Published In People in AFS

Myers, Arthur

* 1886/03/22† 1917/10/04

Who
WWI driver
When
WWI
Where
France
Education
Cornwall Heights; Brooklyn Polytechnic

Public domain: Memorial Volume of the American Field Service in France, 1921.

Indicator Details

Born March 22, 1886, in New York City. Only son of Charles and Anna Freeborn Myers. Educated Cornwall Heights and Brooklyn Polytechnic Preparatory Schools. Chubb and Sons, Marine Insurance, two years; insurance broker with Myers and Eadie. Joined American Field Service, March 2, 1917; attached Section Fifteen to May. Croix de Guerre. Sent back to America, July, 1917, suffering from shell-shock. Died at home in New York City, October 4, 1917. Buried Greenwood Cemetery, New York.

ARTHUR MYERS was a mature man when he went to France in the American Field Service, with all of a man's seriousness of purpose. It was no joyous adventure for him, but a duty carefully thought out and prepared for. He had French blood in his veins and had stimulated a natural and profound admiration for France by extensive reading in French history. He felt very keenly the obligation of America's debt to her and the necessity of its payment. On account of a severe illness in his boyhood that threatened the loss of one leg, he had never been physically strong, and because he was determined that he should not fail in his undertaking, he spent the summer before the date of sailing, travelling in the Canadian Rockies for the express purpose of hardening himself so that he might undergo the rigors of the service with the others. With the same end in view he became a member of the New York Athletic Club.

Early in 1917 he sailed for France via Spain and on April 10th he set out for the front at the wheel of a car of the newly-formed Section Fifteen. Fifty-four hours after he had driven slowly out of the garden at 21 rue Raynouard, he was on duty as a front-line poste near Verdun, and was experiencing the first of the many bombardments that he was to undergo in the next months. It was an extraordinary thing, to which all of his section will testify, that in a comparatively quiet sector he should have had so many terrible and nerve-racking experiences. So often did his appearance at the front line seem to act as a signal for a prolonged bombardment that he was nicknamed "Obus" by his comrades. But he did not falter in spite of the almost malignant persecution to which he was subjected, continuing his service under difficult and oftentimes apparently impossible conditions. On one occasion he volunteered to evacuate a badly wounded man from a little poste in the Bois d'Avocourt, over a road that was being methodically "watered " by high-explosive shells, and so excited the admiration of the French sergeant in charge of the poste that he was recommended for and eventually received the Croix de Guerre. He was promoted to the office of sous-chef and won the confidence and respect of the men. His friend, Earl Osborn, wrote, "As chief of Section Fifteen I should like again to bear witness to the bravery and devotion of Arthur Myers."

"Then we noticed a change in him," wrote one of his closest friends in the section. "He kept by himself and seemed morose . . . . . We little thought it was a symptom of that common disease 'shell-shock,' which so often claims the strongest and best." He kept bravely on till one day after a particularly frightful experience, as he wrote later from Paris, "I got back to the section and felt good for nothing but to lie on my back . . . . . and wonder when the pains in my head would let up." He was sent back to Paris to rest and for a time he seemed to rally, confidently expecting to return to the section; but his weakened constitution had received a severer shock than he realized, and in July he was sent home to America. He grew steadily weaker till on October 4, 1917, he died.

Arthur had led a quiet, cloistered existence in his home, his desires leading him to books and music rather than to people and conversation. His sacrifice in going to the war was all the finer, for he gave up completely and irrevocably the things he loved, that were so much a part of him,---his home, his books,---to enter upon a task for which he had no inclination nor any fitness save his unwavering resolution. In the words of a member of his section, "Because war had no romance or attraction for him, Arthur saw only too clearly its horror and its tragedy, and yet he was not afraid. His was a far higher order of courage, a far greater measure of devotion!"

  • Tribute from Memorial Volume of the American Field Service, 1921

WWI File

Months of service
2, 1917
Section(s)
S.S.U. 15
Home at time of enlistment
New York City, USA

Decoration(s) received while volunteer of the Field Service

  1. Croix de Guerre WW1
Groupings

SSU 15