Herbert Eckersley was born in Bolton, England on September 16, 1894. He came to this country as an infant with his parents, Thomas and Mary Eckersley. He initially enlisted in Company C of the 102nd U.S. Infantry as a bugler on March 15, 1912. At the time of his enlistment, he was variously reported as working at Russell Manufacturing Company or Middlesex Machine Works. Company C originated in Middletown as the Mansfield Guards in 1847. Eckersley saw duty on the Mexican border in 1916 defending a border dispute during Mexico’s civil war. He rose to become the orderly to Major George J. Rau of Hartford, whom he called the “best officer in the American line and a true gentleman” in his last letter home from France. Word was received by his parents that he died on July 24, 1918. Both Eckersley and Rau met their deaths at Chateau Thierry during the Aisne-Marne offensive, and the body of Herbert Eckersley was returned to Middletown in July 1921. Eckersley was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery with full military honors, after a service at his parents’ home across from the school that would later bear his name.
Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.