Private George Melvin Atkinson

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 George Atkinson
The grave of Private George Atkinson

Private George Atkinson was a Canadian-born farmer from Clinton County, New York. He is the oldest casualty researched thus far—he was born in 1858, adjusted his age by 14 years when he enlisted, and died just before his 59th birthday. Three of his sons, all born in the United States, served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France. Continue reading

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

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.

Editor’s Note: Leading Seaman Wills was incorrectly commemorated by the CWGC as ‘Leading Seaman Gordon Willis’ His online record now reflects his correct name and his gravestone will be replaced.

Leading Seaman 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

Fireman Low On

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

Editors update, March 2016: For many years the CWGC recorded this seaman’s name as ‘Ou Loo’, believed to be the consequence of a series of transcription errors. That error has now been adjusted and he is correctly commemorated as ‘ Low On’. His gravestone will be replaced.[1]

The grave of Fireman Low On
The grave of Fireman Low On

Fireman Low On is one of the few casualties buried in the United States who died as a result of enemy action.

He was born in the mid-1880s in Guangdong province in southern China. There is no record of his early life or when he became a mariner but he signed on for service with SS Diomed in Hong Kong on 14 March 1918. Continue reading

Private William Richard Eveleigh

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 William Richard Eveleigh
The grave of Private William Richard Eveleigh

William Richard Eveleigh was born on 29 June 1881 at Dartington near Totnes in Devon, the sixth of the ten children of John and Harriet Eveleigh.[1] The family moved to Rattery in 1892. His father and brothers were farm labourers and that is how William Eveleigh was employed until he enlisted into the Royal Marine Light Infantry at Totnes on 28 August 1899. He was allocated the number 9932.

The badge of the Royal Marine Light Infantry
The badge of the Royal Marine Light Infantry

After his recruit training at the Depot at Deal, he finished his training as a ship’s gunner at Plymouth and joined the cruiser HMS Niobe on 10 December 1900—she acted as an escort for troopships at the latter stages of the South African War but he joined the ship too late to receive the Queen’s South Africa Medal. After a period ashore at Devonport he then served almost continually with the Fleet, interspersed with brief periods ashore. Continue reading