Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Obituary: Marion Cranefield - Class of 1914

Marion Cranefield was born March 22, 1896 in Madison. His father, Frederic (b. 1865 - d. 1939]), was a professor at the University in horticulture. Marion's mother was Laura Hinrichs Cranefield (b. 1866 - d. 1929). The Cranefield family made their home at 304 North Orchard Street. Young Cranefield attended Madison High School, later to become Madison Central High. He graduated with his twin brother Paul in the class of 1914. Cranefield also had a brother Harold and a sister Laura (b. 1905 - d. 1979).

Marion Cranefield completed five semesters of University work before entering the service in Wisconsin's National Guard. Cranefield enlisted as a private and was commissioned a second lieutenant at Camp Douglas. On July 31, 1917, Company G left for advanced training in Texas. Completing that training, the 127th Infantry of the 32nd Red Arrow Division headed for France. Lt. Cranefield was a platoon leader in Company G when this portrait was taken in the spring of 1918 in France. This photograph was copied from the family collection of his sister Laura C. Cranefield.

On July 31, 1918, Lt. Cranefield led his platoon forward from Chateau Thierry, near Roncheres, France. Cranefield headed an assault on a hill in the Battle of Grimpettes Woods. Marion Cranefield was killed in action during this battle. Fifty men that were killed at the same time were buried together near the front in the American Cemetery Number 608 near Seringes et Nesles, France.

In the September 1918 issue of WISCONSIN HORTICULTURE, editor Frederic Cranefield eulogizes his son in part, "His blood cries, not for vengeance but for justice, and in the name of all those who sacrificed sons I ask that you do not falter in your determination that this Beast among nations [Germany] be forever rendered impotent to overturn civilization. ... (the killed men) believed that the right is more precious than peace', and each made of 'his breast the bulwark and his blood the moat.' " Such were the patriotic words of a father, certainly in severe anguish during the month since his son's death. In light of a twenty year perspective from World War II, how futile that effort was.

In 1921, many American men were disinterred and brought home. The remains of Marion Cranefield were transported to Madison and reburied at the Forest Hill Cemetery, Lot 14, Section 8 on July 31, 1921.

Note the dates: Cranefield was shipped to training, killed and reburied on July 31st.

Brother Paul Cranefield served in World War I as well. He passed away at a VA Hospital in Illinois in 1944. His son, Paul Junior, moved to New York. Brother Harold relocated to Detroit. Sister Laura remained in Madison until her death here in 1979. Today, what is known of the Cranefield family is that some are located around Seattle, WA.

In 1926, the first Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States post was chartered in Madison. Marion Cranefield was chosen as the veteran to be honored and remembered to this day. Each year, appropriately enough, Madison Central High School holds its all-class reunion at this facility whose namesake was also a Central graduate.

Note: Thanks to Roger Boeker (Class of 1960), Education Consultant with Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and Post Commander for the VFW Post 1318 on E. Lakeside Street in Madison (the facility named after Marion Cranefield) for writing the above post and supplying the photograph accompanying it.

Update 5/28/2007: Here's a link to the obituary for Paul Cranefield, Jr. (1925-2003) from The New York Times. According to the Wisconsin Alumnus, Volume 71, No. 3 (December 1969), Harold Cranefield, a resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, died in Clearwater, Florida in 1969. He spent much of his career as a labor lawyer; you can read more about him in this description of the Harold A. Cranefield Collection at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs.

1 comment:

Nick said...

The 32nd was named "Les Terribles" by the French during this war. They were known as "The Terrible Ones" due to the immense bravery of soldiers such as Marion. The legend behind the 32nd's Red Arrow insignia is during World War I they pushed through every enemy line they were put up against. The arrow represents the unit and the bar across it represents the enemy line.

Thanks for sharing.