jacklummus.com   Home Page  Search   Contact Us   Site Map 

Click the <Back> arrow to return to the previous page.

Biography of Byrne Virchow Baucom

Milford, Texas

Bryne Virchow Baucom was born on June 19, 1892 in Milford in Ellis County, Texas. He was the son of Dr. J. B. and Mrs. Edith E. Baucom. He joined the Methodist Church at the age of 14, and graduated Milford High School. He worked for a number of years as a linotype machine operator and a reporter for various newspapers in central Texas before enrolling in the University of Texas, Arts & Sciences, at Austin in August of 1915. 

With the Great War raging in Europe, President Thomas Woodrow Wilson stood before a joint session of Congress on Monday, April 2, 1917 to ask for a declaration of war against Germany. After much debate, the resolution was passed, and the President signed it at 1:11 p.m. on Friday, April 6, and the U.S. joined the coalition of the Allied Powers. 

Bryne left the University of Texas in May of 1917 to join the U.S. Army. His first training camp was at Leon Springs Military Reservation. The military reservation was 20-miles northwest of San Antonio, and in February of 1917 Major General Frederick Funston had died in San Antonio, and the reservation was renamed Camp Funston in his honor, but it was later redesignated Camp Stanley in honor of Brigadier General David S. Stanley. And on May 8, 1917, the First Officers Training Camp was established at then Camp Funston. Bryne entered officer’s school for the 90-days of training, and graduated, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. 

After graduation, 2nd Lieutenant Baucom was ordered to Company B in the 343rd Field Artillery Battalion, but he later transferred to the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps. He trained at Kelly Field located on the southwestern edge of San Antonio, and was a member of the first group to enroll in the first six-weeks class of the Military School of Aeronautics conducted by the University of Texas at Austin in 1917 for the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps. After completing his schooling in Austin, he was trained as an observer at Post Field in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. 

In April of 1918 Lt. Baucom shipped overseas, and after arriving, he was sent to the Aviation Instruction Center at Issoudun, France for additional training before finally reaching the front on June 11, and there he was assigned to work with a French squadron. He was an observer in the Observation Group of the 1st Army Corps, which consisted of the 1st, 12th and 50th Aero Observation Squadrons. Lt. Baucom was assigned to the 1st Squadron, and flew as an observer with Lt. William P. Erwin during the Great War. 

Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom flew reconnaissance patrol and other missions in the Spad XI, which was a redesign of the single-seat Spad VII. The XI biplane had slightly staggered, sweepback wings for the longer fuselage necessary for the second cockpit. However, the Spad XI was replaced by the Salmson 2A2 in the 1st Aero Observation Squadron soon after Erwin and Baucom began flying together at the front. 

The 2A2 was a superior aircraft for reconnaissance work. Armament consisted of a single fixed machinegun for the pilot, and a twin machinegun configuration for the observer, and the biplane could carry a little over 500-pounds of bombs used to attack ground positions. 

Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom primary responsibility was to gather information on reconnaissance patrol, which they did with a thoroughness that earned Baucom accolades from his superiors. But they also became known and feared by the Germans for their daring missions attacking German positions with machinegun fire and small bomb, breaking up gun batteries and destroying lines of communication. 

Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom flew frequent missions in the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, which was part of the Second Battle of the Marne, July 15-August 4, 1918. The battle took place near the Marne River in northeastern France. Chateau-Thierry was where American forces won their first decisive victory over the Germans. The Second Battle of the Marne was the turning point in the war. 

On September 7, Somewhere in France, Lt. Baucom wrote to his mother in Milford, Texas. He had spotted a unit of Marines from the air about three kilometers from his airfield, and had a powerful feeling that his brother Wirt was in the group, and he was, and he came to the field to see Byrne. A second brother Frank was in the army in France, and about 25 kilometers from Byrne’s airfield. Later, the three brothers would meet in France, and have their pictures taken to celebrate the occasion. 

September 12 through 16 Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom flew reconnaissance missions in the Saint Mihiel sector. The battle was the first for “Black Jack” Pershing’s army functioning as an independent unit, and they caught the German army retreating from the area. Pershing’s army cut them off, and captured the town of St. Mihiel on the first day of fighting. The battle occurred at and near the town of Saint Mihiel in the Meuse Department southeast of Verdun. 

For extraordinary heroism in action in the Battle of Chateau-Thierry and the Battle of Saint Mihiel, Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom were recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross. 

After the victory at Saint Mihiel, General Pershing’s 1st Army began to move into the Argonne sector on September 22. Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom continued flying reconnaissance missions, and in September over Argonne the engine was shot out of Erwin and Baucom’s Salmson 2A2, but they landed safely. 

On September 26 Lt. Baucom was assigned to Headquarters in 1st Division as a liaison officer. And about the middle of October, Erwin and Baucom were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the French Croix de Guerre, and soon after that they began flying again as a reconnaissance team. 

The Battle of Argonne was part of the general Allied offensive against the Hindenburg line. It was fought in three stages, and the final stage was conducted from November 1 through 10. It was the pursuit stage, and the battle helped to bring about the German’s request for an armistice, which was agreed to on November 11, 1918. 

On November 5 Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom’s plane was shot down within enemy lines, and they battled the Germans, and escaped to the Allied lines. And on November 12 they were with the 1st Aero Observation Squadron at Julvecourt in the Meuse sector in the Lorraine region of northeastern France. They were recommended for, and would be awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross, and Erwin and Baucom were recognized as American Aces. Erwin had eight kills and Baucom six.  

Before leaving France Baucom was promoted to captain. 

In 1920 Captain Baucom requested a discharge from the army, and returned to his home in Milford. He successfully ran for the Texas Legislature from Ellis County, and would have served during a portion of the 36th Texas Legislature possibly in the May-June and September-October sessions in 1920 when William Pettus Hobby served as the 26th governor of Texas. 

Byrne returned to the University of Texas, and was a student at the Law School in 1920-21. He resigned from the Legislature near the end of 1920, and left Law School to re-enter the air service. He took pilot training in February of 1921 at Kelly Field in San Antonio, and in June was sent to Langley Field at Hampton, Virginia. 

While at Langley, Baucom participated in bombing maneuvers with the First Provisional Air Brigade. On July 13-21, 1921 Brigadier General Billy Mitchell conducted test off the mouth of Chesapeake Bay with army crews from the First Provisional Air Brigade at Langley Field. The army crews flew Martin MB-2 bombers, and sank three ships including the captured German battleship Ostfriesland to demonstrate the vulnerability of naval craft to aerial attack. In September of 1921 Mitchell’s bombers sank the obsolete USS Alabama.  

In 1921 Byrne Baucom married Corinne Connor of Lexington, Lee County, Texas. Byrne met Corinne after returning to the University of Texas in 1920. They fell in love and married in 1921. And strangely enough, Corinne had dated William P. Erwin while the two were students at the University of Texas before the Great War. 

In May-August of 1922 Captain Baucom was a member of the 94th Squadron, Pursuit, and was stationed at Ellington Field east of Houston, Texas. In September he became Director of Pursuit Training, Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field. 

After leaving Kelly Field Baucom was assigned to Bolling Field in Washington D.C., and then he served in the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps in Washington D.C. for two years. On August 13, 1927 he was transferred to March Field at Riverside, California arriving on September 25. He was Commanding Officer of the 47th School Squadron.   

At some time in 1927 Captain Baucom landed his aircraft on his mother's farm, and took a picture of the family gathered around his plane.

Baucom_1.jpg (30044 bytes)

 On May 30, 1928 Captain Baucom died in the crash of his De Havilland airplane while commanding a squadron of three planes being transferred from Kelly Field to March Field. The crash occurred near Douglas, Arizona. 

Captain Byrne Virchow Baucom was buried in Milford, Ellis County, Texas on Sunday afternoon, June 3. A crowd of 3,000 came to Milford, a town of 1,200, to pay their respects at Milford Presbyterian Church for the service and Milford Cemetery for burial. Captain Baucom’s body arrived by train at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, and a lone plane, flying overhead warned of the approaching train, and then dropped flowers as the coffin was removed from the train. Four planes in a five-plane formation flew over with one plane absent to honor Captain Baucom. 

Baucom_9.jpg (53874 bytes)


Ellis County Veterans Memorial   George H. Williams World War I Aviation Library

The picture and bio information are courtesy of Mrs. Jenny Kellum, Red Oak, Texas. Mrs. Kellum is a niece of Captain Byrne V. Baucom, a daughter of Sergeant Wirt L. Baucom, USMC, and Mrs. Kellum's husband B. F. Kellum fought in World War II, and was awarded two Purple Heart Medals and a Bronze Star Medal.

Back to top

Click the <Back> arrow to return to the previous page.

© 1999-2007 Utility Press Inc. All rights reserved.