SGT Walter H Lockard WWI World War I Letters Website

Walter Horne Lockard was born May 9, 1893, to George H. and Bridget Horne Lockard of Scottdale, Pennsylvania, some 50 miles from Pittsburgh. His father was a foreman at a local steel mill, and his mother had emigrated from Ireland at the age of 12.  Walter had two younger sisters;  Florence and Grace.

Walter was a voracious reader, and especially enjoyed stories of war and soldiering. He hoped to attend West Point Military Academy, but the congressman who was to recommend him died unexpectedly, ending his admission process.

With war raging in Europe in 1917, 23-year-old Walter and his best friend, Harry Reginald “Hump” Humphries, went to Chicago to enlist in the Army Air Corps. Army doctors determined that Walter had a heart murmur, probably caused by a bout of typhoid at age 17, and rejected him as unfit for active military service. Hump would not enlist without his friend, and they returned to Scottdale very disappointed.

Soon after, Walter and Hump applied for the Infantry, with a scheme to hide Walter’s heart condition from the medical examiners. As they stood in line waiting for their physicals, Walter asked the men coming out of the examination building whether they had any papers as to their physical condition. When they said they did not, he crossed over to their line, and sidestepped the medical examination which would have kept him out of the war.

WWI France 1919

Walter served with the 28th Division, 112th U.S. Infantry (nicknamed the Iron Division by General Pershing) in the Army Intelligence Section from 1918-1919. The unit saw action in some of the major theaters of the war, including Chateau-Thierry and the Argonne. Walter saw many of his childhood friends and neighbors killed in the war, including his best friend “Hump” Humphries. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and honorably discharged in 1919. 

On his return to civilian life, Walter took a job in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, selling shoes for a factory owned by the father of one of his Army officers. While visiting Scottdale, he paid a condolence visit to 21-year-old Marie Patton, a local beauty whose fiancé had been killed in the war. A romance developed, and they married in 1921. They had three children, George Humphries in 1922 (named for Walter's friend who died in the war), Walter Patton in 1926, and Elinor Marie in 1933. 

Walter worked at a number of different jobs during his lifetime, mostly in the Pittsburgh area. He always maintained a great interest in foreign affairs, and each Sunday would purchase the New York Times to keep up to date. His two sons served in the Navy in WW II. He died in 1975 at the age of 81.

Walter Lockard’s wartime letters, photographs and other related items have been collected and preserved by his family. (When his mother died, he found the letters she had saved and threw them away. His wife Marie pulled them from the trash!) They provide a lively account of the day-to-day events of World War I, and more importantly, show the thoughts and mindset of the men who fought in it.


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