James H. Basquil was born 12 January 1922 in Manchester New Hampshire to Irish
immigrants, James & Nora (Kelley) Basquil. His father James had been born in Couty Mayo Ireland, and arrived in America about 1911. James met, then married Nora Kelley in Manchester in 1916. They both became naturalized citizens of the United States and began to raise a family.
When James was born, the family was living at 398 Cedar Street [which is only a few blocks from Sheehan-Basquil Park]. Tragedy struck the Basquil family when his mother Nora died suddenly, on the day after Christmas in 1926–James was only 4 years old. The children were placed in orphanages, at least for a while. In 1930 James Basquil, along with his brothers Lewis and Edward can be found in St. Joseph’s Boy’s Home in Manchester, while his sister is at St. Patrick’s Orphanage. By 1940 the Basquil children were back living with their father James at 335 Lake Avenue. The then 18-yearo-old James H. Basquil had completed four years of high school at St. Joseph’s, and was listed as being a “NH Arts & Crafts Student NYA School Project.” [The NYA was a federal program to provide youth with employment].
A 2009 Manchester Union Leader articles states that James H. Basquil graduated from St. Anselm College in 1943, a pre-med major, but was drafted. His official records show his enlistment date into the United States Army was 22 March 1943, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and he then stated that he had 3 years of college. James H. Basquil went through basic training, and was assigned to the 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division–the famed “Yankee Division.”
According to a History of the “Yankee Division,” In August 1943, Major General Willard S. Paul, assumed command of the Yankee Division from Major General Roger W. Eckfeldt at Camp Gordon and, within a year, the Division was on its way overseas. The Yankee Division left Camp Shanks on August 26th, landed at Cherbourg and Utah Beach on September 7th. Arriving with the first convoy to land in France directly from the United States the Division moved to the Valognes Staging Area and established a Headquarters at Bourg de Lestre. The various units set up in the nearby towns and fields and initiated intensive training. During these first weeks in France the troops maintained their hard fighting edge with daily hikes and bayonet practice and further perfected their combat skills. Classes in mine removal, first aid and radio were conducted.” The Yankee Division continued its advance into France. “General Patton, issuing instructions to his commanders, spoke to the officers of the 26th Infantry Division, in an open field in the vicinity of Hoeville, France on 3 November 1944. The Army Commander spoke of the coming offensive and ordered all units to be in a state of readiness to strike fiercely at the German positions, penetrate the German lines, and continue the attack.”
An April 9, 2009 Manchester Union Leader newspaper article states, “During November 1944, the Yankee Division was involved in the fighting in and around Metz, the capital of the Lorraine region in the northeast section of France. On Nov. 8, 1944, PFC James H. Basquil was hit by mortar fragments as he was scaling a wall. He was taken to a field hospital in Nancy, France, where, at age 22, he died of his wounds on Nov. 12, 1944. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.” [These dates match his official military record.].
James H. Basquil lies buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery, at St. Avold France, Plot
C Row 10 Grace 43. His parents decided that he should remain in France, near where he so bravely fell. His parents, James and Nora, , and his brother and wife, are buried at St. Joseph Cemetery in Manchester NH. Their tombstone includes these words:
P.F.C. JAMES H.
(Buried in Nancy France)
[Editor’s Note: He died at a field hospital in Nancy France, but is buried in St. Avold France. St. Avold is 98.2km to the north-east from Nancy.].
In 1953 it was proposed to set aside a portion of land to dedicate a portion of land (then being used as a landfill) as a park to two men who had died during World War II–PFC James H. Basquil and Capt. Jeremiah A. Sheehan. When the Sheehan-Basquil Park was finally dedicated on June 21, 1991, Clem Lemire, then long-time superintendent of Manchester’s Parks & Recreation Department was Master of Ceremonies. An October 1991 article in the Union Leader newspaper reported that “family members (of Sheehan and Basquil) attended the unveiling of the new plaques were Private Basquil ‘s brothers, Lewis B. and Edward E. Basquil , and Capt. Sheehan ‘s brother, John T. Sheehan , and Mrs. Sheehan.” They go on to add: “A firing squad from Sweeney Post No. 2, consisting of John Cashin, Tom Murphy, Bob Murphy, Jim Moriarity, John Reilly, Jack Foy and bugler Wilfred Ducharme, participated.” [see my article about the park].
A commemorative marker sits affixed to a stone in front of Hunt Memorial Pool, while an American flag flies overhead. His marker reads:
PFC JAMES H. BASQUIL
104th Infantry Regt. 26th Yankee Div.
BORN JAN 12, 1922
WOUNDED NOV 3, 1944
DIED NOV 12, 1944
If you have photographs of James H. Basquil, or personal information that you believe should be included here, please contact me, or leave a comment below this story.
[Editor’s Note: This article is one of several I have written at the request of Don Pinard, Department of Public Works, Chief of Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division, City of Manchester, New Hampshire. It is a volunteer project (on my part) to better record and share the stories of the men memorialized by the city’s “Military Squares.” All the information specifically within the body of this project is shared copyright free with the City of Manchester and its representatives, with the exception of photographs provided by family or friends who still retain whatever rights conveyed to them by law.]
*****PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF JAMES H. BASQUIL*****
James Basquil, son of Michael & Annie (O’Dee) Basquill, was b. 15 September 1886 in County Mayo, Ireland and d. March 1964 in Massachusetts, age 78. He married 4 September 1916 in Manchester NH to Hanoria Josephine “Nora Kelley,” daughter of John & Mary (Igoe) Kelley. She b. 1892 in Ireland and d. 25 December 1926 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Manchester NH. At her death living at 398 Cedar Street. James Basquil immigrated about 1911 to the United States.
1901 Irish Census > County Mayo, District, Ballyhead, Townland/Street:
Bridget Dea 80
Anne Basquil 36
Michael Basquil 65
James Basquil 14
Lewes Basquil 13
Mary Basquil 10
Anne Basquil 9
Michael Basquil 8
Pat Basquil 7
Thomas Basquil 6
John Basquil 4
William Basquil 3
Edward Basquil 2
1920 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > 398 Cedar Street
Head James Basquill M 31 Ireland imm 1911 naturalized 1919 freight handler, railroad
wife Nora Basquill F 25 Ireland imm 1914, naturalized 1919
daughter Anna Basquill F 2 NH
son Lewis Basquill M 1 NH
daughter Gertrude Basquill F 0 NH
1930 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > St. Joseph Boy’s Home
Basquill, Lewis M W 11 single
Basquill, Edward M W 6 single
Basquill James M W 8 single
St. Patrick’s Orphanage
Basquil, Gertrude Pupil F W 11 single NH Ireland Ireland
Basquil, Anna M. Basquil F W 13 single NH Ireland Ireland
U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about James H. Basquil
Name: James H Basquil
Birth Year: 1922
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: New Hampshire
State of Residence: New Hampshire
County or City: Hillsborough
Enlistment Date: 22 Mar 1943
Enlistment State: Massachusetts
Enlistment City: Fort Devens
Branch: No branch assignment
Branch Code: No branch assignment
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Army of the United States – includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of
Source: Enlisted Reserve or Medical Administrative Corps (MAC) Officer
Education: 3 years of college
Civil Occupation: Actors and actresses
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
1940 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > 335 Lake Avenue
James Basquil 53 widow b. Eire, naturalized, tanner, leather mfg
Anna Basquil 23 single b NH stainer, shoe mfg co.
Lewis Basquil 21 C3 NH
Gertrude Basquil 20 H4 NH Bookkeeper Private Hospital
James H. Basquil 18 H4 NH Arts & Crafts Student NYA School Project
Edward Basquil 16 H2 NH
James H. Basquil
Private First Class, U.S. Army
104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division
Entered the Service From: New Hampshire
Service #: 11040176
Date of Death: November 12, 1944
Wars or Conflicts:
World War II
Plot C Row 10 Grave 43
Lorraine American Cemetery
St. Avold, France
Name of Deceased: Lewis B. Basquil
Gender: M (Male)
Age at Death: 92
Death Date: 22 Aug 2010
Cause of Death: Cancer
Obituary Date: 24 Aug 2010
Newspaper Title: Union Leader
Newspaper Location: Manchester, NH, USA
Birth Date: 21 Apr 1918
Spouse’s Name: Mary Ange
Parents’ Names: James Basquil and Nora (Kelley) Basquil
Childrens’ Names: Bernadine; James; Kathleen; Patricia Gocklin and husband David of Manchester
Siblings’ Names: Edward Basquill and wife Noreen of Bedford
Number of Great-grandchildren: 3
Military: U.S. Army
Edward E. Basquill, 88, of Bedford, NH, died September 6, 2011, after a brief illness. Born in Manchester, NH on July 10, 1923, he was the son of James and Nora (Kelley) Basquil. He graduated from Saint Joseph High School for Boys, Class of 1941 and Bentley College. During World War II, he served with the United States Navy. Until his retirement, he was a salesman with National Cash Register Company for thirty-five years. He was a longtime communicant of Saint Elizabeth Seton Church. He was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Family members include his wife of forty-one years, Nora A. (Mullen) Basquill of Bedford, NH; many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by two brothers, James Basquil, Lewis B. Basquil as well as two sisters, Anne Archambeault and Gertrude Weld. Services: There are no calling hours. The funeral will be held Saturday with a mass of Christian burial to be celebrated at 10 AM in Saint Elizabeth Seton Church, Bedford, NH. Burial will follow in Saint Joseph Cemetery, Bedford, NH. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Monastery of the Precious Blood, 700 Bridge Street, Manchester, NH 03104.
Children of James & Nora (Kelley) Basquil:
1. Ann Mary “Anna” Basquil, b abt 1917 Manchester NH; m. 14 Feb 1942 in Manchester NH to Arthur Clifton Archambault, son of Frank & Emma (Huber) Archambault.
2. Lewis Bernard Basquil, b 21 April 1918, d. 22 Aug 2010; m. 20 Sep 1947 in Manchester NH to Mary Ange Beatrice Tessier, dau of Eugene & Oneda (Bourke) Tessier. He was a veteran and a participant in D-Day invasion of Normandy at Omaha Beach.
3. Gertrude Mary Basquil, b. abt 1920 NH; m. 15 Feb 1947 in Manchester NH to Robert Paul Weld, son of Ernest P. & Kathryn A. (Baker) Weld
4. James H. Basquil, b. 12 January 1922 Manchester NH [this story is about him, see above]
5. Edward E. Basquill, b. 10 July 1923 in Manchester NH; d. 2011. He married Nora A. Mullen.
6.John Joseph Basquill, b. 4 April 1925, d. 12 April 1925 Manchester NH
7. Child (male) Basquill, b and d 17 Nov 1926 in Manchester NH