To mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I, Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery has unveiled biographies of more than 160 men and women, military and civilian, who served in the war to end all wars and who now are interred in the National Historic Landmark designated cemetery.
More than a year in the making, Green-Wood’s WWI Project covers the men and women who served in that conflict as pilots, nurses, infantryman, gunners, pay clerks, intelligence officers, logistics specialists, and others. The biographies were researched by a group of volunteers under the guidance of Green-Wood historian Jeff Richman.
Volunteers and staff pored through Green-Wood’s chronological burial books, looking for men who died in France and were brought back to Green-Wood. The team searched Green-Wood’s 478-acre grounds, looking for monuments dedicated to those who served in World War I. They also pored over applications to the United States government, filled out by widows and parents, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, for Veterans Affairs markers for their World War I veterans. After conducting additional research, the volunteers compiled the biographies.
The WWI biographies cover a wide range of stories. Among them:
· The Brooklyn-born Cromwell twins, Dorothea and Gladys, were descendants of Oliver Cromwell and women of great wealth. They were Red Cross volunteer nurses who served in France, then committed suicide on their journey home;
· Robert Bayard Cutting, associate organizing secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), who volunteered to serve in France, only to die there of disease;
· Aeronaut Private Lloyd Ludwig, who, while flying his plane over France, went into a spin, lost one of the plane’s wings and plummeted to his death;
· Lieutenant Kenneth Culbert, who while flying with the First Aero Squadron, photographed enemy trenches under heavy fire, only to be shot down as his plane headed back to its base;
· Intelligence Officer Louis Abel, who wrote just before he was killed in battle, “As the war goes on and as I come out of each engagement still alive, I think often of those at home and wonder if I will ever see them again;”
· Many men killed in the trenches of France in 1918, interred there, then brought back home to Brooklyn in 1921-1922;
· Those who served in the Great War and went on to live long lives, including Louis Belmer, the last of Green-Wood’s surviving WWI veterans, who died in 1980.
The biographies can be found here.
Declaring war on Germany, the United States entered World War One on April 6, 1917. By the time an armistice was declared, in November of 1918, more than 4 million Americans had served during the war — 2 million of them overseas – and 116,000 of them were dead.
For more information about the Green-Wood Cemetery, visit their website.
Photo: Green-Wood Cemetery, courtesy Green-Wood Cemetery.