Neagle, Walter C. (P1, C2 L22)
Sergeant Walter Cleveland Neagle, 25, a native of Edmonson County, listed his home of record as Smiths Grove, Warren County. He was living in Lexington attending the University of Kentucky when he joined the Kentucky National Guard. Neagle joined Company I, 3rd Battalion, First Regiment, Lexington (Fayette County) on 7 April 1914. He served as First Sergeant with his unit on the Mexican Border on federal active duty during the Punitive Expedition. Neagle was promoted to Sergeant, 26 October 1917 and Regimental Supply Sergeant on 1 March 1918. He was reverted to a Private on 18 May 1918 and was again promoted to Regimental Supply Sergeant on 15 June 1918. In his military records his name was also found spelled Nagle.
Neagle died in a train wreck – less than a week after his arrival in France. The wreck occurred at Gael, France on 26 October 1918. Company I was redesignated Headquarters Horse Battalion, 113th Ammunition Train, 38th Division on 15 October 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. At the time of his death he was assigned to Headquarters, of the 113 Ammunition Train. Neagle was one of eleven KYNG soldiers killed in the crash. Many more were injured.
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 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.
The men who were killed in the wreck were buried October 28th, in the U. S. Government cemetery No. 18 at Camp Coetquidan, France. Many were returned home in the years following the war. Neagle is buried in the Rocky Hill Cemetery, Rocky Hill, Edmonson County, Kentucky.
Neagle is honored University of Kentucky’s Memorial Hall on a plaque dedicated in January 1921. Neagle is listed on the plaque as Class of 1917 with a major in agriculture.
A newspaper article that appeared in the Lexington Leader, 10 July 1916, p. 8 refer to Neagle as an employee of the Phoenix Hotel check room and hint that a warrant for his arrest was would be issued that day relating to a missing key and the subsequent theft of wine from the hotel. No further articles or records have been found to date to suggest the outcome. Had he been convicted of the offense, he would have likely been discharged from the military. The matter may have been dropped when he went on federal active duty with his unit. Another member of the Kentucky Guard who was killed in the train wreck was an employee of the Phoenix Hotel as well, Sergeant Major Buford G. Craig. Craig may have been the one to interest Neagle in joining the Kentucky Guard.
The other members of the Kentucky Guard killed in the wreck were: William E. Aubrey; Norbert V. Henry; Frank James; Charles Lucas; Watkins A. Moss; Roy V. Ogle; Ralph Rose; James N. Tucker and Garland W. Wells.