Peter Chandler on Bethel Common where Mundt is remembered with other men who died in WWI, WWII and Korea. Chandler travelled to Oise-Aisne near Chateau-Thierry in France to see Mundt’s gravesite. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — George August Mundt of Bethel was killed in action in France during World War I. His remains were never returned home.

George A. Mundt, of Bethel, died in action in World War I in France in 1918. Submitted photo

For Historian Peter Chandler, Mundt is representative of the thousands who were lost in that conflict and others whose families chose to have their loved one buried on foreign soil in the very place where they fought for freedom.

Mundt was born in 1898 and lived on Grover Hill Road with his parents, a sister Margaret (deceased in 1913 at age 7) and a brother, James. George graduated in 1916 from Gould’s Academy (later changed to Gould Academy). He planned to work a few years then go to college. He returned to Maine in 1917 after working at a North Carolina hotel. Then he worked briefly at the Hotel Wentworth in New Hampshire.

He travelled to Portland to enlist, one of the first to go in. The U.S had entered the war on April 6, 1917 and it was May 25, 1917 when Mundt was assigned to Battery A of the 7th field artillery.

Sadly, he was killed in France on July 19, 1918, just four months before the war ended on November 11, 1918.

He was initially reported to be severely wounded, but his close friend and comrade, Clarence Northrop, said he was killed in action.


In a letter to Mrs. Mundt that was published in the Oxford County Citizen in October, 1918, Northrop wrote, “For many months through times that were very hard to bear, his good nature and spirit made him loved by all his comrades and though it was God’s will that he should be taken away, not one day passes, that we do not miss him and swear to avenge his death.”

Northrop said that Mundt had been killed instantly and did not suffer and he asked Bertha Mundt to write to him with any other questions.

On May 3, 1919 the Lewiston Evening Journal reported that there would be a service for Mundt at the Congregational Church on Sunday morning, May 4. The sermon was to be delivered by Prof. F.E. Hanscom. Gould Academy students “will attend in a body,” said the story.

Five years later, in 1924, a Gould reunion for the Class of ’16 was held on Songo Pond with a remembrance of classmate, George Mundt.

A headstone in Mason Cemetery, Mason Township, lists George and his siblings on one side and his parents on the other.

However, for Mundt it is a memorial headstone since his remains are not in Mason Township, they are in Oise-Aisne, France.



The grave of George A. Mundt, of Bethel in Oise-Aisne, France Peter Chandler

Peter Chandler attended Gould, too. Beginning in 1970, his father was assistant headmaster for 15 years and was also a teacher for five subsequent years. His family lived on Church Street.

As an adult, Chandler taught high school history in Colorado. He and his son Ty flew to Europe to see the Centenary Commemoration of the Armistice in November 2018. The armistice was the ceasefire that ended “the four-year, calamitous war. [It was] signed on November 11, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918,” said Chandler.

Before heading to Paris for the centenary they visited Meuse-Argonne, an American cemetery. Chandler was surprised by how many Americans were buried there. In France alone, there are five American cemeteries, he said.

“From the four wars: the first World War, the second World War, Korea and Vietnam there are over 130, 000 Americans who are buried abroad in 25 cemeteries in 11 foreign countries.”

He began researching vets buried abroad from Boulder Colorado; from his alma mater, Bowdoin College; and from Bethel. His working title is the “Bringing Them Home” project, “not to literally bring them home, but to bring home their memories and tell their stories as a way to honor them,” he said.


In WWII, 15 men from Bethel were killed. The town’s population was about 2000. “That’s significant,” said Chandler who wonders about the toll on a town so small. He added that, six of the 15 were buried abroad if you also count the two buried in Hawaii.

It is unclear why so many families choose to have their loved ones buried on foreign soil. Chandler said it’s possible their parents wanted them buried with their comrades. For others perhaps they did not want to interrupt the interment process or perhaps cost was a factor.

“I think the way to honor these men and women are to tell their stories. Nobody knows who George Mundt is today. But he gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country… What does it mean to be patriotic? How do we honor the ones who, as Lincoln said, ‘gave the last full measure of devotion to this country,'” asked Chandler.

He is grateful to Historian Will Chapman, executive director of the Museums of the Bethel Historical Society, who helped him find information on Mundt. Chapman has asked Chandler to guest speak this summer.

The Mundt-Allen Post 81 American Legion on Vernon Street. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen


In 1930 and 1931 the U.S. government sponsored pilgrimages for Gold Star Mothers. Bertha (Spinney) Mundt, George’s mother, was one of those who signed up to go alone.

Said Chandler, “If you can picture this, [for her] to travel down to Boston or New York, get on a steam ship, and go across to see her son’s grave 12 years after he died.”

On this Memorial Day, we remember all veterans and a special remembrance for the Americans buried abroad and their Gold Star Mothers.

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