Cadet William Joseph King

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

The grave of Wiliam Joseph King

William Joseph King was born in late 1892/early 1893 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Little is known about his family or his early life. On 4 January 1916, he married Josephine Freeman at the Borough Hall in Brooklyn, New York. His wife was a professional singer, who performed under the name ‘Dolly Grey’.[1] King worked as a car salesman in New York, while his wife pursued her stage career in the United States and in South America.

Josephine King aka ‘Dolly Grey’, 1917

King enlisted into the Royal Flying Corps as a cadet in Toronto on 24 September 1917. After his ground training at No.4 School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Toronto, he travelled to Texas where he learned to fly. Continue reading

Second Lieutenant Arnold Whittier Hill

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

Arnold Whittier Hill

Arnold Whittier Hill was born in Malden, Massachusetts on 13 June 1897, the only son and eldest child of Arthur and Josephine Hill.[1] He attended school in Malden, where he demonstrated an early interest in flying.

He volunteered in Boston for service with the Royal Flying Corps and enlisted in Toronto on 4 January 1918. After attendance at No. 4 School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Toronto, he travelled to Texas where he learned to fly. Transferred to the Royal Air Force upon its formation on 1 April 1918, he was commissioned on 27 June. Hill was selected for training as an instructor and posted to the School of Special Flying at Armour Heights in Toronto. On 13 July 1918, he was flying Curtis JN4, registration C374, at Leaside Aerodrome, in southern Toronto, when he stalled in a turn and his aircraft fell from 800 feet. He was killed on impact and the aircraft was engulfed in flames. Continue reading

Second Lieutenant Ralph Michael Cummings

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

Ralph Michael Cummings

Second Lieutenant Ralph Michael Cummings was typical of the young men who volunteered to fly with the Royal Flying Corps, only to be killed during training.

He was born on 15 December 1894 at Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, the eldest son of Michael and Minnie Cummings.[1] The family emigrated to Massachusetts in 1895, where a second son was born. Ralph Cummings became a naturalised citizen of the United States in 1913. Prior to his enlistment, he lived in West Bridgewater and work as a salesman for R. H. Stearns & Co. Continue reading

Cadet Wilfred Cecil Alcock

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

The grave of Wilfred Cecil Alcock
The grave of Wilfred Cecil Alcock

The weekend of 24 November 1917 saw a series of accidents at the training airfields that made up Camp Taliaferro near Fort Worth in Texas. The newspapers of the day carried lured stories of multiple fatalities and mortally wounded aviators (see the gallery for an example) but the truth is somewhat simpler to recount. On Saturday 24 November Cadet Wilfred Alcock crashed into the undercarriage of another Curtis JN4 flying in formation and was killed instantly. The other pilot, Royal Flying Corps Cadet James Harold Thompson, crash landed and was injured but recovered. Another crash involving Cadet Eric Biddle was not the fatal event that the newspapers reported, and neither was that of Cadet Brailey Gish, although they were injured. A second fatality occurred on Monday 26 November when newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Frank Park Mathews fell in his aircraft from 2,500 feet. Only Alcock was British; Thompson was born in Canada but lived in the United States and Biddle, Gish and Mathews were Americans, the latter two being pilots of the Aviation Section, United States Army Signal Corps.[1] Continue reading

Cadet Kenneth MacDonald Kearney

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

The grave of Kenneth MacDonald Kearney
The grave of Kenneth MacDonald Kearney

Cadet Kenneth Kearney served briefly with the Royal Flying Corps in early 1918 before succumbing with pneumonia in Toronto during his initial training. He was born on 25 March 1894 in New Haven, Connecticut.[1] His father was born in New York of Irish parents; his mother was also born in New York but of Scottish parents; he was their only child. Continue reading

Cadet Palmer Wilkinson Taylor

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

Palmer Wilkinson Taylor
Palmer Wilkinson Taylor

Palmer Wilkinson Taylor was born on 10 March 1896 in Providence, Rhode Island, the youngest of the two children and only son of Frank and Harriett Taylor; he was of English stock—both sets of grandparents were born in England.[1] The family lived in Massachusetts before moving, sometime before 1910, to Santa Monica. In February 1913 his mother died and in 1915 Taylor began his studies at Stanford University.

Taylor abandoned his studies in order to enlist in the Royal Flying Corps. 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