William Joseph Dunphy

William Joseph Dunphy was born March 28, 1895.  His father was John J. Dunphy and his mother was Anna Whalen Dunphy.  William’s mother passed away from tuberculosis when he was 10 years old.

Although William and his family are not well documented in traditional sources, he is one of the heroes of World War I and was honored as such with the dedication of a Hero Square in June, 1921, at the junction of Hamilton and Bowdoin Streets. He shares the honor of this square with another Dorchester hero named Albert Gilbert. “William J. Dunphy and Albert Gilbert were pals in civilian life. They enlisted together in the old 9th Infantry. and were both killed in France–Dunphy on May 31 and Gilbert July 12 [actually 23], in the Chateau Thierry fight.   They were both great athletes, and were the battery of the Holy Name team of St Peters.” (Boston Globe, January 13, 1921.)  Dunphy enlisted and reported for duty on May 26, 1917 in Co. F, 9th Inf. Mass. National Guard (Co. F, 101st Inf., 26th Div).  He transferred on August 21st to Co. K, 101st Inf. and went overseas on September 7, 1917. On May 31, 1918, German forces reached the Marne river and captured Dormans and Chateau-Thierry.  Allied forces retook Chateau-Thierry on July 21, 1918.

On June 25, 1918, the Boston Globe reported: Private William J. Dunphy of 56 Hamilton Street, Dorchester, one of the most popular young men of the Meeting House Hill section, is reported missing in action May 31, in France. A telegram to that effect was received by his mother this morning.  Dunphy who is 23 years old, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Dunphy.  He enlisted in May, 1917, in the old 9th Regiment, and went to France from Framingham.

The Gold Star Record states that Dunphy was in a raid on Richecourt, Toul, sector.  He was never seen again after entering the lines, and no account of him was ever received.

William applied for an insurance policy with the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters on July 19, 1915.  At that time he was living at 203 Hamilton Street, and he listed his step-mother as his beneficiary.  His medical report states that he was 5 ft 8 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds.  He had a burn on his left arm incurred when he was 5 years old.  The certificate from the War Department included in the Forester records states he died May 31, 1918, and that he was living at 56 Hamilton Street.His father and step-mother died in the flu epidemic before the insurance policy was paid out, so the payment went to his sister Anna, who was then living on Mallet Street.

William J. Dunphy is listed on the Tablets of the Mission, St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France.


For information about the dedication of the Hero Square, see Boston Globe June 2, 1921

For information about Dormans and Chateau-Thierry, see http://www.greatwar.co.uk/timeline/ww1-events-1918.htm

American Battle Monuments Commission https://abmc.gov/node/351749

Foresters Records. Healey Library, UMass Boston

The Gold Star Record of Massachusetts. Edited by Eben Putnam.  (Boston, 1929), 489.

New England Veterans in the Home Sector.” Boston Globe, January 13, 1921

“Private William J. Dunphy of Dorchester is Missing.” Boston Globe, June 24, 1918



Posted on

April 3, 2022

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