Yellowstone County MTGenWeb

Yellowstone County
"The Montana Band"

163rd Infantry Band, 41st Div., A. C. F.,

“The Montana Band”


Eight 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.”

The 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.

Critics 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.

Most 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.




The End of The Trail


          The 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
    May 2013

  Email me:
Katy Hestand
Yellowstone County Coordinator

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