By Shelby Stewart
Ortonville- Groveland Township resident Benjamin Richmond was just 29 years old when he died in battle in north-eastern France only three months before the end of World War I. He had served just over one year in the Army.
Richmond will be one of three World War I soldiers who died in service that will be honored by the Ortonville VFW post 582 on Nov. 11, marking 100 years since the end of World War I. At 11 a.m., Nov. 11 the bell at the Mann School House behind The Old Mill, 366 Mill St. will be rung once for every decade that has passed. The public is invited to attend.
“[September 26] was the deadliest battle the United States Army was in, over 26,000 soldiers were killed in that one day, and that was in France,” said Dennis Hoffman, VFW Post 582 commander. “And there were more than tens of thousands wounded. And they used more ammunition on that day than they used the whole Civil War.”
Hoffman along with VFW members will direct the bell honor.
The battle of Meuse-Argonne Offensive remains the deadliest battle for the U.S. Army out of all wars fought. In 1918, Nov. 11 was declared Armistice Day, to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the end of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.
It took effect at 11 a.m, on the 11th day, of the 11th month.
Benjamin J. Richmond was the youngest of seven children, born on Nov. 24, 1888. His mother listed him on the family census record as ‘Bennie.’ His
father, Benjamin T. Richmond, died in 1903 when Bennie was only 15. He continued on to be head of the household, and his mother, Alice Richmond (formerly Dewey), lived with him on his farm. Though Alice would go on to remarry to John Ritchie, Benjamin never married, and was drafted on June 4, 1917. He would go on to become a Corporal, and died in action in the Forest of Argonne in north-eastern France on Aug. 29, 1918. The Campbell-Richmond American Legion post in Clarkston, where he was a member, is partly named after him.
Roy Lawrence Hartwig was born in Groveland Township on April 13, 1894. He was one of nine children born to Carl and Clara Hartwig. His father went
by Fred, as his middle name was Fredrick, and was buried under that name. Both of Roy’s parents outlived him. He was drafted in 1917 into Company E, 125th infantry. He was also the first boy to go to Camp Custer from Groveland Township, and was a private in Waco, Texas when he died of Broncho-Pneumonia on Jan. 26, 1918. He is buried in the Hadley Cemetery.
Frank Scott enlisted with the Canadian Infantry, 44th Battalion, though he was born in Ortonville on May 13, 1889. He was one of four children born to Stephan and Augusta Scott. Stephan was a veteran of the Civil War, and died in 1916. Frank went on to serve in France, where he was injured severely while his battalion was advancing to Dury, south east of Arras, in the north of France. He was injured by an enemy shell in the arm and torso, and was transferred to the general hospital in the coastal city of Boulogne, where he died of his injuries. He was buried in France.
“On Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, we’re going to have a bell ringing for the commemoration of 100 years,” said Hoffman. “We’re going to ring the bell one time for each ten years and we’re going to have a gun salute.”
Other World War I veterans from the area are: Albert Auten, John B. Auten, Leslie D. Auten, Frank Bird, Earl Covert, Bruce Green, William Hartwig, William Jens, Ira Lewis, Patrick L. Liscom, Clifford Lucas, Patrick Lucas, Dudley Marsh, Rial Richmond, Henry Rohloff, Ed Donnenberg, Lewis Sonnenberg, Fred Sternberg and Harry Wilson.