New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of New Ipswich

Old postcard showing view of New Ipswich NH circa 1910.

In 1917 the town of New Ipswich had around 900 residents (927 in 1910 and 869 by 1920). Everyone supported the war effort with local men and women raising funds during the Liberty Drives and sending goods and money to relieve the suffering of Belgian and other European families.

Garden parties and musical events were held in New Ipswich to raise money for the Red Cross. The library was involved in helping ship books to citizen soldiers. In August of 1918 Philip F. Gordon was the town’s chairman of the committee of public safety. Notice was received from the state historian that “an honor roll recording the names of all men in the service with their achievements and dates of entry and discharge and also that the historian in case of commendable bravery and distinguished honors write a letter to the next of kin.”

New Ipswich New Hampshire’s WWI monument. Photograph taken by Richard S. Marsh, at “Images of New Hampshire History;” used with permission.

The Fitchburg Sentinel newspaper of 25 Aug 1925 page 9 stated: “In the World War, New Ipswich contributed 29 men to the cause of the Allies. Four of these lost their lives–Roche Gagnon, Earl R. Maxwell, Eno Pascal Vincent and Richard Fairfield, who, a volunteer under age, was the first American soldier to lose his life on Italian soil.”

✫★✫★✫★✫★✪🌟✪✫★✫★✫★✫★
The WWI monument itself is a bronze plaque engraved with both the names of those served, and the four who would never return. The transcription of this monument follows:

1917 IN HONOR OF 1919
THE MEN OF NEW IPSWICH
WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY IN
THE WORLD WAR

Richard Cutts Fairfield *
Roche Gagnon *
Eno Pascal Vincent*

/left column/
William E. Aldrich
George Alton
Alexander Antilla [Corporal in Co. M of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division]
Hormidas Belanger
Philip M. Brown
James R. Chandler
Robert L. Chandler
Wilfred Duval [P1c, Co G, 325th Infantry]
Ludovic Fournier
Jalmari Fox [P1c, Co. C, 47th Engineers, credited to Maine]
Njalmar Johnson
George B. Kayser
John M. Matson [Mattson, P1c, Co M, 102nd Infantry]

/right column/
Earl M. Maxwell*
Adelard LaMontagne
Ovilas L. Montagne
Arthur Morin
Donald C. Parker
Harvey F. Pineo
Joseph G. Silver
William E. Somero
Arthur S. Thayer
Philip M. Thompson
Ernest J. Vaillancourt
Harry O. Warren
Camille Lambert
ERECTED BY THE TOWN OF NEW IPSWICH

✫★✫★✫★✫★✪🌟✪✫★✫★✫★✫★
Heroes of NEW IPSWICH NH
Died In Service During WWI

✫★✫★✫★✫★✪🌟✪✫★✫★✫★✫★

Richard Cutts Fairfield  | Ambulance Driver | Killed in Service, 26 Jan 1918 Italy | Wynne-Bevan Ambulance Corps (an English organization) | Mestre Cemetery, near Venice Italy | [1]

Roche/Roch Gagnon  | Private | Killed in Action 9 Nov 1917, Battle of Cambrai  | 22nd Bn. Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment). | Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium |  [2]

Earl M. Maxwell | Private | Killed in Action 2 November 1918 | 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division | Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery | [3]

Eno Pascal Vincent | Apprentice Seaman | Missing, Declared Dead 29 September 1918 | U.S.S. Salem, U.S. Navy | Cenotaph Key West Cemetery, Key West FL | [4]

✫★★✪🌟✪★✫★

Photograph of Richard Cutts Fairfield from Saint Georges School In The War, 1920.

[1] Richard Cutts “Dick” Fairfield  was born 20 Feb 1899 in St. Albans, West Virginia, son of Walter Browne & Lalla (Griffiths) Fairfield.  In 1917 when he applied for a passport, Richard was living in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.  His mother was divorced from Richard’s father, and had remarried a banker, James Cummings Barr.  Richard had one living sibling,  Frances Jane MacLeod Fairfield (1895-1975 who  married Landon Humphreys).  Richard was a graduate of St. George’s School in Middletown R.I., that in 1920 wrote a memorial about his experiences and death: “He had intended to enter Harvard in the fall. Summer came and went. The war was making Americans anxious, discontented. Student life, particularly, seemed flat and profitless while men were fighting and dying. With characteristic impetuosity Dick suddenly decided to throw up college, to go abroad, to help somehow where help was so much needed. He was only eighteen. Fearing he might be considered too young, he secretly got passage for England, where he landed in September. There he immediately joined the Wynne-Bevan Ambulance Corps and was soon on his way to Italy. The Wynne-Bevan Ambulance Corps was a private organization at that time stationed on the Venetian Plain to carry Italian wounded. There was work, hard work, to be done, with winter coming on, with the Italians disheartened by the retreat into which they had been betrayed, with the Austro-German army on the offensive.

Silver Medal of Military Valour (Italy)

Ambulance headquarters were about ten miles from the little town of Mestre. On those muddy, narrow roads, with their steep, dangerous gutters, Dick drove four months. It was a three-fold struggle against the weather, disease, and the enemy. All went well until January 1918. Then hostile planes began a series of raids on Italian towns behind the lines. Treviso, Venice, and Padua suffered some destruction. On January 26, Dick was at a dressing station, having just delivered a load of wounded. News came that Mestre was being bombarded. Fairfield and a companion jumped on a motorcycle and went ahead into Mestre to see if an ambulance would be needed. As they stopped in the market-place, deserted by the frightened population, a bomb fell on a house nearby, instantly killing them both. They were buried with all the civil and military honors in the little cemetery outside of Mestre, where Americans, English, and Italians gathered to play tribute to the first Americans killed in Italy. The Mayor pronounced a eulogy. Messages of praise and of condolence were sent by many distinguished persons to the American Consul at Venice. The last honour, official recognition of his bravery, came on February 9, when the Italian military authorities awarded to Richard Fairfield the Medaglia al Valore Militare, to be sent to his family. Yet higher praise there cannot be than the simple message announcing his death: “Killed in the execution of his duty.”   Richard Cutts Fairfield died on the morning of 26 January 1918 in the town of Mestre, Italy. He was buried temporarily “in the tomb of family of Sig. Cecchini Luigi (then resident at Faenza) in Mestre.”

A 1918 Harvard Crimson newspaper added these details: “Fairfield was graduated from St. George’s School at Newport last June, passed his examinations for admittance into the College [Harvard], but did not register in September. Shortly afterward he joined the Wynne Bevan Ambulance Corps, an English organization. He was only 18 years old, the youngest of the five Americans in the Bevan service, and also the youngest American in any branch of the army in Italy. The other members of the ambulance corps are English citizens.”

On 29 August 1921 the remains of Richard Cutts Fairfield was moved to the monument in the Mestre Cemetery, near Venice, purposefully erected to receive it, and built to honor him, and another American killed in Italy. According to the Boston Globe, Richard’s mother was present at the ceremony, “Italian soldiers and sailors and a detachment of American bluejackets rendered military honors as the coffin, covered with American and Italian flags, was carried to the last resting place by a detachment of Italian soldiers and sailors…Brig Gen Evan M. Johnson, military attache to the American Embassy in Rome, represented the American Army and Gen. Gugitelmotti, formerly Italian military attache in Washington, represented the Italian War Ministry. The Mayor of Venice and high civil and military authorities also were present.”[See Find-a-grave site for photograph of the monument].   The name of Richard C. Fairfield also appears on the WWI monument in New Ipswich NH, but it does not appear on the New Hampshire Honor Roll in the State House.

✫★✫★★✪🌟✪★✫★✫★✫★
[2] Roche/Roch Gagnon was born b 11 August 1890 at St-Roch-des-Aulnaies, L’Islet, Quebec, Canada, son of Joseph and Adeline (Martin) Gagnon [Adeline m2d) Emile Dube]. In 1910 Roche Gagnon was living in New Ipswich NH with his mother, stepfather Emile Dube, and siblings Eva, Laura, Blanche, Bertha, Lillian and Paul Gagnon.  Roche also had an older brother, Raoul Gagnon who he listed as his next of kin on some military papers.    Roche Gagnon married 28 May 1912 in New Ipswich NH to Clara Mailhot, daughter of Omer & Jennie (Failardan) Mailhot. [As a widow, she m2d) Edward Laventure and lived in Fitchburg MA.] Roche and Clara (Mailhot) Gagnon had a son, Joseph R. Gagnon, born 8 Oct 1913 in Greenville NH. He died at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, Strafford Co. NH on 29 Aug 1959. He had lived in Gonic NH. Married 27 June 1936 in Gonic NH to Rose Poulin dau of Albert & Leda Bisson Poulin.

Roche Gagnon’s death noted in Canadian military papers.

As Roch Gagnon, he enlisted on  7 Dec 1915 in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, being assigned to various battalions, but finally being assigned to the 22nd. Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment).  His physical description was 5 ft 8 inches, dark complexion, black eyes, Brown hair, Roman Catholic.  He was shipped to Europe where he part of the Battle of Cambrai where the casualties were 44,000 killed, wounded and lost in action. Though it was later determined that he was killed in action on 9 November 1917, it took until the following April of 1918 for his death to be determined, and the family notified.  His final resting place is Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium.

The May 2, 1918 Fitchburg Sentinel reports for the town of Greenville NH: “Requiem mass was celebrated at the Sacred Heart Church Monday morning for the repose of the soul of Roche Gagnon, who was killed at the battle of Cambrai last November. He is survived by a brother in this town and a sister in Fitchburg.” Roche Gagnon’s name appears on the WWI monument in New Ipswich, but it does not appear on the NH Honor Roll in the State House.

✫★✫★★✪🌟✪★✫★✫★✫★
Earl Ray Maxwell was born b 1 March 1888 in New Ipswich NH, son of William E. & Jennie (Hildreth) Maxwell.  He completed his WWI Registration form 5 June 1918 in Plymouth, Grafton Co. NH. He stated he was living in Plymouth NH farmer for John H. Evans Jr. of Holderness NH. He was of medium height and build with blue eyes and reddish hair. During WWI he served as a Private in the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division. He was sent to Europe where he participated in several battles, being killed in action on 2 November 1918, at the Battle of the Argonne Forest,  just days before the Armistice.  He was buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France.  A cenotaph with his name inscribed can be found in Central Cemetery, New Ipswich NH.

Earl R. Maxwell’s name is listed on the New Ipswich WWI monument, and on the New Hampshire Roll of Honor in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House.

✫★✫★✫★✫★✪🌟✪✫★✫★✫★✫★

112. Salem (Scout Cruiser 3). Port bow. underway. 1908. National Archives.

Eno Pascal Vincent was born 17 April 1900 in New Ipswich NH, son of Paschal & Georgiana (Gobeil) Vincent.  In the 1910 U.S. Census he is shown living in New Ipswich with his parents and siblings Raoul Vincent (who m. Jina Daigneault, died 1973), Adelard Vincent (d. 1962 served WWI Co H 74th Inf. 12th Div.), Albina Vincent (m. Caesar J. Maldarelli), Eva Vincent, and Emma Vincent (m. Emile Joseph Desrosiers).

The Fitchburg Sentinel of 9 October 1918 offers his biography: “Pascal Vincent has had several telegrams from the adjutant general, Washington, D.C. announcing that his son, Pascal Eno Vincent, of the U.S. ship Salem, an apprentice seaman in company with 20 associates who were out on a mission of selling U.S. bonds, had failed to return to the Salem, and were reported as missing. It is supposed that the entire party were drowned off Key West, Fla. Mr. Vincent was among the first to enlist in the United States Navy. The late Albert F. Wright, a Civil War veteran, on account of his patriotism, presented him with a silver watch, that he carried while in the army. Mr. Vincent’s father was Pascal Vincent, and his mother was Georgiana Gobeil, who died about 11 years ago. He enlisted May 4, 1917 in the navy and had been stationed at Charlestown navy yard, the Commonwealth pier and upon the U.S. Ship Salem at Florida….a brother of his has been at Camp Devens, but on account of his being at work upon United States government orders he will be discharged and return to his works. Eno Vincent was insured for $10,000.”  It is estimated that the launch on which Pascal Vincent was riding was swamped at about 10:50 pmon 29 September 1918 about 50 yards east of buoy No. 11 in Key West Harbor. Members of the U.S.S. Marblehead searched for survivors but found none.

Apprentice Seaman Pascal Eno Vincent is still among the missing, considered dead on 29 September 1918.  A cenotaph and memorial in Key West Cemetery, Key West FL , with his name inscribed remembers him. His name is also engraved upon the Honor Roll for WWI in New Ipswich NH, and on the New Hampshire Roll of Honor, Doric, Hall, NH State House, 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].

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.