A few days ago we posted a Veterans Day essay by Steve O’Connor. Steve ended with a passage about the grave of Edward Rowe who was killed in World War One. After reading the essay, our World War One archivist, Eileen Loucraft, found the 1918 newspaper story announcing Rowe’s death.
Here’s what Steve O’Connor wrote about Private Rowe:
It’s time for me to get back to my daughter’s softball game, but I stop at one last stone. “Erected by Clan X,” the inscription reads, “Edward Rowe, born in Paisley, Scotland, July 30, 1898, Killed in Action in Cheriy, France, August 28, 1918.” There are lines of a poem below that, but I have to rub off the lichen from the stone, and pull the moss out of the graven letters:
Left untended the herd
The flock without shelter
Left the corpse uninterred
The Bride at the Altar
And like the wind and the wave
Swept on to defend his native country.
Later, when I google those lines, I find that they are taken from “The Pibroch of Donald Dhus,” written by Sir Walter Scott in 1816, all except the last two, which appear to have been inserted for the occasion.
The stanza should conclude:
Leave the deer, leave the steer
Leave nets and barges
Come with your fighting gear
Broadsword and targes.
And researching the date, I conclude that Edward Rowe probably died on the first day of the Oise-Aisne Offensive. I find myself wondering about Sarah Ingalls and Little Freddy and Leonard Thompson. I imagine Edward Rowe shouting to his comrades in his thick Paisley brogue as he went over the top. A forgotten hero of a forgotten battle, and I leave the graveyard feeling strangely alive, and every inch a mortal.
And here’s the September 13, 1918 Lowell Sun article announcing Rowe’s death:
Private Rowe is Dead – Well Known Local Musician Killed in Action, Messages Say Today – Young Patriot Was Listed for Officers’ School, Family Lives Here.
Another Lowell boy has made the supreme sacrifice in France.
Private Edward Rowe of the 244th Canadian Overseas Battalion was killed in action Aug. 28, according to a telegram just received by relatives in this city.
Private Rowe was 20 years old and the son of Edward D. Rowe of 65 Jewett Street. His mother died in March, 1917, and Edward sailed overseas the day after she was buried. He has been in active service for about 18 months.
The last letter which his folks here had received came three weeks ago. Private Rowe was born in Paisley, Scotland, and came to this country about six years ago. He was first employed in the twisting room of the Appleton Mfg. Co., and previous to his enlistment had worked at the Billerica car shots of the Boston & Maine. He was well known about the city and very popular.
The young soldier was a horn musician and was a prominent member of the local Salvation Army band. After entering the service he had opportunities at various intervals to play in military bands and he was at one time a member of the Kiltie band which visited Lowell last fall in the interest of British and Canadian recruiting. Private Rowe, in his last letter home, said that he was to be given an opportunity to enter an officers’ training school, but evidently death came before this could be realized.
Besides his father, he leaves two sisters, Miss Nettie Rowe, who is now stationed at Camp Devens with the Salvation Army unit, and Miss May Rowe. He also leaves three brothers in this city, James, employed at the U.S. Cartridge Co., and Thomas and Fred.
Private Rowe enlisted with Samuel Madden of this city, a chap of about his own age, who was also prominent in local musical circles. The two chums went overseas together and probably served for a while together after arriving on the other side. Rowe’s relatives received a letter from Madden yesterday but he evidently knew nothing of his chum’s passing away. Later in the day a telegram from the Canadian military authorities was received by Mrs. Margaret Rowe, an aunt of Edward, announcing the sad news.