Betram Tracy Clayton

3141 Killed in action May 30, 1918, by a bomb dropped by a German aviator. At the time Colonel Clayton wae in company with three others in France, aged 55 years

Colonel Clayton was born October 19, 1862, and was the elder son of the late General and Mrs. Henry D. Clayton, of Clayton, Alabama. He was educated in the University of Alabama and graduated from the Military Academy with General Pershing in 1886. In May, 1888, he saw service in the West during the Indian Wars, but afterwards resigned to take up engineering in New York City.

His father, Major General Henry DeLamar Clayton, was a Division Commander during the Civil War.

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, however, he organized Troop C, N. Y. Volunteer Cavalry, and as commanding officer of that squadron he participated in the Porto Rican campaign ‘at Coamo, P. R., and in several skirmishes in Arbonita Pass; it was at this time that Troop C prevented the destruction of important bridges, located Spanish forces and held an American Advance Post. Colonel Clayton was honorably mustered out of the volunteer service November 25, 1898, and was elected to Congress from the third New York district, serving in this capacity for one year at which time he was appointed by Presidentt Roosevelt as Captain, Q. M. C. From 1901 to 1904 he served in this department in the Philippine Islands, returning to the States in April, 1904.

His next station was at Jackson Barracks, La., in charge of construction work; and in 1907 he was on duty in the office of the Quartermaster General, Washington, from August, 1907, to May 18, 1911. He received his Majority March 3, 1911, and in the following month was ordered to the U. S. Military Academy as constructing quartermaster and disbursing officer. In June, 1914, he was relieved and sent to the Canal Zone on construction duty, where he remained for about one year. Until the following year Colonel Clayton was on leave of absence and on detached service at headquarters, Eastern Department, Governor’s Island, N. Y., but in August, 1915, he returned to Ancon, Canal Zone, as constructing quartermaster.

His next duty was in the Army Transport Service from July till September, 1917, when he was ordered overseas with the Quartermaster Corps in France, where he met his death in action. The bomb dropped by a German aviator killed at the same time several other officers. At the time of this unfortunate occurrence Colonel Clayton in company with three others interested had met at a brick villa behind the American lines at Montdidier to discuss a plan for supplying fresh drinking water to American troops in the front line trenches.

Killed in action at Noyer, Department of the Oise, France, May 30, 1918. – note Montdidier is Department of Somme

Emptied wine casks had been used for transportation of the water, but these receptacles were so large that they made easy targets for scouting enemy airmen. Captain Bullock, who was an American Divisional Quartermaster, had conceived the idea of utilizing empty and thoroughly cleansed gasoline tanks; The conferees were working out the details of this plan when the explosion occurred. The bomb blew out one side of the building, practically cutting the structure in half. Only that part of the villa in which Colonel Clayton and the others were seated was destroyed. As was aptly said of Colonel Clayton by a prominent member of congress:

“I have known him well for many years. He was one of the best officers in the army. A part of the time he was stationed at West Point where he mads a most efficient officer in the Quartermaster Department. He could have remained in that line of service if he had wanted to. If he had been the kind that would have liked an easy time he could have remained in that branch of the service and remained in a place of safety. Instead of that, he chose to go to France in the service of his country, in that part of the army engaged in active and dangerous service, and unfortunately he was killed — there was never a finer or braver soldier.”

A distinguished and deserved tribute has been paid this officer whose widow has received a handsome embossed parchment copy of a General Order announcing that the camp at Chateau Du Loir, Department of Garthe, France, is designated and will hereafter be known as Camp Clayton, in honor of the late Colonel who gave his life in line of duty, while serving with a combatant division at the front. Accompanying the parchment was a card, saying:

“This order is issued by the direction of the President, who wishes to express his sincere and deep sympathy.”

The card certified that B. T. Clayton, Colonel Q. M. C., died with honor in the service of his country.

Colonel Clayton was the first officer of high rank in the United States Army to be killed in action in France.

With the bereaved widow, two sons, a number of brothers and sisters, and a host of friends will mourn the loss of Bertram Clayton, who was beloved by all for his cheerfulness, calmness and ever considerate thoughtfulness for others.

Interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

(Born Ala. Ap’d Ala.) 45

Civil History. – Civil Engineer, Brooklyn, N. Y. – Elected to Congress from 4th District, N. Y., Nov. 8, 1898. – Served in the National Guard, N. Y., as 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant, 13th Regiment, May 12, 1890; Captain, Dec. 2, 1892; Major and Engineer, 2d Brigade, July 17, 1893; organized Troop C, Dec. 16, 1895, and commissioned as its first Cap- tain, Jan. 20, 1896 ; Colonel, 14th Regiment, June 20, 1899.- Assistant Engineer, Department City Works, Brooklyn, 1893 to 1897.–Assistant Engineer, Department Finance, N. Y. City, Jan., 1898 to March 4, 1899.

Military History. – Served: In Puerto Rican campaign; at Coamo, (CAPTAIN, TROOP C., N. Y. VOLUNTEER CAVALRY, MAY 20, 1898) P. R., Aug. 9; in several skirmishes in Arbonito Pass, Aug. 9 to 12, during which time Troop C prevented the destruction of important bridges, located Spanish forces, and held American advance post. (See report of Major-General commanding the Army, 1898.)

In September, 1917, when he was ordered overseas with the Quartermaster Corps in France, where he met his death in action. The bomb dropped by a German aviator killed at the same time several other officers.

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