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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Walter Lee Haynes
1898-1918

"The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

Edward Grey

Walter Lee Haynes (sometimes spelled “Haines”) was born on April 30, 1898, at Hambleton, Tucker County, West Virginia. Walter’s mother, Mary Frances “Fanny” Browning, had been married in 1891 in Tucker County to Phillip Constable. Phillip Constable was a Civil War veteran who enlisted in October 1864 in the Union Army’s Sixth Infantry. Mary and Phillip were the parents of Jesse Browning Constable in 1893. Phillip Constable died in 1894, and “Fanny” remarried in 1897 in Tucker County to Thomas Haynes. Thomas died in 1926 and is buried in the Collett Cemetery at Hambleton. Fanny died in 1929 and is buried in the McNeeley Cemetery at Hendricks, West Virginia.

In the early 1900s, as with many other small towns in the area, the growth of Hambleton resulted from the harvesting of West Virginia’s large forests of virgin timber. Lumbering companies positioned themselves along the Black Fork and Cheat rivers in order to facilitate floatation logs to a rail terminal 75 miles downstream. With the coming of the West Virginia Central and Pittsburg [sic] Railway in 1899, timber was no longer floated down the river, but was transported by rail. The town, which was previously called Hurlings, was renamed Hambleton to honor John A. Hambleton, the CEO of the railroad. In 1905, Hambleton was incorporated. A large tannery also provided employment for residents of the town.

World War I, the “War to End All Wars” began in 1914 when a Serbian nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne. Following the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines and an attempt by Germany to engage in a military alliance with Mexico, the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917.

Jesse Browning Constable, Walter Haynes’ older half-brother, was born at Hambleton on July 19, 1893. He was inducted into the U.S. Army in April 1918 and served as a private at Camp Sheridan, Alabama, in the Salvage Company of the Quartermaster Corps. He was honorably discharged on January 27, 1919. He died in 1941 and is buried near his mother in the McNeeley Cemetery at Hendricks, West Virginia.

Walter Lee Haynes enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on December 21, 1917, and was assigned to the U.S. 2nd Division, which was organized in France from units of the Regular Army and Marines under the command of Brigadier General John A. LeJeune. On June 1, 1918, during the German Spring Offensive, German troops overran Château-Thierry and Vaux in Aisne, France, and threatened to march on Paris about 30 miles away. The U.S. reserve, made up of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines and a contingent of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, advanced from the west into Belleau Wood, where they engaged the enemy. Pvt. Walter Lee Haynes was mortally wounded on June 6. [Adjutant general records indicate death as of that date, while a telegram from commander Major General Barnett states that June 7 was the date of death; perhaps he was wounded on the sixth and died on the seventh.] After three weeks of combat, sometimes at the tip of a bayonet, the Marines had pushed the Germans back and cut off their path to Paris. Casualties suffered by the Marine Brigade included 31 officers and 1,056 men.

In World War I, the remains of some soldiers were buried several times—first in battlefield graves, then in U.S. cemeteries in Europe, and finally in the United States. Pvt. Haynes was probably buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau Wood. At the conclusion of the war, France banned the removal of bodies for reburial. However, in 1920, the French capitulated to pressure from American families to repatriate the bodies of American soldiers to the United States for reburial. The remains of 46,000 war dead were returned to the U.S. at a cost of over $30 million.

On June 20, 1918, the local newspaper printed a telegram to the deceased’s parents from Major General George Barnett, which said, in part: “Regret to inform you that cablegram received from abroad advises that private Walter L. Haynes, Marine Corps, was killed in action June seventh. Body will be interred abroad until end of war. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in your great sorrow. Your son nobly gave his life in defense of his Country.” (“First named from Tucker,” Parsons Advocate, 20 June 1918.)

grave marker

Headstone for Pvt. Walter Lee Haynes. Courtesy Arlington National Cemetery. Note that his marker indicates he is from Pennsylvania. However, his birth and early years of his life spent in West Virginia qualify him to have his name carved on the state’s Veterans Memorial.

Private Walter Lee Haynes was returned to the United States for reburial on September 8, 1921, in Arlington National Cemetery, where his grave is located in Section 18, Plot 2720.


Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
June 2018

Honor...

Walter Lee Haynes

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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