Sunday, August 17, 2014

James Henry "Harry" Tapply

James Henry "Harry"
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When I was doing a bit of research for my last post,  I came across some interesting material about my grandmother's brother "Harry" Tapply. Of course I've told the story of his wife and his child during this World War I period. This photo is courtesy of my cousin Holly Jones, who reports that this is Harry in 1915 atop General Pershing's horse. Well, maybe. You know by now how those family stories go.
Harry did, in fact, serve in the military police of the 26th Division during World War I. What I came across that amazed me was an account, in his own words, of his experience.

On January 18, 1919 as the war had drawn to a close, The Fitchburg Sentinel published an article with war accounts from three soldiers. One was Harry Tapply excerpted from a letter to his sister (named only as 'Miss Tapply') The newspaper scan was in very poor condition, so I will give you an abbreviated version here:

"I am still in Montigny-le-Roi and I hope when we move it will be toward the coast but I read in the paper that all the veteran divisions will remain here until peace is signed. If that is true we will be here for some time yet.
The other day I went hunting wild boar with the town mayor of Montigny. We has no luck though, but the experience was wonderful. In all there were nine dogs. We have had much better food after the signing of the armistice and have had it more regular. For dinner yesterday we had hamburger steak, creamed carrots, mashed potatoes, bread pudding, coffee and bread with butter. We never got such food as that at the front. Very often after marching all day we got nothing but bread and coffee and sometimes we had nothing to eat for two days.
While we were on these marches we slept whenever we stopped. Sometimes in gutters or fields and to make things more pleasant the Boche would send over whiz-bang and black Marias and many other things too numerous to mention. A fellow thinks of home when he sees a chum blown to bits and has to pick him up in a blanket.
At Chateau (unreadable)    I went through a wheat field........in size and counted 36 mothers’ sons who would never return. Some of them mere boys with innocent faces and all were volunteers from our own division.
At Verdun it was even worse. Everywhere a Yankee fell a rifle was placed on end by running the bayonet into the ground. You could look out across most any part and see hundreds of such rifles denoting that many hundred would never return.
I went through Belleu woods and the sights I saw cannot be imagined by any human being. The woods themselves were demolished and men were buried half covered up and with hands and feet sticking out of the ground the and the odor was ...... You can see why the volunteers are  ..... These were ……. of the sights and horrors of war.
I wonder how many of the men back home running things would say ‘ go on ‘ if they had to do the going and ………..
All I can say is we are all thankful it is over and that we are ……..pushing………No Man’s Land."

I don't think any words could make his experience plainer. Harry Tapply came home with this loss and others to join the Fitchburg police force. He remarried, had four more children, and served with honor until his death in 1942.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
                                                       Between the crosses, row on row,  
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
 Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
 In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
 To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
   If ye break faith with us who die
 We shall not sleep, though poppies grow  
               In Flanders fields.
-Colonel John McCrae
It was said that where great battles were waged during World War I, fields of poppies sprung up over the graves of the dead. Thus, the poppy came to symbolize their service. The fields of ceramic poppies places around the Tower of London are in remembrance of British or colonial soldiers who died in " The Great War".   Just a quick search through my tree revealed a few from my tree, both American and British,  who served in this war.
Robert Burns Begg
Harold Clive Miles
George Allan Otto
Frank Webb Tapply
George Samuel Tapply
Harry James Tapply
Hugh Lansdell Tapply
Sidney Lansdell Tapply

For their service....