Private Joseph Honoré Deschenes

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

The grave of Joseph Deschenes
The grave of Joseph Deschenes

Joseph Honoré Deschenes was a French-Canadian born on 10 February 1898 at St. Aubert, Quebec the fourth of the nine children of Zoël and Clare Deschenes.[1] At the time of his enlistment he was working as a labourer in Letellier, a small Francophone community in Manitoba.

He enlisted on 20 December 1915 in Morris, Manitoba for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. When he enlisted he gave his year of birth as 1897, implying that he was two months short of his 19th birthday. Continue reading

Sapper John Barton Carter

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

The grave of Sapper John Barton Carter
The grave of Sapper John Barton Carter

The details of the early life of John Barton Carter are difficult to determine but it is clear that they bear no resemblance to the information he provided on enlistment in 1918. He was probably born on 3 June around 1866, possibly in or near Albia, Iowa, the son of Thomas and Lydia Carter.[1] He worked in Albia as a tailor.

Carter enlisted on 8 May 1918 in Toronto. Like many citizens of the United States, he concealed his place of birth, giving it as ‘Toronto’ and he concealed his true age, giving his date of birth as 3 June 1878. He joined the Railway Construction and Forestry Depot at Hamilton, Ontario for his initial training and was allocated the number 2500551. Continue reading

Private Patrick Bradley

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 Patrick Bradley
The grave of Private Patrick Bradley

Patrick Bradley was an Irishman, who enlisted in early 1918 but fell ill soon afterwards and was discharged. He was born at Cushybraken near Kilrea in County Antrim, Ireland on 15 January 1893[1] the son of Charles and Mary Bradley.[2] His father was a farmer, who died before the turn of the century.

His mother emigrated to the United States around 1904, with his older brother James, and settled in New York. Patrick remained in Cushybraken with his widowed maternal grandmother and his mother’s family. After he left school, he worked as a farm labourer. James returned to Ireland in 1909 and in January 1910 he sailed back to New York from Londonderry on the SS Furnessia with his brother Patrick. Both sons lived with their mother and Patrick found work in service. At the time of his enlistment he was a footman for Mrs Sterling Postley, who lived in a sumptuous apartment at 830 Park Avenue.[3] Continue reading

Lance Corporal Edwin Otterson Baker

The grave of Edwin Otterson Baker
The grave of Edwin Otterson Baker
Barbara Alice Baker
Barbara Alice Baker

Edwin Otterson Baker was born at Roanoke, Virginia on 12 October 1893,[1] the son of Herbert Baker and his first wife.[2] His mother had died by 1900 and his father subsequently remarried, Ethel Howard, on 24 June 1903. The following year the family emigrated to Canada, settling initially in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, where his younger half-sister, Barbara, was born in 1907.[3] By 1911 the family were living in Ottawa. Edwin later moved to Montreal, where he worked for a grocer.

He enlisted on 8 April 1916 in Montreal for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. For one reason or another he decided to conceal both his real name and his place of birth. He gave his name as Edward Oliver Brownlee and his place of birth as Portage la Prairie. He joined the 148th Battalion and was allocated the regimental number 842021. The Battalion, comprising 32 officers and 951 other ranks, sailed from Halifax on RMS Laconia[4] on 26 September 1916 arriving in England on 6 October and on that day he was promoted to Lance Corporal. Continue reading

Private Thomas Camp

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 Thomas Camp in Chattanooga National Cemetery
The grave of Private Thomas Camp in Chattanooga National Cemetery

Thomas Camp was an American of British descent born at Madisonville, Tennessee on 24 January 1896, the son of Charlie and Annie (née Arp) Camp. Little is known of his wider family but he worked as a baker and lived in Shooks Gap, a small settlement south-east of Knoxville.

He enlisted at Montreal on 6 February 1918 for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and joined the 1st Depot Battalion, Quebec Regiment, where he was allocated the number 3081869. Camp’s early service was spent in hospital until 15 May, when he was posted to Valcartier, the site of the largest training camp in Canada, to be employed as a baker. Continue reading

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 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 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

Lieutenant William Strong

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

Lieutenant William Strong, Canadian Machine Gun Corps
Lieutenant William Strong, Canadian Machine Gun Corps

This is a fight for humanity and I want to be in it.’[1]

William Strong came from prominent family in Washington DC—his paternal grandfather, also William Strong, was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.[2] His maternal grandfather, John Watkinson Douglass, had been President of the Board of Commissioners for Washington DC, as had his uncle, Henry Brown Floyd MacFarland. Reportedly, William Strong was the first man from Washington DC to volunteer to fight. He served with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps in France, before falling ill. He died in 1919. Continue reading

Private Charles Philip Gruchy

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

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Charles Philip Gruchy
The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Charles Philip Gruchy

Charles Philip Gruchy, a Canadian, served in France with the 3rd Battalion, where he was wounded. He succumbed to illness after the war while living in the United States; his death being attributable to his war service.

He was born at D’Escousse on Isle Madame in Nova Scotia on 12 June 1880.[1] His father, Peter William Gruchy, a merchant and trader, married his mother, Eliza Lucy (née Ward), in 1874. They had eight children, of which only three—Charles and his sisters Nellie and Violet—survived beyond childhood.[2]

After leaving school, Charles Gruchy worked as a bank clerk and he served for three years with 17th Field Battery, Canadian Artillery in the Non-Permanent Active Militia.

He enlisted for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force early in the war, on 12 August 1914, when he joined the Active Service Mobilisation Detachment of 27th Lambton Regiment (St. Clair Borderers). Continue reading