The War to End All Wars

Joseph Alexander Coyle

It was billed as the War to End all Wars.  Now we call it World War I.

It was ended by Armistice on November 11, 1918, at 11 AM.  100 years ago today.

That sounds like a worthwhile objective and it was intended to get the American isolationist folks behind the idea of getting into the European war that had been going on for years.  Why send Amerian boys over there to fight for them? To end all wars.

A few years ago, I knew a little about this war.  Uncle Buster, my grandmother’s brother was gassed in the war, mother said.  but it all seemed so long ago.

And then one day, I stopped by the Frankford War Memorial up on Wakeling at Large by Frankford Stadium and saw the names.  There are over 2,000 names of men and women who served in World War I.  I looked closer and saw the names of the dead.

Every war has its dead and after a while, they are just names on a wall or monument.  So I decided to find out who they were.  They died, after all, we should at least know something about them.


Charles Harold Redman was born on May 7, 1891, and baptized at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He was short and thin with dark brown hair and grey eyes and lived at 4629 Tackawanna Street. He was a Gear Cutter at the Griffith factory on North 16th Street, married with a wife and child when he signed up for the draft. He was inducted into the Army on April 25, 1918, and served in Company E, 146th Infantry. He was killed in action on September 27, 1918, when he was 27 years old and is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial. He was survived by his father Henry, sister Virginia Campbell, and brother George.

Charles Francis Elliott was born on October 8, 1890, in Philadelphia and his family lived on Wingohocking Street. He was baptized at the 7th United Presbyterian Church at Orthodox and Leiper and worked at Barrett’s at Margaret and Bermuda Streets. When he registered for the draft, the family had moved to 1739 Fillmore Street. He died of nephritis in France on October 1, 1918 when he was 26 years old and is buried at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery. He was survived by his mother, Maggie, and sisters Mary, Sadie and Edith. His father, Reuben, had predeceased him. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Warren John Decker, Jr. was born in Scranton in May of 1886 but was living at 4630 Paul Street in Frankford when he enlisted in the National Guard on July 16, 1917. He worked at Germantown Tool. He was killed in action on July 16, 1918, when he was 30 years old. His funeral was held at St. Joachim in August of 1921 and he is buried in St. Dominic’s Cemetery in Holmesburg. His father Warren Sr. died of heart failure a few months after he was killed. He was survived by his mother Mary Ann, brothers James and Charles and sister Mary. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Warren Decker

William Charles Peel was born in Frankford on February 20, 1892, and lived at 1701 Unity Street. He was a police officer in the 35th district in Phil-adelphia. He married Elizabeth Gallagher in 1917 and enlisted in the army on August 26, 1918. He died October 13, 1918, of pneumonia at Camp Lee, Virginia when he was 26 years old. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Jesse Vandergrift was born on November 10, 1893, and lived at 2217 Haworth Street. He was unmarried when he went into the army on April 25, 1918, and fought in the battle of the Argonne and died on August 3, 1918 in France when he was 24 years old. He was buried there but later his body was returned to Frankford and reburied in Oakland Cemetery in August of 1920. He was survived by his mother Mary. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

William Johnson was a career army soldier at the Frankford Arsenal and served with the 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division and died on September 7, 1918. He is buried at the Suresnes American Cemetery in France. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Thomas William Astbury Jr. was born in November 9, 1886. The family lived at 1643 Allengrove Street when he registered for the draft. He was a discount clerk at the 3rd National Bank and went into the army in May of 1918. He shipped out on the USS America with Company K of the 315th Infantry on July 9, 1918. Private Astbury was 31 years old when he was killed in action on September 18, 1918. He was survived by his parents, Thomas and Emma, and an older brother, Louis. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Benneville Wellington Bertolet was born on November 25, 1890, in Tamaqua, PA and lived there at least until 1910. At that time, he was a street car conductor. He was living at 4710 Darrah Street and working at Plumb Tools on James Street when he enlisted in the National Guard in 1915. He served with the 108th Field Artillery Regiment, 28th Division and was killed in action on September 24, 1918, when he was 27 years old. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne Ameri-can Cemetery in France. He was survived by his sisters, Mrs. Helen Studley of Callum Bay, Washington, Ester, Jeanette, and Mary. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Amos Raymond Taylor was born on November 16, 1896, and lived at 2208 Bridge Street. He was a machinist at the Frankford Arsenal when he was inducted into the army on September 22, 1917. He shipped out on the USS Leviathan on July 8, 1918. He was killed in action on September 26, 1918, when he was 21 years old. He served with Company M of the 313th Infantry Regiment, 79th Division and is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. He was survived by his father Charles, mother Mary, and sisters Martha, Edith, Mary and Thelma. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Howard B. Cantelly was born in Bristol, PA on March 12th of 1897 and at the time of the draft worked at Dupont in Carney’s Point, New Jersey. He was inducted into the Army on September 5, 1918, in Salem County, New Jersey and died of pneumonia due to influenza in October of 1918 at Camp Humphreys in Virginia. He was 21 years old. He was survived by his uncle, J. L. Lewis, of 2096 Bridge Street. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Joseph T. McClurg was born on May 17, 1891, in Philadelphia and lived at 4245 Romain Street. He said he was a theatrical manager in New York and claimed exemption from the draft due to his parents being dependents. He was married to Sarah Ann Craven in 1918 when he was inducted in the Army. He died on October 1, 1918, of pneumonia in the hospital in Hoboken, New Jersey when he was 27 years old and is buried in Oakland Cemetery. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Elmer J. Needham was born on March 18, 1886, in Philadelphia where his family lived at 1314 Unity Street. He was a clerk/salesman. On May 5, 1918, he applied for a passport to go to France for the American Red Cross. He was a 2nd Lieutenant when he died of disease on October 10, 1918, when he was 32 years old. He is buried in France. He was survived by his mother, Mary Anne, and his brother, Ronald. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Horace Givens was born on January 14, 1894. He worked at the Frankford Arsenal and lived at 1911 Herbert Street when he was inducted into the Army on August 5, 1918. He died on October 14, 1918, of pneumonia when he was 24 years old. He was survived by his mother, Margaret, and father, Horace, and many brothers and sisters. Horace was posthumously admitted to American Legion Post 224.

William Wilkenson Neumann Jr. was born in February 11, 1897 in Philadelphia. His family lived at 1701 Unity Street. He married Anna Taylor in 1918 and shortly after was inducted into the Army on June 26th. On September 1st, he shipped out on the RMS Baltic from Hoboken, NJ bound for France and assigned to Base Hospital 77. He died on October 19, 1918 of pneumonia when he was 21 years old. He was survived by his mother Blanche, brother Wayne and sister Blanche. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Joseph Alexander Coyle was born in Frankford on January 26, 1892 and lived at 1325 Sellers and 1629 Fillmore Street. He was a shipping clerk at S.W. Evans and Son on Paul Street when he was inducted into the army on May 25, 1918. On July 9, 1918 he shipped out on the USS America bound for France. He was serving with Company K of the 315th Infantry, 79th Division when he was wounded on August 28, 1918. He died of pneumonia on October 28, 1918. He is buried in St. Joachim Cemetery in Frankford. He was survived by his father, John, and mother, Anna, and many brothers and sisters. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Joseph Alexander Coyle

Louis Redding (James?) lived at 1333 Sellers Street and was killed in action in November of 1918. No further information is available. The information was extracted from a casualty report published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

George H. Cassels was born in August of 1897 and lived at 2350 Granite Street. He enlisted in the Army on April 15, 1918, at Fort Slocum, New York. Private Cassells fought in the Battle of the Argonne Forest but died on November 1, 1918 of pneumonia due to the flu when he was 21 years old. He is buried in the St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France. He was survived by his father Alexander, mother, Deborah, sisters, Myra and Elizabeth, and brother, Earl. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Edward Nelis was born in Omagh, Ireland on January 1, 1886, and lived at 1540 Ruan Street. He was a weaver at John Fulton at Adams and Church Streets. He went into the Army in February of 1918 and trained at Camp Meade in Maryland. He served with the 313th Infantry Regiment, 79th Division and fought in the battle of the Argonne. On October 18th, he wrote home to say that he had been in the trenches for 3 weeks and under heavy fire for 5 days during the capture of Montfaucort but had escaped injury. He was severely wounded on November 3rd and died on November 4, 1918, when he was 32 years old. He is buried in Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. He was survived by his mother Bridget, brother, Thomas, and sister, Bridget. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Charles J. Coyle was born on March 16, 1895, and lived at 1643 Bridge Street. He went to work at a young age as a filer at the dental works in East Frankford. He was inducted into the Army on May 25, 1918, and served in the 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Division. He was killed in action on November 5th, 1918 when he was 23 years old. This was 6 days before the armistice. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. He was survived by his father, James, mother, Sarah, and 2 brothers and 2 sisters. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Charles Coyle

Walter Carroll Brinton was born into a prominent Quaker family on January 2, 1894, in Frankford and lived at 4540 Adams Avenue with his family. His father was a surveyor for the city and his mother was Elizabeth Smedley, sister of Franklin Smedley. He attended Westtown School in West Chester, PA and Haverford College. He had graduated and was working as a clerk for the Mitter Lock Company on Tacony Street in Frankford when he registered for the draft. He claimed exemption as a Quaker.
He decided to serve with the American Friends Reconstruction service and applied for his passport in September of 1917 to travel to France for a 2-year period. He died December 8, 1918 at Sermaize-les-Bains, Departement de la Marne, Champagne-Ardenne, France and is buried in the Friends Burial Ground in Frankford. He was 24 years old. He was survived by his father, Walter, mother, Elizabeth, and sisters Mary and Elizabeth. His name is listed on the Frankford War Memorial.

Walter Carroll Brinton

Admiral Johnson was born in Washington, DC on May 5, 1895, but when he registered for the draft, he was unmarried and working as a laborer at the Willard Lock Company on Tacony Street. He lived with his mother at 1667 Foulkrod Street. and enlisted in the Army on August 5, 1918, and fought in the battle of the Argonne in France He died of pneumonia on May 20, 1919, when he was 24 years old. It was not until 1921 that his body was returned home for burial. He was survived by his mother, Louisa Lewis. His name is listed on the Frank-ford War Memorial. Admiral Johnson was posthumously admitted to American Legion Post 224.