Remembering Private Philip Edwards

Honoring a World War I soldier from Boston’s 26th Division on the 100th anniversary of his death

Ben Edwards commissioned two original paintings by artist Cortney Skinner to honor the life, courage, and sacrifice of his ancestor Private Philip Edwards on the 100th anniversary of his death on July 21, 1918. Phil left his home, his sweetheart, his family, and all that was dear and familiar for a distant land and a brutal war. The paintings clearly show the juxtaposition between the life he had and what he experienced on the battlefields of France. Phil chose to put his love of country above all else. The video at the bottom of the page includes the text of the farewell letter Phil wrote to his parents before going “over the top”. In it, he speaks directly to the neighborhood children when he adds, “Tell all the boys and girls that I died game, and I honestly hope none of them will ever have to get into war.” The banner at the top shows Boston’s 26th Division, of which Phil was a member, approaching the corner of Tremont and Boylston streets during their “Welcome Home” parade on April 25, 1919.

Philip Edwards, age 21, relaxes in the shade in the hills above Naugatuck, his hometown in Connecticut. Nearby, some of the neighborhood children play. Phil is a favorite of the town’s kids. The war in Europe has raged for two years and the United States’ entry is one year away.

Private Philip Edwards, a company runner for Company H, 102nd Regiment, 26th Division, takes a rest against the shattered trunk of a tree while the devastation of war surrounds him in the fields of France in 1918. Poppies sprout amongst the wreckage, as soldiers of the Ambulance Service search for any wounded still in the area. See the paintings transition.

About the Artist

Cortney Skinner’s artwork appears in books, magazines, comics and in films. He has illustrated a wide range of subjects including science fiction, classics, horror, fantasy, history, aviation, and children’s books. His landscapes, still lifes and portraits are found in private collections.

Skinner studied illustration at the Art Institute of Boston under Norman Baer, a second-generation student of Howard Pyle, (1853-1911) the famous Golden Age illustrator known for his historic illustrations of the colonial period. Beginning his career in the traditional art techniques of pencil, pen and paint, Skinner entered the digital art world at the turn of the last century.

Over the years, along with historical clothing and costume, Skinner amassed a collection of American military uniforms and equipment of various periods, just as Howard Pyle had done, to help him with the authenticity and portrayal of the subjects in his illustrations. Among these items was a complete American WWI uniform and accouterments, of the type issued to Philip Edwards during his time in the army.

Nestled comfortably in the Shenandoah Valley by the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Cortney shares a creative life and abode with his wife, writer Elizabeth Massie. To learn more about Cortney, visit