Rev. William F. Davitt Last Officer in AEF Killed in WWI
A sad reality of war is this foot locker which belonged to the Reverend Lt. William F. Davitt, a Chaplain for the 120th machine gun Bn. Rev. Davitt was killed at 09:45 on November 11, 1918 when a shell exploded near him in the Argonne just 75 minutes before the end of hostilities was declared. He is credited as being the last AEF officer killed in action during World War I.
Rev. Davitt grew up in Willimansett, Mass. He was a star basketball player and champion wrestler. He graduated from Chicopee High school in 1903 and attended Holy Cross College in Worcester where he played varsity football. Following graduation, he attended Grand Seminary at Montreal, Canada and was ordained December, 1911.
In September, 1917 Rev. Davitt volunteered for service as a Knights of Columbus chaplain with the U.S. Army. Commissioned as 1st Lt, he left for France with the 125th Infantry, 32nd Div. in February, 1918. That summer, Rev. Davitt lead a group of volunteers to rescue 40 wounded American soldiers cut off and pinned down by enemy fire. Under heavy enemy fire, Rev. Davitt rescued all 40 soldiers with out incurring a single casualty.
For his gallantry in action, Rev. Davitt was awarded the French Croix De Guerre and the American Distinguished Service Cross.
Rev. Davitt is buried in France.
Rev. Davitt's legacy was memorialized through the dedication of Davitt Memorial Bridge on Armistice Day 1931 and the naming of VFW Post 625 in Chicopee.