Colored Soldiers of 10th Training Battalion Enjoy Well-Planned Xmas Parties (1918)

(The Camp Sherman News, December 31, 1918) One of the best Christmas celebrations was that held under the auspices of the Tenth Battalion in “P” section. This is the only training battalion of colored men, under the war department’s new table of organization for the One Hundred and Fifty-eighth Depot Brigade. Major John H. McLeod, formerly commanding the Twelfth Battalion, is the new commanding officer of the Tenth. To the major much credit is due for the spirit of Christmas that was contagious throughout the battalion. When Lieutenant Lawrence A. Oxley, morale officer of the battalion, carried his Christmas plans to the commanding officer they were promptly OK.’d.

On Sunday morning, after getting a detail of 10 men and a truck from the brigade supply department, Lieutenant Oxley started at 10 o’clock on a seven-mile drive to the farm of John Lynch on the Cincinnati Pike, Arrived there, Mr. Lynch kindly offered any tree on his property. A beautiful cedar, 30 feet tall, was quickly selected and as quickly cut down. But right here is where the “jinx” comes into the story. After placing the three in the truck it was discovered that the truck was stuck hub deep in the field into which it had been driven. Not until 6:30 in the afternoon were they able, with the assistance of the near-by farmers, to extricate the truck and start back to camp.

Our collection, America and World War I: American Military Camp Newspapers, addresses a topic and period that continues to be of the widest interest and importance to scholars, students, and the general public – America in the World War I Era. Camp newspapers make important original source material—much of it written by soldiers for soldiers—readily available for research.

Beautifully Lighted Tree.

The next morning Lieutenant Oxley, through the kindness of the camp adjutant, Major Fenn and Captain Wiggin of the adjutant’s office, succeeded in getting a detail from the electrical department of the camp quartermaster to wire the tree. The staff of the Y. W. C. A. hostess house in section “N” furnished 100 electric bulbs, and the camp fire marshal kindly offered to color the lights. To Dr. Amanda Gray, director of the hostess house, is due much credit for the grand success of the entire affair. Due to her untiring efforts along all lines, the men of this section were made to feel at home and welcome.

The men of the Four Hundred and Eighteenth Labor Battalion, Third Development Battalion, the colored nurses from the base hospital and the secretaries of “Y” 75 were invited to take part in the Christmas eve celebration at the hostess house, which started at 9 o’clock and ended at midnight, taps being suspended until that time. A well-rendered program by the ladies of the Patriotic League of Chillicothe was interspersed with Christmas greetings by Dr. Gray and a Christmas story by Rev. Mr. Harper of “Y” 75. At midnight the entire group of about 500 repaired to the drill field in “N” section and gathered around the community tree. Under Lieutenant Oxley’s direction the Christmas carols, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Oh! Come, All Ye Faithful,” were sung. It had been planned to visit General Smith’s home at the north end of the camp and sing carols, but, owing to the inclement weather, this part of the program had to be omitted.

Special Dinners.

On Christmas day each company of the battalion arranged a special dinner and program. To the Thirty-eighth Company the prize for the finest company celebration is unquestionably awarded. Captain Nihoof and Lieutenant O. O. Morris made every effort to give the men all the comforts of home that go to make up a regular Christmas celebration. A well-balanced program was given by the men, followed by the “big eats.” Who would want to be home with a menu such as the Thirty-eighth Company offered?

“Comfy” at “Y” 75.

It is enough to say that the morale officer experienced very little trouble in keeping up the morale in the Tenth Battalion throughout the holiday season. Captain Frye and the staff at “Y” 75 decorated the building in accordance with the season and the men’s spiritual wants were well taken care of by Chaplain Arnold at a morning service held at the building. Lieutenant Roscoe Lewis delivered a most appropriate talk.


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