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Ralph Matthews Noble


He was born on 28th March 1889 in Harlan, Iowa the youngest of two sons of Willard Noble and Elsie H. (nee Goddard). The Noble family originated in 17th Century England. His father was a Commercial Traveller selling hides.

Above his mother Elsie Noble

He was educated at Stanford University from ? to 1913

Above Ralph in 1912 from the San Francisco Call on 15th November 1912

Above the 1912 Stanford rugby squad with Noble no.19

Above the USA side that played Australia in 1912. Back Row (L-R) Guerin (Olympic RFC) (not used), Robert Howe Fletcher (University of California) (not used), William Norris King (University of California), Chris Martin Momson (Santa Clara University), Karl Ludwig Schaupp (Stanford University), Frank Jacob Gard (Stanford University), James Lee Arrell (Olympic RFC), Warren L. Smith (Stanford University), Chester Arthur Allen (University of California), Eugene Francis Kern (Stanford University) (not used), Glasscock (Olympic RFC) (not used), Phillip Frederick Harrigan (Stanford University). Front Row: Charles Allphin Austin (Olympic RFC), Augustus Mudge Sanborn (Stanford University), Joseph Louis McKim (University of California), Stirling Benjamin Peart (University of California), Laird Monterey Morris (University of California) (Captain), Benjamin Edward Erb (Stanford University), Ralph Matthews Noble (Stanford University), Louis Cass (Stanford University) (not used) , Bertram Risling (Stanford University) (not used).


Above the 1913 Stanford University side. Frank Noble  no.19. 1 Maloney (Trainer), 2 Partridge, 3 Darsie, 4 Burbank (Manager), 5 Smith, 6 Gard. 7 Urban, 8 Corbett, 9 Harrigan, 10 Hall, 11 Presley (Coach), 12 Sanborn, 13 Schaupp, 14 Cass, 15 Kern, 16 Erb, 17 Dingley, 18 Risling, 19 Noble.


He received his degree in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1912 and became Physical Director at San Diego High School. Later he joined his father farming.

He entered the service on 15th May 1917, at Galesburg, Illinois and was sent to Fort Sheridan where he was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 1st September 1917.

Above Fort Sheridan

After three months at Camp Grant he was sent overseas on 26th December 1917. He was with the 342nd Infantry Regiment but after a further period of instruction he was put on active duty as an aerial observer with a squadron of the French Air.

Above Ralph in 1917


Above Ralph in 1917

Ralph was shot down and killed flying over enemy lines on 10th May 1918. There was a report that he was captured and died in a German Red Cross Hospital and there have been various other dates suggested all of which cannot be verified. Newspaper reports say he was missing and reported dead by the German Red Cross[1].

He is buried at Plot A Row 29 Grave 13, Somme American Cemetery, Bony, France.

He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with palm, with the following citation

Officer remarkable for his skill, initiative and devotion in the performance of his duties, humbly demonstrating the superb qualities of his race. He performed his duties as an observer in an admirable manner manifesting at all times an ardent desire to use his military training and qualities as a marksman. Was killed in action May 10th, 1918, in the lines of the enemy after a desperate battle in which he was outnumbered.

The Ralph M Noble American Legion Post #285 in Galesburgh was named after him.


Thanks to David DeGrace and the Noble family

[1] New-York tribune., June 08, 1918, Page 3, amongst many others


Patrick Casey, 2011
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