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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Private Mead Home: Plucky Greenwich Soldier Who Lost a Leg in the War (1919)

Source: Greenwich News and Graphic. March 21, 1919. Page 1.

With his right leg amputated above the knee, and hobbling about on crutches, Private "Eddie" Mead, of Company M. 313th Infantry, 79th Division, who has been enjoying a forty-eight-hour furlough at the home of his sister, Mrs. Irving R. Moshier, Greenwich avenue, told in a modest way how a German sniper wounded him, while performing his duty as scout despatch runner, after he had relieved a comrade who had been shell-shocked.

He had going over the top in the Argonne Forest drive on the morning of September 26, 1918, with other members of this company, and at 3 o'clock in the afternoon he started through the woods to ascertain the nearest route of a barb wire entanglement. Another despatch, who probably would have gone on this route was wounded, and it fell to Private Mead's lot to take his place. He had gone but a short distance, when the snipers high explosive bullet hit him in the leg. For two days and two nights he remained there, with the hundreds of wounded dead soldiers lying all around him. Finally he was taken to a base hospital, where it was at first believed that the leg had only been fractured, but after seven operations had been performed by the attending physicians, it was found that the bones in the leg had been so horribly shattered that the leg had to be amputated just above-the-knee. Until he returned from overseas, he was confined in the hospital and while there he made a beaded necklace, which he has since presented to his sister, Mrs. Mosier. It is a splendid piece of workmanship and Mrs. Mosier prices it most highly, not only because of its beauty, but for its sentimental and historic value.

On March 12, Private Mead arrived on the USS Steamship Mercy, which came by the way of Bermuda. He was taken to the Grand Central Palace hospital in New York and returned to that institution on Tuesday morning. In his section of the hospital he says there are 158 soldiers, each of whom has lost a leg. The men show no signs of despondency, but on the contrary are in a happy frame of mind and are congratulating themselves that they suffered no worse hardships. It probably will be a year before "Eddie"will receive his discharge and it may be necessary for him to undergo another operation.

Private Mead went overseas on July 7, 1917 and his Division, which probably saw more of the actual fighting than any other, not excepting the 27th division, was cited for bravery in the Argonne Forest Drive, and he showed a reporter a cross, presented to each man, which represents a gold Liberty Bell upside down, with the Lorraine cross in blue. Private Ernest Nolan and Carl Palmer, of Greenwich were also in the same Division.

There were some ten Indians in his Division whose services proved invaluable, since the Germans easily learned the American code, but it was a difficult matter to send messages for this reason. The Indians had a code all their own which baffled the Huns. The despatchers would go out all night, for the purpose of finding the nearest barb-wire entanglement, and they encountered much danger, from German snipers, who were always on the lookout for them.

"I just gave my leg to some poor German as a souvenir," said Private Mead, with a smile on his face. "It was a great experience and I would go back to the firing line tomorrow, if my country called me. I got through pretty lucky, for it would have been much worse had I lost an arm or my eyes like many of the other poor fellows."

Eddie was according to most hearty welcome by his numerous friends here, and Mrs. Moshier entertained a number of his friends at her home on Sunday and Monday nights in his honor.

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