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Julian Sobieski

Submitted by: Anthony Sobieski {grandson}

Julian SobieskiJulian Sobieski was born around 1896. Julian Sobieski served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service


Private Julian Sobieski was born in Plock, Poland, on September 16th, 1896, to Leon & Antonina Sobieski. He immigrated to the United States on July 21st, 1914 through the Port of Philadelphia, PA. Julian settled in Bridesburg, the Polish section of Philadelphia. By 1917, he worked at the Disston Saw Works in the Tacony section of Philadelphia.

Julian registered for the draft on June 5th, 1917. The block 4 question on his draft card asks about Citizenship Intention: He wrote in “Will be a citizen of the USA”. My grandfather wanted to serve his adoptive country to earn his U.S. citizenship.

Julian was drafted on July 5th, 1918 and assigned to the 53rd Pioneer Infantry Regiment (PIR), HQ Company. The 53rd PIR was the old 47th New York Infantry Regiment with lineage going back to the Civil War. The 53rd PIR HQ Company had 213 men assigned, the majority of which came from New York and Pennsylvania. The men of the company were a mix of German, Italian, and Irish backgrounds, with only a few Poles, my grandfather being one of them.

The 53rd PIR trained at Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina. Once ranks were filled, they transferred to Camp Upton, Long Island, New York. From there the regiment moved to Hoboken, New Jersey to ship overseas. The entire regiment (3549 officers and enlisted) boarded the USS Mongolia on August 6th 1918 and then landed in Brest, France on August 18th 1918.

A non-divisional unit, the 53rd PIR was assigned to 1st United States Corps (I Corps). Within 2 days of being in France, the regiment was ordered to the front. The 53rd PIR Regimental Commander was Colonel Charles H. Englesby. HQ Company was commanded by Captain Joseph D. Brooks, and the HQ Company 1st Sergeant was Joseph J. McKinley.

‘Pioneer Infantry were cross-trained in combat engineering and infantry tactics. As one of their officers remarked "they did everything the Infantry was too proud to do, and the Engineers too lazy to do.” The Personnel Bureau of the War Department, in its directions for selecting soldiers for various services, laid down the following suggestions — "Men experienced in life in the open, skilled in woodcraft and simple carpentry — substitute occupations, rancher, prospector, hunter, scout.”

During its time in France, the 53rd PIR HQ Company traveled through the towns of Brest, Pontanezen Barracks (rest camp), Brest (again), Neuf Chateau, Aulnois, Neuf Chateau, Frouard, Tremblecourt, Les-Islettes, Bellefontaine, Le Neufour, La Chalade, Chatel Chehery, Fleville, Harricourt, Marcq, Cornay, Fleville, Varennes, Neuvilly, Claremont, Auzeville, Rarecourt, Feuges, Chablis, Tonnerre, and finally back to Brest before departing for home in April 1919.

The 53rd fought in two major battles during WWI, The St. Mihiel Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. As part of I Corps, they were on the southern right flank of the St. Mihiel salient, and then they were on the left side of the offensive in the heavily wooded Argonne Forest area during that battle.

My grandfather did not talk much about his service. He was too humble. One story that has been told though was that his company commander knew that Julian was a farmer from Poland and used to have him go out into the fields around wherever they were to gather food for the men, since he knew what to look for, what to eat and not to eat.

The 53rd PIR returned to the United States on the USS Vermont on April 22nd, 1919. My grandfather mustered out of the Army on May 18th 1919 at Fort Dix, NJ, and collected $80.20 in back pay.

Julian went on to get married, becoming a United States citizen, having 4 children, and eventually retiring after 30 years of employment at the Simonds Abrasive Company. A lifelong member of American Legion Post 396, he passed away in Philadelphia on September 20th, 1971.

5b1821254cb2a Private Julian Sobieski