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Pvt. Golden C. Bahr: Company 'M', 339th Infantry

Pvt. Golden C. Bahr (Bentley Historical Library)

Golden C. Bahr was born March 5, 1887, his parents Charles and Ellen Bahr. Golden was one of five boys, along with one sister who filled their parents’ farmhouse not far from the town of Copemish, MI. Golden and his siblings attended the local school, where he completed the eighth grade. He then went to work for his father as a full-time farm laborer. Golden was still at home in 1917, working on his father’s farm when he registered for the draft. His Draft Registration card listing him as of medium height, medium build, and with blue eyes and dark brown hair.[1] The young man was ordered to report to Camp Custer and he arrived June 24, 1918.

Private Bahr did fine at Camp Custer and on July 18, 1918, he was assigned to Cpt. Joel Moore’s Company ‘M’. Bahr’s regiment was shipped to England, and from there, to Russia. He arrived at Archangel aboard the transport ship, the Somalia, a ship now containing at least 125 soldiers sick with the Spanish Flu. Private Bahr, like so many of his comrades, had contracted the Spanish flu.[2] Private Bahr recovered enough to be discharged from a hospital in Archangel and rejoined Company ‘M’, near Obozerskaya. He wrote his parents on November 18, 1918, “I feel good … watch the papers and you can tell what we are doing.”[3] Unfortunately, Bahr’s bout with the flu left him in a weakened condition and the northern Russian cold immediately dealt him a serious blow. Golden Bahr was re-admitted to the American Red Cross Hospital later that month.

Bahr’s condition did not improve at the Red Cross Hospital, in fact, his symptoms worsened, with the doctors now characterizing his medical situation as ‘articular rheumatism’. Two weeks’ later, the Office of Chief Surgeon designated Bahr for return to England, now listing him as suffering from chronic arthritis. He was loaded onto the transport ship, the Baltic ten days later and began the trek back to England. Golden Bahr’s health continued to deteriorate, even though he was being treated at a modern medical facility. On December 2, 1918, Bahr was listed as having, chronic arthritis.

Golden Bahr was assigned as a convalescent, bound for the United States, and on January 1, 1919, boarded the transport ship, the Adriatic, headed for New York City, where he arrived thirteen days later. Bahr languished in a New York City hospital for two weeks before instructions were prepared to transport him to Camp Custer, to be granted a medical discharge. The ill-stricken soldier was loaded onto a train and arrived at Camp Custer during the second week of February 1919.

Bahr’s military duties ended with a medical discharge on February 22, 1919. His parents took their son home to Marilla, MI, where the town’s physician took over his medical care. Unfortunately, by February 24, 1919, Bahr’s condition had worsened; he was now diagnosed with both articular rheumatism and heart trouble. Then, on March 10, 1919 he suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed, and finally, two days later, March 12, 1919, Golden Bahr died. He was buried on March 14, 1919 in the Marilla Township Cemetery.[4]


[1] Bahr, Golden, Draft Registration Card, 5 June 1917. [2] Willett, Donna Bahr, 12 June 2000. [3] Bahr, Golden C., Letter, Bentley Historical Library, 12 Nov 1918. [4] “Biographical Write-up of Golden Bahr,” Polar Bear Expedition Digital Materials.

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