July 2014

My great uncle's 99th birthday party.
My great uncle’s 99th birthday party.

This July is replete with significant milestones in our family.

My great uncle celebrated his 99th birthday two weeks ago. He has led a remarkable life. His love of funny stories and anecdotes has entertained us for decades. Thankfully, I’ve been around to hear many of them, and I’ve even recorded some on video.

He was a mere toddler when his uncle, Leslie Darling, went off to France to fight the Hun1 after America became entangled in the First World War. His uncle, Private Darling, died in late July of 1918, succumbing to a wound from a German machine gun crew he encountered near Épieds, France.2

The firefight is known as the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm. There is now a memorial on the farm where he was mortally wounded.

Leslie W. Darling
Leslie W. Darling

Douglas MacArthur, then chief of staff for the 42nd Division, which included Leslie Darling’s infantry regiment, the 168th of Iowa, noted the heroism of the men in his autobiography.

“ . . . the 167th Alabama assisted by the left flank of the 168th Iowa had stormed and captured the Croix Rouge Farm in a manner which for its gallantry I do not believe has been surpassed in military history. It was one of the few occasions on which the bayonet was decisively used.”

I should probably be there in person, in France, for the 100th anniversary in 2018.

ajh

1. Hun was a derogatory word used to describe the Germans during both world wars.

2. Leslie Warren Darling died either July 28 or 30, 1918. I would suspect the 28th is the correct date, since a letter is signed noting the day and details. A book compiled by the unit chaplain lists the 30th, but this is most likely a mistake.

4 thoughts on “July 2014”

  1. My Grandfather, Harper Thayer Anderson, was the company secretary of Company E, 168 Infantry, Rainbow Division, May 23, 1917 until May18, 1919. I have some of his detailed records.

    I will be in France in the Ardennes this Nov 9-13, 2018 where my grandfather’s unit fought and passed through Harricourt, Stonne, Sy, and Briquenay.

    Will any fellow Americans be in that area at this time?

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