On July 4 alone, american shipyards launched an incredible 500,000 tons of new shipping (although much of this was a propaganda exercise organized with help from the. Committee of Public Information, with prior launchings delayed and a large number of renovated ships included to reach the impressive total). However, Allied shipping was still under serious threat. Available British merchant tonnage was almost 5 million tons below its pre-war figure, while the French merchant fleet was down by a million tons and Italys merchant fleet, a key component in the mediterranean shipping network, had lost a third of its total. These losses were somewhat offset by the confiscation of Central Powers vessels, the questionably legal requisitioning of neutral shipping from countries like the netherlands; and Americas sprawling shipbuilding program. But the fact remained that the worlds total stock of available shipping was about 5 million tons lower in 19, a 10 percent decline—enough to massively impair the global logistics system in wartime, as many ships were forced to return from the warzone in ballast. At the same time, the germans remained committed to an aggressive u-boat strategy to the end, in hopes of disrupting the transportation of American troops to the battlefields of France as well as deepening material privation among soldiers and civilians alike in Britain and France.
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It is a great disaster. Of course it is, she wrote. But we are all terribly alive. Perilous crossings, as more and more Americans arrived in France, with monthly embarkations. Ports peaking in July 1918 at 308,350, millions of young American men (and tens of thousands of young women volunteering as nurses, drivers, telephone operators, or canteen workers) had their first experience of what was, in prewar years, a literal rite of passage: the ocean. Now, though, there was nothing glamorous about it, as the specter of German U-boat warfare stalked the Atlantic. True, the Allies were making significant progress in the battle against the undersea scourge. A wide range of measures had helped turn the tide against German U-boats, including the implementation of the convoy system, with groups of troop and cargo transports heavily guarded by Allied warships and airships, which employed evasive tactics such as sudden, unpredictable shifts in direction. Other methods included increased patrols, submarine nets, and minefields to make key chokepoints impassable to subs, most short notably in the dover Strait at the eastern end of the English Channel; new technology like hydrophones and depth charges; and more controversial, unproven measures like dazzle camouflage. Thanks to this piecemeal strategy (below, an Allied convoy) and massive industrial mobilization, by the second quarter of 1918, greatly expanded American and British shipbuilding outweighed the total tonnage lost to u-boats, and the margin soared in the second half of the year.
I turned around and told him he was — right. Since then three other doughboys have joined me in misery and we are down in one corner, and the rest of the barracks have declared an armistice, but will have nothing to do summary with us—which just suits as, as they are all from the eastern. Overall, many diaries and letters home written by American soldiers and civilians, while acknowledging the horrors of war, express positive feelings about the conflict and their own roles in it, probably reflecting the fact that their participation was recent enough to retain the sense. Bowerman wrote on June 28, 1918: say what you will, and admitting that war is a terrible thing, it still has its compensations for those who live. What has the war done for me? This—I have traveled in a far country; I have partially learned another language; I have met all manners and breeds of men and have learned true human values i am living in a time when history is being made and am doing my infinitesimal bit. Similarly, mildred Aldrich, the American author retired in France who had endured four years of war (albeit as a civilian expressed a common sentiment that the war, for all its misery, had led to a heightened appreciation of existence among those who managed to survive.
According to observers from both hemispheres, Americans seemed to get along especially well with Australians. Kenneth Gow, an American officer, wrote home: I like the Britishers, particularly the australians. The officers are all gentlemen. The Englishman has a reserve very hard to break through, but once it is down he is very much a human being The australians seem to be the particular cronies of all the American troops. They are more like ourselves than any of the other allies. In the same vein, caspar Burton, an American officer, wrote home in September 1918, The Americans and the australians, i venture to remark, hit off better than any two forces in this whole war. Conversely, sectional tensions between soldiers from different parts of the United States persisted once in Europe, pitting northerners against southerners but also easterners against westerners. Emmet Britton, from California with the 363rd Regiment, wrote home disdainfully of being forced to bunk with signals officers from the east coast on July 28, 1918: After five minutes I told them all to go to h—l and walked out hearing one of them.
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In a letter home on may 30, 1918, guy bowerman, an American ambulance driver, noted that he had gained a firmer grasp on the reasons for. Participation in the war to make the world safe for democracy, as President Wilson had explained : would I be content to see the war end in a german victory tomorrow? It would mean the end of all this misery and suffering, an end of sleepless nights, an end of crawling slowly thru pitch blackness alone and badly frightened, an end of being 3000 miles from home and in a strange land. But we have been long enough in France to have caught the Frenchmans infectious love book of his country and his hatred for the boches and I decided then that if only France could be saved, if only the germans wrongs could be avenged, i would. When we enlisted it was from no love of France and not from any poignant hatred of the germans. It was a duty, a duty to be accepted gladly because thru its performance we should see new sights and experience thrills and strange sensations. Tonight all this is changed; the cause of France has become our own real cause and her hatred has become our own real hatred.
We are no longer supernumeraries in a show; we are part of the cast itself. These feelings of affection for France were hardly universal, however, as Americans expressed a range of feelings about the host country they were now fighting to defend. Katharine morse, an American woman volunteering in ymca canteens, described American attitudes (strongly colored by primitive conditions library in rural France, as well as inclement French winter weather) in January 1918: Altogether we are inclined to take very pessimistic view at present of our surroundings. This land is a thousand years behind the times, is the reiterated comment, and who can blame them, having seen nothing of France but these tiny primitive mud-and-muck villages? It aint worth fightin for. Why if i owned this country Id give it to the germans and apologize. On the other hand, many Americans enjoyed new-found affinities with other Allies, particularly English-speaking soldiers from the British dominions Canada, australia, and New zealand (the latter two designated anzac troops).
For a week before we watched with the deepest interest the preparations which were made all over the city, in fact all over France. The Stars and Stripes decorated every building our flag was placed in the center, flanked on each side by French flags our splendid Marines got the ovation they deserved. Ashe and her subordinates joined the parade: to our delight the nurses were asked by the French government to march in the parade. It was the first time women have ever marched in a parade in Paris i carried the flag, it was the proudest moment of my life, in fact dont think i ever had that proud feeling before. But when we fell in line behind the marines, our band playing Dixie and I held that banner on high the cheers of the crowd, vive lAmerique, i really felt that I had reached the supreme moment of my life every now and then someone. However, as in the case of other combatant nations, it would be inaccurate to attribute undiluted patriotism and martial spirit to Americans involved in the war.
Many American soldiers and civilian volunteers headed for the war zone nervously anticipated how their own personalities might change once they came face to face with the brutal reality of warfare. Others rejected the war outright on religious or moral grounds. This whole business, far from being one of my choice, is by no means in accord with my bringing up or education, wrote donald. Carey, an American soldier at Camp Custer on July 2, 1918. Another American soldier, Emmet Britton, a first lieutenant, worried that hatred would scar him psychologically: Right now I bear no personal hate toward the hun but more of the feeling that I have had when sitting on a court-martial. The hun has done wrong, therefore he must be punished. But no bitterness is in my soul and if I can fully do my duty without it entering into my heart I pray to god that I may. For bitterness is too liable to warp ones outlook on life so that none of the beautiful things may be enjoyed. At the same time, americans already serving in France found themselves undergoing their own personal transformations, as they remembered the reasons they initially enlisted and compared these with their subsequent experiences and outlook once in France.
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On July 4, 1918—just a few days after Americas victorious fighting debut at, belleau wood had helped turned the tide of the fourth German offensive of that year—French soldiers and civilians across the entire country celebrated Americas Independence day in almost hysterical fashion, apparently presentation spontaneously. Flag was ubiquitous, according to mildred Aldrich, a retired American author living in France: everywhere, even in the quiet and deserted streets of the other quarters, were the American flags. There was no shop too small to show one. Bonnes on the way to market had the Stars and Stripes on their market baskets. Every taxi cab was decorated with the flag It floated on the tram-cars and the omnibuses, it hung out of almost every window, and at the entrance of the big apartment houses Crippled soldiers distributed tiny flags on all the streets. Paris was the epicenter of this countrywide fete, probably one of the few instances in history when one country celebrated another countrys national day with as much enthusiasm, or even more, as the natives. The celebrations in the French capital focused on a parade. Army soldiers who had just forced the germans from Belleau wood near the marne, as part of the successful Allied remote defense against the third and fourth German offensives in may and June, and received a deafening reception from a crowd of several hundred thousand Parisians. Elizabeth Ashe, a chief nurse with the red Cross, participated in the july 4 parade and described the event: The 4th celebration in Paris made that day a never-to-be-forgotten one for those who were privileged to take part in the ceremonies.
This is the 312th installment in the series. Read an overview of the war to date here. July 4, 1918: history celebrating independence day in france. In July 1917, three months after the United States declared war on Germany, there were just 20,000 American soldiers in France—a rounding error compared to the French Army and British Expeditionary force, with around 2 million men each. One year later, however, the picture had changed dramatically: by the end of July 1918 there were.2 million American soldiers in France, a figure that would rise to over 2 million by the wars end in november 1918. With hundreds of thousands of Americans billeted in French villages near the front, undergoing crash training in the French countryside, operating a vast logistics network connecting French ports of disembarkation to the forward zone, or relaxing on leave in big cities and scores of provincial. While this was obviously an exaggeration, the influx of Americans was yet another culture shock for ordinary people in France, especially in rural areas unused to seeing visitors of any stripe—even from other parts of France—before the war. Elmer Harden, an American soldier volunteering with the French Army, wrote home on July 9, 1918, describing the sudden change in the small French village where he was stationed: For the last three days weve been surrounded by American soldiers (our blue streets changed. When the café opens they rush in and get lit up and dance and sing and make improper proposals to the doll who brings them their sarsaparilla they make a noise they call French.
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