Walter Samuel Dose Military History

David Christian Dose Family

Back Row: Mary Sophie, Jacob Christian, Carrie Mae
Front Row: David Christian, Josephine Bellinger, Walter Samuel
ca. 1896

Walter Samuel Dose was born in Harworth, MS, in about 1889, exact year and date unknown. His father, David Christian Dose had come to the U. S. from Germany in 1873. He had jumped ship that year in New York Harbor. He was from Kielerkamp, Germany, a small rural community near Kiel, Germany. In 1879, he bought land in Issaquena County, MS and built his home along with two other homes for his daughter and son’s families. Walter was the youngest and never married. The home sites were along the Yazoo River which frequently flooded making life difficult.




On June 9, 1917, Walter enlisted in the U. S. Army. In December, he had a leave from Chatanooga, TN and visited a Bliss cousin and his father, Chris Dose.



He then was sent to France on April 24, 1918. He and his company, Company"A" Eleventh Infantry, sailed on the SS Leviathan from Hoboken, New Jersey. His company was called, Red Diamond Gun Division, Company A, 11th Infantry, 5th Division. His ship landed in Brest, France, a city on the Breton Peninsula. the western most city in France.

SS Leviathan, originally built as the Vaterland, was an ocean liner which regularly crossed the North Atlantic from 1914 to 1934. The second of three sister ships built for Germany's Hamburg America Line for their transatlantic passenger service, she sailed as the Vaterland for less than a year before her early career was halted by the start of World War I. In 1917, she was seized by the U.S. government and renamed Leviathan. She would become known by this name for the majority of her career, both as a troopship during World War I and later as the flagship of the United States Lines.

She was seized by the United States Shipping Board when the United States entered World War I, 6 April 1917; turned over to the custody of the U.S. Navy in June 1917; and commissioned July 1917 as the USS Vaterland, Captain Joseph Wallace Oman in command. She was re-designated SP-1326 and renamed Leviathan by President Woodrow Wilson on 6 September 1917.

The trial cruise to Cuba on 17 November 1917 prompted Captain Oman to order 241 Marines on board to relieve a detachment of Marines to station themselves conspicuously about the upper decks giving the appearance from shore that the great ship was headed overseas to increase American Expeditionary Forces. Upon her return later that month, she reported for duty with the Cruiser and Transport Force. In December she took troops to Liverpool, England, but repairs delayed her return to the U.S. until mid-February 1918. A second trip to Liverpool in March was followed by more repairs.

At that time she was repainted with the British-type "dazzle" camouflage scheme that she carried for the rest of the war. With the completion of that work, Leviathan began regular passages between the U.S. and Brest, France, delivering up to 14,000 persons on each trip. Once experience in embarking troops was gained 11,000 troops could board the ship in two hours. Before the armistice, 11 November 1918, the ship transported over 119,000 fighting men. Amongst the ship's US Navy crew during this period was future film star Humphrey Bogart. Bogart served as the Chief Quartermaster, the senior enlisted man of the Navigation Division; and in that role was on the helm whenever she sailed into or out of harbor.

Troops bunks on the Leviathan.

Walter was probably gassed at Frapelle in France in 1918. From official history. “The work of wiring-in began as soon as the positions were occupied and continued steadily under the supervision of Companies A and B, Seventh Engineers, despite the continuous artillery fire. Gas overcame many of the parties working at night on the entanglements and the trenches.” Although the American assault at Frapelle succeeded, over the next three days the Germans retaliated with a massive bombardment, saturating the newly-won territory with high explosive and salvos of mustard gas. "The wooded areas, overgrown with thick underbrush and filled with depressions were drenched with fumes, and despite precautions, men were gassed when reliefs and working parties had to pass through the deep ravines and valleys leading across what had been No Man's Land, which were full of mustard gas at the time." The soldiers disliked the gas masks and would often use a wet handkerchief over their face if only having to cross an area with little gas. Since it was late in the day they didn’t see it until exposed. Following a light exposure, soldiers were often returned to duty after a few days.

The family story is that Walter failed to come home following the war and his whereabouts were unknown. He may decided that life in France was preferable to the mosquito and malaria infested area along the river in the Mississippi Delta. He probably had some knowledge of Geman which would have helped him survive. This reminds one of the popular song during the war, “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve have seen Paree.” He eventually had to seek medical help at a military hospital and thus was returned to the States.

In the document below, we see that Walter returned from St. Nazaire, France on the SS Rijndam, sailing on May 18th, 1919 and arriving in Hoboken, NJ on May 30, 1919. This was a ship carrying "Sick and Wounded." Walter was listed as having "Pleurisy Sero Rt". Pleurisy is an inflammation of the membranes (pleurae) that surround the lungs and line the chest cavity. Sero refers to a particular type of inflammation. This was a result of his being gassed.

The war ended in November 11, 1918, which means that Walter was in France for an additional five months. As reported in this document and many newspaper articles from the time, this was not an unusual delay in returning home. He was likely recovering in a hospital. There might be some credibility to Fred Oakes' story about Walter going AWOL, however we will likely never know for sure. The list of sick above and on other pages included mostly non-lifethreatening health problems, e. g. "flat feet."

The Rijndam was a four full deck, steel passenger ship that could rig one triangular boom sail. Construction began in November of 1899 with the laying of the keel. The ship was launched in May 1901, delivered on October 3 of that year and sailed on her maiden voyage, Rotterdam to New York, on October 10 (1901). Eight lifeboats were added aft, including a boat deck to store them, as a result of the Titanic disaster.
The ship had an eventful career. In September 1915 two crew members died from suffocation in Hatch #2 because of 925 boxes of flower bulbs which were eminating carbon dioxide and seriously reducing the amount of available oxygen.

In January 1916, the ship hit a mine laid by a German submarine. The explosion killed three crew. Emergency repairs were made in England and final repairs made at the Wilton yard in Rotterdam.

In the autumn of 1916, the ship was towed into New York due to heavy damage from a collision that occurred off the American coast. Three days after the United States entered World War I, the ship was seized on June 20, 1917, by the U.S Government and allocated by the U.S. Navy. She was converted to a troopship and renamed the USS Rijndam in March 1918. During the short time she was a troop carrier, the ship transported 17,319 persons. The bottom photo above shows the ship in 1918 during her troop ship service. The Rijndam was released from service and returned to the Holland America Line in October 1919.

Tuberculosis was a common after-effect of exposure. Walter’s disability was listed as 35%. The military doctors recommended that he move out West to a dryer climate. He tried it for a while, but became home sick for Mississippi. By now most of his relatives had moved to Vicksburg, a more hospitable place. Unfortunately his health deteriorated further and he died in 1925 before sulfa drugs were introduced to treat such infections. Walter left an inheritance to his mother which enable her to buy a new Ford car, which sadly was stolen and never recovered. Walter is buried in the National Cemetery in Vicksburg












Walter Dose marker in the National Cemetery in Vicksburg.


This monument isn't the original one, yet the plaque is the original. It reads: "Frapelle, captured by the 5th U.S. Div, Aug. 17th, 1918 marking the first offensive operation of this Div. This was also the first operation undertaken by American troops on the Vosges Front."