James Henry Trowbridge, born 1889 in Bethel, Connecticut. ~ Enlisted March 23, 1917 for a two year term in the Connecticut Home Guard. Honorably discharged from Home Guard on August 3, 1917, to enlist in U.S. Marine Corps. ~ Enlisted July 20, 1917 at Marine Barracks, Paris Island. ~ Served in 23rd Company, 6th Machine Gun Battalion, 4th Brigade of Marines, 2nd Division, AEF. ~ Served at Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont and the Argonne. ~ Killed in action November 4, 1918. ~ Burial attended by older cousin who was an "old-time" Marine, and who had encouraged him to enlist. Identity of older cousin unknown.

Postwar letter from 23rd Company member Pvt Sol Segel
to the cousin of James Trowbridge regarding
the circumstances surrounding his death.
Misspellings are left intact.

Special thanks to the family of James Trowbridge
who provided this letter.

New Orleans
Feb 18, 1920

My dear Miss Trowbridge,

My old Seargent Major Clifford has written me and has enclosed a copy of your letter to him in which you request information concerning your cousin, Corp. James H. Trowbridge.

It is indeed unfortunate that his family should be left so uncertain concerning his sad end. I know that it has been the cause of great concern with you. I am sorry, too, that I had not known of this before, for I was the last of his friends to see him alive. Though Seargent Clifford wrote me Jan. 16 I have been out adventuring in the oil fields of Northern Texas and have only lately ventured back into civilization. Your letter was forwarded to me from my home in Ohio. I received it to-night, and am taking this first occasion to answer it. I hope it will clear up Jim's case, and if there is anything I can do in the future, any service I can perform, any advice I can offer to Jim's folks I will be at their service at all times. We who have survived this hell on earth count it the least we can do; to console the sorrowing mothers and families of our dead comrades in arms.

I still remember when I first met Jim. It was in Belleau Woods on the 13th of June. We were making ready for the attack when replacements arrived to fill up our broken ranks. Jim was assigned to my gun crew and the way he went over the top, like the brave soldier he always was, and his subsequent actions, made me his proud friend and comrade to the day he "went West".

I still remember one night on guard with Jim in the little hole alongside, the night held an eery stillness, a fit night for such a hell-hole as Bois de Belleau. I was deathly tired and though there was no wire, only an empty space between the germans and us, I slept. And Jim, like the good pal he was, kept watch until the officer of the watch came by, when he awakened me that I might not be shot for sleeping at my post.

It was for deeds like that, that every man in the company idolized him, and I can assure you that Jim Trowbridge's name and memory will be forever held in reverence by the survivors of the 23rd Company.

So many men were wounded and left us, then came back, during the battles that followed Belleau Woods to the last phase of the Argonne drive that I must confess ignorance as to whether Jim was or not. You see, Jim was assigned to a crew of his own and a machine gun of his own, and on the battle line, tho Number 1 and Number 10 gun may be in the same company, yet they are a world apart. Each "carries on" and knows the other is "carrying on" and so the battle is won.

Yet I dimly remember that Jim was either gassed or wounded in the Champagne drive, in which the Second Division captured Blanc Mont ridge and relieved (unreadable). It began on Oct. 2, 1918. Jim came back to us before the last phase of the Argonne drive, which began on Nov. 1, 1918. Thru the mud and rain and fog we pushed forward over the top that glorious day, the Second Division leading the whole army. We captured every piece of the Boche field artillery, white hot they were and we sent the germans scurrying back and broke their invincible line to bits.

My company suffered terribly in dead and wounded, yet we carried on hungry and tired and facing the everlasting hail of bullets and shells. We pushed forward for six days battling steadily. The sixth of November rose dismally. I remember passing Jim by the roadside and he gave me a cheery hail. Then he followed up the rear. We went forward and the Boche began shelling us. As the last of the column came up I heard from them that Jim's crew had rested once again by the roadside.(none of us were strong, we had not eaten in days) A great shell had exploded and had killed and wounded all of Jim's crew. Jim had had a foot torn off by a flying fragment.

There was death and destruction all about. I volunteered to help carry a wounded man back to the first aid station at Belval. There was Jim lying on the blanketed floor. I knelt down to speak to him. I marked that his face was already drawn with pain and that he was gray from long exposure and loss of blood. he said "Sol, old pal, I'm dying. good luck to you, old man" I tried to cheer him but to no avail. On the battle field one knows when death approaches. That is all I know. For a few hours later I was knocked out myself. Yet I doubt not that Jim "went West" to home and to mother soon after. Whether Jim died and was buried in the village of Belval, a few miles south of Sedan, in the Ardennes department, or whether he survived until he reached a hospital, I do not know. You can find out by writing the Graves Registration Bureau for the A.E.F. at Washington.

That he is gone, I am reasonably sure. I would advise his family to harbor no unfounded hopes in his safety.

It is with deep regret that I ask yours and Jims mothers pardon for my heartless and brutal description of this story. My experiences on the battlefield have caused me to use other than the tender words that might soothe a broken hearted mother.

Believe me, nevertheless, that I grieve with her for her son and my comrade. And believe me too, that I stand ready to do all in my power to assist her in any way possible.

It is hard, I know, yet at such a cost has liberty and democracy survived. Accept, my dear Miss Trowbridge, the assurance of my profound respect.

Most Sincerely,
Sol Segel

Please contact me if you have any further information on this Marine.

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