”Honor the Past; Deserve the Present“

Edward Abbott


Corporal, Army
1890-1957

Contributor:  Harrison Reilly

Documentary materials provided in part by
Monty Holt, nephew of
Corporal Edward Abbott

Background

  • Edward, the youngest of six siblings, was born into an affluent and politically influential Atlantic County, New Jersey, family. His father, a lawyer, was a member of the New Jersey State Assembly.
  • He grew up on a 300-acre estate just outside of Mays Landing, New Jersey. The property was devoted to agriculture, and a stream on the property was dammed in two locations to supply water to a cranberry bog and for the running of a sawmill. Edward's primary occupation was the operation of the sawmill

WWI

  • Entered U. S. Army in April 1918
  • Arrived in France in the summer of 1918
  • As part of the First Army, he participated in the St. Mihiel battle in September 1918
  • Three weeks later he was moved a few miles west, near Verdun, for the Argonne Offensive in late September 1918
  • At St. Mihiel and in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, he was a truck driver in Motor Truck Company 469, US Third Army, driving men, supplies, and ammunition to the front lines
    • Note: His family had owned automobiles and Edward's proficiency at driving them helped determine his assignment as a truck driver during the war [Monty Holt, "Corporal Edward S. Abbott: Remembering my Uncle Ed," Recollections, nd, p. 1]
    • Note: Abbott's nephew recalls that Abbott "never talked very much about [the war]; but shortly before he died he told me that he inflicted a lot of German casualties in one battle by running over them with his truck. . . ." [Monty Holt, e-mail to Frank Mazzi, 15 June 2009] Abbott was at the front when German infantry surrounded his truck; he used the truck as a weapon, running over the enemy, in order to escape [Monty Holt, "Corporal Edward S. Abbott: Remembering my Uncle Ed," Recollections, nd, p. 2]
    • Note: Years after the war Abbott's nephew asked him if, during the war, he had ever seen General John Pershing. Abbott's nephew recalls, "He told me that one day while he was lying on his back doing some maintenance underneath his Army truck he looked aside and saw a pair of brightly polished high leather boots go walking by and he heard later that Pershing had indeed been visiting the commanding officers of his motor truck company. So he at least got to see Pershing's boots!" [Monty Holt, e-mail to Frank Mazzi, 17 November 2009]
    • Note: He was slightly exposed to gas, not enough to take him out of combat, but enough for him to qualify for the Purple Heart and a small disability check from the Veterans Administration. [Monty Holt, "Corporal Edward S. Abbott: Remembering my Uncle Ed," Recollections, nd, p. 2]
  • Following the Armistice Abbott's company was assigned occupation duty in Lutzel-Coblenz, Germany as part of the Third Army
    • Note: Years later Abbott explained to his nephew that the American soldiers stationed in Germany, could, as conquerors, ask for anything, and he gave an example. He was an avid ice skater and he was without his ice skates in the winter of 1918-1919. He knocked on the door of a German residence, demanded ice skates, and got them. [Monty Holt, telephone conversation with Harrison Reilly, 18 November 2009]
  • Departed France in late June 1919 aboard the USS Finland, arriving in Boston on July 1
  • On July 3, 1919, Abbott was discharged at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He then boarded a train and got home to Mays Landing, New Jersey, in time to celebrate July 4 with his family.
    • Note: Upon his return home relatives observed that Edward's wartime experience had resulted in great hair loss, possibly due to his exposure to gas [Monty Holt, "Corporal Edward S. Abbott: Remembering my Uncle Ed," Recollections, nd, p. 3]

After the War

  • On the family estate in Mays Landing, New Jersey, Edward replaced the horses with a new Fordson tractor, planted a new apple orchard, and resumed his duties as head sawyer at the family sawmill
  • Married in his mid-30s; the couple had no children. Edward's exposure to gas may have caused sterility [Monty Holt, "Corporal Edward S. Abbott: Remembering my Uncle Ed," Recollections, nd, p. 1]
  • Relatives noted Edward came home from the war with significant hair loss, also possibly the result of his exposure to gas [Monty Holt, "Corporal Edward S. Abbott: Remembering my Uncle Ed," Recollections, nd, p. 1]
  • Abbott became a charter member of both the Local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and always marched with them during national holidays

Death

  • Abbott died in 1957 at age 67
(rev.12.01.09)