HEROIC STORY OF COMPANY D VALOR
The following story of the heroic deeds which resulted in 25
Americans, among them three Centerville boys, being awarded
French war cross for valor is told by Henry G. Wailes,
International News Service staff correspondent, in a dispatch
from the front in France published in the Chicago American. The
exploits of the three Centerville men are specially mentioned.
Sergt. Pearl Edwards is mentioned because of signal action after
he had lost a superior officer. Just who this can refer to is not
known, but it may have
been one of the men from Cedar Rapids or Mason City, they having
about 100 men in the company. He may have only been wounded.
With the American Army in France, March 15. Twenty five more
American soldiers, including the chief of staff of a division,
have been decorated with the French war cross.
The Americans decorated belong to the same force that took
over a trench in the Lorraine sector which they had compelled the
Germans to evacuate by their concentrated and sustained artillery
fire and by frequent spirited raids.
The Americans now hold the new position, having occupied it
at 4 o'clock on Wednesday morning.
The enemy made a few feeble efforts to recapture their lost
ground but were repulsed by the Americans in every attack.
The Americans found the position badly battered by shell
fire, but soon reorganized it and put it in good defensive shape.
FIRST PERMANENT ADVANCE.
This was the first permanent advance the Americans have scored
since they reached the firing line.
A captured trench is nearly two miles long and is situated
upon higher ground than the former advanced positions the
Franco -American troops had held.
The captured position has been the scene of bloody encounters
between the French and the Germans in the past.
The old German entanglements separating their front lines
from their second line positions is now being used to protect the
new American line, being enclosed with a new wire wall.
The decorations bestowed upon the honored American fighters
were presented by the French general commanding the army holding
that sector of the Lorraine front east of Luneville, where the
were sent in among the French troops to learn actual fighting
conditions at first hand.
CROSSES GIVEN FOR BRAVERY.
The war crosses were given for acts of bravery in the various
sharp engagements that Americans have taken part in since they
took over first line positions.
A couple of the Americans rewarded had been killed in action
and their war crosses were spiked upon the lids of their coffins
before the bodies were interred. Duplicates will be sent to their
relatives in America.
Most of the other honored men are in hospitals. Their
decorations were pinned above their cots.
Col. Douglas McArthur is the chief of staff who received a
medal for "extreme valor in participating in a French attack with
French troops in order to observe personally the methods used by
infantry and artillery for such engagements, risking his life
that the lives of soldiers in the future might be preserved, and
capturing single handed a Bavarian officer."
(Col. McArthur is chief of staff to the commander of the
Rainbow division. He is the son of the late Maj. Gen. Arthur
McArthur, who won fame in the Spanish-American war and the
AID IS HONORED, TOO.
Another of the men honored was Capt. Thomas S. Handy, aid de camp
to Col. McArthur, who, in order to get a better idea of the
effect of artillery fire, followed assaulting waves of infantry
into German front line positions, exhibiting "a fine example of
coolness and bravery."
Capt. Edward Stellar of Iowa was decorated for bravery and
coolness with his troops with the enemy.
Lieut. W. Alexander Terrill of Fort Worth, Texas, another of
the honored soldiers, was seriously wounded during a bombardment.
Lieut. A. Pailette was decorated for his action in organizing
his men after an enemy attack and leading them in a counter
attack which ejected the Germans from a trench they had occupied.
The other men getting the war cross were:
Capt. Charles W. Atkins of Winterset, Iowa who installed a
platoon under heavy fire, in demolished terrain, repulsing an
enemy counter attack.
LIEUTENANT IS DECORATED.
Lieut. Bernard VanHof of Grand Rapids, Mich., who, though badly
wounded in the leg, exhibited coolness and bravery during an
Sergt. James West, who helped organize a detachment which routed
enemy patrol, capturing some prisoners.
ENTERED ENEMY POSITION.
Sergt. Pearl Edwards of Centerville, Iowa, who organized the men
after his superior officer had been lost, counter attacking the
enemy and entering their positions.
Sergt. Warner Hall, who met an enemy party while on patrol duty,
gave combat, bringing back prisoners to the American lines.
Corporal Holmes Britten, who, having captured a German, shot down
his prisoner, after the German tried to shoot him, Britten was
compelled to fire in self-defense.
AGAINST GREAT ODDS.
Charles Gerdon, of Centerville, Iowa, who was wounded while in
performance of his duty, Gerdon was engaged in a counter attack
against great odds when struck.
Herbert Freeman and Amos Duke, who, while on patrol duty, met an
enemy detachment and aided materially in capturing two prisoners.
Second Lieut. Howard G. Smith, who led a counter attack and
a first line German trench, which the Americans succeeded in
Corporals Marvin Dunn, of Des Moines, Ia., Lewis Simons of
Ia. (or El Reno, Okla.), and Russell Lewis of Red Oak, Ia., who
wounded on March 5 while combating enemy raiders.
Private Percy Breese of Red Oak, Iowa; Charles Meffard and John
Golix of Woodbine, Iowa, who were seriously wounded in repelling
enemy counter attack on March 5.
Medical Sergeant Thomas Peterson of Minneapolis (dead), who was
installed in an emergency dressing station in an advanced
where he worked under fire until wounded.
Private Lawrence Wenell of Minneapolis, who was killed while
accomplishing an important mission under heavy fire.
Second Lieut. Henry A. Peterson, who after the crew of a trench
mortar had all been killed except himself, continued working the
piece in the face of an enemy attack, until the ammunition was
exhausted, shattering the German storming columns that were
IN PERFORMANCE OF DUTY.
Frank Osgood of Centerville, Iowa who was wounded in the leg
in the performance of his duty in a valorous manner.
Stung by the activity of the Americans in the Montsec region, the
Germans are now using their five and six-inch guns more and more.
A few weeks ago the Germans confined most of their shelling to
inch shells, but now only about 20 per cent of the shells that
over are of that caliber.
The artillery activity throughout Tuesday was comparatively
both sides shelling support lines and the areas back of the
seeking out battery emplacements.
The Americans have been active with rifle grenades, dislodging a
German machine gun from an advanced position and forcing snipers
evacuate their camouflaged hiding places. The occupants of German
listening posts were compelled to flee also.
The boches are using a new style of hand grenade call a potato
masher from its shape. It has a time fuse attached and bursts a
seconds after it has landed.
The night was quiet on the American front at Toul, although there
were outbreaks of artillery fire. There was no infantry action.
(~transcribers note: Sergt. Pearl Edwards is Polly Eckles
~ source: The Semi Weekly Iowegian,
Centerville, Appanoose Co., Iowa, Monday, March 18, 1918