The ABCs of Lowell History: R is for Red Arrow

The ABCs of Lowell History is back for another round. This popular series explores a wide variety of topics in Lowell area history in weekly online articles.

R Is for Red Arrow

Guest Article by Lowell High School Volunteer Mackenzie Wyant

In 1946-1947 it was decided that Lowell High School needed a permanent nickname. In previous years the school went by names including the Maroons, Reds, Big Reds, Redbirds, Redskins, Red Wings, Red Demons, and Red Devils. They mainly went by the Red Devils. But they needed a permanent name.

Coach Carrol Burch

Coach Carrol Burch asked a group of seniors to create that name. They chose the popular name “Red Devils.” The students loved the name. Uniforms and varsity sweaters were ordered. But a problem arose when concerned community leaders, church groups and citizens with no particular affiliation did not like the anti-Christian name. The School Board decided to change the name after the backlash.

Tinted portrait of an unknown soldier from Lowell wearing what appears to be a WWII uniform. He has two emblems on his jacket lapels and a red arrow on his left shoulder, same emblem on his cap. Reverse side shows ink-stamped “Leonard Studios-Commercial and Portrait-Lowell, Michigan”

One student from each class was chosen to come up with a more suitable name. They agreed upon “Red Arrows” in 1947 for several reasons- the swiftness and accuracy of an arrow, the color red was associated with Lowell, and it was the name of a division of Michigan and Wisconsin soldiers that fought in WWI and WWII.

A patch from the 32nd division. They adopted this shoulder patch; a line shot through with a red arrow, to signify its tenacity in piercing the enemy line.

The 32nd Red Arrow division was highly respected as well as decorated. They defeated 32 German divisions in WWI. They were the first allied division to pierce the German Hindenburg Line of defense. During tough combat in France in World War I, the French gave them the nickname Les Terribles, referring to the Division’s fortitude in advancing over terrain others could not.

Norman Borgerson’s letters. As you can see the red was more of a maroon, they did not like the dark color so they later changed that to the brighter red we see today. Norman was one of the students chosen to come up with the name Arrow.

They fought against the Filipinos and the Japanese in WWII in 90+°F weather in mosquito-infested areas carrying diseases. They did not stop fighting until their body temperatures reached 104°F. They never lost territory, they always got through enemy lines. They saw more combat than any other unit, fighting under constant fire for seven months with only 10 days rest. Many men from Lowell fought in this Division. Men from Lowell in this division included: Gordon Newell, Ray Barrett, Gerald Ellis, Robert Fineis, Harry Gould, Lee Hoag, Edward McDonald, L.J. Nummer, Lavant Potter, Calvin Preston, and Gerald Schreur.

Gorden Newell’s Varsity Sweater along with his patches

The traits of dedication and perseverance were ones that Lowell students wanted to show in their school and on their fields. They are traits that Lowell still values and promotes.

For more information about the creation of the Lowell Red Arrows, read this article by Fred Lenger.

1 Comment

  1. Many thanks for this article! It would appear that the chipped-stone arrow head would not be appropriate.

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