New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Greenville

Bird’s Eye view of Greenville NH, from an old
postcard owned by Janice W Brown.

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. joined its allies– France, Britain, and Russia–to fight in the World War (WWI). The citizens of Greenville, New Hampshire were quick to do their part. By June of 1917 events had already been held to benefit the Red Cross. Knitted and sewn articles for the military recruits were being prepared and the selectmen’s room was open to receive them.

Lithograph Poster: Join–Red Cross Work Must
Go On! World War I Poster, Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Div., Washington DC

In May 1917 a minstrel show was held in the town hall to benefit the Red Cross. The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel reported that W.C. Foss was in charge of staging as he had put on “some clever amateur plays here in the past.” Mrs. Carleton C. Ide was musical director with Mrs. Hugh H. Churchill as pianist. The end men were Wilfred C. Foss, Thomas Todger, Clyde F. Hannant and Joseph D. Emond. The interlocutor Hugh H. Churchill “has never been equaled in any similar capacity in this village.” The soloists were Lester A. McLean, Joseph D. Emond, William Vodden, Thomas Rodger, Hugh H. Churchill, Wilfred C. Foss, Ludger Caoette, Chester Frye, Clyde F. Hannant. The closing chorus was “The Star Spangled Banner,” the audience joining in the singing. Those in the show included Messrs Hardy, Wyath, Livingston, Beausoleil, Emond, Ide, O’Brien, Conley, Emond and Leedham. Following the show dancing was enjoyed with music by the Watatic Orchestra of Ashby. The hall was packed to the doors….”

World War I Registration form
of Henry J. LeClair

In May of 1917 the Selective Service Act was passed, and on the 5th June 1917 the first of three registrations for military service required men between the ages of 21 and 31 to complete forms in their place of residence (the second registration was held June 5, 1918, and the third on August 24, 1918). The men of Greenville complied, and along with at least one woman who served as a nurse, the town supplied their quota and more–with 2-1/2 – 3 % of its citizens entering service.

By August 2, 1917 the Red Cross was meeting regularly in the banquet hall of Greenville NH. There was a great need of sewing machines to assist in making garments. Mrs. William H. Doonan attended the NH Division, Woman’s Committee, Council of National Defense representing Greenville NH. Sergt. Edson F. Taft of Co. M, 9th Mass Reg., eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. George Taft of Greenville NH, spent a day with his parents recently. He is located at Camp McGinnis, Framingham. Paul G. Taft, another son, member of Co. G, 6th Regiment, located at Camp Devens, Ayer, MA was married July 23 to Miss Blanch Terriault of Lowell MA. There are now 100 automobiles of various kinds in Greenville.

Portsmouth New Hampshire
advertisement of August 1917 at L.E.
Staples for a comfort kit.

On Nov 2, 1917 the newspapers reported that Greenville’s Red Cross had recently sent to Concord [NH] a box containing 13 sweaters, 22 mufflers, 8 helmets, 3 pairs of wristlets, 15 pairs socks, 5 pairs hospital socks, 4 trench caps, 8 three-yard bandages, 11 pillows, 11 comfort bags, many wash cloths, 2 pajamas, 2 dozen handkerchiefs, sponges and wipes. A sweater and a muffler were sent to Arthur Farrar, and two pairs of socks, a sweater and a pair of wristlets to Joseph Armand Pelletier in France, a former Greenville boy who went in May from Amesbury, but whose parents were living in Greenville. The state Red Cross was asking for the following articles to send to our soldiers at Christmas time: Comfort kits, candy, tobacco, towels, wash cloths, picture puzzles and reading matter. New Hampshire should be responsible for sending 7,425 comfort kits or Christmas bags. The newspaper article noted as an admonition that “when the boys were on the border last year, New Hampshire was the only state as a state that failed to send a Christmas box to the men in service.”

The news of November 28, 1917 was that “Benjamin Greene has gone to Camp Devens,” and “he first real snow of the season took place, the fall amounting to several inches.” The Red Cross announced that it would hold a Christmas party.

American snipers in camouflage WWI from
stock newsreels at the National Archives.

The April 1918 newspaper reported that “a letter received by relatives from Jack Caron, one of Greenville’s boys over there, contains the following significant paragraph: ‘I have been in the front line trenches. While there, a German patrol was pointed out to me. I took careful aim, fired and he fell, so I guess I got that Hun all right.’ Jack several months ago received a medal for sharpshooting so there remains no question in the minds of his friends what happened to the enemy.” In the same month there was a drama presented in French at the town hall, given by the Highbridge dramatic club for the benefit of the Greenville Red Cross. Dancing followed with music by Mack’s orchestra of Fitchburg. Also Corp. Frank St. Peter (St. Pierre) visited friends and relatives in town. He was to have been married but received a telegram to report prior to his wedding date to New York City to set sail for France, “so the disappointed couple postponed their nuptials….”

American WWI doughboys and their horses.
From stock newsreels of the National Archives.

May 1918 was a busy time for the “little village” of Greenville. It was leading the Liberty Loan drive per capita in New Hampshire. Word was received from France that Clyde F. Hannant was in a hospital as the result of a fall from his horse but reports the best of care, with American surgeon and nurses. Benjamin A. Greene was then at Camp Devens, promoted to sergeant and been appointed to the officers’ third training camp. The town was looking forward to a second Red Cross Drive to start on May 20, and the quota allotted was $500. James C. Taft was chairman of the local committee. Music for the occasion was to be furnished by an orchestra from Camp Devens.

On May 24, 1918 the newspapers reported that five Greenville men have been called to the colors and will report at Milford and at Southbridge, Mass the coming Saturday and Sunday. They are Hormisdas Duval, Joseph Desrosiers, Henry Leclerc, John Rodier Jr. and A. Wilbur Greene. Mr. Green was presented Monday evening with a gold bound fountain pen by the Livingston Sunday school class of the Baptist church of which he is a member.

On June 22, 1918 the newspaper reported that Sergt. Robert W. Smith, husband of Mrs. Beatrice (Castonguay) Smith who is now stationed at Camp Green, Charlotte, NC was dead, but as the family here has not received any notice of the fact, it was decided that it must have been another Smith. On July 16, 1918 the newspaper reported that Donald Clark Parker is in the 103d machine gun company and is stationed at Camp Quantico, Virginia. On September 25, 1918 the entire town of Greenville mourned as they attended the  double funeral held for Desrosiers brothers who had died at Camp Devens of influenza.

On 11 November 1918 the Armistice was declared, but it took a few months before the troops could start coming home.  Families also had to decide whether to request the return of the bodies of their dead or to have them remain on the military cemeteries of Europe.

On 13 October 1919 Greenville New Hampshire held a celebration to both welcome their soldiers home from the World War and to dedicate a memorial to the war veterans. The Fitchburg Sentinel (of 15 October 1919) published the following giving details:

Photograph showing Dedication of Greenville
NH’s WWI Memorial. Greenville Historical
Society image.


Celebration In Honor Of Returned War Veterans Provided Worthy Event.
Greenville, N.H., Oct 13.– Fortune provided a crisp, cloudless day for Greenville’s welcome home celebration, and it seemed as if the day had been made to order, while the village with its wonderful array of patriotic bunting was a mart of splendor. Throngs commenced to arrive long before the festivities commenced. The official announcement that Greenville was welcoming back the boys who had done their bit, came with the ringing of the bells of the village at 9 a.m. Following this the line was formed in Depot Square and marched in the following order: Platoon of police, Marshal Hugh H. Churchill, Townsend brass band, T.E. Flarity director, 58 veterans of the World War, under the command of Lieut. Benjamin A. Greene. Howard Greene was color bearer and Auguste Belanger carried the banner of Henry J. Leclair Post, No. 13, American Legion.

Then came the Red Cross float which represented the famous Red Cross painting “The great mother.” This was impersonated by Miss Mary Morris, the Columbian Co. nurse, Kenneth Doonan was a wounded soldier, Rockwell Bedford, stretcher bearer, while Mildred Kimball and Lena Perley with their dolls impersonated the little mothers. Preceding the float came 40 Red Cross girls, carrying the town service flag and the Red Cross banner. Miss Katherine Twiss and Mary Belanger were the color bearers. Next in line were the public school children and their float. This represented “Betsey Ross making the first American flag.” Betsey Ross was impersonated by Lois Hartshorn, George Washington, Florence Hartwell, Mistress Green, Deborah Parker, Robert Morris, Charles Dunbar; George Ross, Russell Kimball.

The public school children were in charge of Mrs. Alice Tolman and Miss Nellie Hayes.
Next came the immediate relatives of those who had paid the supreme sacrifice. In this car were Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Castonguay, parents of Oswald Castonguay, who gave his life on Flanders field, Mrs. Henry J. Leclair, widow of Henry J. Leclair, the only Greenville lad to fall on the field with the American forces and Mrs. Hermine Desrosiers, mother of the two boys who died at Camp Devens, Wilfred and Xavier Desrosiers.

World War I Service Flag

Following came the float of Dunster Hill Lodge, No. 72, I.O.O.F., preceded by an escort of 30 members in charge of Fred Brown. The Odd Fellows float represented the “Good Samaritan,” this being impersonated by Arthur Wheeler with Arthur A. Woodward as the wayfarer. This float was in evergreen. Then came the Ivy Rebekah Lodge float, featuring “Rebekah at the well.” Rebekah being impersonated by Miss Myrtle Blanch. This float also was in evergreen. Next in order came the Society of St. John-Baptist with 40 members as escorts in charge of Joseph Anctil, president, and Herminegile Chouinard vice-president. Joseph Dancause carried the American flag and Joseph Pelletier the tri-color. Their float represented little St. Joseph Baptist as a shepherd, this character being taken by Little Benoit Jean who had his pet lamb with him. The guards of honor were August Paradis, Saluste Caron, Aurele Jean and Raphael Boulay. This was one of the prettiest floats of the day. L’Union St. Peter followed with their float representing St. Peter at the gate. This character was taken by Alfred U. Morin who carried the great key. Guards of honor on this float were Alex Viollette, Joseph L. Caron, Eugene J. Boisvert and Emil Dube. This society was, in charge of Saluste Paradis, president. Eugene Bruno was color bearer. Next in line was the float of the Greenville Women’s club. This was done in the colors of autumn. The auto was driven by Mrs. Hugh H. Churchill, and in the car with her road Mrs. Henry Farrar, Mrs. Wilfred C. Foss, Mrs. Victor L. Parker and Miss Joseph M. Taft. Veterans of the Civil War, in auto including Harrison M. Livingston, the town’s only survivor of that conflict; John D. Smith and Charles G. Amsden of Mason and Charles Wheeler and Edwin F. Blanchard of New Ipswich.

Following came the official auto carrying Henry P. Gainey, chairman of the selectmen, Alvin Green, chairman of the day, Major Frank Knox, editor of the Manchester Union and the speaker of the day and Victor L. Parker in the next auto the Federated church was represented by Rev. Robert Dunbar, the Sacred Heart church by Rev. – Cornelius Buckley, in the absence of Rev. Fr. Sylvestre who was unable to be present and Edwin F. Nutting, aged 92, the town’s oldest citizen. Defender fire department which has put in one of the busiest years of its career was next in order, having the chemical and hose wagon decorated and escorted by the members of the fire department in uniform in charge of W. H. Doonan and last the Greenville Grange float. On this was the Grange plowshare and the produce just harvested. This was drawn by four beautiful horses in charge of Wallace O. Tenney and George Glidden.

The parade was officially reviewed at Post Office square by the town committee and Major Knox. As the procession disbanded at Post Office square the veterans were drawn up in triangle formation facing the tablet and the speaker’s platform. Seated upon the platform were Charles W. Tobey, speaker of the New Hampshire house of representatives, Henry P. Gaines, chairman of the selectmen, Rev. Robert M. Dunbar, of the Federated church, Rev. Fr. Cornelius Buckley, of Littleton NH formerly assistant curate here, Hugh H. Churchill, Victor L. Parker, Alvin Greene, the Civil war veterans, and Major Knox. The ceremonies were opened by the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by the assembly, led by the band. Alvin Green then gave the address of welcome and introduced the speaker, Major Knox.

At this time there was a picture perhaps never to be witnessed again in Greenville, sixty boys in drab or blue, “Uncle Sam’s boys” as the speaker called them, their faces radiating with smiles at the welcoming the old home town had given them, stood beneath the blue sky with the golden sun beaming upon them, while the trees in their autumnal tints made a picture hard to describe. Here and there in the crowd was a tear-stained face, some of happiness, others of sorrow.  Major Knox delivered a thrilling speech, picturing vividly just what the boys were gone through “over there.” In addressing the populace he said “Remember these boys whom we honor today are an asset to any community” and in his charge to the boys themselves, he reminded the veterans as follows, “In all your actions, in everything you do, remember what Henry J. Leclair died for.” As Major Knox concluded, three rousing cheers were given after which prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Dunbar. The tablet was unveiled by the following four lads: Howard Greene, Peter Twiss, Alfred J. Caron and Oswald Rodier. The tablet is a massive piece of granite, typifying unquestionably the principle and the spirit that imbued the boys whose names it contains. There in the little green plot it stands majestically while the large elm tree towers above it as a proud protector. On the face of the tablet is a bronze plate, bearing the American seal and the following inscription: “Honor roll, 1917-1919, erected by the town of Greenville, in honor of the men who served in the World War,” and contains the following names [see list as show below].

The beautiful American flag used in the unveiling was presented by Alvin Green in behalf of the committee to Henry J. Leclair post, and was accepted by Commander Hannant. The singing of “America” by the audience to the accompaniment of the band brought the unveiling exercises to a close. The band then rendered a fine concert in the square after which the banquet was served to the veterans, the town committee, the band and a few invited guests, by Caterer Ernest L. Sawyer and his able corps of assistants. The menu consisted of turkey, lobster patties and several other courses.

At 1:30 the crowd went up to the ball grounds where the following list of sports was run off and the winners were: Potato race, Emma Rodier, first; Alice Gagnon, second; sack race, A. Ouellette, first; William Howard, second; 25 yard dash for boys, David Proulx first; Eddie Bosselet, second; 25 yard dash for girls, Emma Rodier, first; Oliva Blais, second; 100 yard dash, Joseph Sullivan of East Jaffrey, first; Oscar Greenwood, Greenville, second; three-legged race, Misses Kimball and Newell, first; Misses Ouellette and Howard, second; tug of war, the team captained by Joseph Bernier won two out of three pulls from the team captained by Charles Emond. The sports were brought to a close by the baseball game between the Kleen Kutter A.A. of East Jaffrey and the local aggregation. The game was enlivened by the kicking on the part of the Jaffrey players on decisions made by Umpire Emond. In fact, one decision of his which gave Greenville three runs was reversed when the Jaffrey team refused to pay. But it didn’t matter much for Greenville got them only a second later. The band kept the crowd in good humor, by playing popular selections. The Jaffrey team came to town with their regular lineup, while the locals were strengthened by Cleary of Marlboro, Mass., Waddell of Worcester, and Shea of Wilton. [details of baseball game omitted]. At five o’clock the Townsend brass band gave one of the best concerts ever heard in town for many years. At 7 the reception was held in the town hall and this was followed by dancing for the veterans and their partners until 10 o’clock after which the general public was admitted. Music was furnished by Coleman’s orchestra of Fitchburg until 12 o’clock, this event bringing Greenville’s welcome home day celebration to a close.

Greenville New Hampshire’s Honor Roll in
Myrtle Marsh Park. Photograph courtesy of
Richard Marsh. Used with permission.

Greenville’s WW1 honor roll was first installed across from town hall, then the monument was removed to Myrtle Marsh Park after World War 2. [Map of current monument location: Myrtle Marsh Park at 3 River Street]

–Engraving on Greenville’s WWI plaque–
(Comments in parentheses are not found on the original monument; a star indicates that the soldier died in service.)
1917 – 1919

BEAUSOLEIL, JOSEPH E. (P1c, Battery B, 38th Artillery CAC CA 223)
CARON, ALFRED J. (Pvt, Co. I, 103rd Infantry)
CARON, FREDERICK E. (Pvt, Supply Co., Co. E First Army HQ Regiment
COURNOYER, FERNALD L. (Pvt Battery F, 54th Artillery CAC)
DOONAN, JOHN F. (1st Lieut, Co E, 32nd Engineers)
DUVAL, AMEDEE M. (Corp. Co. E, 47th Infantry)
FARRAR, ARTHUR W. (Wagoner, QH Co. 320th M.G. Bn)
FOURNIER, VICTOR L. (Mother Adline, Pvt 52nd Guard Co., Army Service Corps)
GREEN, HOWARD E. (Pvt. Co. I, 103rd Infantry > P1c 214th MP Co.)
HOGAN, STEPHEN J. (Pvt Co F 28th Engineers)
HOGAN, WILLIAM L. (Bugler, Co. C, 309th Infantry)
LIVINGSTON, RALPH B. (Pvt, Co H. 58th Infantry)
PARENT, HENRY (Pvt, Asc Co #2, sister Mrs. Helen Ricoro)
PALTENGHI, LOUIS EUGENE (Pvt, Battery C, 58th Artillery CAC, NOK Dr. Herbert Hartwell, stepfather)
[Pelletier, Joseph A., Mrs. Eizeard nok, Machine Go Co. 9th Inf]
RODIER, OSWALD O. (Corp. Co. I 13th Reg. USMC)
ST. PIERRE, FRANK X. (Corp, Co. I, 325th Inf, Natl Army)
TWISS, FRANK L. (Mechanic, Inf, Blois Casual Co No 325, mother Harry Twiss)
TWISS, FRANCIS R. (Pvt. Detachment HQ Battalion, General HQ American (Camp Sherman), Sup Co. 331 Inf. >> Sgt. Major, H. Cro BN Inf, Sick and Wounded, Keratitis Ulcerative Rt Conv. father Richard Twiss)
MARY T. DRINAN (Nurse, 1) Base Hospital #77; 2) Embarkation Camp Hospital Center, Savenay, Ranc CH 107)

Other Military Connected To Greenville NH
But Not Found on Honor Roll

Charles Edward Fagnan(t), born 21 August 1899 in Greenville NH, son of Joseph & Rosalie “Rose” (Macier) Fagnan. He had siblings Albert W., Matilda, Josie, Evon, Joseph Amelia and Arthur. Registered for WWI on 18 September 1917, and working as a section hand for the B&M RR.  He returned to the United States from Europe as a Private in the  Convalescent Detachment.  He also served in WW2, and died Sep 1974.

George Alton born 5 April 1892 in Fitchburg MA, son of Prudent & Wilhemine (Pelletier) Alton. In 1900 living in Greenville NH with family. By 1910 removed to Ipswich NH and remained there. He served in WWI as a Private “Sp Tr,” and returned from Europe, arriving in Boston from Brest France on 10 Jan 1919, Service #1684068.

Arthur Fagnan was born 4 Mar 1893 in Greenville NH, son of Joseph Fagnan. He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1918 from Niagara Falls NY where he was an iron worker. He enlisted 2 April 1918 at Niagara Falls assigned as a Private to Co. H 309th Infantry, discharged 7 June 1919 at Camp Upton NY. In 1932 he was married and living in Detroit Michigan.

Adelard Lamontagne was born 17 Sep 1895 in New Ipswich NH, son of Ovide & Emelie (Baillargeon) Lamontagne. He died 13 May 1985 in Rochester NH. He married 17 Sep 1923 in Franklin NH to Annie Crowley. He enlisted in WWI on 31 May 1918 and was honorably discharged 25 July 1919. He appears to have grown up in Ipswich NH but upon returning from Europe when WWI ended, as a Private in Mehun Ord. Cas. Co. No 66 > Co. A, 8th Prov. Ord. Battalion, aboard the ship Mallory, he stated his residence was Greenville NH. Pehaps his mother Emilie Lamontagne was living there at that time.

Howard Blake Mastin was born 4 April 1900 in New Ipswich NH, son of Theodore D. & Katie B. (Goen) Mastin. in September of 1918 living in Greenville NH, 18 years old, working as a sawyer for Blanchard & Gould Co. He enlisted from Milford, NH and served in the US Navy as a Mess Boy with the crew of the ship, SS Jan Van Nassau. He returned home to the U.S. when the war ended aboard the ship Rotterdam. In 1900 he was living in New Ipswich NH. He died 23 April 1996 aged 96 in Meriden CT.

Robert Wilson Smith was b 9 February 1888 in Prebles, Scotland, son of George & Jeannie (Miller) Smith. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1904. He married 9 Oct 1916 in Greenville NH to Beatrice Delia Castonguay, daughter of Henry & Adele (Robichaud) Castonguay. In 1920 living in Greenville NH working as a chauffeur. During WWI he enlisted on 14 December 1917, and was honorable discharged on 24 April 1919. He served as a Sergent in 16th Company, 3rd Mechanics Regiment, Signal Corps. He died 8 February 1972. He was a member of the Good Samaritan Lodge of Masons.

Close up of Greenville New
Hampshire’s WWI Honor
Roll in Myrtle Marsh Park.
Photograph courtesy of
Richard Marsh. Used with

Died In Service During WWI


Oswald H. Castonguay | Private | Died of Wounds  29 August 1918 Battle of Cherisy  |Ligny St. Flochel British Cemetery, France | 22nd Battalion, CEF | [1] [See Story]
Wilfrid J. Desrosiers | Private |Died of Disease (lobar pneumonia-influenza) 22 September 1918 Camp Devens MA |Co. A, 73rd Infantry | Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, New Ipswich NH | [2]
Francois X. Desrosiers |Private |Died of Disease (lobar-pneumonia, influenza) 23 September 1918 Camp Devens MA | 40-10th Battalion D.B.| Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, New Ipswich NH|[3]
Henry J. LeClair |Corporal |Died of Shrapnel Wounds, 12 September 1918 at St. Mihiel France |Co F 26th Infantry |Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, New Ipswich NH | [4]


[1] Henri Oswald Castonguay was born born 7 June 1896 in Greenville, New Hampshire, son of Henri and Adele (Robichaud) Castonguay.  During WWI he served in the 22nd Battalion in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  He was wounded in action at Battle of Cherisy and was fatally injured during battle. He died one day after receiving shrapnel wounds in his leg and foot at No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station on 29 August 1918. He is buried in Ligny St. Flochel British Cemetery, 4-1/2 miles SE of St. Pol. Plot 3, Row A, Grave 24.  [Youtube: Cimetiere militaire de Ligny-St Flochel]  [SEE STORY ABOUT HIM HERE]. His name was engraved on the Honor Roll in Doric Hall of the NH State House, and on the Greenville NH Honor Roll plaque now in Myrtle Marsh Park.

[2] Wilfrid Joseph Desrosiers was born 17 May 1894 at Saint-Jean-Port-Jolie, Quebec Canada, son of of Eusebe & Hermine (Caron) Desrosiers.  In 1891 the family can be found in the Canadian Census living in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. He had siblings: Marie, Arsene, Francois Xavier, Arthur, Honore, Fernand, Emillia, Yvonne, and Emile. By 1910 the family was living on High Street in Greenville New Hampshire where Wilfrid attended some school but dropped out to work and help support his family. His WWI Registration form completed on 5 June 1917 in Greenville NH. He was living in Greenville NH at that time, a mill operative for the Columbian Mfg. Co. He was single and he stated he was in poor health. He described himself as being of medium height, slender with blue eyes and light hair. His obituary in the Fitchburg (MA) newspaper was partially illegible but it offered this information [also see his brother Francois X’s obituary]: “Wilfrid was recovering from an appendicitis operation but was considered healed. He went to Camp Devens early in the summer and had been there since although those with whom he went have long since been in Europe. He went on a long hike with his regiment last week and was taken ill on the same night.”  During WWI he was sent to Camp Devens MA and assigned as a Private to Co. A, 73rd Infantry.  There he contracted influenza which resulted in lobar pneumonia. He died 22 Sep 1918 at Harvard MA, in the Base Hospital, Camp Devens.  A double funeral was held for him and his brother, Francois Xavier.  Wilfrid Desrosiers is buried in Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, New Ipswich NH. Wilfrid Desrosiers name appears on the WWI Honor Roll in Doric Hall of the NH State House, and on the Greenville NH WWI plaque located in Myrtle Marsh Park.

[3] Francois Xavier Desrosiers was born 8 October 1897 at Saint-Jean-Port-Jolie, Quebec, Canada, son of Eusebe & Hermine (Caron) Desrosiers.  born 8 October 1897 St. Johns Canada. In June of 1917 he completed his WWI registration form showing him living in Greenville NH, working for the Columbian Mgf Co. He describes self as tall, of medium weight with light blue eyes and brown hair.  During WWI he was sent to Camp Devens for training where as a Private he was assigned to 40-10th Battalion D.B.  There he contracted influenza which developed into lobar pneumonia.  He died 23 Sep 1918 at Harvard MA Base Hospital, Camp Devens. A double funeral was held for him and his brother Wilfrid. Francois Xavier Desrosiers is buried in Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, New Ipswich NH.  His obituary posted in the Fitchburg newspaper states: “Francis Desrosiers a year younger than Wilfred was born in Canada and came to this town with his parents when a child. He attended the parochial school but owing to the death of his father was obliged to go to work when quite young. He was called in the draft early in August and went to Camp Devens. Like his brother he at first faced rejection for physical reasons but eventually was accepted for service which he was very anxious to enter. He was stricken early last week

Base Hospital, Camp Devens MA

before his brother was attacked. His condition was at first very serious. Then he rallied and for a time hope of his recovery was held out but he suffered a relapse and did Monday morning. While the funeral services were being held on Wednesday the flags in the town were at half mast. Rev. Fr. Choinard celebrated the solemn requiem mass with Rev. Fr. Godin as deacon and Rev. Fr. Jutras as sub-deacon. The church was crowded with friends and relatives. The bearers were Louis Boisvert, Jules Paradis, –gele Rodier, Richard Twiss, Charles Emond, Joseph Chouinard, Napoleon Lournier and Joseph Pelletier, Burial was in Sacred Heart Cemetery where taps were sounded at the graves by Hector L. Langelier. The surviving members of the family are Mrs. Hermine Desrosiers, Misses Amelia, Yvonne, and Delmia and Ferdnand, Arsens, Honore, Arthur and Emile.”  Francois Xavier Desrosiers name appears on the WWI Honor Roll in Doric Hall of the NH State House, and on the Greenville NH WWI plaque located in Myrtle Marsh Park.

Henry J. Leclair (1894-1918)
Died from wounds received
at St. Mihiel.

[4] Henry James LeClair was born 11 July 1894 in Greenville NH, son of Nicholas & Marie Louisa (Charette/Charest) Leclair.  In 1910 the U.S. Census shows him living in Greenville NH with his family including siblings Frank Leclair (1891-1930 resided Peterborough NH) and Exilda Leclair (1896-1985 who married Emeric Allaire).  He completed his WWI Registration form on 5 June 1917 in Greenville NH where he was living, working as a laborer  for the Boston & Maine Railroad. He was single and he describes himself as short, of medium build with brown eyes and black hair.   A month after he completed this form, he married on 23 July 1917 in Greenville NH to Athale St. Pierre, daughter of Dominique St. Pierre & Philomene Bourgault. Henry’s occupation on his marriage certificate was mill operative.  Athale was born ‘Maria Atala St. Pierre’ on 2 May 1895 in Greenville NH.  [Six years after Henry’s death, his widow would marry again. Athala Leclair married 2d) 7 July 1924 in Greenville NH to Eugene A. Gobeil, son of Adolph & Marie (Bourgault) Gobeil)].   During WWI Henry J. LeClair was sent to training camp, and on 6 June 1918 he was a private in Co. B 303rd Infantry, Service #2724201. He was transferred to Co. F 26th Infantry and sent to the battlefields of Europe.  In December of 1918 the newspapers reported him as having died of wounds. He would have been buried near the battlefield, and when the war ended his wife requested that his body be returned to the United States.

The Twenty-Sixth Infantry in France, by the
Regimental Adjutant July 1919

His body was transported aboard the ship Cambria on 23 May 1921 from Antwerp Belgium to Hoboken NJ.  The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel of 23 June 1921 published the following funeral notice: ” Funeral of World War Veteran. The citizens of Greenville, the children of the Sacred Heart School, and Henry J. Leclair post No 13, American Legion last Friday morning paid a wonderful tribute to the memory of the late Corp. Henry J. Leclair, the only Greenville boy to make the supreme sacrifice with the american forces overseas, when his body was brought back to his native town for burial. The funeral was held from the Sacred Heart Church at 9:30 a.m. The auto cortege formed at the former residence of the deceased and, with the Greenville Cornet band playing the dirge, the line moved to the church. Private Joseph Beausoleil acted as marshal and the local legion, every member reporting present, in charge of Commander Wilbur Greene, preceded the hearse to the church. The services at the church were in charge of Rev. Fr. Ramsey of Manchester, who celebrated the requiem high mass being assisted by Rev. Fr. Chouinard as deacon and Rev. Fr. Sylvestre as sub-deacon, Rev. Fr. Ramsey also delivery a eulogy in both French and English with much feeling as he had been with Leclair’s unit from the time they were at Camp Devens until he administered the last sacred rites of the church to the brave soldier just before he died in a hospital. Interment was in the Sacred Heart cemetery. Here a firing squad, Alfred Caron, Howard Greene, Hormisdas Duval, Clyde F. Hannant, Wilfred Duval, Joseph Fournier, Albert Cetroni, and Oscar Wyeth all overseasmen, fired three volleys, and Bugler Ludivic Fournier, a former member of Gen. Pershing’s own band, sounded taps. Joseph J.B. Pelletier was sergeant of the firing squad. Henry Boisvert was color bearer with Charles Hayward and Oswald Rodier as color guards. The bearers were Austin Robinson, Amedee Vailancourt, William Pelletier, Jean Fortin, John Rodier and Charles Paradis. Henry Joseph Leclair was born in this village on July 21, 1893, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Leclair. He attended the parochial school here and then entered the employ of the Columbian Mfg. Co. He was married to Miss Athala St. Pierre, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dominique St. Pierre by Rev. Fr. Uldoric Godin at the Sacred Heart church, July 23, 1917. He was called to the colors the latter part of May 1918, and went with other contingents to Camp Devens on May 25 of that year. After reporting at the army camp he never paid his native town a visit, often remarking to his relatives and friends who visited him at the cantonment that he was

From Book of Salutations to the 26th Yankee
Division. French women tending to American
graves after WWI.

sure that he would never return to Greenville alive. He was assigned to the 76th Division that left for France July 6. Arriving in France he was transferred to Co. F, 26th Infantry, First Division of which unit he was a dispatch runner. He had been promoted to corporal the morning of Sept 12 and was standing near the front lines before St. Mihiel, with seven other runners, when a Hun shell came over and landed among the little American party, killing three outright, and severely wounding the others, Leclair passing away that afternoon at a field hospital. Sergt. William A.L. King, one of the wounded by the shell that caused the death of Leclair, came over from South Brewer, Me. to attend the funeral of his buddie. All places of business and the factory were closed during the house of the funeral and the flags on all public buildings were at half mast during the day. Corp. Leclair is survived by his wife, his father, three sisters Mrs. James Mullen of Winchendon Mass, and Mrs. Narcisse Morneau and Miss Exilda Leclair, this town, and two brothers, Frank of Peterboro and Peter. News of Mr. Leclair’s death did not reach the family until Thanksgiving day, 1918, nearly three months after his death.”  Henry J. Leclair died 12 September 1918 at the Battle of St. Mihiel.  He is buried in Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, New Ipswich NH.  The tombstone on his grave was placed by his wife and reads as follows:
Co F 26th Inf. U.S.A.
Died in Action at St. Mihiel, France
Erected by his wife, Athala St. Pierre
Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, New Ipswich NH
(back of stone)

Henry J. Leclair’s name is engraved on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House, and on the WWI Honor Roll of Greenville NH located in Myrtle Marsh Park. The Henry J. Leclair post No. 13, American Legion was named in his honor (today called the Leclair Caron Pelletier American Legion Post 13).

My personal thanks to Charles “Charlie” Brault, Library Director and Diane Steele, Assistant Director of the Chamberlin Free Public Library for their help in locating the graves of the Desrosiers brothers.

[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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8 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Greenville

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

  2. Amy says:

    I loved the parade description. A real slice of old time Americana!

    • Janice Brown says:

      Thank you Amy. I hesitated to include that part, then decided that is was important TO include it. The town is small so it seemed like everyone was in the parade, amazing there was any one left to watch lol.

  3. Sara Thibault says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderfully exhaustive and informative tribute! I have many relatives named here, including my grandfather Emile Thibault who served.

    I wanted to clarify, in the parade description of the St. Jean-Baptiste Society float, the shepherd must have been Benoit Jean (it says Benois -lean?), he was the son of Aurele who was one of the honor guard also listed. Benoit would have been 4 in 1919; he was known as Benny and later served in WWII.

    Thanks again for sharing your excellent research!

    • Janice Brown says:

      Sarah, thank you first for reading my blog and commenting. Secondly I do very much appreciate your update on the name of the little shepherd in the parade. The scan of the newspaper page was blurred making this name illegible.

  4. Emily Belleville says:

    Just found this site. My grandfather was Alfred Jack Caron. I was so blessed to find some info about him, because we really don’t have much history. I was told years ago that he was on the front lines and was also a “messenger boy” who they would send out on a bicycle, because he spoke french and this was of course very useful. I am hoping to find more info on both sides of my family from site. Thanks for sharing. Emily Caron Belleville

    • Lorraine Jones says:

      My pépère was also Jack Caron! I was told that he was a “runner” because he was small and quick and he ran between the lines. My mother was Lillian Caron. She married Lionel White. Are you Uncle Norman and Aunt Marguerite’s daughter?! If so, I am your cousin!
      Lorraine (White) Jones

  5. Suzanne Young says:

    To Emily Belleville: Alfred Jack Caron was also my grandfather. My name is Suzanne Young (née White). My mother, Lillian White (née Caron), was one of his children. Our family, as I’m sure you know, is quite small. You and your 3 sisters and Marcel’s children are my only first cousins. I am now 64 years old; my sisters (Lorraine and Lucille) are 68 years old. I have 2 sons, aged 35 and 31. I lived in northern CA for almost 40 years and moved to upstate NY last year. It’s nice to be back on the East Coast again. Emily, I hope that you receive this brief message. I, too would like to hear about your family and about your sisters. BTW, my mother, Lillian, died on April 12, 2017. My father, Lionel, passed away in 2005.

    Best to you and yours,

    Suzanne Young

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