N Pihl – the unknown Swedish legionary

In my research I have, so far, found 15 Swedish born soldiers who fought in the French Foreign legion in WW1. They all seems to have been killed at the Western Front.

Until these recent days I have found all those Swedes who is mentioned at the French Foreign Legion Memorial outside the Swedish church in Paris, except one, mentioned as N Pihl.

Yesterday I decided to try to find anything about N Pihl when I now have more knowledge about how to search. I am now also connected to more digital sources.

I did not find him in the French archive “Memoire des hommes” and decided to try another approach. Maybe his name was Nils? I tried to search for Nils Pihl in the Swedish church books.

The first search has maybe given me the correct individual. I found a Nils Pihl, born in Landskrona Parish, Sweden, April 4, 1892, raised without a father by his mother Elna Nilsson. In some of the pages it looks like his mother Elna is living together with Per Nilsson, with his former surname Pihl, which later also Elna changes her surname to, even if Per later on is not found together with Elna.

The first information I found about Nils Pihl, is that “he is told to have been fallen in France 1918”. The text is changed from 1917 to 1918, or maybe vice versa. The year of his death on the memorial in Paris is 1917.

This makes it highly likely that this is the N Pihl I am looking for.

Nils Pihl is connected to Helsingborgs Naval Corps in 1908, to the 2nd company, as a young sailor assistant, or if the word is Cabin boy. But he seems to struggle. His knowledge in christianity is noted as low, and he is also later on fired from his duties as a result of bad behavior. He is also removed from the lists at the Naval Corps in 1911.

Maybe Nils decided to search for new adventures, as many Swedes did around this time. I have found some passenger lists that have the name “Nils Pihl” on them, and he is travelling to and from Louisiana in North America, arriving from South America. He seems to be working at a fruit company, and the location Belize is mentioned in some of the papers. He could also have been in Australia.

I will continue to search for Nils, to try to find him in the French archives. I searched for individuals with the same Date of Birth as him, but no results that looks like Nils Pihl.

I have now found, and I think that I also have confirmed, all 16 names on the memorial. When I search for “suéde” I get 14 hits, but I know from before that some did not write Sweden as their place of birth.

I will come back with more information if I find it.

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