I was with the 2nd Cavalry, Commanding Troop “E”, and later the 2nd Squadron as senior captain, and finally for a month I had the Regiment, less the 1st Squadron which remained in Coblenz, Germany (I think) on Army of Occupation duty after the Regiment returned to the US. I was at Fort Ethan Allen from November 1917 to May 1918, then went over to France on the good ship Caserta (an Italian boat which had been a horse transport until they cleaned out the manure and built three tier bunks out of odds and ends of lumber) which was our home for the two weeks it took to cross.
They tried to feed us Jack Rabbits, but some of the men made a midnight raid and threw them overboard. They stank to high heaven as they had come across the Pacific through the Panama Canal to New York from Australia on a cooler ship that wasn’t too efficient, not a refrigerator ship by any stretch of the imagination.
We finally landed at Brest and were promptly picked on as Military Police as we were the first Regular Army unit to land. For about two or three weeks we stayed down in the dock area and then built and moved to our new camp just out of town on the way to Pontanezen Barracks. We stayed there doing troop escort and Military Police duty until about mid-October then made a 40 and 8 ride up to San’ Dizier and then hiked and caught rides up to Dombasle, located about 15 or 20 miles from Verdun.
We were behind the fighting and, except for the first week, lived in large bunkers off the trench system. The bunkers had the largest rats I have ever seen, and felt, especially when they came crawling over you in the night. We stayed at Dombasle until just after Christmas, then were moved to Is-sur-Tille to start and man special leave trains. Sur-Tille had a large railhead and camp and our job was to assemble and place leave personnel on a daily train to Menton, located only a few miles from Italy. We stayed on that job until ordered home in June 1919. While we were at sur-Tille I used to visit different Troops of the Regiment (they were spread over about 100 miles of border between France and Belgium-Luxembourg) every week or so, staying several days if there was anything to iron out. We returned to the US at the end of June 1919. I left the Regiment in September 1919.
Submitted by his son,
John P. Kaye
LTC, FA (Ret.)
Enlisted in Troop “I”, 11th Cavalry at Hastings, Colorado.
Entered Mexico with Punitive Expedition. (With Col. Henry T. Allen’s Provisional Squadron on 10 weeks march to Parral & return, corporal in charge of Point of Advance Party)
Examination for commission as Provisional 2nd Lieut, Cavalry.
Promoted to Sergeant and as Acting Regimental Commissary Sergeant.
Appointed 2nd Lieut, Cavalry.
Accepted appointment. Assigned to command Troop “E”, 11th Cav.
Left Mexico for Army Service Schools, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
To 14th Cavalry at Del Rio, Texas.
To command Troop “A”. Appointed Regional & District Supply Officer, and to command Supply Troop, in addition to Troop “A”. Range Officer, Judge Advocate Supply CM., Prison Officer, and in charge of training about 160 recruits.
To Camp Upton, N.Y. as A.D.C. to Brig-Gen. George W. Read.
Promoted to Captain, Cavalry as of August, 1917.
To Ft. Ethan Allen, Vt., and to command of Troop “E”, 2nd Cavalry.
Left Hoboken, N.J. with Troop “E” and Detachment 2nd Cavalry. Arrived Base Section #5 (Brest) France, 5/16/1917.
Appointed Ass’t Provost Marshal, and in charge of Troop Escort Troops, Base Section #5. (Gen. George W. Harries, CG Base Sec #5, and Col. Burnside and later Gen. Smedley D. Butler USMC, CO at Pontanezen Camp.)
Left Brest with Tr “E”, 2nd Cav for 2nd Div near Argonne.
As Senior Troop Commander, commanded 2nd Squadron, Machine Gun Troop, Supply Troop and HQ Troop, 2nd Cav., relieving 2nd Army MP Bn.
To Is-sur-Tille with Troop “E” 2nd Cav. to organize and operate Special Leave Train to Mentone. 17 additional officers attached.
Special Leave Train discontinued. Ordered to Le Mans to await assembly of 2nd Cav.
Arrived at New York and to Camp Merritt, L.I.
(Official commendations from Commander in Chief, General Pershing, and from Gen. Atterbury, and commendations in Record Book from General Harries, General Butler, Col. S. V. Ham, Commanding Camp Is-sur-Tille, and Col. Hilgard, Chief RTO, Is-sur-Tille)
Arrived at Ft. Riley, Kansas.
Resignation as Captain, Cavalry, DOL, accepted.
editors note: After leaving active service in 1919, John Payne Kaye joined the Army Reserves, serving until 1942 when he again resumed active service. He retired a Colonel in the Transportation Corps in 1951 at the age of 60.