Inside the old stone barn on the north (east) side of the road. Plaque An colorful information panel in French and English honoring Henry Howard Houston II, killed in the area. The plaque contains photos and text and was put in place for the WWI Centennial.
Henry Howard Houston II was born April 5th, 1895 in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. He was the son of a prominent American family and attended Chestnut Hill Academy in 1912. He graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1916. Before The United States entry into the war, "Hennie" enlisted in the National Guard in 1916 (Battery C of the First Field Artillery Regiment) and was sent to the Mexican border in response to the Pancho Villa raids in Texas. In 1916 he signed up with the Field Ambulance Service on the French Western Front (Fig.1). He participated in the Battle of Verdun and was awarded the "Croix de Guerre" for "bravery under fire". When the United States declared war against Germany (April 6th, 1917) he returned to his home country to re-join his unit in the National Guard (28th division, 53rd Field Artillery Brigade) where he learned the skills of aerial observation.
On May 27th, 1918, as a result of The Ludendorff Offensive, the German Army managed to break through the front line at the "Chemin des Dames" and formed the Chateau-Thierry pocket (June 1s9, launching the return to a war of movement. During the attempt to regain control of this pocket (Second battle of the Marne) at the time of the Fismes battle (combat Fismette Fig.2) on August 18th 1918, Lieutenant Henry Howard Houston II, personal assistant of Brigade General William Price, was killed in action by shell fire, aged 23. This occurred between Vezilly and Arcis-le-Ponsart (now route D25). He was returning from an airfield, where he was in charge of reinforcing cooperation between the aerial observers and the batteries of the 108th Field Artillery Regiment (Fig.3).
Henry Howard Houston II is buried in the American Military Cemetery at Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine). A Calvary consisting of a black metal cross on a limestone pedestal, with steps on either side was built by the Pennsylvania Monument Commission. It stands on the side of the D25 route, Arcis-le Ponsart to Vezilly, not far from the place where he died (district of Lagery village, land belonging to the Houston Family Fig.4 and Fig.5). The Houston Family was deeply affected by the war. Henry Howard Houston Woodward, Hennie's cousin, who was an aviator, was reported "missing in action" on April 1st 1918. The Houston family came on a pilgrimage to France in 1920. They participated considerably in the reconstruction of Arcis le Ponsart, financing the introduction of mains water supply (the heat was oppressive in August 1918) and the renovation of the Roman Church (recasting bells). They provided clothes for the village children and gave donations to the elderly. The main street, previously called rue Beauregard (Fig.6) has been called "rue Henry Howard Houston" since 1920. (Fig. 7).