NC World War I Veteran’s Spotlight

John Burt Exum of Fremont, N.C.

John Burt Exum 1918
digitalnc.org

John Burt Exum, Jr was born in Fremont, NC in northern Wayne County on December 7, 1889. In May of 1918, at the age of 28, he was inducted into the US Army in Goldsboro, NC.

Exum was sent to Camp Jackson, SC (now Fort Jackson) and assigned to the 156th Depot Brigade for training.

Camp Jackson, 156 Depot Brigade, 1918
Camp Jackson, 156th Depot Brigade, 1918.     Library of Congress

 

81st Infantry Division logo
81st Division

After training, he was transferred to Company D of the 306th Ammunition Train, 81st Division and sent to the frontlines in August 1918. An ammunition train is not an actual train but the military term for units assigned to move artillery and small arms ammunition from the ammunition depot to the frontline. It was a particularly dangerous job because it was a key target for enemy fire- no ammo, no battle.

 

306th Ammunition Train, Sommedieu, France 1918
Dugout of commanding officer of the 306th Ammunition Train in Sommedieu, France, November 1, 1918.     NC Archives

John served in France for over ten months in Europe, returning to his home in Wayne County in June of 1919. He married May Rose and together they raised three children- Anne, John Burt III, & Charles Royall (a veteran of the US Navy in World War II).

He died on March 29, 1957 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Fremont.

The following is a letter John wrote to his mother in 1918 from Camp Jackson.

It reads:

17th Co.,
156 Depot Br.
Camp Jackson
Columbia, S.C.

Dear Mother:
I received your second letter today. You ought to know that I received your first letter. If I hadn’t I would not have known where to write to you at. You said to day that you would not go home untill Tuesday so I am guessing that you will get this at La Grange before you go. Then I can write you again when you get home. I believe you had rather get short letters from me real often than for me to wait untill I get time to write a nice long letter. I am writing this in a hurry. A man in the army has to do everything in a hurry or he will find that everybody else is ahead of him. I got another shot in the shoulder today with the typhoid antitoxine and I can hardly raise my left arm. This was my second and I have one more to go. Other than this I am getting along fine. We have lots of fruits and vegitables and not much meat to eat. When we get meat it is usually beefe.

Write me again when you get home.
Your Son,

Jno.Xm.

 

John Burt Exum grave     John Burt Exum WWI service card

 

 

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