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Spafford, James H.


Baltimore, Md.; C; 1st Lt.; Prepn.; Chateau Thierry; Soissons; St. Mihiel; DSC, K, Blanc Mont.
 
Lt. James H. Spafford First Lieutenant James Henderson Spafford
Spafford ID Card Distinguished Service Cross For extraordinary heroism in action.
Seeing a combat patrol suddenly fired upon by an enemy machine gun nest and hard pressed. Lieutenant Spafford went to its relief, courageously leading an attack on the nest. Although wounded in the arm during the attack, he continued in the action of the attack until he received a second wound which caused his death. (Posthumous award, G.O. 20, War Department, January 30, 1919).
 
 

Bullet Grazes Nose Of Lieut. Spafford.

But It's A Small Loss In Comparison With His Capture Of Germans And Guns.
 

Bulky with souvenirs which he captured from the German trenches, one of them a picture postcard of the renowned German ace, Boehlke. Lieut. James H. Spafford's latest letter to his parents in Baltimore tells of a hairbreadth escape of the young Baltimore engineer from German bullets, one of which ripped the skin from the tip of his nose.

Lieut. Spafford is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Spofford, 838 West North avenue, and is a graduate of the Polytechnic Institute and Cornell University. He writes:

"We left our dugouts in the support lines at midnight, June 30, and moved to the woods close to the German lines, where we rested for the day, keeping well under cover. The Boche planes were as thick as flies that day, and continually over our heads. I had a platoon of 45 men and went over the top about 6.30 immediately behind the waves of infantry. My duty was to follow them to their objective and place barbed wire between them and the Boche.

"We received a hot reception going across No Man's Land from machine guns and artillery and I think it remarkable that I [c]rossed to the woods, about a mile, without a single casualty. I caught up with the doughboys when they stopped at the far edge of the woods and waited for darkness and put out the wire well to the front."

Finding that his men were still full of "pep," Lieut. Spafford suggests to the infantry captain that they could help him out. In the engagement that follows he captures two men and two machine guns, and mounting the guns on the parapet gives the Germans a "taste of their own ammunition." The Germans wno had come in in "mass formation" gradually "fade away all of a sudden in the darkness," and Lieutenant Spafford then decides to visit their positions with the hope of finding papers or maps.

"I took a volunteer with me a corporal," he writes, "and we made the trip together, looking in all the dugouts. I found lots of valuable papers and sketches and was about to return when they let loose on me with a machine gun or automatic rifle. Bullets sizzled ail around me and one of them ripped the skin off the end of my nose. I think it will leave just a trace of a nick where it went past—what we call 'safely wounded. But I made my way back to the trenches on the gallop."

As a result of the action he writes that he is recommending three of his men for the distinguished service cross.

 
 
 

 
RECOMMENDATIONS. That Lt. Spafford, and Lt. Slade, 2nd Engineers, be cited in Division Orders for their ability and initiative in following up the advancing troops, destroying mines and removing explosives under the Bridge at JAULNY, and in rendering safe the bridges at THIACOURT.

From: Volume 7 of Records of the 2nd Division (Regular). This was from the Report of Operations of 2nd Engineers from 11 to 16 Sept. inclusive. Written Sept. 22, 1918 by Col. W. A. Mitchell.

Note: This bridge at Jaulny might not still be standing in 2013 except for the efforts of Lt. Spafford, and Lt. Slade. (Ed.)
 
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