|James "Ned" Henschel|
|"Ned" Henschel (left) |
at the Mexican border
As tensions between the United States and Germany escalated, Henschel prepared to volunteer overseas. Volunteering for the American Field Service was Henschel’s solution to help in the impending United States involvement in the war, but these good intentions would create a complication that would put his plans in jeopardy.
After Congress declared war on Germany, on June 25, 1917, Henschel boarded the Rochambeau in New York City for Bordeaux, France. Unbeknownst to Henschel, he had left the country before receiving his discharge from the National Guard. Henschel had requested a discharged from Captain E.E. Major who advised him to wait for an answer, pending the decision from the Adjutant General, Honorable James H. McCord. Anxious to leave with the rest of his new unit, Henschel disregarded the warning and left for France. Back in the United States, Henschel’s father, Leopold H. Henschel, acquired the task of obtaining a written discharge for Ned.
|Letter from James McCord to |
Leopold Henschel granting "Ned"
an honorable discharge.
Once in France, Henschel’s idea of being an ambulance driver with the American Field Service was once again challenged, due to the lack of ambulances. However, there was a place for Henschel in the French Army’s Reserve Mallet. Serving as a motor transport service for the French Army, the Reserve Mallet held similar duties as originally outlined by the American Field Service for a driver. Eager to aid the French Army and reluctant to wait for an operable ambulance, Henschel began transporting supplies for the Reserve Mallet.
|Henschel (second from left) with the |
American Field Service, July 1917
After the armistice, Henschel served with the Army of Occupation in Germany. Henschel was in charge of collecting German equipment and classifying its condition near Coblenz, Germany. He continued to write home in detail. In a letter dated November 14, 1918, Henschel wrote about the happenings of the “old Reserve”: “Starting out with the Crown Prince Offensive shortly after the Missouri outfit landed—the Aisne Drive—Chemin des Dames—Cambrai Offensive of the British—then winter (enough said; my feet were wet for months). And then came real work—the five big German pushes—and we played right along up and down—Cambrai was nothing compared to these!”
|Henschel (third from left) with the |
Motor Transportation Corps in Trier, 1919
The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial has a collection of over 150 documents, 90 photographs, and several artifacts concerning “Ned” Henschel’s experiences.
James E. Henschel Collection, 1917-1919. 96.51. National World War I Museum, Kansas City, MO.