New Hampshire WWI Military: Private George Clayburn of Piermont

Photograph postcard: “Arrival of Lightning
[78th] Division in Semur-en-Auxois” After
Armistice, 1918-1919. WWI Scrapbook, College
of William & Mary Digital Archive.

Piermont New Hampshire had less than 600 residents during World War I. Following that war the number of citizens would plummet to 475 by 1930 and then rise and fall until there was continuous slow growth beginning in 1980. The town sent around 10 men–its full quota that was less than 2% of its total population. Besides George Clayburn, those from Piermont who enlisted and were sent to Europe were John A. Ames (134th Field Artillery), George’s brother William Albert Clayburn (Co E, 14th Railway Engineers to Company D, 11th Engineers), Edward S. Lebeaux (Co K, 103rd Infantry), and Harry A. Wilson (Co. C, 103rd Infantry).

George Clayburn was 7 September 1892 at Chateaugay, Franklin Co. NY, son of Harry & Catherine Charlotte (Bebbington) Clayburn. In 1900 he was living in Piermont NH with parents and siblings Thomas Henry, Joseph, Mary Lettia (m. David Hall), William A. (m. Vera May Noyes) and Annie M. (m. Harold Walker).   He completed his WWI Draft Registration form on 5 June 1917 at Piermont NH. At that time he was mployed in Piermont NH in farming, was single, of medium height, with a slender build, and he had brown eyes and black hair.

Members of the 78th Division
holding the Colors. From
History of the 78th Division.

During WWI he served in Company B of the 309th Infantry, 78th Division. On 20 May 1918 he was shipped to Europe from Brooklyn NH aboard the ship Morvada. His mother, Charlotte Clayburn was listed as his next of kin, and his service # was 1749318. George Clayburn survived most of the war, participating with his division in major battles such as St. Mihiel Offensive, Limey Sector, and the Argonne Forest, to name just a few. When the Armistice was declared he would have been stationed in the 21st Training Area around Semur en Auxois just before March 1919.

On 7 March 1919 the Boston (MA) Post reported that George Clayburn of Piermont NH was wounded (degree undetermined).  Then less than 2 weeks later the Barre Daily Times (of Barre Vermont) reported that he had died of disease.  The listing of battle deaths (killed in action or wounded) in the 78th Division history book does not mention his name, which would seem to indicate his final cause of death was not from wounds, but rather the latter.  Influenza and other diseases were still a cause of casualties among the American troops in Europe.

It should be presumed that George Clayburn died sometime in March of 1919 of disease, probably near Semur en Auxois, France.  Though buried nearby at the time, after the war his body was returned home as recorded in the U.S. Military Transport lists. His remains were aboard the ship Wheaton that departed Cherbourg, France on 1 May 1921 and would have arrived within a week in Hoboken New Jersey.   He was buried with honors in South Lawn Cemetery, Piermont NH.

In 2014 the Piermont Veterans Memorial Garden was completed and unveiled at a turnaround intersection about 200 yards east of the South Lawn Cemetery entrance off Rt. 10. The Garden includes 3 granite memorials honoring all military service from the French & Indians Wars and American Revolution, to today. The garden also includes three dedicated flagpoles and two memorial benches.


[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].

 

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