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Shawnee County Casualties in WWI
Stories of Valor and Tragedy on the Battlefield

Kenneth SUTHERLAND, A Company, 110th Engineers 35th Division
Kenneth Sutherland headstone
Kenneth Sutherland

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Killed in action 17 July 1918 at Moosch, Alsace, France.

In an article in the Shawnee County Historical Society publication “The Home Front” about Topeka High School (The Black & Gold at War), Doug Wallace wrote:

“War strikes no group in any community harder than its young men in high school and college. They are the ones, after all is said and done, who must march off to battle-most to come home but some to remain, never to return to their loved ones. Yet, despite the fears and dangers, these boys often eagerly embraced the "colors" and the sense of adventure. It meant for them new thrills and new sights, along with a lot of boredom and a new experience of comradery. A very special brotherhood.
Though born in I898, Kenneth Sutherland was truly a son of the 20th century and the modern world. From the time he was a small boy, everything electrical fascinated him, especially the radio. While in high school, Kenneth became the Topeka Radio Club's first president as well as head of the Kaw Valley Radio Association. Many considered him, stated the July 29, 1915, Topeka Daily Capital, "one of the foremost radio men in Kansas." Besides his passion for the wireless, he was also involved in Phil Billard's short-lived aero company. To pay for these "hobbies," Sutherland worked afternoons and vacations for his father's employer, the Topeka State Journal.
His attention was so focused on radio that Kenneth lacked the time or inclination for other high school activities such as sports. Though not a "big man on campus," he occasionally revealed a light- hearted personality below the surface. "If there is anything comical to be said and Ken can't think of it," recorded the June, 1917, Topeka High School annual, "there is no use to search further." Yet, "there is another side to Kenneth, characterized by the intensity with which he launches his undertakings and by his high ideals."
War, obviously, interrupted this 1917 graduate's immediate dream of becoming a radio engineer; however, it also provided an avenue for his talents. In describing their only child, the Capital quoted his father as saying, "'He was wild to go when war was declared, and we did not have the heart to break the boy's spirit.'" Among the first Topeka High students to join, Kenneth enlisted in the National Guard on April 9, 1917. Initially the J. H. S. World, April l0th, reported him in the aero corps, but like most Black & Gold sons, Sutherland soon found himself at Camp Doniphan, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Early in his training on August 5th, he awoke to learn his group was officially in the Army- Pvt. Kenneth Sutherland of Co. A, 110th Field Signal Battalion, 3Sth Division.
During the school year, the World kept track of former classmates; its Friday, May 17, 1918, edition reported that Kennie's company had "left there [Oklahoma] last week and is now either at Camp Mills, Long Island, or en route for France." Unbeknownst to the newspaper, two days after its publication the 110th was aboard ship in the mid-Atlantic. They reached the rest of the Division, which had embarked earlier, on June 1lth. For most of the men of the 3Sth, the next two months passed uneventfully-but not for all. On July 17, 1918, Pvt. 1st Class Kenneth Sutherland became the first Topeka High School student killed in action in the Great War.”

Originally buried in French soil, Sutherland's remains were returned to the US and re-interred in the Topeka Cemetery, Section 82, Lot 188, Interment #16444 on 4 June 1921. His name was included in the Honor Roll Casualty List Jul 30, 1918.

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