The Internet has been such a blessing to genealogists, making it so much easier to connect with other researchers and share photos and documents that might otherwise be hidden away in a scrapbook or attic. One of the reasons, I started this blog was to share photos and stories that have been passed down in my own family. But the knowledge transfer goes both ways! Other families may have different items to share. A couple of years ago, I wrote two blog posts about my grandfather’s service in the 309th Motor Repair Unit during WWI. I recently received a comment on one of those posts from Tom Seagraves, whose grandfather, Ernest “Pete” Segraves, also served in the 309th. (No, the different spelling of their last names is not a typo.) During our subsequent correspondence, Tom shared several photographs from Pete's time in the Army. I was thrilled to see the photos and Tom and his father, Milton, graciously agreed to let me post some of my favorites here. I think they provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of these soldiers and a fitting tribute as we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.
Pete's photographs and mementos span his entire service time, starting with the training he received in auto mechanics on the Texas A&M University campus. Records show that Pete and my grandfather, Benjamin Perry Pace, were in training there at the same time, so I was particularly interested in the group photo below. Only Pete and one other soldier are identified, but I was curious whether my grandfather might be in the group too. I scanned the faces, comparing them to the photos I have of my grandfather as a young man. The third man from the left on the front row of standing soldiers certainly bears a strong resemblance to him. I asked my mom (his daughter) for her opinion, without telling her mine, and she picked out the same man! We may never know for certain if it is him, but I'd like to think it is.
Among the mementos that Pete saved were copies of the Unit, a newsletter published for the members of the 309th. One of the most interesting articles, which I have included below, is a rather tongue-in-cheek description of the unit's trip to France.
The 309th seems to have spent most of its time overseas at the Motor Overhaul Park in Dijon, France. Several of Pete's photos show the shops and yard there. The building below was identified as the truck and touring car shop.
The Motor Transport Corps was responsible for servicing automobiles, trailers and trucks, motorcycles and even bicycles. Pete's photos of the Dijon Motor Park yard show large numbers of most of these vehicle types.
The photo below shows Pete and other residents of Barracks 22, presumably at Dijon Motor Park.
When the soldiers had free time, they sometimes explored nearby towns. Here, several men are pictured on a bridge at Darcy Gardens in Dijon.
The fascinating photo below is captioned "65 truck convoy to Le Mans". This event probably took place during the demobilization period after the war ended.
According to WWI Transport Service passenger lists available on Fold3.com, the members of the 309th sailed home from Brest, France on July 15 , 1919. The photograph below was taken just a few days before their departure.
The ship that brought Pete, my grandfather and other members of the 309th home was the battleship U.S.S. South Carolina, shown in the photos below. Their journey was the last of four trips made by the South Carolina to transport soldiers home from Europe.
I'm very grateful to Tom and his father Milton for allowing me to share these photos. I hope others will enjoy them as much as I have.
Teresa is the the owner of KinSeeker Genealogy Services. She has a Ph.D. in Biology and a lifelong fascination with genealogy. She been researching her own family history for over 20 years and loves helping others "find their stories."
Please visit the KinSeeker Genealogy Services Facebook page
This blog is owned by Teresa Shippy. Content may not be copied without permission.
©2016, copyright Teresa Shippy