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Ross S. Wilson Papers, 1860-1975

Manuscript Collection #772

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Ross S. Wilson Papers
Creator: Wilson, Ross S
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Scrapbook (1917-1975) of U.S. Marine Corps officer, containing photographs, clippings, certificates, orders, and loose miscellany.
Extent: 0.22 Cubic feet, 23 items , consisting of U.S. Marine Corps record of operations (First World War), newspaper clippings, awards, certificates, photographs, post cards, and scrapbook with miscellaneous items.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

July 27, 1998, 1 volume; Scrapbook (1917-1975) of U.S. Marine Corps officer, containing photographs, clippings, certificates, orders, and loose miscellany. Gift of Mr. R. S. Karns, Washington, N.C.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

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

Preferred Citation

Ross S. Wilson Papers (#772), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mr. R. S. Karns

Processing Information

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Ross Samuel Wilson (1894-1975), son of Mr. and Mrs. Ross Anthony Wilson, was from the state of Washington. Wilson, a graduate of the University of Washington, was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and involved with school athletics. After college, Wilson served as an officer in the 80th Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Regiment, United States Marine Corps, during the First World War. In 1918, he married Maurine Gates, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. L. Gates. He was honorably discharged after the war and reentered the Marines for the Second World War. He retired a lieutenant colonel in the Reserves and died in 1975.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Included in the collection is a record of operations of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Regiment, Marines. This eight-page docufact was written by Captain Joseph C. Grayson, who served with Wilson in the Sixth Marines. The report details activities on the Western Front with their arrival in St. Nazaire, France, in February 1918, from Quantico, Virginia, to the end of the war. The Marines spent time at such places as Damblain, Suranze, the Verdun front, Chateau Thierry, Bois de Belleau, Soissons, St. Miheil, Melincourt Village, Thiacort, and Blanc Mont on the Champagne front. Grayson details some of the training and the battles of the 78th, 79th, 80th, and 96th companies. Company and battalion positions are given for some assaults relevant to being on the left or right flank, and assignment to assault, support, or reserve wave. He describes the hardships of trench warfare such as enduring enemy artillery barrages, going "over the top," numbers of men involved, battle casualties, and withering machine gun fire. The account recalls the famous earning of the French Croix de Guerre by the Sixth and earning of the sobriquet, "Devil Dogs" from the Germans.

The collection contains a scrapbook with several photographs and post cards of Wilson's service on the Western Front. There is a map of Blanc Mont, typewritten orders, and packing lists. There are also military citations including one signed by General John J. Pershing, promotion certificates, a Purple Heart award, and discharge certificates. Non-military items in the scrapbook include college and family photographs, a fraternity certificate, college sports memorabilia, newspaper clippings, an Army discharge certificate for John Aitkins of the 11th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry, dated 30 September 1865, and miscellaneous material.

Other items in the collection are loose post cards of French sites, photographs, newspaper clippings, and newspapers. The photographs show Wilson in his uniform and his father. The clippings cover topics relating to Wilson's engagement and marriage, and his experiences near Mont Blanc that earned the Croix de Guerre for the Sixth Marines. Beyond some basic promotion and discharge papers there is no material pertaining to Wilson's experiences in the Second World War.

The oversize folder contains two newspapers: a copy of the newspaper, The National Intelligencer, dated 19 June 1860, and an interesting newspaper taken by Wilson at Thiacort after entering a German trench in the battle. The propaganda paper is in English, written by Germans, with articles denouncing the British and American involvement in the war.

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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