Honoring Wayne County’s WWI Dead: Miles Faison Harris

Killed in action July 18, 1918

Faison Harris, News & Observer, October 18, 1919
Only known photo of Faison Harris, from the Raleigh News & Observer, October 18, 1919. The original has not yet been located.

Miles Faison Harris was born February 18, 1897 in Benson, NC to Miles S. (1860-1926) and Rebecca Ryals Harris (1872-1928). Just a few years after his birth the family moved to Goldsboro where Faison’s father worked as a blacksmith.

The 1916 Goldsboro city directory lists the family address at 112 S. Slocumb St. The house no longer stands but would have been near the intersection of Slocumb and Chestnut Streets. Faison’s father owned a blacksmith shop at 215 N. Center St. (today an empty lot across from City Hall) while Faison worked at the Goldsboro Steam Laundry at 142 S. Center Street. His draft registration card from June of 1917 lists his employer as the Durham Hosiery Mills at 101 E. Ash St.

In July 1917 Faison joined the North Carolina National Guard in Goldsboro. Soon after the guard was federalized and transferred to the newly created 30th Division, where he was assigned to Company D of the 119th Infantry Regiment as a mechanic.

His unit left for France on May 12, 1918 from Boston on the British steamship SS Laomedon. By July 17 the 119th Infantry found itself in and around the northwestern Belgian town of Poperinge, just a few miles from the French border. The town was only one of two in Belgium not occupied by Germany during the war, making its defense critical to the Allied war effort.

On July 18, Company D took up a position on the East Poperinge Line where Faison was killed in action. His exact cause of death is unknown; his service card simply states “KIA”. He was likely killed by either machine gun or artillery fire.

Faison Harris service card
Service card for Faison Harris. It lists his death as July 18, 1918 while his gravestone and the N&O say July 17.

 

He was buried in a temporary grave like all soldiers KIA. In March 1921 his remains were transferred to the US transport ship Cambrai and brought to the port of Hoboken, NJ and eventually laid to rest in Willow Dale Cemetery in Goldsboro.

Faison Harris, Willow Dale Cemetery

 

  • Letters home

As the war drew to a close, local photographer A.O. Clement, Gertrude Weil, and the local Red Cross began a campaign to collect letters and photographs of Wayne County boys serving in the war. The NC State Archives houses those letters, including four written by Faison Harris to his family in Goldsboro.

 

                                                                                                       American E.F.
                                                                                                       June 27, 1918.
Dear Mother,

     I will write you all a few lines to let you hear from me. I am well, hope this will find you all the same.
     Mother I haven’t heard from you all since I left Camp Sevier and I want you to write, and let me know how you all are getting along. And tell Sister to write and let me know how they are. I sent you all a card and I haven’t heard from any of you all.
     I saw a train [w]reck yesterday and [it] ran into the station and killed an old ladie, she heard the train coming and started to the door to see what was the matter and as she started out of the door, the front of the train hit her and killed her. Mother I wish I could tell you all that I see and all that happens here, but I can’t. When I get back I will tell you all about it when I come home.
     Mother I will have to close this time hoping to hear from you all. With love to all.

                      Good By[e]
                      From Your Son
                      Faison

Co. D 119th Inf
American E.F.

Answer real soon.

 

The following is the last letter Faison wrote home, one week before his death.

                                                                                       American E.F.
                                                                                       July 11. 1918.
Dear Sister,

I will ans[wer] you[r] letter which I just received. I was glad to hear from you all.

Sister tell Mother I have written her nearly every day for the first week I was over here.

I don’t see why she don’t get them. I sure would like to see you all.

Sister I can’t tell you where I am.

Give my love to all. I will close.

My address is American E.F. Co. D 119th Inf

Faison Harris

Answer real soon.

 

Previous Wayne County WWI posts:

Charles Rom Hardesty
Ezra Alphonso Mayo
Grover Summerlin
Camp Royster, Wayne County Fairground
John Burt Exum
Boys Battalion, 1905
Remembering the Forgotten Dead of a Forgotten War
The Ultimate Spin Job: US entry into World War I
North Carolina National Guard on the Border
World War I & North Carolina: 30th Division, 119th Infantry

Leave a Comment

error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)