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Arthur Bluethenthal: 1918 War Time Telegram

From Cape Fear Museum: On June 19, 1918, Leopold and Johanna Bluethenthal received the kind of wartime telegram that everyone with a loved one in combat fears. It confirmed the news that their son, Arthur, had died fighting for the Allied cause in Europe. Arthur Bluethenthal was the first Wilmingtonian to die in combat during the First World War. In 1916, after World War had raged in Europe for two years, Arthur joined the American Field Service in France where he became a member of the ambulance service. He later joined the French Foreign Legion and became an aviator. His plane was shot down near Maignelay, about fifty miles north of Paris, on June 5, 1918. Arthur was a decorated war hero before his death, and the French government posthumously awarded him the Croix de Guerre with Palm on June 9, 1918. Bluethenthal was buried in Europe, and then in the early 1920s, his body was reinterred at Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery. When news of Bluethenthal’s death spread, the whole of Wilmington stopped to honor the fallen man’s service. Then-mayor P. Q. Moore ordered all the flags in the city to fly at half mast. And on June 20th, local businesses closed for one hour at lunch time. At that time, mourners poured into – and overflowed the capacity of — the Academy of Music, as Thalian Hall was then called. At the Academy of Music they heard speeches by the mayor, and speeches and prayers by local religious leaders, including a moving prayer by Dr. Samuel Mendelsohn (1850?- Sept 30, 1922) who was the rabbi of the Temple of Israel, the Bluethenthal family’s place of worship. The stage was decorated with flags of the allied nations, and a portrait of Bluethenthal was at the front and center of the stage. Laurel wreaths were sent by groups such as the alumni of Princeton, the Rotary Club, the Red Cross, and the Temple of Israel and hung around the portrait. A flag with a single gold star hung above the portrait. Chopin’s funeral march was played.


Owner/SourceCape Fear Museum
Date19 Jun 1918
File nameBluethenthal-Arthur-1918-0618-DeathTelegram-pp.png
File Size457.46k
Dimensions563 x 455
Linked toArthur BLUETHENTHAL

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