Townsend, Aubra H. (P1, C3, L18)
Sergeant Aubra H. Townsend was born 17 January 1895, Hickman, Fulton County, Kentucky. He joined Company B, Signal Corps, Kentucky National Guard on 13 March 1916, serving with the company during Mexican Border Service at El Paso, Texas. He was a student at the University of Kentucky, Class of 1919, majoring in Agriculture. Townsend was also a member of the Cadet Battalion, Kentucky State Militia 1st year when he enlisted. This was a forerunner of today's ROTC. On 1 June 1918, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, Signal Corps, American Expeditionary Force. He died of pneumonia in England, 18 October 1918 just 12 days after his arrival. Portrait courtesy of the Print Collection, University of Kentucky.
The American Legion 57 (Aubra Townsend) post in Hickman Kentucky was named in his honor. He is buried outside of Hickman in the Poplar Grove Baptist Church Cemetery.
The Signal Co was released from active duty following their service on the Mexican Border. Almost immediately the unit was activated for state active duty, protecting locations in Lexington (water and power plants), Frankfort (the state capital), and sent to Webster Co., Ky during the miners' strike. On 5 August they were back in Federal status and sent to Camp Shelby for a year prior to being sent overseas in October 1918. Initially landing in England, before being shipped to France.
Signal Corps Mustered In
Private Townsend Wins Applause by Saying “I’ll Fill the Gap”
Roster Is Complete
General Williams Takes Active Charge of Mobilization Camp
(By Frank Blunk) The Lexington Herald, 29 June 1916, p. 1.
Ft Thomas, Ky., June 28.—The final factor to prepare for border service was given members of Company A signal corps tonight with a “muster in” by mustering officer, Captain Easton R. Gibson, U. S. A.
A real hero presented himself in Company A this evening. He is first class private Aubrey H. Townsend, of Hickman, a freshman in the University of Kentucky.
After several of the men in the company had been eliminated because of disability, there were just seventy-four left, and one more man was needed to make the full quota, seventy-five.
Townsend came here with the company Monday because of “orders”. Two weeks before the call for militia was issued Townsend had asked for his discharge, because his mother and sister, at Hickman, were dependent upon him. He saw a chance to go back to his little mother and sister, and when the men were asked to take the final oath, he did not answer. The man was needed, however, and Townsend began to think. He was by himself almost all day and at 7 o’clock tonight he came from the barracks and modestly said: “I’ll fill the gap, boys.”
There was loud cheering and five minutes later the members of Company A signal corps became soldiers of the United States, ready to go to Mexico City tomorrow if necessary.
Brigadier General Roger Williams, of Lexington, commander of the Kentucky troops, arrived today and took charge of the mobilization.
Seniors To Dedicate Tree To Classmates
Memorial of Dead Comrades to be Honored Arbor Day;
Patterson to Speak in Chapel
The Kentucky Kernel, 10 April 1919, p. 1.
The tree is to be placed by the Senior class on Arbor Day, April 25, will be dedicated to those members of the class who lost their lives in the war and to their who was killed in a parade in 1916, when he was thrown by a cable jerked by a speeding street car.
At a class meeting held Tuesday afternoon the class decided to honor those members of the class who would have graduated with them had it not been for their service in the war. These men were L. W. Herndon, Stanley H. Smith, Aubra H. Townsend and Chester B. Helm. . .
A decision was reached in the meeting to have a special chapel hour for the members of the Senior class and to invite former President James K. Patterson to address the meeting. It has been some time since the “Grand Old Man of the Campus” has spoken to the students of the University and many are anxious to hear him.
The tree to be planted will be a burr oak and will be placed in front of the Old Science building. Lee McClain and Ed Dabney will be the speakers of the occasion, being representatives of the Senior and Junior classes respectively. The usual Arbor Day program will be presented. Classes will be held for the first two periods and a holiday will be granted for the rest of the day.