Friday, June 1, 2018

Jeff Ayers' Photo Album #Circa1920

During preparations for the Circa 1920 exhibition at the Benton County Historical Museum, we opened an album of photographs taken by local resident, Jeff Ayers.  Ayers, who was a sergeant in the U. S. Army, 65th CAC, during World War I. 
Jeff Ayers
The CAC (Coastal Artillery Corps) operated heavy artillery (155 mm or larger) and railway artillery (heavy guns mounted on railroad cars for transportation). Ayers' photographs provide a graphic illustration of what conditions in the artillery corps during World War I:  the kind of tents they lived in and the mud they endured. And, of course, marching from place to place.
Artillery made rapid advances during the war, becoming larger and more powerful and with a longer range.   Other changes made it quicker to load the guns so that the shelling was nearly continuous.
One of Ayers' photographs shows a crew preparing for firing.  The 65th CAC used British and French artillery as American versions had not yet arrived in France. I'm guessing they are using a British BL 9.2 inch howitzer.  If someone can identify it more accurately, please let us know.
Another photograph shows just how large the shells became. The British BL9.2 inch howitzer shells weighed 290 pounds; those for the German 305 mm howitzer weighed 858 pounds!
The artillery may have been British but the machine guns the America artillery (and other) units used were French-made Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns.  His gun is pointed up-- is he shooting at an airplane or merely posing for a picture?
Ayers' album also contains pictures of the grim consequences of all these weapons but also the happy time when the troops were on their way home.
After returning to the U.S., this CAC unit returned to coastal defense at Fort Stevens and pictures from this time are also included in the Ayers album.

From 1935 to at least 1960,  Ayers operated a Texaco service station at Third and Jefferson in Corvallis.
Jeff Ayers' Super Service Texaco station, Corvallis, Oregon

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