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The Collegian News Blog

Yankee Division comes home to UMass

Monday, March 31, 2008

After nearly a century away from home, the equipment carried by New Englanders in the First World War have returned to Massachusetts.

Professor Ed Klekowski, working alongside both French and military historians, has explored and recovered artifacts from the sites across the Western Front that played host to the 26th - "Yankee" - Division throughout 1917 and 1918.

Comprised completely of regional national guard units solely from the New England states, the Yankee Division went into combat against the Imperial German Army for the first time in Apremont-la-ForĂȘt in 1918. After the war money collected from the residents of Holyoke was used to rebuild the town and construct a monument to the fallen members of the Yankee Division.

Using a map of German battle lines acquired from French historians, Klekowski located and examined the trenches in the woods where the waves of American attacks were most heavily concentrated. According to Klekowski, even after almost 90 years have passed, rusting barbed wire, equipment and unexploded shells still litter the trench remains.

While the law forbids excavating national battlefields and historical sites for artifacts, Klekowski collected what he could find on the surface - legal under French law. Now the equipment and weapons carried into battle by the men of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts can be seen on display in the learning commons of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts.
posted by Derrick Perkins, 11:49 AM


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