Choctaw Code Talkers Of Ww I
The Choctaw Code Talkers of World War One held the secret code that the German Army could not break, leading to the eventual Allied victory over Germany.
This information about the Choctaw code talkers comes from a typed memo from Colonel Bloor, written in 1919. I believe that the original document is now in the hands of the Choctaw Nation.
As World War I was drawing to a close, eight American Choctaw natives had a significant role to play in helping the United States Army Expeditionary Force win some important battles in the Mousse-Argonne (France) campaign. That campaign would be the final big German assault of the war.
Eight Choctaws were involved. One was from Bryan County, one from Choctaw County and six from McCurtain County. They included: Solomon Lewis, Bennington Mitchell Bobb, Smithville Ben Carterby (Bismark), Wright City Robert Taylor, Bokchito or Boswell Jeff Nelson, Kullitukle Pete Maytubby, Broken Bow James Edwards, and Ida (now Battiest) Calvin Wilson, Goodwater. They were all serving in the same battalion, which was practically surrounded by the German Army. The expeditionary force was in trouble because the Germans had broken the Americans' secret radio codes and had tapped the telephone lines. They were also capturing messengers who served as runners between the different companies on the front.
Captain Lawrence, a company commander, was walking through the company area when he overheard Solomon Lewis and Mitchell Bobb conversing in their native Choctaw language. After listening for a while, he called Lewis aside. "Corporal," he asked," how many Choctaws do we have in this battalion?" Lewis told the Captain, "We have eight men who speak fluent Choctaw in the battalion, sir." "Are there any of them over in Headquarters Company?" asked the captain. "I think that Carterby and Maytubby are over there," Lewis replied. "You fellows wait right here," said the captain. He got on the telephone and learned that Ben Carterby and Pete Maytubby were part of Headquarters Company. "Get them and have them stand by," Captain Lawrence told the commanding officer. "I've got an idea that might get the Heinies off our backs."
Calling Lewis and Bobb, the captain informed them, "Look, I'm going to give you a message to call in to headquarters. I want you to give them a message in your language. There will be somebody there who can understand it." The message was spoken and Private First Class Mitchell Bobb used the field phone to deliver the first “Choctaw code” message to fellow Choctaw Ben Carterby, who then translated it back into English for the Battalion Commander.
Within a matter of hours, the eight men able to speak Choctaw had been transferred until there was at least one in each field company headquarters. Now, not only were they handling field telephone calls, they were translating radio messages into the Choctaw and writing field orders to be carried by runners between the various companies.
The German code experts were "flipping their wigs" trying to break the new American code. Within 24 hours after the Choctaw language was pressed into service, the tide of the battle turned and the Allies pressed to the attack. In less than three days the Germans were retreating.
This happened near the end of the war and the Choctaw Code Talkers were not needed again. The company commanders and battalion commander, who told the eight Choctaws that he was “putting them in for medals”, praised them. (The medals were never received.) Solomon Lewis told most of the information in this report to Len Green in 1979. He said then that he was the only Choctaw Code Talker still living.