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56th pioneer infantry regiment


mccooper
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OK - I have them starting as the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, morphing into the 56th, participating in the Meuse-Argonne, then being attached to the Third Army, but not a Corps, probably stationed in Coblenz-Niedermendig, but nothing beyond that re: duties or any other info such as which outfit they may have been attached to. There is a unit history which I cannot find. Would appreciate adding to this info if you can help. Thank you.

 

mccooper

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mars&thunder

The unit history is essentially just a roster with a two page summary of their history. They were organized in 1917 as the First Maine Heavy Artillery so didn't have a long national guard tradition. Men were pulled out to form or fill various US units (101st Trench Mortar Battery for example) and ultimately the remaining 800 men were organized as the 56th Pioneer Infantry on Feb 18, 1918. Arrived France Sept 13, 1918. Almost immediately attached to First Army and departed for the front Sept 19. Arrived at Dombasle-en-Argonne on Oct 2nd and companies distributed all across the Meuse Argonne front. Left for Occupation duty with 3rd Army on Nov 17. Arrived Coblenz Dec 15. The history summary ends at that point so no info on occupation dutues/station.

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Mars&thunder-

 

Thank you for filling in some of the blanks - glad to have the info. Checked the Third Army; the 56th was attached to them. Checked the American Force in Germany - no mention of the 56th. It would appear they went home when the Third was folded in 1919. I have a photo of Co. E which places them in Coblenz-Niedermendig, and have seen a Co. I yardlong taken in front of the Wilhelm Memorial at the Deutsches Eck in Coblenz. This from a listing of archives holdings: photocopy of diary covering the period 8 August 1918–5 June 1919. It may indicate the time they left.

 

mccooper

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mars&thunder

The Order of Battle of US Land Forces in the World War (Zone of Interior/Directory of Troops volume) says the 56th was overseas until Jun 1919, demobilized July 1919 at Ft. Dix. In a recent book - "In a Strange Land - The American Occupation of Germany 1918-1923" has a number of photos of 56th PI service members - all seem to be taken either in Bitburg or Coblenz.

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Thanks - I also turned to Al Barnes' excellent book and found both Bitburg and Coblenz as locations. Per Al, the 56th was known as "The Hiking 56th" and later "The Salvaging 56th." Their duties were guard duty and equipment salvage. It also seems that men of the 56th were proficient at fraternizing. The picture I obtained, a portion of which is seen here, has Co. E photographed in front of the Strassburger Hof gasthaus, which served Schaaf beer from Niedermendig. I did find a current gasthaus by that name in Trimbs, which is located west of Coblenz and south of Nierdemendig. However, at this point their possible presence there is anecdotal. Their patches are Third Army. Thanks, m&t, for your interest and help. And thanks, Al, for your excellent history of an interesting period. Any other comments or data are appreciated. All the best,

 

mccooper

 

post-151387-0-72526300-1555802577_thumb.jpg

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Anecdotal is right. This photo, still in transit, shows that the group was photographed in Coblenz, according to a photo I found in the Barnes book. Hence, Coblenz would appear to be their station. The Bitburg photos may have been men on TDY. Sorry for the confusion; I was sidetracked by the Strassburgerhof name and the lack of the full photo, which I now have. Here is that missing portion which shows the gate ID'ed in the Barnes book as an internal Coblenz city gate. See next entry - think I finally got it right!

mccooper

 

post-151387-0-65488700-1555807076.jpg

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Thanks for the kind words about "In A Strange Land"---as you could probably tell, I have a real soft spot for the Pioneer Infantry Regiments---they were real workhorse outfits that get little credit---probably because they disappeared after the war from the Army's TOE structure so whatever lineage is left comes from upstate NY and New England National Guard units---some of them were filled with recent immigrants also which made them pretty colorful outfits---and I love this image you have posted for Co E---

Al

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mars&thunder

Have you looked at a copy of Pershing's Pioneers by Moses Thisted (I may have the spelling wrong on the author's name)? I had a copy here in my library but I "reorganized" and now I can't find the Pioneer Infantry section. Frustrating.

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Al-

 

Thanks for your reply. A most interesting group, the Pioneer Infantrymen. This yardlong was an exciting find. Was in Coblenz in the fall of 2107, and took an area tour with the local guide hired by the cruise company. He did not know of America's association with his city in WWI. Disappointing, but not surprising. Your book is most thorough; perhaps the river cruise companies should have a copy - American travelers should know.

 

Brooke

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M&T-

 

Thank you for the tip - I was unaware of that book, which I will try to find. I understand the frustration. My wife is getting tired of hearing that the only books I can't find are the one I am looking for! And I even got new specs. All the best,

 

mccooper

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AustinO-

 

Many thanks for the pictures. I had wondered if that area was still intact - question answered. Even more glad to have the yardlong. All the best,

 

mccooper

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post-151387-0-78899200-1556655474_thumb.jpg

 

To finish off the story: the gate led mto the Dominican Monastery, which was destroyed in 1944. This photo is dated 1900, pre-Strassburger Hof. That was an expansion of the building to the right of the gate, those to the left appear to be the same.

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post-151387-0-46640900-1556655774.jpg

 

The area of the yardlong photo was the Weisser Gasse (White Alley), seen here in a 2019 satellite shot. In the old town area, near the Mosel, seen at the top of the photo. Gate at lower left. The building in the background is a school. The location is not far from the Deutsches Eck.

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Al-

 

Thanks for your reply. A most interesting group, the Pioneer Infantrymen. This yardlong was an exciting find. Was in Coblenz in the fall of 2107, and took an area tour with the local guide hired by the cruise company. He did not know of America's association with his city in WWI. Disappointing, but not surprising. Your book is most thorough; perhaps the river cruise companies should have a copy - American travelers should know.

 

Brooke

 

Brooke - I got the same reaction from our guide in 2016 when I asked him if he knew that the US Marine Corps patrolled this stretch of the Rhine in 1918 and 1919---but on the positive side, a young German guy has recently completed a book on the US occupation and I believe it will be published in English and German...perhaps finally, the 250,000 soldiers and Marines of the Third Army will get their recognition---heck, they had to wait 20 years to get their Occupation of Germany medal, what's another 80 years?

regards,

Al

 

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Al-

 

That is good news. Please let us know when the book will be available here. By the way, one of my favorite W.C. Fields lines is this: "It was a woman who drove me to drink; I never took the time to thank her." To paraphrase that: "It was an author who drove me to collect occupation items; I never took the time to thank him." Until now. Fascinating subject.

 

Brooke

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Al-

 

That is good news. Please let us know when the book will be available here. By the way, one of my favorite W.C. Fields lines is this: "It was a woman who drove me to drink; I never took the time to thank her." To paraphrase that: "It was an author who drove me to collect occupation items; I never took the time to thank him." Until now. Fascinating subject.

 

Brooke

 

Brooke--thanks for the kind words---I'll keep you in the loop when Marc's book hits the stands... I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one fascinated by the US Occupation of Germany 1918 to 1923 -- It truly is one of the most successful US Army operations of the 20th century and yet so few people even realize it took place...

regards,

Al

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  • 1 year later...
David Sarley

I believe that my Grandfather was a member of the 56th.  I have a yard long of Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, SC and photos from four of the regiment reunions.

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  • 7 months later...

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