The University Men

Memoir of Private George Baker:

At the time America entered the war with Germany, I was attending the Young Men’s Christian Association College in Chicago.

When President Wilson declared war, I investigated the various branches of services carefully before enlisting. I wanted to get into an outfit that would go overseas at once because we all thought that the war would last but two or three months.

About May 1, 1917, three weeks after the U.S.A. declared war, I heard of the hospital outfit at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, which was ready to leave for France to join the British Army. I decided right then to try to get in.

I called up Chaplain Dancey, who was Pastor of the First Methodist Church in Englewood, Illinois--"my own church"-- about enlisting in this special outfit. He gave me the recommendation and I went out to Evanston on May 8 and talked to doctors and some of the officers and they told me to come back next day, May 9. This I did and was examined and signed up for immediate service.

I then went home to Rock Island for a day or two and on Monday, May 14, 1917, the whole outfit took the oath of enlistment in the regular U. S. Army for three years, and four years in the Reserve. My unit was Base Hospital #12, Red Unit.

It all seemed so strange-- one day in school and the next day in the Army ready for a 4,500 mile journey to get to a war that had gone on for two years and nine months already. We thought we would have a nice long trip and the war would be over, but we found out later we were mistaken.