Identify Body of Soldier as Private J. Rose
(G. R. News, 18 November 1919)

Floyd H. Ross, No. 2,983,535

This identification bag, attached to a cord around the neck of the body of a soldier which was brought to Grand Rapids yesterday, has solved the problem over the identification of the body of Private John Westerhof, member of Company B, 339th Infantry, 85th division, who died in Russia.

Dr. Louis Barth, accompanied by Col. Ralph McCoy of the army recruiting station; Dennis Shanahan, representing the American Legion, and Undertaker William Holwerda, went to Oakhill cemetery vault Tuesday morning, to establish the identification on behalf of Mr. And Mrs. Thomas Westerhof, 1025 Oakdale Street SE, who discovered the body was not that of their son. It had been shipped here by the war department.

Dr. Barth said that the lower jaw of the soldier is missing, evidently having been shot away. He found the tag sunken through the chest and resting upon the vertebrae. The condition of the body showed it had not been embalmed.

There were two tags on the rough box in which the coffin was shipped. They bore the name of Private Westerhof, his company and his home address. On the doffin, which was a costly one, made out of polished oak, and Russian in design, was another tag, which also bore his name, company number and home address.

If is believed the wrong body was placed in Westerhof’s coffin when shipment was made from Russia.

Dennis Shanahan told Dr. Barth and Colonel McCoy this morning that the body of a soldier named Rose was sent to Rose’s parents in Hudsonville, Mich., yesterday. He believed that the coffin may have contained the body of Westerhof. Steps were immediately taken to confirm this belief.

Colonel McCoy says that he is conferring with the adjutant general’s office in Washington in trying to straighten out the mixup in the bodies and coffins. He is carrying on the work voluntarily, not yet having been officially ordered to dispose of bodies of dead soldiers received from oversees.

Another body, which could not be identified in Lansing, is expected to arrive in Grand Rapids this afternoon. The coffin will be taken to the undertaking rooms of William Holwerda, 900 Baxter Street SE, where it will be opened by Health Officer Siemons in an effort to establish identification.

Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 20 Aug 2005