Canadian Cross of SacrificeDuring the First World War the American Expeditionary Force sustained over 53,000 battle deaths and over 63,000 non-combat deaths. The influenza pandemic in late-1918 and early-1919 alone claimed more than 45,000 American soldiers and sailors in Europe and in the United States.

These men were not the only American soldiers to die in the war.

From the earliest days of the war, American citizens volunteered—with men of other nations resident in the United States—for service with the Imperial forces of the British Empire. Even after the entry into the war of the United States in April 1917, American men enlisted into the British Army, the Canadian Expeditionary Force and, to experience a new mode of warfare, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force.

Those who died serving with the Imperial forces are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Established as the Imperial War Graves Commission on 21 May 1917, this most impressive organisation ‘ensures that 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten’.  It cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 154 countries.

In the United States there are 365 casualties of the First World War commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in cemeteries across 42 states. Many are United States citizens, others are citizens of the countries of the British Empire who had emigrated here, and a few are from other countries in Europe. Some died in France, Flanders, the United Kingdom and Canada and their remains were repatriated. Some were members of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force who died whilst serving in the United States.

Organised by State, by the end of the centennial period in 2018, Sacrifice aims to have:

  • commemorated each soldier, sailor or airman by presenting a short biography;
  • checked that the information displayed by the CWGC website is accurate;
  • checked that the information on CWGC headstones is accurate.

Contributions and comments are most welcome. Please use the contact form below.

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The Editor

Nick Metcalfe is the author of Blacker’s Boys, the First World War history of the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, and For Exemplary Bravery, the story of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

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