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 second, 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

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