Fighting the Hun in the Great War

Captain John E. Swaim, 89th Division, U.S. Army


click on pictures to enlarge

This is a vew of Tailly, France in the Argonne Sector. I was never in this place. Our Div. Hdqt. were located here


"Western Theater of War - Epinonville"

Epinonville is in the Argonne front. I have been in this place several times, these pictures show the place as it is.

This is a view of Montsec, sometimes called Hill 380, in the St. Michiel Section. This is where we first went into the trenches on Aug. 5th. Our lines were at the foot of the picture and not shown. I have peeped over the paraphet of the trench and watched Germans at work on this hill many a day. It was the strongest enemy position in this sector and was one big machine gun nest. The French lost 25,000 men trying to take this hill in 1916. On the day of the drive, Sept. 12th, we were allowed 24 hours to take this hill and took it in 5 1/2 hours, All credit to the American Doughboy. This was not a job for the Quartermaster Corps, believe me.


Another view of Beurey, France.

This is another view of Essey. The town was torn up by German shells early in the war and after our occupation. You can see they did a very thorough job.

Another view of Thiaucourt in the St. Michiel Sector.

Another view of Thiaucourt, Lt. Cullen's Waterloo.

"Panoramic view"

"Thiaucourt [France]. Parade before the Duke of Braunschweig"

This is a view of Thiaucourt in the St. Michiel Sector, from which the Germans were driven out on Sept. 12th. We held this section from Oct. 1st to 8th and were only about 1 kilometer north of this town. The Germans shelled and gassed this town night and day. It was at this town that Lt. Cullen was gassed, and I got some myself. When this picture was taken it was held by the Boche.

This is a view of the church at the little town of Romagne in the Argonne region. I was sent to the hospital from this town. I was put in the ambulance in front of this church on Oct. 20, 1918. Our troops had taken this town only a short time before, and the German shells were falling in the town fast and furiously, believe me.

"Western Theater of War
French shot-up Church in Montfaucon"

I have been here in this very church at Montfaucon. The place was the Crown Prince's Headquarters and when I was here the Huns had just been driven back a few miles -- not so far but what the shells were then falling thick and fast. It was here that the 89th took hold and proceeded to drive them back still farther. See how the devils have demolished this beautiful church?

This is one of the vessels the U.S. took from the "Hun."

"S.S. Powhatan
Issued by the Jewish Welfare Board to Soldiers and Sailors of the U.S. Army & Navy"

Ehrang, Germany, 1918. Captain John E. Swaim (left), handsome in his uniform, a Sam Browne belt, epaulets on the shoulders, four pockets on his tunic, wrapped leggings over the laced boots up to the baggy knickers. Two of his lieutenants, and an unknown, but beautiful, young woman with a wide mouth and luxurious hair, who is wearing a wedding band.

Despite a damaged lung from the Hun's mustard gas, Captain Swaim survived World War One to retire as a branch postmaster in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and to live his last days on a farm near the tiny town of Talihina in the southeastern part of the state. He would show his grandsons his medals and ribbons with fading colors. The Distinguished Service Cross. The Silver Star. The Distinguished Service Medal. He treasured the souvenirs from his war. In the corner of his bedroom was a sword in an etched scabbard that could have belonged to the Kaiser, but hadn't. A stiletto removed from a decaying Prussian corpse. On a chest of drawers was a spiked helmet, tarnished, laughable now, but which was fierce on the heads of Huns screaming from behind fixed bayonets. He would drive his grandsons into an Indian town where the railroad track ran down the center of Main Street, and where he stopped for his mail at the post office, picked up a carton of Luckys at the drug store, and bought them orange sherbet. Captain John E. Swaim (rt) died at the U.S. Veterans Hospital in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1957.

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