Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Day 95, May 1

Early on the morning of September 28, 1918, Stowers' company was ordered to assault Côte 188, a tall, heavily defended hill overlooking a farm near Ardeui, France. At first, the German defenders offered stiff resistance, bombarding the Americans with mortars, raking them with machine guns and keeping up steady rifle fire.

The advance was not halted, however; with the Americans steadily gaining ground, and the Germans communicated their surrender with verbal and hand signals. This  proved to be a ruse, and as Company C drew near the German trenches, the machine guns opened up again. Within minutes, the company's strength was reduced by half. The lieutenant commanding Stowers' platoon went down, followed by the more senior noncommissioned officers. Corporal Stowers, trained to lead a section of a rifle squad, was now in command of a battered and demoralized platoon.

Stowers began crawling toward a German machine gun nest and shouted for his men to follow. The platoon successfully reached the first German trench line and reduced the machine guns by enfilade fire. Stowers then reorganized his force and led a charge against the second German line of trenches. During this assault, Stowers was struck by an enemy machine gun, but kept going until he was struck a second time.

He collapsed from loss of blood, but ordered his men not to be discouraged and to keep going and take out the German guns. Inspired by Stowers' courage, the men forged ahead and successfully drove the Germans from the hill and into the plain below. Stowers, meanwhile, succumbed to his wounds on Côte 188. He is buried, along with 133 of his comrades, at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This is the kind of history we need. Dates and places only mean something if attached to people and stories like this.