THE MARLOW BUNKER HILL #272 WWI RESEARCH
c. Richard Ozanne USA (great grandson of Emily Andrews)
Imagine a Visit With a Loved One Who Has Passed On
Imagine if you could have a loved one you’ve lost come back for a visit: who would you bring back? What would you tell them, show them, ask them? Where would you hold this “reunion?” Who else would you include?
The Hill #272
The Story of Alfred Marlow
Richard Ozanne c.2009
“This story is true, at least to the name and memory of a grand uncle I knew only in legend”
The facts of the battlefield of Hill #272 are legend to those who remember one of the turning battles of WW1”
Alfred Marlow was an industrious young man, handsome and energetic. Al was born in the United States (Cleavland OH) and moved as a youngster to Toranto and London Ontario (Canada) and his mother and sister both occupied a nice house during the late 19th Century where he was born and raised. His father was an English Bell Smith (Maker of Bells) who was killed when a tornado hit the town in the late 19th century and he was still up in the clock tower on the scaffold tuning the bells for the great cathedral there. Alfred Marlow only knew his father as a child, but loved the sound of bells, music and imagination. He was not a man of great stature but one of clever ideas who was educated and a good sense of humor which made him a special friend to many..as well as a talk of the town among the ladies. He had ambitions and a tenacity of a entrepreneur just made for business as well as dealing with people. At the young age of 19 his idea was to take a machine from London Ontario, Canada bought in Chicago out west to the town of Globe Arizona and form a Motion Picture theater and start a film company. (The original Globe Theater built in 1917, post dates the original structure made of wood) He bought the projector and headed out to Globe AZ, then a hearty western town of miners and prospectors.(circa 1909/10) His family, my great-grandmother and grandmother as well as my grand aunt head off by railway and then by carriage to prospect the new territory of Arizona which was not a state until 1912. His new Globe Theater was a success captivating audiences with the new advent of cinema otherwise known as the “picture shows” . The family settled (Emily Marlow-Andrews, Gertrude Marlow- My grandmother who married (circa 1910) and went off to live in San Francisco under her married name Gertrude Benkman) Alfred Malowe became a name about town, first in Arizona to have not only a cinema (and design a new one) but the germs of a film industry that he thought would would grow....(during the silent film era)”Marlow Productions”
>Somewhat sympatheticly it seems obvious in my imagination why he choose “Globe” since Shakespere Theater, etc. his name being Marlow, would have shared some imaginary connections to (Globe Theater) and the great playright- Christopher Marlowe<
The 1st world war broke out, and he called himself to battle, first training in the Cavalry in Naco Arizona and then on the Battlefield in France where our story begins.
A brief addition to the story when he hears about the outbreak of World War I as it is of much concern and in the consciousness of Americans. There had been a depression and many businesses had closed...The town of Globe is now militarized-1914..miners are signing up at a rough canvas tent along the railway spur that goes through the center of town.
It was a fair afternoon when the paper was delivered to the residence of Ms Emily Andrews and there was talk of the neighbors about the War..a great war that was happening. Ms. Andrews was in her special rocking chair and her son came from work with beads of sweat upon his brow as it was a hot summers day in Globe..and it was then he broke the news...
“Momma, I have to do this..Like every American, I gotta do my duty and sign in...look its paid and when I come back, you will all be here..I'm gonna do something right for once...and “Jim Dandy' (a phrase he always said) If any guy can make a mark on this war it will be your son...” he pronounced to his mother. His sweetheart Jennie a petite and beautiful young lady from California came from the front door as it cracked like thunder in closing.”I've signed up, Jennie!” he announced. There was a tear that she brushed away...Alfred's dog Millie swung around his feet as he reached down and petted the small happy dog. “Anyway it'll only be a few months and Ill be back and we will be married and have a household of kids and not only a house but a big one!...then Ill have enough to make “it great “ with the picture business...Jim Dandy” he lectured..somewhat conclusively and accepted. Of course there was not even a “no” uttered, for it was “the right thing”, and his decisions were almost always final due to his tenacity.
(5 months pass)
I am writing from a hill held by our US Cavalry battalion in France (1918). We are deeply entrenched by German forces from three pillboxes, (edited out by censors) to the left and to the right of where we have been dug in for 3 days waiting for orders. I am keeping a small journal for all to read as I personally feel uncertain about the outcome of...all of this. To Jenny, I love you more. To Millie, keep the little dog safe...God help me Ill be home at the end of this...(scratched out..mud bits become embedded in his journal)
There is a hill that we are supposed to take (generally coded...) and Roger Jordan and Pete Nash, Joe Peters and Jack Sloane, and James Nation are fellow soldiers caught in this dreadful muddy trench and are getting edgy about moving out. (Jim becomes a good friend of Alfred's as they share stories deep in the trench as they wait out heavy fire) At least 20 barrages maybe more of German cannon fire and counting have past over our heads and sent shrapnel down like rain. Joe Carter, my friend was lost last night, it was a hellish rain of shrapnel coming down..we were edging along and wrapping cuts and wounds, our backs against the muddy and urine saturated sediment that lines this foxhole. Every hour its another death toll out there..the sky is painted with death, and the landscape bleak with broken trees and that dreaded smell of bodies that we cant get out of there...meaning there that flat plain of mud, broken machinery and bodies..out there...a plain of death. Its not France out there its hell!
“ Bring that canteen!” Joe Carter, screamed over the sounds of loose fire of the front...”Damn, its bleeding again”. Carter was downed with a shrapnel wound to the right shoulder. It was a river of life giving fluid, let loose. It was so bad as the flesh was torn away beneath his khaki uniform, the rim of his helmet has a big chunk taken out of it in the last barrage.
“Damn, its like on fire..” Carter replied in screaming pain as he took the canteen and put water on his wound just a little and took a mouth for himself. His open wound was wrapped with some cloth torn from his pants, making a make-shift tourniquet. Marlow passed him a can of food that was bent up. “Here, its been hours since we've eaten..these rations should last a day or so”
“I wonder when Jesus will come..Al..the pain is incredible!' Joe responded tightening his bandages and looking underneath to find dried blood soaked in his uniform “got to get to Medic...or Ill lose the thing...looks like gangrene coming up under there..smell that!!”. “Stay with us Carter” Marlow ordered. “Looks like your gotta give em a strong left!”
A strong clatter of a Gatling gun could be heard in the distance as well as a whistle of a mortar going off.. Marlow looked with a spyglass out onto the terrain and saw only blackness as the sun was setting beyond the clouds and the darkness of the night was coming. “S... color, rain tonight again...” he said watching as there was some movement in the trees in the far distance. “I think there out there again tonight...going to be a hell of a night again” he said in a low commanding tone as his back brushed back and became saturated with mud. He wiped his brow on his mud covered face. “Jenkins...Marlow commanded” we got to get Carter in the hole, time to move up..” he commanded and Jeff Jenkins moved out from under a 6foot cave in the edge of the trench roughly supported by small timbers and grass.. At least it was dryer in there..Marlow thought, crawling around through the stagnant water and helping Carter climb inside the covered portion of the fox-hole. Jim moves amout in the hole, and rations out canteens, sparing water amongst the soldiers. He moves in to Marlow, and they talk about good times, or better times...any times other than the current seconds, minutes and hours that are waiting. “ You know when the damned thing is over Im going to take a shower..I mean a big one!” Jim joked in some sarchasm, Marlow answered “ Got a girl on the other end?” he asked? (Caustic explosions could be heard in the background) “Yes, she's sweet!..pretty too..huh?” Jim answered, “Yeh me too..her name is Jenny..sweet too..miss em all!” Marlow answered.(More caustic explosions in the background and mud thrown up and over the trench) “Miss my...” (Bamm Bamm!..more explosions occurred) “Ha..it only matters that we get through this..Ha!” Jim answered, grabbing his helmet and prowling on all fours toward the rear of the trench” Marlow made his rounds:
“No lights tonight...again” he said softly...”there going to try to take us again...”
Bahm..Bham...Bhammmmm another round of artillery cut loose from one side...”Hell, this is..Company C is gonna be plastered...they know where there at. A sound of intermittent gunshots became like fireworks going off..
Dewey a young 17 year old came crawling down the foxhole on his belly covered with grass and dirt..
“About 50 feet out...3 Jerri's right side” he commented trying to clean the end of his gun out with no mercy to the elements. The soldiers crept up and viewed some shadows scattering..Tat...Tat...Tat,Tat,Tat Tat, Marlows gun plunged over the edge and aimed and ducked back as Dewey continued. A soldier was seen almost as a ghost walking on the landscape above..he was wandering as though he had lost all consciousness..a zombie. Marlow caught him with the eyeglass..”Damn..one of our boys..!! Rat Tat..TA tat ta..when the enemy fire as the soldier jerked and still walked almost falling down, and continued on..Rat, tat a tat tat. “Hit the deck!” Marlow exclaimed as a twisting sound guttered the night....ta..swoosh. BAM! Dirt flew everywhere...Marlow came down into a chrysalis position his hands covering his head and then came up covered with dirt. Slowly he crept up and saw the soldier still wandering out there after what was apparently a mortar attack. He looked over and saw Dewey laying shattered against the opposing wall...blood dripping from under his helmet and his body gashed by the explosion...”Damn...”he said to himself! “Carter!” he commanded...”Get out here and cover me!..” Carter his right arm wrapped came out, his eyes bulging with pain..and grabbed his gun and lay over the top as Marlow climbed up on top into a pool of water that scrapped his belly...He could see the American Soldier wandering around some 25 feet away...slowly he crawled down on his belly trying to make shapes out his hands closely gripping his gun, bayonet forward...It seemed like hours that which took only minutes to reach the wandering soldier and grabbing him thrust him down onto softened soil.. “Where you fool are you off to church?” he said softly with impact at the soldier that seemed oblivious and meandering and was now down on his belly. “Company?” Marlow asked softly. The fellow was dazed but seemed only to have some minor wounds at first..and then he saw blood coming from both ears...”S...” Marlow exclaimed as he grabbed the fellow and dragged him so slowly back to the trench, the soldier moaning with some sort of gibberish that couldn't be easily deciphered. The two rolled into the trench, Dewey's body lay there looking out..”What Company?” Marlow asked the soldier who appeared to also have several shrapnel wounds upon closer inspection. “Hes shell shot” Carter said..”cant hear a word...ears blown out”. Marlow covered him with some loose and torn camouflage. “No medics in Hell...How about Line 23..we gotta get us out, else where all gonna end up like Dewey” Dewey's head was covered with his helmet, a common grace. “Line 23 has Medics..Carter exclaimed. Line 23 was ½ mile away and between a German Gatling gun nest and a small obscure hill, they observed looking at the map of an overview done days ago...then again Line 23 may have moved out. “I'm gonna rush it” Carter exclaimed..”gotta..this arm is blazing...” Marlow turned and looked down the trench line that seemed like a weird perspective drawing with intermittent dirt mound laid in its path. “I'm going back...to see where were at..”Marlow exclaimed. “Stay here Carter” Cover me from behind” Slowly Marlow crawled along and through the trench climbing up upon wooden beams and over rocks that seemed to litter blown out parts of the trench. He scampered like a mouse along the wall his head and body laying low and through big pools of water which sank deep in mud. Dead Soldiers were left right and center. He say Blake, one of his long time friends whose body sat, bayonet drawn in what seemed to be a symbol of war...but he was dead too. A tear came as he allowed a second for eulogy and went on. More bodies were piled up...Germans and Americans, a Frenchman who had a bottle of whiskey lay down flat gripping the bottle as though an old friend, but he too was dead. In his pouch he had two grenades..crude but usable. Marlow took the bottle and said a quick prayer for the fallen and headed off over one trench and to another. He must have counted in his head 50 bodies of all origins that lined the trenches as almost a macabre sidewalk..there. Marlow brought out a flashlight with a red filter and proceeded into the darkness. The smells were vulgar and depressing. Death was there underfoot as he hoped to find one alive among the many...but none. He scattered up the side of one trench and ahead he saw some movement by candlelight ahead. Rattta tat tat...the guns went off and Marlow ditched rolling into what he thought was a void but greeted by 5 soldiers who sat in a foxhole were dazed at his arrival. “Medics up front...?” he asked pointing out to several lines ahead..”they all had a muffled laughed as though a comedy sketch was being done. “No...there all F... dead in 23,24,25! What are you Gabriel?”. Marlow laid back and grasp for a breath...”Orders?”
“Orders are to die in this sinkhole stupid!” one soldier laughed, “Insubordination” Marlow cried. The others macabre faces smiled. To Marlow theses faces became those who had already had died...”Were dead!..all of us! Were all going to die in this S...hole, just when? Lieutenant? Just When? Now or later? I've got orders...Yes I got the damned orders “stay put! Stay entrenched in this sinkhole!” the soldier said. He reached over and pulled up a plank...picking up a dead soldiers hand that was just laying there...” This is the hand that gave us these orders...Dead Lieutenant Franks...Yes Dead Lieutenant, Franks hand...This hand, Ha! (A Macabre vision of a soldier holding up a severed hand) The orders...Stay Put..Stay Put..mind you! Were already dead! “Marlow turned and crawled away from the soldiers that all had some sort of shell shock that was soon discovered as one of the soldiers pulled a knife from his holster and put it to his heart and laughed. Marlow moved his way back...Yes 23, 24 and 25, didn't take much discovery as he switched back, climbed out of the trench and made his way through the night on hands and knees not to return to the preceding trench and off into darkness taking some guide to his compass readings in the darkened sky.
All of a sudden the night sky was emblazoned by a red comet that shot up and burned brightly..Marlow hit the ground quickly as the night grew to daylight for a couple of minutes and more shots were heard poking the darkness with excess...war.
BAM BAM! His foxhole directly ahead was bombarded..screams could be heard as he viewed upon the fading flare a cloud of mud and dust disappearing into the blackness...”God!” Marlow thought to himself...He rushed into a nearby thicket that could be seen some 20 yards away...Other shadows could be seen of German soldiers scattering around. Marlow lost his helmet tripping over a stump and climbing underneath it for shelter, then moving on again. Ratttta Raaatttatattatat...The guns went off in the distance as Marlow ran blankly into the night full force finding himself rushing with energy that seemed uncommon. He found himself flat, moving through a nettled field on his belly, a river and off into blackness...behind him another flare was shot up. He moved onward.
The next day at daybreak was a thick haze and storm of rain came from under the blanketing clouds. The fire had subsided and he found himself in a large field walking through grass and what used to be a farmers field that was mucked over with tracks of some device...a German tank armada, or Americans.it did not matter it seemed his gut loaded with rocks and caked with mud bayonet straight forward. Appearing ahead was a farmhouse that seemed burned out, half of it at least. One could hear the sound of chickens and cows in the distance. He walked toward it zig zagging and piling himself up behind a tree for inspection of the farm which could be a German machine gun nest. A small girl roughly about 4 or 5 years old was carrying a pale of milk along a fence. She saw Marlow, dropped the pail and ran indoors. Marlow, back against a broken and burned wall moved in and over through a burned out window. The place was littered with broken furniture and burned out remembrance. Suddenly a door opened slowly and one could see a German Luggers tip passing through the opening..Marlow dodged behind a broken door and readied his knife in one hand and gun with bayonet in the other. (In French) “We want not problem...here take what we have..(German) we don't want any trouble” a voice came from the other side of the door. Marlow moved in..“American!” The door opened to an old wrinkled face of a man with a Luger in his hand and bandaged leg with a stick used as a cane. Behind him the little girl who was looking on with terror. “American!” Marlow cried...”Stay where you are..”the old man moved forward, within easy shooting distance of Marlow as the case may be”
The old man put down his gun as Marlow lowered his bayonet (French) “Do you speak French?” the old man questioned as Marlow came forward..”Take everything you wish but leave us to peace..”
Marlow came up and stretched out his hand...” Friend” he said. The old man began to cry as his gun dropped and he fell to the floor. “ I speek little English..just take what you want and go! Please just go!” The little girl was hiding behind a dresser and came out. Her hair was like straw and they appeared both were tattered and torn objects of the aspects of war, here in this farmhouse, one of many of this area of Northern France.
Marlow laid back and the suspicions seemed to drop about the soldier that had just wandered in. He was tired and worn and had a fever. For three days he slept and the young girl and the old man tended to several wounds that Marlow had overlooked. After only an hour Marlow blacked out only to come to later. He was bandaged and fed and came to consciousness the third day. The French farmer keeping him in an old worn closet lined with old soiled clothes that had a window in the ceiling and a Armoir in front of it to avoid suspicion should German troops come to inspect.
On the third day he was able to talk to the old man and his grand daughter. Both her parents had been killed in a cross-fire on the farm. He was left with his granddaughter to fend for themselves among the ruins of the farm. “The soldiers..they come every third day” the old man said,”You must leave now”.
A feeling of Humanity seemed to come over the room and Marlow sat to make a plan to take both the old man and his granddaughter with him to an American outpost that he figured out must be only 5 miles away. They agreed and all left together with light bags for Salami and Bread across a patch of closed land, into and through a swamp, across a forest with trees that followed a brook to the top of a hill where they had a better vantage point from which to plan.
From the hill there were clouds of smoke from the lines between Germans and Americans in the distance. If one listened one could hear the distant thunder. It was funny..on their journey there were no soldiers nor incursions over the miles they traveled...all was seemingly silent, as they past in a loop behind the lines of the Franco-American held territory They took off in an opposite direction and came upon a bridge where they crossed. On theother side was a team of French and English Soldiers on horseback who greeted them and brought them safely back to a camp.
He heard that there were few survivors among his fellow soldiers and he was the only one to make it out of the heavily barraged lines which laid 846 soldiers to their death with 332 wounded. Marlow was the lucky one who managed to find his way out that raining evening.
He said goodby to the French farmer and his granddaughter and was stationed back the next day on duty. Marlow hated this war, it was now two years into it. Apparently there was no turning back for the next assault. Lines had been drawn and the orders had been given. The next day he found himself out with 10 horse drawn carts and 7 soldiers per cart to go into battle again along a very interesting military line drawn in the sand called the Maginot Line. For Marlow this was the 7th battle of the war that he saw and there were 3 more to come. The last on a sun filled area of Normandy that was deeply under assault by the Germans.
Today is the day...I think it is a good day, and all seems well. It is a sunny day and news has it that we are making headway in the war..I should be home soon, Home to my family and Mille (my dog..how is she doing now) and of course Jenny..I'm still here, waiting to come home.
The troops lined up in crews 20 a piece to dig themselves in on this day. A column of new tanks were unloaded out into the field, a smell of fuelsel oil seemed to go through everything. In the sky above there was seen an corps of airplanes lacing the clouds above, climbing up and coming low...A Bi-winged “Jenny”, I think they call em...”Remarkable!” Marlow thought to himself, “Flying Machines of the Army Air Corps with my girls name on it..”
The day was hot, and the officers tent was crowded as the battle plans were laid out...the tent itself collapsed and moved to mile marker 32 with the British incursions.
The day came and was gone and that night the troops sat around over a bonfire and waited. The next day nothing happened...and on the third day, there came a wave of German aircraft from the sky mowing down a water tank and spilling bullets upon the line...but no one was killed or injured.
As in war the days got worse..and a sickness among some of the men made things more difficult...it was called TB or Tuberculosis. Well fortunately this passed, but the war didn't and intensified as thousands of men in uniform upheld their National Pride as well as ordinary citizens of , women and children, the abled and disabled saw the angst and treachery of this war spread beyond Europe. In a months time this station was the same killing field as all were, it was a Trench-Line again.
Bayonets drawn and a cavalry charge for the hill! A bugle call...forward. The soundings of horses being shot with their riders, and soldiers bayonets clashing, colliding and fire being drawn..it was all an insidious realm of dangerous honor. In the cities, loads of people were being displaced from aerial bombings by the new device, an aeroplane which chopped up air and dived down as a hawk to spray lead over streets and villages displacing hundreds of thousands from their homes and farms. One could see 3 mile long exodus from the cities by whatever transportation could be gained: Horse drawn carriages, motor trucks, trains and on foot. Families who lost everything were taken to the road. Behind them was left nothing but burned out ruins of their former lives and the friends and relatives, children and families who lost their lives in this insidious event which went on from border to border and claimed innocent and guilty with cruel and merciless judgment..this called war. Letters would come in weekly and often into the trenches where the young and older were fighting the battlefield and the other side. At some point there was no “friend” or “foe', the battle weary soldiers were trained to kill all that moved, and some fell ill to the rationale and many more the sheer terror of this brought to them by Shell Shock. ( When the sound of cannons went off they lost their Minds..the wounded in this area alone would be in the 100's of thousands of victims.) In the villages there was no drinkable water, in the cities this was also the case. Any idea of sanitation was left behind as sewers overfilled the streets and mountains of human waste poured into the once potable water. The dead were often not buried, simply covered with paper or cloth, until later and some makeshift graves could be made. Sometimes bodied would clog the gutters of streets as the victims without family would wander aimlessly picking up refuse for food and fighting with now wild domesticated dogs over a piece of bread. The trenches went way beyond the war and into the call of every persons life in Europe. But one singular trench was important to Marlow...for it had become his home and his life. #45 was another foxhole and bunker with dug out room for sleeping and eating with new mounted machine guns strapped to turrets down underneath the ground. Times had changed a bit in the last year and dugouts became more complicated. In number 45 there was a communications center, an electrical line came in and connected to a post where a mesh of wires would be intercepted at a junction box, where Marconi communications (telegraph and telephone) could be transmitted and received. #45 housed 104 soldiers..#46 another 350 all in stacked bunks under concrete cover. Marlow was just one of the many men that sat for hours until orders came in to progress to the front or maintain a line.
Three of four of the days of the week there was no action and the troops would sit crowded in the bunks and on the wooden planks of the floor playing chess or reading letters from their relatives over and over.
News came through about the battles and successes:
From the Factual History of the War-
1918 Mar. 21 - Operation Michael, the first of the "Kaiser Battles" of 1918, began with attack of 76 German divisions on 28 British divisions on 50 mile front, five hour barrage of poison gas and tear gas, used Pulkowski method, but missed key targets. By evening of Mar. 21, BEF suffered its first true defeat since trench warfare had begun, lost 21,000 prisoners. Haig shifted reserves and stopped the attack, but Germans had advanced 40 miles in 8 days, and Allies suffered 200,000 casualties. The 5th Army loss was apparently of the same psychological order as the French and Russian and Italian collapses, but the other 3 British armies were still intact, and the 5th Army recovered.
The days grew often awkward and depressing, as each second was counted to the next as mail call was a precious moment:
Marlow received just such a letter:
Every thing is fine at home and your mother and Jenny miss you dearly...we hope all is going well and you are safe. We also hope you will return home soon as Christmas this year is going to be spectacular when you return...
P.S Jenny loves you and sends you kisses
The little dog Mille barks when we say “Jim Dandy” because that means you will be home soon!
Alfred didn't know what to reply but shed a tear or two because it was over a year since he saw his mother and sweetheart. Only a small picture of her remained in his belongings which he cherished more than anything...
(Scratch) Dear Jenny,
His hand numbed to the letter which he was writing because he had had so many horrible and numbing experiences in the recent year, or was it an aeon that he had felt like a man in a entrenched box, a soldier with no feeling of time or emotion.
Dear Momma and Family,
Everything is going well. We are winning the war and I hope to be home soon...love to Jenny and Milli.
Two days more passed and some sort of action was to be anticipated in section 245-B, a strip of land north of the German lines. It was said to have been heavily bombarded by air...saturated by tanks and troops during the new fire of a new offensive.
One evening at about 2 AM, Marlow was summoned from his bunk out of his sleep and taken to the “War Room” where he was briefed on this new offensive and ordered to take command of 590 troops summoned to take hill #13 a hard hit incursion of Germans who were die-hards of the Central offensive. They were given the most sophisticated equipment and had held #13 with a stronghold for many months under severe fire. Marlow was directed to communications and sat for hours awaiting further information about this next offensive. An hour later a young man jetted out of the communications room and handed Marlow a packet of orders...a wrapped yellow envelope which he was to open..memorize the contents and hand it back..”Private, send on the information”. He would then relay this information to the Commander at 37C, the last station before the strong lines of the massive operation.
In the packet..marked SECRET (Under penalty of courtmarshall and death for disclosing contents to unauthorized personal) and wrapped in heavy Manila with a string was one paper which had a set of coordinates and data....
Set 34-48-59 Enemy deeply dug in sectors 89-R, 50-V and 19B comprising of Hill 24,49, 70. Direct orders sector 70..take Hill #272. Forest Argonne, by any means possible. Heavy artillery in 89-R, 50-V covering NW sector and SW sector of Hills. 49-70. Aircraft cover initiated by Army Corps...Gas Attacks expected, take all necessary precautions. Gas Attacks- Mustard/Chlorine plumes spotted in 89-R and sector 70.
Anticipate major casualties.
He handed back the document and both witnessed its destruction in a Incinerator. As soon as the contents were completely burned they discharged to their other duties...
A truck rolled out carrying 23 soldiers on board densely packed troop carrier that swayed back and forth, spurting smoke and unburned oil. There were a convoy of several large trucks hauling munitions and rations, 12 horses, and 2 motorcycles with sidecars. It was a light morning drizzle and the troops were covered with tarpaulin. A motorcycle pulled up with a sidecar and took Marlow along in behind them. It was a rough and muddy road with deep ruts and washboard. Each mile seemed to take a half hour as the troops on board checked and checked again their satchels and gear.
In the distance one could hear cannon fire. A plane flew over its loud sputtering seemed almost deafening as is flew up curved around and tipped its wings to see the French Insignia as it flew off.
About three hours passed and the truck along with the other cars pulled to a stop where the road ended at a broken bridge and several large ruts.
The troops disbanded from the carriers and fell into formation as they began their overland trek to the front lines.
They crossed the river..many of the troops were carrying boxes on their backs or in a four-together formation assisted by horses wheeling mortar cannons or various new equipment. In the far back there were communications people erecting a large tent and putting up an antenna for a wireless while others were laying electrical lines, as a second and third convoy came in.
The troops in formation already had fallen together in several long lines and were encroaching about 3 miles back into a Y formation as the trees gave way to muddy fields and broken trees...right over enemy lines. All of a sudden BAM-BAM-BAM and a huge cloud of smoke and mud came thundering down. It was a mine field. All of the troops hit the ground and came up very slowly..to see 6 fallen, had perished, and 6 more wounded.
Marlow and several other officers fell in just to the right of this. Engineers brought in crude mine sweepers to detect the hidden death traps. They proceeded carefully forward as the troops fell into order behind the engineers.
BAM-BAM! Two mines went off taking three engineers and two assistants with them...the rest of troops hit the ground. Medics came up the line and carefully attended to the wounded.
Suddenly there was fire from out of a thicket on the other side of the field.
Marlow and the other officers directed the troops to spread out and open fire, and proceed forward in cavalry formation called by a bugle. There was only one fight that was won on this field and it was for the forward incursion of the troops.
Line 127 was ahead..a long trench built with heavy timbers dug in. A rush through the field had brought them there as they all spilled in. Marker 34-48-59 was on the reading of the map .08 miles to the North West. Carefully the soldiers aligned themselves once again and crawled out and marched through a nettled thicket and forested area that was uphill to a rise. “Lets take a Y formation and have troops spread out along the top of the ridge” Marlow discussed with another officer as they decided the strategy to take over the next 2 miles of siege into hostile territory. The troops began their formation when a barrage of thunder came from the other end of the rise at the end of the forested thicket. Yak..ET..Yak..ET... trrrrrr..yak it. The soldiers all hit the soil near the top of the raise...Marlow and his officers spilled off into an area of rocks away from the fire, getting an overview of the area beyond the raise. It was another valley of death, beyond the ones that had been seen thus far. As far as could be seen with binoculars there was nothing but mud and broken trees as well as a few buildings in a village that was seen far to the right. There were plumes of cannon fire off in the distance and small and tiny outlines of movement...a small unit of German Tanks wheeling about with what appeared to be about 30-50 troops. One could take measurements at this point...N-S-E-W.. 89-R Sector. The hill #13 could be seen in the distance with magnifier about 5 miles. It stood like a hazed chess castle with a gray bunker adorning the top. The deadly might of this was felt.
Through the spy scope the Lieutenant looked back upon the lines and checked the formation of troops against plans. In the far distance one could see four lines of American troops moving in almost seeming like ants against a blackened landscape. On the other side it seemed as though the lines were being fortified by a formation of German troops that came from out of a well treed area...two to five soldiers and a tank and what seemed to be a moving landscape of action beyond that. Tat-Tat-Tat..could be heard in the distance and then a low roar of something in the skies like a hive of bees. Off toward the distant horizon on could see a dirigible that began to make its way from the north-east...on each side of it a squadron of fighting planes, as many little dots about the cigar shaped craft..but the times did not correlate as to what expected. The lieutenant checked his watch it was 10am...it was ½ an hour before there was to be any American support aircraft in the sector..and at least 15 minutes before any French attack craft were scheduled to be in the area. They had to be German craft...and whatever the plan was, simply seemed to be massive.
A scout appeared on horseback running amidst the forward marching troops. He came up to the rocks and dismounted, retrieving a metal cylinder from the back of his saddle. “Orders from Command” He said bluntly and handed it to one of the Lieutenants.
'Troops to head south west along quadrant and dig in .49 miles from hill full attack in sector 32-49-49 *Prepare for Gas Attack on front. Time of inaugurated attacks 3:35.
The orders were read and then destroyed as the entire regimen of troops mounting in number dispatching them to 89R-70. The word was spread for preparations and each soldier checked their gear and prepared their masks for combat. Looking back through the spy-glass one could see hundreds of troops and field artillery beginning to fall in line.
The men marched along the line. The officers discussed the conditions and what they were up against. It was seemingly a battlefield of 1200-1300 Germans on the foot of this line and as many as 2,000-3000 hanging in behind the lines in a second assault.
It was 2 pm and the sky was blue with a smell of something 'bitter-sweet' in the air. Many of the soldiers commented on this, as they marched forward with no clash of the German Offensive into the vicinity of 89 R where the soldiers began to dig in narrow trenches and reel razor wire. It was within spyglass range that one could see the German Opposition doing exactly the same. On top of the ridge there were more Americans, and a British legion supported by some big guns that were reeled into place. Thousands of soldiers were preparing the “bed” for a major offensive that would sound in less than an hour.
Rattta, tat,ta..some machine gun went off in the distance,breaking an almost bizarre silence except for the sound of shovels breaking soil or motorized machine unloading gigantic rolls of razor wire, and concrete pylons. The period right before 3pm there grew a silence as the men climbed into there trenches and positioned themselves like chess pieces across thew landscape. It became a silence where you could hardly here one breath.
Two lines down from the front line and portioned in the southwest vicinity of 89R Marlow and his men prepared their guns and ammunition as well as brought the Gas Masks out of the cases and checked the filter cartridges and attached them around their necks.
Marlow, Swensen and Heading were grouped together in one foxhole. Boxes of munition surrounded their little trench as well as a couple of barrels of water,
“This is hell...” Said Swensen as he looked up and over the top of the foxhole across a partially treed areas that was for the most part flat. “In a couple of days that field will look like the worst gray mud hole that one could possibly imagine” Marlow commented remembering the number of fox holes he had already been in. “This silence? Why don't they just come out shooting!, Why don't we just move in on our bellies and take them from inside?” Heading remarked. Marlow had little comment as he prepared his gun and sharpened his bayonet as well as blew out his air-filter/respirator and adjusted the strap on his mask. “Things are just different..now” he commented looking aside and having some day-dream or returning home to his mother and Jennie.
During the First World War the tactics were different- Gorilla warfare was not practiced and the world just emerged from classical line tactics as practiced for hundreds of years. Trench warfare as it was practiced was rather different but still involved the setting up of battle lines, only in trenches, often they would sound the charge of the brigade and there was a feeling of strategy that was often uncannily very predictable according to wars as practiced today. Some believed the trenches were fixed, but the truth was often that they were dug in matters of hours before the troops would set into them.
The silence permeated everything through the late afternoon. The men grew nervous as they waited for the orders to charge upon the front...these didn't come, even through standards were raised..They went into the evening with only silence to hold on to. As meal time approached the men in their trenches reached for their canned rations and opened them. Heading was still besides Marlow in the trench and he opened up a tin to find it spoiled. Marlow and he shared some briquets and stew over a small fire. In the distance one could hear some German propaganda announcement being spoken through a megaphone...The troops reloaded their guns and prepared for something to happen as a flare suddenly illuminated the landscape in front of the fox holes. Off in the distance one heard two gun shots...and then three more from another area. A moment of silence triggered a sustained fire from Machine guns from the Germans...but no other activity. Each hour past in anticipation as the night crept forward. 10 ant then 12 pm passed into the hours of the morning. The troops from both side didn't sleep but waited anxiously for some action.
At 4:34 there was a sudden and tremendous explosion which put all the troops on edge...and then another. It was the sound of the heavy German guns being fired. This was dwarfed by the entire sky being illuminated by hundreds of flares as the silence broke into loud batteries of uncertainty. From the trench where Marlow was nothing was visible and it seemed 'right in front' but yet 'far away'..A second barrage of flares illuminated the sky brighter than before and there was the sound of a cavalry charge being sounded on bugle from the right formation....rat ttta The sound of guns going off sounded line a Chinese New Year. It was almost dead night out there yet there was some apparent attack upon one of the quadrants. Teeeeeeeeeeeuuuu. BAM! A humongous explosion in front of the bunker had the trees in flame as one could see in the distance some 1000 feet lines of German Soldiers Shadows moving through the night in a straight line towards the American Lines. Machine Gun fire from the Americans mowed the entire line down...and a second line came and was picked off in a similar fashion. There was fire everywhere and the smoke rolled across the lines preparing some sort of 'smoke screen' for a forward offensive. The silence came back...one could only hear the tremendous sound of the fire crackling in the distance but nothing was coming forward.
A time of silence and loneliness braced the troops deeply set in the trench, the moist earth seem to become part of the terrain. Each soldier looked at each other silently knowing the dread ahead.
Marlow pulled his journal out from his sack and made a little note.
There is a tension that a heartbeat cannot break. I could see the Germans across the lines, but there is no movement. Once in a while you can hear the motors running, a killing machine rides right over the rise. It could be today, tomorrow..we will not know until the charge signal isgiven, that bugle blow...I see the flag from my bunker raised above. One can smell the Earth deeply embedded in my nostrils, guns loaded, bayonets razor sharp, were ready for the hill...
I couldn't describe this scene if it were told in a story...how about Mother...
how about Jennie
My little dog Millie
Oh how do I want to see them again soon..only two months away..yes I can go home...then and think other thoughts and maybe have other dreams again.
The night passed and the sun was just rising. A big black bird flopped over the landscape. Terney, a soldier raised his rifle and took aim,”I'm gonna kill that son of a B...”, Jackson threw his hand over his rifle and brought it down.
The tension grew greater as one could hear some motorized mobilization in the background. Truuuut...Truuuut..chick, chick, click... A sound of some tank could be heard and it was a near distance.
Suddenly a bugle blow from one of the other columns cried! “Ho! Ho! Ho!” A terrible scream of fire was to be heard along with artillery fire and machine guns. The troops spilled out from the trenches and spewed forth on the battle ground bayonets forward.
Marlow found himself on his belly forward out of the hole as sudden fury. BAM!!! BAMM twenty fold..and thirty fold, dust flying high into the air...
Marlow and his men kept low and crawled at snail pace on the left flank of the W formation towards a group of trees and grass. Razor wire in 4 large coils stood before them....German wire...Large Blade cutting wire, as sharp as a razor....
Perkins climbed ahead dodging intermittent fire, to his feet, and down and rolling. His uniform got caught in this stuff and he lay there screaming and shooting straight up in the air..A sad sight. Brown came in near and cut him loose but was shot in the shoulder as the two struggled to the ground. They all moved forward. BAM! A German grenade went off taking out three to the right. Marlow and his men carefully laid to the left zig zagging around the wire on their bellies. Over the raise a German Tank came and flooded the background with a shrapnel charge followed by a larger blast of its cannon. There were too more...on either side...a line of Germans bayonets pulled forward, and falling as each seemed to be a target for some grizzly arcade. Behind that were rows of men....coming forth through clouds of smoke to be laid down from each side.
One couldn't count the hours that this mess went on without an ebb in the fire. It seemed like a week as time had no conscience here on this field.
Yet Another trench dug with bayonet knives and some of these fresh recruits and veterans of this mess sat back into another trench as the bugle calls gave way to a charge across yet another field. Marlow spilled out of his bunker with 35 men as tremendous charges went off left and right spilling Magma of humankind to oblivion. The assault was sudden and in this one particular instance the lines were separated, Marlow down on his belly looking for the rest but finding only a few still living after machine gun fire and grenades had been set off in a finale. A rush of humanity was somehow instilled and Marlow began to pull back the wounded into a vacant trench. Marlow single handedly dragged some 15 men off the field and into a trench...but plied forward into the insanity as this particular German offensive was devastating. And then halfway across the field of war there appeared yellow pillars of smoke and deadly gas.
Through the clouds of smoke a plane dropped low and sprayed down the killing field and tried to raise but tail ablaze went straight up stalled and fell to the ground. No definition could be whether it was friend or foe as it was trailed by too more and one could only make out one French marking and one German one as they disappeared into the blackness of the sky filled with smoke and fire. Another two bugle cries could be heard...Marlow and his men made it to a patch of razor grass surrounded by mud. They checked their compasses for direction to the Hill...Straight forward and across a mess of razor wire and frequently changing lines...all which appeared invisible. It was 4pm and starting to get dark, several fairs illuminated the sky and bodies seemed to lay everywhere as Marlow and his men appeared out of a dense thicket of grass and mud with Hill #272 towering over them. Inch by inch they had made it through a mud bog and through several rock areas, three encounters with razor wire and two emptied German trenches...How many dead or wounded soldiers along the lines they couldn't count...so many...hundreds. A fallen regiment flag seemed to be an epitaph of a Franco-Swiss brigade which laid out the parameters of what this war had become on a single front.
Out of a patch of weeds there was seen a white flag tied to the outside of a rifle as Marlow s regiment pulled forward, now 12 of 75 survivors of the onslaught and planned siege of Hill 272. Marks, a tall lanky young soldier of 19 years tapped Marlow on the shoulder as to what action was taken next. They were ordered to come around from behind. Slowly the men gathered in and came in bayonets readied down upon the position of the white-flagged enclave which were 5 heavily wounded of the Franco-Swiss brigade and one German officer who had somehow survived without getting rifled.
The men crowded in and tried to assist the wounded. The German officer in terrible condition spoke English and had surrendered. He was vital with information about the positions and lines ahead of Hill 18. His name was Siegfried Hoffer a First Lieutenant of as he described was a line of 2400 German and Central European forces around Hill 272. He talked very freely, almost too much so that his information was in question. He was very badly wounded to both legs and his right arm and seemingly had nothing much to lose saying repeatedly in broken English not to leave him behind.
Over the course of the night there was a silence that drew in again. Pitch blackness with intermittent gunfire set the course for the blackness as the 17 huddled against the ground for daybreak their faces covered in mud and equipment sagging.
The plan was to take #272 from a rock face that had a trail up and behind it, in and behind the bunker which lay on top patrolling most of the surrounding territory. The rock face was a difficult climb for most of the untrained, but it to their greatest benefit to capture the hill through this route and come down the other side into a river that lay on the other side where there was a field largely controlled by French forces calling themselves the d'Lion had attempted to capture this hill for a matter of month with a long list of casualties. From there it could be surmised that a route to safety could be found with a path leading to safe havens among Norman villages in captured territory.
Well the night was quick to yield again to the break of dawn. Marlow and his men made quick time in the first rays of light along a dried rocky river bottom to a deep water and vegetation filled chasm which was an ancient marble quarry that lay directly at the face of incline to#272. They strapped vegetation in their helmets and moved very quickly through the otherwise inhospitable environment of acidic waters and vine filled waters of this ancient place. For the next day they made a camp inside the twisted vines and stinging nettles..as troops of a different style of warfare. The rations were wearing out and only a tin of water was left amongst the men. A few, parched by thirst tried to drink the poisoned water that bit their lips and purged their systems as they readied for the assault to the top slightly after sundown with the appearance of about as much moonlight as could give them a guide to the thin rock face trail. All during the day they could hear barrages go off as the war had not ceased on the other side of the lines..There was a black cloud in the distance and sometimes one would hear several heavy guns go off from above as well as repeated fire from the nests on top.
The twilight came and slowly Marlow and his able troops ascended foot by foot and inch by inch as though not to be seen as the moonlight gave them slow footings.
It would not seem that 200 feet would be such a slow assent up a face of a cliff on a two foot wide ledge but indeed it was slow and even slower as some of the soldiers hooked ropes and spikes so silently as not to be heard as the giant pillboxes were beginning to appear overhead as black silhouettes above illuminated by the moon and small lights flickering from the transoms.
The plan was very sketchy at least...to drop several grenades in through the transoms and detonate dynamite charges in through the complex stealfully as not to be noticed.
Saunders would prepare and install
the explosives brought on the back of Masterson, 3rd up the hill, Greenly was carrying 30 grenades charges in a tow line up the hill and a set of chlorine gas charges to clear the bunkers.
Carefully they deployed their talents crawling along the mound and around the sides of the entrapment's as the rest of the brigade made its way up the hill.
There were five to ten observers canvasing the turret and somewhat unlikely only a small manned crew who carried the weight of the heavily laden German complex.
They took hours in stealth preparations. Greenly bringing up the boxes and the lines and battery for the prepared implosions of the set. Unfortunately the terrain was steep and worn, slick with runnoff and
Mid morning approached and everything was prepared except for the waiting where each troop stood motionless for hours waiting for the attack which came suddenly in the night.
The explosions whipped through the air as gas masks were put on and the grenades discharged and detonations made. What was not known is that the Germans had a major cache of ammunition gasoline and powder that went off simultaneously during the entire surprise attack which turned the top of hill 18 into a fiery glow of a series of terrible explosions and pyre of flames Marlow and the rest cleaned up the German Outpost in a surprise attack in the middle of the night with seemingly minimal effort as guns went off below and a series of flares launched a new offensive through the next day.
Corporal James Nation: Journal Entry: We went over the top on the 12th of September at 5:30 A. M. We made the run!. From there we started for the Argonne woods, arriving there about the last of September. We were in the reserve until October 8; the night of the 8th we moved into the front lines and on the morning of October 9, at 8:50 o’clock, we attacked Hill 272. It was so foggy we could see nothing; couldn’t even see ten feet ahead of us. Well, I was the gunner and Alfred was my loader taking turns. The Germans had many machine guns and they were using them, too, but we kept going until we ran into the Germans.
How these things happened in such order its not known, but out of the 17 soldiers on the offensive of hill 272 there were only a few minor injuries before the hill was taken. Early the next morning the brigade was ½ mile away down a rock filled river and onto a clearing of an open field filled with beaten machinery and mangled bodies of German, French and American soldiers. A troop of medics from the red cross were cleaning up in one quadrant of the field as the soldiers made there way across the hellish terrain in and among the brigade. Of course the fighting did continue and one could still see plumes of smoke coming from one side and then another, but the Red Cross trucks were filled to capacity and grimly laden to the soldiers who assisted in the stacking and mounting of bodies before they simply crashed because of fatigue on the back of these trucks as they pulled out with the cargo of casualties. Odors of the field were ghastly and a permanent memory to the living who crossed them.
Historical Record of the Battlefield of #272
1918 Oct. 4 - The 1st Division attacked the Apremont Road along the Aire River, advanced toward Montrebeau and Montrefagne to get to Hill 272. 47 tanks helped to destroy machine gun nests to take Montrebeau, but only three tanks were still functioning at the end of the day. On Oct. 5, they took Montrefagne. On Oct. 7, Liggett sent the 82nd Division to attack the left bank of the Aire, to cut off the Germans in the Argonne, to eliminate the artillery that was firing on the Americans on the right side of the Aire, and to save Whittlesey still trapped in the Argonne. The 328th Regiment of Col. Frank Ely successfully forded the river Oct. 7, and captured the road to Cornay, forcing a German retreat from the Argonne, and by Oct. 8 the 77th Division relieved Whittlesey's remaining 194 men.
It seems like a year since we received your last letter. We all hope you guys are well. Your cousin has enlisted too. Kurt is a great young fellow like you, were all proud of both of you for your bravery and call to this war.
We think that it is time to move to California! Weve sold the house and are on our way to Los Angles as mom has met a marvelous fellow, an architect by the name of Andrews and is getting re-married again soon. He is the “big man” that is building a new civic center for the city! Mayer, your partner is considering selling off the theater “Globe” and heading off for a new adventure in Los Angles at a place where they are now doing things with “motion pictures”.
Jennie is sending a package. We hope it reaches you, wherever you are and your little dog waits at the door every day and dances when we say “Jim Dandy”, knowing you are going to be home shortly.
Unfortunately there is some bad news too but we all know how war is. Your friends The Boone Brothers...Kelly and Jack, and the Michel kids, Sammy, Saint, and Kit. Enough said.
We miss you, and when that front door breaks open and you stand there and and you say “Jim Dandy!” I think we will all know this war will be over! Much love from home,
Sis (My grandmother Gertrude Marlow-Benkman)
My son, keep strong for me and get back soon. We all love you. Good news. Im getting married again soon! Hes not like your old pop, but a nice gentleman, you will meet him when you come home. I pray everything will be ok. I've joined the Woman's Sons of the World War to try to get some things for our soldiers in Europe. Your aunt sends her wishes her best from London, and she'll be coming to visit just about the time you come home...Blessed Son, be well.
Dear Beloved Al,
I wait for you every minute and every hour for your return. Its been now almost two years (?) Say you'll be home soon! Remember seeing you off on the train, too sad. “Jim Dandy!!” when we all go out to the “Green Gables” (Remember?)-A small favorite restaurant- Ms. Priscilla Hawkins sends her best, and make a hoot an holler that your home safe. Your ring is like the sun on my finger and when you come home...oh..when you do! I pray for you and light candles in the small church four days out of five. And remember I love you! Waiting for the big dream of you to come home and all those children! You said you would name the first after dad! (right)..but your favorite would be the fourth, the little one who sits on your knee and looks up to you..saying “that's my dad!” Jim Dandy...his name will be Jim!
Marlow read the letters and kind of hid them from the others, both packed in a fat envelop. He smiled and laughed a little, His eyes looked up to get a glimpse of the cloud filled sky filled with dreams, catching a tear and then carefully folding the envelopes and putting them back into his pocket.
He made a date to catch up and send another letter off with the morning mail.
Its your Al here in France..now, I think. They keep us busy marching. Allot to say here but cant. No furlow for a while as this thing is getting tough and men gotta do their duty....right? (Written and then scratched out) Its pure Hell here Momma, just as they describe in Church. Guys dying left right and center.. (He scratched it out again...wadded up the paper and started anew) Yeh, Jim Dandy, its a hell of a fight were putting up, and were winning. It'll only be a few months...”yeh, just only a few months and Ill be walking through that door” he thought. Just around the corner and Ill be jumpin off that train!(scratched out) If I don't make it...(scratched out again) If for any reason something happens...(scratched out again) God Bless! Its going to be great to go to the “Green Gables” and see you guys, my treat! Say hello to sis, and pet Millie for me “Jim Dandy”
(Scratched out..) I don't know what to say. (Scratched out) Its tough here in a hole in the ground..Its affecting me. (Scratched out and a new paper used)
I love you and cannot wait till we are together again. “Green Gables” sounds like a hum dinger of a party right! Jim Dandy, there will be lots of flowers on your doorstep Jen...and allot more too. (remember?) And that big...BIG house with blue shutters like in your dream, right?...and lots of kids filling the yard...that little one “Little Jim” he'll make the best little soldier...see him now, like me marching back and forth in the front yard! Ha! Jim Dandy! I love you, like..there even talking about a medal for me here! Really!
(Rank, division, etc)
just a few and then many more, little Hiroshima's of deadly outcome, something dreaded, a thing despiteful, hideous and heinous.
...the air became riddled with that burning gas that spread an even vapor upon the field, The men like looked like human mice in their gas gear...some just died instantly and others from the burns suffered by the Mustard that spread upon their skin, crying in agony as they fell one after one.... is it here where our story ends? Or have hundreds of thousands or millions seen this very episode, an episode called war..and its final outcome, one side against another, the standing brave here once stood.
It would be an international convention that finally halted the use of “mustard gas” in war, a killing mechanism that in its day was known as their dreadnought. Trench warfare gave way to guerrilla warfare, jungle warfare and then a battlefield regulated, monitored by robotic non-human machines each with the same capacity...the final outcome being the “same”.
It was 3:45 on a hot day in Globe Arizona. The bustle of the afternoon had slowed as Gertrude Marlow and her daughter and Jenny were packing some crystal into boxes for the move to Los Angeles. Gertrude ,Al's sister walked on the porch and wiped her head from sweat...
A black Ford pulled up in front of their house and a suited officer assisted by another officer in Khaki stepped out and walked to their house..as though by some notion a courier arrived at the same time with a telegram, both meeting within seconds....
Gertrude watched, her head grew heavy and eyes swelled up as she fell back into a chair on the porch making a big cracking noise that brought Emily and Jenny out to discover what was going on.
Their the two fellows stood, their eyes focused straight ahead in an almost robotic way. “A letter from the President of the United States, and The United States Army for...Mrs Emily Andrews”
Jeanie passed out immediately falling into shock.
(As in the Journal of The San Francisco Historical Society)
“Dear Madam: I regret deeply to inform you of the death of your son - Private Alfred Marlow, Sixteenth Infantry, who was killed in the greatest battle of the present war, the battle of the Argonne. On that eventful date, October 8, 1918, he helped to storm and capture Hill 272, one of the greatest feats in the history of the war. He was highly commended for his courage and bravery and he was an excellent soldier. He was greatly respected by his comrades, who feel his loss very keenly. He was buried with full military honors near Charpentry, France.”
We have the unfortunate news that Alfred B Marlow of..........has been lost in the heroic line of duty..”
The seconds past like hours....a blow of each shot hollowed into the air as though making holes in the white clouds. It was Tucson Arizona, a fair day with a slow calculated breeze marking the ceremony that to some seemed marked with an ancient seal.
A 12 naked gun salute marked the procession of those buried in one important siege...as a triangular testament was taken and unfolded and placed over the oak casket...one Alfred Marlow was given the Gold Star for bravery along with others from the garrison of heroes that returned. But he wasnt there, as ghosts, and spirits of soldiers tend to watch on from another plain, as through gazing down perceptively with silence. There were only markings here of definitions that we never can understand. The words “Bravery” and “Honor” are high pinnicles that can only be materially marked for unknowns. Bravery is a mark of those who are brave, and Honor fully vested for those who persist in the line of duty. There is strength in those two words that most cannot witness.
An important General: John G Pershing took the podium and marked each soldier with the importance of their call to duty as the caskets lay side by side seemingly into infinity, were carted on a horse-drawn wagon across a grass wrapped field, and down, around and under the heavy mordant shadows of that area known as the graveside. Each is now an unknown soldier whos flame burns brightly as though a star has fallen to the ground and been captured by the soil.
In San Francisco California...Emily Andrews went on to become one of the original “Gold Star Mothers” in honor of her son. Her live was dedicated to the remembrance of those who lost their lives in World War I. She met Presidents and Politicians of great renown during her life of 103 years...to her memory, her sons memory, I put forward that these words of the Gold Star Mothers...:Lest we forget, have greater meaning today than ever...
Honorably they stood by, the keepers of those thoughts of loved ones.
Marlow mother, Emily Andrews who saluted as the shots rang through her honoring her sons gallant bravery. Each tear marking her own war that would be fought with his loss.
His sister, my grandmother, a young lady who knew her brother well stood by, her eyes focused upwards to tell the memories to her daughters and grandchildren of the feat and honors of the moment.
And then there was Jennie, a wonderful young lady who took on 15 years in her face at this point, her fiancee lost to war, never to feel the heartbeat again of her beloved. She stood hurting, each shot feeling somehow hit by barrages of thoughts as this brave day unfolded in the burial of one who means so much. Jenny stood there bracing herself with each shot raised high in the air as she could see her dreams now, somewhat out there...lost forever.
Jenny later disappeared to form a life of her own, without a word. There was not much said as words could not describe what she felt, or letters written after that day. She took her bags and went back home to her father and mother...leaving silence behind as a testament to her heart had now been lost...forever.
What is asked from the Spirit of Alfred Marlow.. Soldiers Story 90 years after...
Now Alfred Marlow comes forth, as though a man written from the identity of his tombstone on the battlefield of France.
If on this day his Spirit were to come back, just for a minute perched on an hour, I would have liked to talk to him, about his worry's there and sadness, his own grief in war, lost and gained in doing his duty. How he was effected, and ask what elements he felt were of value...his future was indeed compromised...about what was deemed right and wrong as his ghost came forth in Brilliant vestige of honor to talk to me, a humble listener, whos life could not compare, as I have never felt the trench nor held a weapon in war.
I would honor him as I would a brother who so gallantly stepped forward, that golden star blazing hoping that he would have one word to share, and that word “golden star” becoming all the meanings of meaningful things.
If on this day 90 years later...out from the heat of the heat of the battlefield, he had one question for me, and I one question for him, it would be about the word “honor” and I would surely hope that we would meet in agreement of this one word which means so much in a world 90 years later where it seems to divide rather than consolidate as this word is never understood except by those who have this mysterious yet powerful thing...”Honor”
(Research from Archives of San Francisco Genealogical Society)
MRS. EMILY ANDREWS
Mrs. Emily Andrews, president of San Francisco Chapter of the Gold Star Mothers of America, was born, reared and educated in England. In 1892 she came to America as the bride of Charles Marlow and they first settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where their son, Alfred Marlow, was born. Crossing the border, they took up their abode in Toronto, Ontario, and in the city a daughter, Gertrude, was born to them. With their return to the States they established their home in Los Angeles, California, where their children were educated. Gertrude Marlow is now the wife of H. (Herbert) Benkman, a member of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and a well known figure in musical circles of the city. They have three children, Patricia, Mitzi and Constance Benkman. (Patricia Benkman-Pianist/Professor of Music 1917-1974, Mother of Richard Ozanne 1959-Present)-Constance Benkman-Mitzi Benkman
After losing her son in the World war Mrs. Andrews came to San Francisco to reside with her daughter. Since the death of her son she has devoted all of her time to philanthropic work and is most prominent among the Gold Star Mothers. In 1929 she was called to the presidency of the San Francisco Chapter of Gold Star Mothers and at the expiration of her term was reelected to the office, which she still occupies. This organization was formed to honor the dead and serve the living for legislative purposes and the protection of mothers whose sons made the supreme sacrifice for their country. In 1930 Mrs. Andrews carried to Paris, France, the San Francisco tribute to be placed on the waters and also on the tomb of the “Unknown Soldier.” Unselfish, sympathetic and kindhearted, her sole desire is to aid and comfort those in sorrow and need, and her admirable qualities have made her beloved by all who have been brought within the sphere of her influence.
Her son, Alfred Marlow, who was born May 26, 1893, pursued his studies in Los Angeles and when his education was completed became connected with the motion picture industry. At the time America entered the World war he was in Globe, Arizona, where he enlisted in June, 1917, joining the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth Regiment of Arizona Infantry as a private. A machine gun operator, he became corporal of his company and was a gallant soldier. Possessing the dauntless spirit and the high purpose of the Crusaders of old, he never faltered in the performance of duty and met a glorious death on the field of battle. He served under Captain C. C. Chincke, commander of Company C, Sixteenth United States Infantry, who wrote as follows to Mrs. Andrews, January 16, 1919, while stationed at Cernback, Germany:
“Dear Madam: I regret deeply to inform you of the death of your son - Private Alfred Marlow, Sixteenth Infantry, who was killed in the greatest battle of the present war, the battle of the Argonne. On that eventful date, October 8, 1918, he helped to storm and capture Hill 272, one of the greatest feats in the history of the war. He was highly commended for his courage and bravery and he was an excellent soldier. He was greatly respected by his comrades, who feel his loss very keenly. He was buried with full military honors near Charpentry, France.”
Corporal James Nation, a member of the same company and a close friend of Alfred Marlow, wrote as follows from Aix les Bains, France, March 29, 1919: “Dear Friend, Mrs. Andrews: I received your much delayed letter a few days ago, and as I was just ready to go on pass, I did not have time to write from there, so will write now. It has been so long since you wrote that I thought it better to write and give the whole detail then wire, so I will try not to leave out anything.
“After we came to France, they asked for some volunteers to take a course with an automatic rifle company, so Alfred and myself volunteered. We studied the different parts of the automatic for about three weeks and then we were sent to the First Division, Sixteenth Infantry, and then to the trenches. We went as qualified automatic riflemen. We stayed in the trenches for about seven days. I am not sure, but I think it was the latter part of August when we left there for old Fort de Pagny. We stayed there three days--then we went up to the St. Mihiel drive. We went over the top on the 12th of September at 5:30 A. M. We made the drive O.K. From there we started for the Argonne woods, arriving there about the last of September. We were in the reserve until October 8; the night of the 8th we moved into the front lines and on the morning of October 9, at 8:50 o’clock, we attacked Hill 272. It was so foggy we could see nothing; couldn’t even see ten feet ahead of us. Well, I was the gunner and Alfred was my loader. The Germans had many machine guns and they were using them, too, but we kept going until we ran into the Germans. The first one I saw jumped out of a hole not ten feet ahead of us, so we all lay flat on the ground. I was using the automatic and Alfred crawled up to my side to load for me; he was just putting in a clip when he got hit--one bullet went through his hand and hit the gun. I thought that was the only one that hit him. I told him to crawl back to the rear and find a hole; he started but never did get there. I had to go on and never knew for sure what had become of him until the next day, when I came back to make sure, for it was agreed between us that if either of us got killed, that the other one would write to mother, and he was still there--hadn’t moved ten feet from where we lay together.
“So, dear friend, that is just what became of your noble son. He is buried somewhere on the battlefield, just this side of Verdun. The way things are now I think it would be impossible for me to get a photo of his grave, as I don’t know, myself, just where it is. But if I ever get a chance and it is within my power, I will do my best to get you one.
“Hoping this will clear things up a little so you will not be in doubt any longer, I remain, as ever,
(Signed) Corporal James Nation.”
Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
Source: Byington, Lewis Francis, “History of San Francisco 3 Vols”, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1931. Vol. 2 Pages 111-114.
© 2007 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
List of Arizona War Dead WWI:
Arizona's war dead
World War I
The Arizona Republic
May 31, 1999
Name, Home Of Record
Aigner, Egnotz W., Phoenix
Allen, George F., Phoenix
Balk, Dart H., Somerton
Bates, Henry J., Hayden Jct.
Berry, Henry Herman, Globe
Boyer, Louis S., Globe
Burruel, Ramon, Tucson
Burt, William R., Miami
Cabutto, Gaspare P., Macey
Cameron, George, Bisbee
Carlos, Raphael L., Flagstaff
Carter, Sidney D., Yuma
Chamberlain, Harry A., Pine
Clarke, Samuel R.S., Casa Grande
Climo, Thomas N., Hayden
Cogdell, Jim C., Glendale
Comina, Louis, Chrysolite
Connevey, Robert L., Bowie
Cordova, Justo B., Williams
Costantelos, John G., Bisbee
Crenshaw, Everett A., Miami
Crews, Chester W., Mayer
Curry, Corlande B., Tucson
Davis, Eli, Skull Valley
Davis, Thomas H., Douglas
Dominguez, Joaquin, Yuma
Draper, Edward M., Wickenburg
Dubois, James E., Bonita
Elliott, Gilbert R., Hayden
Engle, Leonard Adolphus, Bisbee
Flake, Charles L., Snowflake
Frankovich, Milo S., Bisbee
Garrett, Mancil J., Superior
Golden, Victor E., Nogales
Graham, Noel H., Stoddard
Grant, Walter Herbert, Prescott
Gray, Bertram, Vicksburg
Gregg, Francis M., Winkelman
Griffin, Norman E., Hayden
Harding, Charles A., Seligman
Hargis, Marion D., Mesa
Harmon, Guy B., Bisbee
Harrington, Parmer, Miami
Hazelton, Lewis, Liberty
Henderson, Oral T., Jerome
Hendrickson, Charles C., Globe
Hendrix, James, Lowell
Higley, James S., Phoenix
Hilburn, Robert F., Douglas
Horgan, Harry B., Congress Jct.
Humphreys, Fred A., Casa Grande
Igo, William, Naco
Ivens, John W., Grand Canyon
Jacobsen, Theodore A., Kelvin
Jamison, Guy A., Prescott
Judson, Ralph A., Phoenix
Junge, August A., Pearce
Kellis, Burnice B., Wickenburg
Kelly, John, Mayer
Kerby, Arthur, Webb
Kern, William P., Superior
King, Howard S., Tucson
Kinsman, William A., Humbolt
Knozvich, Fred, Globe
Kotlar, Tony P., Copper Hill
Kovich, Kris, sLowell
Lang, Accua E., Douglas
Lee, Fred D., Bisbee
Leonard, Jerome, Douglas
Lewis, John R., Pinedale
Linstrum, Clemens, Douglas
Lisle, Samuel V., St. Johns
Lopez, (unknown), Casa Grande
Lopez, Eugenio R., Wilcox
Love, Cramer C., Yuma
Luke, Frank K. Jr., Phoenix
Lusk, Harvey, Phoenix
Major, Irvin D., Altman
Manner, Peter, Bisbee
Manzo, Vicente, Benson
Marlow, Alfred, Globe
Mc Clanahan, Frank C., Phoenix
Mc Cullock, Willie Lee, Metcalf
Mc Dermott, Morgan B., Tucson
Mc Gonigle, William, Bisbee
Mc Kenney, Hugh L., Douglas
Mc Knight, Clay, Douglas
Mc Lellan, Roy M., Florence
Medigovich, Samuel P., Bisbee
Moisa, Elexandro B., Jerome
Moore, Mark A., Flagstaff
Morris, Joseph S., Phoenix
Naylor, Herbert, Douglas
Owens, Sidney, Prescott
Parsons, William F., Oracle
Patterson, Duncan J., Globe
Patterson, Fredrick H., Tucson
Perkins, Frank, Winslow
Pinyan, Dugald L., Globe
Plamenaz, Blatz, Bisbee
Pollino, Henry, Globe
Rasmussen, John, Phoenix
Ridge, Edward L., Canille
Rivers, Mathew B., Sacaton
Rogers, Marion E., Mesa
Rothrock, Henry H., Mesa
Salazar, Jose C., Tucson
Salgado, Alfredo, Tucson
Sheets, Wiley, Miami
Simpson, Ben B., Somerton
Slaughter, John H., Springerville
Smith, Lehi L., Snowflake
Snyder, William A., Miami
Swaskegama, Sam, Kinsman
Swift, Joseph F., Safford
Theobald, Jacob K., Prescott
Tillman, Dennis F., Phoenix
Tisdale, Arthur J., Jerome
Tohtieff, Solamgary D., Globe
Tulk, Flim, Paradise
Walter, William, Seligman
Whitley, Sharp B., Winkelman
Wight, Arthur A., Miami
Wilson, (unknown), Clifton
Wilson, Ashley, Clifton
Windham, William T., Geronimo
Wright, Richard M., Phoenix
Globe Arizona Circa 1917
Naco Arizona, Military Infantry Training Gound where Alfred Marlow was trained for WWI