|Leland Vincent Norris|
Triangle Park to Camp Sheridan, AlabamaThe year before the Armistice was signed ending the "War to End All Wars" on November 11, 1918, my grandfather, Leland Vincent Norris, was training for service with Battery D, 134th Field Artillery at Camp Sheridan, Alabama. The battery had first assembled on 15 July, 1917 at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio and for a little over a month the young men hiked, foot drilled, cut firewood, peeled potatoes, and washed dishes. They had KP duty and passed inspections and stood in long lines to get a "pass" to leave the park to relax and visit family. They learned how to send and receive semaphore messages and prepared themselves to become soldiers. Then, on 23 August, 1917 they received word that they would be leaving for "somewhere in the United States" at 5:00 pm. Tents were rolled up and belongings hurriedly packed. With much pomp and circumstance and surrounded by loved ones, the Battery was led by Heidelberg's Band through the park gate down Main Street to the Union Station. Corporal Donald D. Davis stated in the book "Cease Firing" that as they marched they were a "happy bunch" because "they had answered their country's call in the hour of need, she had accepted us, and at that moment we were actually being called upon for service". The men were given the opportunity to bid farewell to their families and each was given a small basket that contained food good enough for a couple of meals for the trip. As they boarded the train there was a fight for window seats and these eager soldiers stuck their heads out those windows for a final glimpse at family and friends. There was much excitement about the service on trip; Pullman cars and porters were a treat. The trip took them through Cincinnati to Louisville, where they ate breakfast. The men gathered in groups and talked and played games to pass the time. No doubt, the talk included questions regarding where they were headed. The train stopped in Nashville so the men could step out and stretch their legs and then off they were. They passed through Birmingham at 8:00 pm. and the next morning, three days after leaving their Dayton home they awoke at Camp Sheridan, Alabama, which was just a large cotton field. The soldiers had to basically build their new home from scratch. They remained at Camp Sheridan from 25 August, 1917 ~ 14 June, 1918, continuing their training until they would depart for the battlefields of France. It was from here that my grandfather wrote to his mother on 28 November, 1917:
Ohio State football team played down here last Sat. It sure was some game 0 to 0. Tell Paul H to write once in a while. Well wishing you all a fine Thanksgiving and would like to be there. Most close for this time.