31ST AUGUST 1916 AGE 24


American born, of English, Scottish, Irish and French ancestry, Harry Butters decided the moment war broke out that the Allied cause was just and that he was going to fight for it, regardless of America's strict policy of neutrality. He arrived in Britain early in 1915 and enlisted in the British army. By September 1915 he was in France taking part in the battle of Loos, after which he wrote home:

"I find myself a soldier among millions of others in the great Allied Armies, fighting for all I believe to be right and civilized and humane against a power which is evil and which threatens the existence of all the rights we prize and the freedom we enjoy, although some of you in California as yet fail to realise it. ...but I tell you that not only am I willing to give my life to this enterprise ... but I firmly believe ... that never will I have an opportunity to gain so much honorable advancement for my own soul, or to do so much for the world's progress ...".

After nine months at the front, at the end of May 1916, his observation post received a direct hit and there were many casualties among his men. Suffering from shell shock he was posted to the ammunition column operating behind the lines. Ten days before his death he wrote to the Army Chaplain asking him "if I should happen to get wiped out" to write to his sister as she was "mother, sister and everything else that is dear in the world to me", his parents both being dead. He also asked to be buried by the Roman Catholic padre if possible as that "will give her greater consolation than anything - and please put after my name on the wooden cross - the bare fact that I was an American. I want this particularly, and I want her to know that it has been done so."
Two days later he was recalled to one of the batteries to replace a casualty and eight days after this he was dead. Whatever it said on his wooden cross, his headstone inscription reads, "An American citizen"; he would be pleased. However, there could be a question as to whether he was still an American citizen. The United States had not yet come into the war and so to protect their neutrality soldiers who fought in foreign armies were technically no longer citizens. Despite the fact that he was a member of the British army, Butters always maintained that he had not taken an oath of allegiance to the King, and, although he's buried under a British headstone, his inscription insures that his allegiance to America remains unquestioned.