Brown, Russell | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
In July 1918, Russell Brown was drafted into the United States Army and assigned to Camp Lee near Petersburg, Virginia. Being late additions to the war effort, he and his fellow soldiers drilled almost incessantly for several weeks to expedite their deployment to France. This continuous activity combined with the humid Virginia weather gave Russell a strong dislike for Army life, but by October 1918 he was en route to join the Allied forces in France.
Upon reaching European soil, Private Brown became ill with influenza and was transferred to a rest camp. Once recuperated, he did not return to his former regiment, but was placed with the Machine Gun Company of the 120th Infantry and scheduled to be at the front on November 13th. Although armistice prevented him from receiving combat experience, Russell did observe the lifestyles of French civilians and soldiers, noting differences in their manners of dress and rail transportation when compared to American practices.
With combat operations at a close, the 120th Infantry returned to the United States in April 1919. Unharmed by the war, Private Brown received his discharge during that month and returned home to his wife and newborn daughter in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.