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Walter McKinley Blackledge, World War I soldier

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Sergt Walter M. Blackledge

Onaga, Kansas.

137th Inf. 35th Div

 

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Sergt Walter M. Blackledge

Onaga, Kansas

137th Inf 35 Div

 

34591

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In Memoriam.

Union memorial services were held at the Baptist church in this city on Sunday morning, November 3rd, for Sergeant Walter M. Blackledge, son of Rev. and Mrs. J.P. Blackledge, who gave his life in the cause of freedom and justice on the battle fields of France.

Rev. Good of the Congregational church conducted the services, assisted by Rev. Stewart of the M. E. church. A male quartette furnished the music. The Onaga State Guards attended in a body.

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Walter McKinley Blackledge was born in North Kansas City, Mo., on November 21st, 1897, and was killed in action in the battle of the Argonne on September 28th, 1918, and was 20 years, 11 months and 7 days of age at the time of his death.

He moved with his parents to Wamego, Kansas, in March, 1900 where he started to school, finishing his school work in different places in Kansas, completing the required high school course in Council Grove and Garnett. He entered the Kansas State Agricultural College in the autumn of 1916 leaving school in April 1917, and upon declaration of war enlisted in Co. K, first Kansas infantry, at Garnett, Kansas.

He was baptized February 6th, 1908, in Council Grove, Kansas, and was a member of the Onaga Baptist church at the time of his death. He was active in Sunday school and young people’s work in Council Grove and Garnett, but never having lived in Onaga was not identified with the active church work here.

Sergeant Blackledge enlisted in Co. K, first Kansas infantry April 17th, 1917, and was mustered into federal service at Garnett August 8th, 1917. Appointed corporal on September 7th, 1917. He was transferred to Camp Doniphan, Ft. Sill, Okla. September 30th, where the first and second Kansas regiments were combined to form the 137th U. S. infantry. They remained at Camp Doniphan in training until April 14, 1918, sailing for overseas April 25th, arriving in England May 7th, and in France May 9, 1918. They were taken to Alsace sector entering the trenches June 20th, where Corporal Blackledge was ordered to put on a sergeant’s chevron and put in charge of a post consisting of a French corporal and squad and an American corporal and squad. He continued to act as sergeant and was officially appointed as sergeant September 12th, 1918. They were in the trenches twenty days, then taken to a rest camp, and into the trenches again August 3rd. After this time in the trenches they were transferred to the more active sector north of Verdun where they were put into the drive in the Argonne Forest of September 26 to 29. In this advance Sergeant Blackledge was killed in action September 28th.

 

Union services in memory of Clyde Keeney were held in the Baptist church last Sunday morning November 10th. The services were conducted by the pastor Rev. J. P. Blackledge, assisted by Rev. Good and Rev. Stewart. Music was furnished by a male quartette. The Onaga State Guards and the Odd Fellows lodge, of which latter organization the deceased was a member, attended in a body, and the church was crowded to its utmost capacity.

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Clyde E. Keeney was born at Neuchatel, in Nemaha county, Kansas, on January 12th, 1896; and was killed in action in France on September 2d, 1918.

He was called into the service of his country April 26th, 1918, and was stationed at Camp Funston until May 25th, then leaving for New York, from which place he sailed for Overseas about June 1st.

 

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First Baptist Church

Jas. P. Blackledge, Pastor

Onaga, Kansas.

 

Kansas State Historical

Received

Dec 16 1918

Society

 

December 15-1918

 

William E. Connelly,

Topeka, Kansas.

 

I am enclosing information requested concerning Walter McKinley Blackledge, Sergt. Co. K 137 Inf. reported killed in action in France, Sept 28-1918. His cousin Harold Johnson, of Wamego was Killed in Action October 28-1918.

Mrs=Blackledge, and Mrs Johnson are sisters. Maiden name Childers, Mrs Blackledge, was born in Wamego Kans. Zorah R Childers,, Dau. of Melvin and Melissa Childers, Jas. P. Blackledge was born in Jefferson Co, Ohio, Son of Cyrus and Josephine Blackledge, Walter had two brothers in the service, Capt. Benjiman F.  Blackledge, Co. F 41st Inf. Camp Funston, Kans. and Sergt. Victor. R. Blackledge, S.A.T.C. K.S.A.C. Manhattan Kans, Co. 4.

Cyrus Blackledge, served in civil war three yrs and nine mo. in Co D 80th, Ohio Vol. Inf.

Melvin Childers served I Cuvil War, in Union army from East Tennessee, can get record if wanted.

Jas. P. Blackledge, Served 3 yrs in Co. E 3 rd. Mo. Inf. N.G. and one year in Kansas State Guard, as Capt. Co. A and now as Major, 45th Battalion.

I do not know if you will find what you want in what I am sending you or not, but will send you other information if desired, and of course you can use only such as you care to of what I am sending.

Fraternally in F.C.& L.

James P. Blackledge

 

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Sheet No 1

 

First Baptist Church

Jas. P. Blackledge, Pastor

Onaga, Kansas.

 

Extracts from letters written from France by Walter McKinley Blackledge, Co. K. 157 Inf.

No.2.   Written May 30-1918. Not Dated.

 

Dearest Folks;

I received two letters from you yesterday and they sure were a Godsend, they were both written in April, I also recieved one from Frank Written in May…..

Today is the big holliday that comes along the last of May, so you may judge what day it is and I can imagine what is going on in the States today. President Wilson sent the prayer he issued over heremit was a mighty nice proclamation.

I am close enough that I can hear the rumble of the big guns, I can also hear and see lots of air raids, and believe me it is sure good to look at. The guns flashing in the dark you know, so you can see that I am getting closer all the time, and I am anxious to get into it and see what it is like……………

Lots of Love.

Walt,

 

No.1.  Some where, Sometime,

Date by Censor, 5/19-18.

 

Dear Mother and all;

That is about all the heading I can place on my letter, you can judge from that just about where I am.

The trip over was verry fine, I did not get sick coming over which surprised me verry much. The sea was verry calm except for one or two days, and then it was realy rough, the waves splashed up over the deck many times. We had a fight with a Submarine, or rather our chasers did, and they sank two of the “subs”, also one of the boats that came across with us was sunk, no one was lost tho.

We are in France now training, I can’t tell you where we are. The country is certainly quaint. The people seem to be living about one hundred years ago. I am seeing things in reality that I have seen pictures of and studied about in school There is certainly no place I have seen yet that can compare with the good old “States” …………

France is not near as pretty a country as England. The latter is just like a great big garden. I never did see such a pretty place, everything is kept so nice, green grass everywhere kept well, and stacks of flowers. ………….

I saw an air battle last night, it was about thrity miles away and was certainly pretty. ………..

Lots of love

Your son

Walter

 

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Sheet No 2

 

First Baptist Church

Jas. P. Blackledge, Pastor

Onaga, Kansas.

 

No.3.   June 17-1918.

 

Dear Folks;.

I recieved another letter from you dated May 20, not quite a month. ………………….

We have moved since I wrote you last and are now in the Alps (Vosges) mountains. I believe it is the prettiest country I ever saw, you have seen pictures and have read about this country but you cant appreciate it until you really see it, it is certainly great. The people here drive oxen all of the time to work with. I only wish I had a kodack so I could bring some of this country back with me. I wish I could bring you all over here in peace times to see what I am seeing, The trip would certainly be worth the money.

I got a letter from Frank today, he is certainly a sick man, he said he would like to be a private in Co. K if he could be in France with us, I think he is better off with his Lieutenantcy however, I am glad I am where I am tho.

We are to move in the morning, we go to the third line trenches and I surely am glad, I am tired sitting around behind the lines, we will never win the war that way. I don’t know that I told you but Gen. Pershing said that our Division was the best looking bunch of soldiers that had arrived in France. Some compliment I think.

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You have read in the bible about sleeping in mangers, well I am trying it out now and it is not half bad. Good night,

Lots of love,

Walt,

 

No. 4               June 27-1918.

On the Line,

 

Dearest Folks;

I am at last on the front line, have been here for six days, I cant tell much difference in the way I feel, only that I am much more business-like, It has a rather calming effect to have shells whistling over your head every day and stray pieces of shrapnel flying around, but at that I rather like it. It is not so dull as drilling out day after day the same old thing.

I am in charge of a sector on a hill, I have a French squad and an American corporal and ten men. It is a post rather than a sector, small you know. I am still acting Sergt. I suppose I will be made Sergt. some day, I don’t know that it makes much difference tho while we are up here at any rate. The Frenchies we have with us are a fine bunch of fellows, and all old hands at the game, that makes it much easier for us. What they know already they can tell us, then we don’t have that to learn by experience “Compri”.

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I am going to have a bunch of souvenirs when I come back. We also got some new clothes and tobacco today…………………..

The French Gen and our Major are to be around so I had better stop

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Lots of love,

Walter

 

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Sheet No 3

 

First Baptist Church

Jas. P. Blackledge, Pastor

Onaga, Kansas.

 

No.5.               July 4-1918

In the Trenches.

 

Dear Folks;

We have not been relieved yet as you see and I am not sure when we will be, I am getting a little anxious to get out and get cleaned up because I sure need it. These trenches are rether poor in their bath facilities, if it was’nt for that I wouldn’t mind it much, so far we have not had much to do.

Tomorrow is the Fourth, I do not know how I will celebrate, but am rather certain of the place. If things stay as they are I will be in this same little dug-out. I imagine things will be rather quiet in the States too, they will probably save their powder to send over here.

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I do not think Frank will have much chance to get over here for this war if he does not start pretty soon, Because we are figuring on ending it before long. I hope real soon, I have seen a lot of country and do not care much for seeing any more on this trip. I want to save some for some other time………………….

Bob Jones is sitting here playing a guitar, he sure is good. Such things make one feel better at times and other times it makes him feel worse, I would not have it gone tho for the times it makes me think of things I do not want to. We think quite a lot of ourselves. You see we are the first American troops that were ever on German soil. We are on German soil and in some of the first trenches built. They were occupied by the Germans once I guess, that is what they tell us here any way, and I suppose they know. The villages around here are all of German names and the people in them where there is any, all speak the German language. I will be telling you where we are in a minute and that is not alowed.

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Your son,

Walter.

Words under scored delated by Censor.

 

No.6.               July 25-1918

In a rest Camp

 

Dear Folks;

I have delayed writing because we were moving and I did not have the chance I did while in the trenches. We came out all fine and dandy, just had one casualty all the time we were in. We are working pretty hard now, getting ready to go in again I suppose. It is called a rest camp but there is not much rest to it. We are working mor than we were in the trenches but there the strain always watching for Jerry in some way, we were sure doing that all the time we were in the trenches. We are billeted in a big factory building, It makes a pretty fair barracks……………..

I realy do not think Frank will ever get over here if he does not get started verry soon. Because this bunch is sure doing some fighting, and believe me they are sure going to keep it up, they all want to come home and they figure that is the best and quickest way there.

Maybe you do not know it but our division is supposed to be about the best one in the American Army at present. I guess that is pretty good for us. We are a part of the Crack Army Corps. We are being saved for the big drive to Berlin I think. I hope it will not be long and I do not think it will, unless the Dutch give up before we get another chance at them, We are sure going to give them a run for their money. Just one big smash and Jerry will be no more. Then it will be U.S. and life again for me.

I just finished reading a N.Y. Herald Paris Ed. The Allies are still going and do not show any signs of stopping. It sure looks good. When I go back in I hope they let us go like the rest are going, and I think I will eat Christmas dinner at home

Your Son

Walter

 

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Sheet No 4

 

First Baptist Church

Jas. P. Blackledge, Pastor

Onaga, Kansas.

 

No.6.               August 2-1918

In the Third Line.

 

Dearest Folks;

I received four letters the other day, I like to get them that way. I can spend a day almost in reading them, which means a whole day of enjoyment. Everyone crowds around the office when a bunch of mail comes in The mail and the mess line are two great points of interest in this mans army………………………………………….

I have Wondered about Frank whether he has started or not, I know he has had time enough. There are Sixty Thousand each week getting over here.  That is some soldiers. Good bye Jerry if they keep that up verry long, And believe me I am strong for them. I only wish I was up there in the thick of it right now. The sooner we get there the sooner we will get them licked………………..

Listen Dad, you had not better offer me any more ice-cream because you will pay for it when I get back.

I arrived in England, May 7th. in France May 9th, Sailed April 25th.

Your Son In France.

 

No.7.               September 8 1918

In a verry pretty country.

 

Dearest Folks;

I received a large shipment of mail today, and it surely was good …………………That is the way I like to get mail, I can spend lots of time reading them.

I surely am feeling fine, We are in a new part of France for me. We have moved since I last wrote you. Just now I am sitting on my cot in a barrack eating Nougat candy, not so bad for a world war in France is it? Oh it is an awful war over here, It might get worse tho, I do not care if it would get a little worse. The place we are in is sure a pretty little valley. I suppose we are waiting our turn in the line, and when we do go in we will probably not have such a quiet time as we did the other trip we were in, Because we are where they do not fight for fun. I am seeing things now that I have never seen before. The planes sure are plentiful around here, the first morning I was here I saw fourty in the air at one time, and I have seen several German planes brought down. Believe me people that is some sight. Imagine two or three planes darting around in the air at about 150 mile an hour shooting at each other. You can’t inagine it, You must see it yourself to have any idea of what it is like. That is one of the many things that makes this war interesting.

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Lots of love,

Walt.

 

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Sheet No 5

 

First Baptist Church

Jas. P. Blackledge, Pastor

Onaga, Kansas.

 

No.8.               September 22-1918

Somewhere else,

 

Dearest Folks;

Well we have moved again, in fact we have been doing nothing but move for the past three weeks, In that time I have traveled almost a hundred and seventy five miles and that is some distance in France, It is not like traveling in America.

Two days ago I received eleven letters at one time that is the way we get mail over here…………….

Yes I have been made a Sergt. it was the 12th of September, they sent the order up twice before but it could not get thru for some reason.

The 20th of June we went into the front line the first time and came out the 10th of July.

Yes I had a letter from Vic and he sure wants to get in mighty bad, I can tell from the way he writes that he envies me But I can tell you he does not need to be too envious, it is no pleasure trip. I do admire him for the way he feels tho………………………

Lots of Love.

Walt.

 

No.9.               September 18-1918.

On the move.

 

I am not sure that I know where I am if I did I could not tell you so why worry.

I have not been with the Company for three days, I am one of the Div. Billeting detail, I am around ahead of the outfit trying to find a place for them to lay their weary heads when they get in. I am seeing some more of France that I have longed to see. I expect every man or woman who has read about this war at all has read lots about the sector we are in now. I would venture to say that probably the hardest fought battle of the war was fought in this sector. The little villages certainly show it too. Most of them are just piles of ruined buildings, simply skeletons, one needs a great imagination to believe they ever were buildings. The Huns surely made a sad sight out of some of the French cities and towns, but the time is coming verry near, I think when they will regret ever destroying a French home of any kind.

I think the U.S. men are giving them a little more than they bargained for now, When I see you I can tell you a lot about the latest American effensive, It was the greatest thing of the war. ……………..

It makes one think more about this war to be riding alons the road and on each side see mound after mound with a little cross merking the grave of some man who has fallen on that spot or near that spot. I have seen that for the last two days. I have ridden for miles and have seen all along the way, field after field of just such mounds, nothing but a little wooden cros and a little wooden fence, but it stands I guess for one of the greatest honors a man can have. It certainly makes one feel different to see so many of those little crosses dotted around over the country. It gives a better excuse for winning this war with arms and making those Dutch repent, and I am happy to say I believe they are a little repentant right now, and it will not take long to finish them, and when all that is done it will be the good old U.S for me, and the dearest little girl in the world. I think it is worth coming over here and going thru all of these things, just to have the chance to go back.

Lots of love

Walt.  

 

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December 16, 1918

 

Rev. James P. Blackledge,

Onaga, Kansas.

 

Dear sir-

 

I thank you for your favor of the 15” inst., sending me historical sketch of Walter McKinley Blackledge, Sergeant, Co. K, 137th Infantry, who was killed in action in France, September 28, 1918. You certainly prepared these papers in first class shape. I am more that glad to have the copies of the letters of this soldier. We shall use this material or as much as we can of it, in  making a record of what the Kansas soldiers have done in this war. I am glad to see that these boys are descended from Union soldiers of the Civil War. My father was a soldier for the Union in the Civil War from the Big Sandy Valley in Kentucky. I desire to have a photograph of this soldier is you can furnish me with one.

 

Very truly yours,

 

Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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