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Navy war dead in Ireland need some attention from those traveling for Notre Dame game

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Headstone in Cobh, Co Cork graveyard
with details on death of 2 American
sailors during WW1.

Photo: thanks to USSWwainwright.org
The other day I wrote that I thought the Navy had flubbed its mission to Ireland, isn't reaching out enough, using soft power to win some points with the Irish people. In particular, I thought the Navy isn't doing enough to highlight the links between Ireland and the US Navy, but rather is leaving the "Irish links" domain entirely to Notre Dame.

Yesterday I learned that the Navy is bringing the USS Fort McHenry to Dublin and they're allowing people to tour the ship. I know my son would absolutely love that so I entered the lottery for tickets to join a tour. Fingers crossed.

That is good, but I still think the Navy could have done so much more. However, there is one thing they can help get done that should be done.

A few years ago I wrote about an unmarked grave containing three American sailors in a graveyard in Cobh (formerly Queenstown), Co Cork. I got that story from a documentary on Ireland's national television station, however I now suspect that story isn't actually accurate.*

However, there are two Americans buried in Cobh's Old Church Cemetery, both of whom died while serving with the Navy during WWI.

One of the two lies in a grave with a headstone (see above) that is in serious need of a cleaning. The stone reads:

Sacred to the memory of our shipmates James H. Bush US Navy born 11/11/1889 at Brockton, Mass. Accidentally drowned Aug. 4th 1917 and William P. Baker U.S. Navy born 9/9/1899 at Branswick, Cal. Lost at sea Oct. 23rd 1917 body not recovered. Erected by the Officers and Crew of the U.S.S. “Wainwright”.
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The other man lies in a grave nearby. An unmarked grave. Seaman Second Class William H Mansfield, who died of the flu on October 26, 1918 while serving on the USS Utah. Mansfield was from Richmond, KY. {Mansfield's address is given as 133 Estill Avenue and his next of kin as his father William Thomas Mansfield. Interestingly, Willie Thomas Hammons, also a Seaman Second Class, died in a naval hospital in Scotland in October 1918 and he gave his next of kin as his mother Cora Elmore Mansfield, also of 133 Estill Avenue in Richmond, KY. The two men enlisted on the same day in May 1918 in Louisville. They died five days apart. Half brothers? Cousins?}

Mansfield deserves a headstone, a proper military headstone on his grave. That he died of the flu is of no matter. Most of the Navy's casualties during the war were due to the flu.

Thanks to the work of the American Legion Ireland, the Fr Francis Duffy Post, these omissions have been put right often in recent years. Now they have another mission. They could probably use a little help and with all the Navy brass that will be here this weekend for the football game that help his here now.

It would be great if someone from the Navy's traveling delegation to Ireland this weekend were to find out about William Mansfield's unmarked grave and get ball rolling when they get back stateside. A proper military headstone needs to be requisitioned immediately. While they're at it they can organize for the stone on Bush's grave to get a good cleaning and/or maybe request a proper military headstone for that grave too.

* I want to thank Aileen Walsh of Cobh Town Council who took my rumors about the three sailors in an unmarked grave and then spent quite a bit of time going through old registers to turn those rumors into the hard facts on Bush, Baker and Mansfield.

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