Cadet William Joseph King

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

The grave of Wiliam Joseph King

William Joseph King was born in late 1892/early 1893 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Little is known about his family or his early life. On 4 January 1916, he married Josephine Freeman at the Borough Hall in Brooklyn, New York. His wife was a professional singer, who performed under the name ‘Dolly Grey’.[1] King worked as a car salesman in New York, while his wife pursued her stage career in the United States and in South America.

Josephine King aka ‘Dolly Grey’, 1917

King enlisted into the Royal Flying Corps as a cadet in Toronto on 24 September 1917. After his ground training at No.4 School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Toronto, he travelled to Texas where he learned to fly. Continue reading

Second Lieutenant Arnold Whittier Hill

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

Arnold Whittier Hill

Arnold Whittier Hill was born in Malden, Massachusetts on 13 June 1897, the only son and eldest child of Arthur and Josephine Hill.[1] He attended school in Malden, where he demonstrated an early interest in flying.

He volunteered in Boston for service with the Royal Flying Corps and enlisted in Toronto on 4 January 1918. After attendance at No. 4 School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Toronto, he travelled to Texas where he learned to fly. Transferred to the Royal Air Force upon its formation on 1 April 1918, he was commissioned on 27 June. Hill was selected for training as an instructor and posted to the School of Special Flying at Armour Heights in Toronto. On 13 July 1918, he was flying Curtis JN4, registration C374, at Leaside Aerodrome, in southern Toronto, when he stalled in a turn and his aircraft fell from 800 feet. He was killed on impact and the aircraft was engulfed in flames. Continue reading

Cadet Frederick William Henderson

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

The grave of Frederick William Henderson

Fred Henderson was another young flying cadet who fell ill and died at the early stages of his training in Toronto. He was born at Kendal Green, Massachusetts on 31 July 1898, the third child and second son of George and Maggie Henderson.[1] His father was a farm manager and both of his parents had immigrated to the United States from New Brunswick in Canada. Continue reading

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 December 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 James William Burke

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

The grave of James William Burke

James William Burke is one of the earliest casualties commemorated by the project and one of the youngest. He was born at Southborough, Massachusetts on 13 February 1897, the fourth of the five children of James and Mary Burke.[1] His father was a naturalised citizen from Ireland who had settled in Massachusetts after immigrating in 1882; he worked as a gardener and his son became an ostler.

James Burke enlisted early in the war, on 22 November 1914 at Halifax, Nova Scotia, aged only 17. He lied about his age, giving his year of birth as 1893. He joined the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Rifles) and was allocated the number 575. Recruiting had begun for the Battalion in early November with the Battalion destined to be part of the Second Division of Canadians sent to Europe. As an American he was not alone in joining the 25th Battalion—a number of small groups of men had made their way north from New England to enlist in Halifax.[2] Continue reading

Second Lieutenant Ralph Michael Cummings

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

Ralph Michael Cummings

Second Lieutenant Ralph Michael Cummings was typical of the young men who volunteered to fly with the Royal Flying Corps, only to be killed during training.

He was born on 15 December 1894 at Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, the eldest son of Michael and Minnie Cummings.[1] The family emigrated to Massachusetts in 1895, where a second son was born. Ralph Cummings became a naturalised citizen of the United States in 1913. Prior to his enlistment, he lived in West Bridgewater and work as a salesman for R. H. Stearns & Co. Continue reading

Captain Charles Hareward Becker

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 Charles Hereward Becker

Captain Charlie Becker was commissioned into The East Surrey Regiment in November 1915. He served in France with the 8th and 9th (Service) Battalions, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) in 36th Brigade, 12th Division. Wounded serving with the former in April 1917, he went back out to France but was sent home and placed on light duties after a short period with the latter. In July 1918, he arrived in the United States for duty as an instructor with the British War Mission at Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, Ohio. On 8 August 1918, he was killed in a motor accident, aged 21, and was buried in Grandview Cemetery, Chillicothe. His grave is in the southern part of the cemetery in Section 10, Lot 29, Grave 67.

A very detailed essay about the life of Charlie Becker is reproduced here with the permission of the author Doug Rowe.

Charles Hareward Becker