World War I Memorials in Nashua New Hampshire

WWI Cannon located in Greeley Park. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

WWI Cannon located in Greeley Park. Photograph courtesy of John Bolduc, a native of Nashua.

Nashua, New Hampshire has a rich military history. The local veteran organizations have never shirked their duty to recognize and remember those who have fallen.   In compiling a list of World War I monuments in the city, it became clear that the desire of the WWI veterans themselves,  to have a permanent monument that displayed all the names of their fallen friends, never happened.

There were plenty of excuses for not building this monument–the fear of leaving someone out, of the list not being accurate, the high cost for the City of Nashua to create an expensive monument in economically tight times.  Perhaps some day champions will arise who will remedy this situation. Today, none of those excuses are valid. Because they died almost 100 years ago is also not a good excuse.

There are four memorials dedicated to  World War I in Nashua past and present including (1) The Victory Arch; (2) WWI at Deschenes Oval; (3) City Hall Flagpole plaque; (4) Cannon in Greeley Park.  The first two memorials, now gone, contained names of the fallen. Today, none do. If you know of another WWI memorial that I should include and write about here, please leave a suggestion under comments.

The Victory Arch on Main Street Nashua, NH. It stood from November 1919 to January 1920.

The Victory Arch on Main Street Nashua, NH. It stood from November 1919 to January 1920.

Within this history I have provided several incomplete honor roll lists from 1917-1923 sources.  Because this story became too lengthy, I made a separate story dedicated to compiling a complete list of just the fallen and heroic military. That second story offers the best and most complete list of Nashuans who died in service during WWI.  If you are reading this post ONLY to see that complete Honor Roll list, skip to this second story at this link.

 

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The First WWI Memorial in Nashua, New Hampshire–Victory Arch

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One year after World War I ended, on the first anniversary of the Armistice, on November 11, 1919, a “Victory Arch,” also called the “Arch of Triumph,” was dedicated.  On this arch was inscribed an honor roll, then believed to be complete.    The arch was intended to be temporary, and stood only two months, being dismantled on January 19, 1920.  During that time several ceremonies took place at the arch, with the memory of those lost as a focal point.

A description of the Victory Arch, per the November 11, 1919 Nashua Telegraph newspaper: ” Arch of Victory. Erected by the citizen’s committee. It stands a tribute to the dead as well as to the living, an attractive architectural structure across the main thoroughfare of the city at the most central point. The white arch, spanning the street in front of the municipal buildings, is surmounted on either side by a flag tower from which the national colors flaunt in the breeze.The main span of the arch bears the one word emblematic of the termination of four years and more of world-wide bloodshed, “VICTORY.” Flanking this inscription on either side are the dates July 4, 1776 and November 11, 1918, dates of parallel significance in United States history. Crossed cannon are mount on the arch in the center of the span. Each supporting column bears a part of the list of the greatest battles in which Americans participated, and a part of the city’s list of honors dead.  A laurel wreath, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. George E. Buxton, surmounts each memorial panel.”

1919 First Anniversary of Armistice in the Nashua Telegraph newspaper.

1919 Headline about the First Anniversary of Armistice in the Nashua Telegraph newspaper, when the Arch of Victory was dedicated.

“The arch was designed by Architect Gibbs of the Lockwood-Green Company, who designed an arc building the new mills of the Jackson Company on Canal Street. The work of erection was done by the Nashua Building Company, and the lettering by Charles E. Hilton. The expense of erecting the arch will be borne by popular subscription, a sum reasonably guaranteeing the amount having been volunteered in advance. It is intended that the arch shall remain indefinitely in position at least through the coming holiday season.”

“Buildings along the street which attract particular attention through the elaborate nature of their decoration include The Public Library, the Tavern, the Ayer Block, the Beasom building, Masonic Temple, the Odd Fellows block, the Municipal Building and City Hall.  The battles mentioned on the Victory Arch as being the most prominent among those in which American force participated are as follows: Xivray, Bouresches, Belleau Wood, Trufny, Epieds, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel and Argonne.”

Old postcard with a 1913 postal mark, described as Railroad Square, Nashua, NH (Pre-World War I).

Old postcard with a 1913 postal mark, described as Railroad Square, Nashua, NH (Pre-World War I). It had a bandstand and trees.

The inscription on the Victory Arch of 1919-1920
NASHUA’S HONOR ROLL
Names of City’s Heroes Who Gave Their Lives
During the Course of the War
Following are the names of Nashua men who gave their lives in supreme sacrifice in the World War and inscribed today on the Victory arch at City Hall, Armistice Day.

[48 NAMES]
Albert Auclair Philip N. Barker
Aime Benoit Dennis J. Bossie
Charles Boulay Eli Bouley
Julian J. Bugail Philip R. Burello
Emil T. Burns Eugene Chagnon
Frank H. Chase William H.T. Clark
Edward Clifford James E. Coffey
Amedee Deschenes Adelard Dube
Charles Dubuque Wilkie I. Elliott
Earle D. Farley Apostal Fenga
James B. Flynn Louis P. Fraser
Robert A. French Christopher Gervey
Clement W. Gravelle Eugene C. Hagemann
Edmond Leblanc Albert Lacasse
Edward Lorick Thomas Leazotte
Arthur Lemire Peter McLaughlin
Alphonse J. Messier Victor R. Nortoff
John Paladis Stratis Papanastasion
Oliver Pombrio David Robidoux
Harold R. Rogers Ludger Roy
Thomas J. Ryan Sarkis H. Semonian
Denis M. Shea M.D. Patrick Smith
Franklin H. Whittemore Arthur Gauthier

The Nashua Telegraph of January 15, 1920, Thursday announced: VICTORY ARCH PASSES. “The end of the week will see the end of the Victory Arch at City hall. The illumination each evening, which at present is being paid for by the Nashua Merchants’ association will cease, and the work of salvage will begin on Monday, Mayor Burque being of the opinion that the arch is to be taken down it might as well be done now as any time. Here merchants would have been willing to continue the lighting up to the first of February, or later, for that matter but the salvage offer expires this week–so that is the end of the arch.  In beautify of it’s illumination and general sentiment as a temporary structure for the Armistice day celebration, the arch is a masterpiece and will long be remembered.”

Deschenes Oval at Railroad Square, Nashua NH. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

Deschenes Oval at Railroad Square, Nashua NH. Recent photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

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–The Second WWI Memorial in Nashua, NH: Deschenes Oval–
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In October of 1919, as the first Armistice Day anniversary approached, the local newspaper reported that a citizen’s committee, appointed for World War memorial planning, had recommendations.  In a nutshell, Alderman Kittredge, said that the veterans themselves preferred a bronze memorial tablet mentioning the men who died in the service, about 50 names be erected in Railroad Square, and that the oval section within the park be renamed Deschenes Oval.  He stated this same group also recommended that a bronze plaque be posted in this oval stating why the park was so-named. The Alderman went on to state that the heroic service of Private Deschenes was in the process of being corroborated by eye witnesses and the war department.

EXCERPTS from Nashua Telegraph, Wednesday, October 15, 1919: “Alderman Kittredge as chairman of the committee having in charge the matter of changing the name of Railroad square and the erection of a bronze memorial tablet reported that it was deemed inexpedient to erect a tablet having the names of all of Nashua’s soldiers on it because of the great expense and because the soldiers themselves preferred some more practical method of recognizing the living, but did recommend the erection of a tablet commemorating those who died in the service numbering in the vicinity of 50. This was the plan being followed in many cities and was being done in Concord. As to the change of name of Railroad Square he said it was customary to secure confirmation of the acts of heroism in such cases from the war department but as this in turn would await investigation by Washington of the confirmation of his comrades…. There is no doubt said the Colonel [William P. Sullivan], he [Deschenes] was a very brave man and entitled to especial distinction. Alderman Kittredge then said it had been thought best to name the oval in the square Deschenes Park and erect a bronze-tablet stating why the part was so named. Colonel Sullivan being called again said that the soldiers, both members of the James A. Coffey post A.L. would much prefer that any memorial should be of a practical character and especially the securing of a permanent building where they might have a club room and meeting place. He further said that this was being done in many places all over the country at the request of the soldiers themselves….Alderman Kittredge requested further time be allowed the committee and this was granted.”

Amedee Deschenes monument at Railroad Square, Nashua NH. Recent photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

Amedee Deschenes monument at Railroad Square, Nashua NH. Recent photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

–Deschenes Oval Dedication in 1920 —
On November 2, 1920, just a few days before the 2nd anniversary of Armistice Day, the Deschenes Oval was dedicated at Railroad Square in Nashua, New Hampshire. Flags and red, white and blue bunting were abundant. A parade was arranged by the American Legion, James E. Coffey Post, who also helped with the dedication exercises, running from South Common to Deschenes Park. A plaque, dedicated to Amedee Deschenes was installed at this time, but no plaque or tablet to the other men lost in the war.
[Inscription on Monument]
DESCHENES PARK
—–
Name in Memory
of
AMEDEE DESCHENES
NASHUA
Automatic Rifleman
Co. I, 103rd Infantry
American Expeditionary Forces
in the
World War.
Commended for Conspicuous Gallantry
In Action at Xivray, France
June 16, 1918
Wounded Sept. 12, 1918 at St. Mihiel
Died Oct. 1, 1918

The November 1, 1920 edition of the Nashua Telegraph reported: “This afternoon the City of Nashua will pay its only official tribute to date to the memory of the heroes of this city who nobly carried Old Glory to consummate a world-wide victory on the bloody fields of France against the arch foe of humanity. The formal dedication of Deschenes Park will honor alike the dead and the living, and perpetuate the name of Nashua’s foremost hero, whose act of valor goes down in the annals of time as the equivalent of any similar act of any hero in history. He was Amedee Deschenes….There a new bronze tablet in memory of Nashua’s departed hero is to be unveiled with appropriate ceremonies. L. company, N.H. State Guard will be posted at the park as a guard of honor, and …many other military and semi-military bodies…will participate….The oration will be given by Congressman Edward H. Wason. Col. William E. Sullivan, commander of the local post of the American Legion, assisted by Sgt. Arthur Bouley and Pvt. Andrew Baldman, comrades of Private Deschenes in Co. I, 103d Infantry, in the engagement which marked Deschenes’ act of distinguished services will draw the veil from the tablet with remarks by Colonel Sullivan. The tribute of the entire population of Nashua to all its heroes, expressed in the terms of one, will henceforth lend a mark of distinction to the oval in the heart of the city……The tablet unveiled this afternoon is a beautiful bronze casting made by William H. Highton & Sons Company of this city, and commemorates the bravery shown by Private Deschenes at Xivray. It is inset in a beautiful block of cut New Hampshire granite, from a Milford quarry, set by Arthur H. Hardy of this city. Following the unveiling of the tablet, when the inscription will be revealed for the first time, a salute will be fired by the guards of honor….”  [Note that at this time there was no plaque or listing of others who died at this site].

Nashua's Roll of Honor - those who died and those who served in WWI from Nashua Telegraph dated

Nashua’s Roll of Honor – listing both those who died and those who served in WWI from Nashua Telegraph dated January 13, 1923. (Mouse click on photo to see larger version).

First Publication of all Veterans of World War I, including an Honor Roll of The Dead
On January 17, 1923, the Nashua Telegraph newspaper published a full page listing of those known men of Nashua, NH who participated in the World War (WWI), and a special Honor Roll insert of those who “made the supreme sacrifice,” i.e., died during wartime in service. [See the entire full page notice at right.]

[34 NAMES]
BENOIT Aime BOSSIE Dennis J.
BOULEY Charles O. BOULEY Eli
BURNS Emile T. CHAGNON Eugene
CHASE Frank H. COFFEY James E.
DESCHENES Amedee DUBUQUE Joseph C.
FURLEY Earl D. ELLIOTT Wilkie C.
FENGA Apostol A. FLYNN James B.
FRASER Louis P. FRENCH Robert A.
GRAVELLE Clement W. HAGEMANN Eugene C
LABLANC Edmond LIZOTTE Thomas
McLAUGHLIN Peter A. MESSIER Alphonse J.
PAPANASTASION Stratis POMBRIO Oliver
ROBIDOUX David ROY Ludger
RYAN Thomas J. WHITTEMORE Franklin H
GAUTHIER Albert CLIFFORD Edward
LABONVILLE Leon BUGAIL Julien J.
CLARK William H.T. ROGERS Harold R.

–WWI Names Placed, Removed and Lost, new WWI Plaque Without Names Installed–
At some point between 1923 and before WW2 began, an Honor Roll of ALL Soldiers of WWI, with those who died marked with a star, was placed in the Deschenes Oval.  It can be seen in old photographs, looking similar to the current wide marble monument,  only it was of wood painted white then lettered. It is referred to in a letter by the Soldier’s Monument Committee as shown below.

On Monday, May 4, 1925, the Nashua Telegraph included an editorial entitled, “A Soldiers’ Memorial’ where local towns (Milford, Manchester) efforts to create suitable tributes, and that “the young men who went Over There have not been entirely forgotten at least.” The story mentions the rejection of Manchester veterans to having a newly built bridge dedicated to them.  “It was likened to a man buying a peck of potatoes and offering it to the family as a Christmas present.”  The editorial goes on to speak about Nashua’s efforts, or lack thereof.  “Failure of this city up to the present time to get ahead with any sort of memorial, except that of the special recognition accorded Pvt. Amedee Deschenes for an especially notable achievement, has not been for lack of what appears to have been a rather definite crystallization of opinion, but because of numerous delays from one cause and another, of going ahead with the project. It has in fact been a long time now since an public utterance–or thought for that matter-has been given to a memorial, or perhaps it might be said the memorial plan of building an enclosed athletic field or stadium, dedicated to the general development of Nashua youth manhood.  The city has abundant land at the North common. The question is When shall the community go ahead with the project?” [Despite this plea, no monument or memorial with names was built].

Then the United States entered World War II.  When the war ended, apparently new plates were added to the Deschenes Oval, however these names were of WWII participants.

A portion of the engraved names of Nashua military of WWI at Deschenes Oval, Nashua NH.

A portion of the engraved names of Nashua military of WW2 at Deschenes Oval, Nashua NH. Recent photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

The Nashua Telegraph newspaper of 4 November 1948 reports: “A wooden plaque bearing names of World War II veterans which is set on the monument at Deschenes Oval, Railroad Square will be replaced by one of bronze before Memorial Day, the Mayor’s Secretary, Atty. Arthur A. Tremblay said today. Questioned by a Telegraph reporter on the matter he said it was Mayor Oswald S. Maynard’s intention that a plaque of permanent quality be substituted for the temporary wooden one now gracing the monument in the early spring. Attorney Tremblay said that veterans whose names had been omitted, incorrectly listed or misspelled should contact him and notify him of any changes to be made. He said he hoped a bronze plaque would be installed in time for the Memorial Day Exercises. Many names on the plaque have been obliterated and many hare hardly legible at this date. Alfred O. Poulin, city treasurer, revealed that a sum of $1,705.22 remained from the original appropriation set aside for this purpose.” 

 A few years later on 5 October 1949, (as stated in the Nashua Telegraph, p1,8) “Constantine N. Caros, WWII veteran was elected commander of James E. Coffey Post, No. 3, American Legion last evening . . . . After a motion by Andrew Bernier, amended by Dr. Albert G. Coffey, it was voted to ask the finance committee of the Board of Alderman to open bids for the placing of bronze plaques bearing names of World War II veterans at Deschenes Oval on Railroad Sq.  It was again stated that the present wooden plaques had fallen off and were practically obliterated.”  Two months later the Veteran’s Council met, and it was noted in the Nashua Telegraph of 6 December 1949 that Dr. Albert G. Coffey raised the problem of misspelled names on the Deschenes Oval plaque and that the entire plaque needed to be replaced with a bronze one.  Judge Advocate George French noted that names of men from other wars besides WWII needed to be included.   [However, they never were].

On 13 April 1953, the Nashua Telegraph announced that the Nashua Historical Society had re-elected leaders. “The society, acting on a request of Atty. George M. French that steps be taken toward the preservation of the names of World War I hero dead, approved a resolution by the directors recommending to the membership: ‘That the Society go on record as favoring the placing on the monument at Deschenes Oval the names of all the Nashua men killed in action in World War I.’ This was amended to include the provision that a copy be sent to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.”

On 3 August 1951, the Nashua Telegraph announced that Paul A. Morin, Chairman of the Nashua Veterans’ Council was compiling “a full list of WW2 veterans” for the memorial plaque, made of bronze to replace the current one at Deschenes Oval [There is no mention of WWI] .  On 17 August 1921 Miss Mary H. Sullivan was appointed secretary of the honor roll list proposed for the Deschenes Oval.

The Nashua Telegraph newspaper published a letter addressed to the Mayor and Board of Alderman (read to them at a meeting on October 12, 1955, but published in newspaper the day before on October 11th). It had been written by the last two living members of the Alderman’s Committee for the Soldiers’ Memorial of World War I, namely George M. French and Daniel J. Hagerty, DMD. They requested a delay in the order and placement of the new plaque on the City Hall flagpole, as they wanted the names of soldiers killed in WWI to be included.  Mr. French and Dr. Hagerty referred to the former name recognition in Deschenes Oval, but that the wooden structure with all the names had been removed and was apparently missing, with no copies of the information on it.  [SEE “City Hall Flagpole Monument for more info on that monument]. (below).

In July of 1952, the Nashua Telegraph began printing a list of Veterans of WWII for the public to review and add or correct.  A Nashua Roll of Honor correct/addition form was included with the partial honor roll published over a series of days.

In July of 1953, the Nashua Telegraph announced that Leo J. Maynard of the Nashua Veteran’s Council had indicated a probable Re-Dedication of the Memorial Plaque at Deschenes Oval to be set for November 11 of the same. year.  In August of this year a few members of the Nashua Veteran’s Council visited the Berlin Foundry (Berlin, NH) to review the cast and check it for spelling errors.

WWI plaque in Deschenes Oval Nashua about WWI,

WWI plaque in Deschenes Oval Nashua. It provides only general national (not local) information and statistics, but no individual names. Recent photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

In September of 1953, the Nashua Telegraph announced that the 13 bronze plaques that composed the new WWII monument were completed. In October 1953, the Nashua Telegraph announced that the Berlin Foundry and Machine Co, who was in charge of construction of the WWII plaques that would be delivering 12 plaques and an honor roll plaque containing 121 names of Nashua veteran dead, by November 1st. The Rossi Company was awarded the contract to install them. On November 11, 1953, with installation complete, a re-dedication ceremony was held at Deschenes Park, with its new honor plaques to WWII participants.  In August 1954, the plaques were refinished, due to an unexpected change in their color.

In 2011 the Nashua Telegraph wrote about a project to salute veterans and raise money to improve Deschenes Oval. The plan was created by Richard Chasse, former fire chief and decorate WWII veteran. With the leadership of Griffin T. Dalianis and others, 2800 individual bricks were bought and placed, each with a name of a veteran etched upon it. The Deschenes oval now contains Veteran’s Memorial Walk, 10 monuments, one for each major war; four benches of granite sponsored by the Nash, Fosse, Buckingham, Dalianis, Katis and Powers families; a black granite Purple Heart Memorial with a flag pole; a monument with a brass plaque commemorating those who died on 9/11–civilians, firefighters, policemen and military personnel. There are also trees that were planted in the more distant past to commemorate the American Revolution and heroes of the Civil War.

Other than the specific tribute to Amedee Deschenes, only one small plaque at this location recognizes World War I, and it contains general information on years, and statistics of participation. (see photograph). The names of WWI (World War One) participants, and those who died, were  never replaced in Deschenes Oval, nor were the names of these heroes placed on that or any other plaque installed anywhere in Nashua, after the original wooden ones were removed.

*Additional Reading*
Deschenes: Nashua Hero of WWI, by Dean Shalhoup (2012)
Railroad Square, Nashua, New Hampshire, World War II Honor Roll and other War Memorials, at Nutfield Genealogy Blog

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–The Third WWI Memorial in Nashua, NH: City Hall Flagpole–
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About 1951 the Veteran’s Council had been asked to obtain a list of names from WWI, but deferred the task, stating that ‘someone’ might be left out and family would be offended.  As to the proposed City Hall flagpole memorial, as noted early, two of the last living Alderman appointed committee members of the Soldier’s Memorial, namely George M. French and Daniel J. Hagerty, DMD stated to the Mayor and Alderman,”We have reliable information that the State Historian left good records which are located in the Adjutant General’s office in Concord. It seems to us that the 35 names already known could constitute a good basis to search the records to learn all from Nashua who were killed in action or died from wounds in a combat zone during World War I. These names should be on a tablet where our citizens can see them and where they could be preserved for posterity. We think that of these 35 names there are five or six who died in this country and did not go overseas, and that some were from Hudson, so that the list might boil down to 20 odd names. Once such a list is obtained it could be published and the public asked for additions or corrections before the tablet was struck off. It would seem that the Aldermen should appoint a competent committee of three, one to be an Alderman, one to be a World War I veteran, and one to be a member of the Nashua Historical Society, to be instructed to search the records. We realize the proposed tablet has probably been cast, but suggest the dedication be postponed to await the report of such a new committee. Without names the tablet appears no more beneficial as a memorial to our city’s heroes in World War I than as though it was labeled ‘To the Unknown Warriors from Nashua in World War I.‘”

I do not have knowledge of any additional correspondence between the Mayor and Alderman and the Soldiers’ Committee members on this topic, except to note that by the time of their objections, the cast for the plaque had already been completed.  A plaque, that did NOT contain any soldiers’ names was installed to the City Hall flagpole base, and dedicated on 11 November 1955, just a month after the above missive,   A year later on 11 November 1956 a plaque was installed on the same flag pole in honor of Spanish-American War participants, the two other sides are blank. In various years since on Armistice Day, ceremonies

Flag Pole Plaque, WWI and Spanish-American War. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

Flag Pole Plaque in front of Nashua City Hall, WWI and Spanish-American War. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

and wreath placing have occurred at this location.

–Plaque at Base of Flagpole, in front of City Hall, Nashua, New Hampshire–
[see photo]
Champagne – Marne Aisne-Marne St. Mihiel

Meuse Argonne Defensive Sector
A GRATEFUL NASHUA AND HER
CITIZENS PLACE THIS PLAQUE IN
HONOR OF THE PATRIOTISM AND
HIGH COURAGE OF THE MEN AND
WOMEN WHO SERVED THEIR
COUNTRY IN THE ARMED FORCES.
AND WITH DEEP REVERENCE FOR
THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
DURING THE WORLD WAR 1917-1918
Dedicated by the Citizens of Nashua, N.H.
November 11 1955

The NAMES of WWI (World War One) participants, and those who died, were never installed at City Hall or anywhere in Nashua, after the original wooden plates were removed at Deschenes Oval.

A September 2016 news article in the Union Leader states that the Nashua City Hall Plaza began planning a new design for the plaza in front of the building about two years ago. Various changes have been ongoing since then, including an archway, new planting beds, brick replacement, and “the war monument flagpole will be refurbished and eventually relocated to an undetermined site...” A 2,000 pound bell, restored with funds from James Stellos, originally sat in Nashua’s first city hall in 1936. It has been moved back to City Hall Plaza. Only time will tell where this WWI monument ends up. [Editor’s note 10/16/2016: I spoke with someone at City Hall who states that the project to move the flagpole and plaque is on hold pending review. This done prior to my inquiry. I expressed my concerns].

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-The 4th Memorial in Nashua NH: Captured German Cannon at Greeley Park-
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German Howitzer Cannon at Greeley Park. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

German Howitzer Cannon at Greeley Park. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

Den Levesque, on FaceBook, in the “YOU KNOW YOU ARE FROM OLD NASHUA IF” group posted this tidbit from the newspaper about the cannon: “This cannon was part of a shipment of captured equipment which had been sent to the United States after World War I. The captured prizes were stored, and in 1933, it was decided to distribute them to cities and towns. David P. Stevens applied for a cannon, and with the assistance of then U.S. Sen. George H. Moses, selected the German howitzer.”

On November 11, 1933, the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice was observed in Nashua, when thousands lined the streets to watch a colorful parade,  followed by exercises at Greeley Park and presentation to the city of Nashua of a cannon.  This German Howitzer cannon was built in 1917. On 12 September 1918 the cannon was captured by U.S. military in the St. Mihiel Offensive. It was presented to Nashua by the city’s Armistice Committee (and by Thomas J. Dowd on behalf of the WW Veterans) in this 1933 ceremony here described.

Capt. Elliot A. Carter was chief marshal of the parade. Thomas J. Dowd was Master of Ceremonies. Invocation was offered by Rev. Earl F. Nausse. Mayor William F. Sullivan accepted the gun for the city. At that time “he [Mayor Sullivan] also told the veterans of the possibilities of developing Greeley Park as a fitting Victory park in memory of the World war heroes.” [Editor’s note: this victory park was never created].

Plaque at Howitzer Cannon, Greeley Park, Nashua NH. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

Plaque at Howitzer Cannon, Greeley Park, Nashua NH. Photograph courtesy of John R. Bolduc, Nashua NH native.

The main address was delivered by J. Franklin Babb of New Hampton. Among his comments were: “The thought expressed by Lincoln at Gettysburg comes to me that we cannot dedicate this gun for it has already been dedicated by the men who died to capture it from the enemy, and whose spirits may be near us this day as we stop to do them honor and to recognize their sacrifice. It has been silenced by men who fought with a dream in their souls and who followed a star through the carnage and smoke of battle, a dream that has not come true and a star that has become obscured. They believed they fought a war to end war and for a peace that would endure for all generations. You may, and undoubtedly do, deplore violence; you hate warfare. You know full well that force has never permanently settled anything–that hatred is never the foundation for national security, and at the same time, you know that individually men fought your fight, flinging their lives away to make the world safe for mankind to dwell in sanctuary, unafraid of interference from without. The men present who recall those days when this gun thundered loudly and belched forth death stayed here, betrayed by their government, their sick uncared for and their needy unprotected, stigmatized as grafters, as wanton wasters of governmental wealth. Many of them will soon face their Maker and they will tread their last trails alone and deserted, yet they are here today, loyal to their flag, silent about their injuries, with heads up and faces turned to the sunrise. The picture is one that chokes my throat and at the same time makes me inordinately proud.”

“This cannon will, each day it remains here, rebuke those who have broken their sacred word that no veteran should ever suffer want, and that no dependent of any veteran should suffer for care of material provision, and it will bring steadily nearer the day when ashamed people will restore to the men who captured it and many hundreds like it what has been unjustly taken from them; for it will declare night and day louder than I can ever speak; “But for these men my lips would not have been silenced and your homes would have been a target for my wrath. Out from the days that have not yet dawned will come children who are yet to see the light and they will pause and look upon this massive symbol of hate and blood, and they will ask, “Where did that come from?” “Where was it captured?” “Who took it and how?” and “What has become of those men?” And the tale of heroism and service unto death will be interrupted by a story of broken promises and ineffable shame.”

“This gun will always commemorate a time when men were not asked for a certificate of moral worth, or of cultural attainments, when all that was asked was this: “Have you a sound body and are you willing to die?”; a time when anyone who could answer “yes” to these questions was good enough for cannon fodder and was cheered on to his fate.
Most of you who face me did not hear the cannon, did not face bullets, did not writhe under the gas; most of you, were safe here at home, working, earning and spending; and you cannot understand what happened ‘over there.’ And no man can tell you, it was too big and too terrible. Today the dead do not need your cheers and the living are not affected by them. They are keeping a tryst with the buddies who have gone West and the buddies who are yet to go. And they are living over silently the days when they gripped this gun with their bare hands and drove the men who manned it into their graves. To you, the hour is thrilling. To them, it is sacred.” This gun is a seal that the nation has been preserved and no instrument can be manufactured that men cannot put out of action and drag from the front to the rear as an exhibit where it was a menace and a source of destruction.” [the original speech continued, this is an excerpt only].

[PLAQUE INSCRIPTION, HOWITZER CANNON]
THIS GERMAN HOWITZER
WAS CAPTURED BY THE
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES
AT THE ST. MIHIEL OFFENSIVE
SEPT. 12, 1918
DEDICATED AND PRESENTED TO THE
CITY OF NASHUA, N.H. NOV 11, 1933
ARMISTICE DAY COMMITTEE 1933
JAMES E. COFFEY,  POST NO. 3 A.L.
David F. Sullivan, Com.
Earle L. Williams, Chn.
Henry E. Hall
Leo A. Desclos
David P. Stevens, Treas.
Carl F. Mellon

NASHUA POST NO. 483 V.F.W.
Joseph M. Sullivan, Com.
John P. Diggins D.S.C.
Edward S. Leblanc
William J. O’Grady Secy.
Walter P. Barry
Frank L. Irvine

In 1942 then Mayor Eugene H. Lemay considered a request from Mayor F.H. LaGuardia, president of the conference of Mayors, that war relics and cannon in this city, including a captured German cannon at Greeley Park and three cannon at Soldier’s monument be turned over to the government for production of munitions.  Reportedly the War Department promised to replace it with a captured cannon from the present war. A 1944 news article states that this proposal was “quickly scratched for sentimental reasons.”

A Telegraph article from 2010 highlights “venerable Nashuan” Dorothy Nice’s efforts to get the 1917 German cannon at Greeley Park restored in 1998. She “kept an eye on the process and pushed then-city Parks and Recreation director Frank Dorsey to return it before the end of summer.”

To see my COMPLETE list of Nashua’s WWI Fallen Heroes, click here.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
(Thank you)

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Nick Kaggiano of Parks & Recreation Dept, Superintendent, Nashua.
Marita Klements of Nashua Public Library
The Mayor’s Office, Nashua City Hall

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4 Responses to World War I Memorials in Nashua New Hampshire

  1. Pingback: New Hampshire WWI Military: The Heroes of Nashua | Cow Hampshire

  2. Pingback: New Hampshire World War I Military: Heroes of The Great War | Cow Hampshire

  3. Paul R. Poliquin says:

    JF Mcelwain factory in Nashua had a bronze Plaque of WW2 veterans in the main entrance as you came through the door. does anyone no what happened to it? also is there a list of WW2 and Vietnam veterans from Nashua displayed anywhere?

    • Janice Brown says:

      Paul,
      There is a link in my story to the Deschenes Oval plaque with all those who DIED in WWII. As to a list of all veterans, I do not have that, and probably won’t create it since my focus is on WWI at this time. Ditto for Vietnam veterans. You could also check with the Nashua historical society about the JF Mcelwain plaque.

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