Summary

Conflict Period:
World War I 1
Branch:
Army 1
Birth:
27 Sep 1895 1
Death:
23 Sep 1985 1
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Personal Details

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Person:
Leo Lythgoe 1
Gender: Male 1
Social Security Number: ***-**-2248 1
Birth:
27 Sep 1895 1
Death:
23 Sep 1985 1
Cause: Unknown 1
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World War I 1

Branch:
Army 1
Enlistment Date:
13 Jun 1918 1
Organization:
Army 1
Organization Code:
ARMY 1
Release Date:
22 May 1919 1

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Stories

Part of an interview done by Dennis L. Lythgoe (Leo's son), with Leo (LTL) and his wife, Lavinia (LML)

DLL: How old were you then [when you registered for the army]?
LTL: I was 21 years old. I had to go to Cowley to register. I decided I'd enlist in the navy first. Old Mark Partridge and me and George... what the heck is his name? Benson. Went to Billings to enlist in the navy. I passed everything, and I turned to walk out of the room and the guy said I had flat feet. They wouldn't take me! They took George and Mark. I went home. Oh, they didn't take them right then. They went back home too, and they were called later.
DLL: Were you drafted?
LTL: No, I wasn't drafted.
DLL: You just had to register.
LTL: I had to register, yeah. They would have drafted me if I hadn't have went. Every young man went a year ahead of me, 2 years ahead of me, pretty near. After that, that's when Heman and I went and enlisted. Heman, and Bill Ketchum, and George Ketchum and Williams from Byron, I can't think of all their names. Several of us enlisted in the army. Then they went right through Wyoming in a train you know. They started up in Cody, Wyoming, that was the start of the line of the railroad, and every town they went through they picked up guys. Heman and I were left in Cowley, and these other guys, D.J. Willis and several of them. They went all through Wyoming clear to Evanston and picked up fellas from every town. And stopped for them. When we got to Evanston, they had 280 soldiers on there, on that train. They took us up to Logan. When they called George Jensen, he took a stroke, paralytic stroke. So he never did go. Finally, he got over it all right.
DLL: Was he upset by the call?
LTL: I don't know what done it, might have had something to do with it.
LML: That's what they said.
LTL: That's when Heman and I went in the army. We went up to Logan for 2 months. They was drillin' us up there. They had 280 rookies, tryin' to teach 'em Squads East and West. (chuckles) I'll never forget that. They had a big building up there at Logan. A new building at that time. They put us in there, it was about 3 stories high. Had us all in there. They'd take us out and drill us a couple hours a day, and they'd try to teach anyone that wanted to learn a trade, ya know. So, Heman and I, we was gonna be carpenters. We went in and an old Dutchman was teaching us. First thing he done, he was trying to teach us to file a saw. He gave us each a saw. We had to file that saw so it'd work. Land, you oughta'd seen them saws that'd work. Some big teeth and some little. He said, "First you yoint 'em, then you set 'em, then you file 'em." He made us file on that saw a week or two until we could file it perfect. Wear the saw out!
They drilled us there, we didn't even have a uniform, overalls and jumper. First they'd drill us without any guns, you know. Right and left, "Rear March," and all that stuff, and finally, they gave us a gun. You had to "Man your arms." Carry this gun on your shoulder, and then he'd give us "To the rear, March!" then turn right around like that, see, (demonstrates). When he gave "To the rear, March," some turned one way and some the other, and them old guns was just a crackin'! The Lieutenant says, "Stack Arms!" Land, he drilled us "To the rear, March" for a week. We could do it! (chuckles) It rained there and we had a big puddle of water, and we was marchin' down there, one, two, three, four, when they come to the puddle of water, they stopped. That bloomin' lieutenant, he just marched us through that puddle of water, kept giving us "To the rear, March!" till we dried the bloomin' thing up! (chuckles)
LML: Tell about the fire drill.
LTL: They had a fire drill in that building one night, in the middle of the night. Land, we didn't know anything about a fire drill. They made a fire down in the bottom, it was a cement building, you couldn't have burned it down! They put a barrel in there and made a smudge so it smoked. Then hollered "Fire!" And all them guys came pilin' out of that bloomin' place, like crazy men, you know, trying to get out of there, cause they thought they was going to be burned up. They never told us they was going to have a fire drill, you know, They came out carrying their ticks and everything else, and shorts, and some guys picked up, they had straw ticks on the beds, they'd come carrying them bloomin' ticks out. Some of them without their clothes, but I got my clothes on and go down there. And they lined us all up in the middle of the night, you know. That was funny! Those guys were carrying anything. They thought they were going to be burned up. That old 2nd lieutenant, old "Hardboiled" we called him, bug guy with a moustache, he just liked to bawl us out. He got out there, it seemed like he had short arms. He'd drill the tar out of us. He'd bawl us out, he'd say, "You're not behind the plow now, you're in the army!"
Heman and I were there. When they shipped us out, they took us three from each company and shipped us all over the United States. So they split him and me up. He went to the captain and finally got it switched so that him and I went to the same place. Old Captain Cray-zee. Another thing you wouldn't believe about people. They marched us into a place where we eat, a mess hall, you know; they'd march us in there and then tell you to sit down. They'd have food on all the tables. Plenty of food, they fed us good up there. Some of those guys would sit down and step over that bench and reach for the food they wanted first, just to try to hog it all. You wouldn't believe what guys'd do, even Sam Welch! He took 5 pieces of cake and put on his plate! Boy, that old captain, he got up and give us a lecture. He said, "No more of that there grabbin' for food! If that's ever done again, I'll put all the mess hogs at the same table!"
DLL: Did you go to New Mexico from there?
LTL: We went to Camp Cody, New Mexico. Hottest bloomin' place in the world! Just had tents there. They took us one at a time and scattered us through the camp. There weren't but 20 of us went there. We was all dressed in civilian clothes. All rookies. We went in there and they was supposed to be soldiers. We was there about a week, and then they shipped us to Camp Dix, New Jersey.
LML: Is that were they got the flu?
LTL: Yeah, that's where they got the flu. We still didn't have a uniform. When we got there to Camp Dix, they rustled up a pair of pants and a shirt. That's all I had. They didn't have enough uniforms for the soldiers. Land, I had that until I got down to Camp Dix, and finally got a uniform. When I was in Logan, I bought a pair of shoes, bought 'em to fit me then. When I got to Camp Dix, bloomin' shoes like to have killed me! The captain took me into this place and fitted me up with a pair of his shoes. Captain Chase. We drilled there for a month. We went out on the rifle range once. I shot 250 shots. Bloomin' gun kicked like a shot gun. My arm was black and blue; my shoulder was black and blue, then I put it down on my arm, and IT was black and blue. That's the only time I ever shot a gun all the while I was in the army. One day. I drilled a month, and then the flue broke out. Land, they was dyin' there by the 100's. They couldn't get them all in the hospital. You'd go into the barracks and detail the other soldiers to wait on the sick ones. They didn't know what to do for it. Died like flies there. Quarantined us for a month. Had a funeral every day and then some. Nine in our company died. In the barracks I stayed in, the 2nd lieutenant came in there and everybody was getting sick and he thought they was just a fakin'. We'd got orders that we were going to France. He bawled them out, a guy right next on each side of me was sick¾ and they both died in a week. And he bawled BOTH of them guys out for being sick.
DLL: You didn't get it?
LTL: No, Heman and I never got it. We volunteered to take a shot. They was tryin' out anything. I don't know if the shot done any good. We didn't get it.
DLL: You didn't take the shot?
LTL: Yeah, I took the shot, Heman and I both. They kept us under quarantine then for a month. After the month was over, they shipped us to France. Part of the division got on the boat before this flu broke out, and they got it on the ocean. They died like flies out there. George Ketchum, one of the guys with us, from Cowley, he was buried in the ocean. We went in a convoy, 13 battle ships and a destroyer. That's how we went across the ocean, took us 13 days, to get to England. We crossed the English Channel to France, then crossed France in these box cars. Herded us in there like a bunch of cattle. Then we started hiking up through the Argonne Woods to the front. We hiked about a week until we got to the front, 2 days after the Armistice was signed. We stayed up there about 3 days and then we hiked 30 days back. Right down the River Thames [Seine? DJL] Couldn't see the front nor the back.
DLL: What division was it?
LTL: 77th Division. We joined the 77th Division. We were in the 34th Division when we went over there, and they split us up. Sent us in for replacements for those who got killed. We hiked 10 or 12 miles one day and 20-25 miles the next. We got to a little town and we stayed there in a grove for a few months. We had to drill a little and clean up the town, then they shipped us to LeMonds, France. We sailed for home on the big U.S.S. America. It carried 9,000 soldiers. When I got on the ship¾ out in the middle of the ocean, Heman was on it. I didn't know he was on it. And Ern Anderson. We came into New York and paraded down New York's Fifth Avenue for 105 blocks. People were lined down each side of the street, you know, clear up in the buildings looking out. The 77th Division was a New York division. When we got through they put us on the subway and took us out to Long Island. Three weeks I think we were there. That's when Heman and I went into New York to have that picture taken.
LML: Tell about your furlough.
LTL: That was in France. I put in for a 14 day furlough, and Doggone, if I didn't get it! (chuckles) There was 4 or 5 of 'em in the outfit got it, and so we went to Paris, and they let us stop in Paris 24 hours. We went up in that big Ferris Wheel where the Eiffel Tower is you know? We went on the Ferris Wheel, 500 feet high, that thing was. What do you call it? The Eiffel Tower? They have an elevator to take you to the top of that, but it wasn't working. So we didn't go up there. We stopped in Paris, you could only stay there 24 hours. Then we went to Lyon, France. We stayed there 4 or 5 days and then they posted a sign there that all men in the 77th Division report back to their outfit, immediately. Well, we had to go back. We went through Paris again, and stayed there another 24 hours, then we went back to this little town and they shipped us out. We went home.
LML: You went to some place, where the other guys went in and you waited outside.
LTL: Oh, that was one of them "fast houses."
DLL: Fast house?
LTL: Yeah, You know, these women. There was a whole block of them. These other guys, they wanted to go through there, but I didn't want to¾ I stayed out in the park until they came out. Doggone women'd run you off the street, bump into you, you know, walkin' along the street.
DLL: Pretty rough place in those days, eh? Was that in Paris?
LTL: No, that was in Lyon, France. We was a stayin' at a YMCA there. This Corporal House, he was one that went with us to that house. No, it was a sergeant! Somebody stole his pants and all the money he had! He was asleep¾ he didn't know who got it.
LML: Didn't you have lice?
LTL: Oh, yeah. When we got to Port, they just de-loused us, that's what they called it. Stripped us off and took all our clothes, and gave us new clothes, and a shower, you know. People were lousier than pet coons, some of those guys! I slept in a room with 13 of us, and they was ALL lousy but me. I never did find one on me. But I was scratchin' as hard as they were, I guess they must have been on me. Old Wadsworth, a guy from Idaho, had one of these undershirts that slip over your head. When he'd go to bed at night, he'd take off this undershirt and then he'd pop these lice, you know. You could hear 'em pop. They he'd put it on inside out and say, "Damn it, they might not get through by morning!" Wrong side out! (chuckles) Land, he had a heck of a time getting them out. That town of Brough, they built a bath house. We hadn't had a bath for 30 days. They build a bath house with a sprinkler in, and then they'd MAKE you take a bath. A lot of them guys didn't WANT to take a bath! They'd check you in and out. Every week. They'd give you new under clothes, and make you go boil your old ones...to kill the lice. Old Wadsworth, used to laugh at him, turning the undershirt inside out and "those damn things might not get through 'til morning." He'd be a poppin' 'em you know. They inspected you for Venereal Disease, if you had a Venereal Disease, you didn't go home.
DLL: Were there a lot of them?
LTL: Oh, land! They had a big camp of them over there! Like this old Kent, from Montana, he went into this bloomin' place and when he got back he began to hurt and he though he had it, but I guess he didn't. He got by. They wouldn't let you come home if you had Venereal Disease. They kept them there and treated them.
DLL: So that was the end of the army? How long were you in it all together?
LTL: 11 months and 20 days. When we was making that hike back, on Thanksgiving morning we was sleepin' in a barn you know. They got us up at 5 o'clock in the morning. On this hike, you see, bloomin' rations'd never catch up with you. We never got a square meal all the time we was on it. We'd eat this canned beef and corned beef and anything we could get. Well, this morning, they said they'd have a meal for us, and we all lined up and the meal never showed up. And they give us one of these English hard tacks, about that long and that thick and that wide and hard as a rock, and a cup of black coffee. That's what we had for breakfast. Then we hiked 23 miles. In the rain. Rained all day long. Thanksgiving Day, and we got into this little town and it was a still a raining. They lined us up there to feed us. They fed us rice and syrup. You never tasted anything so good in your life! We could go back and have all we wanted, we got filled up, all of us.
DLL: Did you go back to Cowley after that was over?
LTL: Yeah, we went back to Cowley.
LML: On the ship going back, wasn't that where you got orange candy?
LTL: Yeah, that was on the boat. See, over in France, you couldn't get nothing sweet. Land, they never had anything sweet, couldn't get sugar or nothing else. Once in a while the cook in the commissary would slip you a little candy. When we got on this boat they had candy, and land, we'd buy this candy by the box and eat it. Then we'd all get sick.
LML: YOU didn't get sick, did you?
LTL: No, I never had sick call all the time I was in the army. Never went to the doctor, only when they had inspection. When we finally got on the train at Camp Mills, there were 6 or 7 trains going out there a day. Filled with solders. They got all the guys going West on the train, they'd say, "New York's own going West." (chuckles) Heman and I got in the same car and slept together going home. They discharged us in Cheyenne. Oscar was discharged there too, about 10 or 12 days before I was. I didn't know that then, but Oscar was in there 2 years, Oscar was. (Oscar Capson)
DLL: You didn't know him in the army, though.
LTL: I didn't know him in the army. We went back to Cowley. Course Heman went back to his wife, she was waiting for him.

 

LML: YOU didn't get sick, did you?

LTL: No, I never had sick call all the time I was in the army. Never went to the doctor, only when they had inspection. When we finally got on the train at Camp Mills, there were 6 or 7 trains going out there a day. Filled with solders. They got all the guys going West on the train¾ they'd say, "New York's own going West." (chuckles) Heman and I got in the same car and slept together going home. They discharged us in Cheyenne. Oscar was discharged there too, about 10 or 12 days before I was. I didn't know that then, but Oscar was in there 2 years¾ Oscar was. (Oscar Capson)

DLL: You didn't know him in the army, though.

LTL: I didn't know him in the army. We went back to Cowley. Course Heman went back to his wife¾ she was waiting for him.

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