March 17, 2006
Oroville Register December 25, 1918
(found by Oroville Veterans Memorial Park Committee member, Joan
TRAGIC STORY OF DEATH IN BATTLE OF UNNAMED OROVILLE SOLDIER IS
TOLD IN LETTER FROM HOMER SPICER
Chico, December 24, 1918
While seeking aid for a comrade in distress under a murderous German,
machine gun fire, Wyatt Arbuckle, younger son of Mr. and Mrs. D.
G. Arbuckle, made the supreme sacrifice in France. Some of the details
of his death have been received here in a letter to the father from
Corp. H. B. Spicer, Headquarters Company, 159th Infantry, who gleaned
them from a Chico boy who was with young Arbuckle in the shallow
ditch where he died. An Oroville boy, lying outside, in the path
of a rain of Hun machine gun bullets, was wounded and calling for
help. As Arbuckle started to his assistance from his own none too
secure point of safety, he was shot down. He was one of five who
had passed safely through a grilling fire to an objective. The letter
was written by Spicer at Pont du Metz on November 24, he says; “Wyatt
Arbuckle and a number of others were transferred, and within a week
were in the trenches. They were in the Argonne woods, where the
Americans and French made such a great name for themselves. That
battle was terrible, but they held on and advanced day by day, forcing
the Jerry’s back, back to the land from when they came, bloodthirsty
and with their brutal ideas. “It was in the evening when they were
observed to go over. Their objective was a road over which for a
while before German supplies had been going. Wyatt and one other
Chico boy, also an Oroville boy, were in the first wave. They were
advancing in three waves. Along this road were scattered German
machine gun nests. “After the order to go over had been given and
the rush made, it seemed that only five had reached the objective
in the face of heavy machine gun fire. They were Wyatt and the other
Chico boy, also the Oroville boy, and a sergeant and a corporal.
The Oroville boy, it seems, had been hit during the advance. There
was a shallow ditch on either side of the road, and the two Chico
boys and the sergeant were on one side, while the Oroville boy and
the corporal were on the other side. The Oroville boy called out
to Wyatt and the others to come and help him back to the trench,
but in the face of that machine gun fire it was impossible to move.
When he called again and it was last call he ever gave, Wyatt raised
his head slightly in the face of that machine gun fire and said,”
Why doesn’t someone get that machine gun?” Those were his last words.
The other Chico boy got away after lying there almost ten hours,
and had only slight wound. He told me the story.”
January 20, 1919 Oroville Register
JAMES TOLAND GIVES HIS LIFE A SACRIFICE TO HIS COUNTRY
News that Pvt. James Toland, of this city, had been killed in action
was received on Saturday afternoon by his mother, Mrs. Priscilla
Toland of this city. It had been September 21th since a letter had
been received from Pvt. Tolalnd, but the fact that his name had
not appeared in the casualty lists nor was there any information
of his death in Washington gave a basis for hope that he might have
escaped. On Saturday, however the fateful telegram telling of his
heroic death was received from the War Department at Washington.
Pvt. Toland left Oroville for Camp Lewiston, April 21st. On July
4th he sailed for Europe with the 316th Engineers, 21st Division.
His last letter told of active service. Pvt. Toland was born in
Honcut on May 1, 1887. The greater part of his life was spent in
Oroville where he learned the trade of blacksmithing.(Part two next
Stu’s Notes: So long ago, a long forgotten Oroville boy dies
“over there” fighting for the survival of the free world as we know
it so well. His story will be in two parts. I first heard of his
name in our wonderful Pioneer Museum on Montgomery Street, and years
ago a news clip from the other Oroville paper, thanks again Jan
Rose Bales. In the basement is a section for the Veterans. A letter
on display there was written by Young Florence Danforth, later to
be Mrs. Florence Boyle, who in her life in Oroville wrote many historical
articles. All Historians of Oroville know of her. She was known
to write to many servicemen over the years. Many she didn’t even
know. In those days letters were about the only way for our young
men to hear about back home. Her letter came back unopened. You
can see it on display, Friday, Saturday and Sundays, at the Museum.
The letter was to young John Toland. We think this it the young
man from Oroville in the first story above. This letter was found
by Betty Boyle Davis, daughter of Florence, after her mother’s death.
Also in the Pioneer Museum is the diary of Betty’s father during
the World War, as it was called then, more on that diary to come.
Also, “WOW” it’s a small world, last weeks story on Young Richard
Jensen who died in Korea. His Great Niece is my neighbor around
the corner. More on their young hero’s story to come.