William Moses Bourdeau was born on 16 July 1895 in Concord, Merrimack Co., New Hampshire, son of Frank & Josephine (Gouthier) Bourdeau. Frank had been born in Canada, and stated he had been naturalized to become a citizen.
William was the fifth of eleven children in the Bourdeau household, his siblings who lived to adulthood being Mary Georgianna, Joseph Francis, Simon Ira, Estelle, Thomas Francis, John Henry, George Arthur, Auguste Anthony, and Adelard Joseph.
He grew up in, and attended Concord NH schools. His parents lived first at 73 South Spring Street, and later at 178 Pembroke Road, and 44 Downing Street.
William M. Bourdeau filled out a WW1 Registration form on June 5, 1917 while he was living in Concord NH. He states then that his occupation is bricklayer for Hutchinson Building Company. He describes himself as being of medium height and weight, with blue eyes and dark hair.
William was recruited into the regular United States Army and his official paperwork states that he served in Company M., 23rd U.S. Regiment. The history of the 23rd Regiment indicates that it was deployed to Europe in October of 1917. He probably received additional training while there.
The first large-scale battle fought by American soldiers in World War I began on in late May 1918 in Belleau Wood, located northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road. For three weeks the fighting was intense of both sides. The soldiers would have been attacked with machine guns, artillery, and gas. On June 26 when the Americans had finally commanded the area, nearly 10,000 soldiers were dead, wounded, or missing in action.
A cablegram from General HQ, AEF France, June 7, 1918 states there were eleven soldiers missing in Action on June 6th, all from the same Company M, 23d Infantry including William M. Bourdeau. It appears that his remains were not found, for his name can be found, to this day, on the Tablet of the Missing, at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, Departement de l’Aisne, Picardie, France. It should be stated here that a soldier was only listed as “Killed in Action,” if remains that could be positively identified could be found. Sadly this was not the case.
It should be noted that his mother, Josephine, visited that cemetery in 1931 with a group of Gold Star Mothers. She can be found on an 8 August 1931 listing of the ship “Roosevelt,” returning from France with other women who did the same. At that time she was living in New York City with two of her children.
=====PARTIAL GENEALOGY of William Moses Boudreau====
Frank Bourdeau b abt 1862 Canada d — (before 1920 census when Josephine is a widow); m. Josephine Gouthier, she b 20 Feb 1869 Milton Vermont d —. On 8 August 1931 she was a passenger on the ship “Roosevelt,” returning from a Gold Star Mother’s trip to Europe, her address at that time 759 E 168th St Apt #1 NY NY. In 1940 census, living in Bronx, NYC.
1897 Concord City Directory
Bourdeau, Frank, laborer, h 73 So. Spring
1910 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord NH > 178 Pembroke Road
Frank Bourdeau 48 naturalized 1870 mason, brick layer [b abt 1862 Canada]
Josephine Bourdeau 41
Willie M. Bourdeau* 14
Francis Bourdeau 12
John K. Bourdeau 11
Arthur Bourdeau 8
August Bourdeau 7
Adlore Bourdeau 6
1920 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord NH
Josaphine Bourdeau 50
Thomas F. Bourdeau 22
John H. Bourdeau 21
Arther P. Bourdeau 18
Auguste A Bourdeau 17
Adelard J. Bourdeau 16
Josephen M. Bourdeau 17 daughter-in-law F W 17 M
1940 US Census > NY > NYC > Bronx > 470 Brook Ave
Bourdeau, Josephine Head F W 71 widow M 6y school VT formerly Manhattan NY
Bourdeau, Clara F W 48 S 4y NH formerly Manhattan
Bourdeau, August son M W 37 single NH formerly Manhattan dishwasher restaurant
Children of Frank & Josephine (Gouthier) Bourdeau:
1. Mary Georgianna “Georgia” Bourdeau, b. 23 June 1887 Concord NH; d. 24 Aug 1967 Hanover NH; m. Walter Edgar Evans (1881-1971). Child: Mildred Josephine b 4 April 1905, d. 1986 who m. Albert Edward Clifford (1902-1991).
2. Joseph Francis Bourdeau, b. 29 March 1889 Concord NH, d. 3 March 1961; m1) Antoinette Commings-Allen, dau of Wiliam & Minnie (Hamel) Cummings; served in US Navy from 1907-1922, USS Salem; buried Calvary Cemetery, Portsmouth NH.
3. Simon Ira Bourdeau, b. 15 Oct 1890 Concord NH; in 1910, aged 20, an inmate of the NH State Hospital.
4. Clara Estelle Bourdeau, b. 12 Oct 1891 Concord NH; in 1910 & 1920, an inmate of the Laconia State School, working in the kitchen. In 1940 living with her mother in the Bronx, New York, single, along with her younger brother August.
5. *William Moses Bourdeau, b. 16 July 1895 Concord NH [this story is about him]
6. Thomas Francis Bourdeau, b. 24 June 1897 Concord NH; he m. 30 Oct 1921 in Beverly MA to Lillian Blanch Gendron, dau of Joseph & Georgina (Parent) Gendron. He registered for the WW1 Draft.
7. John Henry Bourdeau, b. 4 December 1898 Concord NH; removed to Greenburgh, Westchester NY, living there 1940 with wife Mary, and children Rita, Irene, and John
8. George Arthur Bourdeau, b. 22 Sep 1901 Concord NH
9. Auguste Anthony Bourdeau, b. 9 Nov 1902 Concord NH; He m. 18 Oct 1941 Manchester NH to Marie Angele Cote, dau of Frank & Marie (Marcotte) Cote
10. Adelard Joseph Bourdeau, b. 31 October 1903 Concord NH, died later than his wife; m. 24 June 1924 in Concord NH to Marie A. Turgeon, dau of Joseph A. & Lyda/Lida (Gaudreau) Turgeon. She was b. 25 June 1900 in Concord NH and d. 4 August 1951 in Concord NH.
11. son, [Thomas] b. 10 March 1908 Concord NH, d. 11 March 1908 Concord NH; lived 38 hours, congenital malformation of heart; buried Calvary Cemetery, Concord NH
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].
My father, Ernest Hardy, of Webster NH was in WWI. Somewhere I have a letter he wrote of his experiences although he was never deployed outside the states.
Judy, I have a photograph of your father, taken at the same time as the others I am writing about. He was wounded in action, so he got on this list. I was working on the ones who didn’t return from the war. If you want me to do a story about him, I would be honored to. He is listed as being from Penacook, but I am sure its the same man.
So sad. How awful to have no closure.
There were many parents, wives, children, siblings, etc. who did not have closure. This story “War Graves on the 1914-1918 Front” speaks of those missing at http://www.greatwar.co.uk/war-graves/ww1-war-graves.htm.
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Nice article. Apparently William is my great uncle. So sad!!
Michael, WWI was a sad time. Millions of people died either from the war or (more) from influenza. I am glad that the heroism of William Bourdeau will be remembered.
Thank you so much for this wonderful, informative article! Private William M. Bourdeau is my Great-Uncle and to read this story about him is amazing.
Jeanette, I so much appreciate that you let me know. My goal in all of this researching and writing is to let people know about local heroes, such as your Great-Uncle, but also hoping to reunite their face and story with their relatives. So that their heroism will be remembered!
I’m so proud to learn that my great uncle was Private William M. Bourdeau and that he served for our country. If you find additional info or photos please send them to me.
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