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

Private Leonard Bowman

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 Leonard Bowman
The grave of Private Leonard Bowman

In the village of Liberty in Sullivan County, New York, just prior to Remembrance Day 1921, a ‘Soldiers’ Circle’ was proposed by Liberty Cemetery Association. It was proposed particularly for ‘those veteran dead who have no families or friends to give them a fitting burial place ’.[1]  One of the first soldiers to be buried there was Private Leonard Bowman, an Englishman, who had been wounded serving in France with 116th Battalion in 3rd Canadian Division.

His family name was, in fact, Bouman—his father, Bernard, was Dutch and worked as a ladies’ tailor in London. Leonard was born in West Hampstead on 4 September 1887, the fifth of the seven surviving children of Bernard and his wife Sarah.[2] 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.

Lieutenant Robert Archer Bowlby

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

Miss Ruth Elliott and Robert Archer Bowlby
Miss Ruth Elliott and Robert Archer Bowlby

Robert Archer Bowlby is one of two American dancers to feature in this project—the other, much more famous, is Vernon Castle, who is buried in the same cemetery in New York. There are numerous newspaper reports, and records of talks given by Lieutenant Bowlby, that testify to his war service in France, his shell shock and subsequent role in support of the War Bond drives in the United States. His service was more prosaic, however—he made it to England before falling sick and being diagnosed with a heart condition, which resulted in his return to Canada and discharge. 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 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