"...He Died in the Discharge of His Duties"
Dedicated to America's warriors and warrior-citizens on Armistice Day, 2007
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Tn -- While researching the military history of my grandfather, 1st Lt. Louis Carmel Brown, 7th Engineers, 5th Division, AEF, I found the following information.
From the National Archives (unedited):
An interview with Private 1st Class James D. Potee. Company D, 7th Engineers, (5th Division, American Expeditionary Force); 1575 Ellsworth St., Gary, Ind. On April 4, 1919.
"On the morning of October 14/18 Lieut. Brown was in command of his platoon at the position near Cunel, France, and led them over the top at 8:30A.M. The attack was against an enemy stronghold and the enemy machine gun and artillery fire was of a most intense kind. Lieut; Brown had advanced probably 200 yards from the starting point and was nearly at the foot of the hill overlooking Cunel, and was about 350 yards to left of road going into Cunel in the direction of our advance, when he was struck with a small piece of shrapnel in the back.
I was in a shell hole when I noticed whom I thought was Lieut. Brown lying dead a short distance away to my front. Shortly I noticed him move his hand slightly and I then went over to him and asked him if he was badly hurt, and he replied "Yes" and asked who I was. I then picked him up and carried him back to a shell hole on the crest of the hill and laid him face downwards. Upon examination, discovered the piece of shrapnel which had wounded him was about the size of half a dollar. He asked me to turn him over on his back, but in trying to do so, it was too painful for him to bear and he continued lying on his face. I brought a Medical Corps man to his aid who attended his wounds. Lt. Brown inquired as to the seriousness of his wound and the Medical Corps man told him that he would get along all right after a while. Lt. Brown talked very little. He requested several times that the Captain of his Co. be advised of his wound, and asked if the barrage had quieted down any. I aided in taking him from the field later, and he was evacuated to a hospital, dying the morning of October 18th about 6:00 AM.
He received this wound which proved fatal, about 9: a, m, October 14th, 1918."
Information regarding wound of Lieut. Brown, given by Capt; Joseph Laracy (Co. D, 7th Engineers):
"On the evening of October 14th, 1918, while interviewing Lt Brown who was being taken to Div; Field Hosp 17, I found him resting very easy, and conscious of all that was happening; He remarked that he was feeling fine and would be back to the Co; as soon as he was well. I learned afterwards that his wound was more serious, and upon arriving at Field Hospital 17, he was evacuated to Mobile Hospital No 1, where he died the morning of October 18th."
From the Bridgewater (Massachusetts) Independent (12/6/18):
Lieut. Brown Killed
Word came Tuesday afternoon to Mrs. Marion Brown of the death in battle in France of her husband, Lieut. Louis C. Brown. The manner of his meeting his death was not stated except that "he died in the discharge of his duties."
Mrs. Brown received further details from the war department yesterday, stating that her husband died October 28 (sic, should read 18) of wounds received in action.
He was with the 7th Engineers and was in action at the St. Mihiel salient when last heard from.
Lieut. Brown is survived by his wife and three children, the oldest four years old. Other immediative relatives, all of Bridgewater, include his mother, Mrs. Sarah L. Brown; a sister, Mrs. Pearl Benson; and a brother Eben H. Brown. A sister, Mrs. Myron Richmond, died during the recent influenza epidemic.
Lieut. Brown was born in Lakewood, Ohio, 32 years ago and moved to this state with his parents. He attended the public schools, graduating from Bridgewater High School with the class of 1906. He then entered Massachusetts Agricultural College (now University of Massachusetts- Amherst) and graduated with the class of 1910 with a B.S. degree. Lieut. Brown received a commission with the constabulary in the Philippines as third lieutenant. At college he was captain of the college battalion.
After two years in the Philippines he returned to this country by way of the Suez Canal, completing a trip around the world. He married Miss Marion Frost and moved to Toledo, Ohio where he had a position with the city as engineer. He received his commission about a year ago and went across last July. Lieut. Brown was a member of the New Jerusalem church in Toledo and joined the Masons there. At college he was a member of the Delta Gamma Chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
A personal note: The middle child of Lieutenant Brown and Marion was Marjory (2 1/2 years old when he was killed), my mother. November 11 is still looked upon as Armistice Day in my family. My grandmother wore the wedding ring Louis gave her until the day she died. She turned down an offer in 1919 to bring Lt. Brown's remains back to our country from his French grave. She said it was best to leave him among those with whom he served and as a reminder to the rest of us. She reported in the University of Massachusetts Class of 1910's newsletter of 1968(Vol. 58) that Lt. Brown had ten grandchildren and four great grandchildren (now eighteen; and now three great-great grandchildren). Six of their grandsons "discharged their duties": my cousin Tom Hudnall in the US Navy; his brother Randy in the US Army; my brother John in the US Army; my brother Richard in the US Navy Medical Corps; my brother James in the US Marine Corps; and myself, the US Navy. Tom, John, and James served in Vietnam. His great grandson Will Harper is currently "discharging his duties" as a Lt.(j.g.), US Navy. My grandmother concluded the 1968 Class of '10 newsletter report "In his short life, Louis really started something."