Loring and Mary Wilkes came to Skagway from Nebraska in the gold rush with their little son Mark Edward. Loring worked as a cook but in 1948 wrote: “Packers on the Dyea Trail” in the Alaska Sportsman (June). His son Mark went to World War One and listed Skagway as his home town.
Mark Edward Wilkes disappeared on this day, November 13, 1918 in France, perhaps near Exermont or Nantillois. Many officers – Majors Murray Davis and Fred A. Cook, Captains Joseph G. Duncan, Edgar Hayden Dale, James C. Kenady all died as well as many Lieutanants, Sergeants, Corporals and privates. Sadly, the Great War in Europe ended on November 11, two days prior to the announcement of the many deaths.
In September and October 1918, the 35th Division was attempting to reach the village of Exermont. The church and town were nearly destroyed near the Chaudron Farm Road by a counter attack of the German Army on September 29, 1918. Seen above are some of the American soldiers in the church there. There is a memorial in the town to the fallen soldiers which is perhaps the only marker that Private Wilkes has since he was listed as MIA. Below is the marker in Skagway which does not bear his name.