Contributed by Jeanne_Taylor
Description: The first man on an American war vessel to give his life ...Date: October 18 1917
Newspaper published in: Birmingham
"BIRMINGHAM MAN IS FIRST OF OUR ARMED FORCES TO DIE"
-Transcription of newspaper articles from the Thursday, October 18, 1917
Edition, Volume XXXXVII, Number 165, of The Birmingham Age-Herald.
The first man on an American war vessel to give his life in the fight
for world freedom [World War I) was a Birmingham man, Gunner's Mate OSMOND KELLY INGRAM, of the United States Navy. When a German torpedo struck the destroyer on which INGRAM was a gunner, he was blown overboard by the shock of the explosion, and his body was not recovered. The attack took place Tuesday in the war zone waters off England.
Late yesterday his aged mother, Mrs. Betty INGRAM of 504 Third Street, Pratt City, learned of her sacrifice. An Age-Herald reporter gave first news of INGRAM's death to the sailor's brother, Ben L. INGRAM of Pratt City. "I don't think she can stand it," said Ingram. "She is 60 years old." He called a physician, Dr. W. W. Horton, to accompany him to his mother's home, and together they broke the news to her as gently as they could. "My boy, my boy," Mrs. Ingram sobbed, and that was all she could say.
Every week since Osmond INGRAM went to sea last May he had written a letter to his mother. Every month he sent her $30 of his pay. Last May she had seen him, home on furlough. He had come home on the first of May, and on the second got a telegram summoning him back for service. Day before yesterday his brother, Ben, had sent him a package of 500 cigarettes. Last week there had been a card from him.
INGRAM was an old Navy man, and this was his second term of service. In 1903, when his mother moved here from Oneonta, Osmond, a boy just out of school, joined the Navy and served until 1908. Then he returned to Birmingham and for four years was a fireman at the Pratt City station of the fire department. In 1912 he joined the Navy again. "There never was a braver lad," said Chief McDonough of the Pratt City fire station. Everybody knew him in Pratt City, it seemed. Going out on the streetcar with The Age-Herald man who bore the news were three girls and two men who
knew him. The girls wept when they heard that INGRAM was dead.
Besides Ben L. INGRAM and his mother surviving him, there are two other brothers, Paul INGRAM of Pratt City, and Eugene INGRAM of Boyles.
Dr. Horton told last night how INGRAM, ordered discharged from the Navy for physical reasons, had insisted on going into service. "For several months he had been treated for rheumatism at a naval hospital in the east," said Dr. Horton. "He had been ordered discharged, but begged the surgeon to give him a chance to fight, now that he had served his country almost 10 years in peace times. The commander of his vessel particularly wanted INGRAM for his gun crews, and told him he would try to fix it. So when the regular surgeon went away on his vacation, the captain of the destroyer recommended his discharge to the surgeon in charge. It was then that INGRAM got a brief leave of absence in May. He
was called to arms after he had been here a day."
OSMOND KELLY INGRAM, aged 30, of Pratt City, killed in a submarine attack upon an American destroyer in war zone waters Tuesday, was the first man on an American war vessel to die in action. His death, reported yesterday by Admiral Sims in a cable to the Navy Department, is the first casualty of the war. There have been other deaths of gunners on armed merchant ships and men in hospital service in France, but INGRAM was the first of America's fighting forces to die in a clash of arms with the enemy.