This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Maryland.
Camp Taliaferro, the Royal Flying Corps training centre near Fort Worth, Texas, will feature in the stories of 22 men who died in the United States while undergoing flying training, three others who died of disease, and one who died while en route by train from Canada.
Cadet Arthur Eden was killed in a mid-air collision on 21 December 1917; two pilots in another aircraft were killed also.
Arthur William Webster Eden was born on 16 August 1898 in Kingston, Jamaica. His father, William Thomas Eden, a merchant, and his mother Lillian Isabel (née Auld) were Jamaican-born, British citizens of the British West Indies. As far as can be determined, there were six children, although only three survived childhood. Soon after Arthur was born his father set off for England and when Arthur was 10 months old he sailed for England with his mother and siblings. The family lived in London, where his brother Oswald was born and his eldest sister, Helen Isobel, died. Arthur’s father died in late-1908/early-1909 and the family returned to Jamaica. Arthur attended Wolmer’s High School in Kingston from 1909-1913, and his brother attended from 1912.
On 4 April 1913, Arthur, his mother, sister May, and brother Oswald emigrated to the United States, and settled in Baltimore. When he left school Arthur Eden became an electrician and went to work for the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Co. in Baltimore.
In the summer of 1917 he journeyed to Toronto and, on 7 September, enlisted into the Royal Flying Corps. He was allocated the number 74788. After a period of ground training, in October he travelled to Texas, to Camp Taliaferro, where he joined one of the Canadian Training Squadrons—probably 86 Squadron—in 43 Wing.
On 21 December 1917, while flying in a Curtiss JN-4 as part of a larger formation near Taliaferro Field No. 2, his aircraft, in which he was flying alone, was involved in a collision in cloud at about 500 feet with a second aircraft flown by Second Lieutenant J T R Jenner and Cadet C A Baker. The two aircraft fell joined together, burying all three men underneath—Arthur Eden died from a fracture to the base of his skull.
Following a funeral service at Camp Taliaferro, Cadet Eden’s body was transported by rail back to Baltimore, accompanied by his cousin Cadet J E L Webster, who was also training at Camp Taliaferro. His funeral service was held on 24 December 1917 in the Central Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, officiated by Reverend De Witt M. Benham, before his body was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery. His grave is located in the eastern part of the cemetery in South Wesley East, Single ‘A’, Section 62, Range 3. Cadet Baker, a Canadian, is one of 11 men of the Royal Flying Corps buried at Greenwood Memorial Park, near Fort Worth. The body of Second Lieutenant Jenner, also a Canadian, was returned home; he is buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham, Ontario.
Cadet Arthur William Webster Eden is commemorated on Page 577 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 14 December.
Trish Nigh at the C-K Cemeteries Preservation & Documentation Project for the photograph of the tomb of Second Lieutenant J T R Jenner.
1. (Back) Thirty-five men of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force died in aeroplane accidents while stationed at Camp Taliaferro—22 are buried in the United States and 13 are buried in Canada. In addition four men died from disease—three are buried in the United Sates and one in Canada.
2. (Back) William Thomas Eden (1861-before 1909) married Lillian Isabel (née Auld) (2 January 1867-19 Dec 1944) on 25 August 1886 in Kingston, Jamaica; Helen Isobel (8 January 1888-1903); Elizabeth Doris (1891-30 Jan 1892); Arthur Henry Webster Eden (28 December 1895-17 August 1896); May Lilian (21 July 1897-November 1971); and Oswald Archibald Kerrigan (24 January 1902-5 September 1983).
3. (Back) Cadet James Ernest Lelond ‘Erni’ Webster was born on 30 March 1897 at George Town in the Cayman Islands. He became a draughtsman in Baltimore before he enlisted into the Royal Flying Corps in September 1917 and joined 82nd Canadian Training Squadron in 42nd Wing at Camp Taliaferro. After the war he returned to work in Baltimore before moving to Jamaica. He died on 11 September 1975.
4. (Back) ‘Young Baltimore Flyer Who Was Buried Yesterday’. (3 January 1918). Baltimore Sun. p 4.
5. (Back) See: Cadet Cyril Albert Baker (biography not yet complete). Second Lieutenant John Thomas Russell Jenner (known as Russell) was born at Kingsville, Ontario on 13 January 1898, the youngest child and only son of John Earl Jenner MD, and Ella Eugenia (née Taylor). He enlisted into the Royal Flying Corps at Toronto on 29 May 1917 and was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps on 1 September 1917. He was serving with ‘B’ Flight, 86 Canadian Training Squadron in 43 Wing when he was killed.