Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Remembering a Veteran: Pvt. Troy E. Leach, Supply Company, 9th Infantry, 2nd Division, AEF

Contributed by Robin Clayton of Walnut, Mississippi

Young Troy Leach on the Right

My grandfather, Troy Elbert Leach, born Christmas 1895 in Blue Springs, MS, was an illiterate coon dog hunting farm boy who had never gone anywhere outside Union County, MS, until the Great War reached America.

Brand New Soldier Troy Leach on the Left

He enlisted in the U.S. Amy at New Albany, MS, and left on a troop train from the Frisco Crossing at the Harahan Bridge at Memphis, arriving at Camp Pike, AK, on 3 October 1917. He began rifle training but caught the influenza and almost died. Afterward, Troy Leach became a cook.

Training as a Cook

After Camp Pike’s 87th Division was skeletonized and absorbed into services of supply, he left for Camp Dix, New Jersey, by train. Troy crossed the Atlantic on an English cattle boat, fetching food for the seasick Doughboys as he ran up and down the ship ladders unfazed. Troy wound up in the supply company for the 2nd Division's 9th Infantry, arriving as a replacement, just as the Marines were finishing up Belleau Wood and just in time for the division's next attack, on Vaux.

2nd Division Insignia
Troy was a wagon driver and cook. His daughter used to say he was good with meat, especially hamburgers, and he knew how to make corned beef from scratch. He went through Soissons, St. Mihiel, and was driving a water wagon near Blanc Mont in the Champagne in October.

On 8 October, this Mississippi country boy was told to deliver water to his outfit. This was the day the 2nd Division was being relieved by the 36th Division. There was much confusion, the lines overlapping. He could not find them, so gave his load of water to another outfit. After failing to deliver his load of water to the outfit he was ordered to, he was ordered to try again,  "Or don’t come back." Well, he didn’t come back.

Troy Delivered Water in a Studebaker-Built Tank Like This

On the way, he saw a lieutenant on a motorcycle needing help, and he and the "mule tank"  stopped. A plane flew over just then and dropped a bomb on an ammo dump, exploding. Troy lay on the field wounded in the lung and shoulder blade till 9 October.

It Was Farther Down This Road That Troy Was Wounded

By then St Etienne was taken and Troy was removed from the 2nd Division and evacuated to the hospital. I was told Pershing himself pinned a medal on Troy. He was placed on a hospital ship and arrived in the USA on 23 December 1918.

Troy Recuperating in Hospital

Two days later, Troy Leach turned 23. He recuperated and was discharged from the Army at Camp Shelby, MS, in 1919. He later went to Mississippi State Barber College in Starkville and [also] learned to read.

Troy and Estella After the War

He married Estella Pannell and had five children. Troy, Jr., the oldest, would serve under Patton in North Africa. He was a motorcycle courier from Oran to Marrakesh.

Estella and Troy with Daughters Sarah and Scotti [Mother of Contributor] and Son Joe

Troy Jr. During World War II

The First World War never left Troy, Sr., alone, though, He was hospitalized for shell shock,  depression, and his old wounds at Hines Illinois Military Hospital about the time he joined the New Albany Chapter of the American Legion, in 1932. Troy finally got a little pension started to feed his family, as he was evaluated as disabled from the war.

Troy During His Second Hospitalization in the 1930s

Like Alvin York, Troy was a church music leader, serving the Blue Springs Baptist Church until he finally succumbed to his injuries on 22  June 1950.

Despite the Adversity He Faced, Troy Remained a
Proud Veteran and American Legion Member; Here He Is Wearing His WWI Campaign Medal and Purple Heart


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  2. Great article about our granddaddy Robin. Wish we could have known him. I think he was quite a guy.