program is named after John B. DeValles (Joao Baptista DeValles).
His ideals of community service are emulated in
daily contact with children and parents.
Following is his story:
BIOGRAPHY: JOAO BAPTISTA DEVALLES
Reverend John B. DeValles was a man of peace in
a time of war. He was known as the, "Angel of
the Trenches", for his valiant deeds in caring
for the wounded and dying on the battle fields
of France during World War I.
He was born in St. Miguel, Azores of Azorean and
Cape Verdean heritage and was brought to New
Bedford by his family when he was 2 years old.
Father DeValles attended local schools before
studying for the priesthood.
In New Bedford he served at Our Lady of Mt.
Carmel Church and was later pastor of St. John
the Baptist Church. A master of six languages,
Father DeValles opened the first Portuguese
parochial school at Espirito Santo Church in
Fall River. He was known for his interest
in education and radiated human kindness in all
In 1917 he was appointed as a Knights of
Columbus chaplain attached to the 104th Regiment
of the 26th Division of the United States
Infantry. In 1918 he was appointed a chaplain in
the regular army with the rank of first
Chaplain DeValles served 18 months in the war
and spent much of that time in No-Man's Land
searching for wounded and dying soldiers. He
administered to the needs of both Allied and
German soldiers. Father John, as he was known to
the troops, risked his life many times. His
exploits became legendary with many published
accounts of his deeds.
When he did not return to the trenches on one
occasion searchers found him next to a dead
soldier he was trying to help. He was
unconscious, the effect of a mustard gas attack.
Father DeValles continued to serve well even
though his injuries caused his health to
deteriorate. In 1919 Father John returned to the
United States and spent the remaining months of
his life in and out of hospitals until his death
in May of 1920 at the age of 41.
Father DeValles earned France's Croux de Guerre
and Legion of Honor as well as United States
Army's Distinguished Service Cross among other
Father John was given full military honors at
his funeral with an outpouring of tributes from
national leaders and local people who were
touched by his presence.
In October of 1920 the relatively new Katherine
Street School was renamed in his honor. The
ceremonies were attended by a large cross
section of the community showing his influence
on people of diverse backgrounds.
John Baptista DeValles loved his country and the
country loved him. He was a man of kindness, a
man of education and a man of peace. His ideals
should be an example for the children of the
DeValles Memorial School-Age Day Care Program
and the surrounding community to emulate. We continue his legacy and honor his deeds with the name of our facilities.