On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com


Last week we reported that a Philadelphia man, Edwin Austin Abbey, had been wounded in France while fighting with the Canadian army at Vimy ridge. Sadly we have now learned that Lieutenant Abbey has died.  The Lieutenant was the son of Mr. William Abbey, a noted attorney of this city and Katharine Eleanor Abbey of 2510 South 19th Street. He was also the nephew of famed painter E. A. Abbey. Lt. Abbey was serving with the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He was 28 years old.

Lt. Abbey was a 1912 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in civil engineering. He enlisted in the Canadian army in 1915. He had been wounded last year in fighting around Ypres and was sent to England for medical care. After a few months of recuperation he was returned to the front and promoted to Lieutenant. On the day of his death, April 10, 1917, Lt. Abbey wrote a letter to his parents. Below is a portion of that letter.

“Dearest Mother and Father,

 We are going up to attack in a short time, and I am going to leave this note to be sent to you in case, by God’s Will, this is to be my final work. I have made my Communion and go with a light heart and a determination to do all that I possibly can to help in this fight against evil for God and humanity. I do not think of death or expect it but I am not afraid of it and will give my life gladly if it is asked.

To-day the news came to us here that the United States has joined the Allies, so I go with the happy consciousness that I am and you are fighting for our dear Flag as thousands of Americans have before us in the cause of Liberty.

Now dearest Mother and dearest Father I will say Good Bye for a time. You have given me my faith which makes this so easy for me and a wonderful example and inspiration of courage and usefulness. All my love and God bless you both. Your son, Edwin”

Shortly after writing this letter Lt. Abbey was moving forward in an attack on Petit Vimy when he was struck down by a sniper’s bullet. May he rest in peace.