George Wheatley Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P2012.02

Level of description

Collection

Title

George Wheatley Papers

Date(s)

  • 1909-1923 (Creation)

Extent

1.50 Cubic Feet, 1.00 Box

Name of creator

(1909-1923)

Biographical history

George Dudley Wheatley was born April 10, 1909 in Abington Massachusetts; son of Frank G. and Nellie Holbrook Wheatley; he had three brothers, Frank E., Russell, and John R. Wheatley.
He graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. From 1914-1917 he was employed by Bay State Nursery, Abington and United Shoe Machinery Co. Boston. In May of 1917 he entered the National Army’s Officer Candidate School at Plattsburg, New York where he was a member of the second class of 1917 (Company 3, 17th Provisional Training Regiment composed of men from New England); commissioned second lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s Officers Reserve Corps in November, promoted to first lieutenant on Nov. 27, and inducted into military service.
In 1918, after induction into the U.S. Army he sailed with other officers from New York to Europe on the SS Mongolia. In 5 weeks of February and March he attended the Allied Expeditionary Forces school in Chatillon-sur-Seine, France.
Mar 13. Reported to Company A, 165th Infantry at Senneville, France
Mar 31. Additional three weeks of training in Baccarat
Apr 23. Returned to area near Montigny
May 9. Reported to Company B at St. Pole
May 30. Left Baccarat, France for the front
Jul 14-15. German offensive began
Jul 29. First wounded in battle; while recuperating at a nearby military hospital, he was also stricken with influenza (several accounts cite date of wounding as July 28)
Aug 21. Reported wounded in action and transferred to an American Red Cross Convalescent Hospital in Biarritz, France, AEF; treated for multiple gunshot wounds in the buttocks and right thigh; reported back to his regiment at La Marche on Sep 26
Sep 26 – Nov 11. Returned to the front when the 42nd Division moved to Verdun as part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive; took Hill 288, La Tiuderie farm and the Cote de Chatillon, and broke squarely across the powerful Kriemhhilde Stelling, clearing the way for the advance beyond Landres et St. Georges; moved through the advancing lines of the forward troops of the First Army and drove the enemy across the Meuse, capturing the heights dominating the river before Sedan and reached the enemy lines, the farthest point attended by any American troops.
Nov 11. Learned of Armistice while passing through Buzaucy; stopped at Thenorgnes
Nov 14. Started for Germany as part of Army of Occupation, took command of Company L at Landres (relieved of command on Dec 1).
Dec 3. Crossed Seine River into Germany
1919, Jan 13. Transferred to 27th Division
Jan 16. Reached Paris
Feb 28. Sailed for United States from Brest, France
Mar 9. Landed at Hoboken, went to Camp Merritt, New Jersey Mar 25. Paraded in New York City
Apr 1. Discharged at Camp Devens, Massachusetts Oct-Nov. Resided in Springfield, Vermont for at least several months
1920 Entered the insurance business in Chicago 1921 Married Margaret G. McMillan in Evanston, Illinois: 3 children; Margaret A. (1923), Barbara H. (1925) and James H. (1929) Wheatley
1940 Moved to Abington and became successful in the insurance business and civic affairs
1961 May 20. Died in Abington.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

These papers include the wartime correspondence and related documents of George Dudley Wheatley, a first lieutenant in the United States Army who was involved in several decisive actions of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during the First World War.  The collection consists of 122 pieces and spans the years 1909; 1916-1919; 1923.
The documents presented in this collection offer a historically important window into the daily life of soldiers involved in America’s first major involvement in international military affairs beginning with a document from a friend stationed in the Dominican Republic in 1916 to a then stateside George Wheatley.  It describes the occupation and sentiments towards Americans, combat encountered by Army and Marine Corps units, along with personal commentary on college football and the reelection of Woodrow Wilson.
The majority of the collection involves letters mailed from George Wheatley to his parents. They begin with his time at the officer’s candidate training school at Plattsburg, New York, in 1917.  Among the items mentioned is the effects and treatment of a camp epidemic of German measles.  They are followed by letters referring to the accommodations and experiences aboard his transport ship to Europe in 1918 (the SS Mongolia), and travels through England and France, including tourism, military railway transportation, and the conduct of the French military, and his activities at an Allied Expeditionary Forces school in Chatillon-sur-Seine.  The remainder of the letters is an account of his experiences on the battle front in 1918.
The strength of the collection is the letters written to his father in 1919 from Springfield, Vermont, after he returned to the United States and was discharged from the U. S. Army.  Wheatley provides vivid descriptions of his involvement in combat on the front lines, including letters that describe his being wounded on two occasions while in combat, his association with Colonel William “Wild Bill” Donovan, and military engagements from the beginning of 1918 until the end of the war. A few of his letters provide eye witness accounts of Donovan’s leadership, participation in combat, and being wounded. Donovan later became head of the Office of Strategic Services and played an important role in forming the Central Intelligence Agency.  Among the pages of a small notebook is a chronological list Wheatley maintained of his whereabouts from the time he entered the military in January 1918, through his movements in Europe, and until his discharge on April 1, 1919.
The following are among the locations noted by Wheatley in his papers during the war: Chatillon, Rambervillers, Moyermont, Chattel sur Moselle, Coulars, Ecury-sur-Coole, La Borry, Jonchery, Suippes Valley, Vardeney, Epieds, Montport, Barritz, Bordeaux,  Paris, Blois, St. Organy, La Marche, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel, Verdin, Mountfaucon, Landres et St. Georges, St. Georges, Exermont, Les Petes Armoises, Le Vivier, Artaise, Chaumont, Sedan, Buzaucy, Thenorgnes, Argonne. Muese-Argonne.

System of arrangement

The majority of the 122 pieces are letters with writing on both sides of the pages making them longer than they appear in the following inventory.  In many instances the letters are very descriptive of the events on the battle front and soldiers with which he served.
The collection is arranged cronologically by year then date.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Louise Wheatley and Alison Wheatley
Acqusition Method: Donation
Acqusition Date: 20120101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Accruals

Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Notes element

Specialized notes

  • Citation: Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], George Wheatley papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID

280

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Information entered in Archon by Audrey Swartz, 2017.

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Paul A. Thomsen & Anthony R. Crawford
Processing Info: Processing of the collection was completed by Paul A. Thomsen and Anthony R Crawford in April and May 2012.
Publication Date: 2017-02-01

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Physical storage

  • Box: 1 box
  • 2.5" Flip Top, Letter: Box 1, A83412062195