DeValles History


 The DeValles School was erected in 1912-1913 under Mayor Charles S. Ashley. It was originally named the Katherine Street School. The named changed to the John B. DeValles School when it was rededicated on October 12, 1920.

DeValles School is named for Father John B. 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 in 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 two yeas 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 his endeavors. 

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 Lieutenant. 

Chaplain DeValles served eighteen 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 even though his injuries caused his health to deteriorate. In 1919 Father John returned 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 the France’s Croux de Guerre and the Legion of Honor as well as United States Army’s Distinguished Service Cross among other awards. 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.