Jeff Rankin  |   Published April 03, 2017

A centennial remembrance

Monmouth College’s role in WWI
  • A bronze tablet at the entrance to Poling Hall memorializes the 10 Monmouth College students and alumni who gave their lives during World War I
As Congress declared war on Germany 100 years ago this week, students of Monmouth College were already filled with patriotism and eager to serve their country.

A petition by 80 male students had been presented to the faculty calling for military training to be instituted on campus. Colleges nationwide were flooding the Secretary of War with applications for reserve officer training programs on their campuses, and Monmouth had begun corresponding with Congressman William Graham to be included among those applications.

While a Student Army Training Corps (SATC) at Monmouth College would not become a reality for 18 months, 30 students enlisted in the service within the first month and the remaining male students marched 20 minutes daily in a voluntary drill, according to emeritus history professor William Urban, who authored A History of Monmouth College. The faculty, Urban said, required all male students to take military training through a program organized by the physical education department.

Meanwhile, the campus hosted numerous lecturers on a variety of war-related topics and the number of students taking German language declined so sharply that it was dropped from the curriculum. Football was also abandoned, as the number of male students remaining on campus gradually dwindled.

Eventually, 115 male students would enlist, cutting severely into enrollment and prompting President T.H. McMichael to actively pursue the establishment of an SATC unit. Six men from Monmouth were sent to Fort Sheridan, Ill., for training to assist the commanding officer, and on Oct. 1, 1918, the unit was established.

The president’s home, Woodbine, was converted into a barracks housing 60 cadets, while a barn in the back yard housed 20 more. Cadets attended classes daily, while also drilling for two hours.

Before the SATC training could get off the ground, however, it was threatened by a national epidemic of Spanish influenza. The college was put under quarantine and closed to all regular students. Woodbine became an infirmary for 27 cadets who contracted the virus, while the remainder of the corps moved into Wallace Hall and the gymnasium.

The signing of the armistice on Nov. 11 made the SATC corps a short-lived episode in College history, and it was demobilized on Dec. 19.

A total of 400 current and former Monmouth students served their country during the “Great War,” and 10 made the ultimate sacrifice. Five died of pneumonia contracted in camp before they could be deployed overseas. Those killed in action were Will Cole ’09, Battle of Verdun; and Albert H. Bell Jr. ’15 and Ralph W. Stine ’15, Second Battle of the Marne. One died of disease in France, and one in England.

Archibald L. Graham ’02, assistant to the president, wrote of the veterans’ efforts in the 1920 student yearbook:

“We have yet to learn of a single Monmouth man who flinched. Not one flinched. We know the Monmouth fibre. We know the blood that courses the veins of Monmouth men. We know that not a man of Monmouth flinched. Whether it was to patrol duty in “no man’s land” or to “go over the top” in charging the enemy every Son of Monmouth performed his duty. Not one flinched, and if he fell, he fell facing the enemy.”

As life on campus resumed, the graduating class of 1919 chose to commemorate the valor of the College’s 400 World War I veterans with a bronze tablet placed at the entrance to Carnegie Library (now Poling Hall). To this day, students can read the names of the 10 Scot warriors who sacrificed their lives, along with a passage from 2 Timothy: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi, two of the oldest sororities, were founded at Monmouth in the 1860’s. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> While we have the Wells Theater on campus, the Theatre department also uses the block-box auditorium Fusion Theatre downtown Monmouth.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/theatre/" target="_blank">Theatre</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Services</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>