Elov Nilson

Elov Nilson's real name was: Eloi Gaston Nilson. He was born on March 14, 1894, in Gustafs, Sweden. He was 22 years old when he was KIA in the Somme.

~~ Rich McErlean

"New men arrived from the regimental dépot, and the One Hundred and Seventieth went back up to the battle-front. It again acted first as reserve, and occupied a large ruined village, where not a wall two feet high was left standing. There were no trenches and no dugouts: the men improvised shelters in a veritable chaos of bricks, woodwork, and upturned soil, where unburied bodies of French and German soldiers lay scattered everywhere. Nilson found a deep shell-hole, and gathering a score of abandoned rifles, made a roof, which he strengthened with earth-filled sandbags and old haversacks. On top of his "happy home," as he called it, he put part of the old tower of the village church.

"On September 12, Nilson wrote: 'We are in for a big game tonight. We attack before sundown, but I am cool as a cucumber. I am glad of the coming excitement, for war is a great sport. Will write you to-morrow if I am lucky.'

"The One Hundred and Seventieth charged the German positions along the route from Béthune to Bouchavesnes. Nilson fell wounded in a ravine near the first- line trenches; he bandaged his hurt and started to crawl to the rear. He had to cross an exposed hillock which was enfiladed by German machine guns, and there he was riddled by bullets. After the attack Jacob and Capdevielle searched for Nilson's body in and around the ravine where Nilson had last been seen, but the enemy bombardment had wiped out all trace of the men who fell there."

Paul Rockwell, American Fighters in the Foreign Legion, 1914-1918 (NY: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1925).

Elov Nilson's Death Certificate