Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Researching American Service and Sacrifice with the British Army

Contributed by Sidney Clark

That a large number of Americans volunteered for British and Commonwealth forces in the Great War is well known.  Much information is available online today , and here are some of the details I have been able to discover. This is a general introduction to the subject.  Roads Editor Mike Hanlon has promised to present a number of the specific cases under the "Remembering a Veteran" heading in future postings.

Lieutenant George Roy Weber:  116th Bn., Canadian Infantry, who died on 23 July 1917 Age 25, Son of Margaret Weber, of 3756 Hogarth Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. and the late Joseph E. Weber. Private J. A. Williams: 13th Bn., Canadian Infantry, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A., who died on 30 April 1917. Both Remembered with Honour, Vimy Memorial.

  • Total American Burials in Commonwealth War Graves World War I Sites: 2,917
  • Burials at Selected Cemeteries and Memorials                              

                       Site —  Total Casualties — American Casualties

    A      Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery —  1535 —   12 Americans

           Arras Flying Services Memorial —  990 —  10 Americans

           Vimy Ridge —  11169 —  245 Americans

           Menin Gate Memorial —   54406 —  177 Americans

           Thiepval Memorial —   72198 —  66 Americans

          Bertangles Communal —  1 —  1 American

  • Oldest American Burial   50 years (1)
  • Youngest American Burial Burials of 15 and 16 year old Americans in Commonwealth Cemeteries have been discovered, but we are rechecking the exact numbers. (Amended 1100 hrs PST, 5 Jan.)

Private John Reginald Love:  15th Bn., Canadian Infantry who died on 11 November 1917 Age 20, Son of Frederick Love and Emily J. (his wife), of 86 Charlotte Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. Buried with Honour Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

  • Selected Decorations to Americans
            Distinguished Conduct Medal  —  12

            Military Cross —  12

            Military Medal  —  59

            Distinguished Flying Cross —  1


  1. Edward: Is there a book (or website) that provides a comprehensive discussion of Americans who served in the Imperial forces? There are several graves in Oklahoma that appear for individuals who served in the Imperial forces. However, tracking some of these folks is difficult because many apparently enlisted under assumed names to obscure their US citizenship. John

  2. A number of years ago I heard that there was a book coming out about the five 'American Legion' battalions formed within the C.E.F. (97th, 211th, 212th, 213th and 237th). Although these battalions were recruited in various parts of Canada apparently most of the men were Americans. All of these battalions were broken up on arrival in France to provide replacements.

  3. Hi,
    Due to the strict neutrality of the Wilson administration, the 'American' battalions in the CEF became an issue for both countries. The 97th managed to recruit to full strength but the other four never managed to get even close to full strength. The 97th had a reputation for poor discipline and there were a number of scandals as the men waited (and waited) to go overseas. Eventually the Americans lodged an official complaint with the Canadians over the legion. Individuals serving of their own accord were one thing, an American Legion another!
    This caused friction between the English and Canadians the other 4 battalions were amalgamated into the 97th which was (as stated above) broken up in England thus ending the issue.
    There was at one time an excellent article Maple Leaf Yanks by Matthew Laird on the topic available online.
    Canadian attestation papers are online and available through the Canadian National Archives. Mr. Snow if you have a question about a particular individual, I would be happy to assist.

  4. Hi,
    Nice to see a picture of an American buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. I am researching the cemetery ( There are 42 Americans (who served with the CEF and BEF) still buried in this cemetery. I would be happy to share the list with you. Contact

  5. Do you know of any memoirs, diaries, or accounts of Americans fighting for the CEF? Do you have details of any Americans fighting with the CEF at Vimy Ridge? My email is