Yellowstone county boys, including the leader, Fred A. Draper, were members of
what was beyond doubt the best known and most popular band in the “A. E. F.” This
band was originally the Second Montana Infantry Band and accompanied the regiment
to Camp Greene, N. C. When the Second
Montana was rechristened the 163rd U. S. Infantry, the band changed
its name accordingly, but throughout its eventful career in England and France
was popularly known as “The Montana Band.”
band was sent overseas in December, 1917, and soon established an enviable reputation. From among nearly four hundred American bands
in France, it was selected for the concert music at the Inter-Allied games in
Paris on the Fourth of July, 1918, and was the only band accorded the honor of
a special invitation to play before the Supreme War Council at Versailles. Its playing made such an impression that a
special invitation to play at the French athletic games in Paris followed.
who heard the Montana band in Paris compared its performance favorably with
that of the Garde Republicans band, the most famous
band in France. In a letter to the
commanding general of the 41st Division, the chairman of the central
athletic committee said: “The band has
been the big hit of Paris
and have done themselves proud.” The band was awarded two diplomas,
respectively by the mayor of Versailles and the French minister of war, and
these prized trophies have been placed among the historical exhibits of the
Montana State Library.
of the Yellowstone county boys in this band were brought together again under
the same leadership with the organization of the Midland Empire band at
Billings, in May, 1919.
first American troop train to enter Germany following the signing of the
armistice was piloted by a Yellowstone county boy---Joe ‘Nalmay. The Train bore Company E, 37th
Engineers and entered Coblenz, Germany, (on the Billings-Berlin branch of the
Great Northern) on December 6, 1918.
submitted by Faith Barnwell
Yellowstone County Coordinator