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Monday, February 28, 2011

My Commonplace Book... WWI - Frank Buckles - Doughboy

Frank Buckles, Last World War 1 Doughboy, is dead at 110

"Frank Buckles, who drove an Army ambulance in France in 1918 and came to symbolize a generation of embattled young Americans as the last of the WW1 doughboys, died on Sunday at his home in Charles Town, WV.  He was 110

Frank Woodruff Buckles was born Feb. 1, 1901, on a farm near Bethany, MO.  He was living in Oakwood, OK., when the United States entered WW1, and he tried to enlist in the Marine Corps at age 16, having been inspired by recruiting posters.

The Marines turned him down as under age and under the required weight.  The navy did not want him either, saying he had flat feet.  But the Army took him in August 1917 after he lied about his age, and he volunteered to be an ambulance driver, hearing that was the quickest path to service in France.

He sailed for England in December 1917 on the Carpathia, the ship that helped save survivors of the Titanic's sinking in 1912.  He later served in various locations in France, including Bordeaux, and drove military autos and ambulances...

 Mr. Buckles escorted German prisoners of war back to their homeland after the Armistice, then returned to the United States and later worked in the Toronto office of the White Star shipping line.  He traveled widely over the years, working for steamship companies, and he was on business in Manila when the Japanese occupied it after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.  He was imprisoned by the Japanese and lost more than 50 pounds before being liberated by an American airborne unit in February 1945.

After retiring from steamship work in the mid 1950s, Mr. Buckles ran a cattle ranch in Charles Town, and he was still riding a tractor there at age 106..."

~The New York Times (Richard Goldstein, reporter)~

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