September 27, 1890 (Westchester, NY) – March 21, 1919; 28 years old
Last local address: 4 Hamilton Avenue, South Norwalk
Entered the service on May 22, 1918
Serial number 2885059
Unit: 79th Infantry Regiment, 313th Infantry, Company I
Born to John Milton Sniffen (1860-1900) and Ida Rex Sniffen (1862-1941). Four sisters, Anna (1887-1954), Lizzie (1888-1952), Emma (1892-1959), and Daisy (1889-1953). One brother, John Milton (1896-1961).
Worked in the shipping room of Norwalk Tire & Rubber Company in Norwalk.
Died of aortic regurgitations and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) in France four months after the end of the war.
From an unknown newspaper found in newspaper clippings in the Norwalk History Room, Norwalk Library
SNIFFEN GIVES UP LIFE IN SERVICE OF COUNTRY
Norwalk Boy in 313th Infantry Dies of Nephritis in France
Mrs. Ida Sniffen of 4 Hamilton Avenue, second district, received last evening, a telegram from Adjutant General Harris, Washington, DC, bearing the sad news that her son Private Charles H. Sniffen, whom she had been expecting to return to this country at any time, had died in France on March 21 of nephritis. When the last letter written by him was received by his mother several weeks ago, he was in fine health and the news of his death came as a very great shock to the entire family. He leaves a large number of friends in Norwalk who regret his passing keenly. Private Sniffen was, prior to being drafted, an assistant night foreman in Norwalk Tire & Rubber Company, and his trustworthiness and ability were quite recognized. He was of sterling character and was esteemed by all who knew him. He was drafted on May 26, at which time he was sent to Camp Upton. He was later transferred to Camp Meade and left for overseas in July. He wrote home regularly but received no mail from home since along in the fall. The following letter, which was written by him on December 2 in Deigny, France, will show several of the engagements in which he took part:
December 2, 1918
Dear Folks: – I am feeling fine and just came from church. I go every Sunday and from there go to the YMCA where I write a few letters. I went over the top and came out all right, except for a small scratch under my left eye. I was lying there alongside two of my pals in a shell hole when suddenly a shell burst on the other side of me wounding both of them. One of them was hit in both legs, and the other in the shoulder. Gee, but the poor boys had to lie right where they were until first aid came to them. After four days of fighting, we were released and went back for a rest. The next place we went to was Verdun, where the fighting was fierce and the crown prince lost a million men. We were then put in a dugout and had some fight. You probably saw it in the papers. I don’t think I will be here to receive that Christmas package, for I expect to be back home by the first of the year. The 313th was highly praised for the capture of Maufacuion, and had to work in the capture, too, believe me. When I get back home, you will not know me, for I have gotten very fat. My coat wouldn’t fit me. I outgrew it so rapidly, so I have another one now of a larger size. Well, I will close now, with love to all, I am CHARLES.
Private Charles H. Sniffen,
Company I, 313th Infantry,
Private Sniffen did not return to the states as he expected, but instead was held with the boys in France, expecting constantly to leave for home at any time. After enjoying the best of health throughout his trench service and receiving no serious wounds, he was called to give his life while in the service of his country in France, the call coming in the form of sudden illness, to which he rapidly succumbed. His name makes one more of Norwalk’s boys to give their lives in the service of Uncle Sam, and one more name to go up in gold on Norwalk’s Roll of Honor board.
From The Norwalk Hour July 22, 1920
First Body Received Here From the Front; Chaplain Swan’s Touching Words
The funeral of Private Harry C. (correct is Charles Harvey) Sniffen, whose body was brought home this week to a local resting place from its temporary grave in France, the first body to arrive home, was largely attended by relatives and friends yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock from Trinity Church. There was a large representation of former servicemen, many of who were close friends of the deceased. The services were duly impressive. Rev. Thomas E. Swan, the former army chaplain, officiated and spoke in a very eloquent manner. He spoke of Private Sniffen as having “gone west” or “gone home”, terms which the soldier uses as he witnesses the funeral of his comrade. Rev. Mr. Swan closed his service with the statement that the soul of Private Sniffen had come home long before the body. As the body passed through the streets to Riverside Cemetery, where it was lowered to rest, it was covered by a huge American flag. It made a distinct impression upon all spectators, the sight of the funeral of the first Norwalk soldier who gave his life “over there” and had come home to final rest and peace. In charge of the large delegation of members of Frank C. Godfrey Post No. 12, American Legion, in attendance.
Hanford Street renamed Sniffen Street in 1921 in honor of him
To read the entire NARA burial file, click HERE.
Private Sniffen is buried in Riverside Cemetery; 81 Riverside Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut; Section 20, Plot 67. Photo by webmaster.