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29TH DIVISION - WWII STORIES

 

Edward R. ELBURN

Staff Sergeant

29th Infantry Division

115th Infantry Regiment

Medical Detachment

I - ENLISTMENT

Enlistment : Edward “Ringgold” Elburn enlisted in the Maryland National Guard on 1 December 1935 in Chestertown, Maryland. His oldest brother, William “Walter” Elburn, had already enlisted and encouraged Ringgold to do the same. At the time of his enlistment, the local guard unit had a waiting list for new recruitments. Ringgold had to wait until a soldier was discharged (Freddie Frank) before he could enlist. Ringgold enlisted at age 17. Eighteen was the minimum enlistment age, but birth certificates were not required for enlistment. Ringgold merely bumped his birth date back to 1917 to be eligible for enlistment. This “little white lie” would later cause problems with counting his total years of service, but it did afford him the opportunity to proudly provide 43 years of military service to our county.

Medical Detachment: The Chestertown National Guard Unit was a medical detachment of the 29th Division, 115th Infantry. Dr. Hines was the Company Commander. Other doctors who served with the unit included a Dr. Franklin from Western Marylandand a dentist whose name Ringgold can no longer remember.

Drills and Summer Camp: In 1935, the Chestertown National Guard Armory had not yet been built. Weekly drills were held above Gill’s Ice Cream Store on Cross Street in Chestertown. Guard members were paid $1 per drill – that is why Ringgold enlisted; for the “good money.” He was so excited to enlist that he even attended one drill without being paid! In the summer, the Chestertown National Guard unit was sent to Camp Ritchie, Maryland (now Fort Ritchie) for two weeks summer camp, earning $1 per day. Fort Ritchie is in western Maryland near Camp David, the President’s retreat. There the soldiers were issued tents which they pitched on cement slabs.

II - ACTIVE DUTY

Called to Active Duty: On 1 February 1941, the National Guard was called to active service for one year. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt announced that the National Guard would remain active “for the duration.” Their “one year” of active service fell short by two months! The Chestertown National Guard Unit was sent by train to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. There they trained in first aid and took sick call as part of their training. Of course, none of this training would truly prepare them for the medical care they would ultimately be called upon to provide. They also trained in the Carolinas, A. P. Hill Military Reservation in Virginia, and Camp Brandenburg in Florida

War is Declared: The Chestertown National Guard Unit was in a convoy returning to Fort Meade from A.P. Hill Military Reservation when war was declared. They were assigned permanently to Fort Meade, however did rotate between Fort Meade and A.P Hill Military Reservation for training maneuvers. In the summer of 1942, the Chestertown National Guard Unit went via train to camp in Plattsville, New York, near the Canadian border, for three weeks of training. This would be their last summer camp before shipping out to England as a precursor to the invasion of Europe.

III - DIARY OF A MEDIC – WORLD WAR #2 BY PHILIP ELMER HAGUE

Ringgold and Philip Elmer Hague were together throughout the invasion, from Omaha Beach until it was time to ship home to the United States in 1945. Phil was requested by the Battalion Surgeon, Capt. G. R. D’Amato, to record the activities of the Medical Detachment after D-Day. Phil’s “Diary of a Medic – World War #2” documents the experiences of the division in general – those facts will not be reiterated in these memoirs. Instead, this document will focus on the specific details added to Phil’s account by Ringgold Elburn. The reader should refer to “Diary of a Medic – World War #2” by Philip Elmer Hague for the general story of the medical detachment’s involvement in the invasion.

IV - SGT, EDWARD RINGGOLD ELBURN’S PERSONAL MEMOIRS

Shipped to England: In September 1942, the 29th Division left New York for England, sailing on the Queen Elizabeth past the Statue of Liberty. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean unescorted; the ship changed direction every three minutes in order to evade the German U-boats. The soldiers were served English rations, which the American GIs did not like. Ringgold remembers standing in line for “Pepsi cola and candy bars.”

 

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