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Shawnee County Casualties in WWI
Stories of Valor and Tragedy on the Battlefield

Cpl. Joseph David BROGDEN, E Co., 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th Division
Joseph Brogden headstone
Portrait of Joseph Brogden

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KIA 12 Sep 1918 by enemy machine gun fire or from a 'friendly-fire' barrage of high explosive shell, to the southeast of Bois de Mort Mare, in the advance towards Thiaucourt, on the first day of the St Mihiel Offensive.

In a letter dated November 19 (published in the Topeka Daily Capital on Dec 15, 1918) from the headquarters of the chaplain, William S. CARPENTER of the Eighty-Ninth Infantry Division, is contained the details of the death of Joseph D. BROGDEN of Topeka who was killed in action September 12. It reads:

"Joe and I were good friends. He was killed in the St. Mihiel drive just before the first wave reached the second line of wire. He was attempting to take a machine gun with his Lieutenant C. A. Shaw. They were killed by the same machine gun and fell side by side. Both died almost immediately. Sergeant Brogden was shot through the head. I buried him beside his Lieutenant one-half mile north of a shell-tattered town called Limey, France. Joe was no slacker, but a brave lad who never flinched and died facing the enemy."

Later articles in the same named paper, dated Jan 14, 1919, the circumstances surrounding his death account was changed to read

"Jack Loveless told of the career of the young hero from the time he was first connected with the club (Square Circle) until he met his death from shrapnel wounds in the St. Mihiel battle."

The following account of the tragedy (page 73) is taken directly from the "History off the 353rd Infantry Regiment:

"Some losses occured, too, from our own artillery. "Follow the barrage," were the orders. As soon as the barrage had lifted from an objective ahead the men moved up, not realizing that the artillery would roll back almost to their own position before moving forward again to the next objective. As a result, Lieutenant Shaw was the victim of one of our own shells a minute after he had led his platoon out...".

This account however is contradicted by the following taken directly from the "History off the 89th Division" (page 98):

"First Lieutenant Charles A. Shaw, Company "E", encountering a machine gun position, surrounded by unbroken wire, leaped into the wire at the head of his men, putting the gun out of action by their impetuous charge, only to lose his life by machine gun fire a few moments later"

The exact cause of the deaths of 1st Lt. SHAW and Sgt. BROGDEN - whether from "friendly-fire" or "enemy-action" may never be settled beyond question but the Citation for the Distinguished Service Cross earned by 1st Lt SHAW sets the (unknown) cause as:

"He was killed one minute after his platoon had accomplished its mission." i.e. AFTER the enemy machine gun nest had been neutralized (see link to the Distinguished Service Cross Citation for 1st Lt Charles A. SHAW).

Graves of 353rd Infantry casualties in Mort Mare
Above photo from "History of the 353rd Infantry Regiment"

Originally buried on the battlefield 1/2 mile north of Limey (Grave 5A), Joseph David BROGDEN was later re-interred in the St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France Plot B, Row 3, Grave 14. Honor Roll Casualty List Oct 19, 1918.

In 1930 Mrs. Mary BROGDEN, from Topeka, visited her son's grave in France as part of the U.S. Government's program of the WWI Mother's Pilgrimage.

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