A Brother in Arms: Andrew J. Ostlund

Pvt. Andrew J. Ostlund, 345th Inf., 89th Div.

Andrew J. Ostlund was born as Johan Adrian Osterlund in the village of Overklinten in northern Sweden on July 9th, 1887.  A tall, blond Swede, Adrian was the first of ten children born to Johannes (a farmer) and his wife Karin Louisa Osterlund. In 1906 at the age of 19 years, Adrian sailed to America aboard the S.S. Saxonia, traveling across the North Atlantic from Liverpool, England to Boston. By 1910, Adrian had moved to Walker, Minnesota where he worked as a laborer and adopted the anglicized name of Andrew Ostlund. Following the Declaration of War, Andrew registered for the Draft and was inducted on June 27, 1918.

Andrew Ostlund's Induction Form

Camp Grant and the Long Journey

After being inducted into the National Army as a draftee, Andrew was given ID #3336976 and first stationed at Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois where he was assigned to H Co., 341st Regiment, 171st Brigade in the 86th “Black Hawk” Division. Andrew remained in training until early September, 1918 when the 86th Division was deployed overseas. Andrew sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey aboard the Canopic, finally landing in Liverpool, England on September 21. From Liverpool, the troops first marched to Knotty Pine rest camp where they briefly stayed before traveling again by rail to Southampton where they crossed the English Channel aboard fast channel boats to Le Havre, France.

Disembarking in France, 1918

At Le Havre were located large British Army rest camps and also prison camps. The American troops spent less than 24 hours at Le Havre; each unit moved out the night following its arrival on French troop trains pulling boxcars that accomodated 8 horses or 40 men {Cheveau 8/Hommes 40}. Andrew’s train trip lasted 2 days, terminating at Cubzac-les-Ponts in the Medoc district.

The 89th “Rolling W” Division

Around October 8, 1918, 9000 fresh troops from the 86th Division were reassigned as replacements for recent combat losses in other units. By October 12, about 100 men including Andrew were placed in G Co., 354th Infantry of the 89th “Rolling W” Division which had been holding the Toul Sector since early August.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive

During the night of October 19-20, the 89th Division joined the Meuse-Argonne Offensive when it relieved the 32nd Division from positions along the Sommerance-Bantheville Road in the Bois de Bantheville north of the captured German Kriemhilde Line.

89th Div. troops digging in, October 1918

 The 354th Infantry held the left half of the sector, with its line extending to the 42nd Division near the Cote de Chatillon. Although the Americans had successfully wrested control of the Bois de Bantheville from the Germans, the entire area was heavily shelled by the Germans and continually saturated with gas. The 354th outposts were in the open beyond the woods, allowing the highest concentration of enemy fire to fall upon positions occupied by the support companies of the front line battalion. Numerous casualties resulted from direct hits splashing the gas directly on the men. The bombardment continued relentlessly for eleven days, causing more than 500 casualties and making both supply and evacuation of the wounded very difficult.

On November 1, the 354th Infantry advanced on Barricourt Heights where it again came under heavy German artillery and machine gun fire from entrenched positions which held up the advance and caused heavy casualties over the next two days.

Remonville, France captured by 354th Infantry 11/1/18

Andrew Ostlund was killed in action on Barricourt Heights on November 2, 1918, one of 17 killed and 25 wounded in Companies G and H that day alone due to enemy machine gun fire.

After the battle, Andrew’s body was found and identified by G Company 1st Sergeant August Deunnes, and was temporarily buried a few feet on the left side of the road not far from where he fell. On November 3, his remains were disinterred and transported to the rear where he was buried in the American section, Plot 1, Grave 21 of the Charpentry-Meuse Cemetery. On January 19 1922, Andrew’s remains were moved to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery at Romagne, France where he continues to rest today.

Statement of 1st Sgt. August Duennes, 354th Inf., 1918

Andrew Ostlund was one of the last of approximately 1,500 Swedish immigrants and Swedish-Americans to die in the Great War. He was also the first member of his family to die in war in four generations. He was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the Purple Heart.

Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, France

ORIGINAL FILM OF 89TH DIVISION AMMUNITION DUMP BLOWN UP BY GERMAN ARTILLERY

 

(Information and photos courtesy of Gordon Agren CA and Cenneth Wedin SWE)

Published on March 8, 2012 at 6:54 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. great story. My Great Uncle was in Company E. He was KIA on 10/27. In fact, the map you have on the positions of the 354 is the exact date he was killed. I am going to Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery this weekend.


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