World War I Honor Roll

Louis J. Certain Jr.

Private, U.S. Army


114th Infantry Regiment
29th Infantry Division

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: October 12, 1918
Buried at: Calvary Cemetery
                  Route 70
                  Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Awards: Purple Heart

PRIVATE LOUIS J. CERTAIN JR. was born in New Jersey in 1896 to Louis J. and Rose Certain. The family was living at 106 West Street in March of 1906 when their home suffered fire damage as a result of the fire that destroyed the old Sixth Regiment Armory at West and Mickle Streets. At the time of the 1910 Census, the family lived at 10 Park Place in Camden. The elder Certain worked as a house carpenter, while his wife listed an occupation of "washer woman" to a private family. Also at home were older brother Grover C. 16, and sister Louise, both already working by the time the census was enumerated.

Louis J. Certain Jr. was living at 337 Spruce Street in Camden NJ prior to enlisting in the old 3rd Regiment, National Guard of New Jersey in June of 1917. He was sent to Camp Edge at Sea Girt NJ on July 25, after which he and the rest of his unit were sent to Camp McClellan, Anniston AL where they became the 114th Infantry Regiment.

Private Louis J. Certain was killed in action on October 12, 1918 while serving with the 114th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. This unit was part of the attack on German positions near Verdun on October 8, 1918 known as the Battle of the Argonne Forest.

The 29th Infantry Division's account record has the following account for October 12 1918:

The 114th Infantry, 29th Division was attached to the 18th French Division, moved from its bivouac in the Cotee des Roches into position in the Ravin de Coassinvaux on the night of the 11th-12th October preparatory to an attack upon the Bois d'Ormont, which the Division had been ordered to make at 0700hrs on the 12th. In conjunction with the 66th French Infantry, the 114th moved to attack at the hour designated.

The objective of the 114th was the enemy line between Bois d'Ormont and Bois d'Moirey. The enemy has established a very strong dug in concrete line of machine guns. The French artillery unit providing preparatory fire had a severe shortage of artillery ammunition. The small amount that was actually fired was placed to far behind the enemy lines*. The artillery had very little effect on the enemy machine gun line and caused very little damage. The 1st Company of the 111th Machine Gun Battalion began its advance on Bois d'Ormont to support the 114th advance but was forced to pull back after only five minutes due to the heavy German Artillery. After just five minutes eleven 111th men were killed.

The 114th eventually made it into Bois d'Ormont but the cost was very high. Six officers and 112 enlisted men were killed, twelve officers and 800 enlisted men were wounded in the engagement.

On October 12, 1918 the Bois d'Ormont was conquered at the cost of 118 casualties. Private  Certain and several other Camden County men were of that number. 

Private Louis Certain was survived by his mother, Mrs. Rose Certain of 725 North 11th Street, Philadelphia PA, a brother, Grover C., and sisters Ida and Louise. Grover Certain was living in Philadelphia in April of 1930. He later moved to California.

Louis Certain was brought home in 1921 and after services in Camden at the Church of the Immaculate Conception was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Delaware Township (present-day Cherry Hill), New Jersey with full military honors.

337 Spruce Street
May 26, 2012

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Philadelphia Inquirer - October 31, 1921