On May 12, 1919, three trains with 1,451 survivors of the original 3,677 soldiers of Alabama’s 167th Infantry arrived at Montgomery Union Station to parade to the Capitol.
The Return from the Argonne Memorial, by sculptor James Butler, R.A., remembers their last battle of WWI in the Argonne.
Jagger’s fourth bronze figure on the memorial is of an anonymous dead artilleryman, lying under a tarpaulin.
This idea was met with opposition, but Jagger, who had fought in the trenches, believed that a memorial should tell the horror of war. The Return from the Argonne is that of a fallen soldier of the 42nd Rainbow Division sent home to Montgomery, Alabama. Again unsparing of the horrors of war.
“My friend and client Nimrod Fraser who commissioned me to do the sculpture admired, as I do, the Royal Artillery Memorial by Charles Sargeant Jagger, that stands on Hyde Park Corner London.”
– James Butler –
The Return from the Argonne Memorial also honors all Alabamians who fought in the Argonne between September and November 1918: this includes the Alabamians in the 31st Dixie Division who served as replacements in other divisions as well as the African American soldiers, mostly from Alabama, in the 366th Infantry Regiment of the 92nd Division. They participated in the Meuse Argonne campaign from the end of September to November 11.
Another Alabama native son, James Reese Europe, from Mobile, served in the Meuse-Argonne campaign. A famous musician, he led the military band of the 369th regiment (Harlem Hell Fighters) which brought jazz to Europe.
This Memorial from James Butler, M.B.E., R.A., is a gift to the City of Montgomery from the Croix Rouge Farm Memorial Foundation through the generosity of Nimrod Thompson Frazer, Silver Star, Korea.
It is in memory of his father, William Johnson Frazer, Purple Heart, World War I, who never forgot his fellow soldiers.