This is a cross-post from LHS Board member Eileen Loucraft’s personal blog Lowell Doughboys.
Lowell Textile Institute had 23 students sign up for the 26th Yankee Division Battery F Field Artillery unit. They all served together and due to their superior mathmatics they were a great asset at firing the guns. They were the most accurate of the division’s artillery units.The 23 men were: Pvt. Eugene R. Ackley, ’19; Lieut. Wilbur F. Berry, ’17; Lieut. Russell L. Brown ’19; Corp. Mahlon W. Dennett, ’18; Bugler Walter S. Douglas, ’19; Corp. Richard F. Hadley, ’19; Lieut. John S. Holden, ’19; Sergt. Carleton R. Hosley, ’19; Corp. George H. Johnson, ’18; Pvt. John F. Larratt, ’19; Sergt. Bryan Leonard, ’19; Corp. Eric T.L. Laurin, ’18; Sergt. Carl E. Matthews, ’17; Pvt. Dan W. Moorhouse, ’19; Pvt. Brackett Parsons, ’19; Pvt. Walter W. Powers, ’17; Sergt. Lester E. Parker, ’20; Pvt. Herbert C. Roberts, ’20; Pvt. Carl G.V. Sjostrom, Jr., ’19; Corp. Frank L. Thayer, ’19; Sergt. Joseph A. Webster, ’20; Corp. Philip J. White, ’19.
The following is from a speech by Lieut. Russell L. Brown given at the dedication of the Mahlon Webb Dennett Gate on Saturday, May 18th, 1929.
“Mindful of the loss of a comrade-in-arms, these men have arranged to erect a gate at the northwest corner of the school campus, as a memorial to Mahlon Webb Dennett, who died in France.
Corporal Mahlon W. Dennett, son of Dr. D.C. Dennett of Winchester, Mass., was born June 10, 1884. In 1917 while in his third year as a student chemist, class of 1918, at Lowell Textile Institute, he enlisted in Battery B, 2nd Mass. regiment, which later became Battery F, 102nd field artillery, 26th division, AEF.
As the battery progressed from the training period to actual combat at the front, Corp. Dennett, by virtue of his knowledge of chemistry, was made gas corporal, and after a short schooling in gas technique was made responsible for the safety of the personnel during gas attacks.
It was Corp. Dennett’s duty to see that all gas masks were in good condition, that all dugout were properly blanketed, that the men were acquainted with effects and antidotes for various kinds of gas poisoning. In event of gas attacks he was to sound the alarm and see that all precautions were taken to avoid casualties. In addition to this Corp. Dennett assisted in helping maintain liason with telephone and rocket posts.
The success of his efforts and faithfulness to duty is shown by the fact that in spite of many vicious gas attacks there was not one death from gas poisoning in the battery.
At the second battle of the Marne after firing steadily for days, the battery moved forward successively until it located on July 24 in an old German gun position on the edges of the woods. The place was near the front lines and the infantry, advancing to the attack, was breaking from column to skirmish lines of squads directly in front of the battery. The location was known exactly by the enemy, and soon a terrific barrage was falling on the guns.
During this intensive fire a German 77 m.m. long fuse shell landed at Corp. Dennett’s feet as he lay in a shallow funk hole near the guns. Receiving the full effects of the lateral spray Dennett was mortally wounded. His torso terribly mutilated, arms and legs broken, the fingers of his left hand cut off, his cry for help was answered by comrades scarcely 50 feet away. Capt. Lee H. Cover, Capt. Theo R. Johnson and Sergt. R.L. Brown were by his side at once together with Private Burke of the medical squad, who gave first aid and carried Corp. Dennett to the rear under shell fire. An ambulance carried the wounded man to Mobile hospital No. 2 and later to Evacuation hospital No. 7.
Courage and fortitude alone kept him alive over two weeks. On the third day he dictated a letter to his father in which he said, “I am out of luck. I have been wounded, but expect to come out O.K.”
The odds against him were too great, however, and on August 10, 1918, he died of sepsis, and was buried at Belleau Woods in France.”
So, now back to present day, the gate is long gone. In 1955, the area in front of Cumnock Hall was renamed as Dennett Mall. I need to walk the area to see if there are any memorial plaques in his honor anywhere on North Campus.