I’ve written quite a bit about my grandfather’s WWI experience and placed it on a web site (Clarence McGhee in WWI) Thinking I’d exhausted that topic, it was with surprise and anticipation that I read this week an email sent to me from France.
Two years ago, they started an association called The Americans of Gondrecourt Area 1917/1919. Their goal was to preserve the memory of the American presence in the villages of the old canton of GONDRECOURT LE CHÂTEAU and neighboring communes from the time of World War I.
Our grandfather had been in the area of Gondrecourt and Ribeaucourt where there was a training center for the US Army and Gondrecourt had a hospital where 130 US soldiers died as a result of their injuries. At the time there were also two US airfields, in the nearby communes.
I responded that I’d be delighted to have our ancestor’s photos and information included in their preservation effort. I’m very interested in finding out more, if possible, about Clarence McGhee’s role at this location. Was he training soldiers, taking training, working at the hospital, treated at the hospital, or serving in some other role?
Slideshow of Clarence Oliver McGhee – WWI
In a follow-up email, they provided this information:
The small town of RIBEAUCOURT served as cantonment to the troops who came to rest. After the armistice of November 11, 1918, the US troops remained in the villages until 1919. We did some research in this commune and found in the old houses inscriptions of soldiers and letters left on the spot. All of them are 100 years old. On our sector, we find a lot of graffiti left by the soldiers. As soon as we can have the name of a soldier, we are looking to contact the family. But it is very hard to find these because between the address left by the soldier in 1918 and that of today, often people have changed. That’s why we created our site and our association, which allows us to reach people in the United States.
The association, Les Américains de la Gondrecourt Aréa, has a web page and a Facebook page. “Every day we put a different picture. Our project is to create a museum dedicated to the American soldiers, which will collect the objects, uniforms, letters of soldiers coming on the sector and preserve the patrimony of the sector. All that we can find, buy or recover, we will put it in the museum, which will be in the town of HOUDELAINCOURT, 10 km from GONDRECOURT and 10 km from RIBEAUCOURT.”