Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: A phony major blamed booze and infatuation on his ‘unbecoming’ conduct at the Davenport

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Major Forbes Robertson of the U.S. Marines impressed his fellow guests at the Davenport Hotel and was “lavishly entertained” by a number of Spokane people.

Until he got liquored up and started passing bad checks, that is.

Police arrested him and found out he was not Major Forbes Robertson at all. He was Sgt. Leo Gerth, 23, a first sergeant on leave from his Bremerton posting.

The Spokane Daily Chronicle checked with the local Marine recruiting officer, which discovered that Sgt. Gerth had a “brilliant record in the Marine Corps,” but was certainly not a major.

“He claimed that he was intoxicated last week and that liquor was responsible for his predicament,” the recruiting officer said.

Gerth would later claim he had become infatuated with a Spokane woman he met on a ship and followed her to Spokane, posing as an officer “to be better able to make the path of love go smoothly.”

In addition to the local charges, he now faced court-martial for conduct unbecoming of a Marine and impersonating an officer.

Fort George Wright’s Fourth Infantry troops were planning a little “hike” in the summer.

They were going to march nearly 400 miles across the state to Camp Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, outside of Tacoma).

The plan was to march 20 miles per day, and camp out along the way.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.