When, where, and how was Private Archie Sommer wounded?

Are there sources of information, other than the Official Military Personnel File and Medical Records/Service Treatment Records, to find out when, where, and how Private Archie Sommer (U.S. Army service number 1721500) was wounded in the Argonne Forest in October 1918 during World War I?  I sent a request to the National Personnel Records Center for the Official Military Personnel File and Medical Records/Service Treatment Records of Private Archie Sommer in December 2020, and a response has been delayed due to the pandemic shutdown.  Even so, those records may or may not provide the answers that I am looking for.

Archie Sommer was born on August 7, 1894.  He lived at 20 Garfield Street in the community of Blackrock in the northwestern part of Buffalo, New York, along the Niagara River, prior to being drafted into the National Army.

At the time of his death, Private Archie Sommer was in the U.S. 1st Army, 1st Corps, 77th Division, 153rd Brigade, 306th Infantry, 2nd Battalion, and Company G.  Archie died of wounds received in action on October 22, 1918 -- 20 days before the Armistice.  The triage for the 77th Division was located in Florent, France, and the 11th Evacuation Hospital was located in Brizeaux, France.  The 11th Evacuation Hospital moved from St. Mihiel, France to Brizeaux for the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  Archie died in Brizeaux on October 22, 1918, and he was buried in the Evacuation Hospital No. 11 Cemetery (American Military Cemetery No. 557) on the same day.  Archie's body was later repatriated back to the United States, transported on the USAT Cantigny, and arrived at the Port of New York in Hoboken, New Jersey on December 7, 1921.  Subsequently, Archie Sommer was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kenmore, New York.

I have read many accounts of the operations of the 306th Infantry in the Argonne Forest.  Some generally describe the actions of Company G; however, none lists individual soldiers wounded in action on specific dates.  There are later newspaper articles and bulletins noting Archie Sommer's death.  I should point out that, prior to the pandemic, I reviewed at the NACP: RG120, Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), A.E.F. General Headquarters, War Diaries -- (77th Division), Box 2833, which relates to the 306th Infantry.

I am not sure the reason why, but in several documents that I have reviewed, Archie's name is missing from the roster of the 306th Infantry; and in at least one other document, Archie is erroneously listed as being in the 308th Infantry.  Finally, Archie's burial registration card indicates there is a Photograph No. D-9759, which I am trying to locate.

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  • Dear Mr. Machuga,

    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

    We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series Records of the 1st Through 338th and the 559th Infantry Regiment, 1916-1921 in the Records of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units (Record Group 391) that include the records of the 306th Infantry Regiment during WWI. For more information about these non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov. Please note that it is exceptionally rare for unit records to include a narrative of the circumstances under which wounds to individual soldiers were received or when deaths of individual soldiers occurred, given the high number of casualties and the difficulty of documenting events under wartime conditions. However, unit records may give information about the general activities of the company on that day.

    His burial case file may contain additional information about his death. Burial case files for 1915 to 1939 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). For more information about these records, please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov. Please note that these records typically focus on the disposition of the remains after death rather than on events prior to death.

    Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 and RL-SL.   We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience as we balance mission-critical work and the safety of our staff during the pandemic. Please check NARA’s web page about COVID-19 updates for the latest information.

    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

  • USE THIS ONE. I had an incorrect reference and made some minor edits..

    I located the initial burial plats (Plats D-199 and D-198) for Private Archie Sommer, Army Serial Number 1721500.  Archie was temporarily buried in the American Military Cemetery No. 557, Grave No. 54, Plot B, Row 3 (next to Evacuation Hospital No. 11) in Brizeaux, France.  His body was repatriated to Buffalo, New York in 1921.  In the top left corner of both plats, the plats state “P.D. Clermont.”  Referring to the Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet titled, “RG 92 Grave Registration by Name,” Archie Sommer is listed on Line 15717.  Column E (1:20,000 Map) for Archie also states “P.D. Clermont.”  What does the “P.D.” stand for?  There are other soldiers listed in the spreadsheet with “P.D.” preceding place names, and many other soldiers listed in places without the “P.D.”

    Archie Sommer is shown in Company H on the: (1) passenger list for H.M.S. Kashmir sailing overseas on April 17, 1918, (2) July, 1918 and August, 1918 monthly rosters, and (3) U.S. Veterans Bureau Form 7202 index card (which includes his date of death).  But Archie is also shown in Company G on the: (1) G.R.S. Form 13 burial card registration and removal project information, (2) Form 724-7, A.G.O. card providing abstract information about his military service and death, (3) list of the remains of the overseas dead shipped home on the U.S.A.T. Cantigny, and (4) headstone on his permanent grave.  Archie’s Official Military Personnel File was destroyed in the 1973 fire.  Nonetheless, I am trying to determine whether using Company G (instead of Company H) was an administrative error, or if Archie was detached to (or transferred to) Company G in September, 1918 or October, 1918, before he was wounded and his death on October 22, 1918.  I am also requesting confirmation that Companies G and H were in the 2nd Battalion.

    For some unknown reason, Archie’s name also does not appear in the rosters of Company G or Company H in the History of the 306th Infantry, by Julius Ochs Adler, 1935. See https://sites.google.com/longwoodcsd.org/longwoodjourney/modern-history/camp-upton/history-of-the-306th-infantry.

    A photo of Archie Sommer is shown on Page 313 of Soldiers of the Great War, New York, Volume II, compiled by W.M. Haulser, F.G. Howe, and A.C. Doyle, Soldiers Record Publishing Association, Washington, D.C. 1920.  He is also referenced on Page 370.

    Finally, Archie Sommer is erroneously listed in the 308th Infantry in the “Roll of Honor: Citizens of the State of New York who died while in the service of the United States during the World war” at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center.  See https://museum.dmna.ny.gov/soldiers-and-sailors/service-records/roll-honor-citizens-state-new-york-who-died-while-service-united-states-during-world-war/A.

  • Here's an article on his death from the The Buffalo Times,  Buffalo, New York on Saturday, November 23, 1918, that may help with the Company G versus H question - it says he was transferred from Co. H to Co G. 

  • Thank you for the useful information. This article mistakenly says Archie sailed for France with Co. H, 309th Infantry. The passenger list for the ship sailing overseas shows him in Co. H, 306th Infantry.  I have not found a 309th Infantry Regiment associated with the 77th Division.

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