New Hampshire WWI Hero Serving Under Three Flags: Doctor David Everett Wheeler (1872-1918)

Photograph of Dr. David E. Wheeler from his 1917 passport.

David Everett Wheeler, M.D.’s World War I service is credited to New Hampshire. At the time of his death, both he and his wife were serving in Europe, (she as a nurse) but they kept a Concord, New Hampshire residence as their son was then attending St. Paul’s School in Concord.

Dr. Wheeler’s name does not appear on any Concord local monument,  however I discovered his name on New Hampshire’s WWI Honor Roll plaque in Doric Hall of the State House.  His name is also on the NH Adjutant General’s list of WWI casualties.

According to his name is inscribed on the Buzancy monument as LT D R WHEELER. Also, a plaque dedicated for him is located in Governors Island Memorial Plaques, Governors Island, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA.

Mrs. David (Mabel Blanche Whitney) Wheeler from her 1917 passport.

The book, Who’s who in New York City, Issue 7, 1918, most succinctly offers Dr. Wheeler’s biography. “WHEELER, David E.:  Physician; b. N.Y. City, Nov 20, 1872; s. Everett P. and Lydia Lorraine (Hodges) Wheeler; ed. St. Paul’s Sch., Concord, N.H.; Williams Coll., Mass. (student, class of ’94); grad. Columbia Coll., A.B., Columbia Coll., Phys. and Surg. M.D.; m. Boston, June 10, 1898, Mabel B. Whitney; one son: Everett P. Wheeler II, b. 1900. Genito-urinary surgeon Erie Co. Hospital and Grant Hosp.; instr. genitourinary anatomy, Univ. of Buffalo; clinical instr., genitourinary surgery, Univ. of Buffalo. Mem. Erie Co. Med. Soc., Acad. of Medicine, Am. Med. Assn’n. Am. Urologists’ Ass’n., Soc. Alumni Bellevue Hosp. Clubs; Saturn, Country. Address 519 Franklin St., Buffalo N.Y.”

1st Lieutenant David E. Wheeler served with the Medical Detachment, 16th Inf Regiment, 1st Inf Division. He was killed in action on 18 July 1918 while working with injured soldiers on the battlefield of France.  He is buried in Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau France, in Plot B, Row 4, Grave 15.   He was 46 years old. But this was just the end of his story. There was so much more.

The Buffalo New York newspapers covered his story: BUFFALO SURGEON FALLS IN BATTLE | Lieut. David E. Wheeler, Fatally Wounded During Fight on Marne | Enlisted in 1914 | Served Under Three Flags, Received French War Cross in Champagne Battle |
by Paul Ayres Rockwell, Special Cable to the Buffalo Commercial and Chicago Daily News 1918. WITH THE FRENCH ARMIES AT THE FRONT, Aug. 12–I have just received the details of how Lieutenant David E. Wheeler, the celebrated surgeon of Buffalo, who had served against the Germans with distinction under three flags, was slain by the foe during the Marne pocket battle.
– Dr. Wheeler was following the first wave of the attacking Americans with characteristic bravery, caring for the wounded, as they fell and was just talking to the colonel of the regiment, he was accompanying when a shell exploded nearby, a large sized fragment tearing through Lieutenant Wheeler’s body. The lieutenant was hurried to the American hospital at Neuilly, near Paris, where his wife was a nurse, but died a few hours later.
– Lieutenant Wheeler was fifty years old and enlisted in the French foreign legion in the early days of the war, under-stating his age. He was wounded in the battle of Champagne in September 1915 where he won the war cross. He was invalided out of the legion the following May because he was lame and returned to America. He rested a few months and then joined a Canadian regiment with which he served until the United States entered the conflict when he was transferred to the National Army as a regimental surgeon. He saw service with the Americans in Lorraine, at Cantigny and on the Marne. Lieutenant Wheeler was the finest type of soldier and thoroughly hated Prussian principles. Mrs. Wheeler sailed for the United States a week ago.
– Dr. David Wheeler was engaged in the general practice of medicine in Buffalo for several years prior to the beginning of the war. He had an office at 519 Franklin Street. Soon after war was declared Dr. Wheeler went to England where he became a member of the British ambulance service. Soon afterward he enlisted in the French foreign legion, a body of soldiers composed of citizens of nations not at that time engaged in the war. It has been several months since Buffalo physicians with whom Dr. Wheeler formerly corresponded have heard from him.”

After Dr. Wheeler’s death, his wife returned home to the United States.  In 1930 Mabel (Whitney) Wheeler and son Everett Pepperrell Wheeler (born 6 September 1900 New York City NY) were living in Ithaca,  New York. Everett had graduated from Cornell University in 1923, and was a geologist working for the University.

[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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4 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Hero Serving Under Three Flags: Doctor David Everett Wheeler (1872-1918)

  1. Amy says:

    How very sad. What a brave and committed soldier and doctor he was.

  2. Michael says:

    He really was a committed soldier: serving with the French Legion, then with the Canadian forces before joining American forces. Not to mention injuries throughout that service yet a commitment to always return to the front. I wonder what drove that dogged dedication.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Michael, I really wish in this case, and in many cases of heroic people that their stories, their motivators were better known. Did he have a family member who served and died in a war? Or was he born with a humanitarian heart?

      • Sarah Woodman says:

        Sounds like he was born with a humanitarian heart based on his work in Canada’s sub-arctic before the war. While other scholars were in the north making a name for themselves, Dr. Wheeler is described by Tom Andrews as “Unlike Russell’s at times disrespectful commentary on the local people, [Wheeler] …admired the Tłı̨chǫ and wrote passionately about their comfortable life due to their bush skills and sensibilities in an unforgiving environment.” (2011. “There will be many stories” museum anthropology, collaboration, and the Tlicho. University of Dundee PhD thesis, Scotland)

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