Henry Davis was born in Manistique on January 8, 1900. He attended school here and was always very fond of history. Prior to his enlistment, he was employed with the Soo Line Railroad in the baggage department. He joined the army in April of 1917 at age 17, having received special consent from his parents. Davis was one of the volunteers who left Manistique on May 6, 1917, having joined the 33rd Michigan Infantry, a National Guard unit. This unit was later federalized and become part of the 125th Infantry. Davis arrived overseas in February of 1918 and was initially placed with the Railway Transportation Office. When he last wrote to his parents, he stated that the 125th would “soon be going into the thick of the fighting” and that maybe some of the boys would be hurt but they would “put the Germans of the run.” Henry Davis was killed in action in France on July 31, 1918.
His parents were notified of his death by U. S. mail when they received insurance papers from Washington in September of 1918. The War Department had neglected to send a telegram, and their son’s name had not been included in the casualty lists.
Davis was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Horace Davis of North Front Street in Manistique. He was also survived by two sisters and two brothers; Celia, Emma, George and Charles. Henry Davis was 18 years old.
[The following is a letter from Henry Davis received by his sister and printed in the Pioneer Tribune a few months before his death.]
May 7, 1918
My Dear Sister,
I am writing you a few lines to let you know that I am feeling fine and hope that this letter finds you the same.
I am not with the company, now I am with the Railway Transportation Office. It is not a bad job that I have. Well, I cannot say any more about it for the censor may say halt.
I have not received any mail now for about six weeks. I guess the reason is that I have been moving around so much. I should get a bunch when I do get some, I am thinking.
It is about 10 o’clock now. Very dark outside and raining in torrents. It rains a little every other day here.
I saw my old school teacher, Mr. Gierke. He is a sergeant in the signal corps. We get together some nights and talk about old times. He sure was surprised to see me, as much as I was to see him.
If I should say all that is on my mind in this letter, it would take me about six hours to write it all, and then some.
If I ever get back, as you know, I will be able to tell you stories for a year.
One good thing over here, we can get cigarettes and tobacco, etc. There is what we in call in the army a cash sales commissary, where we can get many different things for cash. There are very few articles which an American soldier can get in these French shops. Wine and beer in plenty at the café.
Well, dear sister, I will close for this time with hopes of my letter finding you in the best of health. I remain as ever.
Your Affectionate Brother,
[The following note was received in June of 1918 by Thomas Fydell from Arthur Drevdahl with the 125th Infantry in the trenches in France.]
Somewhere in France
June 15, 1918
I don’t find a great deal of time to write a letter, but will do so soon. At present, the Manistique boys are all in the trenches and eager to do their part for their country. We are all proud that we came from a city like Manistique. The cablegram from the Chamber of Commerce was received June 10 which told us that Manistique was with us every minute. The boys were all pleased when they read it.
Regards from the boys to friends over there.