About Leon Henton Donahue
Title Memorial volume of the American field service in France, "Friends of France", 1914-1917 Editor James William Davenport Seymour Publisher American field service, 1921 Original from the University of California Digitized Jun 21, 2010 Length 261 pages Subjects World War, 1914-1918
LEON HENTON DONAHUE
Born September 22, 1895, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Son of Archibald and Maude Donahue. Home, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Educated Gloucester High School, Classof 1916. Business, and Arkansas Law School, Little Rock, Arkansas. Joined American Field Service, September 13, 1917; attached Section Sixty-six, which became Section 623 U. S. A. Ambulance Service. Died of pneumonia, October 12, 1918, at ClermontFerrand. Buried American Cemetery, Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dome. Body transferred to Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Leon Donahue's mother writes of him: "Leon was gifted with an unusually happy disposition." And it is this quality which seems to have been one of the keynotes of his character. During his early days in the Gloucester High School his teachers always knew where to look for the source of any joke or amusing episode which transpired, and it was the principal himself who gave him the name of "Eternal Donahue" by which he was known throughout his school years. There was nothing the least bit malicious about his fun-making, nor did it prevent his winning the sincere respect and affection of his teachers and fellow students through his earnest work in the various school activities.
On completing his high school course, in June, 1916, he determined to go west and after visiting several cities he at last located in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here he obtained employment with The Wear Ever Aluminum Company and at the same time attended Arkansas Law School. He spent a busy and profitable winter, but in the following spring, when war with Germany seemed imminent, he wrote: "It looks like war and I feel as if I must come back and enlist from my own State. I can not keep my mind on work,— my thoughts are all of war." He returned to Gloucester, full of enthusiasm, to find that he could not pass the physical examination owing to the fact that he was under weight and of rather a frail constitution. After a heart-breaking summer in which he tried without success to enlist in various branches of the service, he was at last accepted as a volunteer in the American Field Service.
He arrived in Paris late in September, just as the Field Service was being taken over by the American Army, and enlisting in the U. S. Army Ambulance Service, was assigned to S. S. U. 623. With his Section he took an active part in the offensive on the Chemin des Dames during the fall and early winter of 1917, and in the defensive operations of the Aisne in the following spring. His unfailing good humor and general adaptability made him exceedingly popular with his comrades. As one of them wrote: "He could do anything from filling the cook's place, when needed, to entertaining us with his mandolin." And another said of his work: "I have often admired him for his courage, his straightforwardness, and the way he thought continually of those back home. Leon was manly to the core. I well remember how one day up near Soissons, he volunteered to go to a poste, the road leading to which was covered by German machine-gun fire, not to speak of artillery; also how another time he carried food to us up past places which were close to and in plain sight of the Germans."
During the course of the offensive in Champagne in September, 1918, he fell ill with influenza and was evacuated through various hospitals to Clermont-Ferrand. Here he died of pneumonia on October 12, 1918, and his body was buried in the army cemetery at that place. In his last letter home he wrote of some of his friends who had been killed in service: "It's sad to see so many of our fine young men giving up their lives, but we must expect to suffer as France and England have suffered, and are suffering now." It was in this spirit that he faced death, glad to take his share of the burden whatever it might be. And as one of his most intimate friends has said: "I hope when I die that I will leave behind me as clean a record as Leon's."