Corporal Wiltshire Square
Corporal Wiltshire Triangle
Corporal Clifford C. Wiltshire (1896-1918) resided at 1022 Avenue P, in Brooklyn, worked on Park Avenue, in Manhattan, and died for his country in France.
On April 6, 1917 while he was working as a private secretary in the home of William Thaw on Park Avenue, the United States declared war on Germany. That very day, Clifford C. Wiltshire went directly to the 7th Regimental Armory at Park Avenue and 67th Street, to enlist. On August 25, 1917, the Army reassigned 332 men of the 7th Regiment to the 69th Regiment. Many famous New Yorkers belonged to the 69th, including the influential Roman Catholic priest Father Francis P. Duffy (1871-1932) and poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), both of whom have Parks named in their honor.
During the initial planning stages, the United States Army set out to create an unprecedented number of divisions. The expansion required renumbering all existing outfits with three digit designations. The 69th became the 165th and remained as such until 1963. Since 90 percent of the men in 165th traced their roots to Ireland, the press referred to it as the “Fighting Irish.” Over the course of the war the 165th served in six campaigns, engaged the enemy for a total of 181 days, and advanced 88.4 miles against strongly held positions. These gains cost the 165th Regiment 644 casualties. On October 15, 1918, during the outfit’s last campaign, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Corporal Wiltshire was killed in action. He was buried in a military cemetery in France.
The City of New York acquired this property in January 1922 as part of a condemnation proceeding for the expansion of Kings Highway. The Board of Aldermen designated the triangle a public place and named it for Joyce Kilmer in November 1928. In 1935, however, a new Kilmer Square opened at Kings Highway and Quentin Road, between East 12th and 13th Streets. In 1939, the City Council decided to rename this triangle for Corporal Wiltshire.
In 2001, the site underwent a $59,333 renovation funded by Mayor Giuliani, which added a yardarm flagpole, new paving, granite edging, plantings, and World’s Fair benches. Parks planted a variety of greenery including a pin oak tree (Quercus palustris), 94 inkberry plants (Ilex glabra), 14 linden viburnum (V. dilatatum), and 10 summersweet clethras (Clethra alnifolia).