From the front page of the Nashua Telegraph dated Tuesday, November 11, 1920
DESCHENES PARK TABLET UNVEILED TODAY COMMEMORATES WAR HERO.
Parade of veterans and school children precedes formal dedication exercises - Oval named for young soldier who saved the day at XIVRAY.
This afternoon, the city of Nashua will pay its only official tribute to date to the memory of the heroes from this city who nobly carried Old Glory to consummate a world-wide victory on the bloody fields of France against the arch foe of humanity. The formal dedication of Deschenes Park will honor alike the dead and the living, and perpetuate the name of Nashua's foremost hero, whose act of valor goes down in the annals of time as the equivalent of any similar act of any hero in history. He was Amedee Deschenes.
This city is today festive with flags flying from staffs and windows in commemoration of the signing of the armistice which brought a measure of peace to the world two years ago today. While not generally observed as a holiday, the afternoon will bring cessation of a large part of the usual industrial activity so that the dedication of Deschenes Park, formally known as Railroad Square, may be generally attended and participated in by all the people.
Plans which have heretofore been announced will be carried out practically intact. The celebration will commence with a parade in the charge of the American Legion, James E. Coffey Post, of this city, who will assist in the dedication exercises, in which the city will be officially represented by Mayor Henri A. Burque and other city officials who have supervision of the dedication.
The parade is to start from the South Common at 1:30 o'clock, thence making its way to Deschenes Park. There, a new bronze tablet in memory of Nashua's departed hero, is to be unveiled with appropriate ceremonies. L company, N.H. State Guard, will be posted at the park as a guard of honor, and many other military and semi-military bodies of the city will participate in the parade. Garde Marquette, under the command of Captain Charles Dionne, will be in line, their organization having been omitted by oversight from the roster as issued yesterday. The oration will be given by Congressman Edward H. Wason.
Colonel William E. Sullivan, commander of the local post of the American Legion, assisted by Sgt. Arthur Bouley and Pvt. Andrew Baldman, comrades of Private Deschenes' act of distinguished services, will draw the veil from the tablet with remarks by Colonel Sullivan.
The tribute of the entire population of Nashua to all its heroes, expressed in the terms of one, will henceforth lend a mark of distinction to the oval in the heart of the city. Mayor Burque late yesterday afternoon announced the following program of exercises at the dedication:
Selection - Nashua Military Band
Opening Remarks - Mayor Henri A. Burque
Unveiling of tablet - James E. Coffey Post
Remarks - Colonel William E. Sullivan
Song - "Battle Hymn of the Republic" - School Children
Address - Honorable Edward H. Wason
Selection - Nashua Military Band
Song - "America" - School Children
The tablet unveiled this afternoon is a beautiful bronze casting made by William H. Highton & Sons Company of this city, and commemorates the bravery shown by Private Deschenes at XIVRAY. It is inset in a beautiful block of cut New Hampshire granite from a Milford quarry, set by Arthur H. Hardy of this city. Following the unveiling of the tablet, when the inscription will be revealed for the first time, a salute will be fired by the guard of honor. The schools of the city closed at noon to permit the pupils of the High and Junior High school and the upper grammar grades to participate in the parade. The cotton mills of the Nashua Manufacturing Company and business generally closed at noon, in recognition of the event.
AMEDEE J. DESCHENES
1st Class Private Amedee J. Deschenes was born in Nashua, February 14th, 1895, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Clement Deschenes of Nashua. He was educated in the St. Francis Xavier Parochial School and at the Brothers of the Sacred Heart College, and at the time of his enlistment was employed at the Jackson Mills. He enlisted at the first call and was a member of Co. I, 103rd Regiment, U.S. Infantry, and trained at Concord and Westfield, Massachusetts going overseas with the 26th Yankee Division. No Nashua soldier had a better record for bravery and skill than Amedee. He was cited by the Commander in Chief of the French Army, and awarded the French Croix De Guerre.
The text of the citation reads:
"With the approbation of the Commander in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, the General Commander in Chief of the French Armies of the North and North East cities in the order of the Army Corps, First Class Private Amedee Deschenes, Co. I, 103rd Regiment U.S. Infantry a brave and devoted soldier. His position being attacked by far superior numbers, he unhesitatingly advanced, thus aiding in repulsing the assailants."
This heroic incident occurred in the battle of XIVRAY, June 16th, 1918. His little outpost consisted of five American soldiers. With him were two assistant gunners and two observers. A force of 600 Germans advanced under a heavy barrage fire in ignorance of the existence of the little outpost. It was about 3 o'clock on a Sunday morning and the mists hung heavy, shrouding the advancing troops. Deschenes from his outpost saw a part of the enemy's troops advancing in close formation down the road directly toward him and the remainder coming to the left through the fields. Private Deschenes and his helpers waited until the enemy had crossed the 2nd line of barbed wire entanglements and then as they were climbing over the third line about 50 feet from the outpost he opened fire, mowing the Huns down in swaths.
Finding the gun did not work handily enough on its standard, he climbed over the top of his protecting breastwork, and using an automatic rifle like an ordinary service rifle, he continued his deadly and effective work. The enemy finally, after repeated efforts to rally, broke and retreated. During the engagement he fired 42 clips of 20 shots each. It was for this act of reckless bravery and for the skillful use of his gun that he was cited. The testimony of his comrades and eye witnesses of his courage and skill are on record. One Nashua soldier writing home shortly after this incident said: "We all did our best, but Amedee did the best of all." Other stories are told of his daring by his comrades. Private Deschenes was gassed, September 26, 1918 while fighting in the St. Mihiel sector, and died October 1st, in a hospital.
Just before the battle in which he made the final and supreme sacrifice for his country, he wrote home to his family in Nashua and seems to have had some premonition of his death, for although the letter reads like his own cheerful sunny self, and he speaks of the death of his uncle, his mother's brother, Sergeant Charles St. Pierre of Montreal who was killed in battle April 4th 1918 while fighting in the Canadian Army and promised to avenge him yet; at the end of the letter he bids all the members of his family goodbye calling each by name.
He sleeps in the soil of France which he died defending and is buried in Contrexeville cemetery in the Vosges. But he is not dead, for his bravery and devotion to his native country will live long in the tradition and in the printed word for the inspiration of those who follow him, and his memory is preserved in bronze and granite on the tablet erected on the park named for him in his native city of Nashua in recognition of his devotion and supreme sacrifice.
The inscription on the tablet reads:
NAMED IN MEMORY OF
AMEDEE DESCHENES NASHUA
CO. I, 103RD INFANTRY
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES
IN THE WORLD WAR.
COMMENDED FOR CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY
IN ACTION AT XIVRAY, FRANCE,JUNE 16, 1918.
WOUNDED SEPTEMBER 12, 1918 AT ST. MIHIEL.
DIED OCTOBER 1, 1918.