Sapper John Costello

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 Sapper John Costello

John Costello was working as a carpenter when he enlisted on 20 May 1918 in New York; he then travelled north to Canada and joined the Canadian Engineers Training Depot at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Allocated the number 2010335, Sapper Costello began his training but in June was diagnosed as suffering from a heart complaint. He was posted to No. 6 Engineer Depot in Halifax, Nova Scotia in September and he remained there in the Works Section until he was discharged as unfit for military service due to his heart condition on 15 April 1919.

Costello was an Irish immigrant. He was born on 27 October 1877 at Bantry in County Cork, the eldest of the six children of Joseph Costello, a former solider in the 50th (the Queen’s Own) Regiment of Foot,[1]  and his wife Mary.[2] It is not clear when he emigrated to the United States, although it was after the turn of the century, and he was not the only member of his family to do so—his sister Hannah lived and married in Rhode Island; his older brother Frank, originally a resident of Providence, Rhode Island, lived in New York; and his brother Peter visited for a year from 1908 and emigrated in 1913.

John Costello died as a result of his heart condition in United States Public Health Service Hospital No. 38[3] in New York on 8 April 1920. He was buried in Second Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, New York. His grave in Section 41, Row 34SS, Grave 2, is simply marked by a flat, private memorial.

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Sapper John Costello

His memorial plaque and scroll and the Memorial Cross were sent to his mother in Bantry, County Cork. Sapper Costello is commemorated on page 548 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 22 November.

Acknowledgement:
Billy Gonzalez for the photograph of Burke’s grave.


1. (Back) Later The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.
2. (Back) Joseph F. Costello (1837-28 May 1898) a soldier of the 50th Regiment of Foot, married Mary K. Fitzgerald (c1854-NK) on 28 October 1876 at Bantry, County Cork. Francis (28 April 1880-25 May 1943); Mary Catherine (28 December 1882-NK); Hannah Josephine (later Macomber) (16 March 1885-4 January 1968); Joseph (26 October 1886-1887); Peter Paul (17 June 1888-NK); Christopher (19 May 1890-5 April 1891); Norah (9 April 1893-NK). The 1901 census records the family name as ‘Costelloe’.
3. (Back) The Polyclinic Hospital, 345 West 50th Street.

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