One name on the wall
Etched upon the Roll Call of Honor Memorial in Tazewell are the names of 22 Claiborne county natives who, during World War I, gave all. This is the story of one of those men, as recalled by his great-nephew Chris Cawood.
Speedwell farmer Fred Cawood was 24 years old when he enlisted to fight the enemy in the Great War. Within the year, Cawood was dead, reportedly shot through the head by enemy gunfire.
His body permanently lies in French soil, interred at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery outside Paris, France.
Chris says he’s rather sure the stories of the other 21 servicemen listed on the Memorial Wall would be similar.
Fred Cawood served in the 11th Infantry, 5th Division, company A. He enlisted on Oct. 19 of 1917.
“These new draftees were sent for basic training and then shipped overseas very quickly. They were thrown into battle in September 1918, in the Meuse Argonne offensive in Northeast France, against a well-entrenched German army. They steadily, but slowly, were able to push the Germans back. But, the battle was at a great loss of life and wounded.
“I don’t know exactly how Fred died. He was first reported as missing on Oct. 14, and then confirmed as killed in action, on that day. He wasn’t buried on the battlefield until after the Armistice. Later, when he was reburied, the records show that his upper jaw was shattered. So, he must have taken a bullet straight through the head,” said Cawood.
The soldier was later disinterred and reburied in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery on June 10, 1919.
“No war is nice and clean, but the Great War saw a gigantic use of poisonous gas as weapons. Even today, there are many unexploded gas canisters and shells still embedded in the ground of Northeast France.
“By the end of the war, 116,708 American soldiers had died from combat, influenza and wounds. Another 204,000 Americans were wounded. During the year and a half that the United States was in the war, twice as many soldiers died as died during all of the Vietnam War,” said Cawood.
He says he decided to make the trip to France to pay his respects to his great-uncle. He arrived at the gravestone on Oct. 14 – exactly 100 years from the date of his death.
“With a rental car, we drove from Paris the 200 miles to the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery. We passed through the land where much of the battle had taken place.
“I found Fred’s grave and tombstone, and knelt beside it for a few minutes. His body lies in the grave, just two miles from where he died,” said Cawood.
He says the Army offered to bring the soldier’s body back to this country, but Fred’s mother declined.
“She thought he should be buried near where he fell in battle. They later offered to bring her to France to visit the cemetery, but she said her age and health prevented her,” said Cawood.
The Meuse-Argonne Cemetery measures 130 acres in size. The cemetery is the final resting place for 14,246 American soldiers.
Fred Cawood is the only one of the 22 servicemen listed on the Memorial Wall who is buried there.
Following are the names of the other 21 county natives who died during WW1. The Claiborne Progress salutes these 22 men for their willingness to risk all they had to give.
Leonard J. Brewer
Oscar P. Cupp
Samuel H. Duncan
Major G. Ellison
James Francisco, Jr.
Corben A. Keck
Arthur V. Kibert
William Hobart Leach
Estel William Loop
Ballard Columbus Lynch
William C. Parkey
Lewis F. Pearson
George W. Singleton
Henry V. Soard