New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Peterborough

Postcard of Peterborough’s original wooden
honor roll for WWI service. From collection of
J.W. Brown.

When the United States entered the World War in April of 1917, the citizens of Peterborough rallied to service.  Over 100 men joined or rejoined the armed service branches in some capacity. By the time the war ended, four gold stars would represent the heroic lives of those who would never return home–William H. Cheney, Edward F. Greene, Carroll D. Harpell, and David Johns.

Even before the war ended, service was being recognized on an Honor Roll made of wood, and hand painted by A.L. Holt. The board stood south of the Town House building on the west side of Grove Street. The names of those who fell or died in service were preceded by a gold star.  An old postcard of that sign is shown here.  On 11 November 1923 two bronze plaques replaced the wooden sign.  My own list combing the names from both is shown in the honor roll directly below.

“The Doughboy,” an ink sketch
from Battery A 103rd Field
Artillery in France; Frederick
McKenna editor, 1919.

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WORLD WAR I HONOR ROLL
–OF PETERBOROUGH NH–

Names show below as they appeared on both the original wooden list and the newer bronze plaque.  Most names were repeated on the plaque, however names found only on the bronze honor roll are noted here with a [2] notation.  Names from the original wooden list that were not added to the bronze honor roll plaque are follow by a [-]. Those who died in service have an * before their name.

Ames, Charles W.
Austin, James W.
Austin, Seymour
Bagley, Earl C.
Bailey Walter [2]
Barton, John
Bastille, John E.
Batchelder, Charles F. Jr.
Batchelder, Philip
Bishop, Chester A.
Bishop, Harold I.
Bishop, Perley G.
Blake, Fred E. [2]
Boisvert, Theodore [2]
Bonnette, David I.[-]
O’Neil Bousquet [2]
Bowles, Lewis P.
Bryer, John [-]
Burton, Howard
Butterfield, Raymond [2]
Caldwell, William R.
Callahan, William H. [2]
Cass, Harley M.
Cassidy, Emery
Chamberlain, Ernest W.
Chamberlain, Lloyd M.
Cheney, Charles W.
*Cheney, William H.
Cleveland, Hollis H.
Colburn, Alfred J.
Coughlan, Anthony M. [2]
Crowell, Paul F.
Cunningham, Paul M.
Cunningham, Roger F.
Dargie, Philida [2]
Derby, Marshall A.
Derby, Robert W.
Devio, John P.
Diamond, Arthur L.
Donnell, William O. [2]
Dorman, James H.
Egan, George K.
Ellingwood, Edward
Ellis, Raymond S.
Fenerty, Frank F.
Fontaine, Archille U.
Foster, Frank B.
Fraser, Charles E.K.
Frost, Leroy B [2]
Garneau, Charles J.
Garneau, Fred J.
Ghilardi, Leo [2]
Girard, Walter H.
Goodwin, Lloyd T.
*Greene, Edward F.
Hall, Cherry A.
Hall, Berl M. [-Pearl A.]
Hannon, Daniel E.
Hargreaves, Isaiah
*Harpell, Carroll D.
Hills, Frank S.
Hough, Elmer W.
Jarest, Joseph L. [2]
*Johns, David
Kearns, John T.
Lash, Albert L.
Lebritton, Arthur P.
Liscord, Paul S.
Lucier, Edward [2]
Macri, Antonio
Mahoney, Daniel P.
Manaigre, Esdras [2]
Marquette, Louise J. [2]
Marquette, Samuel J.
Martin, George C.
Martin, Henry A.
McConville, Joseph A.
McLaughlin, Frank A.
McLaughlin, William J. [2]
McLean, Harold M. [2]
McNeil, William A.
Merritt, Charles W.
Montgomery, Gayle H.
Morison, Horace
Murphy William
Nichols, Lester
Nyland, Henry J.
O’Connor, Charles G.
O’Neill John F.
Paquet, Raphael A.
Parker, Walter M.
Peaque, Edward J.
Perry, Theodore [2]
Ramsey, George M.
Ramsey, William M.
Raymo, Frank
Robbe, Louis E.[-]
Robichaud, Charles
Rose, Silas
Sangermano, Joseph
Seccoumbe, Roger
Smith, Harry F.
Snow, Walter A.
Sounier, Peter E.
Spaulding, Carl A.
Stanghelina [Stanghellini], Amerigo
Stanghelina [Stanghellini], Peter
Thomas, John J.
Vaughan, Arthur O.
Vose, Roy M.
Waite, James E.
Walbridge, Robert E.
Weeks, William P.
White, Alpheus B.
Williams, Clarence D.
Wright, Harry

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NAMES THAT SHOULD BE ON THE
PETERBOROUGH NH MONUMENT

Harold D. Carew, Corporal, Battery D, 73rd Artillery CAC.  He was the son of Harry D. & Ella Annie (Welch) Carew.  By 1910 his father and step-mother, Fannie F. (Richardson) Carew were living in Peterborough, his father working as a barber.  He registered for the WWI Draft in Cambridge MA. Harold was educated to be a lawyer, but his life-long work was as a journalist–newspaper stories, books, historical stories, poetry. During WWI he listed his residence as Peterborough NH.

William F. Fassett, Lieut Colonel, General Staff Corps, National Army.  He was born in Nashua NH son of James & Ellen Maria “Nellie” (Merrill) Fassett.  During WWI his mother was living at 62 Concord Street in Peterborough NH and he listed the town as his residence.

Austin G. Lund, Private, 6th Co., 101st Ammunition Train. He was born 29 Dec 1894 in Groton VT, the son of Son of Hollis A. & Georgiana (Carpenter) Lund. He registered for the WWI Draft from Peterborough NH, and served in Europe.

Photo of Maj. Gen Clarence R.
Edwards from History of the Yankee
Division by Harry A. Benwell. 1919.

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–A WELCOME HOME in 1919–

The Boston Sunday Globe of 11 May 1919 published an article detailing how the heroes were welcomed home: “GEN EDWARDS AIDS PETERBORO WELCOME. Town Pays Tribute to Its Returned Service Men.  Banquet Reception and Dance Comprise the Program. — Special Dispatch to the Globe.  PETERBORO, N.H. May 10–The war heroes of Peterboro were given a great welcome by their townspeople this afternoon and evening. All the large buildings and many homes were decorated with the National colors and the Town Hall was trimmed with bunting and flags.  The town’s service flag has 100 stars, three of gold in memory of Lieut. William H. Cheney, killed in Italy; Lieut. Edward F. Greene, who died in Boston, and David Johns, killed in France. [Editor’s note, Carroll Harpell is not mentioned in this article].  Maj. Gen. and Mrs. Clarence R. Edwards arrived about 4 pm and were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Schofield until the opening of the exercises with a banquet at 6 o’clock in in the assembly room of the Town Hall building. covers were laid for 150 including the returned men, the G.A.R. and special guests. Maj. Frank b. Foster was toastmaster and responses were made from the leading men of the town. Following the banquet there was a formal reception to Gen. Edwards in the Town Hall. He was assisted in receiving by Lieut. Simpkins and Col. Partridge of Keene, N.H. At the close of the reception Rev. Ernest W. Eldridge, chairman of the citizens’ committee, extended the town’s welcome to the returned men and there was a short address by Gen. Edwards. The program closed with a ball in the Town Hall until 12 o’clock. The banquet committee included Mrs. Frederick G. Livingston, chairman; Mrs. Frank H. Belcher and Mrs. H.W. Nicholas assisted by a corps of young women waitresses. The committee in charge of the decorating comprised Theodore W. Gunn, Arthur L. Carpenter and Fred L. Ames. The citizens’ general committee was composed of Ernest W. Elbridge, Theodore W. Gunn, George E. Clement, Eben W. Jones, Fred L. Ames, Charles W. Jellison, John W. Derby, Herbert F. Nichols, Benjamin F.W. Russell, James F. Brennan, George D. Cummings, Robert J. Paquet, Ralph H. Ames, Robert T. Jackson, Maurice H. Nichols, William H. Schofield and Arthur L. Carpenter.”

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–DEDICATION OF PETERBOROUGH NH
WORLD WAR I MEMORIALS IN 1922 & 1923–

On Sunday July 23rd 1922 a bronze plaque was dedicated at the Unitarian Church in Peterborough NH to the men of the church who were in the Great War. The tablet was placed upon the wall to the right of the pulpit [read the entire story here].

Peterborough NH Memorial Gate dedicated in
1923 to those who served in World War I.

The Peterborough Transcript of Nov 8, 1923 reported: “Nov. 11, 1918 at eleven o’clock in the morning the order to cease firing was given, the Armistice went into effect and the terrible World War entered the annals of history. America had gloriously donated her part and but for her entrance in 1917 there is little doubt that that the final results would have been entirely different. It did not seem possible that men could be trained, equipped, and placed upon the firing line in such short time as was accomplished by our government. Whatever criticisms we had to make are long since forgotten. //  Peterborough has always taken its place in the front rank whenever called upon for men or money in the defense of right. She did her part in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Rebellion, and the Spanish War. When the U.S. entered the World War, she more than upheld her proud record of the past. Old Troop A. Cavalry was merged into Company b 103rd Machine Gun battalion. This company was made up largely from men in this immediate vicinity. Others enlisted in different branches or reported at Camp Devens under the Draft Law, where they were assigned to various units and sent across. Those at home gave freely of their time and money and many were the articles of wearing apparel made in the homes and sent across to the boys at the front. Anxiously we scanned the papers during those terrible months when our hearts were filled with anxiety for our boys and sadness prevailed throughout the community when the newspapers published the names of those who paid the supreme sacrifice. What joy was ours when on that morning in November we earned that the Armistice had been signed and the fighting was over. Our patience was sorely tried for some months until we read the boys were on board ship, bound for home. Many fathers, mothers and friends made the journey to Boston to witness the great Y.D. parade and greet their loved ones.  //   At the annual town meeting in 1919 an appropriation was made and a committee appointed to erect a suitable Monument to the boys who participated in the war. The Committee discussed different propositions and was reappointed from year to year until the summer when they decided to raise the money by popular subscription and erect the Memorial which will be dedicated next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. a few hours more than five years from the time the Armistice went into effect.  // This memorial consists of a gate and fence connecting the Historical Building and the Town House with a bronze tablet on either side of the gate. Upon one tablet are the names of the soldiers from Peterborough, on the other this inscription which Pres. Eliot of Harvard very kindly consented to write:
To the Patriot Soldiers of Peterborough
who answered the call
of their country in the World War
1917 1918
They bore the hardships and took the risks
of camp trench and battle
And served gallantly wherever stationed
Their names are inscribed with gratitude and love
upon this enduring Memorial
that future generations
may be inspired.
The program of dedications has been arranged by the committee not with an idea of pomp and show, but rather of dignity and solemnity. Wm. H. Cheney Post, A.L., the Auxiliary and invited guests will meet at the Legion Headquarters and with the Peterborough Band will march to the Memorial where the following program will take place at 2:30 p.m.
Invocation: Rev. H.E. Danielson
Unveiling of Tablets: By Gold Star Mother, Mrs. Schofield; Member of Draft Board, Major Brennan.
Placing Wreaths below Tablets: Legion Commander Montgomery and Fred J. Ames, Selectman
Presenting Memorial to Town: Chairman of Memorial Committee
Acceptance of Memorial: Chairman Board of Selectman
Address: Gov. Fred H. Brown
Star Spangled Banner: Peterborough Band
Benediction: Rev. H.E. Danielson
During the ceremony no automobiles will be allowed upon Grove Street between Main and School Street, this entire space being reserved for citizens and visitors who will be present on this occasion. Should the weather be unfavorable for holding these exercises outdoors, after placing the wreaths before the tablets, the balance of the program will be carried out in the Town House. A guard of two men from the Legion will be on duty in front of the Tablets from 6:30 a.m. Sunday until the hour of dedication. Following the exercises the American Legion extends an invitation to the public to inspect their headquarters and the addition recently completed. The boys feel that is is very little they can do to show their appreciation to the people for the erection of this Memorial as well as for the quarters which they now enjoy. Comparatively few people have visited their home since the improvements were made and the Post takes this opportunity to invite everyone to make them a call.  //  Elsewhere in the Transcript will be found a list of those subscribed to the financial success of the Memorial. No subscription was too small to be recognized and if any names have been omitted the Committee will be pleased to be notified and have corrections made [entire list here].

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Heroes of PETERBOROUGH NH
Died In Service During WWI
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William H. Cheney | 1st Lieutenant | Killed in Accident (air collision) on 20 January 1918,  Foggia Italy | A.S., S.O.R.C., A.E.F. (Italy) | Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno, Foggia Italy | [1]

Edward F. Greene | Lieutenant  | Died of Disease (pulmonary TB) 18 Dec 1917 Cambridge MA  | U.S.N. retired; Served as an instructor at Harvard University for ensign training, and a lecturer on naval affairs |Pine Grove Cemetery, Westborough MA | [2]

Carroll D. Harpell | Sergt. | Died of Wounds RIA  18 July 1918 near Belleau, France | Co B, 103d Machine Gun Battalion | Asine-Marne American Cemetery, France | [3]

David Johns | Private | Died of Wounds RIA 18 July 1918 France | Co. B, 103d Machine Gun Battalion | Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, France | [4]

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B I O G R A P H I E S
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[1] William Halsall Cheney was born 15 January 1897 in Colorado Springs, El Paso Co. Colorado, son of Charles Paine & Mary Ward (Lyon) Cheney [later Mrs. W.H. Schofield].  His father was a banker and broker who died a few weeks after William’s birth. His widowed mother married 2d) 24 Sep 1907 to Prof. William Henry Schofield, Ph.D., head of Dept of comparative Literature, Harvard University. She was widowed a second time and owned an estate on East Hill in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

The book, Book: New England Aviators 1914-1918: Their Portraits by Caroline Ticknor, 1919 has a wonderful biography of William H. Cheney as follows: ” *WILLIAM HALSALL CHENEY . First Lieutenant, A.S., S.O.R.C.  Killed in airplane accident at Foggia, Italy, Jan 20 1918.  Son of Charles P Cheney and Mary C. Cheney (Schofield), of Peterboro, N.H.; was born at Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 15, 1897. He was educated at St. Mark’s School, and at Harvard College class of 1920. He was captain of St. Mark’s School football team in 1915-1916; and member of the Harvard freshmen football team in 1916. During his vacations in 1915 and 1916 he took preliminary training in Aviation at Newport News Va. He left college in his freshman year to enlist in U.S. Aviation Service. March 31, 1917 he entered the School of Military Aeronautics at Urbana, Ill., and graduated as Honor Student on July 25, 1917. He sailed overseas and took advanced training in flying in Italy, and was the first American to win the Italian Military Flying Brevet on October 18, 1917. He was commissioned 1st Lieut., A.S., S.O.R.C. on Nov. 23, 1917. On January 20, 1918, Lieut. Cheney was accidentally killed at Foggia, Italy, in an airplane collision which resulted in the death of two other aviators.  The accident is described in the following letter from Headquarters of Major Ryan, commanding the U.S.S.C, Foggia, under date of Jan. 20, 1918. “With the profoundest feeling of sympathy for you and sorrow for your loss, I wish to inform you of the death of your son, 1st Lieutenant William H. Cheney, Aviation Section, Signal Officers Reserve Corps, a

Lieut. William H. Cheney

member of this command, on January 20, 1918. Your son served under my command since leaving the United States, and by his delightful personality, keenness for work, and devotion to duty proved himself a man, a soldier, and a gentleman in every respect and worthy of the greatest respect and admiration by all with whom he came in contact. His death, which was instantaneous, was one of those almost impossible and wholly unavoidable accidents. He was piloting a machine with Lieut. Oliver B. Sherwood as observer and flying over the training field. At the same time another machine, piloted by Aviation Cadet George A. Beach, was also in the air. A very low cloud of fog blew over the training field and closed around your son’s machine. He immediately turned to get out of the fog, and as the machine emerged, it struck the machine of Cadet Beach who was also endeavoring to avoid the fog. Both machines fell to the ground, a distance of about one hundred and fifty feet. The funeral was held from the Italian Military Hospital in Foggia, at two o’clock in the afternoon of the twenty-first, and was attended by troops and officers of the American, Italian, French and English Armies. All three men were buried with full military honors. This noble sacrifice, although very hard to bear, is one every soldier is ready to make at any time for his country, and it was a comfort to know that he died as he desired, a soldier, a flier, honorably, in the defense of his country, of liberty, and democracy for the world.  Signed, Wm. Ord Ryan, Major, J.M.A. Signal Corps.”

First Lieutenant William H. Cheney was buried in Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno, Foggia Italy.   His name appears on several honor rolls including Peterborough’s bronze Memorial Gate WWI plaque, the WWI plaque in the Unitarian Church, and on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House, Concord NH.

The Peterborough American Legion Post was named in his honor. The Cheney Award was established in 1927 in his honor. “This aviation award of valor, presented by what is known today as the U.S. Air Force, is awarded for extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest performed in connection with aircraft, but not necessarily of a military nature.”

Additional Reading: World War I: American Caproni Pilots in Italy (History.net)

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Edward Forbes Greene in
1904 upon graduating from
Annapolis Naval Academy

[2] Edward Forbes Greene was born 22 December 1884 in Kyoto Japan, son of Daniel Crosby & Mary Jane (Forbes) Greene, American missionaries.  He attended the University of Illinois’ academy in 1899-1900. He entered Annapolis Naval Academy on 26 Sep 1900, graduating four years later.  Edward F. Greene then actively served in the United States Navy until 9 October 1909 when he was admitted to the United States Navy Hospital at Fort Lyons Colorado (later called Los Animas Hospital) diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis.  He formally retired from the navy on 13 February 1911 with the rank of Lieutenant, and discharged from the hospital on 31 May 1911. In 1913 and 1914 (according to newspapers) he lived in Bend, Oregon.

In 1915 he was living in Peterborough New Hampshire, where his mother had an estate.  The Peterborough Transcript newspaper of 11 November 1915. page 2 reported on: “Social at All Saints’.  As All Saints’ was the name chosen for the Episcopal church here, everything connected with the festival which has just passed is especially loved and celebrated by this parish. The Parish House was full at the social on Thursday evening to hear Mr. Edward Greene tell of his personal experiences in the United States Navy. He told in a most interesting way of days when he was stationed in China, of his later cruise with the fleet around the world, and of their efforts to be of service at the time of the Messina earthquake.  To carry out the evening’s program of things connected with the sea, Mr. MacDowell’s “To The Sea,” was played by Miss Dora pierce, and Mr. Alfred Noye’s poem “The Admiral’s Ghost” was read by Mrs. Schofield. “The Sailor’s Chorus” from “Pinafore” was sung by Messrs Blaisdale, Haskins, Webb and Keddy, who were inimitable in their sailor costumes.

The University Notes, The Harvard Graduates’ Magazine Vol 26, 1917 provides a biography: “Lieutenant Edward F. Greene, U.S.N., retired, who came to Harvard last autumn to give a course in naval science and tactics to a class of undergraduates who desired to fit themselves to become ensigns in the Navy, died suddenly on Dec. 18, 1917. Ill health had compelled him to retire from active service several years ago, and, although he tried to resume work when the United States entered the war, the physicians forbade him to continue it. Then, although he had full comprehension of the risk, he went to Cambridge to teach. On his way from the college to the house in Cambridge where he was staying, he was attacked by a sudden hemorrhage, which resulted fatally in a few hours. Lieutenant Greene was almost 33 years old at the time of his death. He was a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis; his four brothers are Harvard men: E.B. Greene ’90, Dr. D.C. Greene ’95; J.D. Greene ’96 and R.S. Green ’01.”

The Alumni Quarterly and Fortnightly Notes, Volume 3 of Illinois University reported on his funeral.  The University and the War. Edward Forbes Green ’00 acad.  “The sudden death Dec. 17 of Lieut. Edward Forbes Greene, ’00 acad, at Cambridge, Mass, where he had been instructor in the naval training class at Harvard, brings the Illini military deaths up to six. Funeral services were held at Cambridge, and memorial exercises (Dec 21) at Osborne hall at the University. Lieut. Greene, who was born Dec. 22, 1884 at Kyoto, Japan, attended the University academy in 1899-1900 (Illinois University) and four years later graduated from the U.S. navy academy. His services in the navy extended to 1911, when he retired on account of ill health. At the outbreak of the world war, he resumed service and in his earnest way was doing what he could at the time of his death. He was a brother of Elizabeth Greene ’04, Mrs. C.S. Griffin, ’00, and Prof. E.B. Greene, head of the history department at the University. Lieut. Greene was awarded a medal for his conspicuouos work in connection with the Messina earthquake disaster. Activities at Harvard were suspended during his funeral.”  There were separate funeral arrangements in Peterborough, NH–December 20, 1917 Peterborough Transcript, page 3
The early Communion service at All Saints’ chapel at 9 o’clock Sunday will keep the remembrance of Lieut. Edward Greene of Peterborough who died suddenly in Cambridge, Dec 18.”

Lieut. Edward F. Greene appears to be buried in Pine Grove cemetery, Westborough MA in a family plot, with his own headstone.  [Editor’s note: There is a second claim that he lies buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, however that body was not buried there until 1948, so I suspect that is a different man.]   Edward F. Greene’s name is engraved on one of the limestone columns that support the Illinois University Memorial Stadium, on Peterborough’s bronze Memorial Gate WWI plaque, and on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall, New Hampshire State House.

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Sgt. Carroll D. Harpell

[3]  Carroll Dalton Harpell was born 21 Feb 1895 at Jeddore, Nova Scotia, Canada, son of John & Ada Venorah (Baker) Harpell.  He grew up and attended schools in Nova Scotia, for he is found there in both the 1901 and 1911 Canadian Census records.  City school records show that he also attended Webster school in Everett MA.

By 1917 he had moved to the United States, for he registered for WWI Draft on 5 June 1917 at Peterborough NH. He was then 22 yrs old, single, a corporal in the U.S. Cavalry, NH National Guard (for 1 year). He lists his occupation as floor layer for Harry Miller, Peterborough NH. His personal description was that he was of medium height and build, with hazel eyes and dark brown hair.

The Gold Star Record of Massachusetts offers this biography: ” Harpell, Carroll Dalton, Sergeant, died 18 July 1918 of wounds received in action [near Belleau]. Enl. 19 June 1916, Troop A., 1st Cav., N.H.N.G.; trans. to Co. B, 103d M.G. Bn., 26th Div. He served on Mexican border 1916. corporal 4 Feb 1917. Sergeant 9 Aug 1917. Overseas 3 Oct 1917. Born 21 Feb 1897 in Nova Scotia, son of John & Ada V. Harpell; brother of Junita Wilhelmina Arnell, Althea John, Gerald, Beulah, Volney D. (corporal, 151st D.B.) and Daniel E. (stationed at camp Meade). All of Everett. Carpenter, employed in Peterboro, N.H. Resident in Massachusetts twelve years. Credited to New Hampshire.

The local newspaper, the Peterborough Transcript of 1 August 1918, page 3 reported: “DIED OF WOUNDS. The second death has been reported from Co. B, 103d Machine Gun Battalion which is in the 26th Division and takes a prominent part in the recent drives in France. Harpell enlisted here and left Peterborough with our boys a little over a year ago. Sergeant Carroll D. Harpell, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Harpell, 63 Madison avenue, Everett, died July 18 of wounds received in action. He was born in Nova Scotia and enlisting at the age of 19, served with Troop A, First New Hampshire Cavalry, on the Mexican border. He has two brothers in service – Corporal Volney D. Harpell at Camp Devens and Private David E. Harpell at Camp Meade, Md.”

Carroll D. Harpell is buried at the Asine-Marne American Cemetery, France.  He is recognized with an inscription on Peterborough NH’s bronze Memorial Gate WWI plaque, and on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall, New Hampshire State House. His sister Evelyn planted a Memorial Tree in Everett MA in his memory.  His mother’s name is on a list of women desiring to participate in the 1930 Gold Star Mother’s Pilgrimage.

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David Johns was born 17 January 1894 in Cardiff Wales.  It is unknown when he immigrated to the United States, and he did not seem to have immediate family living nearby.  He registered for the WWI Draft on 5 June 1917 at Peterborough NH when he as  living on Main Street, single, aged 23. At that time he was working as a grocery clerk for W.A. Bryer & Co of Peterborough NH. He has served for 1 month in the NH State National Guard, cavalry, and stated he had already filed intention to be naturalized.  He was short and of medium build with blue eyes and dark brown hair. Along with several others in Peterborough and nearby towns, as a member of the NH National Guard he was called to service, as a Private in Co. B, 103rd Machine Gun Battalion.  Between 16 Apr 1918-30 Aug 1918 he was shipped to Europe aboard the ship Cedric [along with Carroll Harpell]. At that time he listed his next of kin as John Johns (brother) who lived at 148 Williams Street, Brantford PQ Canada.

“Machine Gunners,” an ink sketch from Battery A 103rd Field Artillery in France; Frederick McKenna editor, 1919.

Apparently he was missing in action for some time. The Peterborough Transcript of 26 Sep 1918 reported: “A letter recently received by Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Walbridge from their son Lieut R. E. Walbridge in France, gives no enlightenment as to the whereabouts of David Johns who is also with the 103rd Machine Gun battalion. Johns was severely wounded in both knees, and has not been located at any hospital as far as is known.”   By May of 1919 there were still questions about him, and The Fort Des Moines Post newspaper of Friday May 2, 1919 published THE PORT OF MISSING MEN, advertising for people trying to locate missing servicemen, as follows: “Private David Johns, Company B, 103rd Machine Gun Battalion, Fifty-second brigade, twenty-sixth Division. Last heard of in July. Inquiry from Charles G. Parkhurst, 11 Winter Street, Peterborough, N.H.

The final disposition of David Johns is that he Died of Wounds received in action on 18 July 1918 in France, the same day that Sergeant Harpell died.   He is buried in France in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.  David John’s name is engraved on Peterborough NH’s bronze Memorial Gate WWI plaque, and on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall, New Hampshire State House.


[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].

This entry was posted in History, Military of New Hampshire, NH WW1 Military and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Peterborough

  1. Pingback: New Hampshire World War I Military: Heroes of The Great War | Cow Hampshire

  2. Michael says:

    It must have been a terrible torment for families of soldiers like David Johns to not know the whereabouts or condition of their loved ones in the battlefield.

    This is a continued great service, Janice. I’m glad you’re able to identify the names that should be on the Peterborough, NH monument. Someone has to do it, even if it’s virtually.

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