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American Flag.jpg Willis G. ROYCE, born at Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa, on April 10, 1891. With the outbreak of World War I, Willis enlisted at the formation of Company "C" of the 3rd Iowa Infantry at Creston, Iowa, on May 16, 1916. Willis was pr-moted to Corporal on June 10, 1916, and called into Federal Service on June 20, 1916. The Battalion left Creston on June 20, 1916, arriving at Camp Dodge, Iowa, on June 20, 1916. They left Camp Dodge on July 20, 1916 and arrived at Brownsville, Texas, July 24, 1916, where they were on duty along Rio Grande River, patrolling the border and outpost duty, and training in manouvers. The Battalion left Brownsville on February 1, 1917 and arrived at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, on February 6, 1917 where they were mustered out of Federal Service. They returned to Creston, on February 20, 1917.

Willis was promoted to Sergeant on May 2, 1917, and called into service drilling recruits and organizing the company on June 30, 1917. On July 15, 1917, Willis was promoted to 1st Sergeant. He left Creston on July 15, 1917, and arrived at the State Fair Grounds in Des Moines, Iowa, the same day. Willis was mustered into Federal Service on July 23, 1917, and drafted [presumably into the 42nd or "Rainbow" Division] on August 5, 1917. Beginning with this date when the 3rd Iowa Infantry became the 168th Infantry, 84th Brigade, 42nd Division, his movements were identical with the regiment as Willis remained with the until he was discharged.

The regiment left the Fair Grounds on September 9, 1917, and arrived at Camp Mills via Hoboken aboard the British transport "Aurania" on November 14th. Due to the presence of German submarines in the Irish sea, the Regiment anchored in Belfast harbor for two days before arriving at Belfast on Thanksgiving Day of 1917. On December 1st of 1917, The Regiment landed at Liverpool, England, then proceeded to Winchester. England on December 2nd. From Winchester, the Regiment proceeded to Southampton on December 10th where they crossed English Channel on British cattle boat, landing at Le Havre, France, December 11th. The Regiment took boxcars for their transport near Chaumont on December 12th where they received training, and intensive training at Rimaucourt, Haute Marne from December 14th to Jamuary 31st, 1918. On January 31, 1918. the Regiment advanced on foot, arriving at Beauchamin on February 1st, 1918. Here, they were transferred from Company "C" of the 168th Infantry to Headquarters Company of the 168th Infantry on February 14, 1918. Advancing on foot, the Regiment went into the "Lineville Sector" in Lorraine, joining the French on February 22nd. On March 23rd the Regiment marched five days to the rear but returned by forced marching in three days and took over sector from the French on March 31st. The regiment was in the line continually until June 21st, the longest consecutive front line duty of any regiment in the American Army.

Willis was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major on May 17, 1918.

On June 21st the Regiment marched to the "Esperance-Souain Sector" in Champagne, arriving there on July 4th. Ten days later, on the French Independence Day, the Germans staged their last big drive of the War on this sector, but were completely stopped without gaining any ground after a three day bombardment and battle.

The Regiment moved to the Chateau Thierry Salient on July 17, 1918, going into the Aisne-Marne Offensive on July 25th. The Regiment had their heaviest losses in this sector, casualities being over 50%. They were relieved on August 3rd but were unable to move to the rear for a week or so. Supposedly the Regiment was to receive two weeks rest but after a week they were turned again and marched to the front, going "over the top" again on September 11th in the "St. Mihiel Offensive." The Regiment was held in this sector "Essey-Pannes, Woevre" consolidating and organizing the new lines until September 30th. They moved over to the Argonne going into the "Meuse-Argonne Offensive" on October 12, and were relieved on October 22nd. On November 5th the Regiment moved into the lines again, pursuing Germans. They Were relieved again on November 10th and started for the rear. After a few days march The Regiment was ordered into Germany as a part of the Army of Occupation and turned northward again, marching across a part of Belgium, through Luxembourg, and into Germany, arriving at the Rhine River at Neiderbreisig,Germany on December 15th. Here they were stationed on the extreme left or north of the American Army and adjoining the Canadian Army. First leaves were granted to the Regiment while they were on the Rhine and Ispent mine at Brusselles, Belgium (one week) in March 1919. The Regiment left Neiderbreisig, Germany, on April 8th, arriving at Brest, France, on April 11th. They boarded the U. S. Transport "Levia," than formerly the German "Vaterland," on April 17th, leaving the harbor for America the next day, April 18, 1919. They landed at Hoboken, New Jersey, on April 25, and were sent to Camp Upton. They left Camp Upton, Long Island, on May 11th and arrived at Camp Dodge, Iowa, May 14th. Willis was discharged from service on May 20, 1919, four days after the Regiment and just three years and four days after his enlistment.

Willis G. ROYCE died April 15, 1969, with interment at Graceland Cemetery, Creston, Union County, Iowa.

To contribute to Ringgold County's soldier pages, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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