John North Douglas

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Captain John N. Douglas (1880-1947) commanded the 317th Supply Train, 92nd Division (Colored)(1), November 1917 - March 1919. They served in the Vosges, Argonne & Marbache sectors of France.

Doug Fisher writes: John was born in Wales, emigrated to the US in the late 1880's. He served in US Navy 1900-1904 aboard the cruiser USS Buffalo during the Philippine Insurrection and in the US Army from 1917 to 1947 through both WWI and WWII. Awards included Legion of Merit.

He retired as Colonel in US Army Air Force. I always thought it was cool that after he came to the US from England, he served "on the sea", "on the ground" and "in the air corps" in three different wars. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

He was at Camp Funston from November, 1917 until June, 1918 while the 92nd Division as being formed. They left Camp Funston in June for France. I think the big Spanish Influenza Pandemic really hit Camp Funston just after they shipped out for France, and the people in his Supply Train were not infected.

Enlisted Men of the 92nd Division

According to his diary, however, he was confined to an Isolation Camp (also called a Detention Camp) at Camp Funston from December 11, 1917 until February 8, 1918 because of another health issue -- "meningococcus". His diary entries for that period are interesting.

December 9, 1917. Spent the day with my family in Manhattan, Kansas.

December 10, 1917. Working hard clothing the men.

Dec. 11, 1917. Was much upset today to receive at 1:00 p.m. an order stating that I was a carrier of "meningococcus" and that the ambulance would call at 1:30 to take me -- together with Capt. Jones Kurtz, and Lt. F. I. Walker to the isolation camp. Oh -- hell!

2:00 p.m. (same day). Arrived at isolation camp, Ft. Riley and assigned to pyramidal tent No. F-22. Tent is dirty -- and cold. There is a Sibley stove in place, however, and we immediately proceed to clean up and build a fire. Kurtz had gone to Manhattan to meet his wife before the order was issued so did not come out with Walker and yours truly. He came in about 5:00 p.m. We are much perturbed.

Dec.12, 1917. Isolation Camp, Ft. Riley, Kansas. We were all marched to an old kitchen today and a culture taken. To do this the “medic” takes a swab and pushes it down your nostril until he touches bottom, then twists it and makes a smear on a culture. Not a pleasant proceeding. Otherwise we are left very much alone. The supply Sgt. came and issued a bucket and three blankets to each of us. Dr. Dronell from the 355th Infantry came this afternoon -- another "carrier."

December 13, 1917. Isolation Camp. Ft. Riley, Kansas. This morning reported to the
kitchen and were cultured again. Afterward going to a latrine and getting swabbed.
The process is this:

Dr. #1 swabs your nostril back to your throat with 1% silver nitrate solution. Dr. #2 repeats the swabbing all around your throat. Dr. #3 using a crooked swab gets all around your back nostrils behind your palate. Dr. #3 repeats with iodine in liquid petrolatum. Dr. #2 does the same. Dr. #1 does the same. Then your treatment is complete. Tears come -- you gag and almost vomit -- and then you sneeze -- and sneeze -- and blow -- blow -- blow-- your nose and damn your misfortune. I can’t understand how any self-respecting “meningococcus” would stay after one treatment. The nights are cold ( zero or below ) but I manage to keep warm excepting my ears and nose. I have on my bed ten single blankets
and am comfortable. I crawl under the pile and hibernate until morning.

December 14, 1917. Got another treatment this morning. Spent rest of day firing the stove and alternating roasting one side and then the other. A tent cools quickly.

December 15, 1917-Feb. 8, 1918. Was finally discharged from detention camp and returned to duty. Camp Funston, Kansas. Organized and trained the 317th Supply Train. Hard work but conducive of results.


John and my Grandmother, Mildred, are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.



DOUGLAS, JOHN N
COLONEL US ARMY RETD
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: Unknown
DATE OF BIRTH: 06/24/1880
DATE OF DEATH: 03/04/1947
DATE OF INTERMENT: 03/07/1947
BURIED AT: SECTION 11 SITE 677
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

DOUGLAS, MILDRED H WIDOW OF JOHN
DATE OF BIRTH: 01/19/1881
DATE OF DEATH: 04/18/1972
DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/19/1972
BURIED AT: SECTION 11 SITE 677 NS
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
WIFE OF JN DOUGLAS - COL USA

Contributed by W. Douglas "Doug" Fisher, of Bethesda, Maryland, a grandson

Note:
The 317th Motor Supply Train was formed at Camp Funston in November 1917 in support of the 92nd Infantry (Buffalo) Division, one of two black combat units mobilized at a time when black and white soldiers were assigned to segregated units. In early April 1918, Douglas and 22 soldiers from his unit arrived by train in Moline to pick up their Liberty “B” trucks from the Velie Motor Vehicle Co. Founded by Willard L. Velie, a grandson of plow pioneer John Deere, the company made motor vehicles from 1909 until 1929.

The truck was a standardized design intended simplify operations and maintenance at a time when 294 different truck makes and models were in use in America’s armed forces. Other manufacturers produced the Liberty B.

The arrival of Douglas and the soldiers of the 317th prompted several stories in local newspapers.
“Colored Troops Come to Get Velie Trucks,” an article in the Moline Dispatch of April 5, 1918, reported.
In his journal, Douglas wrote on April 9, 1918: “Paraded the boys tonight in the interest of the Liberty Loan. We were the best looking outfit in the parade.”

The 317th Motor Supply Train accompanied the 92nd Infantry Division to France in June 1918. The soldiers did not take their Velie Trucks, using instead other trucks supplied by the Army.



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