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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Wells, Garland W. (P1, C3, L21)

Private Garland W. Wells, 25, of Auxier, Floyd 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 Headquarters Company, 138th Field Artillery.

Wells joined Company C of the 1st Kentucky Infantry regiment on 4 July 1917. The unit was redesignated Battery C, 138th Field Artillery when they were on federal active duty. He transferred to Headquarters Company of the 138th Field Artillery on 10 June 1918.  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. He was promoted to Private First Class on 3 September 1917 and reduced to Private, 5 May 1918. There was no mention in his record of why he was reduced in rank.

Wells was one of 11 Kentucky National Guard soldiers killed in the crash. Many more were injured. Wells’ remains were returned to his home 28 August 1920. A military burial ceremony was held when he was laid to rest in the Auxier Community Cemetery, Auxier, Floyd County, Kentucky.

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 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.

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

 

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

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