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 appointment to 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 Battalion. 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 in 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 Belleau.

Information taken from Memoirs of the Harvard Dead in the War Against 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.

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