America Enters the War
The Great War 1914-18
On the 7th April 1917 America entered the war as an Ally, having tolerated a number of acts of aggression, mainly against its mercantile fleet since 1914. German submarines had attacked and sunk many ships, some of which, like the Lusitania, had been carrying American citizens as passengers. Even so, the American president, Woodrow Wilson, resisted going to war against Germany.
The final act of provocation which pushed America over the edge was the damning communication which has since become known as the 'Zimmerman Telegram', after the German Foreign Secretary, Arthur Zimmerman, who instigated it. The Zimmerman telegram, which tried to bring Mexico into the war by attacking America and thereby joining Germany as an ally, was the last straw and America declared war.
At the time the American's had an army of around 130,000 bolstered by a further 80,000 in the National Guard and whilst it had no direct experience of modern warfare on the scale being fought in Europe, there had been observers reporting on developments. The American Expeditionary Force, AEF, was raised on the 18th May 1917 with General John 'Black Jack' Pershing in command. Congress passed the Draft Bill to increase the size of the army with conscripts and America was readying itself for war.
Despite mixed opinions among the Allies, Pershing resisted the call that American troops be commanded by either the French or British. The first elements of the AEF landed in France on the 13th June 1917 and the first shots were fired by Battery C of the 6th Artillery.
During this tour you will be taken to a number of significant locations where the AEF earned a justifiably deserved reputation for itself as a hard-fighting force. American units fought almost along the entire length of the Western Front from Ypres in the North to St Mihiel near Verdun and by the Armistice over one million American soldiers were serving on the Western Front.