Cadet William Becker Hagan

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

William Becker Hagan

I had to put my hand on the Bible and swear in the King’s name, but this did not bother me when I thought that after all it was for the one big cause.’[1]

After graduating high school, William Becker Hagan decided that he would serve as soon as he was able with the American Field Service in France. On his return to United States, he went to Canada and joined the Royal Air Force.

He was born on 12 February 1898 at Brookline, Massachusetts, the second child and eldest son of Oliver and Josephine Hagan—his father was from Alabama and worked as a leather salesman.[2] Bill Hagan was educated at the Huntington School and the Stone’s School before attending Phillips Academy, the prestigious  private boarding school for boys.

Immediately following his graduation, Hagan joined the American Field Service. Continue reading

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

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

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

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