The armistice of November 11, 1918 brought relief to tens of millions of families across the globe. But the end of the war came too late for 15 million to 19 million human beings whose lives ended prematurely as a result of the pointless conflict.
Among those was George Howland Croft, who was killed in France in the final weeks of the war.
George Howland Croft (a,f) was born in Morgan, Utah on August 10, 1895 to William Howland Croft and Rosa Jabezina Auger Croft, my great-great-great grandparents. George was the fifth of six children. He had two older brothers, two older sisters and one younger sister.
He spent most of his childhood in Centerville, Utah, before moving to Idaho. His mother died when he was just five years old. His father passed away in October 1916.
George moved to Idaho, where he was a farmer. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in September 1917 and ended up in Company G of the 59th Infantry.
After training, Croft’s company went to France in May. The 59th participated in the Aisne-Marne, S. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Lorraine and Champagne campaigns.
Croft was slightly wounded in August, but he healed enough to rejoin the fight. He went to the front, where he was wounded on October 21, 1918 – just three weeks before the end of the war.
Croft was brought to the base hospital in Allery, where he died of his wounds on November 21. He was 23 years old.
Family and friends back home didn’t learn of his injury in December. The Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune ran headlines on his condition along with other local boys who had become casualties of the war.
George’s older brother, William Perry Croft, was informed of George’s death by the War Department in December, nearly a month after his died. George was buried in his hometown of Centerville.
George never had children, and his life as an Idaho farmer had just begun. The “Great War,” fueled by nationalism, mindless anger and a catastrophic failure of political leadership, cut millions of similar lives short all across the globe.
Ancestry.com, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Registration Location: Minidoka County, Idaho; Roll: 1452219; Draft Board: 0.
Ancestry.com, Utah, Veterans with Federal Service Buried in Utah, Territorial to 1966 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com.
“Centerville Chats.” Davis County Clipper, 20 Dec. 1918, p. 1. Accessed November 9, 2018. https://www.newspapers.com/image/285937696/
“Four Mountain Soldiers Dead in France.” The Salt Lake Tribute, 04 Dec. 1918, p. 1. Accessed November 9, 2018. https://www.newspapers.com/image/289673409
“George Howland Croft Is Seriously Wounded.” The Deseret News, 03 Dec. 1918. Accessed November 9, 2018. https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/62129573