For Those Who Made The Sacrifice

I recently received a number of surprise emails with attachments from the sister who happily dives into piles of old photos and documents, sending me anything that she thinks might catch my fancy.  Louise had turned up a number of WWII era letters to and from Alvin D. Saucier (my father’s younger brother) after his enlistment; the kind of letters that say a lot without saying anything at all.  The folks at home trying to make out like things were normal, and the son in the service so obviously lonely for news of home and family.

I’ve had a wonderful time working through the letters; simple, everyday chatter of babies getting heat rash because the summer had been so very hot that year, the menfolk getting in quality fishing time, but who didn’t catch a lot because the summer had been so very hot that year, and recent overnight showers that cooled things down a bit and will do the garden good because the summer had been so very hot that year.

There was even news of Mrs. Sweeney returning home after an extended and mysterious absence, and that piece of news prompted me to ask myself a few questions:

  1. Who on earth was Mrs. Sweeney?
  2. I wonder where Mrs. Sweeney went for a number of weeks in June & July of 1943?
  3. I wonder if Mrs. Sweeney went to Chicago and took her cow along?  No. Wait. Back up. That was Mrs. O’Leary along about 1871.
V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier from his mother, Ida Hoffmann Saucier

V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier, from his mother, Ida (Hoffmann) Saucier, wife of James Garfield Saucier

(Note: You can click on any of these items for an embiggened view.)

The answer to my first question was buried in the pile of email in another letter to Al, this one from Bill Sweeney, dated 21 September 1945.  My best guess is that Bill was the son of the much-travelled Mrs. Sweeney, and in his letter, Bill made no mention of the weather.  His talk was all soldier-to-soldier, mostly concerned with daydreams of life after mustering out.  He did, however, mention that he was just back from “a typical sailors’ leave, one that he wasn’t much proud of, but had to admit it was fun”.  Okay.  A period can be put on that topic.  Moving along.

letter from Bill Sweeney to Alvin D. Saucier dated 21 September 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier - 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier – 1945

More letters, more news from home, and the very last attachment included assorted photographs that Al had saved – one photo in particular caught my eye, it was older than the WWII items – and then I realized what I was seeing…

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier near Nancy, France

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier

And For Those Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

The photo was a burial registration photograph for Charles Clide Saucier, who on 27 September 1918, died of wounds received during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  This photo managed to reignite my search for great-Uncle Charlie’s final resting place, and allowed me to close another mystery – the date on great-Uncle Ben’s letter home during WWI.

Along the way, I’ve discovered a few more documents and newspaper clippings that not only shed a little light on Charlie’s time in the Army, but from his draft registration, we know a bit about his physical characteristics as well: tall, gray-eyed, with light colored hair.

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

From the clipping above, I think that it’s safe to infer that Ben’s letter home was one of the letters written on September 25, 1918.  In the letter, Ben wrote of being bivouacked outside of Nancy, describing his surroundings along with non-battle related experiences in a very general way.  The American Expeditionary Forces had liberated Nancy September 16, 1918, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began ten days later on September 26, 1918.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6. The Mrs. Thomas O’Donnell referenced in the clipping was Louise (Lulu Saucier) O’Donnell, one of Charles’ sisters.

Application for Military Headstone/Marker - Charles Clide Saucier

Application for Military Headstone/Marker – Charles Clide Saucier. The application was made by Mrs. Wm. Pace of Washington, Missouri aka Henrietta (Hattie Saucier) Pace, another of Charles’ sisters.

St. Anthony's Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

St. Anthony’s Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

I’d long assumed that Charlie’s headstone at Stanton, Missouri was a cenotaph, no remains, simply a marker for family members to take comfort in.  I’ve been through every database I could find, the final say coming from the American Battlefield Monuments Commission – there is no record of Charles Saucier being interred in any of the recognized cemeteries overseas.  Which brings me to the conclusion that Charlie was, after all, brought home.  The one unchecked item remaining on my to-do list is to apply to the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center for Charlie’s repatriation records.

Wish me luck that the records survived the fire of 1973 at the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis (records for Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912 through January 1, 1960 equaled an 80% loss).

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6 thoughts on “For Those Who Made The Sacrifice

  1. mudmama

    Thanks Sooo much for this Jo! I remember a few times when my grandmother, Josephine Saucier Cowan spoke of Charles as her favorite brother and would get tears in her eyes remembering him. I met their brother Ben when I was about (1947?) 5 or 6 in Memphis. He and his son Ben were there for some kind of war related medical treatment. I don’t know if the treatment was for Ben senior ( Charles brother) or Ben Junior. One was in a wheel chair. I think I remember Mother saying Big Ben had been gassed in WWI. If my child memory is anywhere correct. The elder was short but was called Big Ben. The younger was tall, but in a wheel chair I think?) and he was called Little Ben. My mother was so proud and happy to see them! Little Ben was probably in WWII. Would that make the ages right Jo? Carol Fanconi

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    1. Jo Post author

      You are spot on with your memories, Carol! Ben Jr. served during WWII in Company A, 91st, Chemical Mortar Battalion – also known as the Chemical Warfare Service. According to Ben’s enlistment records, he was 6’2″ tall, and 211 pounds. In addition to his good conduct medal, Ben also received a purple heart. Ben Saucier, Jr. was 25 years old when he died at the VA Hospital in Memphis, TN 19 March 1948, and his remains were taken home to Woodland, California for burial.

      Ben Sr. registered for the WWII draft, and his card states that he was 5’10” and 190 pounds, blue eyes, brown hair, with a ruddy complexion. I had heard that Ben was gassed during WWI as well, and judging from the facial pitting seen in later photos of him, I’d say the stories were true (earlier photos of Ben didn’t show any pitting).

      I chuckled when I read your Big Ben/Little Ben comment – my dad often told stories about his uncles, and I grew up with the distinct impression that all of the Saucier boys must’ve been giants who wore seven league boots – and my dad was no runt, being 6’3″ himself!


      Benjamin Harrison Saucier, Jr. Woodland High School 1938


      Gosh – I knew that I had Ben Jr’s. death certificate somewhere – took me a minute (or hours) to dig it up.

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  2. Louise Saucier

    This post is a timely and wonderful tribute to the Saucier men who served in the military and a great example of your talents. Thanks for piecing this quilt of family history for us.

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    1. Jo Post author

      Thanks, sis – but you get a lot of the credit here. Couldn’t have pulled it off without you going the extra mile to share photos and documents with me!

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