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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Henry, Norbert V. (P1, C2 L23)

Private Norbert Victor Henry, 20, of Louisville, Jefferson County, died in a train wreck on 26 October 1918 less than a week after his arrival in France. The wreck occurred at Gael, France on 26 October 1918. He was serving with Battery E 138th Field Artillery at the time of his death. Henry joined the Kentucky Guard’s Company H of the 1st Kentucky Infantry Regiment in April 1917 Henry was a graduate of St. Patrick's parochial school.  According to newspaper accounts Henry was killed almost instantly in the accident and was also a member of Headquarters Company at some point. Henry was called to federal active duty with his unit on 2 May 1917. His unit was sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for training. They left Camp Shelby on 18 September 1918 and set sail from New York on 6 October 1918. They arrived in Liverpool England on 18 October 1918 and in Cherbourg, France on 22 October 1918. Henry was one of 11 KYNG soldiers killed in the crash. Many more were injured.

According to the Lexington Leader, 15 December 1918, p. 7 - In a letter home to his family in December 1918, Sergeant Jess C. Stewart, Company E, 113th Ammunition Train, described the great wreck and stated, that that they worked eighteen hours clearing away wreckage and caring for the dead and wounded.

According to correspondence by Captain J. C. Hobson, Jr. of the 138th - At 8:50 P. M., October 26, 1918, while enroute from Cherbourg, France, to a training camp at Meucon, France, a train carrying the 113th Ammunition Train collided with the 138th Field Artillery, which had just stopped at the station of Gael, France. The 138th train reportedly had had mechanical difficulties in the trip up to that point.   Headquarters Company of the 138th occupied the last six cars of the train—the compartment and three box.  All six cars were completely demolished.  Other accounts report that 14 train cars were “telescoped” in the event. There are many conflicting secondhand accounts of the incident published in newspapers at various times with variation in the numbers of injured and dead and even the location of the wreck. The location had also been reported as St. Main / Mein and Mellistroit.

It was some time before any help or trained medical personnel arrived on the scene. Reportedly wires on both sides of the station were downed in the wreck and a messenger was sent on foot to the next nearest communication point five miles away.  Troops and ambulances arrived at the scene at 1 a.m. the following morning presumably with medical personnel from Camp Coetquidan some 20 miles away and all the injured and dead were removed from the scene according to accounts by 3 a.m. presumably back to Camp Coetquidan.

The men who were killed in the wreck were initially buried October 28th, in the U. S. Government cemetery No. 18 at Camp Coetquidan, France. Henry’s remains were returned home and he was laid to rest on 18 August 1920 in the Saint Louis Cemetery, Louisville, Jefferson County in Section B, Lot 5, Grave 3A.

The other ten members of the Kentucky National Guard Killed in the incident are: William E. Aubrey; Buford G. Craig; Frank James; Charles Lucas; Watkins A. Moss; Walter C Nagle; Roy V. Ogle; Ralph Rose; James N. Tucker and Garland W. Wells.

See Kentucky Irish American Newspaper (Louisville, Ky.), 21 Aug. 1920

 

The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273
 

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