WWI 100th anniversary tour of Blandford Cemetery planned

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: September 27, 2018 | 12:30 p.m.

VIRGINIA – The Petersburg National Battlefield will partner with the Petersburg Preservation Task Force to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Meuse Argonne Offensive during World War I. 

On Saturday, September 29, a tour will begin from the Blandford Reception Center, 111 Rochelle Lane, Petersburg, Virginia, at 5 p.m. The tour will take visitors, in their own privately-owned vehicle (POV), throughout areas of Blandford Cemetery, to the graves of some of the men named on the City of Petersburg’s World War I statue, the Doughboy. The tour will also explore the lives of the Soldiers that gave the ultimate sacrifice in World War I in defense of our country. Some of these brave men trained right here at Camp Lee (now Fort Lee) before deploying overseas.

This event coincides with the 100th Anniversary of the Meuse Argonne Offensive. On the morning of September 26, 1918, hundreds of Allied tanks, followed by American and French troops, advanced on German forces positioned in France’s Argonne Forest, and along the Meuse River. The goal was to cut off the entire German 2nd Army. Within 24-hours, the Allied forces had taken more than 23,000 German Soldiers prisoner. 

Over 10,000 more German troops would be captured before U.S. General John J. Pershing called off the offensive, on September 30. Although the offensive was renewed just four-days later, the Germans, exhausted and weakened by a flu epidemic, would only be able to hold on for another month before making their final retreat, and the resulting armistice, ending World War I, would be announced on November 11.

“In this 100th anniversary year of the end of World War I, rediscovering stories of the Soldiers is a fitting way to remember the sacrifices of so many, especially those from this area that rest at historic Blandford Cemetery,” said Elizabeth (Betsy) Dinger, Park Ranger, Poplar Grove National Cemetery, Petersburg National Battlefield. “Hopefully, programs like this will encourage people to find a common thread that ties them to a WWI Soldier in their family.”

The tour is free of charge and reservations are not required. Although the tour will require use of your own POV, some walking will also be necessary through Blandford Cemetery. So, it is recommended that participants wear sturdy walking shoes. Photography is welcome.

This tour is the result of a partnership between the Petersburg Preservation Task Force, which consists of volunteers working to promote and preserve Petersburg’s historical resources, and Petersburg National Battlefield. 

For more information, please contact Martha Atkinson by telephone at (804) 733-2396, or Park Ranger, Betsy Dinger, at (804) 732-3531, extension 208, or by email at Elizabeth_Dinger@nps.gov.

Central and Southside Virginia are rich in historical significance, yet so many have seen so little. Blandford Cemetery, and Blandford Church, on the grounds of the Cemetery, have a wealth of fascinating, unusual, and one-of-a-kind historical finds, artifacts, and information, just waiting to be discovered.

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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