Thursday, November 9, 2017

Remembering Lieutenant Davitt

Thursday, November 9, 2017
1st Lt William F. Davitt
Loretta reports;

On Saturday we’ll be commemorating the 99th anniversary of the end of World War I. At 11 AM on 11 November 1918, an Armistice was in effect, ending the Great War with Germany.

Initially, the annual commemoration was called Armistice Day. Sadly, that armistice didn’t mark an end to all wars, and after WWII, the name, in the U.S., changed to Veterans Day, to recognize all war veterans. Elsewhere, the name of the holiday is different, but the theme of remembrance remains.

Our local newspaper called my attention to one of the last men to be killed in action in WWI—minutes before the 11AM ceasefire.  First Lt. William F. Davitt, the Chaplain of the 125th Infantry, was a graduate of Worcester’s Holy Cross College. An extraordinarily brave man, he earned a Distinguished Service Medal, a Croix de Guerre with palm, and a Silver Star Citation.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Worcester has squares, with memorial markers, dedicated to its veterans.* Lt. Davitt’s is one I pass nearly every day during my walk. I didn’t know his story, though, until I saw this newspaper article, and recognized the name—because, yes, I often pause at these memorial markers and re-read the inscriptions, as a kind of remembrance.

There’s more about him at this website of the VFW post named in his honor.

His foot locker is here.

And there’s a detailed picture of the last months of battle as well as his particular story at the 32nd “Red Arrow Veteran” Association site (please scroll down to “FINIS LA GUERRE!”). If you take the time to find and read it, you'll understand how he earned those medals.

*At one point you could find photographs of all the memorial squares at this website, but the links do not seem to be working. You can see two examples on the home page, though.

Photograph: 1st Lt. William F. Davitt, photo credit: State Library of Massachusetts
Photograph: Davitt Square memorial plaque is by me.


Liz said...

Here in Canada it's called Remembrance Day, and in schools the day is usually accompanied by a reading of the poem, "In Flanders Fields". For several weeks leading up to the day, everyone wears red poppies on their jackets and coats. Canada was in from the moment that the UK declared war. My grandfather, who was 21, was in a theatre in Toronto at the time. He recalls that everyone immediately stood up and sang "God Save the King". He enlisted, received officer training, survived the Battle of the Somme, and eventually was invalided out before spending time with his aunt and uncle (Sir George Perley, our High Commissioner) in London. A horribly high proportion of Canadian males of his generation never returned, including his sister's fiancee. She never married, and lived with him until her death in the 1980s. Grampy, in spite of hideous war wounds, lived to be 95, and he kept the mustache he was ordered to grow as a young officer until his death at age 95.

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