Photo: Brown County Historical Society
New Ulm, Minnesota’s first World War I casualty occurred April 2, 1918 when Corporal Benjamin J. Seifert was killed in an aeroplane accident in Scampton, England. Seifert was born to Mr. & Mrs. Christ Seifert in Milford Township, Brown County, Minnesota March 11, 1895. The family moved to New Ulm in 1910, where he graduated from New Ulm High School. After attending Mankato Commercial College he engaged in several businesses, the last being in Valley City, North Dakota. He was called to service by the Brown County Draft Board, and left for training at Camp Dodge, Iowa in September of 1917.
The Seifert family was notified of Benjamin’s death April 6, 1918 by a telegram from M. C. Cain, Adjutant General, in the War Department in Washington, D. C. which read: “We deeply regret to inform you that it is officially reported that Corporal Benjamin J. Seifert, aero squadron, died of aeroplane accident, April 2nd.”
Further information and detail came in a letter from W. R. Castle, Director of Communications of the American Red Cross, also with headquarters in Washington, D. C. “The accident occurred … at the American section of the aviation camp at Scampton, Eng., which is near Lincoln. It was caused by the machine run by Lieut. Hugenin getting out of control, when flying low. It pitched Lieut. Hugenin out and then crashed into a machine on the ground, killing Corporal Seifert and Private Krantman. All three men were killed instantly, so you know at least that there was no suffering. Your son’s commanding officer, Lieut. Hampton, told our representative that he thought most highly of Seifert; that he considered him to be one of the best men in the organization and that in the past he had relied upon him in every way. This, I know, you will be glad to hear, because it will show you that your son not only died in the course of duty, but that his excellent performance of duty had enabled him to do such good work that he was respected by his officers.”
“The funeral of the three men took place with full military honors on April 8 and they were buried in Newport Cemetery in Lincoln. The graves in this cemetery are always taken excellent care of by the British authorities. The American Red Cross had a beautiful spray of flowers put on each coffin and nothing was omitted that would possibly have been done in the way the family would have wanted it done. As soon as the graves are in order photographs will be taken and sent us to forward to you.”
The remains of Corporal Seifert were returned in November of 1920 and re-buried in the New Ulm Catholic Cemetery. His grave marker reads:
U.S American Photo of
Legion Logo Seifert
Corp. Ben J.
Corp. Seifert was among the first from
the Brown Cty. area to be drafted into
W. W. I.. And the first to give his life for
his country in an aeroplane accident.
Post #132 was given his name on
April 23, 1921.
1895 – 1918
Donated by American Legion Post 132
1895 – 1918
A flagpole in the New Ulm City Cemetery’s Veterans’ Section was erected in Seifert’s honor, and includes a memorial plaque.
EDITOR: George L. Glotzbach
CREDITS: George L. Glotzbach