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Full text of "William Bradford Turner"

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WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 



PRIVATELY PRINTED BY 

CHARLES B. TURNER 

Garden City, New York 



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COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY 
CHARLES B. TURNER 



OCT 2! 
©CI.A60141B 



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FOREWORD 

To many of Bradford's friends it has seemed 
proper that a brief sketch of his life should be 
printed, to the end that a career so full of activ- 
ity and promise should not soon be forgotten. 
The editor, therefore, has collected the available 
data, and presents them in this little book, in the 
hope that thereby the influence of this gallant 
young soldier may be perpetuated among the boys 
who follow him at Williams and at Pawling, and 
his memory cherished among all who are honored 
to call themselves his friends. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



Early Years 3 

Pawling School. 5 

At Williams College 7 

Out of College 13 

To the Mexican Border . . . . . . 15 

Getting Ready for the "Big Job" ... 19 

Overseas 28 

In the Day of Battle 31 

The Reward of Honor 41 

In Memoriam 44 

Tributes 50 

Conclusion 63 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

Early Years 

WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER was 
born in Dorchester, Mass., Feb. 28, 1893. 
Through his mother, Abigail A. Quincy, he was 
a direct descendant of William Bradford, who 
landed from the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620, 
and was the first governor of the Massachusetts 
Bay Colony; also of Dorothy Quincy, the wife of 
John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of In- 
dependence. Through his father, Major William 
Henry Turner of Rhode Island, he could also 
look back upon a long line of New England an- 
cestors, the first of the family coming over from 
England in the year 1630, and many of its later 
members distinguishing themselves as soldiers in 
the Colonial Wars, the American Revolution, 
and the Civil War of 1861-65. 

3 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

Carefully brought up in a New England home 
where were preserved the habits of church-going 
and of service to the community, Bradford as a 
young boy gave promise of developing into a 
valuable citizen. Baptized in St. Mary's Episcopal 
Church at Dorchester (the same in which Phillips 
Brooks was confirmed and where he preached his 
first sermon) he was confirmed by Bishop Potter 
of New York while a student at Pawling in 1908. 
After attending local schools, among them the 
Roxbury Latin School, where he distinguished 
himself by characteristic faithfulness and devotion 
to duty, he entered, at the age of fourteen, St. 
Paul's School at Garden City, N. Y., transferring 
the next year (1907) to the Pawling School at 
Pawling, N. Y., founded by the former head- 
master of St. Paul's. There he completed his 
preparation for Williams College, graduating with 
the class of 19 10. 



Pawling School 

HIS record at Pawling has been admirably 
summed up by Mr. Horace E. Henderson 
of the school faculty in these words: 

An engaging personality made him a universal favorite 
from the first, but it was not long before the real qualities of 
the lad impressed themselves upon his schoolmates, and he 
gained a place in their esteem and in the esteem of his in- 
structors such as few schoolboys gain; and he never lost it. 
In his studies he was diligent and rather serious beyond his 
years. While he was never showy in his work, he was so 
steady and so ready to respond to mature advice that few 
Pawling boys ever entered college really better prepared to 
take up the work there. 

Among his comrades he was a natural leader. His leader- 
ship, though, did not come from the brilliancy of execution in 
athletics or in studies that so often makes the leader in the 
preparatory school. It came rather from the combination so 
rarely found in boys — the combination of complete sympathy 
with every sort of clean fun and clean sport, a sane point of 
view for every phase of schoolboy life, and a steadfastness to 
do right, no matter what the opposition or the cost. It is 
not strange that he was recognized as a leader. No one 
challenged his leadership. The boys who thought only of a 
good time found him at all times ready for fun — only it must 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

be clean fun; and the most careless among them respected 
him all the more. A fellow who got into trouble found in 
Brad a ready sympathiser, and got good advice — never 
" goody-goody' ' talk — for there was a virility in his goodness 
entirely incompatible with that quality, even in his school- 
days. Those who were mature enough to think seriously 
about finer things always found in him a response and an 
initiative that capped the climax of his leadership. 

And so, when he went up to college he left behind him at 
Pawling a reputation for fineness of character seldom achieved 
by a schoolboy. The words of one of his schoolmates, him- 
self a fine young chap, well illustrate Brad Turner's standing 
with those who knew him best: 

"If I could be just the sort of fellow I'd like to be, Fd rather 
be just like Brad Turner than any other fellow I ever knew." 



At Williams College 

IN SEPTEMBER, 1910, Bradford entered 
Williams as a freshman. Through previous ac- 
quaintance among the students, he had been in- 
troduced in the spring of that year to the Kappa 
Alpha Society, the oldest of the Williams fraternity 
chapters, and was pledged to its membership at 
that time. At his entrance, therefore, he was 
brought into close association with a most delight- 
ful fellowship, numbering among its members men 
of unusual personality and sterling character, 
whose influence was destined to play a valuable 
part in the cultivation of the ideals and loyalties 
of his later years. 

The same qualities which had so endeared him to 
his teachers and schoolmates at Pawling soon made 
themselves apparent to his friends at Williams. 
Firmness of purpose, high standards of conduct, 
a certain obstinacy in maintaining his point of view 

7 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

(which the boys called "Puritanical") were com- 
bined with simplicity and straightforwardness, 
inborn courtesy and desire to serve others, rare 
responsiveness to the appeal of friendship and 
sympathy in a way that bound to him very 
closely most of those who came to know him 
well. 

In the middle of his freshman year, an attack of 
appendicitis overtook him. It was house-party 
time at the fraternity house, and few of Brad's 
friends realized his condition until they had word 
that an immediate operation was necessary to save 
his life. Watched over by one of the boys of his 
Kap delegation, he was hurried to Albany, the 
operation was performed, and for some days his 
life hung in the balance. How well the writer of 
these lines remembers the shout of joy that went 
up in the Kap house one evening when a telephone 
message from Albany told us that Brad had had 
"the best day yet!" He made a good recovery, 
and with the hardihood of vigorous youth was 
playing football in the fall. (I asked him one day 
if he ever felt any ill effects, when on the football 

8 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

field, from his hospital experience, and he replied 
that in one game, where he tackled a runner 
and was dragged twenty feet, he did feel it a 
little!) 

Brad made his " W" in the Amherst game his 
sophomore year, and was thereafter, until gradua- 
tion, one of the "anchor men" of the Williams 
team. The editor of the 1914 class-book offers . 
this just appreciation of the boy and his play: 

"His character is clearly shown by his game at 
fullback. He is slow, but forceful, unrelenting, 
persistent. He hammers away with all that is 
in him." How like the Brad of a few years 
later, hammering his way through the German 
trenches in that splendid and terrible fight at 
Ronssoy ! 

Besides football, Bradford entered heartily into 
other fields of college life. In his studies, as in 
everything else, he was serious, self-reliant, and 
utterly dependable. The seniors at the fraternity 
house whose duty it was to supervise the cur- 
riculum work of the "freshman delegation" had 
no worries over him. "A consistent 'C man," 

9 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

was the way one professor put it. He played on 
his class baseball and basketball teams; took part 
in college dramatics; managed the 1914 annual, 
the Gulielmensian; served on the Honor System 
Committee; and worked for the Williams Christian 
Association. In his junior year he was elected a 
member of the Gargoyle Society, an association 
of the leading men in Williams undergraduate , 
activities, founded in 1895 anc ^ recruited from 
successive classes. As undergraduate auditor of 
the accounts of various student organizations he 
put in some of the hardest, and least appreciated 
work of his senior year. 

In his fraternity home he was early recognized as 
a man who would take responsibilities, and was 
chosen for successive posts of duty in the society 
culminating with that of "head of the house' ' 
in his senior year. 

Few positions in college life bring with them such 
opportunities for character building and the 
development of leadership as that of head of a 
fraternity chapter. The man who undertakes such 
an office in a spirit of service, finds his capacity for 

10 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

sympathy, for guidance, for the upholding of moral 
and spiritual standards, grow in a surprising man- 
ner. He feels himself responsible not only for the 
welfare of every member of his group, but for the 
honor and reputation of the organization as a 
whole, for the maintenance of time-honored tradi- 
tions, and for handing them on unimpaired. 

Personal leadership, breadth of vision and of 
appreciation, responsiveness of mind and heart, 
are essential to success in such a position, and 
Bradford, from the day he entered upon his office, 
devoted himself heart and soul to realizing its 
possibilities. What measure of success he at- 
tained can be told best by those who worked with 
him, but it fell to the present narrator to share 
with him some of the problems of his administra- 
tion, to observe the manly, simple way in which he 
met them, and to bear witness to the broadening 
and deepening effect of the whole experience upon 
his nature. It was one of the older alumni of the 
chapter who remarked one evening, as he looked 
at Brad, "He seems to have been made for the job, 
doesn't he?" 

ii 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

In June, 1914, Bradford was graduated with his 
class, one of the finest Williams has turned out in 
recent years. His Kap brother and room-mate 
James Phinney Baxter, 3d, was the valedictorian 
on Commencement Day. 



12 



Out of College 

ON JULY 14th Brad sailed for Europe on a va- 
cation trip, with three Williams comrades, 
"Bob" Gilmore, 'n, and "Johnny" Gillette and 
"Bob" Jewett, '14. The outbreak of the World 
War, which came while they were in Paris, caused a 
hurried abandonment of their plans for a Continen- 
tal tour, and they crossed over to England, where 
they spent the rest of the summer "seeing the 
country." Means of transportation were pro- 
vided by the purchase of a motorcycle equipped 
with a side-car and a small two-passenger auto- 
mobile, and in these they started north from 
London, stopping at various places of interest and 
losing each other more than once on the road in a 
series of laughable adventures. Finally reaching 
Scotland, they spent a couple of weeks at a summer 
hotel while their conveyances — which had broken 
down — were being put in running order, then 

13 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

started anew, getting back into the English lake 
country when a smash-up of the automobile in 
which Brad and Bob Gilmore were riding put an 
end to their itinerary. It was a close call for the 
boys, but they fortunately escaped without injury. 
After one or two delightful visits with English 
friends the party set sail for home, and, in the fall of 
1914, Brad settled in Garden City, N. Y., and 
entered the employ of Thomas & Company, shoe 
manufacturers, at their factory in Brooklyn. 

Having looked forward since childhood to this 
business opportunity, he had determined to ac- 
quaint himself with every detail of the work, and 
so spent the greater part of the next two years 
familiarizing himself with the operation of the 
machinery, gaining acquaintance with the mater- 
ials, and also learning a good deal about the view- 
point of the factory worker. He further took a 
course in business administration to better fit him- 
self for the larger duties which it was expected 
would later devolve upon him. He became of 
such value to the concern that he was placed in 
general charge of operation in the summer of 1916. 

14 



To the Mexican Border 

DURING these busy months, Brad always 
found time to keep in touch with his college 
friends, and it was with some of these that, in the 
fall of 191 5, he became a member of the machine 
gun troop of Squadron A, New York National 
Guard, and went with them to the Mexican Border 
in June of the following year. The following ac- 
count of the adventures of the Troop has been 
given by "Ned" Shaw (Williams 1913) one of 
Brad's fellow-troopers, who later rendered gallant 
service overseas: 

We had been training expectantly for the Border cam- 
paign all the winter previous, but when the call came, it took 
us all by surprise. Brad, with most of the other members of 
the Machine Gun Troop who were Williams men (about four- 
teen in all) was at Williamstown participating in the fraternity 
and class reunions usually held at Commencement time. I 
remember well our joy and excitement when Pitt Mason 
(Williams '13) broke up our class reunion parade by ex- 
citingly waving a telegram and announcing loudly that the 

r 5 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

guard had been called out and that we were ordered to report 
at the armory in New York that night, June 19, 191 6, by six 
o'clock. A great percentage of the men were in the guard and 
all rushed for the one o'clock train, breaking up entirely the 
reunion ceremonies. The squadron went into camp at Van 
Cortlandt Park after a few days' hard work packing in the 
overcrowded armory. At Van Cortlandt we slept on the 
ground with as many as fifteen men in one pyramidal tent. 
Here our shortage of horses was made up by four hundred of 
the worst outlaws and skates ever assembled, rejects from the 
Italian Government contract. These screaming, biting 
brutes caused us several severe casualties and many minor 
ones. I remember being picked up by Brad one day, after 
one outlaw had landed a well placed kick on my jaw. It 
must have been very humorous for the spectators, for when 
Brad found I was unhurt he rolled on the ground with glee. 

We entrained at Yonkers about July 5th for points un- 
known. Rumor had us assigned to every unlikely point in 
the United States and its possessions, from Porto Rico to the 
Philippines, to relieve regular army units. The fact that our 
train carried us 150 miles due north before bearing west- 
ward added a rumor to the others that Alaska was our 
destination. Our train from Yonkers to Texas was made up 
of day coaches and open cattle cars; with no cook car for hot 
food and with little sleep for five nights, one can imagine the 
hardships of that trip in July weather. We subsisted on cold 
canned tomatoes mostly and no provision for drinking or 
washing water in the cars was made. Add to this the night 
unloading, watering, feeding, and entraining of our wild 
horses every thirty-six hours, together with the dusty, soot- 
invested, boiling-hot waterless days, and you have a com- 
plete picture of Brad's first traveling experiences in the 
military service. 

16 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

To most of us who were later officers, the hardships of that 
trip and subsequent duties on the Border were never equalled 
in the hottest action of the World War. These hardships 
were mostly due to our inexperience, augmented by the com- 
plete unpreparedness of our Government in the matter of 
equipment and transportation facilities. The value to the 
country in the World War of the lessons learned by all con- 
cerned in the Border campaign can never be overestimated. 
With ninety-two men in our troop, at least ninety became 
officers in some branch of the service in the World War. 
Brad's own squad was made up of men who were in no way 
unworthy of his company and example. Every man of them 
became an officer within six months after the Border cam- 
paign. 

When we arrived at Mc Allen on July 13th, after more than 
a week en route, we found the heat indescribable. We shall 
never forget the work of unloading horses, fodder, and equip- 
ment under the Texas sun, and making camp. During the 
six months on the Border our work never let up. We cleared 
the jungle, pitched our tents, ditched and improved the camp, 
erected our picket line with frame and canvas shelter over- 
head, groomed, fed, and watered the stock, cleaned picket 
lines and equipment, mounted guard, patrolled the river, 
answered night alarms, chased phantom bandits, ad infinitum. 
Kipling's "Gentlemen Rankers" was our favourite song and it 
assuaged many a bruised pride. For a crowd of city chaps, 
soft from our offices, we had certainly taken on plenty of back- 
breaking manual labor. Brad was a model of tireless good 
humor and set an example through all the hardships which 
earned him a reputation for the highest type of soldierly de- 
pendability. His sense of humor in all situations was a 
source of delight to all his friends. His mount was a bay 
mare, named "Sally," of massive frame, standing sixteen 

17 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

hands. When mounted on this animal Brad was the picture 
of a seasoned trooper of the U. S. Cavalry. We left McAUen 
December 15, 19 16, for our return trip, which was the op- 
posite of our trip to the Border. We had a model train of 
tourist sleepers, with cook car attached. We were royally 
entertained at Houston, Louisville, Cincinnati, and other 
cities en route. We arrived at Jersey City on the morning of 
December 24, 191 6, and rode up Fifth Avenue in our trium- 
phal returning parade at four o'clock Christmas Eve. Our 
troop was mustered out of the service on December 28, 1916, 
and continued after a month's lapse as a troop in the New 
York cavalry. Brad was among the first to be offered a 
commission in the World War, which he accepted April 17, 
1917. The fact that he jumped from a private in the cavalry 
to a lieutenant of the Machine Guns in the Twelfth New York 
Infantry, and in spite of this sudden rise made such a glor- 
ious record during his service with that regiment and sub- 
sequently with the 105th Infantry in France, is conclusive 
proof of the calibre of the man. 



18 



Getting Ready For the "Big Job" 

IIEUT. "GUS" ROSS, later one of Brad's fellow 
-^ officers in the 105th Infantry, tells the story 
from this point up to the landing in France: 

It was in April, 19 17, that Brad received a second- 
lieutenant's commission in the 12th N. Y. Inf., N. G., and was 
discharged from Squadron A, N. G., N. Y. Colonel Foster, 
of the 1 2th, assigned him to the Machine Gun Company on 
account of his experience with these weapons while in the 
Squadron and he at once became of great help to his com- 
pany commander, Capt. J. deForrest Junkin, who was very 
busy at the time recruiting and organizing his company in 
preparation for the induction of the regiment into Federal 
service. 

It was not until July 15th that we were mustered into 
Federal service and the few months preceding were spent in 
feverish preparation for this event. For the most part this 
work consisted of recruiting the companies from their usual 
strength of sixty or seventy men to the war strength of 150. 
Drilling of these new recruits, receiving and issuing of new 
equipment, inspections, officers ' meetings, etc., necessitated 
our being at the armory several nights a week and occasionally 
during the day. Of course we were already fighting our 
future battles in the officers' mess, but I seldom saw Brad 
there at all as he applied himself very seriously to his company 

J 9 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

work, and I came in little contact with him. He impressed 
me at that time as being very deliberate and dignified, and I 
recall the serious and painstaking way he saluted — a good 
military habit which he always kept up. 

Upon muster-in we continued our armory work but did our 
drilling in the large sheep meadow in Central Park and waited 
impatiently for our orders to move to training camp. These 
did not come for some time, as the first units of the regiment 
did not leave until about September ioth, but shortly after 
that the entire regiment was busy hewing out its camp (the 
location being a young pine forest) at Camp Wadsworth 
about three miles west of Spartanburg, S. C. It was just 
previous to our leaving New York for camp that Brad was 
transferred from the Machine Gun Company to Company K 
commanded by Capt. Thomas Barbour, who was a strict dis- 
ciplinarian and therefore a man after Brad's own heart. Brad 
was quickly developing into a strong, reliable type of officer, 
very studious in his book work and firmly resolved to carry 
out all measures of discipline to the letter whether applying 
them to those under him or to himself. This became his most 
dominant trait later on. 

For a month after arriving at camp we were all very busy, 
but happy in the belief that we were building up a good regi- 
ment and developing as fine an esprit de corps as possessed by 
any unit in the New York division, when suddenly Old Man 
Rumor (already hard at work) began saying that when the 
reorganization of the division took place to conform to the 
new regulations, the old 12th was to be broken up; the other 
infantry regiments were to be paired to make the regiments 
required by the new regulations — and our regiment was to be 
broken up into many pieces and used to fill up every unit 
of the new division from infantry to quartermaster corps. 

This was one of the few times Old Man Rumor told the 

20 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

truth, for in the early part of November the changes above 
described took place. Only a skeleton of the old regiment 
remained, to be turned into pioneer infantry later. Brad 
was almost left out of the transfers to the units of the new 
27th Division, as Colonel Foster had intended to retain him 
with one or two other lieutenants selected by him for their 
ability as part of his nucleus for the new regiment, but a later 
order directed the transfer of all lieutenants, leaving only the 
captains and several staff officers. Brad was thereupon 
transferred to the 108th Infantry with four or five other 
Twelfth Regiment officers. 

The transfers finally made, units and individuals began to 
settle themselves in their new surroundings. For the units 
this was easy, merely compliance with orders and hard work 
on the part of all concerned, but for a good many individuals 
it was hard getting acclimated and acquainted with new 
superiors and new methods. It was not long before Brad 
began to grow dissatisfied with his new regiment and com- 
pany. His desire to enforce strict discipline and compliance 
with orders was occasionally thwarted by his new company 
commander whose ideas and methods were more lax than 
his. His old company commander in the 12th had always 
backed his efforts to instil and enforce discipline and carry 
out orders and regulations exactly, but on several occasions 
his new company commander failed to apply measures of dis- 
cipline which Brad knew were necessary for building up a good 
company. 

I had been transferred to the 105th Infantry and after a 
somewhat similar experience was transferred from my first 
company to Company M, 3rd Battalion, the company which 
Brad later helped make famous in the records of the 27th 
Division in France. We had several vacancies among the 
lieutenants and my captain said he would like to fill them 

21 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

with former Twelfth Regiment officers, having been well 
acquainted with a number of them. The first one I thought 
of was Brad as I knew he would fill Captain Curtis ' require- 
ments as an officer and also knew he would welcome a change 
from his present regiment; and as we had become quite well 
acquainted I desired to have him as a tent-mate and comrade. 
The battalion commander was Major DeKay, an old Twelfth 
officer, and he at once gave Captain Curtis his approval for 
the transfer. Now, it was not an easy thing to get trans- 
ferred simply because you desired to, but Brad went to a 
former major of the Twelfth who finally found a way to get 
him transferred, and just a few days before Christmas, 191 7, 
he joined Company M, 105th Infantry. 

Our work for the few weeks consisted of routine drilling and 
manceuvering and studying pamphlets etc., regarding trench 
warfare, until Company M received orders to move to the 
newly established Officers' Training School in another part 
of the camp. Our first duties were to set up the camp and 
get it ready for the students. This completed and the school 
open, our duties were to supply the various guard and work 
details necessary, as the students' time was devoted entirely 
to their instruction. The working details took only about 
50 per cent, of the strength of Company M each day, so that 
we had sufficient men left to drill and manceuver with and 
very often we would go out with the student companies in 
their miniature battles and act as the enemy for them. The 
school lasted for three months and during a good part of this 
time conditions were such that Brad had command of the 
drilling and instructing of Company M, doing it with such 
thoroughness and efficiency that the company showed up 
almost as well on the drill field and in manceuvers as the well 
drilled student companies. 

11 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

He became quite an authority on drill regulations and I 
recall his discussions with the senior instructor of the school 
on questions and interpretations of intricate movements in 
which he showed how carefully he had studied the "book/' 
as we called the Infantry Drill Regulations. He was very 
conscientious in the performance of duty, always on time, 
neatly and properly dressed, and ready for the work to be 
done. The men under him had a great deal of respect for him 
as he was always calm and collected, and very exacting in his 
work with them. While he insisted on a full measure of dis- 
cipline he was absolutely fair and considerate in his dealings 
and, indeed, that stern look and those piercing black eyes 
of his instilled a certain amount of fear in those that came 
before him for some breach of discipline. Off duty he was 
the best of tent-mates, always cheerful and good-natured and 
ready for a good time. Our tent stood on the top of a small 
eminence and at night with the light shining through the dark 
red window curtains could be seen from nearly all parts of 
Camp Wadsworth. On Saturday or Sunday we usually went 
to town (Spartanburg) to have dinner at the hotel, do some 
shopping, and meet our friends, but during the week after the 
day's work was over we liked to sit in our tent in front of the 
fire, and study and write. 

Our orderly, John Ekman, who took care of the tent, helped 
serve our meals etc., was very faithful and remained with us 
until after we reached France. John was killed two days 
after Brad and within several hundred yards of him. 

It was shortly before the school closed that Brad and I 
arranged for the transfer to our company of Lieut. Cary 
Walradt, another officer of the old Twelfth, and from that 
time on the three of us were inseparable. 

Upon the graduation of the students, which took place in 
the early part of April, 191 7, the school broke up and we re- 

23 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

joined our regiment, and with the additional restrictions and 
routine work the wait for the long expected orders to leave for 
"over there" became more monotonous. When they did 
come however they were unexpected, as the regiment had just 
completed a hard two days ' hike to the camp rifle range for a 
week's rifle practice and the following morning received orders 
to return at once and prepare to leave for an embarkation 
port — which of course we thought meant New York. This 
was about April 25th. Then followed days of much excite- 
ment and much work incidentally. Old Man Rumor was 
working harder than ever, but when he began to whisper that 
we were going to Newport News, Va. and not to our home 
town to embark he became much discredited, as we could not 
believe that we were going to lose our last chance to say 
good-by to those at home. Why, we argued, every division 
so far has left from New York and surely we will as that is 
our home town? But when we boarded the train at Camp 
Wadsworth about May 5th we found that once again Rumor 
spoke the truth and we wefe going to Newport News. It 
was all very secret about where we were going and few of us 
knew definitely, before boarding the train, that we were not 
going to New York. Imagine our surprise when, upon 
reaching Newport News we found many of our folks there 
waiting for us, the New York papers having published the 
fact broadcast sometime previous. 

We found a pleasant camp there, barracks with cots, run- 
ning water, electric lights, and other modern conveniences — 
also, we thought, more doctors than we had ever seen before, 
as we had to pass through all kinds of examinations the next 
ten days. 

Finally, the day for embarkation came and on May 17th at 
1 2.1 5 p. m. we left Camp Stuart and marched to Newport News, 
pier No. 5, and boarded the fine big ship, President Grant. 

24 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

Brad had been detailed to go on board the day previous and 
locate the quarters of Company M, so that when we marched 
on board he could take us to our proper places without con- 
fusion. This he did and we were located with promptness and 
dispatch, and then, of course, we piled on deck to look as long 
as possible at — the shore. 

It was not until the morning of the 18th that we started 
however, and proceeded down the bay, promptly getting on a 
sand bar and staying there for several hours until pulled off 
finally by numerous tugs. It was the President Grant's first 
trip out of Newport News and they said it would be her last, 
as New York was the only port large enough for her to 
manceuver in — and being good soldiers we growled and 
said it was just our luck to catch her at Newport News instead 
of New York. 

Almost immediately several other transports joined us, to- 
gether with a big cruiser and several saucy little destroyers — 
and before we were out of sight of land we were all looking for 
periscopes! We started with fine weather and had it most 
of the trip except for about two days of a hard blow, not a 
storm by any means, but sufficient to make a number of us 
wish we were a little nearer the trenches. Exercising, guard, 
and work details took up a good part of the time, and "aban- 
don ship" drills took up the rest of the day and night — or so 
it seemed to us after awhile. At "A. S." sounding every man 
ran to his appointed place near some boat or raft ready to 
leave in case of the ship sinking. It was interesting at first 
but when they pulled them off during a meal or when you 
were sleeping your six hours off between watch, it was in- 
convenient to say the least. Brad was among those assigned 
to a raft and not to a boat, and to look at one of those rafts 
and then at the big waves made you doubt their ability to 
hold you above water long enough to get your breath. 

25 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

About the seventh day we had our first "abandon ship" 
call, as a submarine had been reported on our port side, but it 
subsequently turned out to be a barrel thrown off by some 
passing ship. And so the long trip continued with every one 
in good spirits but impatient to get there. The Sunday be- 
fore Memorial Day about one o'clock of a beautiful afternoon 
everybody aboard except those on duty were assembled 
around a boxing ring amidships watching several bouts 
between soldiers and sailors when suddenly the "A. S." signal 
blew, but we were all so engrossed in the match before us that 
we were slow in starting for our posts and while we were 
grumbling about having a drill at such an inopportune time, 
a gun suddenly boomed — which stopped all argument and 
everybody scrambled to his place alongside his boat or raft. 
Brad and I were fortunate enough to be on the side of the ship 
where the submarines really were and we could therefore 
watch the little torpedo boats tearing around in circles one 
behind the other and dropping their depth bombs where the 
periscopes were last seen. Few of us who were not on look- 
out duty saw the subs but it was very exciting and interesting 
to watch our torpedo boats while our own ship rapidly 
changed her course and zig-zagged off in an opposite direction, 
as did the other eleven transports now in our convoy, and soon 
we were scattered in all directions. No torpedoes that may 
have been fired by the enemy struck, but we were informed 
later that two submarines were officially reported sunk. From 
this time on and as we were nearing more dangerous water 
each day we took on extra precautions and again we were at- 
tacked in the Bay of Biscay about twenty-four hours before 
we reached the harbor of Brest. No torpedo reached its 
mark and there was some doubt whether we had got any 
subs, so the incident was soon forgotten. We began to sight 
more vessels and looked eagerly for land but did not sight it 

26 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

until we looked over the rail the following morning. Great 
big sausage balloons painted yellow floated overhead looking 
down into the water for submarines, while little fishing smacks 
with red sails passed all around us, and the big chalk cliffs of 
Brest looked dazzling white with the blue sky as a background. 
We spent a night in the harbor and on Memorial Day the 
regiment disembarked with the exception of two companies, 
one of which was Company M. We were left on board to 
help unload the cargo and as it was to be done at the highest 
speed, shifts of men were arranged so that the work went on 
day and night without a stop. Of course, we were all very 
anxious to see the city and Brad and myself, having become 
acquainted with the naval commander on board during the 
trip across, managed to get a trip ashore with him. The 
very first thing we did was to buy an overseas cap and we 
thought they looked very funny at first after wearing a 
wide brimmed campaign hat so long. 



27 



Overseas 

EARLY in June, 1918, when the transport 
carrying Bradford and his fellow-soldiers of 
the 105th landed in France, his first home letters 
began to come back overseas. After a few weeks 
devoted to training behind the battle area, the end 
of July found the regiment in the front line in 
Flanders, and Brad's letter of the 30th is written 
from a "hole in the ground — just between the two 
spots made most historic by this war" (probably 
Ypres and Mount Kemmel). Cheerful, uncom- 
plaining, and thoroughly boyish withal are these 
letters from the trenches, written from week to 
week with conscientious regularity up to a few 
days before the brilliant but terrible encounter in 
which he gave his life. "All is well," "everything 
goes on the same as usual," with never a word of 
hardship or privation. Even the mire of Flanders 
is "not as bad as that of South Carolina" — al- 

28 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

though our correspondent allows himself a moment 
in which to commend the life of the airman for the 
privilege it offers of "a good bed to come back to 
and no living in the mud!" The letter of August 
31st tells of an incident which Brad describes as 
"humorous/' consisting of his tying a can to a post 
in No Man's Land and banging on it with a ham- 
mer to draw the Boche's fire — "but he wouldn't 
fall for it!" Who that knew the boy cannot 
picture his expression while this performance was 
going on ? 

While the necessities of the censorship of course 
imposed restraint upon Brad's correspondence, it is 
a question whether his letters would have read 
very differently had there been no censorship at all. 
Simple, straightforward, matter-of-fact discourse 
was of the essence of Brad's nature, and his inmost 
feelings were not easy of expression. Here is a 
part of his last letter, dated Sept. 21st, a week 
before his death: 

We are still back of the line having a theoretical rest, but in 
practice we are chasing about over hills all day and coming 
back pretty well tired out. I have been in command of the 

29 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

company for about three weeks and it has kept me fairly 
busy. 

The news is certainly encouraging, and every one is very 
much pleased with the success of the Americans around St. 
Mihiel. If the Americans do nothing else, their presence has 
raised the morale of the Allied armies tremendously. Our 
own division is getting along well and I hope before long we 
shall get into a real fight. Everyone must kill at least one 
Hun before he will have paid for his transportation. 

It has been very hot here until recently, when the autumn 
days started in. We are in a delightful part of the country 
just now. 

If you can arrange to send the pictorials of the Sunday 
Times , Tribune, and Sun they will be much appreciated. It 
gives us a chance to see what is going on at home and what 
the people at home are hearing about the troops over here. 

Give my best to everybody at the factory and love to all the 
family. 

Affectionately, 

Brad. 

This is the boy as we knew him, in every line — 
the same young soldier who, a few days later, in 
the face of fearful odds, led the attack "with 
gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond all 
call of duty," made the supreme sacrifice, and by 
his valor won the supreme recognition from his 
Government. 



3° 



In the Day of Battle 

ON THE morning of the 27th of September, 
191 8, came the attack in which Brad lost his 
life, at the head of a handful of men, surrounded 
by the enemy after incredible exploits of bravery. 
It was directed against one of the strongest points 
of the Hindenburg Line, near Ronssoy, where 
were the most formidable defences and heaviest 
concentrations of enemy artillery. 

Brad's company, M of the 105th, was composed 
of New York men largely from the towns and cities 
along the upper Hudson Valley, and they were 
assigned, with Company K of the same regiment, 
to protect the left flank of the 106th Infantry. 
In the absence of the Captain, Charles R. Whipple 
of Hoosick Falls, who was at a tactical school, 
Brad and Lieutenant Rudin were in command. 
It was not until months afterward that the story 
of the fight could be put together, for, when the 

3i 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

ground was recovered, not a survivor of Company 
M could be found. Only when four members, who 
had been captured by the Germans, had made their 
way back to the lines at the close of hostilities in 
November, were the whole circumstances publicly 
known. The account, as finally given by Captain 
Whipple in the Troy Times of April 17, 191 9, is as 
follows : 



It was early in the morning of the 27th of September, 
Companies M and K of the 105 th had been assigned to prevent 
any flanking operations against the 106th Regiment, which 
was on our right. The 106th was to attack and Company K 
was to pivot left on the right of the British line and M was to 
pivot left on the right of Company K and to secure contact 
with the left of the 106th when that regiment had obtained 
its objective. 

Just as M had effected a juncture with K to start, a Boche 
rocket went up, lighting the scene, disclosing the movement. 
The men ducked and a machine barrage was put down upon 
them. It was "nasty," but failed its purpose, and when the 
barrage had ended the lines were reformed. Lieutenants 
Rudin and Turner were in command of Company M. For 
some reason or other the 106th Regiment, instead of going 
straight forward, crowded off to the right, and was badly 
shot to pieces. 

Despite its serious losses Company K swung on its pivot 
and into position. Company M marched to its wheeling 
position. Lieutenant Rudin, who had charge of the left, 

3 2 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

was killed before the movement was executed; he dropped as 
he was leading his men, holding one of the small trench shovels 
in his hand, using that implement as a sword. Sergeant 
Wright was also killed, just at the spot where Lieutenant 
Rudin fell. Sergeant Hamilton took command and led the 
men to their objective — thereby winning a much-coveted 
D. S. C. This portion of the company was so depleted that 
Sergeant Hamilton did not know what to do about the flank 
movement, so they dug in and remained there. Scouts were 
sent out to find out where Company K was, so that the men 
could hook up with its right. 

The right half of Company M under Lieutenant Turner 
never stopped. They advanced under a severe bombing. 
Lieutenant Turner was wounded, but he refused to retire. 
Then this half of the company divided, Lieutenant Turner, 
with about thirty men, being on the right and the other half, 
under Sergeant Dahms, with Corporal Flynn as second in 
command, advanced about 200 yards, driving the Germans 
out of their trenches in a way that put the fear of the Sammy 
in the heart of Jerry. They arrived finally at the post desig- 
nated and dug in, and three runners were sent back for aid. 
The platoon waited a long time, but heard nothing. Dahms 
thought that each of the messengers had been shot. Finally 
— and in desperation, for the position was a very dangerous 
one — Corporal White of Valley Falls was detailed as the 
fourth runner. He was given orders that he must not fail, 
that he had to take the word back which would bring re- 
enforcements up. 

He began his very perilous mission. Dodging into shell 
holes, he finally reached a trench in which he saw six or eight 
Boches. Just at the same time he noticed another Yankee — 
who he was I was never able to learn — and after each had 
satisfied the other that he was a Yank, the two combined 

33 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

forces and they covered the Germans in the trench with their 
rifles. The Boche called out "Kamerad" meaning sur- 
render, and then, to the surprise of both the Yankees, there 
suddenly appeared, apparently from nowhere, about sixty 
other Germans, all of them surrendering, as did their six 
comrades. These latter evidently had been sitting upon the 
edges of a dugout, and the entire crowd quit, thinking that a 
large force of Americans was upon them. Just as the men 
came out of the trench one of the Boche stooped. Corporal 
White did not want to take any chance; he shot the man, and 
this inspired the others with proper respect. Just at this 
time Corporals Yerenton and Rosebrook, of Hoosick Falls, 
both members of Company M, came along. Both had been 
wounded and were going back to receive medical treatment. 
Corporal White turned the prisoners over to the wounded 
men and they were thus taken back. 

Corporal White then discovered a movement on the right 
and he investigated and found Lieutenant Cipperly of Troy, 
who was with Company L, and who had been ordered to 
form the men on the main line. Word to this effect was 
sent to Sergeant Dahms, and Lieutenants Cipperly and 
Slayton then took charge and the line was formed. 

Now comes the thrilling portion of the whole fight, so far as 
M Company is concerned, the tale of the lost platoon. This 
was composed of thirty men and was commanded by Lieu- 
tenant Turner. They had advanced, as said, and had gone 
about twenty yards and were close to the broad belt of Boche 
wire entanglements when a machine gun nest opened upon 
them at very close range. If you can discover the flash of a 
machine gun in the first or second shot you can locate the gun; 
otherwise it is impossible to tell where it is. Fortunately 
Lieutenant Turner did see the flash. The gun was near him 
and he leaped at it and singlehanded he killed the outpost 

34 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

and the two gunners before his men arrived. Then a machine 
gun opened up on the left and Lieutenant Turner got the 
outpost, but the others got the two men who operated the gun. 
Then they reached the first trench. 

This was filled with Germans; in fact, so full was it that 
while Lieutenant Turner was shooting with his revolver in his 
left hand he swung his right at a man who attempted to stab 
him on his right and landed on his j aw, knocking the German 
down. Mr. Turner was a very powerful athlete, having 
been a Williams College football player. In a second he had 
assistance from Private Zert of Ellenville, who jumped down 
into the trench, bayoneted the German whom Lieutenant 
Turner had knocked down, and the two men, back to back, 
cleaned out the trench with bombs. Then the platoon had a 
respite. 

But the rest was very short. The men climbed out of the 
trench and went for the second line, the support trench. 
The resistance was not nearly so fierce as that which they had 
encountered, but there was a lot of heavy and serious fighting 
just the same, and the men became separated into groups. 
While going from the second to the third line of trenches 
Corporal Ganung of Ossining went "west" as he was leading 
a group of men forward. Then Private Ray Bennett jumped 
into the lead and called, "Come on boys," and he dropped 
just where Corporal Ganung was shot. The advance was too 
fierce for the Boches, who deserted their guns and retreated. 
And the boys gained the third trench. Here they were re- 
organized and took time to "get their wind." Under Lieu- 
tenant Turner's orders they began " rapid fire " with rifles which 
they picked up in the trench, some of the British Enfield 
rifles being able to shoot as many as thirty shots per minute. 

While the affray was going on Lieutenant Turner turned to 
Private Zert and said, "How many did you get?" 

35 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

"Fourteen," Zert replied between shots. 

"Well, I can go you one better," Turner declared. "I got 
fifteen." 

Then they started for the fourth trench. That objective 
was almost on top of the knoll and they actually reached that 
trench which Lieutenant Turner considered was the objective. 
That is, some of the thirty reached it — nine, to be exact, out 
of the thirty which had started — Corporal Gill of Hoosick 
Falls, Taylor of Johnson vi lie, and Privates Neary of Pough- 
keepsie, Zert of Ellenville, Story of New York, North of 
Poughkeepsie, Reich and Denninger of Brooklyn, and Doran 
of Salisbury, and Lieutenant Turner. 

After organizing again Lieutenant Turner sought contact 
on the right, but he found nothing but Boche machine gun- 
ners; also on the left and in front of him, very near, too, were 
plenty of them and even behind the Boche were falling in as 
the overlooked ones do after a battle sometimes. Lieutenant 
Turner saw that there was only one thing to do. "We can't 
hold this position; we have got to go back," he told his men. 
So they looked down the incline up which they had fought 
their way so successfully to see where the most advantageous 
retreat could be made so that they could get back, secure 
reinforcements that they might come forward again, Lieu- 
tenant Turner having learned the ground and the platoon 
having cleaned up the established fortifications. Private 
Connolly had already been sent back from the third trench, 
but he was killed just as he reached Sergeant Dahms' men and 
had delivered his message. Dahms was practically helpless, 
so he could do nothing. 

The plight of the fourth platoon was certainly pitiful and 
Lieutenant Turner realized the seriousness of the position. 
At length he located a way by which he thought he could re- 
treat and the men filed along the trench to reach it. It was 

36 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

necessary to pass by a place where the trench had been 
'bashed in' from a shell and it lay exposed to the fire of the 
enemy. When Corporal Taylor reached the spot he was shot, 
and this was the fate of Private Neary, who was just behind. 
The others profited by this and managed to cross the trench 
and finally they reached the spot that Lieutenant Turner 
thought was safe. He looked over the trench to take a 
view of the situation and he fell with a bullet through his 
head. For his wonderful work he was voted a posthumous 
Congressional Medal. 

Lieutenant Ross gives us this short account of 
his last glimpse of Brad before the battle, and of 
the finding of his body: 

On September 25th and 26th the battalion was making 
feverish preparations for its attack on September 27th. All 
four companies were commanded by lieutenants as we had no 
captains present for duty at the time. Brad was in command 
of Company M. He made all his preparations with the ut- 
most care, working without rest, constantly looking out that 
his men were receiving all the supplies and rations etc., that 
they should need. The last note which he wrote before his 
death — as I believe — was sent to me as acting battalion ad- 
jutant on the afternoon of September 26th, and read as fol- 
lows: "Please let me know if we can have some water? 
The men have had none since yesterday/' 

I saw him alive for the last time that evening as I was safe 
in a deep dugout when Company M went over the top the 
next morning. The attack once started and the wounded 
drifting back I made constant inquiries as to Brad and Lieut. 

37 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

John Rudin, the only other officer then on duty with Com- 
pany M. I received fairly definite information that Lieut. 
Rudin had been killed but the reports concerning Brad were 
conflicting and it finally developed that no men had come 
back who had gone forward with the part of Company M 
with which Brad made his wonderful advance. 

All that day and the next we tried to get information as to 
him but could find out nothing. On the morning of Sep- 
tember 29th, we again went over the top and about 9 o'clock 
the men of Company M halted in a trench deep into the 
enemy's fortifications and there found Brad. 

I came along just about that time from a position in front 
with an Australian artillery liaison officer on a reconnoitering 
patrol and found Brad to the left of the position occupied by 
Company M and between them and a small detachment of 
British soldiers who had also participated in the attack that 
morning. He lay face down with a German a few feet away 
from him and two men of Company M lay just beyond them. 
His pistol and other equipment had been taken from him 
by the Boche sometime in the interval between our two at- 
tacks. A few hours later this trench became the front line 
of the division on its left flank as we had to withdraw from 
the position we held early in the morning in advance of it. 

In other words, Brad and the few men of Company M he 
carried with him on the 27th, which was only a preliminary 
attack of one regiment and the two companies of our battal- 
ion, advanced as far as the entire division did on the 29th 
with its more intensive preparations and more powerful 
barrage. That he and the men with him fought like demons 
against great odds, carrying on although surrounded on all 
sides and far beyond their nearest comrades, goes without 
saying, but the stories told by the few survivors give the 

38 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

credit to Brad, for it was his leadership, his giant courage, 
that set an example for those that were following him, for he 
was always in the front plunging forward regardless of his 
wounds and roaring shouts of defiance at the enemy, using not 
only pistol, rifle, and hand grenade but — at least in one in- 
stance — his fists. After finding Brad I had to proceed with 
my patrol but on my return and during the two days and 
nights we occupied the position I used every effort to get him 
carried back to the rear but it was impossible as we could not 
even get our own wounded out — and we had to consider them 
first. 



Brad's body lies buried in the American Military 
Cemetery at Bony-sur-Aisne (Grave No. 108, 
Plot F, Row 5) not very far from the spot where 
he fell, and is marked by a cross bearing his name 
and military rating. As a fitting epitaph might be 
quoted the words of Lieutenant Ross, his fellow 
officer and devoted friend (one of the group of four 
who called themselves "the happy family" of the 
105th): 

HE DID NOT KNOW FEAR, AND GIVEN A JOB 



39 



The Reward of Honor 

MONTHS after the Armistice had put an end 
to the fighting, when our young men were 
returning to the ways of peace again, came the 
news that the Congressional Medal of Honor, the 
highest military decoration in the gift of the 
United States Government, had been posthum- 
ously awarded to Brad for his fight at Ronssoy. 
Seventy-eight of these medals were awarded in all 
(one for every 15,400 American soldiers who were 
in action), and among those receiving them was 
one other graduate of Williams College, Colonel 
Charles W. Whittlesey of the "Lost Battalion. " 

The official notification of the award came to 
Brad's mother at Dorchester, in the following form : 

HEADQUARTERS NEW YORK DIVISION, U. S. ARMY. 

May 1st, 1919. 
Mrs. William Turner, 

25 Hinkley St., 

Dorchester, Mass. 

My dear Mrs. Turner:- 

It must be a source of some consolation to you in con- 
nection with the death of your gallant son, who lost his life 

40 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

in the service of his country near Ronssoy, France, on Septem- 
ber 27th last, to know that he has been posthumously 
awarded the Medal of Honor, for his conspicuous gallantry 
and intrepidity, above and beyond all call of duty, in action 
against the enemy in the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, 
near Ronssoy, France, September 27, 1918. 

I take this occasion to express to you my deepest sympathy 
for the loss of so gallant a son and my congratulations for 
being the mother of a soldier whose service in war to his 
country was of such extraordinary character. 

Very truly yours, 

John F. O'Ryan. 
Major-General 

HEADQUARTERS NEW YORK DIVISION 

Room 829 Municipal Bldg., 
New York City 

May 2, 1919. 
Mrs. Wm. Turner, 
25 Hinkley St., 
Dorchester, Mass. 

My dear Mrs. Turner:- 

General O'Ryan has directed me to communicate with you 
and request that you forward to these headquarters, the re- 
cord of service of your gallant son 1st Lieut. Wm. B. Turner. 

Kindly let me know his date of enlistment, organization, 
when and where commissioned, etc., if you have the informa- 
tion at hand. 

Very truly yours, 



James A. Walsh, 
2nd Lt. A. G D. 



41 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

The citation reads as follows: 

Turner, William B., First Lieutenant, 105th Infantry, 27th 
Division, Dorchester, Mass. Ronssoy, France, Sept. 27th, 
191 8. He led a small group of men to the attack, under 
terrific artillery and machine gun fire, after they had become 
separated from the rest of the company in the darkness. 
Single-handed he rushed an enemy machine gun which had 
suddenly opened fire on his group and killed the crew with 
his pistol. He then pressed forward to another machine gun 
post 25 yards away and had killed one gunner himself by 
the time the remainder of his detachment arrived and put 
the gun out of action. With the utmost bravery he continued 
to lead his men over three lines of hostile trenches, cleaning 
up each one as they advanced, regardless of the fact that he 
had been wounded three times, and killed several of the 
enemy in hand-to-hand encounters. After his pistol ammuni- 
tion was exhausted, this gallant officer seized the rifle of a 
dead soldier, bayoneted several members of a machine gun 
crew, and shot the others. Upon reaching the fourth line 
trench, which was his objective, Lieutenant Turner captured 
it with nine men remaining in his group, and resisted a hostile 
counter-attack until he was finally surrounded and killed. 

The ceremony of presentation of the medal took 
place at Mrs. Turner's home, 25 Hinkley Street, 
Dorchester, on May 24, 191 9, being in private be- 
cause of the state of her health and her desire to 
avoid ostentation. Colonel Albert S. Williams, 
Chief of Staff of the Department of the North- 
east, delivered the medal. 

42 



In Memoriam 

WITH the desire of perpetuating Bradford's 
name and influence at his school and college, 
members of his family have established both 
at Pawling and Williams fitting memorials of him. 

At Williams two prizes, of $150 each, have 
been planned, to be awarded annually, and to 
be known as the William Bradford Turner prizes. 
One will be given for the best essay in the field of 
American History and Institutions, open to those 
students who have completed the necessary courses 
offered in these subjects by the college curriculum; 
the other to that member of the graduating class, 
who, in the judgment of the faculty and of his 
class-mates, shall have best fulfilled during his 
course his obligations to his college, his fellow- 
students and himself. 

To Pawling a generous fund has been given, whose 
income is to be annually expended in the purchase 

43 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

of books, to form the William Bradford Turner 
Library. It is planned to convert the present 
assembly room of the school to library uses, and a 
memorial tablet has been placed there, also the gift 
of the Turner family, with this inscription: 

IN MEMORY OF 

WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

FIRST LIEUTENANT IO5TH INFANTRY A E F 

BORN AT DORCHESTER MASS. 

A STUDENT OF THIS SCHOOL FOR THREE 

YEARS, GRADUATED WITH HONORS IN I9IO 

OF FINE CHARACTER AND SPLENDID PROMISE 

A GOOD ATHLETE 

GRADUATED FROM WILLIAMS WITH THE 

CLASS OF I9I4, SERVED WITH SQUADRON A ON 

MEXICAN BORDER DURING I916 

SAILED FOR FRANCE MAY I918 

KILLED IN BATTLE OF HINDENBURG LINE 

NEAR RONSSOY ON SEPTEMBER 2J 

IN HIS 26TH YEAR 

AWARDED BY CONGRESS 

MEDAL OF HONOR 

FOR CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY AND INTREPIDITY 

ABOVE AND BEYOND ALL CALL OF DUTY 

"iF WE ARE PREPARED TO DIE, , WE CAN GO FORWARD"* 

In Dorchester, Bradford's birthplace, his mem- 
ory is honored by the renaming of one of the city 

*The words of the last line on the tablet were among the last Brad 
spoke before going "over the top" on the 27th of September. 

44 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

squares, which will hereafter be known as William 
Bradford Turner Square. 

In Garden City, where he made his home after 
leaving college and until he began his military- 
service, the local post of the American Legion has 
chosen to be called by his name, "not only in com- 
memoration of his bravery and sacrifice, but also 
as evidence of the affection and esteem in which he 
was always held by his boyhood comrades. " 

In acknowledging the gift to Pawling School, 
Doctor Gamage, the principal, speaks of Brad as 
the "one boy whose life meant perhaps more to the 
school than that of any other graduate;" while the 
following letters from Mr. Henderson, Secretary 
of the Trustees, give further expression to the re- 
gard in which Bradford was held at the school: 

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH 

PAWLING SCHOOL 

PAWLING, N. Y. 

Your favor of recent date, announcing the most generous 
gift which your family proposes as a memorial to the late 
William Bradford Turner, of the class of 1 910, is at hand. 

Formal expression of our appreciation of your generosity 
and the shape in which it appears would be but feeble and un- 

45 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

satisfactory. We beg you to be assured of that appreciation 
but in addition, we desire you to know with what mingled 
feelings of satisfaction and sorrow we accept the memorial 
of one who was so beloved and esteemed by those of us who 
knew him so well. 

Very sincerely, 
Horace E. Henderson, 
May 28 th, 1 9 19. Secretary of the Trustees of Pawling School 

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH 
PAWLING SCHOOL 
PAWLING, N. Y.. 

The inclosed is "official" — the formal response of the 
Secretary to your letter. Besides this, I simply must add a 
few words of a personal nature, for it seldom happens that 
such strong bonds of personal affection exist between master 
and pupil as existed between Brad and the four of us who 
knew him so intimately through his boyhood and early man- 
hood. 

No words of mine can express the affection and admiration 
that we hold for him. I will not try to express what we feel; 
you know just what I mean, I am sure. To us, more than to 
anybody else, there will be a constant reminder of his splendid 
character in the "William Bradford Turner Library," and the 
perpetuation of his true manhood will make for development 
of real manly character as long as the Pawling School lasts. 

I am sure, too, that your choice of the form in which you 
put the memorial is a happy one. He loved fine things; 
he appreciated good books; it certainly is appropriate. 

Very sincerely, 
Horace E. Henderson. 
May 28th, 1919. 

46 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

The Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Wil- 
liams College, Mr. Hoyt, pays this tribute in a 
letter of thanks for the prizes endowed by the 
family : 

I cannot think of anything which you could have done 
my dear sir, which would be more in accord with your bro- 
ther's life here at Williams than this action on your part. 
I knew him well and always admired him as one of the best 
men in the institution. The circumstances attending his 
death were typical of his life and character here in the college. 
I am quite sure that had such a prize as the one which you 
propose to establish (to be given to the member of the grad- 
uating class who best fulfils his obligations during his college 
life to his college, his fellows, and himself) been in existence 
at the time Bradford left Williams, it would have been 
awarded to him. 

From the Kappa Alpha Society of Williams 
College, with which Bradford's association was 
most intimate and heartfelt, have come many 
tributes of affection. His college chum, James 
Phinney Baxter, 3d, says in a letter: 

I lived with him as a room-mate for three years, loved him, 
and learned from him much to make me a better man. He 
was unquestionably the finest man Kappa Alpha had in the 
seven classes we knew while in college, and the Society which 
he honored in his life and in his death mourns for a great loss. 

47 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

The following letter was received from the 
Kappa Alpha Lodge at Williamstown: 

My dear Mr. Turner: 

It was with the greatest sorrow that we learned of the death 
in action of our beloved brother, and the members of the 
Kappa Alpha Society beg me to extend to you their heartfelt 
sympathy for your loss. 

To those of us who were fortunte enough to have met Brad 
during his occasional visits to Williamstown, his death comes as 
an additional blow. His interest in the welfare of the Society 
has ever been a vital factor in the success of the Society. In 
losing him, we feel that we have lost one of our most devoted 
and loyal friends. We again extend to you our sympathy 
for our common loss. 

Very sincerely, 

Arnold Dessau 
January 3rd, 191 9. For the Society. 



48 



Tributes 

IN THE list of boys who have brought honor to 
Pawling School by their character and achieve- 
ment, none stands higher than William Bradford 
Turner. In the schoolboy that we knew so well 
the qualities that were to endear him to so many 
friends were already apparent; the engaging per- 
sonality, the clearness of vision, the steadfastness 
of purpose. We who now count it a blessed privi- 
lege to have had him in our care loved him for his 
sweet, manly disposition. I never knew a boy of 
his years who had so keen a sense of what was right, 
nor one who had a stiffer determination to do what 
he saw to be right. That quiet, sympathetic 
twinkle of his eye could change to a steel-like 
flash that bespoke a firmness and a power of char- 
acter that fairly made us wonder, in one so young. 
In the years that passed after he left Pawling — 
years so pitiably few — it was our good fortune to 

49 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

keep in close touch with him, and to note the 
steady development of the boy into the man he 
had promised to be. 

When the sad tidings came that autumn day, 
my very heart was numbed; then came the thought 
of the lines he and I had read together and both 

had loved: 

"Had he his hurts before ?" 

"Ay, on the front." 

"Why then, God's soldier be he! 
Had I as many sons as I have hairs, 
I would not wish them to a fairer death." 

He gave his life for what he had lived for — the 

right. 

Horace E. Henderson 

In my years of close association with college life 
I have known hundreds of young men, drawn from 
the best sort of American families, and associated 
for training and study under conditions calculated 
to bring out much that is finest in our young man- 
hood of to-day; and among all these are some that 
I have known very well indeed; but none of them has 
come nearer to my heart than Bradford Turner. 

This was not so because of any touch of senti- 

5o 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

mentalism in myself, but because of an indefinable 
but strongly appealing quality that others felt as 
well as I, for it was a vital part of the boy's nature. 
I saw much of him in his college days. I admired 
his steadiness and resolution, enjoyed his boyish 
humor, shared some of his troubles with him, and 
loved him sincerely. 

I can see him sitting on the side lines in the last 
quarter of the Amherst game of 191 1 — a hard- 
working "sub," watching man after man go into 
the play and wondering if he were to get his chance, 
and his college letter. Only a few minutes more 
to go, when the coach calls "Turner," and in goes 
Brad, with that happy smile that had grit and 
determination behind it. 

I can see him again, propped up in bed in the 
hospital after his operation. "He had a close 
call," says the attendant, "but he's all right now." 
And I found him so. "Why, hello, Tibbie (this 
was a nickname of mine, and there were only 
twenty-five years between us). "I'm mighty glad 
to see you!" And then he proceeded to get 
"caught up" on college and fraternity matters, 

5 1 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

with that admirable loyalty, enthusiasm, and un- 
selfish consideration for others which marked him 
through life. 

One more picture of Brad flashes across my 
memory as I am writing. The scene is Weston 
Field, and Brad has been playing fullback through 
a grueling game, which is nearly over. He is 
almost "all in," and it is harder and harder to get 
to his feet after each desperate tackle; but he is 
there to stop every man of the opposing side who 
breaks through the lines of defence with the ball, 
and he is doing it. 

But, suddenly, my thought leaps over four years. 
The football field vanishes, and in its place I see 
the formidable defences of the Hindenburg Line. 
Brad is leading an attack with incredible valor. 
Trench after trench is taken. Wounded himself, 
with his men falling around him, he staggers on 
until he reaches his objective. " Given a job to do, 
he would stick to it to the end!" 

Brave, steadfast, lovable boy, may the inspira- 
tion of your life and the glorious memory of your 
honorable death stay long with us who knew you 

5 2 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

on earth and who hope, with a confidence born of 
our faith, to meet you in a brighter world! 

Talcott Miner Banks. 

Several of us were talking over the old days a 
short time ago and the subject of Brad came up. 
It was odd to hear the men, who had fought with 
him and who, in the days in France, were his 
staunchest supporters and admirers, go back to 
his first days with the Company and tell how 
soundly they used to dislike him and how they 
used to curse him out, under their breath (for it 
must be stated candidly, that at first, in fact al- 
most up until they reached France, the men did 
not like Brad). They did not hate him, because 
he always knew what he was talking about and 
demanded nothing but what he was justified in 
demanding, and pushed the men to go no limits he 
would not go himself. But they did not like him, 
because he was a stickler for the minutest detail, 
demanding absolute, full, and instant compliance 
with every order, rule or regulation and the rebuke 
or punishment meted out by him was considered, 

S3 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

for a time, by the men as far too heavy for the 
offense. 

Brad was used to handling, in the old 12th 
Regiment, the New York gangsters, which these 
men were not. These men were accustomed to 
officers who, while just as strict as Brad, knew 
them and gave them a little more consideration. 
Meanwhile the Company, already with an en- 
viable record, surpassed all its previous accom- 
plishments and standards for soldierly bearing and 
performance. 

As acquaintance ripened, on the hike and in 
manoeuvers and the like, the dislike began to dis- 
appear, especially when it was Brad who inspected 
and dressed the aching feet at the end of a hike, 
Brad who chased and swore until the food and 
water appeared, Brad who saw that the Company 
did not get more than its share of details to fur- 
nish, all this and everything else for the men's com- 
fort done before his own tired feet or aching body 
were given consideration. 

On the boat going over, with little demand on 
the men and much to do for them, and much time 

54 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

spent among and with them I think they got to 
understand Brad and he them. For when they 
landed and had been marched to their camp, it was 
Brad who insisted on the maximum of liberty and 
good times, at the same time putting it up to the 
men to conduct themselves so that future liberties 
would be warranted. 

When we landed at Brest our troubles began, 
water at a premium, food scarce, and of equipment 
nothing at all. We were sent up to Noyelles near 
the mouth of the Somme, stripped of everything 
we had brought over except what we had on our 
backs, put on British rations and given British 
kitchens and shoved as isolated companies into 
our first billets near Abbeville. 

This was our most critical time and how Brad did 
rant and rave and work! The main question in 
his mind was not what the men were to do but what 
could he do for the men. The British rations 
and the British kitchens and the British methods 
are good and adequate when you are used to them,, 
but they looked more like a catastrophe than 
anything just then. 

55 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

All this was just the beginning. Everything 
after that seemed to be (with Brad), what could 
he do for the men, was it to make them comfort- 
able, to get what they needed, or to give them a 
good time? Even training took on this aspect. 
The best trained men had the best chance. Every 
bit of knowledge or information he could get, at 
schools and by study and by his own trips of ob- 
servation in the front lines with the British was 
gotten and imparted with the thought of his men 
in mind. You, you, and you must get this and 
remember it, for your life may depend on it. His 
was the chief influence that overruled (in our 
battalion) the habitual conservation in the use of 
ammunition so prevalent in the old days of the 
army. He borrowed, begged, and stole ammuni- 
tion, and any man who did not know how to handle 
his rifle or Lewis gun could not blame it on 
Brad. 

This attitude couldn't help but awaken a similar 
attitude and feeling in the men, both in their per- 
sonal feelings toward Brad and in the way they 
performed their duties. 

56 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

I have seen men who have had their six or eight 
hours in a day under Brad's instruction on the 
Lewis gun, come in and put two or three more on 
it, sometimes working by candle light, learning 
parts and practising the handling of the gun. 

By the time we were ready for the line in the lat- 
ter part of July, there was not an officer in the 
division more admired, respected and loved by 
the men who came under him than Brad, and there 
were few if any who showed the thought and 
love for their men that he did. 

In the line at Dickebusch, just south of Ypres, 
he had the right of the company sector, incident- 
ally the most dangerous and treacherous bit in 
our front. Not only did I, as his commander, 
have to give no thought and only casual inspec- 
tion to his part of the sector, but he kept me busy 
trying to get the things he wanted for his men. He 
tried nothing fool-hardy or risky, but managed to 
obtain and send in the fullest and most compre- 
hensive reports on enemy activity that came back 
on the whole battalion front. He never got ex- 
cited, always was calm and drawled as much if he 

57 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

was ducking a shell as he would in telling of it 
afterward. 

I remember the great glee with which he told of 
the best time he had ever had, of how he crawled 
out at dusk to a shell hole under the wire, and how 
he hung a tin can on the wire and whanged the 
devil out of it, to draw Jerry's attention, while 
further up the line a patrol started out. The 
thought of the fools firing at him and the ridicu- 
lousness of the situation, that a grown man should be 
sitting there banging a tin can, struck him as much 
more humorous than it did any of the rest of us. 

That experience in the lines taught the men still 
more about Brad, mainly that he was afraid of 
nothing and that he was not fool-hardy or reckless, 
either with his own life or theirs. It was about 
the last thing needed to bind his men so strongly 
to him, that they would follow him anyhow or 
anywhere. 

When we were relieved at the front line and 
taken back to support, I was sent to school and 
Brad was put in command of the company, with 
the remark to me by the Major, that I could be 

58 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

most easily spared as I had the best officer in the 
outfit to leave in command. 

Brad commanded through the stunt two days 
later, when Mount Kemmel was evacuated, and 
through the period of training that followed in 
Doullens, and it was in no small part due to his 
work at this time that the company was in such 
good shape for the big fight which broke the 
Hindenburg Line. 

When this time came on that fatal day in 
September, the devotion of his men was proven, 
they would follow him anywhere and they did. 
They followed him, fighting like demons, yet 
with all the art, the cunning, the science, that he 
had instilled in them, they followed him to their 
death. He was in command of the company, 
but when the line withered and was broken what 
more glorious, what greater tribute could have 
been paid him than that it was his own platoon 
that went on to death with him. 

When the news of his death came back, Lieuten- 
ant Ross his closest and most constant companion, 
was acting battalion adjutant. Gus, as we called 

59 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

Lieutenant Ross, seemed from that moment to 
lose his head, to see red. He left his post and 
gathering a mere handful started for Brad. 
Fighting madly, he bombed out or rushed, almost 
bare handed, often all alone, machine gun after 
machine gun of the enemy, seeming to bear an 
enchanted life and by his very fury to drive all 
before him, but it could not be. There were too 
many Boche between him and Brad, he had to be 
stopped, there was other great need for him and 
Brad was dead. To others Gus was a hero, did 
wonderful, brave things, to himself he was a miser- 
able failure because he had not reached Brad. The 
facts are rather that he was a mad man, driven 
temporarily crazy by the thought of Brad "out 
there" and the detestable Boche that were re- 
sponsible. That gives a little idea of what his fel- 
low officers thought of Brad. 

It brings again to our ears that slow drawl that 
cursed us out, bucked us up, or with that delight- 
ful ever present sense of humor he had, made us 
laugh even if shells were breaking close. 

It brings again the thought of our happy days in 

60 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

rest billets, our trips on pleasure bent to St. Omer, 
Cassell, and Calais. 

It brings less happy memories of tedious hikes 
over shell torn roads, and comfortless nights in 
wet bivouacs, where nothing but Brad's never 
failing humor made things livable. 

It brings too, the recollection of the silent 
marches at night with gas masks on and shells 
breaking around, as we filed up to and into the 
trenches in Belgium; the stocky, stolid, silent figure 
here, there, and everywhere along the line, a pillar 
of strength, encouragement, and comfort to us all. 

But all the memories — with the horrors and hard- 
ships paled now by time — of the happiness and 
joy of comradeship, lead only to one end. They 
bring a pang to the heart. They make fresh the 
sorrow and but renew the greatness of our loss. 
Brad is gone, as we know he was glad to go. We 
loved him. We ought to be glad that he did a 
difficult job well. We ought to and do take pride 
in his achievement and his sacrifice but it is hard, 
for we miss him and shall, I guess, to the end of our 
days. Charles R. Whipple. 

61 



Conclusion 

IT IS late afternoon of Sunday in Commencement 
week at Williamstown. -The spacious and 
beautiful living room of the Kappa Alpha Lodge 
is flooded with golden light from the westering 
sun, as the members of the Society, old and young, 
gather for the time-hallowed "Sunday Night 
Meeting." For more than fifty years the Society 
has met together at this hour of the first day of 
the week for a short service, and of late the Com- 
mencement meeting has been devoted to the 
memory of those who have gone from the fellow- 
ship during the year. On the high mantel span- 
ning the fireplace, framed together, stand the 
photographs of the four Williams Kaps who gave 
their lives in the World War. 

A hymn is sung — "Ten Thousand Times Ten 
Thousand" — the leader reads a short scripture 
lesson, and then in turn, repeats the name and 
recounts the record of each of the departed brothers 

62 



WILLIAM BRADFORD TURNER 

— one who met his death in mid-air, one who 
succumbed to disease, one who was struck by a 
shell while giving surgical aid to the wounded in 
the front line, and one who, storming trench after 
trench with indomitable valor, fell at last sur- 
rounded by the enemy. 

In the quiet of that evening hour tributes of 
affection and of praise come to the lips of com- 
rades. All that these brothers meant to their 
friends, all that their memory means to the 
venerable Society to which they belonged, here 
finds expression. 

At length a young captain, one who knew and 
loved Brad from his college days, speaks: 

"A man's life is like the painting of a picture. 
Each of us begins to paint his own. To some it is 
given to carry it to completion, for others, the work 
is cut short. We who are young know not yet 
how our pictures will look when they are done — 
perhaps we may not live to see them through — 
but with Brad the work of his life is complete. 
He finished his picture." 

THE END 

63 




THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS 
GARDEN CITY, N. Y. 



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