Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Jacobson, Edward, 1891-1955; Allen, Harry B.; Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924; Truman, Bess Wallace, 1885-1982; Truman, Martha Ellen, 1852-1947; Truman, Mary Jane, 1889-1978
World War, 1914-1918; Canteens (Establishments); Presidential family

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, Not dated. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.


In April 1917 after Mr. Wilson asked for a declaration of war, those of us who had any military experience went to work to help with the war. It became my duty to help expand my old National Guard Battery B into a regiment and Battery C in Independence into two batteries for that regiment. Battery A in St. Louis was also trying to expand into a regiment.

We succeed in expanding B & C into a regiment and we also raised a battery for the St. Louis regiment. I thought I'd do well to be a sergeant-but when F. Battery was organized I became a first lieutenant. It almost scared me to such an extent that I was afraid I'd never make good. Harry B. Allen, a neighbor and school mate of mine was made Captain of Battery F. A former cavalry second lieutenant, West Point graduate, son-in-law of one of Kansas City's big breweries made colonel of the 2nd Missouri Field artillery-in Federal Service the 129th Field artillery-35th Division.

We were sworn in to federal service at Kansas City on August 5, 1917. On September 26, 1917 we entrained for training at Ft. Sill, Okla. at Camp Doniphan. The Colonel made me "canteen" officer of the regiment. I asked Eddie Jacobson, a member of Battery F and a man with merchandise experience to run the canteen for me. We collected two dollars per man from each battery, headquarters and supply company. Twenty two hundred dollars in all. Eddie and I set up a store, a barber shop and a tailor shop. We went to Oklahoma City and stocked up our store. Each battery and company was ordered to furnish a clerk for the store. Eddie and I sewed up their pockets and I deposited our sales intake every day. In six months we paid each battery and company all the money paid in for capital and fifteen thousand dollars in dividends. In addition to my duties as canteen officer I did all the duties of a battery officer. Took my turn as officer of the day, equitation officer, firing instruction officer for the battery, went to the Ft. Sill School of Fire as an observer and did foot drill and whatever else was to be done. When it came time for Captain Allen to make an efficiency report on one of his lieutenants, he made such a good one that the C.O. sent it back with the comment that "no man could be that good."

I came up for examination for promotion in February 1918. Was picked for the Overseas School Detail, left Camp Doniphan Mar. 20, 1918, arrived in Rosedale, Kansas, now Kansas City, Kansas by Rock Island Railroad, asked a switchman if I could call my fianc? in Independence and he said "Call her, the phones yours, but if she doesn't break the engagement at four o'clock in the morning she really loves you." I talked to her and she didn't scold me. She's Mrs. Truman. I also called my mother and sister. They all wept a little but all of them were, I think glad to know an overseas lieutenant! and to related to him. People of the right sort were really patriotic in those days. They are at this date-but only the unpatriotic are publicly quoted.

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