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The Reverend Davitt Medal

All Christians believe in a God that is all knowing and all powerful. They believe that nothing happens in this life without God’s knowledge and consent even though his reason for letting things happen is often beyond the understanding of us mere mortals. Case in point is the life and death of a Catholic Priest, the Reverend William F. Davitt of Massachusetts. When the US entered the war in 1917 Davitt volunteered as a Knights of Columbus chaplain. He was commissioned as a chaplain first lieutenant and assigned to the 125th regiment of the 32nd division. Rev. Davitt was fearless in combat probably thinking that he was under God’s protection. He led a rescue mission for trapped American troops through a hail of machine gun fire without a single casualty and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm by order of Marshal Petain. He was constantly under fire as the Acting 5th Corps Burial Officer during the Meuse-Argonne Operations resulting in his recommendation for the Distinguished Service Cross by Maj. Gen. Summerall. Then after being assigned to the 3rd Corps while delivering a large flag to the commanding officer’s office about one and a half hours before the armistice was to take effect Rev Davitt was killed by shrapnel from an artillery burst making him the last American officer killed in action during the First World War. A medal was struck honoring the fearless reverend who’s luck ran out. It is die struck with a great portrait of Davitt in uniform on the obverse. The reverse is inscribed “REV. WILLIAM F. DAVITT 1ST LIEUT. U.S.A. KILLED IN ACTION IN FRANCE NOVEMBER 11, 1918” in six lines. The medal is on a black ribbon and has no maker identification. Since this is a die struck medal it can not be unique. There must be others out there. My guess is that this medal was issued by St. Ann’s Church in Lenox, MA where Rev. Davitt was Assistant Pastor before joining the war effort.

About Fred Borgmann

Retired from KP after nearly 31 years as new issues editor and the Standard Catalogs.
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