Alamo Doughboy: Marching Into the Heart of Kaiser's Germany During World War I

Alamo Doughboy: Marching Into the Heart of Kaiser's Germany During World War I

by Jennifer Rude Klett

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780828325073
Publisher: Branden Books
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Pages: 183
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

A former newspaper reporter, Jennifer Rude Klett is a nonfiction writer living in Wisconsin. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications/Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and has held a long-time interest in genealogy and history. Jennifer is the twelfth grandchild of Pvt. George "Judge" Knott. Every Halloween night, Jennifer thinks of Judge preparing to go over the top. For more information, please visit www. jrudeklett.com.

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Preface

The First World War dramatically altered nearly everything in the world, yet we as Americans know next to nothing about it. Hopefully, this book will help change that.

This true story follows the path of a young man named Judge Knott, along with his two brothers and two cousins, all of whom grew up in the same small town in Minnesota. This detailed account is told through family interviews, US Army regiment and division histories, service records, newspaper articles, and letters from over there. I found it simply amazing to be able to pinpoint one man's steps in the chaos of war nearly one hundred years later by the week, day and even the hour, when writing this book, especially since Judge's federal service record was a casualty of the infamous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Missouri.

I found his story fascinating.

There has been comparatively little written about the United States in World War I, especially from the perspective of a neglected private in the trenches. Just traveling overseas was a monumental adventure for most at that time.

What did going over the top mean to infantrymen? What was it like being a runner? What about influenza and disease? Trench warfare? Aviation combat? Chemical warfare? Who were the Texas Brigade? Who were the Lost Battalion? What happened on November 11, 1918? How did the war affect the entire family? The hometowns? How did soldiers cope once back home if they were lucky enough to survive the brutal physical and emotional trauma of war?

The historical significance of the First World War cannot be overstated. It reshaped the entire twentieth century. Its ramifications are still being felt. The rise of communism and its subsequent regimes and wars (Korea, Vietnam); World War II (some historians consider it a continuation of World War I) and its holocaust (the first modern day genocide inflicted on the Armenians occurred in the First World War with the world casting a blind eye to it); the Cold War; and Middle East conflicts . . . all have roots in the Great War.

It's been nearly one hundred years since the war began. Today, the indescribable carnage, historical importance, and modern-day consequences of World War I are sadly glossed over in school classrooms and virtually ignored by media. American public libraries can easily have ten times the books about World War II over World War I on the nonfiction history shelves. And that doesn't even include biographies, movies, documentaries, etc.

How can we begin to understand current ethnic, religious, and geo-political conflicts without possessing knowledge about the years 1914 to 1918? We still commemorate Veterans Day, but what do we know about its predecessor Armistice Day?

We've all seen the iconic twentieth-century war memorials in Washington DC, possibly experiencing them in person. World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War. They help us reflect, learn, and honor the sacrifices. Do you remember the national World War I memorial? No, because it doesn't exist. It has been disregarded in this country, along with much of the war itself. Fortunately, steps are underway to correct that shameful absence (please visit www.wwimemorial.org).

The stories of the First World War must not be forgotten. For many years, George "Judge" Knott was just my grandfather. No real story there, or so I thought. Then in 2005, an aunt gave me his war letters, lovingly cherished and handed down from her aunts. Suddenly, my grandfather was not just an old man anymore.

We've met the so-called greatest generation, now let's meet the generation that raised them. I invite you to look up your own grandfather or great-grandfather. It's as easy as going to your local library, which may have free online genealogical databases. You may be surprised. While they may not call attention to themselves, the quiet accounts of history may still be present.

The doughboys are all gone now. There can be no honor flights. It's too late to thank them. But, we can remember them.

The Great War changed Judge's life, and it changed the world. Read on and meet Judge the doughboy. He was there and this is his story.

Jennifer Rude Klett
2013

The surging sea of human life forever onward rolls,
And bears to the eternal shore its daily freight of souls;
Though bravely sails our bark today, pale Death sits at the prow,
And few shall know we ever lived a hundred years from now.


A Hundred Years From Now, poem by Mary A. Ford

1 - It's A Long Way To Minnesota

On Halloween night 1918, Judge Knott tried to rest knowing it was coming again, and it would be his duty to confront it head-on. The gripping horror, the explosions, the machine gun bullets, the wounded and the grotesque corpses that lay where they fell. The ugliest reality of life. At pre-dawn, the time when lightness wrestles with the darkness and the outcome is still unclear, the US shelling began.

Private Knott held up about two and a half miles west of the Meuse River near Verdun, France, waiting for the infantry to takes its turn at a full-frontal assault. His battalion had successfully relieved one that was spent, without incident of friendly fire, which was always a risk in the forward zone. He was in just about the last place on earth he ever expected to be in the middle of a world calamity doing something unfathomable. He was 4,000 miles from his home state of Minnesota preparing to attack in the largest US Army battle ever waged. It was unprecedented. Dreaded Verdun had been the site of indescribable carnage for the French. Like an unwelcome ghost of the past, a heavy shadow of death, failure, and doom had fallen over Judge.

Judge would soon suffer the warmest reception he would ever encounter. Nothing in his short life had prepared him for the call from Uncle Sam, except prayer. Judge was a praying man and he was doing a lot of praying lately. Praying for his two brothers and two cousins who were also part of the enormous wave of khaki-olive clad Americans who came to help end the death and destruction of the past four years. The Knott boys found themselves part of the American Expeditionary Forces, a large American army fighting overseas, which was also unprecedented. Just where were his brothers Ten and Bill? His cousins, Ray and Carlton? Were they still alive?

Judge prayed he would make it home. The problem was, he figured the Huns would be praying the same thing. Whose prayers would be answered? Who would die and who would live? If only he had a guardian angel.

Almighty God: Please give me courage and strength. Please protect me and my brothers. Please get me home again . . .

H-hour was coming before the darkness would vanish, and Judge with the Texas boys were to lead the attack into no man's zone. He was confident his battalion of Tough 'Ombres, although weakened in size, was ready to deliver. But he also knew that in just a few hours, the boys would be falling on all sides of him, torn to pieces. More of his company's men would die in the next few days than at any other time.

This would be Judge's deadliest fight in the war and he was doing his best to prepare. He had to brace himself. He had to keep going. If the only way home was to go forward, then Judge would go over the top. He had to kill or be killed. It was that simple and it was that hard. The Germans would bitterly and skillfully defend the territory they had mastered in over four years of occupation. They were exceptionally prepared.

The doughboys who survived the next few hours and days would never forget what happened. Some would never speak of it again. The first worldwide war would become personal, even define some. These were young men whose destinies were still a mysterious blank slate, except for the deep impression the war would inevitably leave. They would carry the haunting and intimate memories that would color their world for the rest of their days.

The lice were back, so were the rats, the trenches, the mud, the funk holes, the barbed wire, the shell holes, the ruins, the tree stumps, the pock-marked barren gray landscape. It was near freezing, getting bitterly cold as the war went on, and the doughboys were insufficiently supplied. There were just not enough overcoats, blankets, food, and drinkable water.

Judge could talk tough, a typical trait of many young men. The truth was, he desperately wanted to see his mother again. And, then there was Duke. Wasn't it just last Halloween that he was tipping over outhouses back home in Minnesota? How in the world did his life come to this?

Table of Contents

Preface
1. It's A Long Way To Minnesota
2. The Knott Boys
3. The Alamo's "Hell Fire and a Fuzzy-O"
4. Over There
5. Over The Top At St. Mihiel
6. "I Am Trying My Best To Shoot Them"
7. The Battle Of Meuse-Argonne
8. Alamo Division Numbers And Notables
9. Post-Armistice And The March To Germany
10. Living With The Germans
11. Home
12. Carlton Knott And The Lost Battalion
13. A Tough 'Ombre To The End
Acknowledgements
Notes
Bibliography

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Alamo Doughboy: Marching Into the Heart of Kaiser's Germany During World War I 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an overall enjoyable and meaningful book to read. Not only is it a local midwest non-fiction piece following a MN private during WWI, but the research and attention to detail in this book makes you feel like you truly know the protagonist by the time you finish the book, resulting in the book coming to life in a special way. I recommend this book to both the casual and experienced reader, you won't regret it.