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Edward Leo Blake
Edward enlisted in the United States Navy on June 27, 1917, in Wheeling, West Virginia. In February 1918 he was promoted to Machinist First Class and was serving aboard the collier Cyclops. In March 1918 the Cyclops was en route from the West Indies to the United States with a load of manganese when it disappeared. It was known that at the time of departure from the West Indies the Cyclops had a disabled engine, but this would not have prevented the sending of a distress signal over the ship’s wireless. Many theories evolved as to what happened to the missing ship but it remained a mystery. In June 1918 the ship and crew were considered lost.
William Thomas Blake was born August 31, 1895, in Benwood, West Virginia, the second child of William and Katherine Kessler Blake and the younger brother of Edward Leo Blake. William called “Tom” attended Center Benwood Elementary School and was an employee of Wheeling Steel and Iron Company, working at the Benwood Steel Mill.
Tom Blake enlisted in the Army on September 10, 1917, and received his training at Camp Lee, Virginia, and also at Camp Green. He sailed for France on Easter Sunday 1918. He participated in operations at Chateau Thierry and the Marne. On October 21, 1918, as a member of Company A, Seventh Machine Gun Battalion, Third Division, he was in the Argonne Forest and was killed by machine gun fire. His death was confirmed in a letter written by life-long friend Walter Shepherd who was also serving in France. The letter to his mother stated, “I am sorry to say that Tom Blake met his finish here last month . . .”
The body of Private William Thomas Blake was returned to the United States and on September 5, 1921, was interred in Mt. Calvary Cemetery Wheeling, West Virginia.
Blake Brothers Post No. 46 of the American Legion, in Marshall County, was named in honor of the two brothers.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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