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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Another Canadian buried in Kentucky

paul guthrie

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I have previously asked for advice on Private John Benjamin French of Lexington, Kentucky. I now have some information.


French was a shoeshiner and jockey. He was black. In 1918, perhaps fearful of being drafted into the US Army he joined Canadians in Montreal. He correctly believed he would be better treated there. He served in France with Canadian Forestry Corps.

He is buried in Cove Haven a black cemetery which is in poor condition. Despite having section and number of grave from CWGC I could not locate his grave, section C is unmarked and I guessed wrong on where it is.

I contacted Ottawa CWGC they sent a map and I located his grave. The headstone is in bad shape. Ten years ago they paid to have repair done, words Rest In Peace at bottom were no longer visible. Another inspection a few years ago was missed because of flooding in the area when CWGC was in the area. They excavated all the way to and beyond the base five to eight inches of which is exposed.

Maple Leaf and letters are bad too.

They are going to replace the stone and I have asked them to change the words which they are considering. Althouhg it does say private before name it says Canadian Forestry Corps C E F. That would be fine in Europe or Canada but I think poeple who happen upon it here will not realize he was a soldier who died from service.

He was discharged in Montreal in 1919 and died of TB there in 1920 almost exactly a year. In 1931 it was determined to be a war death.

I intend to be there when new stone is erected along with a neighboorhood black man Cecil Green who helped out. I hope the paper will cover it and I will do a short article for US journal Camaraderie.

He is near Alexander McClintock DCM who is in the adjacent white Lexington Cemetery which is beautifully maintained. No wonder he stayed in Canada.

CWGC Maidenhead also agreed to change his personal details to show parents as George Ash ( deceased) and Lulu A..It appeared they were not married when they in fact were. They will now be listed when new site goes on line as Goerge Ash French and Lulu French.

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Very interesting, Paul. Do you know the company John French served with in the CFC?

My grandad was in 24th Company, 2nd District (Jura) in France in 1918.

Peter in Vancouver

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Peter I just noticed he stated his proposed residence after discharge was Montreal.

He left Canada 26 6 18arrived Liverpool 15 7 18, was first at Bramshott then Command Segregation Camp ( flu?) Frensham, transfer to Canadian Forestry Corps Sunningdale disembarked France with 8th Coy. CFC.

I think Chris will be able to post a picture of his headstone here, I do not know how and am beyond learning!

I am interested in knowing about the segregation camp. The word is not a good one for a black man then.

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