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.
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”.
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.”
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.
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.
Today, Corporal Joseph Maus is buried in the Somme American Cemetery at Bony, in Picardy, France (Plot B, Row 15, Grave 10).
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.
(Information and photos courtesy of Lanny Brown)