2016 Project Roundup

Amongst the aims of the project are a check of the accuracy of the details displayed on the headstones and the online commemorations by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Commission has been very supportive of the project and it is appropriate to highlight the successes thus far.

Of the five cases submitted, four were actioned without question and one remains in adjudication—a brief description of the corrected error appears at the beginning of each story, which may be found at the links below.

Leading Seaman Sam Gordon Wills

Fireman Low On

Private Bert Lancelot Brennen

Leading Seaman Peter Beatty

The case still being reviewed is that of Private Harry Ross, whose real name is believed to be Fooksman.

In addition, Southampton City Council has acknowledged the error on the city’s war memorial in relation to Private Joseph Henry Wosikowski. Disappointingly, the error was not corrected due to a shortage of money. It is hoped that a series of additions and amendments to the memorial will be made before Remembrance Day 2018.

Next month we will submit a series of new cases, most comprising minor errors, and we hope that 2017 will see equal success, including some new commemorations.

New Headstone for Company Serjeant Major George Mayer Symons

The new gravestone for George Symons, August 2016
The new gravestone for George Symons, August 2016

Warrant Officer Class 2, Company Serjeant Major, George Mayer Symons, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), attached to the British War Mission, died during the influenza epidemic at Camp Lee, Virginia on 8 October 1918. He was buried in Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg.

Unfortunately, his grave marker was incorrectly inscribed. The error was first identified by Betsy Dinger, a Park Ranger of the National Parks Service responsible for the cemetery. In conjunction with the CWGC team in Ottawa, she obtained a new, correctly inscribed headstone and stored it pending the refurbishment of the cemetery. Continue reading

A Stranger in a Strange Land ‘

That old phrase describes the seaman who dies in New York, who lies alone in the hospital, or sometimes in the Institute. He turns to us when the end is near, confident that to us he is not a stranger, that what is left when he no longer can worry or arrange, will be reverently cared for.’[1]

Seamen's Church Institute Plot, The Evergreens Cemetery, BrooklynThe Seamen’s Church Institute plot in the Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, has the second largest number of First World War CWGC graves in a single plot in the United States—the largest, with 10 men of the Royal Flying Corps and one from the Royal Air Force, being in Greenwood Memorial Park, Fort Worth, Texas.[2]

There are nine CWGC burials in the plot:

Trimmer Walter John Joseph Bowles, Mercantile Marine Reserve
Able Seaman Thomas Drinkwater, Royal Navy
Private William Richard Eveleigh, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Leading Seaman William Charles John Geeves, Royal Naval Reserve
Trimmer Percy Samuel Tomas Hyett, Mercantile Marine Reserve
Able Seaman Patrick McDonagh, Royal Naval Reserve
Stoker 1st Class Henry John Gardner Miller, Royal Navy
Scullion William Bertram Parr, Mercantile Marine Reserve
Stoker 1st Class Alfred Weeden, Royal Navy

The history of ministries serving the needs of merchant sailors on the eastern seaboard of the United States began in Boston in the period after the war of 1812 with the founding of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Improvement of Seamen. Similar ministries were founded in New York—the Marine Bible Society in 1817, and the New York Port Society in 1818. Continue reading

Remembrance Day 2015 – Laurel Grove South Cemetery, Savannah

The grave of Private James Stewart, 11 November 2015
The grave of Private James Stewart, 11 November 2015

On Remembrance Day 2015, the Canadian Armed Forces contingent stationed in the United States at Fort Gordon, Georgia, held an act of remembrance at the grave of Private James Stewart.

Private Stewart was an African-American from Savannah, Georgia, who enlisted for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and served with No.2 Construction Company attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps in the Jura region in south-east France, and at Alençon in northern France. He died in Canada on 19 December 1919 and was buried in  Laurel Grove South Cemetery, Savannah four days later.

The event was organised by Corporal Allan Gudlaugson and the photographs were taken by Marie-Carole Gallien.

The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery

And the last land he found, it was fair and level ground
About a carven stone,
And a stark Sword brooding on the bosom of the Cross
Where high and low are one.

Canadian Cross of Sacrifice, Arlington National Cemetery
Canadian Cross of Sacrifice, Arlington National Cemetery

Rudyard Kipling’s verse from The King’s Pilgrimage—the visit of King George V to war cemeteries in France and Flanders in 1922—highlights three iconic aspects of the commemoration of the war dead of the two world wars by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[1] Firstly, the huge Stone of Remembrance in the larger cemeteries—the ‘great war stone’ was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to be abstract and to avoid association with any particular religion. Secondly, and in contrast, the elegant Cross of Sacrifice designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. Finally, the equality of treatment for all war dead regardless of rank, nationality, creed or race.

In the United States there are no Stones of Remembrance. There are, however, two Crosses of Sacrifice. The cross is in all CWGC cemeteries where there are more than 40 war graves, which explains its presence in Oakwood Cemetery Annexe in Montgomery, Alabama. There are 78 graves from the Second World War in the cemetery, all airmen who died during training.

The other cross is in Arlington National Cemetery. There are only 32 graves in Arlington and that cross serves another purpose. It is a memorial, specifically to the citizens of the United States who gave their lives while serving in the armed forces of Canada in the First and Second World Wars and in Korea. Continue reading

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission

I am very pleased to announce that the project has been endorsed by:

WW1_logo_v2The project will advance the aims of the Commission[1] through:

Education: Informing national and local audiences about the participation of the United States and Americans in the First World War outwith the AEF.

Commemoration: Achieving recognition of the service and sacrifice of Americans, who may otherwise be forgotten because they were not serving with the AEF.

Memorials: Identifying and cataloguing memorials to American casualties, including CWGC and private grave markers, that may otherwise not be recognized.


1. (Back) ‘The Commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One; encouraging private organizations and State and local governments to organize and participate in activities commemorating the centennial of World War I; facilitating and coordinating activities throughout the United States relating to the centennial of World War One; serving as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans for the centennial of World War One; and developing recommendations for Congress and the President for commemorating the centennial of World War One.’

Cemeteries

The cemeteries and columbaria in which there are Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorations are spread across 42 states.

We have now completed a survey of the cemeteries and have updated their names, addresses and locations. A list of cemeteries with zip codes, organised by state, may be found on this new page. Due to changes to cemetery names and addresses over the years, the details may differ from those shown on the CWGC website.

Sunburst Cemetery, Lake Logan, North Carolina and the grave of Private Baxter Franklin, who served in France and Flanders with the 10th Battalion, 1st Canadian Division and died in Toronto on 10 December 1918.
Sunburst Cemetery, Lake Logan, North Carolina and the grave of Private Baxter Franklin, who served in France and Flanders with the 10th Battalion, 1st Canadian Division and died in Toronto on 10 December 1918.