Nuille le Jalais is a small village in the upper north west quarter of France. It has a population of 529 people year ’round. In 1918, its population was 432. Except on 11/11/1918 when its population was about 15 or so more. For on that day, Company B, 1st Battalion, 106th Infantry Regiment, 27th Division, 53rd Brigade billeted there. An entire company. Only 15 guys left. John Driscoll, a 20 year old from Brooklyn, NY, was there. He was my grandfather.
I never met my grandfather. He died about 10 years before I was born. Nobody in the family ever really talked about his service. No war stories. No tales of glory.
Last year, starting around Father’s Day 2017, I conducted exhaustive research into the 106th. It appears the unit saw heavy action in Flanders from September 24th through October 1st. Killed in Action Reports show Company B was fighting the German 93rd Infantry on the Hindenburg Line on September 27th. They suffered heavy losses and were taken off the line. 6 days later they went back to the front and broke the Hindenburg Line.
I can tell you where my grandfather was, within 2 miles or so, from the day he enlisted until the day he boarded a Long Island Railroad train after being discharged from Camp Upton, Long Island, to when he got off on Nostrand Avenue somewhere near Prospect Park. This stop was very close to where he served in the NY Army National Guard’s 14th Regiment. (When they were federalized, the switched from the 14th Regiment to the 27th Division.)
What I can’t tell you is if he ever won any medals, if he was ever cited, nor who the guys were in his squad. He is not mentioned in any of the reports, Gas Light Newsletters (the 27th Divisions monthly news letter), books, magazines or NY Times articles of the day. It appears he simply marched where he was told to march. Shoot where he was ordered to shoot and marched back to where he was told to rest. Then, he quietly came home, put on a gun and shield and patrolled the Prospect Park area of Brooklyn from 1920 to 1940 on a horse named “Reggie”.
He married, raised three children, retired and became a bank guard on Wall Street. He died of congestive heart failure / pneumonia at Kings County Veterans Hospital in June 1953.
Perhaps he is representative of the vast majority of heroes we honor today, this Veterans Day, 2018. For guys like my brother, Gerard; friends like George Slabowski, Kerry Tierman, Jim Bernard, Keith Foster, Lenny Esposito, Terry Spannagle and many many more that I can’t recall at this God awful early 4:08am I’ll keep it simple as well – thanks.