World War I

In 1917, Rose arrived in France as a second lieutenant, ready to fight in the Great War. During brutal fighting on the front lines, notably in the St. Mihiel Offensive, Rose began to exhibit the courage and discipline that would come to define his entire military career. By the time he returned to America in 1919, Rose had acquired a wealth of experience, numerous awards, and the rank of captain. 

After attending the First Officer’s Training Camp in Fort Riley, Kansas, Maurice Rose was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant of the Infantry on August 15, 1917. In December, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and assigned to the 353rd Infantry Regiment, part of the 89th Infantry Division.9  After a few days in New York, Rose and the 353rd shipped out on June 1, 1918. 

 

Rose and his fellow soldiers arrived in England bright-eyed and hungry to fight. However, it wouldn’t take long for American troops to be fully inducted into the horrors of modern warfare. After additional training in the Reynel Training Area in Lorraine, France, Rose and his men moved to the front line in early August and began patrolling the road to Metz. Rose led his men “over the top” for the first time during the St. Mihiel Offensive, a battle in Northeastern France involving 650,000 Allied troops.10 The St Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives were formative battles for all the young soldiers involved, including 2nd Lieutenant Rose.11

Destruction after St. Mihiel
Destruction after St. Mihiel

The ruins of Limy, a French town near St. Mihiel, after American soldiers passed through during the St. Mihiel Offensive. ("Limy, 1918". Photograph. Washington, D.C.: Schutz Group Photographers , 1918. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. https://www.loc.gov/item/2007663841/.)

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On September 13, 1918, 2nd Lieutenant Rose was wounded by shrapnel during the St. Mihiel Offensive. In a show of his typical courage, Rose initially refused to be evacuated until the more grievously injured had been cared for and taken from the battlefield. While wounded in the hospital, Rose listed his religion as Protestant, a decision with posthumous implications he could never have imagined. While there is no evidence that he ever converted to Christianity, subsequent US Army records list Rose as Protestant, Methodist, and Episcopalian.12 Modern scholarship has concluded that Rose was likely irreligious and his change in affiliation was primarily due to his career ambitions in the face of Anti-Semitic views common in the Army of the time.13  

After three weeks, the dedicated young leader left the field hospital early, against doctor’s orders, to rejoin his men on the front lines.

 

With the Army unsure of his whereabouts, Rose’s parents received the dreaded War Department telegram declaring their son killed in action. Sam and Katy Rose went into mourning, grieving their fallen son. But in the midst of sitting Shivah, the Roses received another telegram informing them of the clerical  mistake: Maurice was in fact alive and still in action.14

After the conclusion of World War I on November 11, 1918, Maurice Rose spent a few months touring the Continent. He was honorably discharged from the Army on June 19, 1919, having attained the rank of Captain. Following his service in Europe during the Great War, the young officer was the proud recipient of the French Croix de Guerre, a Purple Heart, the Army of Occupation Medal, the Mexican Service ribbon, and the WWI Victory medal with 3 clasps.15

9.  3AD Website Staff. “Brief Sketch of Gen. Rose’s Military Career,” accessed November 1, 2022, https://www.3ad.com/history/wwll/rose.section/career.htm.

10. Stephen L Ossad and Don R Marsh. Major General Maurice Rose: World War II’s Greatest Forgotten General (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2006), 64.

11. US World War One Centennial Commission, “The Final Efforts: St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne.” United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars, accessed November 1, 2022, https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/edu-home/edu-topics/592-on-to-victory-the-hundred-days/5020-the-final-efforts-st-mihiel-and-the-meuse-argonne.html.

12. Robert Gamzey. “Life Story of Gen Rose, Chapter Four,” Intermountain Jewish News, May 10, 1945. 

13. Marshall Fogel. Major General Maurice Rose: The Most Decorated Battle Tank Commander in U.S. Military History, (2018), 44.

14. Ibid, 53.