My great-uncle Patrick Craven was killed in action during World War I. In this photo I am holding the pall that covered his casket when his body was returned to the United States.
Patrick fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, one of the final battles of the war. On October 1, 1918, he volunteered to get drinking water for members of his machine gun battalion. They were pinned down under heavy German fire. A shell exploded nearby and Patrick was killed instantly.
His remains were interred three times, the first time being on the battlefield. Sgt. John B. Ralph wrote to Patrick’s mother in 1919 and described where: “Pat was buried by Father Smith, Chaplain of the 112th Infantry Regiment, a close friend of his, with others of his comrades in an orchard on the west side of the town of Apremont, about 75 yards away from where he fell.”
His body was transferred later to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. This is the largest American military cemetery in Europe. It is located next to the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon in the Meuse region of Northeast France.
Shortly thereafter, the War Department notified the parents of Patrick (my great-grandparents) that they could elect to have his body removed to the United States. His parents wanted this, and on September 24, 1921, Patrick Craven was laid to rest in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Williamstown.
Below is the letter notifying my great-grandparents that Patrick’s body was being returned the U.S. The red, white and blue stickers were added by Patrick’s sister Margaret (my grandmother), who put together a scrapbook about him.