Edward Kelley behind the wheel of his ambulance in France, 1916. This image cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of United States Fair Use (17 U.S.C., Section 107) without advance permission from the AFS Archives.
Edward Kelley behind the wheel of his ambulance in France, 1916. Courtesy of the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives.) This image cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of United States Fair Use (17 U.S.C., Section 107) without advance permission from the AFS Archives.

On the evening of September 23, 1916, AFS volunteer ambulance driver Roswell Sanders took Edward J. Kelley, a newly-arrived volunteer, out on the road near Verdun, France. Verdun was the site of one of the longest and bloodiest battle of the First World War, and several AFS sections served postes de secours (dressing stations) aiding wounded soldiers from the battle.

Kelley was so new to the organization that many men in his section did not know his first name yet. Before they left their base of Ippécourt, Roswell advised Kelley to bring his gas mask and steel helmet. Kelley also brought a bottle of jam which they planned to share with the stretcher-bearers when they arrived in the village of Marre. The poste de secours in Marre was close to the German front lines, and was in the ruins of a railroad station. That same night a Germany artillery shell exploded near their ambulance, killing Kelley instantly. Roswell was disfigured and injured from the incident, though he survived.

Kelley was buried two days later in the nearby town of Blercourt, and his funeral was attended by stretcher-bearers, fellow AFS volunteers, and AFS founder A. Piatt Andrew. Kelley was one of twelve volunteers who lost their lives while serving with AFS; an additional 115 former AFS volunteers died while in other branches of service during World War I.

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