My name is Arch Bowman and I have a story to tell. I was born on April 23, 1894, to Jasper and Christina Bowman, who farmed forty acres about a mile north of Hamburg. My dad died when I was still a boy, so I quit school to help my mother, brother, and two sisters run the farm. World War I changed everything. On April 28, 1918, just a few days past my twenty-fourth birthday, I was inducted into the U. S. Army and became Private Arch Bowman.
My unit arrived in France on June 21. After two months of training, we were sent to the front in northeastern France where we were part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. For one four-day period in mid-October, my unit, Company A, was surrounded by the German army and survived on starvation rations and beech nuts before being rescued.
As the American forces advanced toward the border of Belgium in early November, Company A was down to eighty-one men, including me. Our regiment spearheaded a four mile advance north from the village of Barricourt to the village of Nouar on November 3. It was a day of intense combat, as Company A endured German planes, artillery, and machine gun fire.
The next day my company fought northeast about five miles through the Dieulet Forest, approaching the heights over the Meuse River. On November 5, we advanced a few more miles, clearing the Jaulney Forest of Germans, finally reaching the Meuse River at 5 PM.
On November 10, we crossed the Meuse River and occupied the small village of Pouilly. It was during the river crossing that I was mortally wounded when a bullet passed through my skull, leaving large holes on both sides.
On November 14, I was buried where I died on the battlefield. I was laid to rest in his uniform, wrapped in burlap in a box, and his grave was marked with a simple cross. Three months later, in February of 1919, my mother wrote to the U. S. Army in France, requesting a picture of my grave. My body,however, was reburied in the new Sedan American Cemetery in Ardennes.
By the fall of 1920, my mother had initiated the process to have her my remains returned to Hamburg for burial. My body was again disinterred shipped to America. About two weeks later, it arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, and from there was sent by rail to Louisville, Kentucky, on April 6, 1921, along with several dozen remains of other soldiers whose families had requested reburial in the United States. Then it went by an Missouri-Kansas-Texas train to St. Louis, and finally St. Charles, where it arrived on April 10.
It was met by members of St. Charles American Legion Post 312, which was responsible for the funeral arrangements. Then my body was escorted by train to the Hamburg train station. At 1 PM my body arrived at the home of my mother. From there an honor guard consisting of one hundred members of American Legion posts from St. Charles, Augusta, Wentzville, and St. Peters, along with the St. Charles Military Band, accompanied my body for a one-mile march down the Marthasville Road (Highway 94) to the church in Hamburg. At 2 PM, Rev. Edward C. Brink officiated at my funeral. My body was then escorted back up the Marthasville Road, past the Bowman house, to the Thomas Howell Cemetery, where I was laid to rest according to military regulations. This large gravestone topped with the life-sized statue of the World War I soldier was designed and carved by Frank Waye of the Waye Marble Works in St. Charles.