James A. Brown (1918/10/01)
Santa Cruz County World War I veterans adopted James Brown as one of their own.
In December 1918 the California War History Committee reported that James A. Brown of Soquel had died of wounds. No reference to his life or relationship with Santa Cruz County has been uncovered other than that appearing in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on November 2, 1918
“Killed in France
Mrs. Hannah M. Brown of Soquel has received the sad news of the death of her son James, who was killed in action in France. Left to mourn are his mother and Fat Soquel. The bereaved mother and sister were recent newcomers to Soquel. This young man never lived in this county.”
James A. Brown entered the US army in San Francisco, California, and apparently used his mother's address in Soquel. He probably received his basic training at Camp Lewis, Washington, and was assigned to the 363rd Regiment of the 91st Infantry Division. In the summer of 1918 his division was shipped to France and moved into the Meuse-Argonne region in the vicinity of Metz.
In September, James and the 91st Division were engaged in intense combat during the Allied offensive against the entrenched Germans. On October 1, 1918, the day of his death, his unit history recorded that,
“Many men were suffering from diarrhea due to exposure for five days without warm overcoats and blankets. Most officers and men had raincoats and some had found German blankets in dugouts. The men built shelter from small arms fire by excavating the northern edges of shell holes. But they were observed by hostile planes and subjected to heavy fire (shrapnel and shell) from German artillery in the Argonne and northeast of Gesnes. Although many casualties resulted the morale was undisturbed.”
On October 1, 1918, Private James A. Brown died from wounds he had received earlier. His remains were buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France. Although he had never lived in the county, local World War I veterans included his name on the Victory Byway Memorial in 1928.
(CAG; ABMC; SCSn November 2, 1918, 5:3, WRP December 28,1918 5:7; 91st Div Publication Com., Story of the 91st Division, San Mateo CA 1919, page 37-38, books.google.com/ books?id=3tIMAAAAYAAJ, [16 Sept 2008])