Private Samuel Barnett

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

The grave of Private Samuel Barnett
The grave of Private Samuel Barnett

Samuel Barnett was born on 18 February 1879 in Belfast, Ireland, the eldest of the two sons of Matthew and Matilda Barnett.[1] He was a shipping clerk in Belfast before he emigrated to the United States in 1901 with his mother and his younger brother, Matthew. They lived on Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, a block from the Empire State Building; Samuel worked in New York as an underwriter.

On 11 February 1918 in New York he was examined and found fit for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and on 18 March he travelled by train via Niagara Falls to Toronto where he was attested and joined the 2nd Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment at Exhibition Camp; he was allocated the regimental number 3233160.

Although seemingly fit when he underwent his initial medical examination, from the time of his arrival in Toronto he felt under the weather and on 20 March he was sick in the cookhouse. He was taken to the hospital at Exhibition Camp in the early evening. There he was diagnosed as suffering from influenza and he soon developed pneumonia; he died of heart failure at 11.30pm on 23 March 1918. His body was returned home and he was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, on the northern side of the cemetery near the junction of 7th Avenue and 22nd Street, in Section J, Lot 33488. His mother and his brother are buried with him; their grave is unmarked. He is one of two First World War CWGC burials in that cemetery—the other is Cadet L H Thompson, Royal Air Force, who died on 30 October 1918.

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Samuel Barnett
The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Samuel Barnett

Private Samuel Barnett is commemorated on page 364 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 10 August. His father received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll.

The War Graves Photographic Project for the photo of Samuel Barnett’s grave.

1. (Back) Matthew Barnett (1849-7 November 1927) married Matilda Brown (1848-23 July 1911) at Malone Presbyterian Church in Belfast on 12 April 1871. They had two children who died as infants before Samuel was born in 1879. Matthew Barnett Sr. died in Belfast and is buried in Belfast City Cemetery. Matthew Barnett Jr. (28 January 1887-22 April 1949).

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