Help celebrate the lives of local heroes

Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2019

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Are you aware of a famed battle that swung the tide of victory towards the Allied forces in World War I? And did you know that soldiers from North Carolina, to include those locally, are credited for their bravery and skill that placed the momentum behind that hard-fought victory?

Members of the North Carolina National Guard’s 30th Division (aka “Old Hickory”) breaking the Hindenburg Line at the St. Quentin Canal on September 29, 1918 was a critical turning point near the end of World War 1. Breaking out of the trenches increased maneuverability and the 30th Infantry contributed mightily through the end of the war.

That battle also marked the second bloodiest day in North Carolina military history (the first coming on July 2, 1863) when infantrymen from the Tar Heel State joined Pickett’s Charge in Gettysburg).

During the assault on Hindenburg Line in France – where despite having their flanks taking heavy fire from the Germans – the North Carolina doughboys seized the strategic Bellicourt Tunnel.

Victory, however, came with a great expense as 241 North Carolinians died on that day. Of those, six hailed from the Roanoke-Chowan area: Private Harry L. Calvert (Company I, 119th Infantry), and Private Jarvis L. Brett (Company E, 119th Infantry), both of Hertford County; Private Godwin Bracy (Company H, 120th Infantry) and Corporal Joe W. Hoggard (Company K, 119th Infantry), both of Bertie County; Corporal William A. Davis (Company A, 47th Infantry) of Northampton County; and Private Robert L. Duck (345th Quartermaster Corps) of Gates County.

New York, Tennessee, France, and Australia all have monuments or memorials to the actions of that day, each claiming they led the effort to break the line. The British even have two memorials that commemorate breaking the line. However, this impregnable defense was actually broken by the National Guard 30th Division from North Carolina, who originally penetrated the line and took the high ground. It is now time to commemorate their sacrifice.

On Nov. 10 of this year, a monument is being erected in France by the North Carolina National Guard to remember all those brave soldiers of the 30th Division. If anyone reading these words know or are related to the six men from our local area who were among the many heroes from that fateful September day in 1918, please visit and register your information.

Even if you’re not related, but still had a family member who served in World War I, please consider visiting the same website and register.

All can contribute to the cause of erecting the monument. The pad in France is poured and the monument is en route. The area on where the monument will be erected will contain soil from all 100 counties in North Carolina.

Thank you to all those who honorably served our great nation during times of war and peace. Your willingness to lay down your life to preserve our freedom will never be forgotten.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald