PRIVATE FIRST CLASS ALBERT CHRISTIAN LARSEN; U.S. ARMY

August 8, 1891 (Norwalk, CT) – October 24, 1918; 27 years old; unmarried
Last local address: Pleasant View Avenue, East Norwalk (later renamed Amundsen St.)
Entered the service April 30, 1918
Serial number 366424
29TH DIVISION, 111TH MACHINE GUN BATTALION, COMPANY A

Worked as a carpenter for Fred Hodges of East Norwalk prior to service.

Killed in Action at Bois D’Etraye, France 18 days before the armistice was signed.

From unknown newspaper; found in a book of clippings at the Norwalk History Room in the Norwalk library

PRIVATE LARSEN KILLED IN ACTION

   Corporal Albert C. Larsen, a well-known East Norwalk young man, was killed in action in France on October 24th, last, according to an official telegram from Washington D.C. received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Larsen, last evening. He was one of the men called to the colors in April, and left Norwalk May 1st, in company with the late Aime Tarlov, and others, for Fort Slocum, New York. After a few days there the Norwalk men were sent to Camp McClellan, Anniston, Alabama. The soldiers sailed for overseas June 14th, and almost immediately on arrival went to the fighting line in France. Very recently letters had been received from Mr. Larsen announcing his promotion to corporal.

   He was a member of Norwalk Aerie, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the local carpenter’s union, and was well liked by a large circle of friends. Besides his parents, he is survived by two brothers, Peter G. Larsen of New York, and Frederick Larsen of the United States Naval Reserves, and two sisters, Mrs. Robert Olsen, and Mrs. Herbert V. Boothby, of this place.

   The official telegram of his death was as follows:

Mrs. Christian Larsen,
   21 Pleasant View Avenue
   Norwalk, Connecticut.

Deeply regret to inform you that Private Albert C. Larsen, Machine Gun Battalion, is officially reported as killed in action October twenty-fourth.

                        HARRIS, the Adjutant General


From another unknown newspaper; found in a book of clippings at the Norwalk History Room in the Norwalk library

LARSEN CITED FOR BRAVERY
East Norwalk Relatives Receive Verification of Death in Performance of His Duty

   The following letter has been received by Mrs. Christine Larsen, 21 Pleasant View Avenue, East Norwalk, from the commanding officer of Company A, 111th Machine Gun Battery, 29th Division, A.E.F. regarding Private Albert C. Larsen, who death was recently announced in The Sentinel:

   1. As commanding officer of Company A. 11th M.G. Bn., it is my duty to inform you that your son, First Class Private Albert C. Larsen (366424) was killed in action on the 24th of October 1918 in an attack on Bois D’Orimont, in which his company displayed such extraordinary heroism and courage that it was especially cited in orders by both the French and commanding General.

   2. As his immediate commanding officer, I had a chance to see this young man constantly since his enlistment.

   3. At Camp McClellan he was a willing worker and a model solider. After arriving in the A.E.F. in training area, in rest billets and in the front-line trenches under action, he served his country to the best of his ability and at the time of his death, was in line for promotion to corporal.

   4. I personally saw that this soldier had a decent burial and his final resting place is well marked. In my mind it is the duty as well as the privilege for one to be able to give their sons and husbands for the noble cause for which we fight, that future generations may live.

   5. Will be more than willing to answer any questions you may wish to know.

                                                                        ALBERT E. ELSEA                                                                                     1st Lt. Inf., U.S.A.


From another unknown newspaper; found in a book of clippings at the Norwalk History Room in the Norwalk library

LARSEN’S PAL WRITES OF HIS DEATH
East Side Boy Killed Oct. 24th by the Explosion of a Shrapnel Shell

In a letter written by the pal of Private Albert Larsen of East Norwalk, his sister, Mrs. H.V. Boothby, has received an account of the death of her brother and learned he died a true soldier. The letter was written by Fred J. Meyer, Company A, 111th Machine Gun Battalion, 29th Division, A.E.F., who was with the local boy since he arrived in France and who was a witness of his death. The letter follows:

Fresnes, France,
December 9, 1918

Mrs. H.V. Boothby,

   Dear Friend: Your letter of November 20, received, and I was very glad to hear from you. My intentions were when we landed back in the States to stop off and see you when on my way home and explain to you the sad ending of my pal and your brother, Al Larsen. Al and I had been together most all the time we have been in France, bunking together and in fact together all the time. The time of Al’s sad ending was October 24, at 4:30 in the afternoon. At this time we were on the side of a hill and had been there for three or four days waiting for our orders. We were just after going through an engagement from which Al and I came out O.K. On the afternoon of the 24th we went down the hill to get supper, and after Al got his he started back up the hill with two other boys. A shell landed not far from them and the shrapnel was thrown in all directions. Al was in the middle and was killed outright. He did not suffer for a minute. The medical men were at his side before the sand and dirt thrown by the explosion had settled. That same night Al was buried and he had one of the best funerals I have seen in France. He was laid to rest in a cemetery and also had a sermon read over his remains. Before he was buried, his ring, two razors, pocket-book, and letters were taken from his body by the chaplain and I am sure that you will get them from the “Effects Department.” Al was struck in the chest, the shrapnel passing through and coming out the other side, killing him instantly. I hope that I have made myself plain as you understand this is a very difficult letter to write. As soon as I arrive in the States I will stop in and see you. Hoping you will receive this O.K. and that I will see you soon, with my deepest regrets, I remain PRIVATE FRED J. MEYER.


Albert’s mother made the pilgrimage to France as part of the Gold Star Mothers and Widows program in 1929.

In the aftermath of World War I, wives became widows, and mothers outlived their sons. More than 100,000 Americans died during the Great War, creating suffering and pain for those family members they left behind. Through the Gold Star pilgrimages of 1930 to 1933, the U.S. government specifically recognized the sacrifices of these mothers and widows who chose burial in an overseas American military cemetery for their sons or husbands.

As the war raged, the Gold Star became a symbol for mourning the fallen. Families who lost a loved one in the service hung a Gold Star in their windows. Their female relatives referred to themselves as Gold Star mothers and widows, and they created several national organizations for collective mourning and support. These groups lobbied Congress for an official government-funded pilgrimage to visit their loved ones’ graves, which the government authorized on March 2, 1929.

All mothers and un-remarried widows of someone buried or memorialized at an ABMC cemetery received an invitation. Over the course of the program 6,654 women participated. These pilgrims represented the diversity of the American army in World War I. However, in keeping with the Jim Crow-Era segregation of the military at the time, the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps racially segregated the pilgrimages. African-American women travelled in separate groups, a decision that created much controversy. While many objected, 168 African-American women still participated as pilgrims.

Even after the crash of the stock market in October 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, the federal government funded the entire pilgrimage. The Quartermaster Corps meticulously organized the program and cared for the mothers and widows. They arranged every detail of the journey and monitored the pilgrims’ physical and emotional health. Escorted by Army officers and nurses, the pilgrims traveled to many of the major tourist sites in the countries they visited, including the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where they laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They subsequently traveled to the cemeteries and visited the battlefields and memorials in addition to the graves of their loved ones.

Cemetery staff decorated the graves with the flags of the U.S. and the host country. They provided a chair for the pilgrim to sit next to the headstone and reflect. Each pilgrim received a photograph of herself at the tombstone, where she also laid a memorial wreath. These personal touches added to the dignity of the pilgrimages and demonstrated the government’s commitment to the cemeteries.

The Gold Star pilgrimages honored these women’s sacrifices and eased their grief. After her 1930 pilgrimage to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Mrs. O.B. Johnson of Iowa told the Army how “the Government is certainly doing the right and square thing by the Gold Star Mothers. We were treated with respect and deference…on the whole a wonderful trip.” Many pilgrims expressed their admiration for the ABMC cemeteries. Mrs. Ettie M. Brown and Mrs. George Ingersoll visited the Saint-Mihiel American Cemetery and declared that “the cemetery is kept beautifully and we feel our sons have a lovely resting place.”

Through the Gold Star pilgrimages, women played a key role in the early commemorations at the ABMC cemeteries. The government recognized that these women served the nation through their losses, and acknowledged the importance of providing them with the opportunity to visit the overseas graves of their fallen family members. The ABMC mission during the Gold Star pilgrimages was the same as it is today: to maintain military cemeteries with honor, so that the loved ones of the fallen can find solace in the dignified care of their eternal resting place.

Cross Street renamed to Larsen Street in 1921 in his honor

Private Larsen is buried at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France; Plot D, Row 36, Grave 5.

Published by jeffd1121

USAF retiree. Veteran advocate. Committed to telling the stories of those who died while in the service of the country during wartime.

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