Albin Fingal

Albin Fingal was born on June 21, 1892 in Stockholm, Sweden. By 1917, he was living at 1419 Church Street in Evanston and working as a “laborer.” He was his mother’s sole supporter.

Albin Fingal. Collection of the Evanston History Center.

Fingal was just 24 years old when he went to the local board in Evanston to register for selective service. Although Fingal was not a U.S. citizen, he was still required to do so. Like all other immigrants who were not citizens, Fingal was classified as a resident “alien” (as opposed to an “enemy alien,” a classification for those living in the U.S. who were from Axis countries. Fingal’s home country, Sweden, declared itself neutral through the war.)

In registering for selective service, immigrants such as Fingal were asked if they declared their intention to apply for U.S. citizenship. If they did, they were subject to being drafted into the armed forces.  If they did not, they were classified as “Class V,” and not subject to the draft.[1] 

Albin Fingal’s Selective Service Registration card, 1917.

However, even for those not classified as “enemy aliens,” the threat of deportation existed. Should they choose not to declare their intention to become U.S. citizens, they were asked if they would be willing to return to their home countries and serve in their armed forces.

Fingal described himself as an “alien” on his registration card. While he may have intended to become a citizen, he had not declared that intention. Nonetheless, whether he was later drafted or enlisted, he became a soldier in the 131st Infantry Regiment of the 33rd Division. The Division had been activated in July 1917 in Illinois and was overseas in May 1918.

Albin Fingal, posing in uniform. Note the steel helmet and canvas puttees. Collection of the Evanston History Center.

In early October 1918, Fingal’s unit , like so many American units deployed along the Western Front, would see a “bloodbath.”

On October 10, a fellow soldier, Sergeant Harold E. Stavers, witnessed the horrific death of Albin Fingal in Romagne, France:

“Private Albin Fingal was hit about 2 o’clock by shrapnel from a shell bursting about ten feet away. . .He died on a stretcher about an hour after being hit … Fingal was conscious up to the moment he died. The shell that struck him also wounded 18. Fingal was in great pain and he kept on saying, ‘I’m going to die, kill me.’ ”[2]

Fingal was buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France.

Fingal served his adopted country. He had traveled to the United States, we can surmise, to find a better life. His portrait, above, strikes viewers with its formality, perhaps with the sense of pride Fingal had in his new life in the “new world.”

Fingal’s grave can be found in the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery. The cemetery was established on October 14, 1918 and was officially dedicated in 1937. Within the cemetery are a total of 14,246 graves of Americans killed in World War One.

Final’s grave is located in Plot G Row 14 Grave 31.

Little more is known about Fingal, his family, or his history. More will be added here if it is uncovered.

In a sad note to his story, his name is misspelled as “Alvin” on the Evanston War Memorial. His name was Albin Fingal.

Back to:  “Restoration: Profiles of Evanston’s War Dead.”

The Evanston War Memorial

Repatriation

Evanston Remembers: The Centennial of World War I

[1] Selective Service Regulations. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1917,

[2] The Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. James H. Hallas, ed. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009, 271.