• A company of the 139th infantry regiment of the 35th Division, passing through Jarmeuil, France on June 25, 1918. COURTESY PHOTO/NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL

When Burleson went to war

November 11, 1918, is a significant day in the history of the world. It is the day the last signature was placed on Armistice Agreements to end a war between most of the countries in Europe that began on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia. Germany, Russia, France and England were soon drawn into the conflict because of mutual protection treaties which obligated them to defend certain other nations.

Some think that Queen Victoria of England was the grandmamma of WW I. She was the matchmaker for her royal family and strove to build an empire by arranging marriages in her family. She had nine children and 42 grandchildren. Seven of her Grandchildren sat on European thrones: Russia, Greece, Romania, Britain, Germany, Spain and Norway. The military powers in the group were England, Germany and Russia. There were rivalries and jealousies between the cousins and the war became somewhat of a family feud.

Germany attacked Britain and France. Russia attacked Germany and Austria-Hungary. The small war expanded and became known as World War I when other countries, including the United States of America, joined the conflict. The United States did not become involved in WW I until April 6, 1917, when it declared War on Germany for attacking their ships in the Atlantic. Millions of soldiers from both sides had died in the more than three years of war and neither side had any significant success or gained any advantage. Both sides agreed to sign armistice agreements to suspend hostilities by mutual consent. There was not a winner or loser in WW I. There was only a time out so both could regroup. A truce of sorts.

The war resumed in 1939 into what is called World War II. Some historians consider WW I and WW II to be the same war.

Many of you are probably asking yourselves, “What does all this gobbledygook about war way over in Europe have to do with Burleson, Texas?”  Well, the 1981 Burleson history book reports that it was a big deal. “On May 18, 1917, the United States Congress passed a Selective Service Act that at first required all men between 21 and 30 to register for military service. The age limits were later changed to include those between 18 and 45. Burleson men volunteered or were drafted in about equal numbers. Most able bodied men of the community were in military service with the few remaining manning the farms, necessary businesses and war industries.

Burleson citizens performed well during World War I, as their heritage would indicate. To compile a list of the veterans of the war from the Burleson area is like compiling a list of the families in the area. Such a list would include: Booth, Norwood, Griffing, Moritz, Lawson, Rosamond, Norris, Southall, Lace, Bransom, Collins, Jones, Chisenhall, Wynn and many others.

The Burleson Visitor Center and Museum has a great collection of WW I memorabilia on display which was loaned to the Museum in honor of WW I veteran, Fletcher Wynn, by his daughter, Janie Stephens. The collection consists of: a wool blouse, overseas cap, knap sack, cartridge belt, small German parachute used to deliver propaganda, mortar shell (disarmed of course), cartridges and pictures of Taliaferro Air Field in Everman which was used to train pilots for WW I.

The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

John Duke Smith is a local history buff. Do you have a question for him?  John Duke Smith can be reached by email at johndukesmith@sbcglobal.com

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Burleson Star

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