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Medal Grouping of American Volunteer Ambulancier Powel Fenton Section Sanitaire Unis 3


Croix de Guerre
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Croix de Guerre

The following medals were awarded to American ambulance volunteer Powel Fenton of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA.  Powel volunteered as an ambulance driver with the American Ambulance Hospital of Paris in February 1915, first serving as a member of the Paris Squad evacuating wounded from le Gare du la Chapelle until he was assigned to Mrs. Whitney's American Ambulance Hospital "B" at the College du Juilly.  In April 1915 he was chosen to be a member of an experimental section assigned directly to the French army then fighting in Alsace and he quickly rose to be the chief mechanic of Section Z, 66th Div. 7th Armee.  Powell remained with the section through the Christmas Battle of Hartsmannswilerkopf in 1915 through their service at Verdun in 1916.  Fenton returned to the United States briefly in the summer of 1916 before returning to join American Field Service Section Three as it was reassigned to the French Army of the Orient and saw service in Monastir, Salonika, Albania and northern Greece. Powel Fenton served a total of 27 months with the Field Service.  In mid-1917 Fenton returned to Paris and enlisted in the United States Army and served as a non-flying officer with the US Army Air Corps.  After WWI Fenton remained in France in in 1940 he again volunteered with the American Red Cross at the American Hospital of Paris.  After an altercation with a German police officer for allegedly breaking curfew in an attempt to get a pack of cigarettes and according to his family, punching the German in the nose, Fenton was arrested and incarcerated by the Nazis in December 1941 and interned as prisoner of war at Frontstalag 122 (camp de Royallieu) in Compiègne where he remained for over two years, until the Allies liberated France in May 1944. Fenton was repatriated to the U.S. after the end of the war.  He passed away in Philadelphia in March 1986 at the age of 95.

 

The decoration ribbons are in rough shape but a fitting tribute to a man that served both the United States and France nobly. 

 

Le Conducteur FENTON, Powel, de la Section Sanitaire Automobile Américaine N° 3, sujet Américain

 

A de nouveau fait preuve d'un dévouement digne des plus grands éloges en assurant nuit et jour, pendant quinze jours, avec un parfait mépris du danger, l'évacuation de nombreux blessés sur une route de montagne constamment battue par les projectiles ennemis.

 

 

1915 November 15 Graham     American Field Service in France.jpg

Powell Fenton Medals.jpeg

Powell at College.jpeg

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jerseygary

That first picture has it all! Actual field dress plus the guy in the back has the eagle badge with suspension bar for time served! Don't think I've seen that being worn in the field before. Thanks for sharing!

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Croix de Guerre
9 hours ago, jerseygary said:

That first picture has it all! Actual field dress plus the guy in the back has the eagle badge with suspension bar for time served! Don't think I've seen that being worn in the field before. Thanks for sharing!

(1915 Photo Bomb!) I think that photo was taken in Paris or even at the American Hospital B in Juilly in November 1915.  The man to the left with the black goatee is Arthur Graham Carey (sous-chef of Section 3) and of course the other man in Powell Fenton.  This photo could also have been taken in January-February 1916.  I know Carey was sent back to Paris to bring back some replacement ambulances in the Fall of 1915.  The guy in the back photobombing the picture is a driver, but was probably a member of the "Paris Squad".  He was some schmo who got in the photo.  He was definitely not a member of Section Three.  Yes, it is an interesting contrast in what their uniform became "in the field" as opposed to the guys back in Paris.  If this photo was taken in say November, Powell and Carey had both been in the field in Alsace since April that year, so say seven months.  They were having trouble around this time with some of the "O.G.'s" having to get new uniforms as most only had the one.  They slept in them, worked in them, got God Knows What on them, through rain, snow and mud.  

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Croix de Guerre

Powell was a hard charger but wasn't all that popular with some of the rank and file I am afraid.  The CO's loved him as he was a hard worker and dependable but a lot of the guys thought he was a bit of a ****.  You don't see many photos of him, put it that way but based upon my research it appears that some developed a grudging respect for him as he was a hell of a mechanic and often performed miracles keeping the battered wrecks of SSU 3's ambulances on the road.  After the war he stayed in Paris and may or not have gotten married and had a child.  According to his descendant step-family after he was liberated from the German POW camp, he was repatriated back to the US in 1944.  After the war was over, he returned to Paris and was unsuccessful in finding his girlfriend/wife/baby-momma and returned home to America.  Late in life he married the widow of a friend and she and Powell were more companions that anything else.  When she eventually passed on, she was buried next to her first husband.  Powell lived on and was included in his step-families holiday gatherings until he passed away in 1986 and was buried in the Fenton family plot in Philadelphia.  His sister Beatrice Fenton was a renown artist, sculptor and educator.  If any of you live in Philadelphia you may be familiar with her work.  Evelyn Taylor Price Memorial Sundial (1947), Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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