Cadet Samuel Walter Arnheim

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in New York.

When deeds of valor are done on the battlefield
we do not look to see whether a man is Jew, Protestant or Catholic…’‘ [1]

Major General John F. O’Ryan[2]

The Arnheim-Zorkowski Mausoleum in Beth Olam Cemetery
The Arnheim-Zorkowski Mausoleum in Beth Olam Cemetery
Marks Arnheim
Marks Arnheim

Samuel Walter Arnheim was born in New York on 21 April 1889 into a wealthy Jewish family, the only son and youngest of the three children of Marks and Fannie Arnheim.[3] His father was born in Berlin and had arrived in the United States as a child. He travelled the United States and the West as a young man before returning to New York, where he established a tailoring business in 1877 in ‘Little Germany’ in the Bowery. He became a US citizen in 1881. The business flourished and in 1892 he moved to a large building on the corner of Broadway and Ninth Street; it became one of the most prominent tailors in the city and during the war, in addition to high quality men’s suits, made uniforms for Army and Navy officers. Samuel’s mother, from Connecticut, also had a German father.

Arnheim Clothing
Arnheim Clothing

Samuel Arnheim graduated from Harvard, class of 1910, and when his father died in 1912 he became president of the company. In 1917, however, he decided to enlist. Reportedly he was refused by the Aviation Section of the Unisted States Army and joined a flying club on Long Island, where he qualified as a pilot in the summer of 1917.

Samuel Walter Arnheim
Samuel Walter Arnheim

He enlisted in Toronto on 21 November 1917 and joined the Royal Flying Corps as a Cadet (with the rank of Air Mechanic Class 3) and was allocated the number 152812. Following a period of ground training he travelled to Texas, to Camp Taliaferro, where he joined one of the Canadian Training Squadrons in 43 Wing and then No.2 School of Aerial Gunnery at Hicks Field. His biography in the Harvard Roll of Honor indicates that he was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps in March and appointed as an instructor at Hicks Field on 19 March.[4] There is no official record to support this—indeed his service record shows that at the time of his death his rank was Air Mechanic Class 3.

On a flight in the afternoon of 21 March 1918, while flying a Curtiss JN-4, he was reported to have lost consciousness at 4,000 feet and died instantly when his aircraft crashed. His remains were returned to New York. On Thursday 26 March he was buried after a lavish, well-attended funeral service and ceremony. The funeral, led by Rabbi Dr Joseph Silverman, took place at the Temple Emmanu-El on Fifth Avenue. His coffin was draped with the flags of the United States and the United Kingdom. A guard of honour was provided by the Coast Artillery Corps, commanded by Captain Percy C. Hamilton, and the honorary pallbearers included three officers of the Royal Flying Corps and two officers of the United States Army. He was buried in Beth Olam Fields Cemetery, Brooklyn, in the impressive family mausoleum in the B’nai Jeshurun congregation section of the cemetery.

On Sunday 25 May 1919 a service took place in the Free Synagogue, Carnegie Hall[5] to commemorate the war dead.[6] In particular the ceremony commemorated Major Morris Karpas, Lieutenant Commander Solomon Endel, Private Butts Meyers, and Samuel Arnheim.[7]

His estate was appraised at $392,930 (over $6.5M today); the majority passed to his sisters. His brother-in-law, William W. Arnheim, became president of the company.

Cadet Samuel Walter Arnheim is commemorated on the Harvard University Roll of Honour, and his name is inscribed with 372 others on the First World War panels in the Memorial Church of Harvard University—over 50 of these men died serving in the armed forces of France or the British Empire. On 30 May 1920 a ceremony to commemorate the men on the roll was attended by General of the Armies John J. Pershing, who also viewed an exhibition of photographs of the men. The church was dedicated on Armistice Day 1932, revealing, under the First World War panels, the statue ‘The Sacrifice’ by Malvina Hoffman, which had been relocated from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.[8]

'The Sacrifice', Memorial Church of Harvard University
‘The Sacrifice’, Memorial Church of Harvard University

Cadet Samuel Walter Arnheim is commemorated on page 583 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 17 December.

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Cadet Samuel Walter Arnheim
The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Cadet Samuel Walter Arnheim

Mead, F S (ed). (1921). Harvard’s Military Record in the World War. Boston: Harvard Alumni Association.
De Wolfe Howe, M A. (1921). Memoirs of the Harvard Dead in the War Against Germany. Volume 2, pp 305-307. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Robert Kanter for the photographs of the Arnheim-Zorkowski Mausoleum.
Teresa Chrzanowski Flisiuk for the photograph of the statue ‘The Sacrifice’.

1. (Back) ‘O’Ryan Pays Tribute To War’s Heroic Jews’. (26 May 1919). New York Tribune. p 11.
2. (Back) Commanding General of the 27th Division, American Expeditionary Force.
3. (Back) Marks Arnheim (4 November 1849-22 March 1912) married Fannie Zorkowski (1862-1917) on 25 April 1880: Sophia (later Untermeyer) (5 November 1881-31 January 1935); and Minnie (8 April 1884-22 September 1941) (she married her cousin, William Walter Arnheim, in 1907).
4. (Back) Mead, F S (ed). (1921). Harvard’s Military Record in the World War. p 43. Boston: Harvard Alumni Association.
5. (Back) The Free Synagogue was established by Rabbi Stephen Wise in 1906. In 1949, following his death, it became the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.
6. (Back) ‘O’Ryan Pays Tribute’. Op. Cit.
7. (Back) Major Morris Jacob Karpas, United States Army Medical Corps, a Russian-born doctor, died at 8th Base Hospital on 4 July 1918; he is buried in Oise-Aisne American Cemetery. Lieutenant Commander Solomon Harrison Endel, United States Navy, serving as flag secretary to Rear Admiral John A. Hoogewerf in the pre-dreadnought battleship USS Alabama, flagship of the 1st Division, Atlantic Fleet, died of influenza on 21 October on the hospital ship USS Mercy; he is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, New York. Private Butts Meyers has not been identified.
8. (Back) ‘The Sacrifice’ (La Douleur est la Mére de la Beauté—Pain is the Mother of Beauty) was her first major sculpture after the war. It was commissioned by Martha Bacon, the wife of Robert Bacon, the former ambassador to France, who had served on General Pershing’s staff; he died in 1919. The sculpture, in Caen stone, was completed in 1923 and exhibited at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine until installed in the Memorial Church of Harvard University in 1932.

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