Private William Christopher Byron

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 Private William Byron
The grave of Private William Byron

William Christopher Byron was born in Almonte, Ontario on 27 June 1889 the son of Joseph and Nellie Byron.[1] His mother was Scottish; she emigrated to Canada in 1887 and settled in Ontario, where she married his father, a Canadian. His father died when William Byron was an infant. Continue reading

Private Frank George Laramie

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

Private Frank George Laramie
Private Frank George Laramie

Frank George Laramie (baptised Francois) was born on 15 June 1894. at Windsor Mills, Quebec, one of the six children of Mitchell and Mary Laramie.[1] With the exception of Mary Laramie, the family were French-speaking Québécois and emigrated to the United States in 1903. In the early part of the 20thC, all of the men in the family worked as farm labourers near Smithfield, north of Providence, although Frank had also worked in a local mill.

Laramie enlisted on 8 March 1916 at Sherbrooke, Quebec and joined the 117th (Eastern Townships) Battalion (748755, Private). In May the Battalion moved to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and at the end of the month to Valcartier, where the Battalion’s early training was conducted. Laramie sailed for England with the Battalion on the RMS Empress of Britain, arriving on 24 August 1916. 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

Cadet James Austin Byrnes

Cadet James Byrnes was an American, living in New York, who enlisted in 1918 for service with the Royal Air Force. He was killed in a flying accident in Canada in June 1918.

The grave of Cadet James Byrnes
The grave of Cadet James Byrnes

James Austin Byrnes was born in Chicago, Illinois on 6 October 1893, the second of the six children of Robert and Margaret Byrnes.[1] His parents were English-born of Irish ancestry; they emigrated to the United States in 1889 and settled in Chicago. Early in the new century, the family moved to New York, where they lived on Eagle Avenue. His father was a machinery inspector for the railroad; James became a railroad linesman and worked for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company—the operator of the New York subway. 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

Leading Seaman Sam Gordon Wills

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

Leading Seaman Sam Gordon Wills
Leading Seaman Gordon Wills

Sam Gordon Wills was born on 5 March 1887, the second of the six children of Francis and Harriet Wills, at South Town, Kenton, near Dawlish in Devon, where his father was a farm labourer.[1] By 1901 he was working as a yard boy for a family in Dawlish.

He enlisted into the Royal Navy at Devonport on 18 April 1906 and was numbered SS/1368—during his service he was known as ‘Gordon’.[2] After a short period of training ashore, he joined the crew of the battleship HMS Vengeance in the Channel Fleet. His second ship was another pre-dreadnought battleship, HMS Caesar, from June 1908 to May 1909, and he then joined the dreadnought HMS Temeraire. He was transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve on 29 April 1911. Continue reading