We at TTAK love a good knife story, and with all of the negative news it is nice to be able to drop in something upbeat for a change. In this case, the story of how a knife exchanged on a battlefield in WWII found its way back to the original owner’s family 71 year’s later.
“On April 1, 1945, a little more than a month before Germany would surrender in World War II, Private First Class Harold Lowell and Private First Class Billy Black of the 56th Armored Infantry Battalion came under fire in a battle just south of Wurzburg, Germany.
“See, Dad was a machine gunner and Billy was feeding him ammo from a belt when dad got hit,” explained Harold Lowell’s son, Dick Lowell. He carefully pieced together the events of that battle and he laid it all out for us on the kitchen table of his home in Brownville.
“The story is that Dad told Billy to keep the knife, to use the knife to cut his clothing away and to keep it,” he said.
The knife is an approximately 11-inch steel blade with a wooden handle, lead rivets, a leather sheath and Harold Lowell’s name scratched in it. He gave the knife to Billy to cut open his shirt and provide first aid.
Billy Black also suffered injuries trying to get Harold Lowell to safety. Both men would survive their injuries but never met again before the war ended. Billy always intended to return the knife but couldn’t find Harold. He died in 2005, but his son Bill took on the task at his father’s request. After scanning an obituary on a military website, he found Harold Lowell’s family including his son Dick and his grandson Justin, who got the call from Bill Black.
“They talked for about 20 minutes, and Justin said, ‘Dad, before we hung up I think the man was crying,'” Lowell said.
It is sad the two men were not able to get in touch stateside after the war, but a happy ending nonetheless.