William T. Clements Papers

Manuscript Collection #211
Clements, William T.
Physical description
0.074 Cubic Feet, 3 items , consisting of a diary, a letter, and a microfilm copy of a World War I photograph album.
Preferred Citation
William T. Clements Papers (#211), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1917-1918) of Lt. William T. Clements documenting his experience with the 17th U.S. Aero Squadron, American Expeditionary Forces, during training in the U.S. and England, and service in France during World War I. Included are a diary, a letter, and microfilm copy of his World War I photograph album.

Biographical/historical information

Clements enlisted in the U.S. Air Service at Essington, Pennsylvania, in 1917 and shortly thereafter was assigned to Ohio State University for preliminary flight training. Upon completion of this training, Clements proceeded to New York for further training before going overseas. Upon arrival in England Clements learned to fly several types of aircraft, received his commission, and during 1918 saw combat action as a fighter pilot on the Western Front.

Scope and arrangement

This collection consists of a diary kept by Lt. William Clements during World War I.

The diary begins September 1, 1917, with Clements at Mineola, New York, waiting to be shipped overseas. Entries reflect such activities as going to church, vaudeville acts, clerical work, and payroll problems. Of particular interest is Clements description of the trip overseas abroad the liner CARMANIA. These commentaries pertain to the practice of watching for enemy submarines, fleet target practice, and an inter-ship boxing match.

Upon his arrival at Liverpool, England, Clements describes his flight training (October 9, 1917-April 2, 1918). Particularly interesting are comments concerning the various aircraft flown, the problems encountered when training with English forces, and his personal opinions regarding the effectiveness of the training.

After receiving his commission Clements served as a flight instructor (April 14, 1918-June 2, 1918) and describes the training of cadets, and long hours, and the daily routine. Upon completion of his instructional duties, Clements was assigned to combat duty in France (June 24, 1918-Nobember 11, 1918). The diary offers Clements' vivid descriptions of patrol duty, aerial combat and strafing missions while assigned to the 148th American Squadron (July 1-August 27, 1918). From August 28 to the Armistice, Clements served as a flight commander in the 17th American squadron and the diary describes a landing accident (September 4, 1918), "wireless interception" tactics (September 13), and his "worst fight" with the enemy (September 24). Also of interest are his descriptions of off duty activities and comments regarding the armistice (November 11). At the end of the diary, Clements has compiled the organizational plan of the 17th and 148th American squadrons and also the combat statistics (casualties and damage inflicted on the enemy) of the 17th squadron.

Also of interest is the microfilm copy of Lt. Clements' World War I photo album. The album offers pictures of individuals mentioned in the diary including Clements, planes flown and actual combat scenes.

Administrative information
Custodial History

August 28, 1972, 104 pages; Diary (1917-1918). Gift of Mrs. John G. Kellogg, Manteo, N.C.

August 25, 2014,(unprocessed addition 1), 0.001 cubic foot; Addition includes a letter (December 1, 1918) written by William T. Clements, while serving with the 17th U.S. Aero Squadron with the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. Gift of Jacques T. Baker, Jr.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. John G. Kellogg

Gift of Mr. Jacques T. Baker, Jr.

Processing information

Processed by G. Stinagle, March 1973

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Clements, William T.
Corporate Names
Carmania (Cruiser)
United States. Army. Air Service--Military life
Airplanes, Military
Soldiers--United States--Diaries
World War, 1914-1918--Aerial operations
World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--France
World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--Western Front
World War, 1914-1918--Pictorial works