Private Michael John Dugan

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

The grave of Private Michael Dugan

Michael Dugan was born on 16 November 1884 in Corry, Pennsyvania, one of the nine surviving children of William and Ellen Dugan; his father died soon after he was born.[1] There are few details known about his early life except that he found work as a cigar maker before becoming a mechanic and that he married around 1905. He and his wife Mary had two children, a daughter, Helen, and a son, Kenneth.[2] By the time of his enlistment the family were living in Niagara Falls, New York.

Michael Dugan enlisted at St. Catharines, Ontario on 24 April 1916. He joined the 176th (Niagara Rangers) Battalion and was allocated the number 850542. The Battalion been raised in St Catharines in January 1916 and was encamped on Spring Street. His family followed him to St Catharines in May 1916. On Victoria Day, 24 May, the Battalion paraded through the town and Dugan was most likely in the contingent and watched by his family. Continue reading

Second Lieutenant Evanda Berkeley Garnett

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

Second Lieutenant Evanda Berkeley Garnett
Second Lieutenant Evanda Berkeley Garnett

Not all of the casualties buried in the United States were repatriated in the period immediately after the First World War. Second Lieutenant Evanda Berkeley Garnett was killed in an air crash in Lincolnshire on 27 January 1918. Over 40 years later, on 16 September 1959, his sister Caroline called at the United States Embassy in London in order to arrange for the disinterment of his ashes and their return from Lincolnshire to Rhode Island. She believed, incorrectly, that the remains of the other airman killed in the crash had been repatriated previously and stated that it was the family’s intention to bring Evanda Garnett home too. His ashes were duly exhumed and sent to the United States where they were reinterred in the family plot in Island Cemetery, Newport.[1] Continue reading

Sapper William Bustin

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

Sapper William Bustin
Sapper William Bustin

William Bustin was one of three sons from this family who died during the war; his brother Robert was killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915, and Ernest was killed in action in France in 1918.

He was born on 25 November 1886, in Adlington, Lancashire, into the large family of Joseph and Elizabeth Bustin; he was one of nine surviving children; two others died as infants.[1] Continue reading

Lieutenant Louis Bennett

This essay is about the only First World War casualty commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in West Virginia.

Few know more about the life and exploits of Lieutenant Bennett than Dr. Charles D. Dusch, Jr., the Deputy Command Historian of the United States Air Force Academy, whose comprehensive and extremely well-researched thesis Great War Aviation and Commemoration: Louis Bennett, Jr., Commander of the West Virginia Flying Corps led us to his door.

This shorter piece by Dr. Dusch was written for this project. It describes Bennett’s involvement with aviation in the United States, his service with the Royal Flying Corps in France, his untimely death and his mother’s efforts to commemorate her only son. More information about Dr. Dusch may be found at the end of the essay. Footnotes are by the project editor.

The memorial to Louis Bennett Jr. in Machpelah Cemetery, Weston
The memorial to Louis Bennett Jr. in Machpelah Cemetery, Weston

West Virginia’s only Great War ace, Louis Bennett, Jr. was born in Weston, West Virginia, on 22 September 1894.[1] Unlike many of his peers who were merely enticed by the thrill of flying and became good pilots in the war, Bennett was much more. He clearly thought about aviation keenly and its impact on the war in larger terms, and he also took action on his ideas to bring them to fruition. Continue reading

Private George Melvin Atkinson

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 George Atkinson
The grave of Private George Atkinson

Private George Atkinson was a Canadian-born farmer from Clinton County, New York. He is the oldest casualty researched thus far—he was born in 1858, adjusted his age by 14 years when he enlisted, and died just before his 59th birthday. Three of his sons, all born in the United States, served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France. Continue reading

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. Continue reading