The history of the 111th Engineers dates back to the late spring of 1916 when Company A, Texas Engineers, was organized in Port Arthur, Texas, by Captain James G. L. Howard, First Lieutenant Richard B. Dunbar and Second Lieutenant Richard A. McClanaghan. This company was called into service for Mexican Border duty with the 12th Provisional Division at San Antonio, Texas, arriving there in June, 1916.
In the spring of 1916, Battery C, First Texas Field Artillery, was organized at Dallas, Texas. After unsuccessful efforts to secure Federal recognition, this unit was redesignated Company B, Texas Engineers, and called into service August 8, 1916. Officers were Captain William E. Joor, First Lieutenant Eugene S. Coghill, Jr., First Lieutenant Waller K. Boggs and Second Lieutenant Arthur B. Purington.
The two companies remained in service until March 21, 1917, when they were mustered out and sent to their home stations. Company B was ordered back into service June 22 and sent to San Antonio to supervise construction of Camp Travis. Company A was ordered back on August 5, 1917. In the meantime, other lettered companies had been formed and were ordered to Camp Bowie to be drafted into Federal service on August 5, 1917.
The home stations of the companies were located at the following cities: Company A, Port Arthur, Texas; Company B, Dallas, Texas; Company C, Sweetwater, Texas; Company D, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Company E, Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Company F, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The First Regimental Commander was Colonel William J. Barden, Corps of Engineers. Lieutenant Colonel Horace S. Baker, formerly a reserve officer, was assigned to the organization.
The First Battalion was commanded by Major Richard E. Dunbar, who was formerly in Company A, Texas Engineers. Second Battalion was commanded by Major Frank B. King, who formerly commanded Company A, Oklahoma Engineers.
Medical Detachment was formed from the regiment and put under the command of Captain Lewis E. Inman, who was later promoted to Major. The Headquarters Detachment, the duties of which are now performed by the Headquarters and Service Company, was formed by transfer of men from the lettered companies and placed under the command of the Regimental Adjutant, Captain Eugene S. Coghill, Jr.
The 111th Engineer Train, the duties of which are now performed to a large extent by the Headquarters and Service Company was formed by the transfer of men from the lettered companies of the regiment and placed under the command of First Lieutenant Richard A. Sherwood.
The organization began intensive training in Camp Bowie shortly after it was drafted into Federal service on August 5, 1917, and left Camp Bowie for France on July 1, 1918. On arrival at Brest, France, the regiment was sent to the 13th training area, with headquarters at Bar-Sur
Aube, the headquarters of the regiment being located at a nearby town. The regiment was ordered into the line as Corps Engineers for the First Corps on September 9, 1918. Before that time, officer changes had taken place, and the commanding officers of the regiment and other units were Colonel Horace S. Baker, Regimental Commander; Lieutenant Colonel Frank B. King, Major Richard B. Dunbar commanding First Battalion, Major Nathaniel B. Turner, commanding Second Battalion, Captain Eugene S. Coghill, Jr., Regimental Adjutant, commanding Headquarters Detachment, and First Lieutenant Thomas H. Coghill, commanding 111th Engineer Train.
The organization first went into the line in the Puvenelle Wood located in the St. Mihiel Sector. The 51st Pioneer Infantry, a labor regiment, was attached to assist in the work assigned to the organization, which was mainly that of repairing roads and placing fills or bridges across captured trenches in order that the artillery could follow closely behind the infantry. The regiment also took over an engineer dump from the 315th Engineers.
The regiment was employed in the Puvenelle Sector for some five days when it received orders to move by night marches to the Argonne Forest. This march was a most strenuous undertaking as much of it was done in cold, wet weather and the billets for the most part were, many times at best, only shelters.
During this march an influenza epidemic broke out and the organization arrived at its destination at little more than half its strength. This condition was corrected, however, by men following the organization and in most cases being returned from hospitals to which they were evacuated. The regiment was again at its normal strength.
The first stop of the organization in the Argonne Forest was at Varrenes, a town made famous by an overnight stay of a fleeing French king. This town was badly shattered and was so harassed by shell fire that the various companies moved out into more sheltered areas. The regiment was so close to the enemy when they moved out that the regimental headquarters was established in a building which had been so hastily left by the Germans that food was still on the dinner table.
The regimental headquarters was moved from this location into the forest proper, in quarters formerly occupied by some of the troops of the Crown Prince of Germany. In this area, the organization suffered a few casualties and remained for a few weeks, when it was moved farther into the forest to follow the advance. The new location was in an old German Soldatenheim, which corresponded to the recreation huts of the American Army.
Remaining in this location for some time, it performed road work, as well as other duties, such as the operation of a small electrical plant and a rock quarry. Also, a socalled "Suicide Detachment" under the command of First Lieutenant Arthur B. Purington dug up and exploded many mines placed in the roads by the Germans. These mines were generally artillery shells with the fuses set so the projectile would explode when the point was struck by a wheel. Many of these mines were marked "Minnenfeld," and the signs were left because of the enemies' haste in falling back. .
After a stay of some weeks in this location, the regiment followed the advance and went up through the town of St. Juvin and on through the town of Bar to a location in an old chateau, a little distance south of Sedan. It was here that the organization was located when the Armistice was signed. The regiment was ordered out of the line on November 11 and was a short distance from the front at the hour of the signing of the Armistice.
The organization continued down into southern France for billeting until such time as it might be returned to the United States. The headquarters of the organization was at Chesley, until May, 1919, when it was returned to Camp Bowie and mustered out.
The regiment was reorganized in 1922 and has functioned continuously since that time. It is now commanded by Colonel Richard B. Dunbar, with Lieutenant Colonel John Lansdale as Executive Officer. The Medical Detachment is commanded by Major Louis H. Stahl and the Headquarters and Service Company is commanded by Captain Walter J. Weinaug. The First Battalion is commanded by Major Floyd E. Martin and the Second Battalion by Major Eugene S. Coghill, Jr.The regiment has made an excellent record whenever it has come into competition with other Engineer units or performed other duties of a competitive nature.