Craig, Buford G (P1, C3, L1)
Sergeant Major Buford G. Craig, 23, of Lexington, Fayette County died in a train wreck on 26 October 1918 less than a week after his arrival in France. The wreck occurred at Gael, France on 26 October 1918. He was serving with the 113th Ammunition Train. He joined the Kentucky National Guard’s Company I, First Infantry Regiment on 21 April 1913, he had a short break in service re-joined the Lexington Company 24 June 1916 as a Corporal. He was mobilized at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, for federal service on the Mexican Border in June 1916. In August 1916 they moved to Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas. Stationed at Camp Owen Bierne some two miles from Fort Bliss, the brigade was attached to the 10th U. S. Provisional Division under command of Brigadier General Charles G. Morton. He was promoted to Sergeant in August 1916. Their mission on the border was to conduct patrols along a sixty-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River to Fort Hancock, Texas. In February 1917 they were ordered back to Fort Thomas and mustered out of federal active duty. Many stayed in state duty status.
He reentered federal active duty with his unit on April 25, 1917. On 15 October 1917, his company was re-designated as Headquarters Detachment, Horsed Section, 113th Ammunition Train, part of the 38th Infantry Division. His unit was sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for training. On 26 October 1917 he was again promoted to Sergeant and on 1 May 1918 was promoted to Sergeant Major. They left Camp Shelby on 18 September 1918 and set sail from New York on 6 October 1918. They arrived in Liverpool England on 18 October 1918 and in Cherbourg, France on 22 October 1918.
Craig was one of 11 KYNG soldiers killed in the crash. Many more were injured. Craig is buried at Plot C Row 13 Grave 32, Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-en-Tardenois, France. In his civilian life Craig was a long time employee of Lexington’s Phoenix Hotel serving as superintendent of bell boys and assistant clerk and clerk at the hotel cigar stand.
According to the Lexington Leader, 15 December 1918, p. 7 - In a letter home to his family in December 1918, Sergeant Jess C. Stewart, Company E, 113th Ammunition Train, described the great wreck and stated, that Craig was instantly killed. Stewart’s Company escaped injury, but were detailed to give first aid. He reported that they worked eighteen hours clearing away wreckage and caring for the dead and wounded.
According to correspondence by Captain J. C. Hobson, Jr. of the 138th - At 8:50 P. M., October 26, 1918, while enroute from Cherbourg, France, to a training camp at Meucon, France, a train carrying the 113th Ammunition Train collided with the 138th Field Artillery, which had just stopped at the station of Gael, France. The 138th train reportedly had had mechanical difficulties in the trip up to that point. Headquarters Company of the 138th occupied the last six cars of the train—the compartment and three box. All six cars were completely demolished. Other accounts report that 14 train cars were “telescoped” in the event. There are many conflicting secondhand accounts of the incident published in newspapers at various times with variation in the numbers of injured and dead and even the location of the wreck. The location had also been reported as St. Main / Mein and Mellistroit.
It was some time before any help or trained medical personnel arrived on the scene. Reportedly wires on both sides of the station were downed in the wreck and a messenger was sent on foot to the next nearest communication point five miles away. Troops and ambulances arrived at the scene at 1 a.m. the following morning presumably with medical personnel from Camp Coetquidan some 20 miles away and all the injured and dead were removed from the scene by 3 a.m. presumably back to Camp Coetquidan.
The men who were killed in the wreck were initially buried October 28th, in the U. S. Government cemetery No. 18 at Camp Coetquidan, France.
Craig’s name appears on the Fayette County World War I Memorial located in front of the Old Fayette County Courthouse. The monument was erected in 1924 by the Lexington Post No. 8 of the American Legion.
The other members of the Kentucky National Guard Killed in the incident are: William E. Aubrey; Norbert V. Henry; Frank James; Charles Lucas; Watkins A. Moss; Walter C Nagle; Roy V. Ogle; Ralph Rose; James N. Tucker and Garland W. Wells.