Willliam Morgan: The Doughboys of Tiverton


Commentary and photos by WILLIAM MORGAN

Despite  2014-2018 marking  the centenary of World War I, there do not seem to be a lot of celebrations planned. No groups of war re-enactors and their camp followers are rushing to spend several years in the mud to recreate the Battle of the Somme or Passchendaele.

Yet, it was American "Doughboys,''  arriving in France who turned stalemate into victory (and  into reparations that laid the foundation for the next great war, but that is another story).

Forgetting the isolationist sentiment that kept the United States out of the war for so long, many towns, such as Tiverton, R.I.,  erected statues to our heroes.

The Tiverton soldier appears to be defending the long-closed bridge across the Sakonnet River. As war memorials go, this bronze by Lewis J. White and cast by the Gorham Foundry is merely serviceable, neither exceptional nor dramatic.

Nevertheless, it still offers a story. The Roll of Honor lists over 150 names. Could Tiverton have sent so many soldiers and sailors to rescue Belgium and France from the Hun? Of those, over a dozen deaths were noted with little stars.

There are a number of Irish (Brophy, Flanagan, O'Connell), French (Beaulieu, Herveux, Lavault), Portuguese (Medeiros, Souza, Raposa). But what surprises is how a hundred years ago the majority of names were old New England ones–Bradshaw, Stafford, Holden. Four nurses are remembered as well, including Emma Frost and Mary Tabor Manchester.

William Morgan is an author and architectural historian.