Sapper Lee Arvel Moss

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

The grave of Private Lee Moss
The grave of Private Lee Moss

Lee Arvel Moss was born at Vigor, a community near Athens, in McMinn County, Tennessee on 4 March 1887, the second of the five children and eldest son of Hugh and Cammie Moss.[1]

At the time of his enlistment he was living in Montreal and, although a blacksmith by trade, he was working as a steam fitter. He was a member of the Militia, serving with 4th Field Company, Canadian Engineers. He enlisted on 10 August 1916 for service with the 5th Pioneer Battalion, giving his year of birth as 1883, and was allocated the regimental number 1078503. Continue reading

Private John Benjamin French

This is one of two essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Kentucky.

The grave of Private John Benjamin French - note the second, original gravestone behind
The grave of Private John Benjamin French – note the second, original gravestone behind

John Benjamin French was an African-American born on 22 July 1896 in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Ash and Lula French of 325 Race Street.[1] Little is known of his family but John French was working as a ‘shoe shiner and jockey ’ when he enlisted in 1918. Continue reading

Private Harry Fooksman

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

Editors note: Private Fooksman is commemorated as  by the CWGC as ‘Private Harry Ross’, the name under which he served.

97th Battalion (American Legion) Cap Badge
97th Battalion (American Legion) Cap Badge

Harry Ross is something of an enigma—the name under which he served, and by which he is commemorated by the CWGC, is an alias.  He was born Harry Fooksman, the only son of a Russian Jewish family, both sides of which had emigrated to the United States in the late-1880s. Continue reading

Private Sylvester Williams

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

The grave of Private Sylvester Williams
The grave of Private Sylvester Williams

Private Sylvester Williams was one of about 165 African-Americans—one of seven from Ohio—who served with No.2 Construction Company (Coloured) in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Continue reading

Private James Doval Stewart

This essay is about the single First World War casualty commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Georgia.

This is not for you fellows, this is a white man’s war.” [1]

The grave of Private James Doval Stewart
The grave of Private James Doval Stewart

The recruitment of Black Canadians for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force caused much debate in Canada. Many Black Canadians, swept along by patriotic fervour at the beginning of the war wanted to volunteer but prejudice prevented widespread recruitment. By November 1915 orders had been issued to allow recruitment of Black soldiers; it was largely ignored. Although small numbers of Black Canadians had managed to enlist from early in the war, it was not until after the introduction of conscription that Black soldiers served in any numbers; even then few made it to front-line battalions. The largest group of Black Canadians to serve with the Canadian Expeditionary Force did so in No.2 Construction Battalion.[2]

Continue reading

Cadet John Dunn IV

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

The memorial window by Tiffany Studios in All Saints' Episcopal Church, Richmond dedicated to Cadet John Dunn IV, Royal Flying Corps
The memorial window by Tiffany Studios in All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Richmond dedicated to Cadet John Dunn IV, Royal Flying Corps

The state of Virginia is rich with beautiful windows and other commemorative and decorative pieces from the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany. There are so many sites of interest that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers advice on driving tours to see them.

In Richmond, the state capital, one such window commemorates Cadet John Dunn, Royal Flying Corps, who died of scarlet fever on 26 March 1918, aged 20. When it was dedicated at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on 22 December 1918, it became the first war memorial to be placed in the city to commemorate a casualty of the First World War. Continue reading