Author: Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist
John Wesley Eubanks was born on May 12, 1895, near the town of Bethel in Pitt County, N.C., to John Henry and Lydia Amanda Davenport Eubanks. By 1900, the Eubanks family was living in Bethel, N.C., where John H. Eubanks was working as a farmer. At the time of his draft registration for World War I, John W. Eubanks was living in the town of Hassell in Martin County, N.C., and working as a manager at the Salisbury Supply Company in Hassell, N.C. The Salisbury Supply Co. was owned by Paul Lee Salisbury, and Eubanks worked under his leadership.
John Eubanks was inducted into military service for WWI on May 27, 1918, at Williamston, N.C. He left aboard the entrainment of drafted men from the Martin County Local Draft Board, on the train from Williamston to Camp Jackson, S.C., on May 28, 1918. Eubanks went to Camp Jackson, S.C., for basic training, and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, Company E, 324th Infantry, 81st Division, U.S. Army. Eubanks would be trained in the operation of the Browning machine rifle, and became an “automatic rifleman” in Company E. Eubanks left the United States for Europe from New York City on August 5, 1918, aboard the British troop transport ship RMS Aquitania. The Aquitania was the second-largest ship afloat in the world at the time, as Eubanks noted in a pocket book during the war. He arrived in Liverpool, England, on August 12, 1918.
Eubanks and the 324th Infantry hiked from the Aquitania to the British rest camp nicknamed “Knotty Ash.” They rode on a train on August 14, 1918, at Southampton, England, and embarked for France on August 15 on a small steamer ship. Eubanks arrived in Le Havre, France, around 2 A.M. on August 16, 1918. Heading to the front, Eubanks and his unit traveled from a British rest camp by train on a French forty-and-eights car in the evening on August 17, 1918. They arrived in Tonnerre, Franch, in the early morning of August 19, 1918, and hiked about 7.5 miles to the small village of Dye, France. On September 16, 1918, John Eubanks was promoted to the rank of Private First Class.
After numerous marches to various French villages and towns, Eubanks and Company E left on September 22, 1918, for the front lines to support troops of the 47th Regiment, French Infantry, at Lajus, France. Eubanks was stationed in the Saint-Dié Sector, with the 81st Division’s Headquarters in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, France. Eubanks and his men appear to have mostly been involved in patrols and outpost duties, working with French and Polish troops through early October 1918. After preparing for the time they would be called into active service for the major front-lines push by the Allies, Eubanks and the 324th Infantry arrived in Manheulles, France, on November 5, 1918—where they relieved the 137th Infantry, 35th Division. On November 9, 1918, Company E “went over the top” of the trenches and drove the German Army forces back two kilometers. They were preparing a new offensive attack on November 11, 1918, when they were told of the coming ceasefire of shooting as part of the Armistice.
Between November and December 1918, John Eubanks and Company E marched to and were stationed in villages and towns all over France as part of the Allied forces’ occupation duties with the end of WWI. On February 3, 1919, John Eubanks was promoted to the rank of Corporal. The 324th Infantry remained in Europe through the summer of 1919. On June 7, 1919, John Eubanks left from Saint-Nazaire, France, aboard the troop transport ship USS Martha Washington (ID‑3019). They arrived in Charleston, S.C., on June 18, 1919. John Eubanks was honorably discharged from active military service on June 24, 1919, at Camp Jackson, S.C.
After the war by 1920, John Eubanks came to live as a boarder with his late boss Paul Lee Salisbury’s family in the town of Hamilton in Martin County, N.C., where he worked as a merchant in the Salisbury’s supply store. On July 15, 1926, John Eubanks married Ellen E. Barefoot in Wilson County, N.C. By 1930, the Eubanks family was living in Hassell, N.C., where John was a manager of a general store. By 1940, Eubanks was running his own farm and a store. For the rest of his life, John Eubanks lived in Hassell. John W. Eubanks died on September 14, 1974, in Hassell, N.C., and was buried in Martin Memorial Gardens in Williamston, N.C.