First I apologize for the iffy ground line in this image of Edward M. McGowan’s (1893-1919) monument in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Camden, New Jersey (figure 1). There is not a true vertical or horizontal in the field of view!

Figure 1. McGowan monument, Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Camden, N.J. Photo: author.

Most of us can only boast of having gone to “P.S. 102” or the University of Someplace City. Young Edward could boast of having gone to MACHINE GUN SCHOOL (figure 2). It would seem he died there in training.

Figure 2. McGowan monument. Detail of Machine Gun School seal and camp name. Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Camden, N.J. Photo: author.

The 122nd Machine Gun School trained at Camp Hancock in Augusta, Georgia (figure 2). Nothing remains of the camp now. The camp served as a Machine Gun School in 1918-1919, and it closed in March 1919. This puts a terminus ante quem on McGowan’s death, I think. It’s worth remembering that McGowan died during the third wave of the Spanish Flu epidemic, which lasted from winter to early spring 1919. We need not think of a fatal training accident, therefore.

Figure 3. Camp Hancock Machine Gun School, human formation imitating the Machine Gun Training Center insignia. Photo: public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Never underestimate the esprit de corps of the Machine Gun School. The officers, men, and machine guns sportingly arrayed themselves into a (perspective corrected!) human image of their insignia. And to answer the question posed by the title of this essay, “water cooled.” The gun is a Browning Model 1917, I believe (figure 3a).

Figure 3a. Browning M1917 machine gun on tripod. Photo: public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Why the discrepancy between the insignia on the monument and that depicted by the formation of men at Camp Hancock? The crossed rifles, seemingly out of place for a machine gun battalion, are in fact in order. The insignia for officers has exactly the design within the tondo of the seal on the monument (figure 4).

Figure 4. Machine Gun batallion insignia, WWI vintage. From ebay.

The phrase “U. S. MACHINE GUN” in the exergue of the seal seems to have been added to dispel any confusion about what MG meant.

Figure 5. Tunic collar button, machine gun battalion, WWI vintage. Photo: ebay.

The tunic collar button for the Machine Gun Battalions looks rather more like the seal on the monument, but the letters MG have been transposed into the exergue.

You never know what you will find in a cemetery and what you will learn from studying it!

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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