James Edward Coffey, the first soldier from Nashua to die in battle in World War I, was born on April 22, 1896, to Daniel J. and Catherine (Dillon) Coffey.
He attended Nashua schools and St. Patrick Church, and in June 1917, became one of the first Nashua men to enlist in the Army at the outbreak of the war. He was assigned to Company D, 103rd Infantry, 26th Division, and trained in Concord and Westfield, Mass.
Coffey and his unit, the famous 26th Yankee Division commanded by Maj. Gen. Clarence R. Edwards, deployed overseas in September 1917. In the early morning of May 10, 1918, Coffey was injured during heavy enemy shelling that included lethal mustard gas, the effects of which led to his death later that day.
The telegram bringing news of his death was sent to his parents at 51 Broad St., as was a subsequent, March 1921 letter from the War Department. That residence is no longer there, but it probably sat between Sullivan Street and the railroad tracks.
Coffey was buried in the St. Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in France. The pastoral, handsomely appointed cemetery is 40 acres and contains the graves of 4,153 American casualties.
Coffey is one of an estimated two dozen New Hampshire soldiers buried at St. Mihiel. According to one World War I casualty record, two other Nashua soldiers – Eli Bouley and Wilkie I. Elliott – are also buried there.
Entered service from New Hampshire
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