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Woodburn Barnes Walbridge

Machinist Mate 2nd Class
USS Durham - 1919

Woodburn "Woody" Walbridge was an American sailor during the great war, and was one of the very few Americans to bring back a Mosin-Nagant. This is the story of his incredible journey

Woodburn brought back a M91 Mosin which was produced at the Sestroretsk factory, outside of St. Petersburg, in 1895

This rifle was likely sent to Serbia or Montenegro as aid, and was later captured by invading Austro-Hungarian forces in the region

May 20th, 1898
Woodburn is born in Toledo, Ohio

May 7th, 1917
Woodburn enlists in the Navy
-Toledo News-Bee

1919 - "A wilderness of rags"

    This is the description travelers give of devastated Serbia and the garb of these small Serbians tells why. Thousands of men, women and children in this unhappy land and others that were laid waste by the Hun must wear clothing like this until civilized garments reach them from the nationwide collection of used clothing, shoes and blankets conducted by the A.R.C. for the refugees in Allied Countries

- Library of Congress

Due to widespread famine in the ashes of the great war, the Naval Overseas Transportation Service would send Woodburn Walbridge to the Balkans on a humanitarian mission aboard the U.S.S Sherman

U.S.S Sherman

U.S.S Durham

Woodburn's ship was painted in a dazzle camouflage to help evade German U-Boats. It was later renamed the Durham  


February 23, 1919 - Zelenika, Montenegro

     Rainy nasty day. Souvenirs galore. Went and walked around on share and near barracks in afternoon. Big Montenegrin pistol, $2.50. Short Austrian rifle, $3.50. Field glasses $20.00. Saber box candy; gas mask. A regular procession of souvenir hunters coming aboard all afternoon with shells etc. Ritchie from Ohio got me some stuff. Wrote a letter home. Several drunks.

- Diary of Woodburn Walbridge

This is the Mosin that Woodburn likely got from his friend Ritchie. Zoom in to get a closer look!


The Minutemen of Montenegro

At the outbreak of the great war, there were many Montenegrin coal miners working in the mines of southern Colorado. Many of them would return to their homeland to fight during the war. A Mosin can be seen on the far right

March 31st, 1919 - Woodburn's Mosin is duffel cut

     Fine day but still a little rough. Laid out on hatch at noon. Another one of the First’s guns to
clean. Fitting my guns in box in eve.

- Diary of Woodburn Walbridge

Woodburn would also stamp his name into the bottom of the stock

Over 100 years later, Woodburn's Mosin lives on to remind us of his story, and the horrors of the great war

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