‘Another greatest generation’: BYU’s Saints at War Conference explores Latter-day Saint connections to the Great War

PROVO — The events that transpired in the last days of World War I were still vivid in Calvin S. Smith’s memory 17 years later.

Smith, the son of then-President Joseph F. Smith and one of three Latter-day Saint chaplains that served in The Great War, recalled what he saw and heard on Nov. 11, 1918, in an article for the Deseret News published Nov. 11, 1935.

In the article, Calvin Smith wrote about being with the 3rd Battalion of the 362nd Infantry in a town called Oudenaarde, Belgium. He and other soldiers were walking through the town when they met a French soldier mounted on a horse.

Provided by Saints at War

Calvin S. Smith, the son of Joseph F. Smith, was one of three Latter-day Saint chaplains who served during the Great War.

“He was unsteady in the saddle as though he had been drinking,” Smith wrote. “As he passed us he waved his hand and called out to us ‘Le guerre est finie!’ (‘The war is over!’) and rushed on.”

A few minutes later, a group of officers wearing “service hats” instructed the soldiers to do the same. “You can wear your service cap now. The war is over,” a Maj. Stephens told the group.

While absorbing the news, Smith was assigned to see to the burial of an American soldier recently killed in action, which he did.

“In this manner we learned of the armistice,” Smith wrote. “Men were skeptical about an armistice. Rumor and hearsay had been so bounteous that men could not believe. The news was too good to be true.”

Smith’s wartime service is one of many interesting Latter-day Saint connections to World War I that people can learn more about while attending the Saints at War Conference at Brigham Young University on Saturday, Nov. 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Robert C. Freeman, director of the Saints at War project and a professor at BYU, said this conference is for everyone, especially veterans and their families.

“We want those who are interested in military history and service to God and country to come,” Freeman said. “I never served in the military, but I have such great admiration for those who have. It’s just a way for us all to show we haven’t forgotten them or the price they paid. It’s a way to express gratitude for freedom and to honor the sacrifice of those who have gone before us and who guard our liberties today.”

Provided by Greg Kofford Books

Pvt. Thomas Neibaur is pictured after World War I. Neibaur was the first Latter-day Saint to receive the Medal of Honor.

The conference will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War and honor the military service of all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Bruce A. Carlson, an emeritus general authority and retired four-star general in the Air Force, will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will be held in the BYU Conference Center. Other speakers include Kenneth Alford, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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