World War I

Coast Artillery Corps U.S.A. poster, 1917, by artist Norman Tolson, Library of Congress.
Coast Artillery Corps U.S.A. poster, 1917, by artist Norman Tolson, Library of Congress.

Robert P. T. Coffin (1892-1955) was still a schoolboy when the United States entered the First World War. He had graduated from Brunswick High School in 1911, Bowdoin College in 1915, and received the Master of Arts degree from Princeton the following year. Coffin then went to Trinity College in Oxford, England for further study.

In 1918 he was called home to report for duty in the U. S. Army Coast Artillery Corps (CAC), which operated heavy fixed artillery. He was first stationed at Fort Levett on Cushing Island in Casco Bay, then sent overseas. There the CAC operated British and French fixed artillery from entrenched front lines. It was dangerous work: most of those who died on the battlefields during the war were killed by artillery fire.

Coffin survived his service, arriving in New York the day before the Paris Peace Conference began, Jan. 17, 1919. He resumed his earlier path, graduating from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He went on to teach at Wells College in upstate New York and Bowdoin College in Brunswick. His published works include prose, poetry, and history which celebrate the joy of the common man and the natural world of New England. In 1935 Coffin was named Outstanding Poet of the Nation. The following year he won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his collection of verses entitled Strange Holiness.

To learn more about Maine’s Fort Levett go to: Fort Levett

 

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