- WW I
Walter M. Hayward was born in Providence, Rhode Island on 18 February 1895. He was the son of Walter Hayward and Emma Louise Davis. Walter was a descendant of Samuel Hayward, a Private in Colonel Lippincott’s and Colonel Sherburne’s RI Regiments during the American Revolution. He went by his middle name Marchmont and was known to his family and friends as “March.”
March attended Hope Street High School. Following his graduation from Hope High School. His family moved to Wickford, Rhode Island. He entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1913 with the class of 1917. March majored in Chemical Engineering. He attended RISC for almost three years and participated in the Army ROTC Program while a student at RISC.
When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College; 334 left to serve in WW I. March, like so many of his classmates, departed college before he graduated and enlisted in the Rhode Island National Guard. He was a Chemist in the Ordnance Corps for the U.S. Army. Due to his expertise, Private Hayward was assigned to a special unit organized to work on a then highly classified development project.
The critical work conducted by Private Hayward and his fellow soldiers was extremely dangerous. His Commanding Officer cited: “I contend that no soldier on the firing lines is more entitled to a Service Medal. These fellows have been risking their lives day by day motivated by patriotism. Every man knew that every time he went to work, he stood in imminent danger of serious injury and losing his life.”
On 8 Jul 1918, Private Walter Hayward died at the Dow Chemical Hospital in Midland, Michigan from gas poisoning following an explosion at the Mustard Gas Production Facility. Another soldier died, while many were injured at that location during the experimentation and evolution of the mustard gas production process.
A military funeral was held in July 1918 at Elm Grove Cemetery, North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The small village of Wickford mourned the loss of one of their most promising sons. Private Walter M. Hayward, US Army, answered the call to serve his nation with courage and honor during World War I. The town of North Kingstown erected a monument and plaque honoring Private Walter Hayward’s service and sacrifice for our nation.