Tells of Funeral Given
Beach and Comrades
The Express is indebted to T. H. Robertson for the following very interesting account of the,
military funeral given the bodies of George Beach and his two comrades, and printed in The New York Times of January 29th:
Special Cable to The New York Times
FOGGIA, ITALY, Jan. 26. (Delayed.)--The first American soldiers have given their lives on Italian soil. rhey were Lieutenant William Cheney, the first American to receive an [talian military brevet, four days after his twenty-first birthday; Liutenant Oliver Sherwood, the most daring aviator of his squadron, and Cadet George Beach, who was awaiting his commission.
On the day of their, funeral at noon the men at the post marched into the little city at route step. Slowly they went down the dusty road to the hospital. As soon as the outskirts of Foggia were reached crowds were seen waiting for the procession.
The American aviators halted before the big gate of the Municipal hospital in a square bordered by houses with coral o9r emerald-green shutters and quaint Italian arches, surrounded by palms anrl cacti, the hole scene as unlike America as anything- imaginable.
The men of the funeral party were drawn up at parade rest, while three, hearses in black and gold, with their fantastic ornamentation, were moved into position by big horses covered with velvet and gold. Some Americans seemerl startled by the exotic carriiages until they realized that nothing else could have been so in keeping with the surroundings.
When the American soldiers halted, their officers filed into the hospital, where the bodies of the three aviators were lying. Eight firemen in brass helmets and dress uniform formed a guard at the hospital entrance, while the city officials, grey haired men in silk hats, passed to and fro.
Suddenly hundreds of people poured in from all sides
from the street. men and women of all 'classes and wounded soldiers. The wounded in the hospitals looked out from all the windows.
There seemed to be a new sentiment in the crowd, which had often witnessed military demonstations. Hitherto the Americans had
been just novelties, but today there was something different.
There was a thrill in the hearts of the. people. This meant more than promises or loans. Blood had been shed; sacrifice had begun.
, A little group of French drew up in their famous blue coats and trench helmets. They were real poilus, with long mustaches. They had left their rest camp. to pay this last tribute to their American brothers in arms.
From another direction came a company of Italian infantry. The Americans, who for the most part were having their first experience of a military funeral, began to feel that something that makes one realize why civilization must conquer. More officers appeared--pilot officers from the camp, in dress uniform. An English officer joined his group from the local post. With their befeathered black hats, a company of bersaglieri took their places in the multi-colored group of soldiers.
Then, at last. the Italian firing squad appeared; then the first fifty "eagle men"-crack Italian aviators who wear a gaoden eagle on their breast--filed into the hospital.
A man passed through the crowd carrying three American flags. Suddenly a great silence fell upon the crowd. Men uncovered, and the soldiers of the different nationalities presented arms. The first coffin, containing the body of Cheney. appeared, carried by four of his friends and covered with the Americam flag; then that af Sherwood, and, last. that George Beach. The funeral cortege then started, headed by a detachment of English, French, and Italian soldiers at a slow pace. followed by the three hearses, flanked bv American cadets walking in single file.