Born October 30, 1892, in Clinton. Massachusetts. Son of John and Bertha Newman Hamilton. Educated Clinton High School, Fenway School of Art, Boston, and New York Military Academy. Reportorial work, Clinton "Times," and Salesman. Joined American Field Service, June 9, 1917; attached Section Sixty-six. Killed by shell, July 29, 1917, at Village Nègre, Chemin des Dames, near Craonne. Croix de Guerre. Buried Beaurieux, Aisne. Body to be transferred to Woodlawn Cemetery, Clinton, Massachusetts.
LATE in the night of July 28, 1917, Perley Raymond Hamilton sat at a little table in a corner of an abri crowded with groaning wounded, writing a hasty note to his mother by the light of a flickering candle-end. He had just received his first letter from her since he left home and he was anxious to let her know his joy in it and to assure her that all was well with him. "I am feeling fine and strong," he wrote, "and I can make up the sleep when the battle calms down a bit." It had been forty-eight hours since he had last slept, but he felt it more important to comfort his mother than to take the rest for which his whole tired body cried out. He was forced to stop, he concluded, because "I am to leave with a load of blessés in a few minutes and must have things ready for them." He sealed the letter and climbed out of the abri. Shells were falling nearby and the éclats whined past occasionally, rattling against the doorway. He cranked his car while his companion, James Gailey, assisted the loading of -the wounded. And then suddenly it happened. There was a quick, terrifying shock --- and blackness . . . . . Their comrades found "Ham" bowed over the steering wheel, still "on duty."
Perley was a student of the New York Military Academy at the time that he joined the American Field Service. He was a talented artist and musician and as a cadet had held the rank of Principal Musician and later of Senior First Lieutenant. The Academy paper described him as,"always extremely popular with the whole cadet corps, for he was not only a gifted musician but also one of those cheerful, optimistic, straightforward natures which make friends without effort." On June 7, 1917, he sailed on the Espagne and within a month he was working in the midst of the fierce battle being raged for the possession of Craonne Plateau. The letters he wrote in the short time before his death are remarkable for the depth of their feeling and their power of description. No one who has experienced an air-raid can read the following without a thrill of understanding ". . . . As the purr of the motor appears to be directly overhead there is a quick scampering of people and then a deadly silence, for in that awful moment before the crash all things seem still."
He was quick and sympathetic in his appreciation of the French and thoroughly happy in serving them; so it is fitting that death should have come to him while he was in the very act of bringing aid and comfort to their wounded. No other ending of his life could have been more perfect in his own eyes or more beautiful as we see it. And his service was appreciated. General Niessel, the commander of the army corps that had so stubbornly resisted the German onslaught along the Chemin des Dames, attended the funeral in person and pronounced the last farewell as he placed the Croix de Guerre upon the coffin.
Perley's section leader, William Gorham Rice, Jr., voiced the feeling of the section. "'Ham' has more than our undying respect. He won our love and so our sympathy . . . . . For he was always cheery and helpful and ready to do more than was asked of him." Rice tells of having asked "Ham" a short time before his death to work out a design to be painted on the cars of the section. "In a few days he showed me a fine composition with the motto 'Toujours prêt.'" Soon after, when the attack started, though still weak from a recent illness he declared himself ready for anything, as he always was, even if he had to drive through gas, though, as Rice said, "he must have dreaded that, for we feared the mask and his asthma might choke him." He lived true to his own motto, like the soldier that he was, " Toujours prêt."
Born May 16, 1898, in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Son of Richard M. and Alice Eisenbrey Newlin. Home, Whitford, Pennsylvania. Educated Haverford School, Pennsylvania, and Princeton University, Class of 1919. Plattsburg Camp, 1916. Joined American Field Service, May 26, 1917; attached Section Twenty-nine. Wounded August 3rd, Montzéville. Died of wounds, night of August 5, 1917. Croix de Guerre, Médaille Militaire. Buried Fleury-sur-Aire, Meuse. Body transferred to American Military Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse.
JOHN VERPLANCK NEWLIN met death while still but a lad of nineteen, yet there is compensation in the thought that what he gave was a life still fresh with the dreams of youth and untouched by any disillusionments. As one of his friends at Princeton said. " He had such a sense of getting the most out of life." And it is exactly this quality which stands out so clearly in Jack's letters written during the brief month he spent at the front. Ten days before his death and just as the section was beginning work in the Verdun sector where he was hit, he wrote: "The atmosphere and daily routine of the life up here is so entirely different from our life in back of the lines that I feel I am living in a dream. But the dream is so horribly delightful and weird that I don't want to wake up. I can't say that I love it,----that, my straight-laced countrymen might consider sacrilege,---but I am fascinated by it and love the excitement of it."
That this is not the mere exuberance of youth, unbacked by the sterner qualities which work at the front demanded, the following from a letter by his section leader, who was wounded by the same shell, will show: "Jack was in every way the best man in the section, always ready to do more than his share, always cheerful, never tiring. He was my best friend out there as well as the man I could always count on. It was always upon him that I called for a little more when it seemed that the men were tiring, and he never failed me. He met his end in the same spirit, smiling and brave. We were brought down together to the base hospital and never in that long drive did he make a sign that he was suffering."
"Jack" Newlin's military career was short. A member of the class of 1919 at Princeton, where he had been art editor on the "Tiger" and an editor of the "Litt" magazine, he attended Plattsburg during the summer of 1916 and in May of the following year left college to enlist in the American Field Service. His section, S. S. U. 29, left Paris on June 30, 1917, spent about three weeks in the vicinity of Bar-le-Duc, and on July 23rd started work at the front a little to the west of Verdun. It was at the poste of Montzéville on the night of August 3rd, that a shell, landing near the entrance of the dug-out, wounded him severely just as he was on the point of starting his car. He was rushed to the hospital at Fleury where he was operated on the following evening. The next day he rallied sufficiently to see some of his comrades and to receive his citation and Croix de Guerre, but died about midnight.
Madame Jacquemaire, the daughter of M. Clemenceau, who was a nurse in the hospital in which he died wrote in a very touching letter to his mother:
"Malgré les efforts de tous, le brave enfant s'est éteint doucement et sans souffrance entre nos bras. Le Commandant Militaire lui avait fait remettre pour sa bravoure les plus hautes récompenses, la Médaille Militaire et la Croix de Guerre. Il a contemplé ces belles récompenses avec une joie profonde. . . . . Je suis fière d'avoir connu votre admirable enfant."
And a final tribute from a friend in the Ambulance Service cannot be omitted: "I knew Jack at Princeton. I as well as every one who was associated with him at College felt his attraction, his keenness, and his fineness. We felt that he was someone whom it was not only an opportunity but a privilege to know . . . . . You may mourn him as a son but you can never forget that he met death as fairly as any man has ever done."
Born September 22, 1895, in Cleveland, Ohio. Son of Frederick William and Josephine Cody Bentley. Home, Chicago, Illinois. Educated Chicago schools, University of Chicago, and Harvard University, Class of 1917. Plattsburg Camps, 1915 and 1916. Joined American Field Service, May 19, 1917; attached Section Sixty-five. Croix de Guerre. Died September 16, 1917, of wounds received September 13, 1917, near Fismes. Buried at St. Gilles, Marne. Body transferred to Seringes-et- Nesles, Aisne.
IN September, 1917, officers commissioned at the first officers' training camps were mobilized for overseas service. In September, 1917, Paul Cody Bentley, whose eye-trouble had spoiled his chances for the American Army, was wounded in battle and died on the Chemin des Dames. An editorial in the Chicago Post remarks " that this young man who would just be going to the Rockford Training Camp, had he waited for a call to the new army, has now volunteered, served at the front, and met a soldier's death. All honor to his memory!"
Months before his departure Paul told his parents of his desire to go to France. This roused so great anxiety and such immediate opposition that Paul, absolutely determined in his own mind as to the rightness of his course, made no further mention of his plans. They were, however, quite final and definite, waiting only the completion of his college obligations. In May, Paul wrote his mother, forgetting, as sons must in such moments, the bitterness that tinges the pride of mothers who see their children go from them as men to war: "I am sorry you should be so upset . . . . . there is practically no danger . . . . . Nothing can make me change my mind." Unadorned in his own eyes by any trappings of prowess Paul was, as he said, "only doing what thousands of others are doing."
Paul was descended on both sides from old colonial families active in the early wars. He received his schooling in Chicago. After some months of surveying on the Pacific Coast and a semester at Chicago University, he entered Harvard, Class of 1917. "A faithful and a brilliant student," said a friend of an earlier college generation, Merritt Starr, "he was a leader among his companions, and a justly distinguished favorite with his superiors." He had no ambitions for social prominence or wide popularity. His circle of friends was a steadfast group, whose feeling went deep and meant much. He left college before graduation, having attended the two Plattsburg summer camps and been a corporal in the Harvard Regiment.
Bentley sailed for France on May 19, 1917, and went to the front with Section Sixty-five of the Field Service, where he exhibited ingrained qualities of faithfulness and cheerful disregard of self. The latter colors his letters. Redfield of his section said "Bentley was one of our best drivers. He never complained. He took dangers as they came without flinching. Everybody who came in contact with him admired him."
On September 11th Bentley wrote, "I am still very uncertain as to what I shall do next. But uncertainty is the main characteristic of the war. Everything is uncertain. . . . ." Two days later during a gas attack, his loaded car was struck by a shell, as he drove through the barrage and Paul, in the words of his citation, "lui-même très grièvement blessé, a continue à conduire jusqu'à l'épuisement de ses forces." At the hospital he rallied bravely for a time, then grew weaker, and died on September 16th.
"Very few of the world's successful lives," says Merritt Starr, " attain such measure of ideals sacredly preserved, of danger bravely dared, of success so nobly achieved, of recognition so worthily won."
"Bentley" writes a comrade, "was a true man. He died as he lived, bravely." And in the words of Paul's mother: " He helped. And knowing that he was content." Later she added: "He earned eight diplomas in his life time, but his real graduation, his real commencement of immortal life, came on Sunday morning, September 16, 1917."
Born February 19, 1892, in San Francisco, California. Son of Beverly and Minnie C. MacMonagle. Educated Hackley School, Tarrytown, New York; Berkeley School, California, Switzerland and Germany; and University of California, one and one-half years, Class of 1917. Joined American Field Service, December 30, 19 1915 ; attached Section Three to May 20, 1916; Section Eight, June 20 to September 20, 1916. Croix de Guerre. Enlisted French Aviation, October 3, 1916. Trained Avord and Pau. Attached Escadrille NY. 124 (Lafayette). Killed in combat, September 24, 1917, near Verdun. Croix de Guerre with palm, Buried Triaucourt, Meuse. Body transferred to American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon Meuse.
"I KNEW that Douglas MacMonagle would be among the first to get into the war on the French side." The speaker was a Californian inquiring early in 1916 at the Headquarters of the Field Service about the San Franciscans at the front.
"Mac," as his friends in the Field Service called him from the very first, had just been sent to join Section Three at the front in Alsace. It was in the dead of winter and there was some fear lest the new and inexperienced men might not be able to cope in the beginning with the hardships and difficulties of the work.
"MacMonagle," reported one of the directors of the Service, "wants to get to the front at once and refuses to give one thought to the idea that he will have any trouble doing the work. He says that he has been at sea and takes to rough weather like a duck to water, that he knows a Ford from the ground up, and that nothing the Germans can do to him matters at all."
In every particular his self-confidence was justified. From the first he was able to face every hardship, whether of weather, bad and bombarded roads, or long hours. And above all, from the day he first came within sound of the guns to the moment he fell in gallant aerial combat against heavy odds, nothing that the Germans did or threatened to do to him "mattered at all."
After serving for some months with Section Three MacMonagle was transferred to Section Eight. Austin Mason, his new chef, wrote in his diary at that time:
"MacMonagle joined us on the eve of the hardest and most dangerous work the Section has had to face. That he had had some previous experience was a great help and he lived up to all our expectations. He was fearless and energetic and did his job well. There were four of us at Fort de Tavannes when the Germans began to demolish it with sixteen inch shells, and he was unquestionably the calmest. Rogers left amid such a rain of shells that it did not seem possible that he could get through. Then 'Mac' pulled out cool as could be . . . . "
A month later MacMonagle was the first man in Section Eight to be awarded the Croix de Guerre. "All the doctors at our post " came back a report to Paris, "are loud in their praise of MacMonagle. With iron self-possession, he loaded his car during a bombardment that destroyed the building used as a dressing station."
In September, 1916, he left the Field Service to enlist in the French Aviation Corps. He was trained at Avord and Pau, where he quickly came to be admired by his new comrades for the same qualities which had distinguished him in the Field Service. When he finished his training, in May, 1917, he was considered a good enough pursuit pilot to be attached at once to the famous Lafayette Squadron.
He flew steadily and with increasing success from the time he reached the front until he was brought down September 24, 1917, while on an early-morning patrol, in a fierce fight with eight German planes. He fell behind the French lines and was buried at Triaucourt, the entire Lafayette Squadron and many French officers as well attending the funeral, a company of American engineers firing the last salute over his grave.
Douglas MacMonagle was loved for his warm-heartedness. He was admired for his fearlessness. He came early to the great struggle and he did good work; but the value of his services to the cause in which he gave his life is to be measured by the courage which he so often inspired in others as well as by his own achievements.
Born November 22, 1878, in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Son of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Cornelius Low King. Educated St. Mark's School, Southboro, Massachusetts, and Pomfret School, Connecticut. U.S. Army, Spanish-American War, as volunteer. Joined American Field Service, February 14, 1917; attached Section Eight. Invalided to United States, May, 1917. Died in hospital, New York City, September 27, 1917. Buried in Grace Church Cemetery, Jamaica, Long Island, New York.
To be obliged to fight the Spanish-American War as a bed-ridden fever patient, and then to end his effort in the World War on his back in a New York hospital, was the desolate lot of Gerald Colman King, volunteer in both of these wars.
Although he was permitted to strike no direct blow in either instance, it is doubtful if he could have contributed more to the final victory, and to the development of his own character, than he did by his fortitude, his loyalty, and his unembittered acceptance of what fate had in store for him. A grumbling victory is in no way preferable to a cheerful defeat.
Gerald King had his first taste of military service when he enlisted as a private in the American Army in the war against Spain in 1898. He was denied active service through contracting typhoid fever almost immediately, and was confined at Camp Chickamauga.
When America entered the War, King was too old to enlist in the regular army, so he chose at once the only other possible alternative for getting to France to aid that country for which he felt a very deep affection, fostered by blood ties. He enlisted with the American Field Service.
He had served with Section Eight at the front but little more than a month before he was taken seriously ill and sent to a hospital in Paris. In May he was invalided home to the United States. He was taken from the steamer direct to the hospital, where he died, September 27, 1917 --- no less a victim of the cruelty of war than those who fell in the front line trenches. He lies now in the little graveyard of Christ Church, Jamaica, where, for many generations, the members of his family have been buried.
Gerald King was born at Bellows Falls, Vermont, ,November 22, 1878. He was the son of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Cornelius Low King, and grandson of Charles King, former president of Columbia College. His mother was Janet De Kay, daughter of James De Kay --- all of New York.
The Brattleboro Reformer paid the following tribute to Gerald King on learning of his death: "The old boys of Company I of Brattleboro, who, in 1898, when war against Spain was declared, volunteered their services to their country, just as thousands of a younger generation have been doing in the past few months, feel a sense of personal loss in the death, in a New York hospital, of Gerald King of Bellows Falls. Gerald was a soldier of fortune, a scion of a distinguished military family. He was only a youngster when he went with the Brattleboro boys to the fever-infested camp at Chickamauga, but he was possessed of an independent income, and when his little 'pink' checks arrived, he shared his patrimony freely with his less fortunate comrades.
"His good cheer and kindliness will always be remembered by those who were associated with him in the days when the young soldiers waited and waited in unsanitary conditions for orders to active service which never came. In recent years King has been well-known as an actor, but he turned aside from the stage to go to France as an ambulance driver, and while there was stricken with paralysis, which terminated in death in a New York hospital after he had been brought back helpless to this country."
Born June 20, 1897, in Tiona, Pennsylvania. Son of Henry H. and Bertha Pierce Cumings. Home, Philadelphia. Educated Buffalo High School, New York, University of Pennsylvania, and Temple University. Joined American Field Service, May 26, 19 17 ; attached Transport Section 526, to September 27, 1917. Died at sea on torpedoed "Antilles," October 17, 1917. Body never recovered.
DESCENDED from a line of military forebears dating back to the days of the War of Independence, Henry Harrison Cumings, 3d, felt the urge of service so strongly that he was one of the first young Americans to reach the front under the American flag.
Highly sensitive to the outrages being perpetrated in France and Belgium, Cumings' enthusiastic and righteous nature revolted against German aggression. In March, 1917, he joined the American Field Service and sailed for France, to drive an ambulance.
When the United States entered the war, a call was made by France upon the ambulance service for volunteers for a munitions transport branch. Cumings was one of the first ambulanciers to join the munitions transport service. A companion wrote at the time "Henry was to go to the front in a few days with Section Eighteen. The transport service was considered more of a man's job, more arduous, difficult, and dangerous, and certainly of much use to the French government. I soon saw that Henry had his heart set upon being identified with the latter service, and one day he spoke of wanting to change, so we both went to the office and got changed to T. M. U. 526."
Cumings was in the American camion units that carried to the French batteries much of the ammunition used in the long and grueling battle of the Chemin des Dames which culminated in the glorious French victory of the fall of 1917.
His enlistment expired in September, 1917. Previously Cumings had attempted to enroll in the French aviation forces. He was rejected because of poor eyesight. Anxious to re-enlist then in the camion service, he agreed in deference to his mother's wishes to return to the United States, to rejoin the army on this side.
Cumings, somewhat envied by overseas comrades, sailed from France on the ill-fated transport "Antilles."
Three days out, early in the morning of October 17, 1917, the boat was torpedoed. It sank inside four minutes. Cumings was among those lost.
His letters to his mother proved him a man of rare sensibilities, with an instinctive appreciation of all that is good and fine. Even from the war he took the good and left the dross. His duty he assumed as a matter of course, and apparently found ample compensation for the horrors and hardships in the satisfaction and joy he felt in contributing his share toward a just and early peace.
Henry was a talented musician and a pianist of merit. "Music was a large part of Henry," says his mother. "It was his very being." Highly intellectual, and gifted with an unusually responsive nature, war was naturally repulsive to him. But never for a moment did he lose sight of the ideals behind it, which he was helping to defend. One of his close companions wrote to the mother: "From the beginning Henry always put all his energy into his work, always doing it well. As sergeant and later as commander of the section I have nothing but the highest praise for his work and for his attitude toward whatever hardships came his way. Our work was often hard and very trying, but he was one of those who never grumbled, but always showed that fine spirit which is so much needed over here."
Henry Cumings was born June 20, 1897, at Tiona, Pennsylvania, of patriotic New England stock, his families on both sides having been represented in the War of Independence and every succeeding war in which this country has been engaged. He carried out the tradition of his house.
Born December 25, 1887, in Rochester, New York. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Palmer. Home, New York City. Educated St. George's School, Newport, Rhode Island, and Harvard University, Class of 1910. Bond business, New York and San Francisco. Joined American Field Service, June 24, 1916; attached Section Three in France and the Balkans to May 11, 1917. Croix de Guerre. Enlisted Lafayette Flying Corps, June 7, 1917. Trained and breveted, Avord. Died of pneumonia, November 12, 1917, at Pau. Buried Pau, Basses Pyrénées.
"HENRY was indeed a splendid type of young American,---the kind we are proud to have French people see," wrote one of Henry Brewster Palmer's friends. Handsome, reserved, sensitive, he showed by every word and action his character and his breeding, and few who knew him failed to surrender to the charm of his personality. His interests were many and varied. He loved music and travel and books, and was an ardent sportsman. At St. George's School and at Harvard he played every game, and after graduation he continued his athletic career at golf, riding, and particularly at mountain climbing. From its beginning in 1914 the war came closer to him than to most Americans, through his love and admiration of the French for whom he had a strong sense of kinship, and in 1916 he welcomed the opportunity to enlist in the American Ambulance Field Service, aiding France, and at the same time satisfying his longing for adventure. He worked for several months at Pont-à-Mousson with Section Three, and when it was selected to go to Salonica he went joyfully along, glorying in the chance "to do something of value for France." "I know you want me to do my share," he wrote to his mother, "and you would undoubtedly be more desirous if you could only see the wonderful spirit and self-sacrifice which every French woman is showing in these terrible times." His next letters came from "the wilds of Serbia," ---charming, intensely interesting letters,--- written with much keenness of perception, and breadth of vision, and full of fine bits of description. He gave himself utterly to the exhausting work, made doubly difficult by the rough hilly country and the ever present fever, and his devotion was recognized by the award of the Croix de Guerre, "for courageous action in removing wounded in the region of Monastir."
In May 1917 he returned to France in the Lafayette Flying Corps. The history of the Lafayette Flying Corps says of his training: "Palmer was considered one of the most brilliant Bleriot pilots among the later group at Avord. A flyer by instinct, he had a delicacy of touch and precision of eye that were wonderful, and his landings, light as eiderdown, were a delight to watch." "Henry's record in the school was as nearly perfect as one can be," wrote a friend ... . . . . . he never did the slightest damage to a machine." In the remarkably short time of three and one half months he received his brevet and left Avord for Pau for final training. There on November 12, 1917 he died of pneumonia and was buried with full military honors in a corner of the hillside cemetery overlooking the shining river, whence, on clear days, one can see the white and purple Pyrénées.
Cyrus Chamberlain, who was with Henry at the time of his death, and who was killed two months later, wrote, "He was one of the best and cleanest of us all," and the tribute is eloquent of the way in which men thought and spoke of him. Charles Bernard Nordhoff trained with Henry and his appreciation is typical of the countless friends who wrote to his mother on learning of his death: "Always unruffled, cool, steady, and courageous, he would certainly have made a name for himself had he lived to get to the front, and his loss means not alone a void in the circle of friends who loved and admired him, but the loss of a bold and skillful pilot to France."
Born July 24, 1895, in Quogue, Long Island, New York. Son of Anderson and Emily Fowler. Home, New York City. Educated St. Bernard's School, New York; Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; and Princeton University, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service, August 6, 1916; attached Section Four until July 10, 1917. Enlisted French aviation. Trained Avord and Pau. Promoted to Corporal. Killed in aeroplane accident, Pau, November 26, 1917. Buried Pau, Basses Pryénées.
ERIC FOWLER joined Section Four in the summer of 1916 and remained with it until July, 1917, during the period of the Section's greatest activity and achievements. His share in its work and the place he made for himself in the hearts of many friends, as well as in the life of the Section as a whole, have been recorded in the following extract from a diary kept by an older man who was much thrown with him at the front.
"Eric," writes this friend, "furnished the bright colors to our background. No matter how dismal the outlook he was always on the crest of the wave. And how often did his heart-warming, merry laugh do us all a world of good! Our men have all shown their courage at Marre, Côte 272, and Esnes. But Eric felt a contempt for the dangers of the service that was an inspiration. Physically he was a little giant and of extraordinary endurance. I remember one snowy night, when the road was lost to view, he dog-trotted as a path-finder in front of my car for four round trips between Montzéville and Esnes. When, as happened more than once, I side-slipped into a ditch, he would feed the blessé blankets under the spinning wheels and when I regained the road fearing to stop, he would overtake me, stow the blankets away and, with a boyish laugh and joke, resume his place in front of the car."
When Eric Fowler left Section Four to enlist in the French aviation, he took with him the admiration and gratitude of his chief and the warm best wishes of every fellow driver. He completed his preliminary training at Avord with marked success and went on to Pau for advanced training in "stunt" flying. The sad circumstances of his death, the day of his graduation, when his kit was packed and on its way to the railway station, are related in a letter to his parents by Alan Winslow, a fellow student and dear friend.
"I looked up," writes Winslow, "and saw one of the thirty or forty planes in the air diving out of control, nose downward behind a hangar. Then I heard the crash. Five minutes later I learned it was Eric Fowler and that he had been instantly killed. It was the last flight necessary to make him fit for the front, the finishing flight of five months training.
" Poor, fine Eric, what a shame he could not have died in battle, if die he must! But, as it is, his death is a glorious death, for he died in the pursuit of his work, his ideals, and his patriotism . . . . ...
Fowler was buried at Pau with all military honors and Captain Orgeaix, the French Commandant of the school, in a speech by his grave, paid a glowing tribute to his courage and devotion. "Corporal Fowler," he said, "your death has not been in vain. You have served to bring your country closer to the soul of France. When we think of you, our eyes will always moisten and our hearts grip our bosoms . . . ."
Those who mourn Eric Fowler find an abiding comfort in the words of his friend's letter, and in this tribute of his commanding officer: "His death was glorious. His death was not in vain. He died in the selfless quest of a noble end; in the full measure of his proud youth."
Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember,
How of human days he lived the better part,
April came to bloom, and never dim December
Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart."
Born September 15, 1883, in Ashland, Kentucky. Son of Daniel B. and Lida Douglas Meacham. Home, Cincinnati, Ohio. Educated Asheville School, North Carolina, Hobart College one year, and one year Sheffield Scientific School, Yale, Class of 1907. From 1906 with Rogers, Brown Company, Cincinnati. Joined American Field Service, March 12, 1917; attached Section Sixteen to September 13, 1917. Died of appendicitis, December 14, 1917, at Louisville, Kentucky. Buried Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio.
IT'S strange the way things workout in this war," Robert Douglas Meacham wrote home, "one of our Frenchmen had been in the army since the beginning, but being rather old was taken out of the trenches and sent back here, a comparatively safe place, as a cook. He had been here only two days before he was killed." "Bob" did not guess that for him, too, things were to work out thus strangely and with as seeming little justice. He returned from ambulance work at the front to enter a more hazardous service, and, having passed his examinations for aviation, was on his way home from Washington to await his commission when he fell ill with appendicitis and died as a civilian --- yet no less a warrior. He had been often under fire. "Believe me," he had written, "it is some sensation to be flat on your stomach wondering if the next one is going to 'get' you" ; but no shells "got" him. He had served six months with Section Sixteen suffering more than most because always in his mind was a vision of what a shell might bring --- of being struck and mangled. Fear stood ever at his side vainly trying to influence him. He heard its urging but unmindful, went forward into all dangers. Yet the trail of his adventurous life ended far from the cannon and drums and banners of warfare in a city hospital and the silence of unsung heroism. Those who know fear are the bravest.
"Bob," after his schooling in the South, spent a year at Hobart and one at Yale. He was an athlete, for love of the sport, and, as a freshman at Hobart, played on the varsity baseball team . ". . . . As plucky a fellow as ever played a game, never losing his head," they said of him. "Never an exceptional student," wrote his brother, and perhaps, in his belief that in friendships was one of the biggest gains from college, "'Bob" overstressed that side of undergraduate life. But he made some very real and lasting friends. He was "one of the most lovable fellows to be with I ever knew" writes one, "liked by everybody" says another, and "I know very few who are so much worth while." He was the object of hero-worship, too, on straight manliness as the words of a younger man show : "I was just a green youngster . . . . . Bob's kindly nature and his clean-cut ways made me secretly idolize him." It means much to have a mother write, as one did who knew him well, "I wish my boy had known him."
"With sufficient income he would never have entered business but spent his time with expeditions exploring buried cities of the old world," said his brother, and before the war "Bob" had already traveled in Europe, circled the globe, and made trips to Central America. He had gathered quite a library on Egypt and India, and an unusual collection of arms from various nations and ages. Imitations never interested him, and also in his contact with men "he had no respect for the sham, admiring only the true and genuine." Yet he was lenient to the faults of others, though never toward his own. He not only did his duty whenever called upon, but did it cheerfully, and at all times was to be relied upon to keep up the spirits of those about him. "Bob" had a delightful sense of humor, declaring the most serious poilu he knew was "going to be married when he goes on permission. Suppose that is what's worrying him!' And with it he had a rare delicacy of perception and sympathy. "If I can only help save the lives of some of those poor fellows . . . . . I shall feel that my own life has been worth while," he wrote. He never realized how much worth while his fineness had made that life of his for others.
Born July 6, 1895, in New York City. Son of Henry J. and Maria Alden Davison. Educated Phillips Academy, Andover, and Yale University, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service, February 28, 19116; attached Section Eight until September 6, 1916. Sent to America ill with typhoid fever. September 4, 1917, entered U. S. Aviation Service. Cadet, 27th Aero Squadron, Camp Hicks, Texas. Killed December 26, 1917, in aeroplane accident. Buried Kensico Cemetery, New York.
AMONG all those "immortal dead who live again in minds made better by their presence; live in pulses stirred to generosity, in deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn for miserable aims that end with self," there is none more worthy of such place and tribute than Alden Davison.
The background for his war experiences speaks eloquently of the type of man he was. In his four years at Phillips Academy, Andover, he participated in all phases of school activities, contributing to each the force of his fine idealism and the power of his personality. He was interested in football, track athletics, hockey, and soccer; he was a member of the Student Council, the Dramatic Club, the Debating Union: he was President of Forum and of Inquiry, and President of his class. As a final acknowledgment of his influence, he was given the second largest number of votes for the man "who has done the most for the school."
The Phillips Academy memorial volume does him this honor: "Alden Davison was one of those rare and magnetic souls who secure without effort the affection of all who meet them. Few young men of his day were more versatile and adaptable. The ability which won him his many distinctions was, of course, admired; but it was more especially his fine and upright character that made him a leader. He could be trusted always to cast his influence where it would count for good, and there was no worthy cause which did not have his support."
In 1916 he enlisted in the American Field Service, and during his six months service with Section Eight, in the Verdun Sector, he was cited three times for bravery, and once he suffered the distinction of having his ambulance blown out from under him.
At the expiration of his enlistment he was obliged to return to the United States, being taken seriously ill with typhoid fever. It was a grievous disappointment to him, as he was eager to enlist in the Lafayette Esquadrille. In the autumn of 1917 he had recovered sufficiently to enter the aviation service, and was sent to Camp Hicks, Texas, for his training, in the 27th Aero Squadron. There, on December 26th, the day before he received his commission as Lieutenant, he was killed in a practice flight.
The instructor of his squadron wrote: "--- I would cheerfully give half of my life if he were here safely tonight. He is the nearest to one of God's children I ever knew, and is mourned most deeply here, for every one was so fond of him. He was a man's man, and nothing can be said higher in praise than that."
"Resolute, clear-eyed, high-minded," to quote the Phillips Academy volume further, "he made his ideals the guiding principles of his life. For him duty was something more than a mere word, and loyalty was naught unless it was revealed in sacrifice."
Upon his death, the Board of Directors of the Rail Joint Company, with which he had been associated in business, had engraved and bound in morocco, a very beautiful memorial volume to him, whose preface was as follows: "Resolved, that the Board of Directors desires to express its deep regret at the loss of Alden Davison, who, in the service of this Company showed the same high spirit which prompted his ready and unselfish response to the call of his Country."
In work and play, war and peace, Alden Davison inspired the love and devotion of all with whom he was associated. Brief though his career, it represented years crowded with high purpose and accomplishment. Truly indeed,
"He went through life sowing love and kindness, and what he sowed he has abundantly reaped."
Born March 15, 1896, in Millis, Massachusetts. Son of Edward J. and Helena Felt Stewart. Home, Brookline, Massachusetts. Educated Brookline High School, Chauncy Hall School, Boston, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Class of 1920. Joined American Field Service, April 14, 1917; attached Section Eighteen to October 15, 1917. Enlisted U.S. Aviation Service. Trained, Tours, France. Died January 9, 1918, of spinal meningitis. Buried Tours, Indre-et-Loire.
GORDON STEWART, during his school days, was well known through his athletic ability. Both at Brookline High School and Chauncy Hall School he was prominent in various branches of sport and was captain of the Brookline crew in 1915 when the crew won the interscholastic cup. He won two medals from the Harvard Interscholastic Gymnasium Association and held the Greater Boston diving championship for two years, At the time of his enlistment in the Field Service he was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Referring to his well-deserved prominence during his school days, his pastor writes of him: "Gordon was one of the few young men of my town who, being popular, yet was never conscious of his popularity. That humility in conjunction with his courage and daring and wonderful wealth of humor made him the idol of all."
With his brother Theodore he sailed for France on the first boat to leave after war was declared by the United States, and saw much hard work during the summer around Verdun with Section Eighteen, which was honored by a citation for the Croix de Guerre from the 126th Division. He had the misfortune to break his arm shortly after joining the Section, and was laid up for over two months in a French hospital with a very bad fracture necessitating several operations and much suffering, as the bone was not set until three days after the accident, and did not knit properly. Writing from the hospital of an impending operation, he unconsciously gives us a clear idea of his courage and nerve: "Expect it will be a bit painful, but guess I can keep up my record of not having let out a 'peep' since it happened." What seems to have been harder to endure than the pain was his longing to get into the thick of things again. He remarks a little later: "I am trying to get over my desire to go back to the front, or at least I am trying to be contented, although the letters Theo writes me are like a full dish of cold water held in front of a man who is dying of thirst. I just itch to get back and can't."
Afterwards upon returning from ten days' convalescent leave in September, he writes: "While in Paris I took mental and physical examinations for a commission in the Army Flying Corps. I passed both with flying colors so that at the end of my training I will be a first lieutenant in the Flying Corps. It has been terribly hard to decide but I have made up my mind to serve my country to the last stitch."
He was sent in October to the Aviation Training School at Tours where he was taken sick Christmas night, and died on January 9, 1918, of spinal meningitis. As to his work as a cadet, one of his friends at the school exclaimed: "The French instructors here had already told me, before Gordon was taken sick at all, that he was the most promising pupil they had ever had. His own instructor wept when told of his death, not wholly for Gordon, as he said, but for the loss to the Allies."
Had Gordon Stewart lived to return to the front as an aviator, he would have proved of inestimable value to his country, as he possessed in every respect the qualities necessary for the branch of service which he had chosen. Yet dying as he did, he gave his life for his country's cause as truly and completely as though he had been shot down in battle by an enemy plane.
Born November 4, 1895, at Hanson, Massachusetts. Son of Reverend A. Judson and Mary Lewis Leach. Educated Reading, Massachusetts, public schools. With First National Bank of Reading, seven years. Joined American Field Service, April 14, 1917; attached Section Eighteen to September 239 1917- Enlisted U. S. Aviation Service, October, 1917. Breveted at Tours. Killed January 21, 1918, at the Aero Instruction Centre, Issoudun, in an aeroplane accident. Buried Issoudun, Indre.
SOON after the war broke out, and while Ernest Leach was still but a lad in his teens, he faced for himself the issues at stake and decided that the cause of France was the cause of right and humanity. His financial condition was all that prevented his leaving for France. Meanwhile he did what he could. He foresaw that America must sooner or later enter the struggle, and resolved that he and his friends should be ready when the call came. In his quiet way Ernest got together a group of his companions and induced them to join him in regular cross-country hikes after business hours and on Sundays to keep themselves in good physical condition. Often their courage lagged and it was always he who spurred them on, and though they thought him too enthusiastic, they followed him nevertheless. To further prepare himself he took the regular course in infantry training at Plattsburg in the summer of 1916.
The hard work which Section Eighteen was called upon to do during the summer of 1917 around Verdun, and for which they received a divisional citation for the Croix de Guerre, only served to deepen his sense of duty and responsibility in the cause which he had always cherished, and for which he had long been preparing. He writes at this time: "Any vain curiosity that I may have had regarding war is quite dispelled; war at its best is very bad. But I am glad the United States is going to do her part to end it, and in the right way . . . . . Whichever way things turn out, I won't lose. There are worse things than losing your life in the best cause a nation ever had."
For all his serious purpose, however, he had a lively sense of humor and a buoyant youthfulness that kept him cheerful. Ernest wrote: "One of the chief reasons, ---outside the joy of living,--- for my wishing to live through this war is to see how it ends."
With the breaking up of the old volunteer Ambulance Service came the heartbreaking uncertainty as to where the greatest possibility for service lay. How he decided the issue, an extract from one of his letters shows: "It took all my will power to pick aviation as my service branch after I had seen a number of planes brought down in air fights and seen the results at close range. But I feel that if anything were going to happen to me it would happen just the same in one service as another. At least you can feel here as though you were doing your full part."
And it was his full part that Leach did. To the long task of training he gave himself with the same resolute devotion which had already characterized his work at the front. The cablegram announcing his death in an aeroplane accident, January 21, 1918, also stated that he had completed in two weeks a test which usually required a month, and that he was about to be commissioned.
The spirit in which he met his death for that cause which had long since become a part of his very soul, is suggested by his own words in a letter written but a short time before: " If I don't come back, please remember that I do this willingly and gladly. I feel that the cause is worth all of me."
That he was loved by his comrades is shown clearly by the cry of sorrow in a little poem written by Lieutenant Gilbert N. Jerome, of the Air Service, who was killed in battle in July, 1918. The loss of a brother in arms is felt poignantly in the words:
"'T is but a moment since he stood
Here in our little group
And smiled and spoke,
A moment's flight, and then
He passes through the gate
That bars our view,
Leaving us desolate."
Born July 9, 1898, in New York City. Son of Charles Lennox and Sarah Greene Wright. Educated l'Ecole Alsacienne, Paris, and Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, Class of 1917. Joined American Field Service, April 28, 1917; attached Transport Section 526 to August 16, 1917; Enlisted U. S. Aviation Service. Trained at Issoudun. Commissioned First Lieutenant. Killed January 24, 1918, in aeroplane accident at Issoudun. Buried Military Cemetery, Issoudun, Indre.
"One glorious hour of crowded life,
Is worth an age without a name."
JACK WRIGHT, First Lieutenant in aviation, was only nineteen when killed in training. His little hour was so fleeting, but oh, so gloriously full. Any tribute of words to his memory seems pitifully inadequate. His life, his death, his letters, now compiled in a volume, "A Poet of the Air," and the inspiration of his philosophy, constitute a memorial which outshines any amplification of this writing.
For Jack Wright was not an ordinary individual. He was an artist,---a genius, who lived above and beyond the commonplace. By temperament he was well fitted for service in the air. His nature was naturally ecstatic, soaring, reaching out, and above. The wonder and glory of flying was always fresh to him. "It became akin to some divine privilege."
This poet felt a call and sacred duty to write of flying.
"So far there has been a soldier poet, a poet of the woods, a poet of all," he wrote, "but as yet there has been no poet of the air,---the wonderlands unknown, unfelt, unseen, but ever worshiped as God's own ground, or as the symbols of the highest soarings of men."
It is difficult to reconcile a genius and artistry such as his with war. Yet it was just such exalted vision and living idealism, contagious to a high degree, which redeemed the war, with all its cruelty. With his death, Jack Wright ceases to become an individual. He becomes a symbol,---a symbol of all the youth, and hope, enthusiasm, and idealism, which poured itself out in the blood and deeds of every man who sacrificed his all in the past war. He becomes man's ideal of his truest self, realized.
The following was written in explanation to his mother, while he was still in the Camion Service, waiting to be transferred to the Aviation, for which he had just passed his examinations.
"There are many reasons for my new action . . . . . The choice between America and Peace, or France and War ; the desire to be 'one of them' over here, and to feel worthy of France's beauty and her people's sympathy; the desire to be able to say with pride that I had done something real in the greatest of all struggles; the horror of shirking when boys like me are dying; the thousand and one other minor reasons, that turn by turn assail me more strongly ever day."
In another letter we sense that which actuated all his life: "If I could give my life to make a bit of idealism perfect itself, and live immortal on a mortal world, it would be the highest hope I could attain and the greatest happiness I could enjoy. If I were to live lukewarmly and die weakly, it would be the greatest tragedy I or any human could suffer."
Jack Wright was an American boy of nineteen. He was born in New York City. When a small child he was taken to France, where he remained until the outbreak of the war. He was educated in French schools. His playmates were the children of the artists and poets of France. When he left America with the ambulance unit he had spent three years in Andover, and was about to enter Harvard.
He spent six months at the front as driver of a camion, and three months learning to fly in the First American Aviation School in France. He had just received his commission as First Lieutenant, and would undoubtedly have been sent to the front in a few weeks time,--- the goal of his ambition, when his plane met with an accident while in the air, which ended his short hour.
Born June 28, 1895, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Son of George Andrew and Eugenia Hill Benney. Educated Shady Side Academy, Pittsburgh. Volunteer civilian cruise, U. S. Navy, 1916. Joined American Field Service, January 8, 1917; attached Section Twelve until July 11, 1917. Enlisted French Aviation. Trained, Avord, Pau, and le Plessis-Belleville. Caporal pilote, Spad Escadrille 67. Died at hospital of Glorieux, January 26, 1918, of wounds received in combat over Montfaucon the previous day. Croix de Guerre with Palm. Buried, Glorieux, Meuse.
PHILIP PHILLIPS BENNEY combined with his enthusiasm a special aptitude for flying which led his commander to write that he had "rarely seen in a pilote the qualities of courage, enterprise, and daring that he possessed." But it was his likable personality that most impressed "Phil's" comrades --that and his courage. "A braver, finer, and more lovable boy never lived. He seemed to make friends no matter where he was," wrote R. B. Hoeber, of Escadrille 103, and gives a suggestion of "Phil's" character and ability when he says: "Phil was the best friend I had over here,---we had been through all the schools together, where he was extremely popular and did ripping good work. Then finally when he got out here he was so happy, and, while he had a good deal of hard luck with his machines, he was flying beautifully." Captain d'Indy helps on the description saying that "Phil" "from his arrival won every heart by his intelligence and sincere good-fellowship," and his uncle tells how the same French officer "spoke several times of Philip's wonderful courage and what a great loss it was . . . . . because of the fact that he was loved by them all," and himself adds, "No one could help loving him, he was so frank, charming, and brave."
Having spent six years at Shady Side Academy, Philip entered the automobile business as a salesman, gaining experience there which led, when he was recommended for a reserve commission, after his summer of 1916 on a battleship with the volunteer civilian cruise, to the remark that he was especially proficient in engineering. The spirit which later caused "Phil" to enter hazardous chasse work made it impossible for him to sit at home while France battled for her existence and in January, 1917, he gave up his business and sailed for France. He went to the front with Section Twelve of the Field Service, but despite his excellent record and friendships made, he was not satisfied, and when America entered the war he waited only until his term of enlistment was ended before joining the Foreign Legion as a private and then transferring to aviation.
He entered into the training for a chasse pilote eagerly, saying that his eleven days of acrobatics at Pau "were the most wonderful days of my life," and speaking of the splendid flying days when he "worked like a dog, flying an average of five hours a day." His zest was unbounded and his happiness in service shone from his letters, while he had also a keen eye for the beautiful and was sensitive to the wonders of flying.
He joined Spad Escadrille 67 where, his officer said, "So ardent was he that I had long delayed the moment of sending him against the enemy, fearing a little too much audacity and too little experience." On January 25, 1918, with four other planes, "Phil" went on his first combat patrol. As they circled over Montfaucon seven Germans attacked, centering their fire on "Phil." Badly wounded and rapidly losing strength, he managed to land his machine within the French lines. He was hurried to the hospital at Glorieux, where two Frenchmen gave some blood in an effort to save him, but he died in the early morning. "How could I do less than give him a few drops of my blood," said one, "when he had given all of his for France?" No words could more finely characterize Philip Benney than those of his French chief:
"The poor little boy was worshiped in the squadron and admired by all because he was such a splendid soldier and of such a magnificent courage. He fell nobly, beautifully, facing the enemy in a real fight. Perhaps he envied such a death for a long time."
Born October 24, 1895, in Newark, New Jersey. Son of John M. and Mary Carroll Hopkins. Educated Newark public schools, Barringer High School, and Dartmouth College, Class of 1920. Joined American Field Service, May 5, 1917; attached Camion Sections 526 and 184 until August 6, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation. Killed in aeroplane collision at A Aviation Instruction Centre, Issoudun, January 30, 1918. Commission received after his death. Buried Issoudun, Indre. Body transferred to Fairmount Cemetery, Newark, New Jersey.
UPON reaching France and finding that men were being sought for the aviation service, Charles Alexander Hopkins at once gave in his name as an applicant for a place in the flying forces, writing that he " could not resist when he saw 'Old Glory' beckoning." While waiting to be called, however, he served, for three months, ably and faithfully as a truck driver in the Reserve Mallet. He was not going to sit idle, waiting, while there was work to do. Certainly those who knew him best were proudly confident that, however hard it promised to be, if the way seemed that of duty, "Charley" would follow it. And he did. One of his teachers had said: "He is a type France and America and England will be proud of," and his record to the very end strengthens the force of the statement and proves it true!
Charles Hopkins was a prominent school boy athlete, yet the publicity had no effect on his sincere simplicity, and he held high place in the hearts of his comrades for the fine qualities of his nature rather than because of his prowess in sports. In the words of his football coach, "There was a boy who could spread sunshine most anywhere"; and praise as a man came before praise of him as an athlete. "Charley" held on to his perspective of values in life. With him friendship stood high and he made much of it. "We sure do miss him," says a college acquaintance, and the pastor of his church says: "'Charley' was an ideal boy." His circle of friends was large, his interests varied, and his friendship was valued. In Newark "Hopkins Place" is named in memory of him, and, quoting a friend, "Everybody had a good word for 'Hoppie,' and he surely deserved all the praise that was ever given him. To put everything in a nutshell, his personality was wonderful."
At Dartmouth "Hoppie's" reputation had preceded him, but again he kept his head, and although he became a track and football "star" he never let athletics monopolize his attention. He was not a brilliant scholar but his instructor in English found in his conscientiousness and diligence something more to be valued than cleverness: "With considerable expenditure of hard work he has maintained at least a passing grade. He is not talented in facile expression, but his brain is alert and steady; he can give answers intelligently and render sound judgment in emergency." Had he remained at college "he would undoubtedly have been one of the best ends and quarter-milers that ever came to Dartmouth," wrote a classmate. A professor remarks that "he played hard football without malice, but rather in the wholesome spirit of the game," and Gerald Stone, of his class, said: "He was a true friend, a loyal brother, and had a heart of gold, which accounts for the fact that he was one of the best liked men in his class."
In the autumn of 1917 Charles began training at Issoudun as a cadet in aviation. He proved an able pilot, although he was painfully injured in an accident in December, which he describes casually enough: " I must have been making ninety miles an hour and was thirty feet from the ground when the wind caught my tail, whipped it around, and I dove straight for the ground with the speed of a demon. The machine was out of control and there was nothing to do but sit tight and wait."
On January 30, 1918, while flying at Issoudun, Charles collided with another plane, "crashed," and was killed. Lieutenant Cooper of the Air Service wrote that he "was always an excellent flyer, cool and courageous; he met his death like a true American, and as every aviator would wish to meet it, in the air."
Alphabetical Index of Names
Table of Contents: History of the American Field Service in France.