On the 102nd anniversary of his death, today I share the story of my great-great-uncle, Edward Kaluza.
It has taken us a couple years to uncover Edward’s story. My father has done a lot of work on tracing our family history. In the summer of 2018, he was visiting some family graves in the town of Browerville, MN, the birthplace of my paternal grandmother. Her parents were Polish immigrants whose families had farms in this community.
While walking among the graves in the Browerville cemetery, my dad came upon a veterans grave with the name Kaluza, my great-grandmother’s maiden name. The state listed on the grave was Montana, which was puzzling to us. It appeared he died on November 9, 1918, two days before the Armistice that ended the First World War.
After a bit of research, we found out that Edward Kaluza was my grandmother’s uncle; my great-grandmother Julia Petrovilla Kaluza’s (what a name!) brother, son of Thomas and Rosalia. Like many other young men in the family, Edward left the family farm to work for the Great Northern Railway in Montana and was sending money home to support the family. After the United States entered the war in April 1917, President Wilson signed into law the Selective Service Act, requiring all men between the ages of 21 and 20 to register for military service. Edward registered for the draft in Montana and on his draft registration card he indicated his parents were financially dependent on him (and tried to claim an exemption from service on these grounds).
Edward was ultimately drafted for service on June 24, 1918 and first sent to Camp Lewis in Washington as part of the 166th Depot Brigade, which basically is a group for formation and training of recruits. Here he was among other recruits from the western states, including some from back home in Minnesota.
After Camp Lewis, it’s likely that Edward went to Camp Kearny in San Diego, California. He was transferred to Company I of the 158th Infantry Regiment, 79th Brigade of the 40th Division on July 15. His mother listed three training locations on his Gold Star record and this is my best guess based off of both her handwriting and the knowledge that this division trained there. With the 158th Edward sailed for France out of New York on August 11, 1918 on the British transport ship SS Port Denison. The regiment’s location at the end of the month is recorded as Jouet, Cher, France, which is in the Loire Valley.
Upon their arrival, it was decided that the 40th Division would be a depot division and used to supply fresh troops to a number of divisions to more experienced divisions that had been on the receiving end of some heavy pushes from the Germans over the spring and summer of 1918.
Based off of muster records, I know that sometime in October Edward left the 158th and was sent to the 322nd Infantry Regiment of the 81st Division, where he ultimately fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive and met his fate on the 9th of November. He was a part of Company C. A history of the 81st division from the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) states the below:
“The 1st Battalion, 322d Infantry, attacked at 8:25 a. m. parallel to the Abaucourt—Etain road… Company C, on the left, moved forward until forced to stop by artillery and machine-gun fire from the northwestern edge of Le Grand Cognon wood and the southeastern edge of Abaucourt. At 5:30 p.m. this company withdrew to a position with its left resting on the railroad south of Soupleville Ferme and its front extending to the southeast, and dug in for the night.”81st Division Summary of Operations in the World War, American Battle Monuments Commission, 194
A history from the State of North Carolina corroborates:
Company C, of the 322nd infantry, reached the vicinity of Abaucourt at 11 o’clock and was soon followed by B and D companies of the same regiment, which went into the line beside it. At 1 o’clock that afternoon Grimaucourt was passed and an advance started against the enemy’s main line of resistance, 1,500 meters east of that town. On account of intense artillery fire on Grimaucourt the second battalion of the 322nd infantry retired at 4 o’clock to the old German trenches, just west of the town.“Lest We Forget” A History of North Carolina’s Own, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
During the push of November 9-11, the 322nd suffered 254 casualties: 197 wounded and 57 killed. Sadly, Edward was among them. He had been in France less than two months when he was killed – two days short of the armistice. He died fighting in a regiment of men he did not know terribly well from an entirely different part of the country.
While I have a good idea of the general area where Edward fell, I likely will never know the specifics. The below photos provide some context. In fact, one of the graves pictured may well be his.
He was first buried in the French civilian cemetery in Moulainville, then relocated to the Saint-Mihiel American Cemetery in May 1919. He made the journey home from Europe in the summer of 1921, arriving in Browerville, MN, in August, where he now rests near his parents. It is worth noting the remarkable work done by the American Graves Registration Service, maintaining meticulous records and taking great care of remains – the fact that so many American servicemen were returned home after the First World War is a remarkable feat for the time. A luxury our allies could not afford, given the many years and conditions of the fighting as well as the sheer numbers lost.
We uncovered Edward’s story in August of 2018. This was only a few months after I had been in northern France visiting Verdun and the American Cemetery Meuse-Argonne. In driving through that land I was driving in the very area Edward fought and died. Today it is a beautiful piece of the French countryside, despite it’s history. Another beautiful piece of countryside can be found in Browerville, Minnesota, his final resting place. Wherever his spirit has gone I hope he has found his peace. A deserving reward for a life cut far too short.
Edward’s name is memorialized and listed among the others from Todd County, MN, who perished in the war on a memorial in front of the courthouse in Long Prairie, MN