Swedes in the Ypres-Lys and Scheldt River Offensive 1918

During my upcoming trip to Belgium I will visit the Ypres Salient again, I think it will be the 43rd time, but who is counting …?

During my latest trips, which have been during my research period, November 2019 to todays date, I have trying to document the terrain of those places where I beleive that the soldiers in my research have fallen during the battles and offensives at the Western Front.

This time, during November 4th to November 7th, I will mainly visit the Flanders Field American Cemetery and commemorate four of those Swedes that I have in my database, and are buried there. I will also try to walk in their footsteps by visiting the area and terrain of the offensives in which they participated in. It will be really great, and I hope I will learn even more about that part of the front and about those who fought for the American units in that sector.

The four individuals are:

  • 1208247 Pvt Charles O Lind, 53rd Brigade, 106 Inf Regt, 27th Div, AEF.
  • 1208441 Cpl Ringius Williams, 53rd Brigade, 106th inf Regt, 27th Div, AEF
  • 3333873 Pvt Axel B Johnson, 74th Brigade, 148th Inf Regt, 37th Div, AEF
  • 2286286 Pvt Axel T Rydell, 181st Brigade, 362nd Inf Regt, 91st Div, AEF

Charles, Karl Olof, who was born in Sala, Sweden, in 1894, went over to US at a very young age, he went over with his family already in 1895. Ringius, who was born in Ronneby, Sweden, left Sweden much later, in 1910, and probably they met eachother first, when they joined the Army. There is quite a distant between Sala, in the area North West of Stockholm, and Ronneby, in the southern part of Sweden.

Both Charles and Ringius lived in Brooklyn, New York, with their families, and it would be very interesting to know if the families knew eachother, but right now there is no information about that.

When it comes to Axel B Johnson he was born in Jönköping county (My own county), Sweden, in 1892. He left Sweden for US in 1912, and settled down in Roseburg, Minnesota. Axel T Rydell was born not so far away from Axel B, in Kronoberg county, and is noted to be absent in Swedish church books around 1909, and he fills in his declaration of intention in Montana, but he is drafted in the June 5th draft 1917, in Seattle, Washington.

I find that Charles O Lind and Ringius Williams are both fighting in the same unit. They belonged both to the 106th Inf Regt, and the same Company, Company I.

Charles was killed in action August 31st and Ringius was killed three days later, September 2nd.

They participated both in the Ypres-Lys offensive and in the unit diary from the 27th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, (AEF) we find the following text:

On July 3rd, the division proceeded to Belgium under the British 2nd
Army, where for further training units were brigaded with troops of the British 19th Corps in the Dickebush Lake and Scherpenberg sectors southwest of Ypres from July 9 to August 23, 1918. On August 23rd it relieved the British 6th Division in Line southwest of Ypres, and participated in the Ypres-Lys Offensive from August 31st to September 2nd, 1918, in the battle before Mt. Kemmel. On September 3rd, it was withdrawn from the line, and proceeded to the Beauquesne Area, near Beauval

We know from above that Axel B Johnson belonged to the 37th Division, AEF, and Axel T Rydell belonged to the 91st Division, AEF.

From the American Battle Monuments Commission education material, we find the following text:

“The United States 37th and 91st Divisions arrived in mid-October to reinforce a further thrust across the Scheldt River south of Ghent. This crossing was successful, and the advance continued until Armistice Day”

I choose to put in pictures from the diary, from the 37th Division who says as follows:

We can also see the maps from the area where the 37th Division were in November 1st, when Axel B Johnson was killed in action.

Axel T Rydell was fighting with the 91st Div, AEF and the diary from the unit says as follows:

We can on the map below see in which area Axel T Rydell was, when he was killed in action on October 31st, 1918.

All four soldiers are now finally buried in the Flanders Field American cemetery in Belgium, and I will soon visit all four of them, at the burial site. During November 5th and 6th I will visit the areas were they fell, and I will build up my material with photos and text for my future product from my ongoing research. As you may know I will try to make some kind of guide books where those who want, can follow in the footsteps of those Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front in the Great War.

May they rest in peace.

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