WWI DATABASE

U.S. Enters World War I

On April 6, 1917, the United States formally declared war against Germany and entered the conflict in Europe. Fighting since the summer of 1914, Britain, France, and Russia welcomed news that American troops and supplies would be directed toward the Allied war effort. Under the command of Major General John J. Pershing, over two million U.S. troops served in France during the war.

– Library of Congress – today in history

 

To commemorate the centennial of the US entering the Great War (World War I) on April 6, 1917 and to honor the memories of our veterans, FCCPA has created a database of the Fairfax County World War I veterans who died in the war. Most of these men have been memorialized on the plaque at the Fairfax County Courthouse which reads:

“A Tribute To The Men Of Fairfax County Who In The Spirit Of Loyalty Served Their Country 1917 – The World War – 1918 Died in the Service”

On July 21, 1926 the Fairfax County war dead memorial was dedicated. At the dedication Mr. Franklin Michelson of the American Legion wrote and read the following poem:

‘Neath Southern skies of Southern Blue
‘Mid Southern hills and valley’s too
We’ve gathered here, my friends, today
To dedicate this stone of gray.

‘Tis a symbol of the Great World War
A tribute to those who have gone before,
They gave up their lives for you and me,
For land, for home, for liberty.

They left their homes, a singing crew,
They fought their foes with purpose true,
They followed the flag o’er land and sea
For the home of the brave and the land of the free.

“They died in the service,” ‘tis their epitaph,
No need for a more brilliant paragraph,
No need for a song, and no need for a story,
“They died in the service,” that is their glory.

Let us make this stone our most loved shrine,
Let’s gather here with thoughts sublime,
Let’s scatter flowers the whole year ‘round,
And make this spot most sacred ground.

During the war, the men served in segregated units. Historical records labeled the men by the color of their skin. The Historic Fairfax Courthouse war memorial plaque lists the men in this manner. The top twenty names are those of the white soldiers and the bottom ten are of those of the  black soldiers. To aid family researchers, in our database we have identified each man as either white or black.

A second plaque located at the Pohick Church in Lorton, VA commemorates six Fairfax County soldiers who were residents of the Mount Vernon and Lee Districts. The plaque was erected by the children of these men and dedicated by President Warren Harding in 1921. Five of the men are named on the Historic Fairfax Courthouse war memorial. The sixth man named on the Pohick Church plaque but not on the Historic Fairfax Courthouse Memorial, 1st Lt. Arthur Thomson Elmore, is included in the database and in the biographies.

While researching the men from Fairfax County who died in World War I, Cpl. John E. Reed from McLean VA was identified as a Fairfax County soldier who died in WWI. Though Cpl. Reed is not named on either memorial, he is included in our database.

The database identifies 32 veterans. Where possible a biography, of each veteran’s military life and a photograph of their gravestone is also included.

If you have any additions or corrections please contact the Fairfax County
Cemetery Preservation Association ( FCCPA).   To submit the information, please contact FCCPA through our website www.honorfairfaxcemeteries.org.

We would appreciate source information and/or documentation for any additions or corrections.

Why was the database created?

The database was created for several reasons:

  • A mission of the Fairfax Cemetery Preservation Association (FCCPA) is to educate the public about the county’s over four hundred cemeteries
  • In 2017 the nation is commemorating the Centennial of the US entry into World War I
  • FCCPA wanted to honor our World War I veterans

Why is it difficult to find service records from World War I?

On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF).

The records affected:

Branch: Army
Personnel and Period Affected: Discharged Nov. 1, 1912 to Jan. 1, 1960
Estimated Loss: 80%

Branch: Air Force
Personnel and Period Affected: Discharged Sept. 25, 1947 to Jan.1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.)
Estimated Loss: 75%

No duplicate copies of these records were ever maintained, nor were microfilm copies produced. Neither were any indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. However, in the years following the fire, the NPRC collected numerous series of records (referred to as Auxiliary Records) that are used to reconstruct basic service information.

Source: https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html

How many U.S. casualties were there during World War I ?

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide): 4,734,991

Battle Deaths:  53,402
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 63,114
Non-mortal Woundings: 204,002

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs
https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf

Prior to World War II, what was the war called?

Prior to World War II, World War I was  called the World War or the Great War, an international conflict that in 1914–18 embroiled most of the nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, the Middle East, and other regions. The war pitted the Central Powers—mainly Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey—against the Allies—mainly France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and, from 1917, the United States. It ended with the defeat of the Central Powers. The war was virtually unprecedented in the slaughter, carnage, and destruction it caused.

Source: https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-I

Why are the black and white soldiers names separated on the plaque?

White and black Americans served in segregated military units until President Truman’s Executive Or-der 9981 on July 26, 1948 ordered the integration of the military. During World War I, over 200,000 black Americans were sent overseas where they worked in service units. They dug ditches, cleaned la-trines, transported supplies and buried the dead, etc. Many expressed the willingness to go to the front. While in a store in Vienna, Daniel Webster Williams was overheard saying that “Negros” were not go-ing to Germany to use picks and shovels. They better be issued guns. And that Germans treat Negros better than Americans. The Germans don’t lynch “Negroes.” Daniel said this was common talk at Camp Lee. Daniel died of disease in France in October 1918.

Two black combat divisions, the 92nd and the 93rd, did serve on the front. The 93rd served under French command and received numerous commendations. The 92nd Division was under the command of American white officers. The 92th division which experienced inadequate training and racial discrimination, did engage in action primarily at the end of the war.

Sources. New York Public Library Exhibition exhibtions.nypl.org
Freedom Museum Manassas Airport @2013
Fold3.com FBI File Daniel Webster Williams

Acknowledgments

A historical compilation like this could not have been done without valuable resources and the contributions of many people.

Foremost, Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association is indebted to:

The resources of the Virginia Room located at the City of Fairfax Regional Library Fairfax, Virginia.

The military records located at www.fold3.com and ancestry.com.

The contributors to www.findagrave.com for providing valuable online reference information and documentation of many of our area cemeteries and gravesites.

Members of our database research committee including Ron Eschmann, Ned Foster, Mary Lipsey, and Ruth and Don Williams.

Disclaimer:

FCCPA volunteers have contributed countless hours and extraordinary effort to create this database. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge. We do not claim that this database is complete. We would appreciate any corrections or suggested additions. Please contact FCCPA at http://www.honorfairfaxcemeteries.org/

Contact Us:

If you have any questions, corrections, or additions, please contact FCCPA through our website: www.honorfairfaxcemeteries.org. We would appreciate source information and/or documentation for any additions or corrections.