On Veterans Day Remembering “Doughboy” – Uncle Frank Sheedy
Posted on November 11, 2016
It was World War I that brought our Great Uncle Frank Sheedy to us. As it was told to me as a little girl, Uncle Frank had been gassed by the enemy. Upon returning to his home state of New York he was sent upstate to recuperate and came to Sunny Crest Farm in Bloomingburg, New York, which was owned and operated by my family. There he forged a lifelong bond with the Bennett Family.
What I remember most about Uncle Frank were his bright blue eyes, his gentle spirit and the sweet, gracious letters he penned. Vividly I recall Uncle Frank seated in his recliner by the bay window -cane at his side- in Aunt June’s dining room in her home in Stoneham, MA, in Aunt June’s living room conversing with my father and standing on Aunt Jessie’s porch in Tilton, New Hampshire saying good-bye after one of our visits from Connecticut.
Born on November 29, 1887 he passed away on October 12, 1970 and is buried in Tilton. I knew he had served in World War I but I never heard him talk about those days. One of my nephews has researched Uncle Frank’s service and for this Veterans Day piece about Uncle Frank, I did as well. That brought me to an Ancestry.com community site called freepages.military.
Uncle Frank served out of New York as a private with the 57th E Artillery Battalion. According to the diary pages of a member of that unit, they were trained with foreign weapons, French rifles, and their first offensive battle took place from September 12-15 where they “took up positions” in Sampigny, France. “In a few days the fire support allowed the ground troops to root the German’s strongly fortified positions in the Saint Michel salient. Numerous prisoners, supplies, guns and ammunition were captured in battle,” wrote the soldier.
Fighting reportedly ended for the WWI 57th E when the November 11, 1918 Armistice was signed – on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month- now recognized in the United States as Veterans Day. To Uncle Frank and all our American veterans – thank you for your service.
Addendum ***Below click on the PDF file of a 1919 New York Times article about the return voyage to New York of Uncle Frank’s unit. Also, here are a few historical notes of interest: “doughboy” is a nickname given to U.S. infantrymen particularly from W.W. I; at the time W.W. I was called “The war to end all wars”; and, a popular tune of the era was “Over There”by George Cohan – “Over there, over there… send the word, send the word to beware, we’ll be over, we’re coming over… the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming.. And we won’t come back until it’s over, Over There…”