COLUMBIA, SC – Local author Jerred Metz has just released a novel based on the experience of the 30th Infantry Division in France in the First World War.
On Sunday, May 5, he will talk about it and sign copies at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum at 2 p.m.
Metz spoke on the experience of the 30th back in December as part of the museum’s monthly Lunch and Learn series. His new novel centers around the Battle of St. Quentin Canal in November 1918, at which a combined force of American, Australian and British troops achieved the first full breach of the Hindenburg Line. Their victory did much to convince Germany that it had little hope for victory.
At the event on May 5, Metz plans to focus on how he came to write the book based on those events, Bellicourt Tunnel: The Crowning Battle of the Great War.
“I will talk about what inspired me to write a novel about the war experience of a dozen soldiers from South Carolina,” Metz said. “I will talk about the many surprises and discoveries that greeted me along the way of writing the novel.”
For instance – certain famous historical figures make appearances in the novel, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Winston Churchill. He acknowledges he had to employ artistic license to place Churchill in that time and place, but no such effort was necessary in the case of Conan Doyle.
Metz said he was stunned, but pleased, to learn through his research precisely where Conan Doyle was on Sept. 29, 1918 – the day that the Americans broke the Hindenburg Line at Bellicourt Tunnel.
Leafing through a copy of Conan Doyle’s autobiography Memories and Adventures, Metz saw that one of the chapters was named “Breaking the Hindenburg Line.” He started reading it, and could hardly believe his luck: “He was actually present at that battle, in that place, at that time!”
The appearance by Metz continues the museum’s focus on the American 30th Infantry Division, which got its start in South Carolina, at Camp Sevier in Greenville. It was made up primarily of men from South and North Carolina and Tennessee.
After the book-signing, visitors may want to check out the museum’s special exhibit on the 30th, also known as the “Old Hickory” Division. There they can see uniforms, a German stick grenade and a British Lee Enfield – the rifle carried by soldiers of the 30th, because they were attached to the Second Army of the British Expeditionary Force rather than the main American Expeditionary Force.
Jerred Metz is a retired professor of writing and literature, having taught in South Carolina starting in 1999. He is the author of eleven books.
About the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum
Founded in 1896, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is an accredited museum focusing on South Carolina’s distinguished martial tradition through the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the War on Terror, and other American conflicts. It serves as the state’s military history museum by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting South Carolina’s military heritage from the colonial era to the present, and by providing superior educational experiences and programming. It is located at 301 Gervais St. in Columbia, sharing the Columbia Mills building with the State Museum. For more information, go to https://crr.sc.gov/.