Private First Class Maurice Lanning

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World War I

US Army
Machine Gun Company, 354th Infantry Regiment, 89th Infantry Division
Born: Oct 26, 1889 in Lexington, Nebraska.
Inducted: April 25, 1918
Killed in action November 1, 1918, Bantheville, France
Buried: Plot C, Row 20, Grave 24, Meuse-Argonne
   American Cemetery, Romagne, France

Wife was Florence A. (Wedge) Lanning. Parents were E.S. and. Grace P. Lanning of Lexington, Nebraska.


Photo by ABMC staff.
Meuse Argonne AC - France


Lexington, Nebraska, December 6, 1918 The Clipper-Citizen

Deaths
Lanning, Maurice
In France

Word was received on Monday from government sources of the death of Maurice Lanning, one of Lexington's soldiers in France.

Maurice Lanning, youngest son of E.S. and Grace Lanning of this city, was born Oct. 28, 1889 on his father's farm three miles west and one mile north of Lexington. There he spent nine and one-half years of his life, beginning his school life there at the age of five years, and attended until the family removed to Lexington in 1899, where he entered the Lexington school from which he graduated in 1907. He attended the Lexington Business college. After graduating thence he entered the employ of the U.P.R.R. Co. as timekeeper, serving two years in that capacity. Then entered the Roadmaster's office at North Platte as clerk, where he served for five years. Then on account of poor health resigned and removed to Washington county, Colo., taking up a homestead there where he resided until called to the colors April 25, 1918.

He was sent to Camp Funston, Kansas, where he remained until May 28, when he was transferred to Camp Mills, Long Island, and started overseas June 3rd, stopping in England for a short time, then on to France with the 89th division where he served until he was killed in action Nov. 1, 1918 at Sedan.

On the evening of December 24, 1917, he was united in marriage to Miss Florence A. Wedge of Cozad, who with his father and mother of Lexington, one sister, Mrs. W.E. Tomlinson of Messex, Colo., and brother Ned Lanning, who went to France as a soldier in the same division with Maurice and is now in a hospital there, surviving him.


Lexington, Nebraska, March 14, 1919 The Clipper-Citizen

Letters from France

St. Aigan, France, Jan, 23, 1919.

Mrs. Maurice Lanning, Lexington, Neb.

My dear Mrs. Lanning:

Your letter of Dec, 3rd was received by me day before yesterday in the hospital at Orleans where I have been confined since Nov. 2nd, when I was wounded in the Argonne fighting. The long time required for the transit of your letter was naturally due to the forwarding from the company, which is always a slow process.

In answering I would first request that you entirely disabuse your mind of any thoughts of "bother" in writing to me as you did, for I am only too glad to render even the smallest favor of this character for those loved ones who have been left to grieve one of my comrades who has been a martyr to the cause. The only trouble that can possibly come to me is due to the fact that I cannot now give you the information which you so long to have. This is due to the fact that I was wounded on the second day of the fight in which your husband was killed, and the facts surrounding his death had not reached me before I was sent back.

However, he was with the company on Oct. 31, the night we, meaning the M.G. Co, 354th Inf. of which I was Company Commander at the time, were attached to the assault battalion of the regiment and marched out into "No Man's Land" were we dug our fox holes and awaited the barrage and advance in the morning. No Man's Land at that time was directly in front of Bantheville Woods, which laid to the west of the town of Bantheville, and between the towns of Gesnes and Remonville.

The barrage opened at 3:30 a.m. and lasted until about 5:30, when it began to advance and our line moved forward directly behind it in what was the beginning of the last phase of the now famous Meuse-Argonne offensive of the First American Army.

I believe that Pvt. Lanning was killed on that first morning when a high explosive shell made a hit on one of my gun squads, knocking out the gun, killing the Corporal and another man and wounding a couple more. I learned about the hit but not the names of all the men involved, during the morning while in the heat of battle.

As I said before, the next morning about 7:30 just after the recommencing of the drive, I was wounded and evacuated, and have not been in touch with the company since.

It regrets me very much that I cannot give you all the details now but I'm sure you are quite aware of the difficulty in keeping up with the action of all of 172 who are scattered about on all parts of the battlefield.

I am on the way to the company now, and will probably get back during the first week of February. Once back I shall secure all the information possible for you including his place of burial and will forward these to you in a letter at the very first opportunity.

I extend to you my deep sympathy in your time of bereavement.

Cordially and sincerely yours,
(signed) Fred W. Fickett, Jr.,
1st Lieut. 354th Inf

--------------------------------------------------------------

M.G. Co. 354th Inf. A.E.F.
Traves, Germany, Feb. 19, 1919

Mrs. Florence Lanning, Lexington, Neb.

In pursuance of the promise I made to you in my letter written from St. Aignon, on Jan. 23rd, I am writing these few lines this evening.

I find that the facts about your husband are just about as I surmised. It was he who was killed by the high explosive shell which hit that squad in the First Platoon on the morning of Nov. 1st, about two hours after we had gone over the top.

I called upon the Regimental Chaplain a day or so ago, and got the particulars about his grave although suppose that you have already received this information thru official sources.

He was buried by Chaplain Judson K. Woods, of our regiment in a cemetery of some twenty or twenty-five graves located near the Bantheville Woods. The cemetery, I am told, is just south of a small farm - La Dhuy Farm, which constitutes quite a number of small buildings just south of the Bantheville-Imecourt road, and about half way between the two towns. Thus it is about four kilometers west of Bantheville, and three kilometers south of the town of Remonville.

All of the personal effects of Pvt. Lanning which he had at the time of the action were lost.

I do not recall exactly what I wrote in my last letter but regardless of that, I desire to express the high regard I had for Pvt. Lanning, both as a soldier and as a man. When I commanded a platoon he was in it. We were often called upon to do tasks which were both tiresome and dangerous. Sometimes work would get so heavy that you could begin to hear signs of kicking. But there were four or five men in that platoon who neither grumbled or complained, and one of those men was Pvt. Lanning. In the performance of every duty he was faithful, in every battle action he was brave and courageous. My words of praise can add nothing to the name he made for himself.

The enclosed map sketch shows the approximate location of the cemetery and our jump-off line on the morning of Nov. 1st. I thought you might be glad to have it. It is rough but I hope intelligible to you.

Yours truly,
(signed) Fred W. Fickett, Jr.
1st Lieut. 354th Inf.


Notes:

Maurice Lanning, age 27, registered for the draft June 5, 1917. At that time he said his address was Messex, and that he was born in Lexington, Nebraska on October 26, 1889. He was self-employed as a farmer near Messex, was single, and his next of kin was his father and mother (not named).
The local board said he was medium height and build, blue eyed, brown hair - receding.

According to The World War Mothers and Widows Pilgrimage to War Cemeteries in Europe listing (GPO 1930).
Mrs. Grace P. Lanning, 1214 South Parlon St, Santa Ana, Orange Co., California, mother, turned down the trip.
Mrs. Florence W. Lanning, General Delivery, Salt Lake City, Utah, widow, wanted to go.

Military cross photograph provided by the American Battlefield Monument Commission staff at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.

Clippings from the Lexington Clipper-Citizen, provided by the Dawson County (Neb.) Historical Society.


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