WWI Profile: James Coy Edwards 1885-1917

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

James Coy Edwards
Exum, Brunswick County, NC
US Navy

June 4, 1918 – December 24, 1917
Died of Disease: December 24, 1917

James Coy Edwards was born and raised in Exum, Brunswick County, NC, of the Waccamaw Township. A family tree is available in FamilySearch.

The 1900 Census shows he was 15 years old, living at home and attending school. No 1910 Census record for him could be found.

The first WWI Draft registration occurred on June 5, 1917. James Coy Edwards enlisted in the US Navy the day before, on June 4, 1917, in Wilmington. He served at the Naval Hospital in Norfolk, VA.

On December 2, 1917, The Wilmington Dispatch reported that these Red Cross packages were sent to local men serving in the Navy. (N.N.V. stands for “National Naval Volunteers”)

Knitting directions for The Red Cross packages were published in magazines and books such as The Delineator, July 1917, p.37.

The creation of the modern Navy

President Woodrow Wilson signed the order creating Naval Station Norfolk on June 28, 1917. The US Navy expanded from 70,000 to a half-million officers and men during World War I.

No Navy in the world had ever created a larger force or as quickly. New training methods had to be devised in a very short time.

Source of photos: Naval Station Norfolk

Many rural recruits could barely read and knew little or nothing about radio and electricity. Most had never seen the ocean.

New recruits had to be isolated to reduce the spread of disease.

The training center opened on October 12, 1917, and by the end of the year, held 34,000.

Read the full article here: http://www.dailypress.com/features/history/dp-nws-naval-station-norfolk-20170627-story.html

Some interesting statistics for the Navy from the year 1917

  • Total number of applications for enlistment: 281,957
  • Applicants rejected for physical disability: 127,512
  • Top reason for physical disability: underweight (31,531) followed by eyesight (29,945) and teeth (13,884)
  • Total enlistments: 92,413
  • Total enlistment applications in Wilmington, NC: 103
    • 46 rejected for physical defects
    • 22 enlisted
  • Total men in service on June 30, 1917: 128,666 (an increase of 74,432 from June 30, 1916)
  • Total deaths in 1917: 511
  • Leading cause of death: pneumonia (200)
  • Number admitted to hospital for pneumonia: 1,696

United States of America Navy Department (1918) Annual Reports of the Navy Department: For the Fiscal Year 1917. Washington DC: Government Printing Office.

United States of America Navy Department (1918) Annual Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Navy: For the Fiscal Year 1918. Washington DC: Government Printing Office.

On Christmas Eve, 1917, Seaman James Coy Edwards passed away from broncho pnemonia.

Source: United States of America Navy Department (1920) Officers and Enlisted Men of the United States Navy Who Lost Their Lives During the World War, from April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918. Washington DC: Government Printing Office [Online Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA]

James Coy Edwards was laid to rest at New Life Baptist Church Cemetery in Ash, NC, where most of his family is buried. No military information nor honors are shown.

Seaman James Coy Edwards is the only known Brunswick County casualty from the Navy or Coast Guard.

If you would like to help us honor James Coy Edwards or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement: Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran: How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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