Pershings first officer casualty – A Swede

Once again I became enlightened during the evening, when browsing through some digital American newspapers from 1917. It reveals Interesting facts that I never heard or read about before. Its about the first officer who became the first one to be put on the casualty list on General Pershing Forces in France, at the Western Front in France, 1917.

That officer was a Swedish born soldier. The officer were 2nd Lt Frederick Wahlstrom. Read more about him below.

Frederick Wahlstrom was born in Mariestad, Sweden, May 5th, 1878. He moved to USA in 1897 only 19 year old.

He came to USA when he was 19 years old, in 1897 and enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private in 1903. In 1904 he was one of those sent to Panama, when trouble was brewing between the United States, Panama and Columbia over the canalzone, to which the United States was then receiving title. Two years later, he again went south, to Cuba. He was among the marines landed at Havana on September 30, 1906, to quell the Cuban insurrection and to give support to William Howard Taft, then Secretary of War under Roosevelt, when he took over for a time the government of the country.

Frederick saw much more of the world after that, and in 1915 he was assigned to the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn. Because of his expert knowledge of electricity, he was placed in charge of the Marine Corps Electrical School. He did that in two yeras before he was called to be sent to France.

He showed his extraordinary skill as a marksman.  In 1914 he won the international competition for the individual rifle championship of northern China, in which competition the best rifle shots in the principal armies of the world took part. He also captured the national rifle matches held in Sea Girt, New Jersey, in 1908, and the national competitive shooting matches held in Mt. Peary, Ohio in 1910.

Frederick served abroad in France from June 27th, 1917, for the 5th US Marine Corps, to the date when he was killed in August 21, 1917. Frederick was not engaged in any battle before he died. His death came in another way.

Frederick was killed when driving his motorbike, and there are notes in the newspapers which says that he was killed when he crushed his skull during the accident, 6 pm in the evening that specific day, at the age of 39. His parents still lived in Sweden during that time, but his nearest realtive in the US was his cousine, Edward Häggström.

2nd Lt Frederick Wahlström was buried in France after his death, with full military honors. He is now buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.

There are several small texts about Frederick in the American newspapers, and below you can read some of them. They are both in Swedish and in English.

I will continue to try to find more information about Frederick Wahlström, like in which perish he was born and who his parents were. I will not add Frederick to my project as he doesnt fullfill the criterias for my research, but it is a really intersting story, which brings just another brick into our Swedish history regarding the Swedish born soldiers during the time of WW1.

Update June 11, 2021.

I am now trying to sort out some facts that I have. I assume now that Fredericks name was not Fredrik in Swedish. I work now with a specific thought that the Date of Birth is correct, which is, according to some sources, May 5th 1878.

One source claim that he is born in 1878, and that he is also is 15 years old when he arrives USA in 1897, which is not correct. He should be 19, as you also can see in some documents below.

One document, the application for naturlization, states that he arrives in April 27 1897 with the ship Paroma.

I think they read it wrong, and I assume they mean the S.S Pavonia. It is hard to read from the document though.

I think it is like this:

Frederick Wahlstrom is actually called August Gottfrid Wahlström in Sweden. August Gottfrid is born the same date, May 5th, 1878, near Mariestad, in the Perish of Horn. In the Book it says that August Gottfrid leaves for N. America in February 1897, where he probably leaves Liverpool anytime in March 1897. Below you can see info from some sources that makes it more likely that Frederick is actually August Gottfrid. But this is just assuptions still.

This is just an example of the method I use when I am trying to find and confirm the individuals to be born in Sweden. below you can also find some maps from the locations that are mentioned in the church book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *