jacklummus.com Home Page Search Contact Us Site Map
Click the <Back> arrow to return to the previous page.
Biography of Byrne Virchow Baucom
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
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.
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.
Erwin during the Great War.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
heroism in action in the Battle of Chateau-Thierry and the Battle of Saint
Mihiel, Lieutenants Erwin and Baucom were recommended for the Distinguished
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.