This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Massachusetts.
‘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.’
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. 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 →
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.
James Austin Byrnes was born in Chicago, Illinois on 6 October 1893, the second of the six children of Robert and Margaret Byrnes. 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 →