Charles James Thomsen grew up in New Jersey and first enlisted in the Army on March 11, 1911, at Fort Slocum, New Jersey. There he served with Company A of the First Battalion of Engineers in Washington, D.C. In June 1913 Thomsen qualified as an expert marksman. The Army discharged him in March 1914 with “character excellent” at the rank of corporal. Before the end of his first enlistment, Thomsen expressed in letters home his desire to enter Federal Engineering after his time in the service. While a civilian, Thomsen’s occupation was as a civil engineer in New York City.
When the United States entered World War I, Thomsen re-enlisted in June 1917 at Fort Totten, New York, in the 11th Engineers, Railways. The following July, Thomsen became a sergeant in Company C of the 11th Engineers.
Arriving in France in August 1917. Thomsen served with the British 5th Army at the Battle of Cambrai in November where he worked with standard gauge railways and railroad guns. Thomsen then earned a commission through the U.S. Infantry at Army Candidates School. When he joined the American Expeditionary Force in May 1918 he commissioned as a second lieutenant. Assigned to the 107th Engineers, Thomsen defended the Alsace sector and then fought in the Aisne-Marne offensive in July to August, where he was slightly wounded. He also fought in the Oise-Aisne and Meuse-Argonne offensives.
When the war ended, Thomsen continued to serve in the Army of occupation until returning to the United States in June 1919. On June, 27, 1919 Charles received his Honorable Discharge at the rank of first lieutenant. In his Officer’s Record Book, other officers wrote that Thomsen’s “work has always been eminently satisfactory.”
Thomsen passed away in 1921 at the age of 28.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Ashley Levi
Fact checker: Vivian Hurney