Searching for Precious Medals
Nearly 100 years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, the Armistice ending World War I was signed. Oct. 4 of this year will be the 100th anniversary of the day Corporal Roberts, an Army tank driver for whom Camp Roberts is named, gave his life to save his crew mate when their tank overturned in a deep water trap during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Roberts pushed his gunner out but was unable to save himself.
Harold W. Roberts was born on Oct. 14, 1895 in San Francisco. He was slight of stature, but filled with energy and enthusiasm and well-liked by everyone who met him. He graduated from Wilmerding School in San Francisco and enrolled in University of California Berkeley. In 1916 he left the university to enlist in the Army at Fort McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. Following boot camp, he was sent to the Philippines with the Cavalry. From there he was sent to Camp Fremont near Palo Alto, California and transferred to the Tank Corps.
Roberts was next assigned to Company A, 344th Light Tank Battalion in France where he was soon promoted to Corporal. He and Sergeant Virgil Morgan were assigned a tank. Soon after, they engaged in the battle that cost him his life.
For his valor he was recommended for a posthumous Medal of Honor by Battalion Commander Sereno Elmer Brett. Additionally, he was honored with the French Croix de Guerre with Palms, the French Military Medal and the Italian War Cross.
Corporal Roberts is buried in the Meuse — Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France near where he died. His father, who received the medals in 1919, died in 1923. It is not known what happened to the medals after that.
Then in April, 1945 a soldier transferring from California to Arkansas sold his car to a used car dealer. When the car was cleaned, Corporal Roberts’ Medal of Honor was discovered inside. The dealer reportedly turned it over to a local newspaper to send to the War Department but no records can be found.
Curator of the Camp Roberts Historical Military Museum at Camp Roberts Gary McMaster is planning to visit Corporal Roberts’ grave in France in October. If anyone has information regarding the Medal of Honor, please contact the Museum Curator at 805-238-8288, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The museum is open Thursdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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