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Albert Vining in World War I
My Great-Uncle's Experience
The earnest young soldier in this photo is my great-uncle, Albert Vining. He served in France during World War I and this page is to honor his service to his country.
Albert and his wife, Vina Vining had no children so when they died, their memorabilia passed along to my mother. She was the family historian. Now with the passing of her generation, I've assumed the care of the family papers.
The hat with a chin strap that he wears in this photo is called the Montana peaked hat or the campaign hat.
(photo from the collection of Gail Lee Martin, my mother)
Albert Vining Leaving for the War - With a Fellow Soldier
This studio portrait was taken in Coffeyville, Kansas just before the soldiers left. Albert is on the left.
You'll notice in the photo how they have wrappings around their legs. The name for these is puttees. These were practical for the muddy conditions in the trenches. They were wool and 8 to 12 feet in length. It must have been quite a job wrapping these around the legs each day.
They are also wearing a different hat here with no brim. It is the wool overseas hat that could be easily folded and stashed when not being worn. The wide-brimmed campaign hat did not have this capability.
You can't really see their boots here, but hobnail boots were issued for use in the trenches.
My aunt CJ Garriott contributed this story: "Uncle Albert was an absolute dear. He had a great sense of humor and was easy-going. He was fond of saying he'd been taller if he hadn't had so much turned out for feet."
I need to peek behind the frame to see if Albert's feet show in the picture and if they are as large as my aunt says.
Pages of a WWI Soldier's Journal - Albert Vining's pocket diary (photos by Virginia Allain)
Albert's Diary - Photo by Virginia Allain
In the slim pocket diary, Albert Vining noted each location and date as his company went to training and eventually ended up in France.
He also recorded some names which are probably fellow soldiers that he wanted to keep in touch with after the war. It would be interesting to see if I could find any information on these names. Perhaps they will be listed on ancestry.com.
William R. Chastain of Leon, Iowa
Frank L. Gordon of Shelby, Michigan
Henry C. Lane of West Union (state unclear)
A History of the 88th Division in the World War of 1914 - 1918 - This is the division my great-uncle served in
Albert Vining had a copy of this book that was published right after the war ended. I've included copies of some of the pages in the photo section below. You can get a reprint of this from Amazon.
Pages about the 88th Division - Albert Vining's CopyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Soldier's Pay Record - from World War I
A WWI Soldier's Pay
How much did a private make during the War to End All Wars? Albert Vining shows he received $33. After $21.60 was deducted for "fixed deductions," his final pay was just $11.40.
With bullets whizzing over their heads, I'm sure the pay was not enough for the risk they were exposed to. Serving in the military was a patriotic duty, not a way to earn a living.
It shows he was in Company B, 842 Infantry.
Albert's WWI Helmet
In the photos of the time, Albert appears in his uniform and the soft hat that looks like a boy scout hat. The helmet would have been worn on the battlefield and in the trenches.
To see what that was like, watch a movie like War Horse or the WWI scenes from Downton Abbey. It must have been a terrifying experience.
He decorated his mess kit with nail punch designs. His name and all the places he was stationed are listed. I wish I had a photo of that. Here's an example of such trench art.
An Example of Trench Art
Hand Drawn Map from WWI - Belonging to Albert Vining
On the map, it says "Where Co. B was billeted." I'm trying to read the other parts of the map. It shows two bridges and at the top, "north." Not very informative, but I need to compare it to accounts of the movement of those troops.
My Sister Is Transcribing Our Great Uncle's Letters
These are from the Gail Lee Martin collection. Transcribed by Karen Kolavalli.
- Jan. 29, 1919. Ribeaucort, France. Albert Vining to Nancy Jane Vining.
" Well, Mother, we are not having very much sickness over here now. I guess that dreadful disease of flue has bin raging nearly all over the U.S. but I hope it is checked by this time. How is the rest of the folks getting along out at Mooreland? Has Mae's children all got well? That was sure bad about Perry dying. He sure was awful good to Mae."
Albert Vining is Laura May Vining Butcher's brother and Nancy Vining is her mother. Perry Butcher was Laura May's husband. They had 5 children with the youngest being 6 and the oldest 13 years of age. They lived in Mooreland, Oklahoma.
- Pvt. Albert Vining, writing to his mother Mrs. Nancy J. Vining in Tyro, from Comercy, France, March 8, 1919:
"I am on a pass (from Ribeaucourt, France) over here at Comercy where Clarence is at. We sure have bin having some time. We go to shows ever night. I have saw several of the Tyro boys over here."
Clarence McGhee, mentioned here is Albert's brother-in-law, married to his sister, Ruth shortly before being sent to France. Clarence and Ruth are my grandparents.
Comercy is in the northeast of France, in the Meuse area of Lorraine.
Places in France Where Albert Vining Was
Learn More about WWI and What It Was Like in the Trenches
My grandfather served in France in the 1st world war. I've created a page about his experience and the family memorabilia from this momentous time in his life: Clarence McGhee - My Grandfather's WWI Years. I'm sure it parallels that of other young men of the time.
Learn more about the life and death experiences of the soldiers in the trenches of World War 1 from 1914-1918: WWI -The Trenches Of World War One.
Albert Vining, We Thank You for Serving Your Country
Do You Have an Ancestor Who Served in the First World War?
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© 2013 Virginia Allain