A century ago Friday, the New York National Guard’s 27th Division lost its first soldier in combat in World War I.
Robert Friedman, a Jewish soldier from New York City, was killed during a German artillery barrage in Belgium on July 13, 1918. The 22-year-old private was serving in an engineer regiment in the division, which was mobilized a year earlier for wartime service.
Friedman, whose death came a year into the U.S. joining the war, was the first of the division’s 1,791 soldiers who would be killed in action. More than 9,000 others would be wounded before the war ended in November 1918.
The 27th Division fought in some of the war’s bloodiest battles, including the offensive that breached German defenses known as the Hindenburg Line in September 1918.
While 40 of the 42 American divisions sent to France in 1917 and 1918 served under General John J. Pershing; the National Guard’s 27th and 30th divisions were “borrowed” by the British Army.