Brunswick County WWI Veteran Receives Purple Heart

Published: 30 June 2023

via the Southport Magazine (NC) web site

Pvt. Robert Bollie Stanley family

As we celebrate the birth of our nation, it seems natural to pay homage to those who sacrificed and fought to create our country and to protect our freedoms. One such man was recently recognized for his efforts during WWI, thanks to efforts from his family and community groups.

Pvt. Robert Bollie Stanley

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range and The Brunswick Town Chapter of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution recently received word that Pvt. Robert Bollie Stanley was awarded his Purple Heart posthumously along with additional medals for his sacrifices in the Great War.

When the 365th Infantry embarked in Brest, France, on Feb. 17, 1919, ready to return to their loved ones in the United States, Private Robert B. Stanley was not among them. Instead, he was recovering from a battle in which he was wounded, taken prisoner by the enemy, and suffered the amputation of most of his right leg. He returned to the U.S. over a month later on March 24, 1919, but was not discharged until completing five months of additional recovery.

On Aug. 25, 1919, he returned home with a 95 percent disability classification.

The Great War

Robert Bollie Stanley was born and raised in Shallotte. He was called to duty for World War I on March 29, 1918.

He was one of a total of 25 black men from Brunswick County ordered to report that day. Their destination was Camp Grant in Rockford, Ill.

Very few black Americans served in combat units during WWI, instead serving mostly as laborers. Months after the U.S. entered WWI, the War Department created two divisions, the 92nd “Buffalo Soldiers Division,” in honor of Black troops who served in the American West after the Civil War, and the 93rd “Blue Helmets.” Both divisions were comprised of primarily black combat units. The soldiers of the 92nd and the 93rd infantry divisions were the first Americans to fight in France.

After arriving in Camp Grant, only three of the draftees from Brunswick County out of the original 25 were chosen for the honor of a combat position in the 92nd Division. Those three men were William Frederick Brooks, William James Gordon and Robert Bollie Stanley. These men began training with Company H, 365th Infantry, 92nd Division in preparation for combat in France. Ultimately, there were a total of seven black men from Brunswick County holding combat positions in the 92nd Division.

The 365th Infantry was scheduled to board the USS Agamemnon at Hoboken, N.J., on June 10, 1918, to travel overseas to France. The 365th Infantry reached Brest, France, on June 19, 1918. They immediately began an eight week period of intensive training in offensive and defensive tactics. In August, they took up positions in the St. Dié sector, where they made their first contact with the enemy.

Read the entire article on the Southport Magazine web site here:

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