1919 Aug 15, Telegraph - LEGION POST SELECTS NAME OF FIRST SOLDIER KILLED IN WORLD WAR
Nashua post, American Legion, No. 3, honored their former comrade, Private James E. Coffey (pictured), by selecting his name at last night's meeting by a unanimous vote as the name for the post. He was the first Nashua soldier to die in action and have his death officially confirmed by the War department. The names of Capt. Wilkie I, Elliot and First Class Private Amededee J. Deschenes were spoken of with appreciation by many present but the sentiment of the meeting crystallized around the fact that Private Coffey's record was also brilliant, and that he was the first to fall on the battlefield.
His Name was recommended by the committee, which has had the three names under consideration for several weeks. H.C. Gibson, chairman of the committee, read the official notices and letters sent from Washington and France, which spoke highly of his soldierly record and conduct. He was enrolled in Company D, 103rd Regiment, 26th Division and was killed in action May 10th, 1918. He was buried in the American Military cemetery at Vignot, France.
The wish was expressed by many that they might honor all three for they all deserved any honors that their comrades could give them.
Colonel William E. Sullivan presided and the number present made sure that the post was to be the successful organization that it should be and that the memories of the would be fostered and its lessons should not be lost, and its comradeship be continued for the years to come.
The report of the committee on by-laws was read by its chairman, Dr. Albert E, Brownrigg and approved and adopted.
William E. Sullivan and Harry Parker were chosen delegates to the convention at the Wiers and Ray Nute and Harry Emerson as alternates. The post is allowed one delegate for the first 15 enrolled and an additional one for each one hundred members. There are now 80 fully inducted members and application blanks have been signed by over 50 more. Should the membership drive which starts today secure a sufficient number of additional members, the alternates will go as delegates. A committee on membership was named and two teams were organized to conduct the campaign and will report at the Armory tonight at 7 o'clock.
The teams are: Horace Gibson (Capt.), George F. Thurher, Harry D. Emerson, Donald J. Jones, Alfred D. Gravelle, Everett Howe, Harry Parker, Lloyd Maker, John Masirovascies, James Cote, Albert Cote, Athas James, Elmer Walters, Paul S. Courvunias, A. Poland.
Wm. Molloy (Capt.), John P. Nash, James J. Moran, A. E. Brownrigg, Ernest Woods, David Carmody, Philip Styllanos, Ray Nute, Joseph A. Cardin, Hargop Injian, Horace Lawson, Harold Bingham, Chester Dame, Claude L. Girouard, J. Mastropoulis.
James Edward Coffey officially reported as the first Nashua soldier to pay the supreme sacrifice in the World War, was the son of Daniel J. and the late Catherine (Dillon) Coffey. He lived on Broad Street, and at the time of his enlistment, was employed in the printing department at No. 2 mill of the Nashua Gummend & Coated Paper company. His mother, stricken with illness, died some time after the sad news of his death was reported from the War department, grief over his death having been a contributing factor to her demise.
As a boy and youth, Private Coffey was well known in this city, attending the public schools, and taking an active part in the boyhood life of the city. He was a member of Nashua council, Knights of Columbus, Div. 2, A. O. H., and of the Lone Pine Hunters' Club.
Besides his father he is survived by four sister, Mrs. Christine Coffey Burnham, Miss Margaret, Miss Katherine and Miss Alice Coffey; a brother William, recently returned from active military service in France, and a nephew, Andrew Francis Burnham.
He was one of the first Nashua young men to enlist for active military service from this city, joining the National Guard here when the companies were being mobilized for service Over There June 5, 1917. He trained at Concord and at Westfield, Mass., and went over with the famous Yankee 26th combat division under Maj. Gen. Clarence R. Edwards.
He met his death May 11, 1918 on the field of honor at St. Agnant in the Toul sector. For days the fighting had been heavy and his company was on active duty. In this active service Private Coffey took a gallant part, as was evidenced by a copy of the general orders issued by General Edward on May 29, forwarded to Mrs. Coffey, in which the division commander was pleased to mention him in the following language:
"The following named men of Co. D., 103rd Infantry, on the morning of the 10th of May, 1918, in the C. R. St. Agnant, during the gas attack by the enemy, performed conspicuous acts of courage and initiative while under heavy fire." "The division commander is pleased to mention them specially for their gallant conduct and devotion to duty on that action:
***** Private James E. Coffey *****".
Later, his mother received from the office of Lieut. Col. C. A, Stevens, division adjutant, the formal citation for bravery earned as signified by the general orders quoted above. The citation is signed both by the adjutant and by General Edwards personally, and it reads:
"Pvt. James E. Coffey, Co. D. 103rd Infantry." " I have read with much pleasure the reports of your regimental commander and brigade commander regarding your gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field on May 10, 1918, while under heavy enemy gas attack and shell dire, St. Agnant, Toul sector, and have ordered your name and deed to be entered in the record of the Yankee Division." "C. R. EDWARDS, Major General, Commanding 26th Division."
The telegram bearing the sad news of Private Coffey's death was followed on May 27, 1918 by official confirmation from Maj. Charles C. Pierce of the Graves Registration Service in France and on July 16, 1918 from the office of Austin A. Parker, Adjutant General at Washington.
Private Coffey lies in the little grave marked 49 in the American Military cemetery at Vignot, Meuse, France. With the other noble sons of this great republic who were numbered in the toll of their heroic sacrifice. His remains rest in the quiet French countryside until such time, if ever, as it is deemed expedient to remove them to a final resting place beneath the sod over which he roamed in the days which memory will ever hold dear to his family and friends. "Requieseat in pace."
The photo is of Pvt. James Edward Coffey before he shipped out to Europe.
To see more artifacts pertaining to Pvt. Coffey, visit the photo album bearing his name.