The Combat Memoir of a World War I Medal of Honor Hero
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University Press of Kansas
Series: Modern War Studies
Title Page, Editors, Copyright
Table of Contents
Published under the title that John Lewis Barkley preferred— Scarlet Fields—this new edition of No Hard Feelings! would have been impossible without the cooperation and support of Joan Barkley Wells. The editor also wishes to thank Doran Cart and Jonathan Casey, both on staff at the National World War I Museum at Liberty ...
On the afternoon of October 7, 1918, while serving as a reconnaissance observer far ahead of American lines near Cunel, France, Private John Lewis Barkley climbed into an abandoned French tank and single-handedly held off a German force of perhaps several hundred men as it advanced toward positions held by the American Third ...
1. Training in Kansas
The old postmaster shook his head. He was sympathetic but firm. “It’s no use, Johnny,” he said. “There’s no place in the army for a fellow who stutters as badly as you do.” There it was again! It began to look as if I wasn’t even worth killing. The postmaster, who happened to be the recruiting officer in our little Missouri town, had known me all my life. He hadn’t even given me a ...
2. Heading to France
There was a bulletin board at Funston where they posted our names as we were drawn from the division to be transferred to some embarkation point in the East. This was supposed to mean immediate service overseas. One morning Tom found my name there, but not his. He made straight for the orderly room, and he didn’t give up ...
3. Over There
It was around nine o’clock of a clear morning that I first saw France.11 A line on the horizon, no thicker than a line on a sheet of paper. As we drew closer it rose out of the water. We began to make out shapes and colors. At last we could see grass and trees. They made me pretty homesick. But if that glimpse of land had looked like home, the feeling didn’t ...
Jesse and I were the first sent out, each of us with a runner. We pushed over the ridge, then a short distance down the slope on the other side, to the edge of a cliff. I established my observation post in a clump of brush, and Jesse located his in a pile of rocks some two hundred yards from me. Between the two of us we could see almost ...
5. Our Gang
It was while we were on the Marne that our gang got together for good. We managed to get a lot of time off, and we spent most of it exploring the deserted villages and châteaux. Nayhone was in charge of our group, so he had to stay out of the mischief the rest of us got into. But if he heard that we had been ...
6. Night Raid
At the edge of the river we found a French officer and a couple of French soldiers waiting with a boat. The captain gave Jesse the end of a wire with a little piece of rope attached to it. He took the rope in his teeth, slipped into the water, and struck out. The captain whispered to me that Sergeant James was to land and pull the boat across with ...
7. Rock of the Marne
For a few days we did have a chance to rest. And then at twelve o’clock one night all our divisional artillery opened up. The French supporting artillery joined in and promptly at one o’clock, the whole skyline on the other side of the river crackled with light. It was as if a thousand electric storms had all broken at once over there above the ...
The following day our battalion was relieved from duty with the 30th, and we returned to the old position with our own outfit. Information, more or less correct, trickled in to us. The Germans had been stopped on the Third Division front, but had smashed through the French to our right and penetrated to a depth of several ...
After the shell exploded the rest of the platoon forced its way around to a flanking position, but the outfits to the right and left failed to get forward. We had merely exposed ourselves to fire from three directions. L Company had a little better luck. They reached a position where they could get at some of the Germans who were giving us the most ...
I got to know the French people better than I had before while we were getting this rest. We were quartered in several little towns close to one another, part of the time in pup tents and part of the time in the villages themselves. Most of the richer village people had moved in nearer to Paris. But a lot of the peasants who’d left their homes when ...
11. Saint-Mihiel and the Argonne
The Saint-Mihiel barrage began at twelve o’clock. It was amusing to watch the faces of our replacements. They were a dumfounded lot. We’d hardly received orders to get our packs and lie down, when another order came through that we were to move. I supposed this meant business, but it didn’t. We only went three hundred yards ...
It was apparently to be close fighting, so I exchanged my rifle for a sawed-off shotgun. I had my pistol too, with about thirty-five rounds of ammunition in clips, my trench knife, and two grenades left from the raid on the gun. Our battalion moved forward slowly with frequent halts. We were trying to make no noise, and we couldn’t ...
13. No Hard Feelings!
About noon our two support companies got across the open, and preparations were made to resume the attack. The next objective was to be another woods still farther north, the Bois de Cunel. While the reorganization was going on we had a chance to get some rest. We slept until two o’clock in the afternoon, when Mike woke the rest of us up. Floyd’s arm ...
14. Valor Above and Beyond
Nayhone sent someone after a signal corps he’d told to wait near for orders. In a few minutes they came in, a corporal and two privates. Nayhone outlined to us what we were to do. As we got away from the dugout we circled well around to the right. The signal corps men said the wire they were using was fine French wire and had to be laid where it ...
15. Scarlet Fields
The surprise seemed to paralyze the Germans for a moment. They huddled together, and looked desperately about in every direction. They couldn’t understand where machine-gun bullets, at such short range, could be coming from. Then they saw the tank and started ducking for cover. But there was no cover in the open field for most of ...
16. The Quality of Mercy
I didn’t see Jesse until the next morning. He wanted to know all about the business in the tank, but I was too tired to go into many details. I did tell him, though, about the rifle that had been shooting all afternoon from over around headquarters. By that time I had a pretty good idea who’d been shooting that rifle. There weren’t many men in ...
17. Far Gone
The other two fellows were waiting for me. As I reached them the grenades went off with a roar behind us. Back at the dugout somebody started howling. Things were falling out of the air all around us as we ran. After about a hundred yards of this we dropped to a walk and began to pick our way with more care. When we were halfway back ...
When we woke up in the morning we were soaking wet. We crawled out and headed toward Montfaucon again. Combat wagons kept passing us, loaded with our dead. Once a long train of them went by us. They were trucks twelve or fourteen feet long, four feet deep, and three or four feet wide, each drawn by six ...
19. Into Germany
Orders came through on the fifteenth. The next day we piled into trucks and started somewhere. We rode most of that day, but it was a long time before we did any more riding. They put us out at Nonsard and we hiked to Beney, where we spent the night. We all said, “If the war’s over, where the hell are we going?” We got up to the line. Here was ...
20. British Trouble
About this time Jesse and I decided that we ought to get a look at some of Germany while we had the chance. We’d already been to Bonn and several towns not far from Meisenheim, but what we wanted to see was Cologne. We had enough money, and our medals made it easy for us to get passes. But Cologne was different. It was in ...
Not long after this I was detailed for special duty at the Schloss outside the town. The man who owned it was a baron, and the people in the village said he was a distant relative of the kaiser. He’d had three sons killed in the war, and another was still in a hospital in a pretty hopeless condition. There was a daughter, too. Once in a while ...
22. Paris and Home
I hadn’t taken much part in camp activities for some time. I’d even drifted a little away from Jesse and Floyd. But they hadn’t held it against me. I didn’t tell them much, but it was hard to fool those two Indians. I’m sure they knew just what was the matter with me. Those last two or three days before my furlough started, I came back with ...
John Lewis Barkley--After the Great War
Joan Barkley Wells
After the Great War, my dad, John Lewis Barkley, returned to Missouri on August 27, 1919, a day before his twenty-fourth birthday. This was truly a happy birthday for him, his family, and friends. Returning to farm life gave him an inner peace and a sense of stability. Plowing the fields and tending to various daily chores helped ...
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