Service Medals awarded to Pvt. Kenneth Page of Longmeadow during WWI
Kenneth Bausman Page was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on June 11, 1896 to Frank H. and Bertha Bausman Page
Frank Page, Kenneth's father, was the founder and president of the National Equipment Company in Springfield which became the largest manufacturer of candy-making machinery in the world. He eventually built the beautiful estate known as Deep Woods in Longmeadow in 1917 (please see here). Kenneth Page was educated in Springfield and graduated from the Choate School in 1917 and was admitted to the M.I.T. class of 1921, though he never did attend.
With the United States' entry into World War I, Page enlisted in the medical corps of the 104th Infantry Regiment which was assigned to the 26th Division (nicknamed the Yankee Division). The 104th Infantry Regiment traces its history to November 1639, when it was first mustered as the Springfield Train Band in Springfield, Massachusetts. A Page ancestor, Nathan Woodman, fought in the Revolutionary War including the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Kenneth B. Page, 1917
The 104th served in France during the war. From April 10-13, 1918 they successfully defended the Allied line by counterattacking the German attackers in hand-to-hand combat in the Ardennes. For their exceptional gallantry and bravery in that three-day battle, 116 Western Massachusetts members of the regiment were awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal, the first U.S. unit to receive that award. Fifteen of these men were then presented the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross by General John J. Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the Western Front during World War I. Kenneth Page was awarded the medal for conspicuous gallantry in running across a heavily shelled area to rescue a mortally wounded office.
There were four million “Doughboys” in the U.S. Army during World War 1. Half of these soldiers served overseas. Twenty-five percent of males ages 18-31 years served in the military during our involvement in the war from April 6, 1917 to the Armistice on November 11, 1918. There were 53,000 killed in combat, 63,000 non-combat deaths (mainly from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic), and 204,000 wounded. The Distinguished Service Cross was awarded to 6185 men during World War 1. It is the second highest award in the United States military for extreme gallantry and risk of life during combat.
General Pershing awarding the Distinguished Service Cross
Kenneth Page July 12, 1918
On July 20, 1918, Private Page was severely wounded sustaining fractures and shrapnel wounds to his right arm which required months of convalescence. This occurred during the Second Battle of the Marne, one of the more important and vicious battles of the war. During this encounter the 104th was situated in Belleau Wood, experiencing German artillery and gas attacks. At a local Rotary Club meeting at the Hotel Worthy in 1918, he stated that only 10% of the original members of the 104th remained uninjured and he advised new recruits that in battle when you hear a “sound that sounds like a freight train coming in their direction hug the ground and pray.” For his wounds, he was eventually awarded the Purple Heart Medal.
Kenneth Page married Mildred Green from Springfield on January 11,1919. They eventually moved to Farmington Avenue in 1925.
Page's Farmington Ave. home
The couple raised two daughters and Mr. Page remained in Longmeadow until his death in 1973. He was active in the American Legion after its charter in 1919 as well as veteran organizations and the American Red Cross. He was in the insurance business eventually owning the Kenneth B. Page Insurance Company which was sold in 1945. He was president of City Dye Works Custom Laundry in the 1930s, manager of the Atkinson Tavern at Storrowton in the 1940s, and eventually owned and operated the Page Tool Company until his retirement in 1968.
Kenneth Page was a local hero with a life well lived.
-Contributed by Lenny Shaker, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member
Originally published August 25, 2022
Library of Congress