Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More on Malcom Cameron Rutherford


In a sense this isn’t MORE, but material originally published in comments on a past post from 28 October this year.
Due to a mishap, some of these comments disappeared into cyberspace.  However, I have recently come across rough drafts of most of my own comments before they were posted. So I am republishing them here with a few extra observations to make this into a complete article.
The photograph that heads this article was taken on or after 5 June 1917.  It was taken in connection with Malcom’s draft board registration in 1917.  The original document found on genealogy sites show that Malcom was 24 at the time, born November 16, 1892, currently single, and living in Los Angeles. He gave his occupation as book-keeper and clerk for H G Pangborn and Co. in Los Angeles. A notable fact is that Malcom claimed exemption from the draft on the grounds that he was part of the International Bible Students Association.

(The earlier article detailed his activities prior to this as a Bible Student, including supporting his father as a stenographer in the Rutherford-Troy debate of 1915.)
There were actually three main registrations for the services in America. The first started on 5 June 1917, and was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31. As noted above, this is when Malcom had his photograph taken and made his request for exemption.
The second was a catch-up in early 1918 for those who had subsequently reached age 21.  And then as the war dragged on, there was a third and far more inclusive call up in early September 1918. This was for men aged between 18 through 45.

It was on this occasion that Malcom accepted the draft. His enlistment date was 10 September 1918 and he was assigned to the Army.
We do not necessarily have to read too much into this. As the Proclaimers book states on page 191:

During the war years, the circumstances in which individual Bible Students were thrust varied. The way they dealt with these situations also varied. Feeling obligated to obey “the powers that be,” as they referred to the secular rulers, some went into the trenches at the front with guns and bayonets. But having in mind the scripture, “Thou shalt not kill,” they would fire their weapons into the air or try simply to knock the weapon from the hands of an opponent.
Certainly by September 1918 things had changed in Malcom’s life. He was now a married man. He married Pauline Lucille Short on 19 March 1918 in Los Angeles. (She would be known as Bobby, and this is the name that appears on her grave marker). Also Malcom’s father was in jail accused of working against the American war effort with the book The Finished Mystery and the Bible Students Monthly tract The Fall of Babylon.

So that leaves the question, did Malcom see active service?

A spring offensive by the Germans in 1918 made General Pershing push for more American troops to be sent to France without their own equipment for the sake of speed – the equipment then being supplied by the French and British once they were there.  In just two months, June and July of 1918, 584,000 Americans were sent over, presenting a logistical problem for the merchant marine to get them all there. By August 1918 there were nearly 1,500,000 American troops in France.

Then came this new American draft in the first half of September, when Malcom enlisted. By the time of the armistice of November 11, the number of American troops had passed the two million mark. This suggests that Malcom could well be among the half a million extra recruits shipped over to Europe in that time.

General Pershing commanded more than a million American and French combatants in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which only ceased with the armistice.  Training for new recruits only lasted six weeks, so maybe Malcom was involved at some point in that campaign.

Once the armistice was signed, troop numbers in Europe decreased, although some American troops were involved in expeditionary forces in Italy and Russia. Americans were shipped back home and that would fit in with Malcom’s discharge on December 24, 1918. However, he stayed on the records, as all this information about his war enlistment comes from the US Department of Veteran Affairs BIRLS deaths file, 1850-2010.  This is the file that records that he was assigned to the ARMY and gives both his date of birth (10 November 1892)  and date of death (22 June 1989). He enlisted on 10 September 1918 and was discharged on 24 December 1918. Unfortunately, 80% of US army records for World War 1 were destroyed in a fire in 1973, and the 20% surviving are not readily accessible.

Note from an official site: The BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem) Death File is a Veterans Benefits Administration database that lists the names of deceased individuals who had received benefits from the Veterans Administration while they were alive. These include veterans who received educational benefits and veterans’ survivors who applied for benefits.

I do not know what benefits Malcom may have received during his lifetime.

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