Touring The Trenches (American Legion Weekly, 1921)
Written in a playful spirit, an anonymous Doughboy tells the tale of his return to the old trench lines in order to conduct tours of the A.E.F. battlefields for that morbid class of souls we know call "death tourists".
A second article on trench tours of the Twenties can be read here
Gassing The Germans (American Legion Weekly, 1922)
This is the story of the First Gas Regiment. It was organized at American University (Washington, D.C.) in August of 1917 and arrived in France in time to disperse noxious gas all over the Germans as they launched their March offensive in 1918:
"Company B of the First Battalion was the outfit that participated in the first show. The attack was launched on a two-mile front extending from Lens to Hill 70 near Loos, and held by the Canadians... It was a tough job. The nature of the work was graphically described by a Yankee buck, who said in a moment of disgust: 'This is a job for grave diggers, hod carriers and piano movers, instead of chemists, pipe fitters and mechanics."
November 11th With the First Division (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
An American artillery officer from that famous division recalled the last minute of the war to end all wars...
Her Armistice Poem (American Legion Weekly, 1921)
At 11:00 a.m., November 11, 1918, an American woman volunteer was toiling away at her Service of Supply base in Tours when peace broke out all over the place. When she was asked to recall that moment three years later for the editors of THE AMERICAN LEGION WEEKLY - she wrote down the attached verses -
General Billy Mitchell: Advocate of American Airpower (American Legion Weekly,1921)
This is one of the editorials written by U.S. Army General Billy Mitchell (1879 1936) that only served to annoy the senior army leadership and their civilian overlords in Washington. On these pages General Mitchell made his case for the creation of a unique branch of the military confined entirely to air power that was distinct and independent of the Army. He points out that numerous armies are doing just this and the U.S. would be wise to do the same. He was particularly keen on seeing to it that everyone know that that the Imperial Japanese Army was doing the same thing.
In Search of the W.W. I Draft Dodgers (American Legion Weekly, 1920)
This is a fiery editorial from a U.S. veteran's magazine covering American law enforcement's search for the 487,003 young men who resisted the draft of 1917-1918.
"The War Department will take care of the actual deserters, the men who went into camp and then deserted. Such men are liable to prosecution at any time in their lives. The Department of Justice will get after the draft dodgers, who never answered the summons..."
Benito Mussolini And His Followers (American Legion Weekly, 1923)
A 1923 article about the earliest days of Mussolini and the Italian Black Shirts; their discomfort with neighboring Yugoslavia, their love of the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863 1938) and their post-war struggle against the Italian Communists:
"When the Communists virtually ruled over Italy in 1920 and 1921, they set up a detestable tyranny. Railways could not carry troops. Officers were forbidden wear sidearms, and men with war medals were spat on and beaten."
Mussolini changed all that.
You can read about his violent death here...
The Popularly-Elected Senate (American Legion Weekly, 1920)
In 1913 a very strong, anti-Federalist step was taken to amend the Constitution and alter the manner in which U.S. Senators were to be selected and replaced in the event of vacancies. The 17th Amendment was passed: it guaranteed that senators would no longer be elected from within the legislative bodies of the state governments, but would be elected directly by the citizens of their respective states, just as the representatives are. Historian Everett Kimball pointed out in this article how the 17th Amendment altered the very nature of the U.S. Senate.
Where Were You When You Heard of The Armistice? (American Legion Weekly, 1921)
To mark the 1921 anniversary of Armistice Day, the editors put the word out to all their readers that they wanted to hear from them concerning where they were and what they were doing when they first heard that "la guerre was fini" - they received many answers, from both veterans and civilians alike.
The Dwindling A.E.F. (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
The intended readers for the attached article were the newly initiated members of the American Legion (ie. recently demobilized U.S. veterans), who might have had a tough time picturing a Paris that was largely free of swaggering, gum-chewing Doughboys gallivanting down those broad-belted boulevards, but that is what this journalist, Marquis James (1891 - 1955) intended. At the time of this printing, the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force) had been shaved down from 4,000,000 to half that number and re-christened the A.F.F. (American Forces in France) and the A.F.G. (American Forces in Germany). With a good bit of humor, the article concentrates on the antics of the American Third Army in Germany as they performed their "Bolshevist busting" duties in the Coblenz region.
General John J. Pershing (American Legion Weekly, 1924)
An interesting profile of General Pershing by the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Marquis James (1891 1955):
Ever hear about the time the C-in-C saluted a French cow?
Did you know he had the right to put 'Attorney at Law' after his name?
That he was given eight hours extra guard duty for a breach of discipline at West Point?
Do you know why he was chosen to command the A.E.F.?
Read another post-war article about General Pershing.
That Night in Paris (American Legion Weekly, 1924)
Whether or not this story is true or not, it's a wonderful ride - written in the idiom of the American trench-dwellers of the time. It's awfully funny.
A Price was Paid at Fismette (American Legion Weekly, 1924)
A two page history of the 32nd Division and their struggle to eradicate the bulge in the Marne battle line that resulted in the liberation of Fismette and Fismes.
Armistice Cartoon (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
A good nine-panel cartoon that appeared in an American veterans magazine on the first anniversary of the Armistice.
What is especially amusing is the satirical depiction of German soldiers in the final frame, which fully supports the thesis of Joseph E. Persico's book, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour
that the American Army was on the attack all the way up to the bitter end.
Armistice Cartoon (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
A good nine-panel cartoon that appeared in an American veterans magazine on the first anniversary of the Armistice. What is especially amusing is the satirical depiction of American front-line officers and the last frame, which fully supports the thesis of Joseph E. Persico's book, "11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour" that the American Army was on the attack all the way up to the bitter end.
American Soldiers Remember Siberia (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
The Doughboys of the the U.S. Twenty-Seventh Infantry remember the bad old days in Vladivostok guarding the trans-Siberian railway line:
"The Czar's old government used to send its enemies to Siberia, to exile; Uncle Sam's government sent its own men there to guard a railroad. Whose railroad it was and what it was there for and why Americans should be taken away from a perfectly good war in France and stationed up there to take care of it -- surely you can answer all these questions. If you can't, don't go to any of the veterans of the Siberian Expeditionary Force, because they won't give you very coherent answers. They think the whole trip was a post-season special, staged especially for their benefit."
*Watch Harold Lloyd in 'A Sammie in Siberia'*
The Military Police in France (American Legion Weekly, 1923)
A genuinely funny reminiscence written by an anonymous Doughboy recalling his days as an M.P. in war-torn France during the First World War:
"Now that it is all over I wonder what did I gain from my experiences as an M.P. in the great Army of Newton Baker's Best?...Watching the dawn coming rosily up over snow-clad barracks roofs and rows of tents; informing careless privates, sergeants, lieutenants and even majors to 'button that there button'; listening to the dull bang-slamming of artillery barrages on crossroads; jotting down the names of high-spirited young men found in cafés at the wrong hours -such things aren't of much lasting value."
Click here to read an article about the sexually-transmitted diseases among the American Army of W.W. I - and the M.P.s in particular...
Closing The Golden Door (American Legion Weekly, 1922)
If you've been in search of an historical article that clearly indicated that Americans were irked by white immigrants just as much as they've been bugged by non-white immigrants - then search no more. The journalist who penned this 1922 column chides the U.S. Government, and the people who granted them authority, for the difficulties that were placed in the path of all the various poor European migrants "yearning to breathe free":
"Whilst it does seem most expedient to curtail immigration, it ought to be done in a way which would impose least hardship on those who after all have had a supreme belief in America. One of America's weaknesses lies in red tape, did it need to be said; another lies in a sort of contempt for the poor whites of Europe - the 'Wops' and the 'K*k*s' and the 'Dagoes' and 'Hunkies' and the rest. They are unfortunate - after all, that is the chief thing against them."
''Americans in Name Only'' (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
Few topics were as irksome to the editors of THE AMERICAN LEGION WEEKLY than that of the draft dodger. This article appeared one year after the close of the war and presents all the facts about the deferment process and how many native-born American men had shirked their responsibility to kin and country.
A Tribute to General Pershing (American Legion Weekly, 1924)
Six years after the last shot was fired, war correspondent Frederick Palmer (1873 - 1958) typed up some sweet words of praise for the American W.W. I Commanding General John Pershing:
"When the people at home were thinking in terms of thousands, Pershing planned for an army of a million men overseas...He was organizer and molder of the A.E.F.. The stamp of his character was upon it in so far as any one man can put his stamp upon a vast, modern army."
During that brief period of the war in which Pershing's Doughboys were at bat against the Germans, Palmer worked under the general as the press liaison officer and censor for the entire A.E.F. (a job he hated). His bitter recollections of W.W. I were recorded in his 1921 memoir; click here to read the review.
Click here to read an article from 1927 by General Pershing regarding the American cemeteries in Europe.
11/11 with the U.S. First Division (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
A 1919 article that recalled the U.S. Army's First Division Armistice Day assault in the Bois de Romaigne:
"The First Division was a pretty tired outfit. It had seen eleven months of almost continuous fighting...Rumors were around that there was going to be an armistice, but few listened and none believed. We had been bunked before."
"The artillery fire increased and the machine guns rattled. You were on outpost and you fired your rifle, just fired it at nothing in particular. Everybody was doing it. The din increased until 11 o'clock, it ended with a crash that startled you. Fini la Guerre?"
U.S. Cemeteries: A Flag for Every Grave (American Legion Weekly, 1920)
An article that appeared in an American veterans magazine concerning the pageantry that would mark the Memorial Day of 1920 at each of the primary A.E.F. cemeteries in France.
"More than 127,000 American soldiers, sailors and Marines gave up their lives during the war...Total battle deaths in the A.E.F. killed in action and died of wounds were 50,329 including casualties in the Siberian force. Deaths from disease including the A.E.F. and men in the home cantonments, were 58,837...No American field of honor will be without it's Memorial Day ceremony, no American grave without its flag and its flowers..."
An interesting article that was written at a time it was believed that the A.E.F. cemeteries were going to be closed and the interred repatriated. There is a photograph of an early prototype headstone that was later rejected in favor of a stone cross; references are made to Suresnes Cemetery in Paris.
The Summer of 1918, pt. I (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
An article by Frederic Palmer concerning the progress made by the First and Second Divisions in the Marne Salient.
Blitzkrieg: In the Words of Nazi Officers (American Legion Weekly, 1940)
An article by military historian and biographer Fairfax Downey (1894 - 1990) concerning the unique manner of mechanized warfare that the Germans had introduced to the world during the opening weeks of the Second World War:
"Thunder rumbles, lightening flashes and strikes. Incredibly swiftly it is over. So, compared to the campaigns of the First World War, was the German Blitzkrieg, rumbling, flashing and striking down Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France. How did it work? What made it click?"
Click here to read more about the nature of Blitzkrieg.
First Blood (American Legion Weekly, 1922)
A veteran of the U.S. First Division, Sixteenth Infantry, tells the chilling story of that rainy night in November, 1917, when the first German raid upon the American trenches took place:
"It was on that night that Company F took over its first front line position, received its baptism of fire, bore the brunt of the first German raid and lost the first American troops killed and captured in the World War."
"...two hundred and forty Bavarians, the widely advertised cut-throats of the German Army, hopped down on us. The first raid on American troops was in full swing. They had crawled up to our wire under cover of their artillery barrage and the moment it lifted were right on top of us."
The U.S. Army would not launch their own trench raid for another four months.
A POW Hears About The Armistice (American Legion Weekly, 1921)
A former American prisoner of war recalled the American flag that he and his fellow prisoners had fashioned from Bull Durham and Lucky Strike bags the day they heard that the Germans had quit.
Edward VIII: A Regular Guy (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
"George V's son is a regular. He has the 'bonhomie'of a Broadway John, smokes all the time, admires a pretty face with an open affection, is bored by Beethoven, is a disciple of American jazz, and he hates to get up early in the morning."
*Watch a Film Clip and Litsen to the Abdication Speech of Duke of Windsor*
America's First Brush With Multiculturalism
(American Legion Weekly, 1922)
Like many Americans in the Twenties, the journalist who penned the attached article was totally irked by the concept of an American territory - bound for statehood - having a majority Asian population. He wrote at a time when the nation was deeply concerned about assimilating America's immigrants and his indignation can clearly be sensed.
German Post-War Thinking (American Legion Weekly, 1922)
"Thus any traveler in Germany feels that the future grows darker and darker for both Germany and Europe. There is no doubt that the German people have learned little from their war experiences and that it would require only a spark to set them off in another wild rush down through Europe behind Russian guns. It is a dismal prospect, and it is a terrible one, for it would mean, in the final analysis, the utter destruction of European civilization."
The Summer of 1918, pt. II (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
"Evidently, the Twenty-Sixth meant that the hand was off the collar of the dog of war, but he could only go to the end of the leash. The Twenty Sixth was to be given the leash and the full field later...When the Twenty-Sixth started to attack on the early morning of the 21st there was nothing to attack. The German was going and the Twenty-Sixth was to give chase..."
The American Death Record (American Legion Weekly, 1922)
"Statistics of the World War prove, however, that war was, from the standpoint of mortality, not vastly different from other wars. In spite of the improvements in methods of killing by machinery,Nature managed to runup a higher score than the enemy's bullets and shells. The Surgeon General of the Army, at the request of The American Legion Weekly, has prepared the following figures for the period of the war, from April 1, 1917 to December 31, 1919."
How Canada's Veterans are Fairing (American Legion Weekly, 1921)
"Second only to the part played by Canada on the battlefields of Europe is the magnificent spirit in which the dominion has dealt with the returned soldier and with the fallen soldier and his dependents. From the time the war ended to the present, Canada has led the rest of the world in looking after ex-service men."
"When the men of the Dominion returned from Europe they originally got three months' post-discharge pay at their discharge rank. On second thought this was changed early in 1919 to a war gratuity basis, as follows: For one year's overseas service or more, four months' pay and allowances; for three years' service or more, six months' pay and allowances. From these amounts deducted any sum paid out under the post-discharge system which had earlier prevailed. The men who had seen service in Canada only were not forgotten and received checks for one month's pay and allowances for each complete year of service in the army."
Prohibition Era Prisons Filled with Women (American Legion Weekly, 1924)
Four and a half years into Prohibition, journalist Jack O'Donnell reported that there were as many as 25,000 women who had run-afoul of the law in an effort to earn a quick buck working for bootleggers:
"They range in age from six to sixty. They are recruited from all ranks and stations of life - from the slums of New York's lower East Side, exclusive homes of California, the pine clad hills of Tennessee, the wind-swept plains of Texas, the sacred precincts of exclusive Washington... Women in the bootleg game are becoming a great problem to law enforcement officials. Prohibition agents, state troopers and city police - gallant gentlemen all - hesitate to embarrass women by stopping their cars to inquire if they are carrying hooch. The bootleggers and smugglers are aware of this fact and take advantage of it."
Verily, so numerous were these lush lassies - the Federal Government saw fit to construct a prison compound in which to incarcerate them; you can read about that here...
Draft-Dodgers and Deserters in Federal Prison (American Legion Weekly, 1923)
"Only eight men are serving sentences as draft deserters in Federal penitentiaries, Mr. Taylor declares. 'Yet, the number of men defying our country in its hour of need, was many times the number who deserted the Army after the Armistice.' Thirty-nine men, he states, are still serving time for desertion from the Army, and the draft deserters are serving shorter average sentences than are the soldiers who took unauthorized leave of the service after the Armistice."
Deporting the Reds (American Legion Weekly, 1920)
In this 1920 American Legion Weekly article the mojo of the Red Scare (1917 to 1920) is fully intact and beautifully encapsulated by W.L. Whittlesey who condemned the U.S. Government for ever having allowed large numbers of socialist immigrants to enter the country and spread their discontent throughout the fruited plane. On the other hand, the writer was grateful that the government was finally tending to the matter of deporting them in large numbers and doing so with every means available.
Armistice Cartoon (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
A cartoon that appeared in an American veterans magazine on the first anniversary marking the last day of W.W. I. What is especially amusing is the satirical depiction of American combat officers and the last frame, which fully supports the thesis of Joseph E. Persico's book, "11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour" that the American Army was on the attack all the way up to the bitter end.
American English and American Identity (American Legion Weekly, 1920)
When it came to the issue of assimilating immigrants on American shores and deporting "Alien Slackers", few groups yelled louder than the editors at The American Legion Weekly. In this anonymous editorial the author "gently" advocates for the recognition of American English in all schools with heavy immigrant numbers.
"Why not inform these aliens they are about to be taught the American language... [and] announce to the world that there is a new language? Why, even in Mexico they do not stand for calling their language the Spanish language. They insist it is the Mexican language... why not quit press-agenting John Bull and have our own language - the American language."
- from Amazon: A Decade-by-Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century
''The Woman Who Took A Soldier's Job'' (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
"Two years ago when the men began to drop out of the industrial world at the call to the colors their women associates gradually slipped into their places, and in the majority of cases effectively filled them... Those men have now nearly all come back to claim their old, or better jobs. What of the girl, then, in the soldier's job? What is she going to do?"
A Clever Way to Escort Prisoners... (American Legion Weekly, 1921)
This piece reminds me of what my son's history teacher so wisely passed on to them one day in sixth grade: "History can be found anywhere". How right she was, and in this case, a seldom remembered but perhaps widely practiced method of escorting German prisoners to the rear was rendered by a cartoonist in a 1921 magazine advertisement for a firm that manufactured men's accessories [underwear]:
"Remember that big attack? You couldn't spare a whole squad to escort your prisoners back to the cages; you needed every man in front. You got around the difficulty by cutting off the Boches' trousers. That made them helpless. They couldn't run and they couldn't fight. You parked the skipper's dog robber on their flank with a warped rifle and ran'em back."
Click here to read an article about the American POW experience during the Korean War.
Carrier Pigeons of the US Army Signal Corps (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
Illustrated with images of maimed and disfigured carrier pigeons, this article is filled with interesting lore of the battles waged by the 'feathered aviators' of the 1914 - 1918 war. You will read about how the pigeons were often dyed black so as to be mistaken for crows; how they were used at sea and at Verdun and that spies relied upon them.
During the course of World War II the U.s Army signal Corps deployed more than 50,000 pigeons.
It was said that the carrier pigeons of W.W. II were ten percent stronger.
A History of Dogs in the First World War (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
"The training of dogs for war purposes began in a limited way a number of years prior to the outbreak of the European war, the Germans being particularly interested in it. There were some trained war dogs in both the French and Belgian armies, but the British had none to speak of, nor did the United States. The dog began his general usefulness in the late war as a beast of burden."
The Shell-Shocked Millions (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
With the close of the war came the release of millions of combat veterans onto the streets of the world. Some of these veterans adjusted nicely to the post-war world - but many had a difficult time. Their maladjustment was called Shell Shock and it could manifest itself in any number of ways; in the attached article, written less than a year after the war, one anonymous American veteran explained his own personal encounter with the illness.
Click here to read a post-W.W. I poem about combat-related stress...
Crack of Doom for the Draft Dodgers (American Legion Weekly, 1920)
"Doomsday looms just over the horizon for the draft deserters. That wily gentleman who hid behind a tree and chuckled as his neighbor shouldered a gun and marched off to battle is soon to have that chuckle mopped off his face. He will find that no tree vegetates enough to cover from shame the miserable carcass of his manhood...According to the latest reports, 173,911 is the maximum number of draft registrants chargeable with willful desertion."
The U.S. Navy Railway Guns (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
An article written for an American veterans organization one year after the war, the attached piece tells the story of the five American naval batteries that were mounted on specially made rail cars and deployed along the Western Front. The article is two pages long and is filled with interesting facts as to the whereabouts of their assorted deployments and what was expected of the naval crews who worked them.
The Forward Pass Goes Mainstream (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
"Forward passing dominated eastern and western intercollegiate football to a degree unprecedented in the history of the game..."
With the French as Their Army Collapsed (American Legion Weekly, 1940)
Attached is an article by the noted war correspondent Frederick Palmer (1873 - 1958) who observed the French and British as they attempted to hold-off the Nazi juggernaut of 1940. In this article, Palmer referred a great deal to walking this same ground with the American Army during the 1914 - 1918 war just twenty-one years earlier; he found the French to be confident of a decisive victory. The column is complemented by this 1940 article which reported on the wonders of "Blitzkrieg" and the fall of France.
Stars and Stripes Folds it's Tent (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
An article by The American Legion Weekly correspondent Rex Lapham about the last issue (until the next war) of The Stars and Stripes. The article recorded many sentimental remarks, words of praise and seldom heard facts about the history of the Doughboy newspaper.
"If the paper found it's way across, as it surely did, into the hands of the German intelligence officers - if that's what they could be called - it must have given them something to ponder about. How could they have reported anything favorable to the ears of the German high command after having perused this defiant and determined manifestation of Doughboy psychology?"
Click here to read how the newspaper was staffed and managed in 1918 Paris.
Film Clip: The Story Of Stars And Stripes
P.G. Wodehouse: Master of American Slang (American Legion Weekly, 1919)
At the time this profile first appeared in 1919, P.G Wodehouse (1904 - 1975) had recently resigned his post as the drama critic for Vanity Fair in order to realize his ambitions as a novelist and playwright. This article revealed to all Wodehouse's keen interest in American slang and American comic strips.
Resident Aliens: Not Eligible for the 1917 Draft (American Legion Weekly, 1923)
Here are a few lines from "The American Legion Weekly" that reported to their disappointed veteran readership that the foreign-born men residing legally in the United States who were previously accused of shirking the 1917 draft were, in fact, absolved from service and thus free to swear the oath of citizenship, after having been slandered as draft dodgers and alien-slackers until the finer points of the selective service law was clarified.
Americanizing the Immigrants (American Legion Weekly, 1920)
"Why are tens of thousands of foreigners in ignorance of the privileges and obligations of American citizenship?... Where they are isolated in groups, left entirely to their own devices and not brought into contact with the life of the country, there is little opportunity for the melting pot to reach them."