Voices of War:
Americans in World War I: 1917-1918





Timeline

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Voices

Writing from World War I Servicemen

Bernard L. Gorfinkle, Judge Advocate with the 26th Yankee Division

Bernard L. Gorfinkle

Born on October 29, 1889 to Harris and Sarah (Milontaler) Gorfinkle in Boston, Massachusetts, Bernard’s military career began in 1913 when he enlisted in the Massachusetts cavalry and served at the Mexican border under General Pershing in 1914. A lawyer who earned his degree from Boston University’s School of Law in 1911, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Forces upon the United States’ entrance to World War I. Bernard eventually earned a promotion to Captain Judge Advocate in the 26th Infantry Division. Wounded twice at Verdun, he received multiple commendations and awards, including a Purple Heart and the Belgian Order of the Crown in 1919. He also served as an aide to Bernard Baruch at the Paris Peace Commission in 1919.

In a letter to his brother Emanuel, on November 8, 1918, just days before the Armistice, Bernard wrote:



Reckon I told you about the trip I took to the very front lines one day last week. Our guns were almost hub to hub and such a racket. Went way in front of the artillery through a valet and the noise there was beyond description. Air fights galore, and that rat tat tat of machine guns were like typewriting school. Did I tell you I saw an American without any head. On the way back in a machine, a large shell burst behind us and now I am afflicted with a misplaced jaw.

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Bernard married Frieda Edinberg in 1921. He continued to practice law, and at the recommendation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was appointed Field Supervisor of the War Manpower Commission for New England. The Gorfinkles settled in Newton, Massachusetts with their three children. Bernard died on February 14, 1974.

From the Papers of Bernard Gorfinkle, Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

Private William Marcus, 345th Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces

Private William Marcus

William Marcus (Wolf Shevitz) was born on June 14, 1892 in Bialystok, then part of the Russian Empire (now Poland). At the age of seventeen, William boarded the Lusitania, arriving in New York on January 15, 1910. Four years later, he signed his Declaration of Intention renouncing his allegiance to Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, and officially became William Marcus. William enlisted in the United States Army on June 29, 1918 and was stationed at the hospital in Savenay, France in November 1918, when the Armistice was signed. On November 15th, William wrote to his fiancée, Minnie Feldman:



Charlie and I were celebrating the end of the war last night. The reason we did it 5 days later is that it took Charlie that time to realize and me to convince him that the war is realy [sic] over and then is not sure yet. Now be a good girl and wait patiently for my return.

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William and Minnie were married on June 27, 1920 and had three children. The family lived in Worcester, Massachusetts, where William owned his own factory that produced women’s bathrobes. He died on February 22, 1978.

From the Marcus and Feldman Papers at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

Herbert Wolf

Herbert Wolf

Boston’s first Jewish police officer, Morris Wolf suffered a deeply personal loss in World War I. After sending all three of his sons to France, he received word that his youngest, Herbert, died of scarlet fever on December 11, 1918. Herbert was one of the first American Jewish soldiers to die in the conflict.

Herbert wrote to his sister, Mabel Harris, on November 15, 1917:



The boys here have a habit of pocketing every little souvenir that looks good to them. Well, the other day a French soldier heard us talking about souvenirs, and said: “Voulez-vous une souvenir?” and I, understanding a wee bit of French said, “Oui.” What did he then go and do but cut off all the buttons from his coat and pass them around to us. He had some pretty bad wounds and told us a few exciting incidents of his life while at the front. In fact we hear quite a number of weird stories from the French soldiers who have seen a bit of excitement in the trenches, and to hear them talk one would think they were talking about a game of marbles or checkers, but one glance at them reveals a more serious matter.

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Buried with a cross at a French cemetery at Neufchâteau, Wolf’s funeral was conducted by Chaplain Bensin Riseman with the appropriate Jewish rites and customs, including the Kaddish. Bernard Gorfinkle, a Boston-born Judge Advocate who knew the family personally, later reported that they also sat shiva. In January 1919, Gorfinkle and Chaplain Riseman, with the Young Men’s Hebrew Association in France, replaced the cross at Wolf’s gravesite with a headstone that had the Star of David engraved at the top. Shown here is a letter from Morris Wolf to Bernard Gorfinkle, thanking him for the consideration shown towards Herbert’s final resting place.

From the Papers of Bernard Gorfinkle, Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS. Letter from Herbert Wolf to Mabel Harris was originally published in The Jewish Advocate on January 10, 1918.

Walter Grant Garritt, Jr, Ambulance Driver, American Field Service

Walter Grant Garritt, Jr

Born May 8, 1896 in Brookline, Massachusetts to Walter G. and Polly Burr (Hall) Garritt, Walter joined the American Field Service with some of his Harvard classmates just two weeks prior to his graduation in June 1917. Walter kept a diary during his years of service from the time he boarded the SS Orduna for France on July 23, 1917 until the day after his discharge on April 5, 1919 when he recorded a one word entry: “Home”.

His entries on April 6, 1918 provide a firsthand account of the experiences of an ambulance drive at the front:



Bernie and I got up, had some coffee and started for Remiencourt. When we got there we were told to relieve Abe Lutz on the main road out of Ailly, near Rouvrel. We went up there and carried wounded steadily from ten a.m. until one. It was that morning I carried a load from Dommartin (front) to Jumel. I carried two Boche and a Frenchman and the Frenchman was going to kill one of the Boche, so we had to put him up top. On the way to Jumel one of the Boche died from a bullet in his stomach. He was a nice looking young fellow and it seemed awful. He was the first dead man I ever saw and I don’t want to see any more. Just after that I went up to relieve Lutz and worked all morning and a little in the afternoon. One trip I carried a dead French Priest and it was another terrible sight.

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Walter married Josephine Adeline Hunt on November 4, 1925 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He worked for the United Leather Company until 1922 when he started his own business. He left due to illness in 1926 and subsequently sold his interest in his business and retired. Walter and Josephine had no children. He died on May 5, 1959 in Newton, Massachusetts.

From the Garrett and Wardwell Family Papers, Mss 1113, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections at NEHGS.

Emmanuel Henri de Montricher, French Army, Marseille, France

Emmanuel Henri de Montricher and family

Among the Charles E. Lord Papers at NEHGS, are a series of letters between members of the de Montricher and Rogers families of France and the United States during and after World War I. These two families are related through the marriage of John Henry Rogers (1774-1856), merchant, of Newton, Massachusetts and Isabelle Montgomery, daughter of a U.S. diplomat. Their daughter, Sophie Mathilde Rogers, born in France, married a Swiss engineer, Jean Francois Mayor de Montricher, and settled in Marseille, where they had five children. Their oldest son, Emmanuel Henri de Montricher was born in 1845 and served in the French Army most of his life as squadron chief of territorial artillery and was awarded France’s Legion of Honor. He is represented by only two letters in the collection but each provides details of the effects of the war on the French people. Here is an excerpt from his letter of July 22, 1915 to “dear cousin William:”

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We have been following with a passionate interest the state of affairs between Germany and the U.S. – We see by newspapers and especially by those you send me with a real prodigality that the American public opinion is against Germany and with France and [her] allies. The destruction of the Lusitania was such a shame – If only you had Roosevelt as president, things would probably go faster but we trust that Wilson shall do his duty and be firm with the barbarians, murderers of women and children….I am proud to be a frenchman and I am eager to defend my valorous country to the last drop of my blood but I am also to a certain extent and feel English and American, so I rejoice with my heart and soul to see England siding with us in this gigantic trial, and my joy and pride would be complete if America came to our rescue.

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Emmanuel Henri died on January 11, 1916 leaving a wife and four children.

From the Charles Edward Lord Papers, Mss 153, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS.

Henry Hallgate Storm, Engineer, Company C, 101st U.S. Engineers of the 26th “Yankee” Division, American Expeditionary Forces

Henry Hallgate Storm

Born on June 30, 1895 in Braintree, Massachusetts to Henry and Sarah J. (Nickson) Storm, Henry enlisted on July 26, 1917 in Boston as a private and was discharged with a rank of Corporal on April 28, 1919. Battles and engagements include the second Marne offensive in July 1918 and the final battle of the war, theMeuse-Argonne Offensive from September 1918 until November 11, 1918.

Henry kept journals during his time in France, and he also wrote poetry describing the horrors of war. His poem, Bois de Belleau (Belleau Wood), opens sometime after the war on a hot July day. Henry is seated at his office desk with the sounds of the office buzzing around him and his mind travels back to another hot July day in 1918:


...And then we stumble on a nightmare scene.
A long black line of those who died long since
And never were received into the earth,
Mute protestants against the Lords of War.
The uniforms and boots alone denote
That these things once were creatures such as we,
This and a hundred other fearful forms
Are the sad source of that miasmic taint
That reaches to the Marne, an unseen fog
Of death neglected – glorious battle death!
There’s Lucy off behind us on the hill,
Its barns and houses riddled by the shells,
The village cross-road mangled by the blast
Of an exploded ammunition dump.

Henry returned to Braintree after the war and married Agnes Legget Marr on October 11, 1919 in Quincy, Massachusetts. He was employed as an auditor with the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway, a streetcar and later bus company in eastern Massachusetts. Over the years, he attended reunions of the 101st U.S. Engineers. Henry died on February 3, 1977 at Camden, Maine.

From the Bok, Curtis and Storm Family Collection, Mss 1145, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections at NEHGS.

Faces and Places

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  1. Charles Judd Farley (1891-1965) enlisted as private in the American Field Service on October 15, 1916 as an ambulance driver in Section Sanitaire [États-] Unis (S.S.U.) 9 with the French Army in the Vosges Mountains in the Alsace-Lorraine region. He spent five months as a driver before he was recalled to Paris in April 1917 to take command as “Commandant Adjoint” of another ambulance section, Section Sanitaire [États-] Unis (S.S.U.) 16.

    From the Farley Family Papers, Mss 1100 R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS.
  2. Photograph of Charles Judd Farley and his wife, Lioubow Mosolova (Aimee de Mossoloff in French) on their wedding day. Judd and his wife met in Paris in November 1917. Lioubow, 1894-1958, was born in Tambov Russia, her family a member of Russian nobility. When war broke out in 1914 she became a volunteer nurse with the Russian Red Cross working in the Kremlin where part of it served as a hospital. In 1916, she was part of a medical unit attached to the Russian Expeditionary Force sent to France. Not speaking a word of English, her courtship with Judd was conducted in French.

    From the Farley Family Papers, Mss 1100 R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS.
  3. Written on the back, "A couple of miles from camp one of our boys helping a family washing. This is the way the French peasant keeps clean."

    From the Hugh Walker Ogden Collection, Mss 1195, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS.
  4. American Expeditionary Forces identification card of Coert du Bois (1881-1960) of Hudson, New York. Coert worked for the United States Forest Service when America entered the war. He served with the 10th Engineers, one of two U.S. Army regiments of forestry engineers.

    From the Coert Du Bois Papers, Mss 21, R. Stanton Avery Collections, NEHGS.
  5. Couple in field, 1918. This and the following three photographs were presumably taken by William Sohier Bryant or a member of the staff at the American Red Cross Hospital, Paris. William Sohier Bryant, 1861-1956, of New York City, was a Brigade surgeon in the Spanish and American War and a Major in the First World War where he served with the American Red Cross in Paris and Bologna, Italy.

    From the William Sohier Bryant Papers, Mss 45, R. Stanton Avery Collections, NEHGS.
  6. Delormel family at harvest time, 1918.

  7. Elderly couple, 1918.

  8. Group of children, French countryside, 1918.

  9. Frank Altman, 1918. Born in 1897 in Newark, New Jersey, Altman moved to Boston with his family as a child. He enlisted in the Navy as an electrician in August 1918 and was discharged in October of the same year. Altman also served in World War II, as a Technical Sergeant in the 3rd Battalion Headquarters, 26th Infantry of the State Guard of Massachusetts. He married Ethel (Task) and they had two children: Barbara, and Stanley.

    From the Altman-Spiewak Family Papers at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.
  10. Camp Devens was established in 1917 to train soldiers for World War I. The 26th Yankee Division, as well as the 12th and 76th Divisions, were activated at Devens, which is located in Ayer and Shirley, Massachusetts. It is now called Fort Devens.

    From the Selesnick Family Papers at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.
  11. Joseph Wineapple, 1918. Joseph Wineapple was a 23-year old shoe manufacturer at the Peabody Shoe Company in Massachusetts, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 15, 1918. He was discharged on January 3, 1919. In a letter to his sister Min, dated July 11, 1918 from Newton, Wineapple asked her "to bring some cake along, as we don’t get any sweets out here." It is unknown if she complied.

    Photograph from the Papers of the Richard Winer Family at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS. Letter courtesy of Historic Newton.
  12. Rudolph Wyner (left) with unknown soldier, 1918. Born in Malmesbury, South Africa, Wyner immigrated to Boston with his family in 1899. After graduating from Harvard College, Wyner enlisted the U.S. Navy in 1918 and earned the rank of Ensign. He was stationed in Newport, Rhode Island until his discharge in December 1918. Rudolph later married Sara Goldberg and they had two children, Justin and Elizabeth (Mark).

    From the Wyner Family Papers. Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

Postcards

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  1. "Idylle en Alsace – An Idyll in Alsatia"

    All three postcards were done by the Argentine artist and illustrator, Tito Saubidet (1891-1955).

    From the Hugh Walker Ogden Papers, Mss 1145, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.
  2. "Idylle en Lorraine - An idyll in Lorraine"

  3. "Le Retour- The Return"

  4. Postcard of German soldier who returns from the front with his family, caption “Wieder Dahiem” translates to “Back Home.”

    From the Hugh Walker Ogden Papers, Mss 1145, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.
  5. "Zut! Pas encore d’zepplin ce soir – Tut! Not a Zepplin to be seen to-night yet"

    During World War I many books, postcards and other illustrations were produced for children to promote patriotic values related to the war effort. These two French postcards show children dressed as soldiers by the same illustrator, Trimm.

    From the Hugh Walker Ogden Papers, Mss 1145, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.
  6. "C’est y un Boche? – Is it a German?"


Propaganda

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  1. “Entrez donc... Je vous prie!” - “Come on please.”

    Postcard of the Allied countries taunting the German Navy to enter their waters.

  2. “La triple détente”

    Postcard of the Allied nations (France, Great Britain and Russia) giving the “boot” to Germany.

  3. “Le nations poursuivant le crime” - “The nations pursuing crime”

    Postcard satirizing the Germans being pursued by the Allied countries for crimes committed against France.

    All three of these postcards were created by Paul Dufresne, a French illustrator, who was known for his postcards of French soldiers and royalty, portraying them both in historical and satirical contexts.

    From the Hugh Walker Ogden Papers, Mss 1198, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS.
  4. “L’Otage Abbatu” - “The hostage shot down”

    Depicting the death of a 73-year-old man who was unable to walk. In an official report given on January 8, 1915 before a commission investigating war crimes, “the unfortunate man was struck by a blow of a bayonet to the forehead and shot with a revolver through the heart.”

  5. “Le Bouclier Humain!” - “The Human Shield”

    This postcard recounts a report filed on September 23, 1914 before the committee set up to “check acts committed by the enemy in violation of the law of nations.” In a French village, the Germans placed local inhabitants along the entire width of a public road, among whom was a priest. The Germans fired at a French detachment stationed just behind the crowd of people killing many civilians.

  6. “Le Médecin Massacre Dans Son Ambulance” - “The doctor massacred in his ambulance”

    On August 23, 1914, the day Germany invaded France, an auxiliary physician, while tending to the wounded, was killed by a German patrol. This account was subsequently published in a report, “Violations of Laws of the War by Germany” by the French government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    “Le Crimes Allemands” - “The German Crimes” series of postcards were created by Nöel Dorville, (1874-1938), a French artist who was known for newspaper cartoons and posters. These illustrations are based on actual reports given before various war commissions in France. Dorville was present at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference where he sketched several of the participants including Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau.

    From the Hugh Walker Ogden Papers, Mss 1198, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS.

NEHGS Ancestors in World War I

Stories and photographs contributed from our staff

John Scaduto

John Scaduto

This is my grandfather, John Scaduto. He was born in Sciacca, Sicily in 1893. John joined the Army in June of 1917, and was part of the 13th Calvary, Brownsville, Texas. While he didn't serve overseas, his regiment was responsible for patrolling the border between the United States and Mexico, and guarding the International Bridge. - Jeanne Belmonte, Genealogist

Andrew Syrbich

Andrew Syrbich

My maternal grandfather, Andrew Syrbich (b. 4 Oct. 1901 in Croatia) arrived in New York City in 1903 (as Tandro Srbljinovic) with his mother aboard the Kroonland to join his father in Pittsburgh. Andrew enlisted at Gettysburg at age 16 to get away from his father and the coal mines; he lied and said he was born in 1898 in West Virginia. He fought with the U.S. Army 3rd Division 7th Machine Gun Battalion at the second battle of the Marne at Chateau-Thierry, at Saint-Mihiel, and in the Meuse-Argonne battle, for which he received a citation for bravery. He remained in Europe until 1920 and later enlisted in the Marines. - Sharon Inglis, Publishing Director

Wallace Burdett Jarboe

Wallace Burdett Jarboe

My great-grandfather Wallace Burdett Jarboe was barely eighteen when he joined the United States Navy in July 1918, near the end of World War I. My aunt has amassed a collection of his military records, and from these we know he was a signalman on the USS Pennsylvania and the USS Frederick until 1920, when he remained in the Navy Reserve until his discharge, “owing to a lack of funds,” in 1921. In addition to his documents, we also have the Victory Medal Button and the Atlantic Fleet Clasp, which he received at the end of the war.

While in active service, he took some leave time to travel France and Holland and was able to attend the 1920 Summer Olympics in Belgium. The losing powers of the war were not allowed to participate that year, and the general aftermath of shifted barders, victories, and devastation must have hung in the spirit of the events and been quite a spectacle. - Julian Jarboe, Web Content Assistant

John George Lea

John George Lea

My maternal great-grandfather John George Lea (b. 15 September 1876, Blakenhall, Cheshire, England) immigrated from Willaston, Cheshire, England with his family to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1910. He married at Nantwich, England in 1898 to Harriet Ann Wilkinson (1877-1920) and had three children: Mary Olive Lea (b. 1899); my grandfather John Samuel Lea (b. 1901) who briefly served in World War I as a 15-year-old recruit with the Toronto Rifles until it was discovered he lied about his age; and Phylis Lea. John worked for Rogers Coal Co. in Toronto delivering coal by horse team.

John enlisted at Toronto 6 December 1915 with the 124th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Forces. After training, his unit embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia 7 August 1916 aboard the SS CAMERONIA and arrived at Liverpool, England 18 August 1916. On 9 March 1917 his regiment arrived at Camp Witley, located at Witley Common, Surrey, England. From this army camp they would soon disembark across the English Channel for Boulogne, France on 11 March 1917. The unit was involved in heavy fighting in the trenches during the war. One family story tells of John having his team of horses killed and he was involved in dragging supplies to the front lines. On 9 February 1918 he was granted leave for fourteen days in England where he no doubt visited family still living in Cheshire, England. On 29 May 1918 the 124th Canadian Expeditionary Forces was transferred to the 11th Canadian Engineers. He was granted two weeks leave 21 December 1918 and rejoined his regiment 11 January 1919. On 9 May 1919 the unit left France for England, and sailed home for Canada on 7 June 1919 aboard RMS OLYMPIC (the sister ship of the TITANIC). On 16 June 1919 John was discharged from the service in Toronto. Sadly eight months after returning to Canada, John’s wife died from pneumonia at the age of 42. John remarried in 1924 to Mary Nicol, an immigrant from Scotland. John returned to work for Rogers Coal Company and died in Toronto 28 November 1953; his widow Mary lived until 1970. John’s World War I service file is digitized online from Library and Archives Canada. - David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist

Benno Frederick Christian Hahn

Benno Frederick Christian Hahn

Benno Frederick Christian Hahn was born in Utica, Michigan in 1892, the son of German immigrants. Because of his parentage, the infantry didn't want him and he was assigned to the ambulance corps. My husband remembers him having a severe arm tremor and assumed it was Parkinson's until his father told him it was from a shrapnel wound in his head. His signature on his World War II draft notice attests to the tremors he suffered. - Maureen Keillor, Volunteer

John Spears Mackenzie

John Spears Mackenzie

My great-grandfather, John Spears Mackenzie, (b. 7 July 1886, Bridgeport, Connecticut; raised in South Hadley Falls, Massachusetts) first enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an apprentice seaman at age 16, and served from 1902-1907. He left the Navy to go into the auto accessory business in Springfield, Massachusetts, but reenlisted when America entered World War I. He served as a Chief Boatswain’s mate aboard the USS Remlik.

On December 17, 1917, the USS Remlik was patrolling off the coast of France in the Bay of Biscay. The ship encountered a heavy gale while chasing a German submarine. The high winds and waves caused a depth charge to break loose and roll across the deck. John rushed forward and attempted to secure the live depth charge. After several attempts, he was able to upright the depth charge and hold it in place until other members of the crew were able to come forward and lash it securely in place. His actions prevented the depth charge from detonating, which would have destroyed the ship with great loss of life.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 8, 1918, in General Order No. 391, signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then the acting Secretary of the Navy. He was also a recipient of the Navy Cross, and Italian War Cross. He was given a $100 gratuity from the government, which was matched by Willis S. Kilmer, the former owner of the Remlik, a steam yacht that was purchased by the government and converted for war-time use to protect convoys from attacks by German submarines.

John served his last year in service aboard the destroyer, USS Walker. Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1919, he settled in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He married Jean L. Harris on July 7, 1920. They had two children, James and Jessie. In 1925, John opened a restaurant in Holyoke called Mackenzie Lunch. When John was 47 years old he suffered a fatal heart attack while working at the restaurant on December 26, 1933. The city of Holyoke dedicated a playing field to John on September 4, 1939, called Mackenzie field. - Kathleen Mackenzie, Member Services Coordinator, with contributions from her father, Jeffrey Mackenzie

Hugh Thomas Maguire

NAME

Hugh Thomas Maguire, my great-granduncle, was born on 12 September 1889, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Patrick and Mary Ann (Rooney) Maguire. His parents were immigrants from Ireland, and his father died when Hugh was just ten years old. He had six older siblings: one sister and five brothers, including my great-grandfather Joseph.

Hugh was inducted into the U.S. National Army on 3 November 1917, at the age of 28. He was described as tall and slender, with gray eyes and brown hair. He served as a mechanic with Company A, 314th Infantry, 79th Division, first at Camp Meade, Maryland, and then in France from July 1918 to May 1919, including at Meuse-Argonne from July through September of 1918. According to his veteran’s records, he left Meuse-Argonne on September 25, which was one day before the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive – the largest and bloodiest American operation of the war. Either he was intentionally removed from the area before the offensive began or he just got lucky. He received no wounds or other injuries during his time of service. He was honorably discharged on 30 May 1919, at Camp Dix, New Jersey, and returned to Philadelphia.

He married Margaret Mary Carney in 1923, and they had two children, Margaret Mary and Hugh Thomas Jr. After the war, he worked as a pipefitter and later a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier. He died at the young age of 44 on 16 June 1934, thereby leaving his children fatherless at an even earlier age than he had been when his father Patrick died. According to his brother Edward, Hugh died while reading the newspaper and smoking a cigar on his front porch. He is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery in Philadelphia. - Jean Maguire, Library Director

Elizabeth Goodley and Harry K. Brush

NAME

My grandmother, Ruth Mae [Goodley] Albany was an only child, but she still felt strong family ties to cousins and other extended members of her family. Her mother’s cousin, Harry K. Brush, was a private who was killed in action in France during World War I. My grandma was close enough with his family to call his sister Aunt Eva (even though she was really only a cousin). When my mother was a teenager, my grandma gave her a ring that had belonged to Harry, re-engraved with my mom’s initials (RAA for Ruth Ann Albany). My mom still wears this ring every day.

NAME

Harry was born in 1897 in Chester, Pennsylvania, a year before my great grandmother was born in 1898. His father was a laborer who worked in a ship yard in 1900 and a foundry in 1910. Harry was only about 20 when he died. His body was shipped back to Pennsylvania and probably buried in Chester Rural Cemetery (many other members of our family are buried there; two Harry Brushs are listed in the cemetery index, but he does not have a FindAGrave page and I haven’t actually been there).

My great grandmother, Elizabeth [Williams] Goodley (Harry’s cousin), was clearly a strong supporter of the troops in Europe during World War I. My mom recalls that she crocheted constantly, making bedspreads, tablecloths, doilies and potholders. My mom has a filet crochet piece she made of a soldier hanging in our dining room. The soldier is holding a gun and it reads “Liberty USA.” As Harry was away in Europe, Elizabeth’s mind was clearly on the war, and possibly her cousin, with whom she was so close in age. - Molly Rogers, Digital Database Coordinator

Morris James McCarthy

Morris James McCarthy

My grandfather, Morris James McCarthy, was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 26, 1898, the youngest of seven children of Timothy McCarthy and Victoria Bassett McCarthy. In 1917, he made the short trip across the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario, where he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F..) on May 28, 1917. He served as Gunner in the 3rd Battery, 1st Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery (C.F.A.) in France. He survived the war and was discharged from the army on April 24, 1919. His C.E.F. file indicates that on the day he enlisted, he stood 5′4″ tall and weighed-in at a strapping 117 lbs. He gave his birth date as 1897, one year earlier than the actual date.

Growing up, I never heard my grandfather say a word about his army service, and I only learned about it many years after his death in 1979. The only thing my mother ever told me about his army service (shortly before her death in 2009) was that, one day as a child (circa 1927), she and her parents were walking down the street and there was a loud "boom" at a nearby construction site. Her father immediately dove to the ground and covered his head. My mother thought it was pretty comical, but her father did not.

A few years ago, my mother's sister told me that on one occasion, my grandfather was carrying messages to and from a forward observation post at the front lines back to the artillery emplacement. He arrived at the forward post on horseback, handed the reins to another soldier, and ran down into the command dugout to collect orders. A German artillery shell then struck above the dugout, killing his horse and any soldiers unfortunate enough to be in the open— i.e., the poor fellow holding the reins of the horse.

Why did a Michigan boy join the Canadian Army? His mother, Victoria Bassett McCarthy, was born in Pikes Creek, Ontario and came to Detroit as a girl of about 20, around 1870. Victoria's brother, Joseph Bassett, was also born near Windsor and had crossed the Detroit River in the other direction to join the Union army as a cavalryman on August 12, 1861. Joseph served in Company D, 1st U.S. Cavalry. Joseph Bassett lived until 1911 and I'm sure my grandfather heard about the exploits of his uncle. Probably not from Joseph himself, but from other family members. - Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator


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