Private William Edgar Tilley Jr.

US Army - WW I



Service number: 1216591

106th Machine Gun Battalion - 27th Division

Born: October 1896, Roslyn, New York

Date of death: 31 July 1918 - Age: 22



Buried: Plot C, Row 3, Grave 5 - Flanders Field American Cemetery


William Edgar Tilley  was the 7th of 9 children (7 sisters and 1 brother) of  Tilley William E. Sr and Hutts Caroline.

  1. Elizabeth °1880
  2. Annie °1883
  3. Bertha °1884
  4. Eugene Willard °1889
  5. Mary E. °1890
  6. Harriet °1893
  7. William Edgar °1896
  8. Caroline °1902
  9. Cornelia °1904

His older brother, Willard Eugene, also served in the U.S. Army (306th Infantry) during WW I, survived, and returned home to Long Island.  His grandfather Mr. Tilley, who lived with him, was a veteran of the Civil War.


William graduated from Roslyn High School and worked as  a bookkeeper in Manhattan before he enlisted. 


He acquired his desire to shoulder a gun as a scout in the Roslyn troop of Boy Scouts.  When the war broke out the young man lost no time in enlisting.  He was of athletic mold and looked every inch a soldier.


(Postcard courtesy of the Bryant Library.)


Entered the Federal Service in Brooklyn as a Private in the 8th Coast Artillery.  Served from May 15 till August 5, 1917 with the 8th Coast Artillery, New York National Guards guarding the New York City water supply at Freeport, Long Island.  


First to Camp Mills, second to Camp Mead and finally to Spartanburg.  He was a Private in Company C, 106th Machine Gun Battalion of the 27th Infantry Division, which was sent overseas to France in April of 1918.


His unit would see action along the German front in Belgium. The 27th Division fought overseas with the British 2nd Army, Divisions 6th or 41st.


Private Tilley was wounded from an exploding shell at Mt. Kemmel, Flanders, on July 31, 1918, and taken to a dressing station, but died two hours later. He was 23 years old and died only 1 week after the final front-line training.


Initially buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery XXXII. B. 7. on A ugust 2, 1918, his mother was notified of this on October 26, 1918.  On January 16, 1920 Williams mother decided that she wanted her son to be buried in the USA and filed all the necessary papers for the transfer, but on August 22, 1918 she changed her mind and wanted him to stay in Europe.


On June 15, 1922 William was disinterred in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, he was positively identified on collar ornaments that read Co. C. M.G. and he was also buried in uniform.  The body was placed in a casket and transferred to Flanders Field American Cemetery in Waregem, Belgium, Private Tilley was re-interred on June 17, 1922, Plot C, Row 3, Grave 5.

In 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1933 the US government organized the so called "Gold Star Mother Pilgrimages" to Europe to visit the graves of the soldiers, all this for free, but Williams mother never could come along due to her very poor health, she was 70 years old in October 1930.


In 1936 a monument, with a plaque listing the names of all the Roslyn men who served World War I, was erected in Roslyn (Gerry) Park, where it still stands.  (Photo's monument: courtesy of the Bryant Library)

Newspaper article published in October 2014 - the "Bryant Library Newspaper" Roslyn - USA