As one walks north on Fifth Avenue in New York City and approaches East 66th Street a large monument facing east and within the border of Central Park appears. It is not an ordinary carved piece of granite as many monuments are. For it has an overwhelming presence. The viewer is immediately captured by an emotional and violent depiction of seven soldiers caught up in the terror of battle.
It is the monument dedicated to the memory of those who served in the 107th Infantry during The Great War.
The man on the right struggles forward with a Mill’s bomb in each hand. His fellow Roughneck has just taken a hit and his fingers claw into the bomber’s arm for support. To his right a screaming infantryman rushes forth while a stone-faced squad leader, his helmet missing advances with the bayonet. He is supported on his right by a resolute man, also with fixed bayonet, and intent on reaching his goal, probably the depths of the Hindenburg Line. The hostile fire is furious and the man next to him reaches out desperately to support his flank man who is mortally wounded.
As part of Fourth British Army the “Old Seventh”, 3700 strong, joined the assault on the Hindenburg Line at four a.m. on September 29th. Three battalions jumped off at dawn for a bitter fight lasting two days with 22 officers killed or wounded, 324 men killed, and 874 wounded. The German line was broken with 1799 prisoners captured. Before the battle ended some 580 dead and 1487 wounded were suffered by the Roughnecks.
The G. Richard Davis and George Gallinger Co constructed the monument. The architects were William Jordan Rogers and John Theodore Hineman. The estate of E. Bartley Osborn, presented as a posthumous gift by his wife in 1983 perpetually lights the monument. Darkness never touches this sacred symbol of New York’s Finest.
This memorial was planned before the memories even began to dim. Before 1920 the noted sculptor Karl Illava presented a preliminary design . A picture of this is near page 68 of “History of the 107th Infantry U.S.A.” compiled by Gerald F. Jacobson, Regimental Supply Sergeant.
As mentioned by “The Seventh Regiment Gazette”, June, 1920 the reunion at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and the observance of the second anniversary of the Battle of the Hindenburg Line on Sept.27th to 30th of that year was the preliminary discussion of the proposed monument.
A war memorial was also proposed to honor the 27th and 30th Divisions at Camp Wadsworth, S.C.. Mr. Karl Illava, who enlisted and served throughout the war with the 27th was also selected as the sculptor.
This memorial is certainly worth seeing while visiting the NYC area. To stand before it and gaze into the exquisitely carved faces of each man is an eerie but inspiring sight. Here, September of 1918 will always remain frozen in time.