Born November 9, 1893, in New York City. Son of Bernard and Valeska Hager Miller. Educated New York schools. Enlisted U. S. Navy, 1911; attached U. S. S. Des Moines and U. S. S. Leonida. Honorably discharged, 1914. May to August, 1916, International Mercantile Marine Lines, cadet officer, S. S. Siberia and Philadelphia. Joined American Field Service, December 2, 1916; attached Vosges Detachment until June 2, 1917. Enlisted French Aviation, June 10, 1917. Trained Avord, Juvisy, and le Plessis-Belleville. Breveted October 10, 1917. Transferred to U. S. Aviation. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, April 1, 1918; attached First Observation Group. Killed in aerial combat, August 3, 1918, north of Château-Thierry. Buried there.
IN 1916, before this country had declared war against Germany, Walter Bernard Miller, a lad of German parentage but a citizen of the United States, volunteered to serve France and went to drive an ambulance on French soil. His action embodies the great triumph of the cause of democracy --- the supremacy of an ideal over all racial prejudices.
Son of Bernard Miller, Walter was born in New York City where he received both his elementary and high school training, being orphaned by the tragic death of his parents in the Slocum disaster. Upon the completion of his schooling, he enlisted at eighteen in the United States Navy. During his four years of service he was present on the U. S. S. Des Moines at the scene of several West Indian and Central and South American revolutions and pseudo-revolutions. He was in Tampico, Mexico, during the critical times of 1914, and on the U. S. S. Leonida he went out with the Naval Survey. Something of a soldier of fortune, yet first, last, and always, he was, in the best sense, a soldier, and a soldier of the highest standing. Lieutenant Hinricks, his division officer on the Des Moines during 1913 and 1914, testifies that . .. . . . . Miller never neglected his duties or the less thrilling routine ship's work, and did everything he was called upon to do, cheerfully."
He received his honorable discharge, and entered the International Mercantile Marine Lines in May of 1916. Miller was a cadet officer on the steamships Siberia and Philadelphia for three months, shortly thereafter joining the American Field Service.
December 2, 1916, he sailed on the Rochambeau for France and upon his arrival was, with six of his countrymen, organized into the Vosges Detachment, which continued in Alsace the work begun by Section Three. Here for six months he labored, driving his ambulance over some of the steepest and most dangerous mountain roads of the western front. Joseph R. Greenwood writes of this work: "While the Vosges Detachment made no records for 'number of kilometres run' still it played its part . . . . . It kept alive in the minds of the Alsatians the knowledge that America was with them in spirit even before we entered the war . . . . . ..
When the term of his enlistment expired, America had entered the war and Miller sought more active service. He enlisted with the Lafayette Flying Corps and received his training with the French. When United States aviators arrived in France he transferred to the 1st Observation Group as a Second Lieutenant. A comrade writes of him in the history of the Lafayette Flying Corps: "Those of us who lived in the same barrack with Miller will never forget him --- his gaiety, his optimism, his generosity, his fine careless courage. On dreary evenings . . . . . it was Miller who cheered us with his inexhaustible repertory of songs and stories . . . . . On the front he earned the reputation of an indefatigable flyer, aggressive, determined, and brave as a lion."
On August 3, 1918, in the fighting between Soissons and Fismes, Lieutenant Miller, with eight companions met a squadron of thirty Fokkers, and was shot down. A fellow aviator says that he was "the oddest, drollest, and most likable of men. His life was a kaleidoscopic succession of adventures by land and sea; surveying the coast of Central America, running shells through the submarine blockade to Archangel, driving an ambulance on the Western Front, piloting an aeroplane in some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and meeting death in an epic combat against thirty enemy machines."
Walter Bernard Miller is mourned as an individual by those who knew and loved him, and by generations to come he will be honored as one who helped lay the cornerstone for the foundations of a real brotherhood of men.
Born July 13, 1895, in Somerville, Massachusetts. Son of Charles L. and Dora Smith Ellis. Educated Somerville schools and Massachusetts Normal Arts School, Class of 1919. Taught at Peabody Settlement House, Boston. Joined the American Field Service, May 5, 1917; attached Section Twenty-eight. Enlisted in U. S. A. Ambulance Service, September 17, 1917. Killed by shell in action at Reims, August 7, 1918. Buried Seringes-et-Nesles, Aisne. Body transferred to Longley Cemetery, Sidney, Maine.
LONG before Clayton Carey Ellis made his ultimate sacrifice in the service of France he had earned, by the happy combining of likable personality and abilities well above the average, the esteem and affection of his French and American comrades in the war just as earlier he had of his schoolmates. "I should not know how to say which was the greater --- the admiration or the love I felt for him" said the aumonier of the division in writing to Clayton's parents, and went on "c'était, sans exagération, l'un des meilleurs jeunes gens que dans ma carrière de prêtre, il m'a été donné d'approcher, et comme le tout était recouvert de la plus sincère modestie, j'affirme, sans crainte, que le très cher Clayton représentait à mes yeux l'idéal du jeune homme." "His sincerity and gentleness were as much a part of him as his sense of duty," wrote Frederic Colie, a fellow driver in Clayton's section. A memorial notice published by the art school he had attended spoke of "his power for leadership," saying that "Clayton's influence within the school was strong, wholesome, and fine --- all regarded him as a friend." At high school, too, he won exceptional popularity, being class president for four years. In addition he was a splendid athlete, and had a very fine tenor voice. He possessed also marked aptitude for painting.
Clayton was studying art in Boston and doing settlement work in addition when America declared war. He seized his opportunity and sailed for France in May with a Dartmouth unit of the Field Service which went to the front as Section Twenty-Eight. Of him a brancardier priest, le pasteur Caldesaignes, said "None of those who had been in close contact with him could otherwise than become attached to him."
He was quiet and practical, a conscientious, enthusiastic worker, "volontaire pour toutes les missions périlleuses" says his army citation for the Croix de Guerre. In describing his reactions Clayton himself found that "like everything I have ever done I have entered this work with no greater thrills than those experienced on the hay press or the football field --- just a matter of business on hand to be done according to my best judgment." To his former schoolmates his letters were "constant, cheerful, and optimistic" and his work abroad was done "in the same buoyant spirit known and remembered in studios and classrooms." With many interests and broad sympathies Clayton was very sensitive to the suffering of others. "Nothing disheartens me," he said, "as when I've done all in my power to give my man an easy trip, feeling his pains at every bump, suffering with him during long waits on the road, and then to see him die as he is taken from the car." He had hoped, upon enlisting in the ambulance service for the duration of the war, that he might secure a non-commissioned officer's rank but he was not one of those first selected and he remarked philosophically "so I must play the good soldier until my turn comes --- if it ever does." His sense of humor and good temper lifted him over many difficulties, much as he says "my old voiture has carried me safely through quite a bit. Never failed me in time of need --- in fact we are two of a kind: built not for speed but for service."
He did not fail or falter once in his service. On the night of August 6th, after midnight, he was carrying wounded through the shadowy, blasted streets of Reims when a shell struck close and a splinter pierced Clayton's head, killing him instantly. In the words of his schoolmates, "he died as he had lived bravely doing his duty as he saw it, and in the cause of his fellowmen." "This is warfare" a comrade wrote "a man lives from minute to minute," and to the end Clayton Ellis lived his every minute well.
Born March 20, 1894, in Hanson, Massachusetts. Son of Albert F. and Lucy Reynolds Barker. Home, West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Educated Brockton schools and Rhode Island State College, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, May 19. 1917; attached Transport Section 184 to November 13, 1917---joined Mallet Reserve of U. S. Motor Transport Corps. Sergeant. Transferred, March, 1918, to 16th U. S. Infantry as private. Died August 10, 1918, in American hospital near Paris, of wounds received in action, July 20-22 near Soissons. Cited, U. S. Army orders. Buried American Cemetery, Suresnes, Seine. Body to be transferred to Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson, Massachusetts.
COMPANY I, 16th Infantry, First Division, pushed through the wheatfields in the outskirts of Soissons on the morning of July 20, 1918, occupying the post of honor in the center of the counter attack. The company objectives had almost been reached with only slight casualties, when suddenly the men found themselves on the parapet of an occupied German trench and at the same moment a terrible cross-fire broke out from hidden machine gun nests. The company had no orders to retire so they stayed. When they were extricated from the trap a few days later by the victorious advance, at roll call Company I numbered twenty-four men and no officers, and Private Robert Harris Barker was listed among the "missing in action." The story is incomplete. We can only guess at the deeds of heroism that were performed out there in the wheatfield,---the sacrifices that were made, ---the splendid courage and devotion that enabled the shattered platoons to hold on when it seemed they must retreat. But we are sure that Robert was in the midst of it fighting joyously, madly, when he was struck down. How long he lay badly wounded in the head and arms, without medical aid, we do not know. He was finally sent to an American base hospital outside of Paris, and there in the evening of August 10, his life went out with the fading day. He was buried in the cemetery of Suresnes just across the Seine from the Bois de Boulogne where he had loved to roam during the early days in Paris in the American Field Service.
As a small boy Robert showed the spirit that was his. One winter, just before his thirteenth birthday, he was struck and severely wounded by a double-runner sled. Though suffering intensely and almost unconscious from loss of blood the little fellow's first thought was to exonerate the boy who had run into him. At the age of fifteen he was enrolled in a Y. M. C. A. class and though on account of his size he was put among the older boys, he won the all-around athletic contest. An injured knee prevented his taking a prominent part in school athletics, but nevertheless he was a leader in his class at the Brockton High School and at the time of his sailing for France was President of its Alumni Association.
He entered the American Field Service on May 19, 1917, and was assigned to T. M. U. 184 in the camion branch. He was an excellent driver and a responsible soldier. In October he enlisted in the United States Army as a member of the Mallet Reserve but at the same time sent in his application for transfer to infantry, writing to his father, "Someone in the family ought to do their bit and that bit should be a mighty big piece. The logical one to do it is Bob." He took his step coolly, with his eyes wide open to its worst possible consequences. In March his transfer arrived and he went immediately to the 16th Infantry, leaving behind a sergeant's warrant. From that time on no word was received from him, for, according to a comrade who has given us the only account of Robert's death, "The regiment was kept so busy in the trenches that only two lots of mail were delivered and none sent out." This same friend tells of Robert's service, as Captain's Signal Man, of the zest with which he undertook dangerous assignments such as night patrols and scouting near the German lines, and of his cheerfulness and friendliness. He loved his fellows, particularly the rough, tobacco-chewing, big-hearted "buddies" of whom he wrote sympathetically, looking past their external coarseness into the goodness of their hearts. As he said in his last letter, "The army . . . . . creates a brotherly feeling among us all." It is fitting that these should be the last words from one who found in life so many brothers.
Born December 18, 1896, in Somerville, Massachusetts. Son of Willard C. and Clara Laycock Hill. Home, Lexington, Massachusetts. Educated Lexington Schools and Dartmouth College, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, May 5, 1917; attached Section Twenty-eight to October 2, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Army Ambulance Service. Wounded by shell, July 15, 1918, in Reims. Died August 14, 1918, at La Veuve Hospital, near Châlons-sur-Marne. Croix de Guerre with palm, and Médaille Militaire. Buried Military Cemetery, La Veuve, Marne.
IF we were to summarize in a word the qualities of Stanley Hill, we should say immediately, "cheerfulness." His was a most sunny, happy, generous nature, full of the joy of living and always responsive to the call of adventure. As a boy he was ready for any sort of game, and as he grew up that spirit grew with him. A classmate of his at Dartmouth tells of his going over the skijump at the Winter Carnival in spite of the fact that he had never done any jumping before, simply because he was unwilling to admit that he could not do it. In the simplicity with which he faced the problems of existence he recognized only success or failure, and he acknowledged no acquaintance with the word "cannot." His outlook on life was so straightforward, his sympathy so ready, his cheerfulness so infectious that we who were privileged in knowing him will always remember him with a particular tenderness.
On May 5, 1917, he sailed from New York with his brother in the American Field Service, writing to his mother just before the ship left the pier, "We are going into one of the noblest services that exists and we do not want you to feel badly . . . . . whatever may happen we want you to bear it bravely, as we know you will." Both he and his brother left Paris in Section 28 and were soon working in the midst of the heavy fighting in Champagne, where, on June 26th, his friend and college classmate, Paul Osborn, was killed while loading his car at an advanced post. Stanley wrote in a letter to his father telling of the tragedy, a sentence that has a striking interest in the light of his own unselfish death. "If anything happens to me, I pray God that I may be as noble, as courageous and as thoughtful of others as Paul was!"
"Stan" loved the French; soon he spoke the language easily, delighting particularly in absorbing all sorts of slang expressions with which he would regale a group of admiring poilus. His smile and unwavering good humor came to be known throughout the division where he was always warmly and affectionately made welcome. Miss Norma Derr, the author of "Mademoiselle Miss" describes him during the exhausting days of June, 1918, as he drove up to the hospital at Epernay. "He was white with dust and haggard after days and nights of steady driving, but just as buoyant and confident as in the old days in Bouleuse when the section was 'calm.'"
The German offensive of July 15, 1918, found Section 28 working in the Reims sector. Throughout that long memorable day they toiled, until at last the posts were temporarily cleared of wounded. As several of the men, worn out with fatigue and hunger, were snatching a hasty bite for the first time that day, a call came in for three more cars. Stanley was the first out on the road. Not far from the hospital on his return trip, a shell struck beside the car wounding him in the forehead. He was taken to the hospital at La Veuve and it was thought he would live. He regained consciousness and even wrote to his family in his cheery way, concerned only for the anxiety of his parents. In one of these two letters he wrote, "All goes well except that I worry as to how you are bearing up under the strain of not knowing just what happened to me."
On August 12th meningitis suddenly set in, and Stanley dropped into unconsciousness, waking only on the morning of the 14th, to answer a question as to how he felt. "All right," he said, with a faint smile, undaunted and cheerful in the face of death as he had been throughout his life. He died at ten o'clock that night and his friends felt that a light had gone out.
Born May 3, 1894, in Seattle, Washington. Son of David and Carrie Wainwright Bruce. Home, Lawrence, Massachusetts. Educated Phillips Academy, Andover, and Harvard University, Class of 1915. Teaching staff, Andover. Plattsburg, 1916. Joined American Field Service, April 28, 1917; attached Transport Section 526 to August 28, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation. First Lieutenant; Paris Defense Squadron. Attached 94th Pursuit Squadron, July, 1918. Killed in combat, August 17, 1918, over Cruaux. Buried American Cemetery, Fismes, Marne.
ONE of Alexander Bern Bruce's fellow instructors at Andover has described him as "the most reticent, silent man I have ever known"; and Major Fuess says in his book, "Phillips Academy, Andover, in the Great War," " In the early days of our war many men talked much about what they planned to do. 'Alec' Bruce said very little: but when the hour struck, he did more than talk, he went. His career is an inspiration to all true Americans." Quiet, modest, unassuming, he possessed unusual strength of character, and was a brilliant scholar, graduating cum laude from Andover in 1911 and being elected to the Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard. His friends speak of his faithfulness and conscientiousness and of the implicit trust that he inspired among all who had dealings with, him.
In the fall of 1915 he went back to Andover as an instructor and when American participation in the war seemed imminent he took a leading part in the formation of the Andover Unit of the American Field Service.. Together with the majority of the unit he volunteered for the camion branch and served with T. M. U. 526B for four months. At the conclusion of his term of enlistment he joined the American Air Service. There were no heroics about his resolution; as a companion said, "In his quiet, determined sort of way, he simply made up his mind and went ahead." He had a very real and deep-rooted patriotism that was not dissipated in flag-waving, but which on the contrary took him into the midst of fighting so quietly and so surely that his decision seemed inevitable, as indeed it was. His first assignment after being commissioned as a flyer was to the patrol that protected the Paris district against air-raids. In spite of the fact that Paris was bombed almost every day and his work in consequence valuable and dangerous, he felt his service inadequate and made frequent requests for transfer to front-line duty. Finally to his great satisfaction and relief he was sent out to the famous 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron, which even at this early date had a large number of Hun planes to its credit. His death has been described by Major Fuess. "On August 17, 1918, while he was engaged in combat over Cruaux with several German planes, his machine brushed wings with that of another pilot, and he fell nearly two miles. Although his body was not mangled, his neck was broken and he was evidently killed instantly."
"Alec's" letters to his mother, to whom he wrote almost daily with characteristic thoughtfulness, were cheerfully, almost playfully, optimistic, showing a side of his personality that did not often appear in conversation. They were exceptionally well-written, but with his usual modesty he refused to give his consent to their publication in spite of the constant demands of relatives. The beautiful quality of his spirit is illustrated by a friend. "He wrote letters frequently to small children and they were not the least of the fine things he did well." To be like "Alec" Bruce was the goal of many a youngster. What his comrades thought of him is shown by one who wrote, "Everybody who knew him recognized him as one of the cleanest, most straightforward chaps in the crowd." Another friend who had known him well at home said, "In the years he had lived, few as they were, he made a record of brilliant achievements in the classroom and on the battlefield. Surely he has not lived in vain."
Born April 5, 1895, in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Son of Samuel F. and Edith Corlies Houston. Educated Chestnut Hill Academy and University of Pennsylvania, Class of 1916. Battery "C," State Guard. Mexican Border, 1916. Joined American Field Service, January 8, 1917 attached Section Twelve. French Officers' Automobile School, Meaux. Chef Adjoint, Transport Section 133 to July 30, 1917. Croix de Guerre, Returned to America. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, Aide, Commanding General's Staff, 53d Artillery Brigade. Trained Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as flying observer. First Lieutenant, U. S. Field Artillery, 28th Division. Killed by shell, August 18, 1918, near Arcis-le-Ponsart, Marne. Buried Suresnes, Seine.
ONE of the truest things which can be said of Henry Houston is that no matter where his duty lay he gave himself always with whole heartedness, self-effacement and loyalty. A member of Section Twelve from its beginning, he rendered faithful and courageous service on -the Verdun front during the winter and spring of 1917, for which he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre by the 132nd Division of French Infantry on April 15th of that year. Early in May he was selected as one of the first group of fifteen men, mostly heads of sections, to be sent to the French Officers' Training School at Meaux. Upon completion of this course, at a time when too many volunteers were considering where they preferred to serve rather than where their services were needed, he placed himself unconditionally at the disposal of the Field Service Headquarters to be assigned as they saw fit, and as head of a camion section, T. M. U. 133, he proved himself a wise and devoted officer.
In August, 1917, he resigned his command under the Field Service and returned to America to accept a commission as aide on the staff of General William G. Price, Jr., commanding the 53rd Artillery Brigade. It was with this brigade that he had served on the Mexican border, immediately after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, during the summer and fall of 1916, in the First Pennsylvania Field Artillery (107th U. S. F. A.), and of which he had written while in the camion service: "I still have hankerings toward the artillery,--- first loves are strongest, you know."
He took up the new task with a determination to use to the utmost his rare advantage of previous military service with the brigade and six months' experience with the armies at the front. How well he succeeded is evidenced by the following quotation from a letter written by General Price: "Rejoining his old brigade, he brought with him a deep knowledge of conditions of service in France, which was of inestimable value to the brigade in its preparations for service there. To me personally he was of great comfort and assistance; his services during the training period, lecturing on subjects which came under his observation prior to the United States' entry into war, and during his aerial training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, from which he graduated as a flying observer, were of great value."
During the long, anxious months of training, both in America and France, the example of his never failing cheerfulness and devotion to duty helped many a fellow officer or enlisted man over the pitfalls and discouragements inevitable in the building up of a successful fighting unit, and thus affected in no small degree the morale of the entire brigade. The fact that his name was chosen for the American Legion Post at Germantown, Pennsylvania, the second largest post in the state, is a proof of the esteem in which his comrades held him. He was killed on August 18th, 1918, near Arcis le Ponsart, having volunteered to go to a position near the lines to give instructions regarding the proper liaison between the air forces and batteries.
Of his death General Price writes: "As his commanding officer I can not find words to express the sense of loss we all felt, the realization by all of his sterling worth, his value as an officer and his promised value as a citizen. Thoughtful, unselfish, kind and brave, he died as I believe he would, could he have chosen, facing the enemy in battle, fearless and with a sublime confidence in the future life which his associates well knew he had.
"Thus he died, a Christian gentleman, a soldier who loved humanity, his country, and his God."
Born April 19, 1897, in Chicago, Illinois. Son of Norman and Katherine Austin Craig. Home, Cleveland, Ohio. Educated St. John's Military Academy, Delafield, Wisconsin; Cleveland East High School; and University of Wisconsin, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service, January 8, 1917; attached Section Twelve until July 9, 1917. Croix de Guerre. Returned to America; enlisted in U. S. Aviation. Trained in France and Italy. Commissioned First Lieutenant; attached French Escadrille 129. Killed in combat, August 20, 1918. Croix de Guerre with palm. Buried French Cemetery, Pierrefonds, Oise. Body transferred to American Cemetery, Romagne-Sous- Montfaucon, Meuse.
Oh, it isn't in words that they show it --
Words are too feeble to tell what they feel;
It's down in their hearts that they know it,
It's down in their souls that it's real.
So they stick to their work as they find it,
And forget the caprices of Chance,
For they know that the price of the big sacrifice,
Is little enough --- for France!"
R. A. D.
WHEN the appeal came for volunteer ambulanciers in France, Harry Worthington Craig, then a sophomore in the State University of Wisconsin, was among the first to offer his services. He sailed with his group early in January, 1917, and for the next six months he lost --- and more truly found --himself, in the grim realities he encountered in that tattered, grimy, bleeding fringe of the war --- the zone of the ambulanciers. All of his fresh vigour, and sense of outraged justice he poured into that work with S. S. U. 12, in the sector near Esnes and the Bois d'Avocourt, and later, in the Châlons sector.
His complete indifference to personal danger he demonstrated time and again, and France acknowledged her appreciation of this unselfish and splendidly fearless service by decorating him early for bravery under fire.
Before his six months' enlistment had expired, America had entered the war, and upon completing his term as an ambulancier Craig returned to this country, only to go back to France, immediately, under our flag. He enlisted in aviation, completing his training, and receiving his commission as First Lieutenant only two months before his death.
Here, as in the ambulance service, he distinguished himself by his courage and loyalty, and was again honored by the French Army in being awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm. Even in this world strife, where the individual must, of necessity, be blotted out in the great scheme of things, his record stands high among those of individual achievement --- primarily because of the thoroughness and forgetfulness of self with which he shouldered his particular responsibilities.
Lieutenant Craig never allowed the bitterness of war and its appalling grimness to overcast the natural buoyancy of his nature. Perhaps one of his greatest contributions to the winning forces was this undaunted optimism and cheeriness of his. His pilot writes that he was loved by every member of his Esquadrille because he was always happy and smiling, kind and considerate to everyone. And a sunny spirit was more precious than bullets in those days.
Lieutenant Craig was born April 19, 1897, and was killed in an encounter with a German plane, August 20, 1918. He was buried with all military honor among his brave companions, the French officers, in a small cemetery in Pierrefonds. He attended St. John's Military Academy at Delafield, Wisconsin, graduated from East High School in Cleveland, Ohio, and was embarked on his college career at Madison, Wisconsin, when he responded to the call of France.
In the History of the American Field Service is this tribute to the men of S. S. U. 12, who made the final sacrifice --- a tribute by a fellow ambulancier, which is particularly applicable to Harry Craig:
"We render these men all due honor, and salute them as comrades who never faltered in their duty, and who were over-eager to accept service of any kind. They went to their deaths as men should, serving their country to the last moment."
Born December 3, 1896, in Boston, Massachusetts. Son of Charles Henry Fiske, Jr., and Mary Thorndike Fiske. Educated Noble and Greenough and Country Day School. Trinity College, Cambridge, England, and Harvard University, Class of 1919. Plattsburg Camp, 1916. Joined American Field Service, August 13, 1916; attached Section Three in France and Balkans to June 30, 1917. Volunteer chauffeur with Major Palmer to September, 1917. Returned to America, enlisted U. S. Infantry, Camp Upton, January, 1918, 77th Division. Sailed April, as Sergeant. Commissioned Second Lieutenant; attached 111th Infantry, 28th Division, July, 1918. Died at Red Cross Hospital No. 3, Paris, August 24, 1918, of wounds received in action near Fismes, Marne, August 12th. Buried American Cemetery, Suresnes, Seine.
CHARLES HENRY FISKE, 3D, left Harvard at the end of his Freshman year to join the Field Service. He was immediately sent out to Section Three, then stationed near Pont-à-Mousson, on the Lorraine front. A month or so later, when this Section was offered the chance to go with the French troops to the Balkans, "Charley" volunteered to go with it, and for the next eight months he drove his ambulance along the front in Albania and northern Greece.
" Fiske was one of the youngest members of the Section," wrote an older man who was thrown much with him at the time, "but he made many friends among his fellow drivers. He was modest and unassuming and always showed the keenest and most dependable sense of duty."
When he returned to France from the Balkans in June, the United States had joined the Allies, and Fiske sought a chance to enter his country's army. At that time, however, enlistment was impossible in France, so for several months Fiske served as a volunteer driver for Major Frederick Palmer then in charge of the war correspondents attached to the American army. "Fiske had the gift," wrote Major Palmer, "of making a good first impression and improving it upon acquaintance. He was as dear to me as if he were my own son."
In September, 1917, he returned to America and, finding himself too young to be accepted at any officers' training camp, re-entered Harvard where he became a member of the Harvard Regiment. But his eager heart was overseas and, as soon as he became of age, he enlisted at Camp Upton, graduating early in April as an officer candidate.
From Camp Upton, Fiske was ordered to France with the 77th Division. He served with this division as a sergeant until July when he was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant and assigned to the 111th Infantry of the 28th Division.
Six days after joining the 28th Division, while on duty near the village of Fismettes, he was struck in the shoulder by the fragment of a shell. After an emergency operation had been performed in a field hospital he was sent back by a canal boat to Paris where he died, August 24th, in Red Cross Hospital No. 3, while undergoing a second operation. The funeral was held in the hospital on August 27th and his body was interred in the American Military Cemetery at Suresnes.
A friend, who knew and loved Fiske and who returned to America with him in 1917, wrote at the time of his death: "I think his first quality was his modesty. He never realized that everyone on shipboard watched him with admiration. Everyone I talked to asked me who that glorious boy was and what he had been doing. He, on the other hand, said to me more than once, 'It is foolish to think that anything you do or are is your own self. It is all the result of what some one else has done for you."'
Harvard University awarded him posthumously the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Two scholarships in his honor have also been established by his parents. One is to be given to a French student desirous of studying at Harvard and the other will be tenable at Trinity College, Cambridge, by an American nominated by the President and Fellows of Harvard University.
Born April 14, 1897, in Chicago, Illinois. Son of Samuel T. and Mabel Hitt Clover. Home, Richmond, Virginia, and Los Angeles, California. Educated Los Angeles and Pasadena schools, California; one year Leland Stanford University; Yale University, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service, May 19, 1917; attached Transport Section 133 to November 19, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation. Second Lieutenant. Killed in aeroplane accident August 30, 1918, training at Issoudun. Buried Issoudun, Indre.
OF all the qualities of character that distinguished Greayer Clover, perhaps the one that most fills the memory of his friends is his greatness of heart. He was as utterly incapable of thinking a mean or selfish thought as he was of "funking" in time of danger,---and courage, both moral and physical, was at the very foundation of his nature. His letters and his more formal sketches breathe loyalty ---loyalty to his ideals, his country and his friends. From his camion section he wrote, "There are forty of us in the section and each one has thirty-nine friends," and we know that he would have given his life for any of them because such was his plain understanding of friendship. "He had the kindest, tenderest and most generous heart that ever beat!" is the heart-broken cry of one of his closest friends. He loved children and they were quick to find in him a spirit as pure and fresh as their own. Of his generosity --- thoughtful, sacrificial generosity that took him often far out of his way to serve others---we have countless evidences. He "gave his own blankets and all of his sweaters and mufflers" to a family of Belgian refugees whom he discovered almost destitute in the winter of 1917-18, and he diverted every cent of his pay that he could spare, to their support." Many of us think of deeds such as that," a friend wrote, "but 'Grub' was one of the few who continually did them."
Greayer entered Yale in the fall of 1916 after a year at Leland Stanford Jr. University. As a schoolboy he had won the California interscholastic tennis cup and his athletic achievements continued at college. On April 17, 1917, he wrote to his father arguing for permission to join the American Field Service, closing with the cry, "And Oh! I want to make it France!" On May 19th, he sailed and in his father's words, "Never went a Crusader to the Holy Land with more zeal to serve." He served in the Camion Branch of the American Field Service until its absorption by the United States Army and then enlisted in aviation. On August 30, 1918, while flying across country over Romorantin, his plane skidded and crashed to the ground, killing him instantly.
"If so good a flyer as Greayer had to fall," Lieutenant J. R. Crowe, his "bunkie," killed two weeks later in the same way, wrote, "I know that it is all chance anyway."
His writings, which include a published volume of anecdotes under the title "A Stop At Suzanne's," betray a great deal of real literary ability, but more particularly they reveal the charm of his personality and the sincerity and fearlessness of his character. They indicate wide and intelligent reading, an intense love of music and a deep-seated admiration for France and the civilization that she represents, together with a quick and sympathetic appreciation of the humorous and the pathetic.
In the charming little sketch that gives the title to the book, Greayer tells of making his stop at "Suzanne's," --- that romantic inn where new-fledged aviators were welcomed in the brotherhood of the air. There he signed his name in the big book, below the names of Guynemer and Fonck and Bishop, with a boyish exalted thrill at the thought that those to come after might one day pause over his signature and remember him. That day has come and we cease turning the pages to bow silently over his name,---not because of the greatness of his achievements, but because of the beauty of his life. He did not have the good fortune to win his spurs in battle, but he leaves a record as imperishable as time itself,---that we may not forget.
Born January 22, 1896, in Moab, Utah. Son of judge C. J. and Mildred J. Elliott. Home, Oxnard, California. Educated Oxnard schools and University of California, Class of 1918. Alternate years at college and working with state and county highway commissions as engineer. Joined American Field Service, May 19, 1917; attached Transport Section 133 to November 17, 1917. Civilian engineer and inspector, Construction Department, U. S. Air Service, Romorantin. Recommended French Artillery School but remained at Pauillac with U. S. Naval Aviation. Died September 4, 1918, of typhoid fever, U. S. Naval Hospital Beaucaillon. Buried Naval Cemetery Pauillac, Gironde.
NOT content with being merely useful as a civilian engineer in one of the largest flying fields in France, William Armstrong Elliott of T. M. U. 133 felt the urge for combat work so keenly that he submitted to an operation to make him physically fit for actual flying. Immediately following the operation, typhoid fever set in and Elliott died in the Naval Hospital at Beaucaillon, France, September 4, 1918.
In appreciation of his fine sense of duty, the navy buried Elliott with full honors. "His funeral was attended by the officers and men of my command," wrote Commander F. T. Evans to Elliott's mother, "For although not a member of the military forces of the United States your son had indeed become a comrade in arms and has given his life in the service of the country he loved."
Elliott was born January 22, 1896, in Moab, Utah. He moved with his parents to Oxnard in California, in 1899. There he lived until 1912, when he entered the University of California. In the spring of 1917 he joined one of the university ambulance units leaving for volunteer service in France.
At the end of his enlistment with the American Field Service in November, 1917, Elliott became inspector in the construction department of the air service at Paris, and shortly after was sent to Romorantin to assist in the building of an industrial center for the aviation branch of the army. In June, 1918, with the pressure of the German offensive steadily growing, he obtained permission from his commanding officer to go to the French Artillery School where he was anxious to get the training which would send him again to the front. Major Bates, in recommending him to the school wrote: "He desires to obtain permission to enter your school to receive training for the artillery branch of your service with the hope that he can obtain a commission in the French Army. You will find this man an exemplary, clean cut, honorable gentleman, in whom you can place every confidence."
While at Fontainebleau he received a call from the naval aviation service. At Pauillac, where he was assigned, Elliott soon found himself again in construction work in the rear. His urge to get into more active service steadily growing, Elliott consulted the medical authorities there. He learned that an operation was necessary before any army or navy would accept him, particularly for artillery. He made arrangements at once to enter the hospital, from which he never returned.
On learning of his death Major Bates wrote to Elliott's mother, "Our association together was one of the brightest periods of my long service, and I want to say to you in all candor, your son was one of the most honorable of men, and it was a real pleasure to be associated with him in our work, which was the most important in the air service in all France. Please accept my sincerest sympathy in your great bereavement. I mourn with you in your loss of your dear son and my friend and comrade."
Born December 10, i1893, in Watervliet, New York. Son of George T. and Emma Disney Sambrook. Educated Watervliet schools and Syracuse University, two and one-half years, Class of 1917. Florist business, Troy, New York. Joined American Field Service, August 12, 1917; attached Transport Section 397 to November 12, 917. Enlisted U. S. Quartermaster Corps; attached 302d Motor Transport Company. Staff-car driver for General Wood. Died September 5, 1918, in Paris, of pneumonia. Buried Suresnes, Seine.
AMONG Walter Laidlaw Sambrook's cherished possessions was the following letter signed by Major General Leonard Wood:
"Private Walter Sambrook has been on duty as chauffeur of my car during my tour of observation with the British, French, and American forces. I found him always thoroughly reliable and extremely intelligent and efficient. We have had no trouble with the car and his services have been in every way most satisfactory."
This voluntary appreciation from a busy and distinguished officer is indeed something of which any soldier might be justly proud. It shows the earnestness and effort Sambrook put into the execution of the ordinary tasks. It was on this tour that General Wood was wounded. A shell exploded killing several Frenchmen and wounding two officers. Miraculously, almost, Walter escaped and turned his car into an ambulance to rush the wounded to a hospital. His action at the time was in part responsible for the tribute given above. It is spirit that counts in determining character, rather than the kind of service to which it is applied; and it is often harder to do the easy job well than the hard one. But Walter did all things alike with the same high resolve and his material reward was on its way at the time of his death in the shape of a promised commission.
Walter was educated at the public schools of Watervliet and later at Syracuse University where he studied in the forestry department. He became a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and made many and loyal friends during his four years there. After graduation he went into business with his father in Troy until the call to war came to him, and in August, 1917, he sailed for France in the American Field Service. On August 24, he wrote that he had been sent to the camion camp at the front and rejoiced at being finally in the midst of the action and excitement. His period of service as an ammunition truck driver was full of intense interest for him, and he gave himself to it with characteristic enthusiasm. When the American Field Service was taken over by the United States, he, like so many others, turned his face from the alluring prospect of a return home in the guise of a war-worn veteran to whom avenues of advancement would be open, and enlisted as a private in the American Army. He was transferred to the Q. M. Corps, and, after some months of truck-driving similar to his previous work, it was his faithful and conscientious service in that capacity which caused him to be selected as General Wood's driver.
While on duty in Paris he was suddenly taken sick with pneumonia and after a very short illness and in spite of tender and careful attention, he died on September 5, 1918, just as the bell of the old church near the hospital struck the last note of midnight. He was buried the following day in the beautiful cemetery of Suresnes. General Wood wrote to his family expressing his personal sorrow at the loss of so capable and trustworthy a soldier and informing them that had he lived he would have been promoted to a lieutenancy within a short time. His commanding officer, Lieutenant John B. Atkinson, wrote of him feelingly that "his work was model and his life truly exemplary . . . . . In his death we, his comrades, lose a good soldier, a conscientious worker, and a lad who was every inch a man."
Born May 19, 1894, in Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania. Son of Henry T. and Louise Leonard Kent. Educated William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia, and Cornell University, Class of 1914. Joined American Field Service, April 14, 1917; attached Transport Sections 526 and 251 to October 14, 1917. French Automobile Officers' Training School. Commandant Adjoint. Declined commission Motor Transport Corps; enlisted U. S. Aviation. Trained 2d Aviation Instruction Centre, France. Commissioned First Lieutenant, February, 1918; attached 49th Squadron, 2d Pursuit Group. Shot down and killed, September 7, 1918, near Thiaucourt. Buried Pannes, Meurthe-et-Moselle, by Germans. Body transferred to American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle.
IN the aftermath of sordid materialism, which so fatefully followed the war, it is potent tonic to our depleted souls to recall a patriotic fervor and consecration to duty, such as Lieutenant Warren Kent's. It stabs our consciences awake and makes us grateful that we have such rare reminders, "lest we break faith with those who lie in Flanders Field."
The high strain of this patriotism is best expressed in the following letter written to his mother a few weeks before he was killed. It is characteristic of all his thought:
"The day of reckoning is coming, and the wind sowed must fructify into the harvest of the whirlwind: God grant I may have some share in this retribution. My name is on the list to replace someone who is in a squadron now at the front. It should not be long before I finally reach there. I hope nothing may arise to cause any change, but I will nevermore think I am there until I am actually over the lines with machine gun loaded for the defense of everything worth living for. If it is worth living for, so is it also worth dying for, if necessary. As I wrote before, Mother dear, pray not that I be spared, for while I wish to live and return to you, it is selfish to wish preference for what is dear to us, when so many can not return. Pray only that I may do my duty, and well, and that I may do enough before lost, if so required, that my living may at least be an advantage. If this can be I will die with complete satisfaction. Be perfectly willing to lose me. The price is so cheap for the good to be attained."
Lieutenant Kent came naturally by this high sense of duty as his ancestors shared that sturdy patriotism which laid the foundation of our republic. Coupled with an intense devoutness, this urge to defend to the very last breath those principles he cherished was not to be resisted. Before our country entered the war, Lieutenant Kent was convinced it was our duty to champion the righteous cause of the Allies by active assistance in their struggle, and he and his cousin, Kent Keay, appealed to Colonel Roosevelt to be allowed to join the expedition he was planning at that time for service in France.
He sailed overseas with a unit from his university, Cornell, on April 14, 1917. Immediately after his arrival he was asked to drive a munitions truck. He accepted willingly, welcoming the most active service possible. He became an ardent admirer of the French people and was keenly touched by their suffering. He writes of it to his mother. "To walk down the streets and see the splendid women in mourning --- you can hardly pass one who is not,----when you see the youths and men bearing scars of the conflict, you cannot help but feel that we have been dilatory. It would rend your heart to see the number of women in mourning. They are mourning for men who have served you as well as the one who mourns."
Subsequently, having passed through a French school to qualify as an officer in the automobile service, he declined a commission offered him in the Quartermaster's Department and enlisted in aviation instead, completing the course and receiving his commission early in 1918.
Though an exceptionally fine flyer, on September 7, 1918, he was taken in a disadvantageous position and shot down by one of von Richtoffen's circus while flying near Thiaucourt with the Forty-ninth Squadron of the Second Pursuit Group.
Death held no terrors for him and he fully justified his own words, "If you have to run the chance of death at all, you had better run the full length and sell your life most dearly."
Born March 4, 1894, in Baltimore, Maryland. Son of Horace B. Forman, Jr., and Lucy Chandler Forman. Home, Haverford, Pennsylvania. Educated Haverford School and College, and Cornell University. Class of 1917. Joined American Field Service, April 14, 1917; attached Transport Section 526 to October 15, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation Service, October 19th, three months in aviation camps. February, 1918, training Foggia, Italy. Second Lieutenant, May 18, 1918. Returned to France for chasse training. Killed in accident, September 14, 1918, at Issoudun. Buried American Military Cemetery near Issoudun, Indre.
"LIKE SO many of the heroic youth of America, he saw the right long before his country came to see it, and went forth to make the good fight, not counting the cost and of that you can forever be proud."
There is something quietly suggestive of the modern crusader in this tribute paid to Horace Baker Forman, 3d who died "on the Field of Honor, for France." A very modern, American crusader, who shrank from any manifestations of glory, and asked only the satisfaction of wearing the olive drab uniform, and being permitted an active share in the "job to be done 'over there.'"
Horace was a quiet, college-absorbed Sophomore at Cornell when the Great War broke out. It was n't until two years later that he realized that this war concerned him. Fully alive, then, to its significance, he obtained, after some delay, the consent of his family to sail for France with. the first Cornell unit as a volunteer in the American Field Service. This was the well-known first group of armed Americans, carrying the American flag, to march through the streets of Paris after the United States had declared war on Germany. Their stirring ovation humbled while it inspired Horace. "Though we are only forty, and not worth our food," he wrote, "we are treated by everyone like kings! . . . . . The only thing lacking is 500,000 or more men in olive drab under the same flag."
Then passed six weary months of camion driving, but Horace never complained, because he was helping the French, and the French poilus were to him "the most wonderful people in the world." France itself he loved as "my second country." The beauty, and the pathos, and the courage of this country were ever-new miracles to him.
Upon completing his engagement in the Field Service, when his family wished him to come home, he wrote that he could not return to college: ". . . . You must try to remember that really I am only a little bit of a thing in a big mass . . . . . I must get into line in some regular service and stay to the finish."
Young Forman's enlistment with the camion service expired October 14, 1917. Within the week he had enlisted in the United States Air Service. For three trying months, he was detained in an aviation camp, waiting to go into training. At this time he gave thanks for having been taught to play chess when he was young. "You have lots to thank other people for if you take time to think --- and you have lots of time over here! When you stand out in the dark with a gun . . . . . and with nothing to do but keep awake . . . . .. you can do a lot of thinking! "
Inaction ended the first part of February, and by the 15th, he was settled at a training camp in Foggia, Italy, really flying at last. He showed from the first that he was a born flyer. In three months he had completed the training and received his commission as Second Lieutenant, on May 18, 1918.
Lieutenant Forman was sent back to France for advanced work. Though skilled in bombing, he chose the work of chasse pilot, as more sportsmanlike. There were inexplicable delays and as he waited orders, on September 14th, he was killed in a sad and strange aeroplane accident, when in descending from his plane, "the propeller fractured his skull, causing immediate death."
But the Crusader's spirit cannot die. His life was Forman's gift to his country and to France; his spirit of unselfish service was his gift to humanity --- his memory will live enshrined in the hearts of men.
Born February 7, 1895, in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Son of A. Judson and Harriet H. Sayre. Lived in Harvey, North Dakota; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Hollywood, California. Educated Western Canada College, Calgary; Harvard Military School, Los Angeles, California; Hollywood High School, and Leland Stanford University, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service, June 9, 1917; attached Section Ten in the Balkans to November 22, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation, December 5, 1917. Trained Clermont-Ferrand. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, June 1, 1918; attached 11th Aero Squadron, 1st Day Bombing Group. Shot down and killed within German lines, September 14, 1918, at Rezonville, west of Metz. Buried Rezonville by Germans; body transferred to American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle, ultimately to be buried in Hollywood, California.
LIEUTENANT HAROLD H. SAYRE possessed in no small degree the finest qualities of young American manhood. Clean-cut and manly are perhaps the adjectives which best describe his personality, and underneath an attractive exterior was a sturdy soul upheld by the highest of principles. As one of his intimate friends has said: "He had principles and stuck to them regardless of all and I loved him for his straightforward ways."
A student at Leland Stanford, Jr., University, he enlisted toward the end of his sophomore year, in the American Field Service, and with the second Stanford Unit landed at Bordeaux on June 28, 1917. From July to October he was with Section Ten in the Balkans, and under the particularly trying conditions of the eastern front he received his initiation into active warfare. The summer of 1917 was spent carrying wounded over the difficult passes and rough roads of the Albanian mountains and in September the Section took part in the successful Albanian offensive.
Returning to Paris on November 18, 1917, he resigned from the Field Service, then being taken over by the American Army, and on December 5th enlisted in aviation. He was trained in various schools in southern France, received his commission, and was attached to the 11th Aero Bombing Squadron. It was while attending the bombing school at Clermont-Ferrand that he first met Lieutenant Shidler, later his pilot and friend, who has written of him:
"It was not hard after arriving at this field to pick out the most efficient bombers. All records were accessible and Lieutenant Sayre's was easily among the best. His strong personal character, his clean mode of living, and the high code he set as a standard to live by, made him a prominent figure among the officers at that place, and his good sense of humor made companionship with him most agreeable. He was fond of outdoor exercise and I shall never forget the long walks through the vineyards of southern France and the swimming in the warm rivers while he and I were together. While visiting the cities and resorts he found his pleasure rather in the ancient architecture and the beautiful drives than in the bright lights of the town. His constant desire to learn and his devotion to duty were such that he would often sit under the most adverse circumstances and finish a map of some particular objective, when it was a common habit to let such things slip by as easily as possible and let the responsibility rest upon the one in command."
As a member of the 11th Aero Bombing Squad, Lieutenant Sayre took part in the St. Mihiel drive early in September, 1918, and on the morning of September 14th was sent out with his pilot, Lieutenant Shidler, in company with a formation of several planes, to bomb certain objectives near the city of Conflans. The mission accomplished, they were attacked by a superior number of German planes and in the ensuing combat Lieutenant Sayre was killed, although he kept his guns going until life left his body. His pilot, who was severely wounded, was able to land the plane at Rezonville in the German lines, where he was taken prisoner. It was here that Lieutenant Sayre was first buried, but his body was later removed to the American cemetery at Thiaucourt.
He met death as bravely and squarely as he had faced life, with no thought but for the cause at stake and no desire but to serve this cause with the best which he had, even to the final sacrifice.
Born April 20, 1896, in Oak Park, Illinois. Son of Bishop Charles P. and Janet Glass Anderson. Educated Oxford School, Chicago; Howe School, Indiana; University of Illinois, two years, and Dartmouth College, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, May 5, 1917; attached Transport Sections 133 and 526 to October 8, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation. Trained Clermont-Ferrand and commissioned First Lieutenant; attached 96th Pursuit Squadron. Shot down and killed, September 16, 1918, within German lines, near Conflans. Buried Joudreville, Meurthe-et-Moselle, north of Conflans. Body transferred to St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle.
"BUT after all, the main question is not whether men live or die. It is whether they live or die for a good purpose." The words are Bishop Anderson's. His son, Charles Patrick Anderson, did die for the highest purpose a man may know, and so, too, he had lived. The father says that one can only guess what kind of a man he would have become, but we who see the record of his achievement know the answer to such questioning: "Pat" must have followed his fine ideals through all his days, must have chosen trails along the mountain peaks, must have made his career in continuation as unselfish, as clean, and as complete as he made the all too brief years he lived.
September 16, 1918, four bombing Breguets of the 96th Squadron crossed the lines in the late afternoon, Lieutenant Anderson piloting the foremost plane with Lieutenant Hugh Thompson as his observer. In his official report, Lieutenant Codman, shot down in the raid, says, as if it were an insignificant commonplace to fly four-strong against twenty-four, "On approaching Conflans, twenty-four enemy aircraft were sighted making for us . . . . . They engaged us after we had reached our objective and dropped our bombs." With no thought of turning from their course until their goal was reached, "' Pat' remained perfectly calm throughout and kept on flying his plane as if nothing were happening." Codman "saw four German planes, two on each side, dive at Hugh's plane. . . . ." "Pat," another survivor said, "instead of starting the machine downward" to escape, "bravely faced the machine-gun fire of the Boche, thus protecting the other planes back of him . . . . . such a wonderfully brave deed . . . . ... What less was possible for one who wrote, "War is war, and all any of us can do is to trust in God and go to it."
"Pat" was an out of doors boy. City life, society, theatres, parties were of mere passing interest, "worth while but unsatisfying." Many things interested, but it was the "great outdoors" that absorbed him. A reticent boy, he became exuberant when he escaped to the winds and spaces, away from streets and houses. He loved and was loved by animals. He hunted and fished and rode. Never one for shallow half-friendships, his friends were many---loyal and worth while. Yet always his boon companion was his father. Keenest enjoyment he had on mountain top or in the depths of forests, in the solitudes. What wonder then that he was supremely happy in the air! "He mastered the air ... .. he played with the air ... ... . . . . he loved flying," say comrades. There "Pat" was at home. In his own words, "God is in the air as well as on the ground."
Rejected in America for aviation, he joined the Field Service, giving himself whole-heartedly to his work of truck-driving. But his dreams were of the air, and, in October, 1917, he became a flier. He was pilot of the first American bombing team to cross the lines, and at the time of their death, "Pat" and his observer were the only untouched flying members of the original Squadron, all the others having been wounded, captured, or killed.
Constantly, "Pat" assured the family of his abounding health and peace of mind. "Your worryings would turn to envy if only you could see the delightful time I am having and still getting credit for being a soldier." But he was honestly humble in his service, "Take off your hat, father," he said, "to the men in the trenches."
"In the presence of Death one thinks more about character than about accomplishment," says "Pat's" father, and later, "he never caused his sisters to blush or his parents to sigh." What finer success of character could be a man's than that?
Born June 1, 1896, in Willows, Glenn County, California. Son of Benjamin Howell and Anna T. Burton. Home, Colusa, California. Educated Colusa Grammar School; Belmont, California, Military School; and University of California, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, May 19, 1917; attached Transport Section 133 to November 16, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Field Artillery. Commissioned Second Lieutenant; attached Motor Battery. Died September 18, 1918, under ether, of larnygeal oedema, during operation at Base Hospital, Toul. Buried American Cemetery, Toul, Meurthe-et-Moselle. Body to be transferred to Willows, Glenn County, California.
WHEN two-score students in the University of California offered their services to France, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the abstract idea, as well as a leader in the actual organizing of the college unit for the American Field Service, was Benjamin Howell Burton, junior.
It is difficult for anyone not a native of the Pacific states to appreciate just how distant from America the war seemed to them in its early days. It required time and much urging from within to stir their sympathies and to awaken a realization of their inherent obligation in the cause of France. It is remarkable then to find among western youths a strong spirit which found expression in such sacrifice as that of "Ben" Burton's.
Not yet of age when war came and in his third year of college, he laid aside his books, and joined eagerly in arranging for the enlistment of his group in the Field Service. As eagerly, when they arrived in France, he entered into that work which promised most immediate action, becoming a driver in Camion Section 133 of the Mallet Reserve. With Section Erhardt, of Groupement Périsée, he began his training at Chavigny Farm, the camion center, north of Soissons. Later the Section made its home at Jouaignes, south of the Vesle. Here, as throughout his military experiences, "Ben" did his part and strengthened that estimate of his character which appears in the words of a California judge who speaks of his "reputation for honesty, integrity, industry, and sobriety . . . . . high principles and ideals." "A good specimen of young manhood," Oscar Robinson, President of the Board of Trustees of Colusa, had called him when he volunteered. And to the end he set an example for young American manhood.
Young Burton was given the French War Cross in November, 1917, for conspicuous bravery "en contribuant à dépanner deux camions sous un violent bombardement qui fit deux victimes à ses côtes." His own letters made slight mention of the affair, but a fellow camionneur described it laconically in a letter: "The other night they sent us up one deuce of a steep hill about half a mile from the first trenches and that is close for our big trucks. The roads were slippery and full of shell-holes, which made driving fierce. About nine cars got stuck in the ditch and were all pulled out except one ---'Ben' Burton's and 'Herb' Hope's. They had to stay all night in the cold and rain. In the morning the Boche saw them and began throwing in four-inch shells. Two Frenchmen were killed near them, but the California fellows got out O. K. --- mighty lucky."
When the Transport Service was taken over by the American Army in the fall of 1917, Burton enlisted in the United States Field Artillery. After training, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, and assigned to an active command. On September 15, 1918, just as he was starting for the front, a terrible toothache came on, and hoping to continue immediately with his reentry into action, "Ben" underwent an examination in Toul. An operation was decided upon at Base Hospital 45, and ether administered. Young Burton never came out of this anesthetic, however, and on September 18th he died of laryngeal oedema.
His is one of those deaths which seem cruelly inappropriate for a vigorous youth --- for one who had already served with the French armies and been cited for bravery. Yet for one of "Ben" Burton's fine spirit, the manner of dying -as the glorious climax of battle or unglorified in a hospital at the rear --- could matter but little --- since it was for his country and his ideals.
Born December 6, 1898, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Son of William H. and Nellie Grace Taylor. Home, New York City. Educated Phillips Academy, Andover, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, April 28, 1917; attached Transport Section 526 as Sous-Chef, to August 27, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation, August 28, 1917. Trained Issoudun and Toul. Commissioned First Lieutenant, November 29th. To front with 95th Aero Squadron, February, 1918; Flight Commander. Hospital following accident, June to September, 1918. Shot down and killed, September 18, 1918, near Lake Lachausée, north of Thiaucourt. Croix de Guerre with palm. Recommended D. S. C. Officially credited two enemy planes. Buried in St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle.
"Big Bill" Taylor was what he was called by his comrades at Issoudun and Tout and the affectionate nickname did not refer alone to his size. Though only nineteen years old when he made the supreme sacrifice, he had already shown himself a natural leader of men. On his arrival in France in the American Field Service he was immediately made an adjutant in his camion section, and later on, though he was the youngest man in his squadron, he was appointed one of three Flight Commanders. He was "Big Bill," too, for his skill and daring as a pilot. "His exploits at Issoudun" says Major Claude Fuess in "Phillips Academy, Andover, in the Great War," "were remembered for months after he left there,--- especially his feat of flying under low-hanging wires into a hospital court and then out over the enclosing wall."
William was at Andover in the spring of 1917, a member of the class of 1918. Quite naturally he was one of the first to respond to the idea of an Andover Unit of the American Field Service. And on April 27th he sailed as a member of that body. He served with Section 526 of the camion branch until August 27th, when he received his honorable discharge, and the next day enlisted in the American Aviation Corps. Within two months he was commissioned First Lieutenant and early in 1918 he left for the front with the first American Chasse Squadron --- the 95th. From the time of his first patrol he showed the same dash and ability as a combat pilot that had so distinguished his work in training and it was only a short time before he received his appointment as Flight Commander. Captain John Mitchell, the commander of the 95th Squadron, has described the combats that won William recommendations for the Croix de Guerre and Distinguished Service Cross "for displaying exceptional judgment and courage in aerial combat." The D. S. C. was unfortunately held up in spite of the earnest and unanimous requests of his immediate superiors but the Croix de Guerre with palm was later awarded by the 6th French Army. "While on a patrol in the Toul sector on May 21st," wrote Captain Mitchell, "he attacked and destroyed a bi-place German photographic machine which was operating over our lines and on May 28th, with another pilot, he brought down another bi-place German plane, out of a formation of five. In June while 'taking off' from the field at Toul an accident occurred which caused him to be sent to an American hospital at Châteauroux, after which he went to Biarritz to recuperate."
This unfortunate accident and the enforced absence from the front caused "Big Bill" to fret with impatience, and when he rejoined the squadron on September 5th, he was, in his own words, "spoiling for a fight." He it took an active part in the recent and successful St. Mihiel drive," wrote Captain Mitchell, "doing exceptional work in low flying and 'straffing' retreating German troops and truck trains." On the 18th while on patrol, he saw through a gap in the clouds a battle going on below him. He dove immediately to the rescue, but as he emerged from the clouds he was attacked by three Fokkers and after a gallant fight against hopeless odds he crashed into the ground at Étang de La Chaussée near St. Mihiel.
Bill Taylor was one of the heroes of the air, beloved of his associates. His laughing, courageous daring will never be forgotten, but he will live, too, in the memory of his friends for the greatness and sweetness of his nature. "I shall picture him always," wrote Dr. Stearns, the Principal of Phillips Academy, Andover, who early recognized in Bill the qualities of manliness and leadership that war brought out so strikingly, "the same big-hearted, generous, clean and wholesome fellow it has been my privilege to know."
Alphabetical Index of Names
Table of Contents: History of the American Field Service in France.