Herbert’s father was a blacksmith, and he apprenticed with him in the small town of Shapleigh in York County, Maine.
He married 26 Oct 1915 in Parsonsfield Maine to Alice J. (Thompson) Shortbridge, dau of Thatcher M. & Frances H. (Tibbetts) Thompson. His marriage certificate states his residence is in Ossipee, New Hampshire, and that his occupation was blacksmith. Herbert and Alice did not seem to have any children together.
Herbert’s wife Alice had married 1st) 2 Sep 1894 in Wakefield, Carroll Co. NH to Everett D. Shortridge, son of James H. & Mary J. (Twombly) Shortridge, who had died 14 April 1914. Everett & Alice had 2 daughters, Gladys F. (who married 1st, Harry V. Abbott; and married 2nd, Guy E. Jack) & Frances M. (who m. William H. Ross).
At the time of his filling out his WWI registration form on June 5, 1917, Herbert Edward Staples was living in the village of Mountainview within the town of Ossipee, New Hampshire and he describes himself as being of medium height and build with brown hair and eyes. His occupation was a painter, employed at C.E. & H.P. Smart in Center Harbor, NH.
According to official records, Herbert E. Staples was in U.S. Army 321st Machine Gun Battalion, 82nd Division. By October of 1918 he his rank was that of Corporal.The Official History of the 82d Division states in Chapter XVIII, “After October 21, 1918, our front lines did not advance. In the week that followed until November 1, 1918, the American army was devoting its energy to a preparation for the final drive…..Great quantities of ammunition were carried up and dumped in forward locations. Partially rested American Divisions poured into the back areas ready to relieve the exhausted remnants of the Divisions…During this period of preparation the front-line Divisions continued to exist in cold mud and water-soaked fox holes, always subjected to harassing artillery and machine-gun fire….Attacks were ordered for both October 22 and October 23 in both the 42nd Division and 78th Division but on neither day did ether Division succeed in coming abreast of our most advanced elements.”
An extract from the Division dossier of 22 October 1918: “My surgeon just now reported that at least 90 per cent of men suffering from diarrhea and exhaustion. He expresses the opinion that the great majority unable physically to endure an advance, much less make an attack….” It was at this time, on 23 October 1918 that Cpl. Herbert E. Staples was killed in action. The newspaper would not announce his death until November 25th. In the meantime, he was buried near where he fell. When the war ended, remains were collected and he was reburied in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France, in Plot E., Row 37, Grave 11, near to the battlefield where he lost his life.
Herbert E. Staples is recognized in the right side panel on the Honor Tablet in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House–a listing of those from New Hampshire who died in WWI.
[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].