
Sgt. Lemuel Landphier, Rhinebeck, N.Y., 8 March 1919
Sgt. Leroy W. Livett, Ozone Park, N.Y., 22 November 1918
Pvt. John Lynch, New York, N.Y., 3 December 1918
Cpl. Clarence B. Miller, Johnson City, N.Y., 10 October 1918
Pvt. Clayton Neville, Pine Plains, N.Y., 11 January 1919
Pvt. Malcolm A. Northrip, Milton, N.Y., 31 October 1918
Pvt. George Nourse, Trumansburg, N.Y., 26 November 1918
Sgt. Charles T. Peebles, Binghamton, N.Y., 8 October 1918
Cpl. Antonio Pernice, New York, N.Y., 15 October 1918
Pvt. Frank Poole, Friendship, N.Y., 1 December 1918
Lt. Gomer J. Pritchard, Factoryville, Pa., 14 December 1918
Pvt. Harry Reynolds, Pine Plains, N.Y., 26 October 1918
Pvt. Howell Roberts, Warren Center, Pa., 28 December 1918
Pvt. Arthur Rourke, Brooklyn N.Y., 5 October 1918
Cook Martin Ryan, Brooklyn, N.Y., 16 May 1918
Pvt. Henry Lee Stephens, Canisteo, N.Y., 24 November 1918
Pvt. Thomas A. Stokes, New York, N.Y., 2 January 1919
Pvt. George Albert Tate, Canisteo, N.Y., 26 November 1918
Pvt. James Waldron, Endicott, N.Y., 15 October 1918
Pvt. Earl Weir, Birdsall, N.Y., 6 December 1918


When World War I drew to a close the New York Guard was stood down as National Guard troops returned home from foreign battlefields. However, as time went by and moments of crisis once again arose, so did the Guard, nobly serving the on the home front.


"A grand canyon has opened up in our world, the fissure, the crack, grows wider every day. Neither on each side can hear a word that the other shrieks and nor do they want to."
-Stephen Fry on political correctness.
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