World War I Military Service

Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno, in his book entitled E.E. Cummings: A Biography (p. 104), notes that on April 6, 1917:

“President {Woodrow} Wilson, noting famously that “the world must be made safe for democracy”, prevailed upon Congress to declare war.  The next day, Tex Wilson walked into the army recruiting office and signed up to be an aviator”.

At that time, Wilson and Cummings were sharing an apartment in New York City’s Greenwich Village.  Cummings volunteered for the ambulance service and on April 28, 1917, Wilson, Cummings’ mother, and some other friends “assembled to see him off…as Cummings boarded the Touraine to France”.

July 14, 1917, Wilson was commissioned into the 9th C.D.C., 17th, as a 2nd Lieutenant.  On August 5, 1917, Wilson was drafted into Federal Service from NG, showing his residence as 706 Hammond Avenue, San Antonio, Texas.  Military records reflect service in 17 Co 9 CDC, NYNG to August 21, 1917, 20 Co 9 DC to September 5, 1917, 18 Co 9 CDC, NYNG (57 Rgt CA) to March 22, 1918, and CAC Unassng to discharge, with service overseas from September 15, 1918 through January 25, 1919.  Wilson was honorably discharged on February 5, 1919 at the convenience of the government.  In France (A.E.F.) June 1918 – February 1919 (passport application 1924).

We have come across a photograph of then Captain Harry S. Truman, Battery D 129th Field Artillery, sitting on a horse. This is a frontal view of both horse and rider. This photograph was taken at Camp Coetquidan, Brittany, France in July, 1918 by Arthur W. Wilson, 2nd Lt., Battery E, 129th Field Artillery. See also photo number 79-19. Donor: Lieutenant Arthur W. Wilson.  It seems highly probable that this artist took this photograph during his service in France.

Truman photo