Capt Thomas J. Curtis, USMC

Adjutant, 6th Machine Gun Battalion

Thomas Curtis enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1898 as a 16 year old, became an officer through the "mustang" route, saw action in Cuba (Spanish-American War, 1898), China (dates unknown), the Philippines (dates unknown), Haiti (dates unknown), Mexico (Vera Cruz landing, 1914), Santo Domingo (1916), and France. Capt Curtis suffered from being gassed in France for the rest of his life, and retired from the Corps as a major in the late 20's. He and his children were living in Honolulu and experienced first hand the bombing of the Pearl Harbor naval base in 1941. He died in 1946.

While with the 6th Machine Gun Battalion in France during the World War, Capt Curtis served as the battalion adjutant. Among his many duties, Capt Curtis served as battalion censor and most, if not all, of the correspondence sent home from France and Germany by battalion members is marked with his signature & censor's stamp.

After the Armistice, while the battalion was part of the Army of Occupation, Capt Curtis and Capt L.R. Long, Battalion Intelligence Officer, working in the battalion office at Melsbach, Germany, compiled & wrote the History of the Sixth Machine Gun Battalion, Fourth Brigade, U.S. Marines, Second Division and Its Participation in the Great War.

Thomas J. Curtis was one of the Corps' heroes. As adjutant, he ran the battalion. The major in command was the man who man who ran the fighting. Adjutants were responsible for managing the day-to-day operations, including the period of battle. Such as: assignment of details to junior officers, to non-commissioned officers, maintaining daily records of the battalion (that is why he wrote the battalion history), setting up food delivery (when available), assuming command when the CO was incapacitated, and assorted multitude of operational duties, including preparing charges for various "crimes" by the enlisted (or even officers) and assembling a courts martial group when necessary. He ran things so the battalion CO could run the battles.

Curtis was born in Georgia on 20 June 1871, he served 18 years and 1 month as an enlisted Marine was promoted to Marine Gunner (now a warrant officer)on 24 March 1917. Accepted a commission as 1st Lieutenant on 1 June 1917 and was promoted to captain on 3 June 1917. After the war he served with the Marines in Santo Domingo.
~~ Courtesy of George B. Clark, author of Devil Dogs: Fighting Marines of WWI

Caption on reverse of this old newspaper photograph reads: "New York marines Leave for China. Major A.B, Miller points to specifications held by Captain Thomas J Curtis"
~~ Courtesy of Eric Niderost, a history professor in California with an interest in China Marines, and a collector of articles associated with that period.

Censor Stamps & Signatures
of Battalion Correspondence
by Capt Thomas Curtis
while in the War Zone
in France in 1918.

Please contact BJ Omanson if you have any further information on this Marine.

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