A Brother in Arms: Joseph A. Maus

Corp. Joseph Maus, 105th Inf. 27th Division, 1918

Joseph Maus was born in Long Island City, New York on May 19th, 1898.  He was the third child of Nicholas and Elizabeth (Kunz) Maus.  He graduated from Public School No. 6 in Astoria, Queens and was a member of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Jamaica, NY where he played on the parish baseball team “composed of young men from the parish”.  He and his father lived with his older sister Madaline and her husband John J. O’Farrell at 231 Jeffrey Avenue.

Mexican Border Service

When he was 18 years old, Joe first enlisted in the 71st Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard on May 8th, 1916.  From June to September of 1916, Joe served during the Mexican Border Campaign by defending the Rio Grande River near McAllen, Texas as part of the New York Division.

Joe at Coops Falls Encampment, June 1917

The 27th “Orion” Division

Following America’s formal entrance into the Great War in April of 1917, the New York National Guard was called back into Federal Service on July 12, 1917.  Joseph was mobilized into the American Expeditionary Forces on August 5, 1917 as a Corporal in A Company, 105th Infantry Regiment, 53rd Infantry Brigade, 27th “Orion” Infantry Division under the command of Major General John Francis O’Ryan. The 27th Division was one of only three AEF Divisions composed entirely of National Guard troops from a single state (New York), and was commonly called “New York’s Own.”

The distinctive insignia of the 27th Division combines a stylized “NYD” monogram for “New York Division” along with the 7-star constellation of Orion which plays on General O’Ryan’s name.

Training at Camp Wadsworth

The 27th Division participated in a large send-off parade in New York City on August 30, 1917 before traveling by rail to the Camp Wadsworth training cantonment at Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Division remained in training at Camp Wadsworth for nine months before traveling to Newport News, Virginia where it embarked on the “Bridge of Ships” for France on May 17, 1918. It was at Newport News that Madaline and John visited Joe just prior to his departure and “made a new man on him”.

105th Infantry at Camp Wadsworth, 1918

Defensive Sector

After arriving in France, in early June the 27th Division continued to receive intensive training under the British Army in the areas of Picardy and Flanders.

On July 25, 1918 the division then relieved the British 6thDivision along the East Poperinghe Line in the Dickebusch Lake/Scherpenberg Sector in Belgium. Here it recieved its baptism by fire while holding the “Defensive Sector.”

105th HQ at Dickebusch Lake

Ypres-Lys Offensive

In August-September 1918, the 27th Division engaged German troops during the Ypres-Lys Offensive which was an Allied effort to reduce the Amiens salient created during past German offensives of March-April 1918. The responsibility for the opening assault on August 31, 1918 fell to the 53rd Brigade including the 105th and 106th Infantry Regiments.

105th HQ near Ypres

Somme Offensive

“The Glorious 27th” by Matania, 1919

On September 4, 1918 the entire 27th Division was relieved, transferred to the British 3rd Army command and was stationed in reserve near Doullens.

The Somme Offensive was then launched on September 24, 1918 with the objective of breaking the Hindenburg Line. As part of this operation on September 27, the 105th Infantry moved forward in attack and made initial gains near Quennemont Ferme, Guillemont Ferme, and fortified heights called “The Knoll”, before being driven back by German counter-attack. On September 29th, the 105th Infantry attacked “The Knoll” again but was checked with heavy casualties. It was during this attack that Corporal Joseph Maus was killed in action, one of 1,609 casualties in the ranks of the 105th Infantry during the war.

View of the Hindenburg Line Battlefield, 1918

105th HQ at the Somme


Temporary Grave of Joseph Maus, KIA 9/29/26

Today, Corporal Joseph Maus is buried in the Somme American Cemetery at Bony, in Picardy, France (Plot B, Row 15, Grave 10).

Somme American Cemetery, France




L to R: Nicholas, Anna, Joe, Madaline, Little Bob and John

The correspondence contained in the Joseph Maus Collection includes letters, postcards and “war postals” exchanged between Joe and his family living on Long Island, New York; sister Madaline, brother-in-law John O’Farrell (Madaline’s husband), and his father Nicholas. Other references in his writings include his sister Anna and nephew Bob (pictured above), along with his girlfriend Priscilla.

27th Division Helmet


27th Division Memorial, Central Park, New York City

(Information and photos courtesy of Lanny Brown)

Published on October 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Joseph Maus was my great grand uncle. Several years ago I hired a genealogist to help me trace my ancestry. During this process, we came across several other photos of Uncle Joe as well as the original Western Union telegram reporting his death. I would be happy to share these if you would like.

  2. Great stuff I just found out my grandfather served in wwi with the 106th inf.company d.They may have fought together.

  3. quite interesting, i am researching Troop I, 121st cavalry, new york national guard, buffalo, ny…….tey went to the mexican border also and later became the 102d mortar battery of the 27th division….i am interested in any added information that helps put this puzzle together.

  4. Elizabeth Miller – my father John Ward was on the Mexican border in the 27 Division Artillery – some interesting facts – they went to the Mex border in wool uniforms. The heat was a big problem with many soldiers fainting from the heat. On this one day they were clearing fields in Texas with their bayonets so they could pitch their tents, soldiers were dropping like flies. My father tried to keep himself upright by using his rifle but to no avail. No one wanted to feint because they would find themselves strapped into a stretcher and might not be able to join their buddies for many days. He woke up strapped into a stretcher under a tree. The stretcher was on little stubby blocks about 3 inches tall. Snakes who were being driven out of the fields by the clearing were running under and over the stretcher, my Dad who was an Irish immigrant had never seen a snake and was terrified. (They don’t have snakes in Ireland.)

  5. thanks for that story…do you know any details about the personnel changes to the 27th, while still on the border? have any suggested research ideas? beth

  6. Hello Elizabeth. Was your father (John J Ward) the same one that later served with the 101st Field Artillery during WWI? I am trying to track down any information about him because I believe that he is the same John J Ward that wrote a post-war statement for my great-grandfather, Charles Coffin Gurley (Watertown, Mass). He might not be the same Ward, since the handwritten letter states that John J Ward is a Sergeant in the 104th Infantry.

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