Monroe's Citizens in the Great War: Arthur Coventry Patmore, the pioneer


Three years after he returned from war, Arthur Coventry Patmore published "Monroe in the World War: A Story of Your Home Town and Its Honor Men." This humble book details the role and specific actions of Monroe and its citizens during the War. Patmore would go to great lengths to compile as many names, details and stories as possible with great help from the community, to ensure that no tale went untold.

By Aaron Lefkowitz
By definition, a pioneer is one, who goes forward into the unknown, well-aware of the dangers around, in search of a new frontier to develop for better use.
This was also the job in broad terms of Arthur Coventry Patmore, who served with the Supply Company in the 51st Pioneer Infantry of the American 1st Infantry Division.
The Pioneers’ role was to keep the vital supply lines going no matter the condition, against relentless shelling. They followed close behind the advancing infantry, ensuring that the attack could continue unabated.
While most of the United States Army’s Divisions would not arrive until Summer of 1918, a regiment of the 1st Infantry followed American Expeditionary Force Commander John J. Pershing when he first arrived in France in June 1917, only two months after American entry.
The rest of the 1st would arrive over the coming months, serving as the representative of the AEF to the Allies and training with them.
As the 1st had arrived so early, they were the most well-trained of the divisions and the only one that Pershing believed was actually ready for combat as the Allies’ situation grew dire with the Germans launching a massive offensive in the Spring of 1918, to end the war before American forces arrived in large numbers.
On May 28th, the 1st would see action in the America’s opening strike of the war, the battle of Cantigny.
In only 45 minutes, the town would be taken as well as 250 German prisoners, America’s first victory.
The unit would then take part in the battle of Soissons during July, which would break Germany’s last offensive, effectively ending their hopes of victory.
Patmore, unlike the typical soldier of the Great War, was over 30 when he enlisted, which most likely is the reason for him to be in the Supply Company.
He would arrive in France on July 26, 1918, only two months after his induction. His unit would join the 1st in August as the Division prepared for the final stage of the war.
Beginning on Aug. 8, the Allies launched the Hundred Days Offensive, a series of relentless and effective blows against the overwhelmed Germans.
On Sept. 11, the 1st would help clear the St. Mihiel Salient, fighting for two days straight.
This victory would prove the AEF was no second-rate force.
During the brutal Meuse-Argonne Offensive, under the organization of Lt. Colonel George Marshall, who would later be a five-star general, the 1st would defeat eight German Divisions as well as advance more than four miles through some of the Germans’ most hardened defenses.
In the middle of all of this carnage, Patmore helped keep up the momentum of the 1st as well as clear the path as much as possible.
At the time of the Armistice, the 1st was in the vital railway hub of Sedan, the farthest any American unit had penetrated during the entire war.
The 1st would march triumphantly at the head of the American Army of Occupation, crossing the Rhine River first.
Patmore would serve in the occupational forces until July 1919, being shipped home on the USS Wilhelmina and was honorably discharged at Camp Mills on Long Island on the July 8.
Even after the end of the war, Patmore would do his part to keep the memories of it as well as those who served alive.
In honor of all of bravery of the citizens of Monroe, he published in 1921 "Monroe in the World War: A Story of Your Home Town and Its Honor Men," a copy of which is in the office of Monroe Town Historian James Nelson.
This humble book details the role and specific actions of Monroe and its citizens during the War.
Patmore would go to great lengths to compile as many names, details and stories as possible with great help from the community, to ensure that no tale went untold.
Remembering all of those, who served is indeed noble, but documenting these dedicated citizens, guarantees they will not be forgotten.
Many memoirs, journals, and information books, would be written after the war, telling countless stories of adventure, terror, and life during the greatest conflict, the world had ever seen.
Without the Pioneer troops, the AEF would have moved at a crawl as the roads and pathways were annihilated from explosions, debris, and horrid mud.
Today, Pioneers are more often referred to as Combat Engineers, a more direct term. Their service is still crucial to the military, building the necessary means for combat operations to be possible.