| First Depot Division
American Expeditionary Forces, France
Edited and published by the Training Section
Corporal Mark A. Shields, Editor
November 11, 1918
The ever-changing personnel of officers, non-commissioned
officers and enlisted men of the 116th Engineers, combined with
the various functions of the organization since its inception,
presents a confusing yet interesting history. Compared with other
regiments of Engineers, its composition and duties have been
irregular in a marked degree.
Formed and trained in the States as a pioneer organization,
upon arrival in France the 116th Engineers was named as a Training
Replacement Regiment — the only regiment of Engineers in France
functioning in this regard. The reorganization of the regiment
to meet the new problems, the securing of adequate facilities
to carry on the constantly increasing scope of work, the classification
of men with special training along certain lines — and the actual
training of a constant stream of men arriving from the United
States, goes to make up a story the half of which the mere recital
of bare facts will never convey.
Forming the New Regiment
The 116th Engineers was formed at Camp Greene,
N. C., pursuant to G. O. 2, Hq. 41st Div., dated September 19,
1917, with the First Separate Battalion, Oregon Engineers, under
command of Major Herbert A. Brandon, and the Second Battalion,
Second Idaho Infantry, under command of Major Dewitt P. Olson.
Colonel Meriweather L. Walker, Corps of Engineers, was given
First Separate Battalion
The First Separate Battalion, Oregon Engineers,
was mustered into the Federal Service at Camp Withycombe, Oregon,
on Aug. 20, 1917, about one month after their organization.
The Battalion consisted of three companies, with
officers, as follows : Co. A, Capt. William C. Parrish, 1st Lt.
George C. Gorham, 1st Lt. Ray Olsen, and 2d Lt. Daniel N. Plowman
; Co. B. 1st Lt. Robert J. Chrisman and 1st Lt. Alfred D. Collier
; Co. G., Capt. Stanley E. Borleske, 1st Lt. Fred C. Bidwell,
1st Lt. Mason N. Roberts and 2d Lt. Irving I. Niles. First Lt.
John Olson, Dental Corps, and 1st Lt. Clifton D. Rosin, Medical
Reserve Corps, were assigned to duty with the Battalion, with
Major Herbert A. Brandon commanding and Capt. Leonard A. Lundgron
On Aug. 21, 1917, Co. A was ordered to Camp Fremont,
Calif., and Cos. B and C with Headquarters, to Camp Lewis, Wash.,
where engineering work was to be done in connection with the
construction of cantonments.
The Battalion was ordered to proceed to Camp Greene,
N. C., Co. A receiving their order on Sept, 3, and the balance
of the Battalion on Sept. 12, 1917. It was at this camp, shortly
after their arrival, that they were incorporated in the new organization,
the 116th Engineers.
Second Battalion, Second Idaho Infantry
The Second Idaho Infantry was organized in 1904,
received the usual instruction of an infantry unit, and attended
the annual National Guard maneuver camps until June 19, 1916,
on which date it was called into the Federal Service and mustered
in at Boise Barracks, Idaho, on July 3, 1916.
On July 7 the regiment was sent to Nogales, Arizona,
as a part of the United States forces doing border patrol duty.
During the six months at this station the regiment received very
intensive training under regular army officers, at the same time
functioning as a border patrol throughout the Nogales District.
The regiment entrained on December 20 and proceeded
to Boise Idaho, remaining there until January 28, 1917, at which
time the regiment, with the exception of Major Olson and Captain
Boies was mustered out of the service.
The regiment was again mustered into the Federal
Service on March 26, 1917, at Boise, Idaho and utilized as a
guard for rail roads, mines, smelters, and other utilities in
Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and utah [sic].
The Second Battalion, less companies F, and H,
which were retained on guard duty in the Northwest, proceeded
on Sept. 26 to Camp Greene, N. C., arriving there Oct. 1; companies
F and H joining the organization at Camp Mills, N. Y. on Oct.
29[.] Upon arrival at Camp Greene, Company G, officered by Captain
D. F. Banks (absent), 1st Lt. Walter S Church and 2nd Lt. Samuel
C. Webb, was merged into the 116 Engineers and became Company
D, Company E retaining its designation with the following officers,
Captain Richard B. Kading (absent) 1st Lt George I Bowling and
2 Lt. James W. Porter.
Supply Train and Band, Second North Dakota
At the time of its organization, the Supply Train
and the Band of the Second North Dakota Infantry, were incorporated
into the 116th Engineers. The command of the Supply Train was
given to Capt. John W. Rock, while the direction of the Band
remained with Master Engineer Harold B. Bachman.
From Bismarck, N. D., where the Second North Dakota
Infantry was mobilized on Sept. 1, 1917, the Band and Supply
Train proceeded to Camp Greene, N. C., where the two units joined
their new organization on Oct. 1st. Capt. Rock later became Regimental
Supply officer. 1st. Lt. Herbert G. Markley, also of the Second
North Dakota Infantry, was assigned to duty as Chaplain with
the new regiment.
The 116th Engineers.
For five weeks the new regiment remained at Camp
Greene, officers and men striving with utmost endeavor
to fit themselves for overseas service. A schedule of trench
digging, construction of various kinds of fortifications, etc.,
was carried out at this station. A somewhat elaborate system
of trenches was also laid out and the actual construction work
begun, but orders to proceed to Camp
Mills, Long Island, N. Y., interrupted the work. On October
29th the regiment was joined by Companies F and H, the former
commanded by Captain Henry M. Jones, with 1st. Lt. John W.
Newman and 2nd Lt. Raymond C. Hill, while Company H under command
of Captain Harry E. Boies, with 1st Lt, F. C. Hummel and 2nd
Lt, John M. Regan was transferred into Headquarters Company.
Captain Leonard Lundgren having been relieved of
his duties as acting regimental Adjutant was appointed Topographical
officer, and Captain Harry E. Boies became the Regimental Adjutant.
Five hundred drafted men were received from Camp
Lewis, Washington, completing the formation of the organization
as a Pioneer Engineer Regiment at full war strength.
On November 26 the regiment, aboard the U. S. S. Tenedores [sic Tenadores] and
the U. S. S. Mallory, sailed for foreign service, arriving
at St. Nazaire, France, on December
10. The regiment proceeded immediately to a rest camp at the
same place, the cold weather preventing any extensive training.
It was at this station, three days after arrival, that, although
equipped and trained as a pioneer organization, it became designated
as a training replacement regiment. At the same time orders were
received to send 850 men to the 1st and
2nd Engineers, and before leaving this station the Atlantic Transport
Service was supplied with approximately 350 men and two officers.