MY BELOVED HUSBAND
VERNON CASTLE BLYTH
BORN MAY 2, 1887
WAS KILLED FEB. 15, 1918
IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY
CROIX DE GUERRE
BORN APRIL 7, 1893
DIED JANUARY 25, 1969
Vernon and Irene Castle were one of the most famous dance couples of the 20th Century. They were HUGE. Today they would be called superstars. They became famous for their versions of trots—the Turkey Trot and the Foxtrot—among other dances they helped popularize.
Both were dancers in a dance troupe. They went on tour in France and became the toast of Paris. When they returned to the United States in 1912, they starred in Broadway musicals, vaudeville, and movies, eventually opening their own dance studio, where they were in high demand to teach dance.
At the height of their stardom, Vernon, a native of Great Britain, joined the Royal Flying Corps. Vernon flew over 300 missions downing two enemy aircraft. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre, a French military decoration awarded to French and Allied service men. He was transferred to the United States to train American flyers. On February 15th, 1918, at the Benbrook Airfield near Fort Worth, Texas, Vernon was killed in a training accident.
Irene had seen a small bronze sculpture of a tired ballet dancer titled, End of the Day, created by artist Sally James Farnham. The statue depicts a nude dancer who is coiled into a ball after an exhausting day of dance practice. The statue was recreated for a memorial for Vernon’s grave—and became the image of a distraught and weeping mourning figure collapsed in grief framed by a Doric colonnade.