One of the things that moves me are these moments when I can meet the relatives to those Swedish born soldiers that participated in The Great War and listen to them to get more information about the individuals, but also a piece of their local history in Sweden.
One of these moments I had this Saturday morning, when visiting Gunborg, the Niece to Ernst Magnus Robert Kristoffersson and Sjunne Walter Kristoffersson, who both registered for U.S Army after they emigrated to North America from Sweden in 1913. The reason to this meeting was a result from my lecture I had in my home village in March.
One of the participants recognized one of the names I had about the local soldiers who had fought in the American Expeditionary Forces in the Great War, Ernest M R Christopherson, who we know as Ernst mentioned above in the text. He sent me Gunborgs number, and we could arrange a meeting. So glad we met.
Gunborgs mother Aina Ida Viola Kristoffersson was the only one of in total 9 siblings who did not emigrate to North America from the farm Bråten here in my home village of Taberg, in Småland, Sweden. Aina took well care about her parents here in Sweden, but had contact with many of her siblings through letters from North America, almost on a weekly basis. Aina was the youngest of the sibling, together with her twin brother Bror, almost 25 year younger than the oldest sibling.
I am so amazed to hear about those individuals and are lucky to meet people who are still alive to tell the stories.
Ernst was the only one of those two brothers who went over to France. He was registered in the American Draft in June 5th, 1917, when he lived at Wilson Place in Jamestown, NY, where he lived with his sister Bertha and her family. As far as I know his brother Walter lived there as well at that time.
Ernst went over to France in May 27th, 1918, with his unit, 307th Field Artillery (Light), which belonged to 153rd Field Artillery Brigade in the 78th Infantry Division.
If you look on the photo above of Ernst, you can see the Shoulder Sleeve insignia of the 78th Division on his left shoulder.
The first unit of the Division arrived in France May 18, 1918. The last part of the Division arrived in June 12, 1918. The Artillery Brigade supported the 90th Infantry Divison in the St Michael Offensive, and rejoined the 78th Division again in October 4th, 1918.
In between, in July 18th, the 78th division moved to the Arras Area with it’s headquarters established at Roellecourt in France, after had been conducting training in The British Sector near Ypres Front in West Flandern, Belgium.
In October 4th to 5th, the whole Division moved to Foret de la Reine, and then to Clermont en-Argonne area, in France. On october 10th they moved to the eastern part of the Argonne Forest, with headquarters in Varennes. They entered the line in October 15th and relieved 77th Division in the line between Petit Talma – Grand Pre – Chevieres – St Juvin. The unit fought hard in Bois de Bourgogne and in the end the unit had around 7245 casualties and had taken around 432 prioners.
Ernst surived the fightings and in the discharge documents in May 22, 1919, it is mentioned that he has 0 percent disability, but family can now tell me that he struggled with the hearing the rest of his life, which is not strange after had belonged to an Artillery unit.
In the church books I can read that Ernst visited Sweden at least one time during the 1960s, but he died in 1977 in U.S after has been living there since 1913. His younger brother Walter died in 1955 after struggling with a disease.
Walter was registered in the Draft in June 1918, but never served abroad according to the documents.
Both of the brothers registered for the Second World War but never went abroad.
I am very glad that I have met Gunborg and her husband today at their nice farm, just 10 minutes from my home, and after a nice chat we decided to meet again, to be able to have a more detailed dialogue about her relatives, which will be great material in my production of the article I will write in the next version of the book about our home parish Taberg. It will be about the local Swedish soldiers who were born in Månsarp parish, and fought in the The Great War at the Western Front.
Below you will find some more family photos of the soldier Ernest Magnus Robert Chritopherson.
Thank you very much, Gunborg.