logo of university of south carolina

Richard O'Neale Gaillard Papers

Two hundred twenty-nine items document the World War I experience and later life of Richard O'Neale Gaillard (1900-1962), chiefly through letters from family and friends in Columbia and Greensboro, N.C. Gaillard entered the U.S. Army in early 1918, going first to Ft. Screven in Georgia, then to Camp Colt at Gettysburg, Pa., where he was attached to Co. A, 327th Battalion, Light Tanks. He was moved again to Camp Summerall in Tobyhanna, Pa., and later to Raleigh, N.C., before shipping out for Europe in the autumn of 1918. After a forty-eight-hour stay in England, Gaillard landed in France. His unit did not see any action before the armistice was signed in November 1918, and Gaillard returned to the United States in early 1919.

Richard O. Gaillard's parents, A.S. and Mable O'Neale Gaillard, and his aunt, Daisy McSurley, were faithful correspondents during 1918 and 1919. Their twenty-seven letters present here relay local and family news and document attempts to forward money. Letters written after Armistice Day are expressive of the family's conflict between their desire for Richard to return home and their urgings that he remain in Europe and tour as much as possible. "...a stay of a few months in France and England would be in the nature of an education, as it were," wrote A.S. Gaillard, 12 December 1918. Richard found his tour of France limited after a 14 January 1919 request for leave was denied due to an order from General Headquarters that restricted Gaillard's unit "from visiting Paris or its suburbs."

Five letters from Gaillard's friend Nell Ray Spann are filled mainly with school news. Spann, who was a few years younger than Gaillard, bemoaned the fact that, as a woman, she could not join the Army. "I can't be a soldier so I am doing my bit by working in the Red Cross rooms every other day and am taking the surgical dressing lessons and also sewing for the Belgium children," she wrote on 29 June 1918. Another friend, Corrine "Crinky" Bailey, also wished to be in the action. Writing on 29 July 1918, she boasted--"our boys will teach those Huns a lesson that they will never forget through endless ages. How I would like to punch a few of them." Seven letters from another friend, S.A. "Gus" Black, kept Gaillard abreast of his friends' activities as well as relating news of Black's new car and romantic adventures. Black had entered the University of South Carolina in the fall of 1918. "Dear old Racer," he wrote to Gaillard on 26 September 1918, "We get good grub at the mess hall here....I have a room in Des Saure college and sleep on a government canvass cot and straw mattress."

After the war, Gaillard entered the University of South Carolina in the fall of 1919 and by 1920 was treasurer for Sigma Nu fraternity. A letter from fraternity brother J.F. VanMeter, dated 28 July 1920, alludes to difficulty surrounding the fraternity. VanMeter suggested that initiation of pledges be scheduled before the start of school--"It will be impossible for us to operate before the law is repealed in Jan. but we can all be Sigs just the same." Another letter, from fraternity brother A.H. Wilson, 6 September 1920, makes reference to a "pledge required not to join a fraternity," most probably the "law" mentioned by VanMeter. Other correspondence, receipts, and a certificate for War Risk Insurance document Gaillard's struggle to pay premiums while a student.

After finishing Carolina in 1921, Gaillard entered the cotton business. Army buddy Jerome E. Brooks addressed his 21 November 1928 letter to Gaillard at the Palmetto Compress and Warehouse Company, Columbia. Brooks, who was responding to a letter from Gaillard, wrote--"glad to know you are married; glad to see your name as Superintendent on the firm stationary." In partnership with H. Gordon Kenna, Gaillard established the Carolina Bonded Storage Company around 1929. Subsequent documents indicate that by 1942 Gaillard served in the Columbia Auxiliary Police and organized air raid wardens for Section One of the city.

Also present are seven bound volumes consisting of a 1918 edition of "Tank Tunes"; an undated printing of Thomas Kempis' Of the Imitation of Christ which Gaillard carried with him to Europe; a 1920 pamphlet on War Risk Insurance; a pocket-size world atlas; and two post-service publications from the War Camp Community Service. The printed text of a speech, "Every Man's Land," reproduced by the American Y.M.C.A., gives details of the trench line in Europe. Among the collection's photographs are two of Miss Nell Ray Spann, ca. 1918, and one hundred eleven postcards of towns and buildings in France and soldiers and armaments in action, ca. 1918.

| 1994 Manuscripts Collections | 1994 USCS Program Menu | South Caroliniana Library |

This page copyright 1996-97, The Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.
URL http://www.sc.edu/library/socar/uscs/1994/gailla94.html