Captain Allen Melancthon Sumner, USMC
81st Company, 6th Macine Gun Battalion, #03424
Allen Melancthon Sumner was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October
1, 1882, the son of Allen Melancthon
Sumner and Ellen Frances (Prescott) Sumner prepped for college
at the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Connecticutt. Although he secured an
Annapolis, Sumner chose instead to attend his father's alma mater,
Harvard University. After graduating in 1904, he
spent a period of time traveling.
On March 17, 1907, Sumner was
commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Until 1909 he was stationed in turn at the Marine Barracks
of the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Virginia, and Norfolk Navy Yard. He
was then ordered to Cuba with the 1st Provisional Regiment of Marines
in the Army
of Cuban Pacification. In December, 1909, he served on temporary duty on
the USS Prairie. He retired on
January 1, 1914, after seven years service.
Sumner was recalled as soon as war was
declared in April, 1917, and began serving on active duty at Marine
Barracks, Quantico, on
July 5th, 1917. When the 1st Machine Gun Battalion was formed in August, Sumner was assigned
to 81st Company.
Sumner's war record is as follows: Sailed from New York on December
14, 1917 on
the USS DeKalb, arriving in St Nazaire on December 31. Trained
in the Vosges and was in the front lines in March at Mont-sur-la-Cote on the Verdun Front.
On April 29, relieved Major Waller in Command of 81st Company when
Major Waller was transferred to the 3rd Division to command the 8th MG
Participated in the action at Belleau Wood and when Major Cole was
wounded on June 10, and Captain Major became battalion commander in his
stead (himself to fall five days later), Sumner took his place
command of the right front.
Captain Sumner's death occured no more than a month later on July 19, at
Vierzy, near Soissons, where the 6th MGB was to take part in the
attack on Tigny. He was hit by a fragment of a High Explosive shell
and killed instantly. Later it was debated whether he had instead
fallen during an air raid.
Captain Sumner received the Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star as
well as 3 Silver Star Citations. He is buried in Plot A, Row 13,
Grave 25 in the American Cemetery at
Information taken from Memoirs of the Harvard Dead in the War
Germany by M.A. Dewolfe Howe (Harvard University, 1920, 1924) and Harvard's
Military Record in the World War (Harvard Alumni Association, 1921).
Thanks to Therry Schwartz
for material on this page.