Highland News Leader

Three Federer brothers from Highland all saw action in World War I

Philip Federer of Highland sent three sons to fight in World War I. All saw action in France during the final battles that helped bring the war to an end. But all returned home.

One son, however, was killed in a lightning strike not long after returning stateside.

“Pvt. Albert A. Federer, age 27, son of Philip Federer, was called Sept. 4, 1917 and assigned to Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky. He was transferred to the 84th Division, Machine Gun Co., 333rd Infantry. In May 1918, he arrived in Brest, France, and saw action on the Somme front by July 1918, then Meuse-Argonne offensive, September to Oct. 24. He was sent to the hospital in Blois, France, where he remained, as a hospital patient until Jan. 10, 1919. He was discharged Feb. 16, 1919.

“Cpl. Edgar W. Federer, age 23, also the son of Philip Federer, was called May 10, 1917 and sent to Camp Wadsworth, S.C., and assigned to the Signal Platoon, Headquarters 6th Division. One July 18, 1917, he was in Scotland. Then, he went to France, where he saw action in the trenches at Larchey Sector of the Vosges Mountains in September 1918 and in the Meuse-Argonne offensive until Nov. 11. He was in the Army of Occupation at Adenau, Germany. He was discharged June 21, 1919. He almost immediately became a telegrapher at Formosa, Ill., and while working in the tower at Formosa, lightning struck the tower, and he was killed instantly.

“Pvt. John J. Federer, age 32, the third son of Philip Federer to be in the World War, with all three seeing much action and returning home. John J., later to be called John J. Sr., was called Sept. 3, 1917 and assigned to Machine Gun Battalion, 89th Division at Camp Wadsworth, S.C. In France, he was assigned to the U.S. 1st Division and saw action with the French, at Cantigny, France by May 28, 1918; then Montdidier, July 18; St. Mihiel, Sept. 13; and the Meuse-Argonne until Nov. 11. He was in the Army of Occupation near Coblenz, Germany and was discharged June 19, 1919.” (Pass in Review by Allan C. Huber)

The U.S. 1st Army paid a high price for the ground it took in the Meuse-Argonne battles, and then Germans wanted an armistice, not surrender.

“The final weeks of the war saw the German allies, making diplomatic approaches to our Allies. First, it was Austria-Hungary’s leaders, then the Bulgarians. Germany’s top generals agreed that they should also negotiate an immediate armistice, and on Sept. 29, 1918, reported their views to Emperor Wilhelm II. They also advised him a new government would have to be appointed, as the Allies would not negotiate with Germany’s existing leaders.

“The new German government took office on Oct. 3, 1918, and Prince Max of Baden, Germany, was appointed chancellor, and a new cabinet followed. The next day, Prince Max sent a message to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, asking him to arrange an armistice, not a surrender. The Allies did not accept — too vague. The Allies wrote up a 14-point surrender and a demand to immediately call off the Germans’ submarine campaign against Allied ships. On Oct. 20, the Germans agreed to accept the plan, but the ‘Freedom of the Seas’ clause, was rejected by the French, and they wanted the German allies to pay for the damages caused to their country by the war. (History of World War I by Marshall Cavendish.)

Now back to Pass in Review by Allan C. Huber, which covered Highland soldiers in World War I.

“Sgt. Fulbert G. Beck, age 17, son of Albert Beck, enlisted May 29, 1917 and was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas. He landed in France in August 1917 for further training with the French Army. He was in five battles with the French Army and then with the American troops at St. Mihiel in September 1918. Beck re-enlisted and was still serving in the Army of Occupation at Coblenz, Germany, when this book was published in 1920.

“Pvt. Robert A. Blum, age 21, the son of Caspar Blum, was called Feb. 1918 and sent to Camp Sherman, Ohio. In September 1918, he was in France with the 1st Division. He saw action in Meuse-Argonne offensive, then on the Sedan front, until Nov. 11, 1918. He was discharged Sept. 27, 1919.

“Cpl. Fred P. Breitenbach, age 27, the son of Philip Breitenbach, was called Oct. 1, 1917 and sent to Camp Funston, Kan., assigned to Engineers, 89th Division. In France, his unit was used in repairing and construction. He was discharged July 15, 1919.

“Pvt. Edward A. Clemenz, age 25, the son of Andrew Clemenz, was transferred to Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky., and assigned to the 39th Division. He was sent to France in September 1918 and saw action in Meuse-Argonne offensive, Nov. 1-11, 1918. He was discharged May 15, 1919.

“Sgt. Gerhart V. Clementz, age 25, son of William Clementz, was sent to Camp Zachary Taylor and assigned to Heavy Tank Corps, 84th Division. He saw action with the British Expeditionary Forces at Cambrai in September, 1918. He was discharged April 11, 1919.

“Sgt. Emil W. Dittmer, age 29, son of George W. Dittmer, was sent to Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky. He was with the 1st Army Radio Section from Aug. 23 to December 1918 and saw action in the St. Mihiel offensive and Meuse-Argonne offensive. He was discharged in August 1919.

“Pvt. Charles A. Ellis, age 26, son of Charles Ellis, was with the 335th Infantry, 84th Division, Headquarters Co. He saw action in Meuse-Argonne offensive, then Sedan front, October through Nov. 11, 1918. He was discharged Sept. 27, 1919.

“Pvt. Albert Etzkorn, age 27, son of John Etzkorn, was sent to Camp Shelby, Miss., and he was assigned to 38th Division Engineers. He was sent to Best, France, in late September and they built and repaired bridges and hospitals in sections occupied by American troops. He was discharged June 26, 1919.

“Sgt. Erwin J. Fellhauer, age 27, son of Fred Fellhauer, was called Sept. 18, 1917 and sent to Camp Campbell, Mich. Then assigned to 328th Field Artillery, Machine Gun Battalion. He trained with the French, then with the American units, seeing action on the west wing of the St. Mihiel offensive on Aug. 14; the Le Petrie Woods on Sept. 11; Death Valley on Oct. 14; and the Lorraine Sector on Oct. 21, along Moselle River and Pont-A-Mousson, where he was wounded in the left leg by two pieces of shrapnel. He was discharged March 19, 1919. Erwin’s younger brother, Otmar F. Fellhauer enlisted, but remained in the states.

“Pvt. Alvin L. Frey, age 24, son of Peter Frey, was called Feb. 23, 1918 and was sent to Camp Zachery Taylor, Ky., and assigned to 335th Infantry, 84th Division. In France in September, he saw action on the Flanders front, and in Belgium in the Lyz-Scheldt offensive, Oct. 30 to Nov. 11. He was discharged April 29, 1919.