165th Regiment Rainbow Division
FIRST WORLD WAR
Dalton Hayes was born June 22, 1898 at Spiegel Grove, Fremont, Ohio. He was the son of Harry Eaton Smith and Fanny Hayes. He was the grandson of President Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy Webb Hayes. In 1924, Dalton began using Hayes as his surname.
Dalton was a freshman at Princeton University when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917. He joined the Princeton Battalion headed by Captain Stuart Heintzelman, U.S. Army. Later, he trained with the Princeton Officer Training Corps. On September 10, 1917, he enlisted at Camp Mills, Long Island in the 69th New York Regiment. He later served in D Company, 165th Infantry Regiment of the famous 42nd Infantry Division, "Rainbow." He served in the A.E.F. in all engagements participated in by his company, until he was seriously wounded on October 14, 1918. Following World War I, he resumed his studies and graduated from Princeton. In 1921, he was employed by the Atlantic Refining Company. He later became associated with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey in its foreign branch and spent considerable time in Australia, South Africa, Cuba, and Bermuda.
On April 17, 1926 he married Corinne Monsarrat in Columbus, Ohio. They had two daughters, Chloe and Jean. On the outbreak of World War II, Dalton returned to military duty as captain, later major, and served in intelligence. He was active in Portuguese East Africa. He was instrumental in locating a radio station from which German agents directed the destruction of allied ships by German subs. After service in Portugese East Africa, he was Assistant Military Attache at Pretoria, South Africa, and then Melbourne, Australia.
Below is one of Dalton's letters written to his mother, Fanny Hayes, during the First World War.
October 22, 1918
I’m still comfortably ensconced in Base Hospital 61. I was surely lucky in my choice of a place to get hit! No bones broken and a nice, clean hole through my shoulder.I’m in no pain except when it’s dressed and I’m eating like a horse!Oatmeal & milk, bread & butter and coffee in the morning – all you want, too – what more could one desire?
I’ve written & telegraphed the Colonel and I have a sneaking suspicion that he might pop in to see me. I surely hope he will.
I wish I could give you an idea of the battle before I got it.We (the first platoon) were “moppers up,” and occupied a position immediately behind the first wave. Precisely at 8.30 A. M. we started over the top (by the way this was my third time) and at 8.31 you would have said that HELL had come loose from its foundations. They threw everything but their mess kits at us!
Big G. I. cans, whizz bangs, trench mortars and beaucoup machine guns, to say nothing of rifle fire and grenades when we got close. How I remained unhurt for three hours I don’t know, but at about eleven o’clock we’d pushed ‘em over two kilometers when suddenly I saw a Jerry (that’s what we call ‘em now) about two hundred yards away aiming his rifle in my direction.The thought sprang to my head “Here’s where I make my score three instead of two;” and I jerked my rifle up.That’s the last I remember till I woke up flat on my back in a shell hole with my shoulder hurting like the dickens. You see Jerry got me not I him.
Well, I patched my shoulder up as best I could and started back. I found that I could walk after a fashion and after several years finally reached the dressing station.Got an ambulance there and rode to a hospital where they operated that night and next morning I was put in a Red Cross Train and came here.
That about finishes up this tale – except that I hope someone got the Boche sniper and the Lord deliver me from another ride in a Ford ambulance!! We went about seventy miles an hour and hit every bump in the road.
I guess it’ll be six weeks or maybe two months before I get back to D company and by that time I think the war will be on its last legs.
I’ve sure got something on the rest of the cousins now haven’t I?
Loads of love to you & Dad.
Your devoted son,
Read more: Selected WWI Letters of Dalton Hayes