Shaw, Arthur | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Unlike many volunteer soldiers during the First World War, Arthur Shaw already had a wife and child as well as a successful career before he enlisted in the military. Due to his numerous years of engineering experience, Arthur was quickly promoted to Captain of the 301st Engineers. In this position, he was responsible for leading 250 soldiers through drills, hikes, and other daily activities.
August 1918 found Captain Shaw and his engineers making their way to the battlefront. After aiding with the St. Mihiel offensive, they marched into Luxembourg, and once armistice was reached, they pushed forward into Germany. Arthur and his troops spent a considerable amount of time in the Mosel wine country, finally settling in Brohl, Germany. The officers, Captain Shaw among them, were billeted in the Alkburg castle, and remained there until they were ordered home in May 1919.
As they traveled through the civilian towns of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Arthur frequently spoke with residents to gather their impression of the war. He notes that the German townspeople extended a more generous and friendly welcome than the French, and that he "[found] much to admire in them" (13 December 1918). Although his wife, Betty criticized him for speaking favorable of the enemy, Arthur continued making observations of his European experiences in correspondence to his mother.