106th Infantry Regiment, 27th Division
Plot B, Row 3, Grave 20
Sgt. Thomas Shannon served in the 106th Infantry Regiment, 27th Division during World War I. He grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his parents and five siblings. In 1909 he took a job in the advertisement section of the Brooklyn Standard Union. He was known for being a devoted and competent employee.
Shannon volunteered for the 23rd Infantry Regiment, the local regiment of the National Guard, on April 20, 1914. He served for three years during the raids of Pancho Villa along the Mexican border. He was promoted to corporal on July 23, 1916 and then to sergeant on October 31, 1916.
On September 1, 1918, Shannon was shot in the stomach. He died of wounds six hours later. His mother originally wanted his remains repatriated to the United States, but the parents later decided that he should remain buried alongside his brothers-in-arms.
Shannon’s fiancée, Helen McGrath, was devastated to learn that her husband-to-be would not be returning from the war. She decided to join the war effort, and became one of the first female military personnel in the U.S. Navy. Two years after armistice, Helen married Shannon’s brother, Charles.
In 1930, his mother, Mary Shannon, wrote the following message that was published in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, on the outset of the Gold Star Mothers’ pilgrimage to their sons’ graves in Europe:
My boy, Sgt. Thomas J., of the old 23d Infantry, Company E. was one of the best ever raised in Brooklyn. He was preparing to celebrate his 22d birthday when he was shot at the front. His captain told me that he is buried in Flanders Field although the War Department has written me that the interment was in Lyessenhoeck, Belgium. Anyway, I am going to find his grave and after that I’ll feel a whole lot better. It’s a funny thing, but Tommy never liked to have his picture taken – I guess lots of growing boys are that way—anyway, this little snapshot is all I have to remember him by. It was taken with a group of his buddies after he enlisted. I’ve had it enlarged and framed. A little paper snapshot instead of my flesh and blood boy, it isn’t much, is it? But mothers are all foolish that way, I guess.
Thomas J.E. Shannon is buried in Flanders Field American Cemetery Plot B, Row 3, Grave 20.