After writing a book about a local hero who died in WWI in France, author and historian Bethany Groff Dorau had one more chapter to complete. She kept a promise to return to France from June 6 to June 13, 2018 for the 100-year commemoration of the Battle of Belleau Wood. This fierce battle took the lives of thousands of United States Marines in June, 1918, including Newburyport native, Eben Bradbury, who is buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.
Accompanied by her friend and accomplished Ipswich-based photographer Cynthia August, the duo documented their heartfelt journey. Photography and excerpts from the book and notes from the trip are now on display through September at Carry Out Cafe, at 155 State Street in Newburyport, MA. A special reception with Dorau and August will be held at Carry Out Café on Sunday, September 16 from 2-4 p.m.
The public is invited to attend the reception, enjoy refreshments and hear more about Bradbury and all who have contributed to honor his memory. Books and images will be available for purchase.
Eben “Bunny” Bradbury was the son of two longtime Newburyport families. He joined the United States Marine Corps just days after the declaration of war in April 1917. Everyone in the city knew him, and his sudden death a year later in the Battle of Belleau Wood in France was commemorated with a public monument. Ninety-seven years later, a chance encounter brought Dorau, a local historian and distant cousin, to ask about his monument, leading to the discovery of intimate letters, personal diaries, photographs and military records, held by people across the world who had not forgotten Eben.
She revealed a story that goes beyond a tragic battlefield death and uncovers a rich and complex American family, rooted deeply in a truly American city. “A Newbuyrport Marine in World War I: The Life and Legacy of Eben Bradbury” was recently published by The History Press.
“Our June visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, where 2288 Americans are buried, highlights the caretaking of the fallen and honors those who serve. The cemetery staff, all but one of them French citizens, shared their time, their work, and their wisdom with us,” said Dorau. “Their dedication to the Americans buried in this place became the subject of Cynthia’s photographic series.”