This is Valerie Young’s third in-depth research article published on this website. It brings to life a list of 25 names written on the back of two picture postcards of Vertou, France that Valerie found among her grandfather’s mementos from WW1. All had served as members of G Company with her maternal grandfather, Chester Allen Bower. After the war ended the regiment remained in northeastern France until mid-April 1919. Then it travelled west to Vertou (Regimental HQ) and vicinity, which is just southeast of Nantes. Finally, on 17 May 1919 the regiment departed St. Nazaire for Philadelphia. In her own words:
“I have not ended my “100-years ago” remembering of my grandfather’s WW1 service, because it did not end with the Armistice… On April 12 (the day I flew home on this recent France trip) Pershing reviewed the 79th Division troops one last time at Orquevaux. I took my timeline notes with me on this trip so as not to forget this momentous day for my grandfather. It was always with me. And now, we arrive at the time, 100 years ago, that the 79th arrived in Nantes / Vertou area (April 21-27) where my grandfather picked up the postcards that are the genesis of the last essay… The names he wrote on those postcards are almost as important to me as my grandfather’s name, because the names were of men who meant something to him, 100 years ago. And they may be important to their families, if any descendants still exist, to this day…
…The Vertou postcards represented, to me, my grandfather’s last bit of expression, by writing names on the back of postcards, of his connection to these men who he had served with, not knowing them at all 9 months earlier, but with whom he had experienced the field of battle in the Meuse-Argonne for those important months in 1918-19. As my essay says, I do not know if he ever stayed in touch with any of these men, or they with him. But in that brief moment in time, he wrote names on the back of the postcards, and the rest, they say, is history. It became important for me to at least find out what happened to those men, to try to glean some sort of meaning why their names were important to my grandfather.
I will continue to do my 100-year remembrance until the date I know my grandfather finally returned to his small town of New Oxford in 1919, summer of that year. And perhaps, my 100-year remembrance will continue after that. But for purposes of the Meuse-Argonne folks, I think it is important to acknowledge that the memories did not end with the end of the battle or the end of the war. They continue to this day. And to you and Markus, I am very grateful.”
Without further ado, here is a link to the .pdf version of Valerie’s beautifully-researched article:
Vertou postcards story Jan 2019
Webmaster’s comments: 1) Valerie first toured the Meuse-Argonne with German historian, Markus Klauer, in 2016. She then toured it again with me, Randy Gaulke, in 2017, and she joined Markus and I on our joint Small-Group Battlefield Tour in September 2018. 2) Valerie first sent this article to me in January 2019; but I owe her a big apology for not publishing it until today: 15 May, 2019. That is almost 100 years ago to the day that the men of Company G boarded ships bound for Philadelphia. What anticipation the Doughboys must have had at that time! 3) This Website is a great place to publish your family’s WW1 research for others to read. Contact the Webmaster.