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Albert Vining in World War I

Updated on April 12, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

Albert Vining in World War I
Albert Vining in World War I | Source

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

The link takes you to the Vining Family History blog, Then and Now.
The link takes you to the Vining Family History blog, Then and Now. | Source

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 Vining's pocket diary from World War I.
Albert Vining's pocket diary from World War I. | Source

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.

Pages about the 88th Division - Albert Vining's Copy

Click 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 mess kit 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

show route and directions
A markerComercy, france -
Commercy, France
get directions

B markerRibeaucort, France -
Beaucourt, France
get directions

© 2013 Virginia Allain

Are You Saving Your Family History?

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    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      These "war" pages are wonderful, Virginia. I think they'll help others looking for information to see what you've gathered, how to look at papers and such, and what is out there for their own research, too.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you for telling me about your great-uncle. It's good to preserve our family memories. I hope someone in your family is working on genealogy and the family history. Write down memories like what you just did here and save them for your own children and grandchildren.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love this lens! My great uncle, Otto Erwin, was a soldier in Patton's 3rd Army during WW2. When he returned to Calloway County, Kentucky, after the war, he married a war widow, and they lived on a small farm in the countryside, near the tiny town of Hazel. They had no children of their own, but they babysat for several families - for 2 or 3 generations of the same family. They had a wall covered with framed pictures of all the children (and grown children) they had "raised." They were very beloved. I remember visiting them when I was a small child. He had a twinkling, mischievous smile, and loved playing tricks with us on our parents. I remember seeing a German shell (unexploded - a dud I guess?) on display near their living room fireplace - a souvenir he brought home from the war. I have an old newspaper clipping that he had been wounded in action, repairing some communication lines under enemy fire. He was awarded a purple heart. I don't know who received his things after his widow died - possibly her sister I guess. I hope whoever has them is taking as good care of them as you are taking care of your great-uncle's WW1 memorabilia.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
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      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @KathyMcGraw2: That's one of the quandaries for genealogists. What do you do with information that some members of the family prefer to keep secret.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 4 years ago from California

      We have been sorting through some of my grandmothers items, some of which are at a local museum. It's very interesting, and sometimes we have learned more than my mother wanted us to :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @dwnovacek: Future generations will thank you for preserving all that you can. Some of my family history topics have received comments from distant relatives and served as a way to reconnect with branches of the family.

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 4 years ago

      Wonderful, wonderful lens. It makes me more determined to capture my own family history.

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 4 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Amazing that you have kept all these for so long. It is interesting to know one's family history! ^_^

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Yes, i am saving and exploring it. You've done a nice job of telling this story, and how wonderful to have some of his artifacts to show.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
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      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @tvyps: Sounds like it would make a marvelous book. I hope you do it.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Fantastic! My Father was in World War II & I did a page on him but want to write a book. I have a 90 year old German neighbor who was in the apple orchards above Omaha Beach when Dad hit the beach. I think it would make an amazing contrast story.