“With Deepest Sympathy:” Lt. Loy A. Hege

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

During the Great War, chemical weapons were used on both sides. The French were the first to use gas grenades of xylyl bromide against the Germans in August 1914. In October 1914, Germans used a gas that caused violent sneezing fits, but it was not fatal. Chlorine, a poisonous gas, was introduced to the war in April 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres by the Germans.  Mustard gas was developed by the Germans and in use by September 1917.  This gas was a nearly colorless, odorless gas that caused internal and external blisters.  Soldiers in the trenches were always on the look out  for an attack and the army provided them with gas masks for protection.

The wearer of the mask breathed entirely through his mouth, his nose pinched shut by a clamp attached to the mask.  The wearer had to hold their breath 6 seconds while the mask was adjusted.  With only four breathes a soldier could inhale enough poison gas to kill.

The bag containing the gas mask and respirator was a constant companion of the soldier and there are several in the collection at HCHM.  In a letter home dated October 4, 1918, Lt Harold M. Glover wrote: “It is my opinion that the gas is the most horrible part of the whole business.”

 

 

Loy A. Hege, a Harvey County native, died as a result of inhaling gas during battle  in France in August 1918. Hege was born near Halstead, Ks.October 2, 1893 to Mr. & Mrs. G.A. Hege.   As a young man, he  moved to Emporia and graduated from Emporia High School in 1912. He continued his education at Emporia College and received his B.S. Degree from the Kansas State Normal in 1916. He then taught at Abilene High School, Abilene, Ks.  He met  Jane J. Lewis and they were married at her home on 506 Market in Emporia.  Hege completed officer’s training in August 1917 and was a  2nd Lt, Co. A, 355 Infantry.

A Letter Returned

His family in Harvey County kept in contact with him during the war. Sadly, one letter was returned to his Aunt Kate, after his death in France.

Envelope of letter returned to family of Loy A. Hege.

 

Letter from Kate, Halstead, Ks to Lt. Loy A. Hege, 25 August 1918, copy of original.

“With Deepest Sympathy”

Lt. John Richards  had the difficult task of writing to Hege’s relatives in Kansas.

“It is with deepest sympathy that I write you of the death of Loy Hege, a noble and ever-inspiring officer, a true friend and a pal to all.”

Richards goes on to describe what happened to cause Hege’s death.

“The position occupied by our Company was opened on with shrapnel and gas shells the night of August 7th and he was severely gassed.  He was taken to the hospital about 6:30 am where nurses and doctors did all in their power for him, but to no avail.  He died on the afternoon of August 15th.  He realized the day before his death that he was to go and his last thoughts were of home and home folks.”

Lt Hege was buried in the military cemetery north of Toul, France, grave number 191.

Twenty-six days later his wife gave birth to his daughter.

His body was returned to Emporia, Ks on July 22, 1921. A funeral was held at the home of his widow at 5th and Market in Emporia on July 25, 1921. He was buried at Maplewood Cemetery, Emporia, Ks.

Sources:

  • Letter from Kate, Halstead, Ks to Lt. Loy A. Hege, 25 August 1918, copy of original. Original in possession of Hege Family.
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 10 September 1918.
  • Hodge, Robert, Find A Grave, Lieut Loy A. Hege,#42193268

 

 

 

“In Memoriam:” Soldiers of the Great War

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

In the May 19, 1919 issue of the Evening Kansan Republican the editors printed a “Report of the Committee on Memoirs at Service Held  Sunday, May 18, 1919.” In this report, Harvey County soldiers that had died during the Great War were remembered. The issue gave a brief description of each man.  The issue also included  “The Complete Roster of Harvey Co. World War Soldiers.”

Evening Kansan Republican, 19 May 1919, p. 1.

Based on the information in the newspaper article more soldiers from Harvey County died from pneumonia, than died in action, illustrating the  devastating effect of the 1918 Influenza. Six were killed in action, five others died on foreign soil, and 14 in the United States.

Postcard, 1918-1919

The  men are listed below.   In the coming year,  watch for stories of these men to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Great War.

Killed in Action

  • Wayne G. Austin – first killed in action
  • Carl D. Johnson
  • Arthur P Whitesell
  • Lauren John Finnell
  • Edwin Hall, Jr
  • Loren Rogers

 

  • Loy A. Hege from Halstead was also killed in action.

Died of Pneumonia on Foreign Soil

  • Rudolph August Carl Steffen
  • James Edward Taylor
  • Joseph P Trego
  • John G. Schaplowsky
  • William E. Dreier

Died of Pneumonia on US soil

  • MacArthur B. Brush
  • Irvin Haury
  • Herman Heinrich Christian Green
  • Emmett H Neuway
  • Roy Lee Pittman
  • Max Reynolds
  • Lee Elmer Shepherd
  • Cleo Walter Miline
  • Earl Floyd Alfred Hood
  • Melvin Savage
  • Burton Elmer Cochran
  • James Shea

Accidental Death on US Soil

 

Parade, 1919.
Newton Main Street, Old Mill in the background.

Complete Roster

The Evening Kansan Republican  also included “A Complete Roster of Harvey County World War Soldiers.”

Evening Kansan Republican, 19 May 1919, p. 6.

 

New at HCHM: A Soldier’s Trunk

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Recently a gray-green metal metal trunk was donated to HCHM by the Hoffer family.

Soldier’s Trunk, ca, 1940. Belonged to Leonard Hoffer, 1941-1945. HCHM# 2017.9.1

On the top, in yellow paint the owner of the trunk was identified.

Leonard was born 31 March 1920.  Inducted into the U.S. Army in December 1941, only days before the Pearl Harbor attack.

“Notice of Selection” 7 November 1941. Document Courtesy Leonard Hoffer Family.

He went to basic training in Louisiana and received further training in the Mojave Desert in California. The trunk stored everything he needed while in the army.

Leonard Hoffer, ca. 1941. Photo Courtesy Leonard Hoffer Family

For a time he was a cook for the 143rd Signal Company.  His unit shipped overseas to southern England in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.  However, they did not land in France until about ten days after D-Day.

His unit was involved in various battles in France. He was part of the first American outfit to cross the border into Germany. Pushed back into Belgium, the unit was involved in the “Battle of the Bulge” in December 1944.  Leonard’s unit continued to be involved in various battles in Europe until the end of the war.

He was discharged from the Army in September 1945.

Leonard Hoffer, ca. 1941 Photo Courtesy Leonard Hoffer Family.

He died  20 March 1997.

Sources:

  • Document describing Leonard Hoffer’s time in the army provided by Gary Hoffer and Carol Hoffer, HCHM Artifact Files.