Stephen W. Manchester, first Westbrook soldier killed in World War I. Contributed / Dennis Marrotte

The Stephen W. Manchester Post 62 American Legion on Monday will decorate the grave of its namesake, the first soldier from Westbrook to be killed in action during World War I.

The Memorial Day remembrance for Manchester, which will include Taps, will take place at Woodlawn Cemetery, following an 8 a.m. ceremony with Legion Posts 62 and 197 at the cemetery’s Veterans Rest.

Westbrook’s Memorial Day parade, with Bill Hurd of Post 62 and Rudy Poitras of Post 197 as grand marshals, will begin at 10 a.m. at Mechanic and Main streets and continue to Riverbank Park, where official city ceremonies will be held.

Manchester, a private with the 101st French Mortar Battery, was wounded when a shell burst on July 11, 1918, on a Western Front battlefield in the Soissons-Reims sector in France, about 80 miles from Paris, according to the Westbrook Historical Society. He died of his injuries seven days later at a field hospital at age 31.

A U.S. Army certificate about his death displayed at Post 62 was signed by General of the Armies John J. Pershing.

Manchester grew up on Locust Street, attended Warren School and worked at S.D. Warren, according to historical society records. He hitched up in 1917 when soldiers were called doughboys. His unit served in the U.S. Army’s 26th Division, a National Guard outfit nicknamed the Yankee Division and heralded as a storm division. The division arrived in France in the fall of 1917 and was in combat for 210 days, according to historical accounts.


The Manchester grave at Woodlawn Cemetery. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Yankee Division was 27,082 troops strong and Manchester was one of more than 13,500 casualties (dead or wounded).

“He was brought home for a full military burial in Woodlawn Cemetery, but not until 1921,” Westbrook Historical Society records say.

Manchester is buried beside his parents, Herbert and Ellen Ridley Manchester.

Memorial Day in Gorham

VFW Post 10879 will lead a ceremony at 9 a.m. at Hillside Cemetery on Huston Road. The ceremony will be followed by a wreath toss from the Route 202 Bridge into the Presumpscot River.

The Memorial Day parade will start at 11 a.m. from Lincoln Street, proceeding along South and Main streets to Eastern Cemetery for a town ceremony.


Certificate signed by General of the Armies John J. Pershing.  Contributed / Dennis Marrotte

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