Lance Corporal Edwin Otterson Baker

The grave of Edwin Otterson Baker
The grave of Edwin Otterson Baker
Barbara Alice Baker
Barbara Alice Baker

Edwin Otterson Baker was born at Roanoke, Virginia on 12 October 1893,[1] the son of Herbert Baker and his first wife.[2] His mother had died by 1900 and his father subsequently remarried, Ethel Howard, on 24 June 1903. The following year the family emigrated to Canada, settling initially in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, where his younger half-sister, Barbara, was born in 1907.[3] By 1911 the family were living in Ottawa. Edwin later moved to Montreal, where he worked for a grocer.

He enlisted on 8 April 1916 in Montreal for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. For one reason or another he decided to conceal both his real name and his place of birth. He gave his name as Edward Oliver Brownlee and his place of birth as Portage la Prairie. He joined the 148th Battalion and was allocated the regimental number 842021. The Battalion, comprising 32 officers and 951 other ranks, sailed from Halifax on RMS Laconia[4] on 26 September 1916 arriving in England on 6 October and on that day he was promoted to Lance Corporal. Continue reading

Private Samuel Barnett

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 Samuel Barnett
The grave of Private Samuel Barnett

Samuel Barnett was born on 18 February 1879 in Belfast, Ireland, the eldest of the two sons of Matthew and Matilda Barnett.[1] He was a shipping clerk in Belfast before he emigrated to the United States in 1901 with his mother and his younger brother, Matthew. They lived on Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, a block from the Empire State Building; Samuel worked in New York as an underwriter.

On 11 February 1918 in New York he was examined and found fit for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and on 18 March he travelled by train via Niagara Falls to Toronto where he was attested and joined the 2nd Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment at Exhibition Camp; he was allocated the regimental number 3233160.

Although seemingly fit when he underwent his initial medical examination, from the time of his arrival in Toronto he felt under the weather and on 20 March he was sick in the cookhouse. He was taken to the hospital at Exhibition Camp in the early evening. There he was diagnosed as suffering from influenza and he soon developed pneumonia; he died of heart failure at 11.30pm on 23 March 1918. His body was returned home and he was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, on the northern side of the cemetery near the junction of 7th Avenue and 22nd Street, in Section J, Lot 33488. His mother and his brother are buried with him; their grave is unmarked. He is one of two First World War CWGC burials in that cemetery—the other is Cadet L H Thompson, Royal Air Force, who died on 30 October 1918.

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Samuel Barnett
The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Samuel Barnett

Private Samuel Barnett is commemorated on page 364 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 10 August. His father received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll. Continue reading

Major Ernest Arthur St George Bedbrook

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 Major Ernest Bedbrook
The Grave of Major Ernest Bedbrook

Ernest Arthur St George Bedbrook was born at Chatham Dockyard in Kent on 23 April 1879, the seventh of the 10 children of James and Matilda Bedbrook.[1] His father became ‘Chief Inspector of Machinery in Her Majesty’s Fleet’.

Educated at St. George’s College, Wimbledon, he became a civil engineer and joined the Civil Engineering Department of the Admiralty and later London County Council; in the latter appointment he was involved in the design of Greenwich generating station. He then worked for Messrs. Rendel & Robertson, Consulting Engineers for the India Office,[2] and was European representative of the Pennsylvania-based Midvale Steel Co. Continue reading

Private Thomas Camp

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

The grave of Private Thomas Camp in Chattanooga National Cemetery
The grave of Private Thomas Camp in Chattanooga National Cemetery

Thomas Camp was an American of British descent born at Madisonville, Tennessee on 24 January 1896, the son of Charlie and Annie (née Arp) Camp. Little is known of his wider family but he worked as a baker and lived in Shooks Gap, a small settlement south-east of Knoxville.

He enlisted at Montreal on 6 February 1918 for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and joined the 1st Depot Battalion, Quebec Regiment, where he was allocated the number 3081869. Camp’s early service was spent in hospital until 15 May, when he was posted to Valcartier, the site of the largest training camp in Canada, to be employed as a baker. Continue reading

Sapper Lee Arvel Moss

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

The grave of Private Lee Moss
The grave of Private Lee Moss

Lee Arvel Moss was born at Vigor, a community near Athens, in McMinn County, Tennessee on 4 March 1887, the second of the five children and eldest son of Hugh and Cammie Moss.[1]

At the time of his enlistment he was living in Montreal and, although a blacksmith by trade, he was working as a steam fitter. He was a member of the Militia, serving with 4th Field Company, Canadian Engineers. He enlisted on 10 August 1916 for service with the 5th Pioneer Battalion, giving his year of birth as 1883, and was allocated the regimental number 1078503. Continue reading

Corporal William Vannah Taylor

This is part of a series of three essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Tennessee. This account is incomplete, however, due to the process to digitise Canadian service records—it will be updated when his service record becomes available.

The grave of Corporal William Vannah Taylor
The grave of Corporal William Vannah Taylor

William Vannah Taylor IV was born on 4 December 1875 in Louisiana, the eldest of the six children of William Vannah Taylor III, a doctor (later the first mayor of the newly incorporated town of Olla, Louisiana) and Sarah Francis Davis.[1] Although he came from a long line of physicians—the previous four generations had produced doctors; his grandfather had served with the United States Navy as an Assistant Surgeon in the War of 1812—William V.Taylor IV entered the real estate business. Continue reading

Private Bert Lancelot Brennen

This essay is about the single First World War casualty commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Oregon.

Editor’s Note: Private Brennen was incorrectly commemorated by the CWGC as having died on 12 December 1918. His online record now reflects his correct date of death and his gravestone will be replaced.

The grave marker for Private Bert Lancelot Brennen
The grave marker for Private Bert Lancelot Brennen

Private Bert Brennen was an American of Irish descent—he hailed from Detroit, Michigan, where he was born on 24 March 1882. Little is known of his parents, wider family or his early life but by the time he enlisted in 1918 he was working as a motor mechanic in Barons, Alberta.[1] While living in Barons, he became engaged to Helena W. Comstock, a California-born chiropractor.[2]

Bert Brennen was not conscripted—he enlisted into the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Calgary, Alberta on 23 May 1918. He joined the 1st Depot Battalion, Alberta Regiment and was allocated the number 3207145. He had recently suffered from pneumonia and he was placed in medical category ‘C3’—defined as being fit only for sedentary duties at home. Continue reading