WORLD WAR ONE
WWI - WW1 - WORLD WAR ONE
CIVIL WAR S/A 1898 WW1 WWII KOREAN WAR INDO CHINA WAR VIETNAM WAR DESERT STORM IRAQ AFGHANTISTAN SPECIAL FORCES
|The American "Red Hand" Division
When General Black Jack Pershing arrived in France in 1918,, he separated the "Black" Regiments, including the New York City, National Guard Unit called the Black Rattlers. He provided them to French General Mariano Goybet who commanded the French 157th division which consisted of the French 333rd infantry regiment. The 371st Infantry, a part of the 92nd Division was attached to the 157th to bring the unit to full strength and, it was said, to fulfill a promise made to France from the long ago debt of the Revolutionary War. , Both the American 371st and 372 regiments would be part of the French Generals division, yet remain as independant fighting units.This created the now famous Fighting "Red Hand" Division and would propel the Black Rattlers to the WORLD FAMOUS name of the HARLEM HELL FIGHTERS. A name given these blasck american soldiers be the Germans due to the ferosity that the Black American soldiers fought with
The first battle flag used by the 157th was the field flag of General Goybet. who was authorized a personal field flag which would be Red, White, and Red. , General Goybet added the red hand to the white field to remember the soldiers that had died and to remind the remaining soldiers that there was a blood debt owed, a vengeance if you will, to the Germans for the death of those soldier. The General's flag was changed again. Two small American flags (one on each side) to the red stripes closest to the staff, symbolizing the addition of the American unit to the command.
Historically, the 372nd was one of the oldest African-American units in the country dating back to the Civil War with a lineage including the Monumental City Guards and the First Separate Company. Though out the World War I these two African-American regiments fought bravely. They were the longest front line serving American soldiers and were the first American soldiers who fought all the way to the Rhine. These men were awarded the Croix de Guerre, and several of their men received both the French Legion of Honor and the American Distinguished Service Cross. Freddie Stowers of the 371st was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest military award for bravery.
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World War I (WWI), which was called the World War or the Great War from
its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a
major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918.
It involved all the world's great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances:
the Allies (centred around the Triple Entente) and the Central Powers (originally centred
around the Triple Alliance). More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million
Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history More than 9 million
combatants were killed, largely because of great technological advances in firepower
without corresponding advances in mobility. It was the sixth deadliest conflict in world
The assassination on 28 June 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was the proximate trigger of the war. Long-term causes, such as imperialistic foreign policies of the great powers of Europe, such as the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the British Empire, France, and Italy, played a major role. Ferdinand's assassination by a Yugoslav nationalist resulted in a Habsburg ultimatum against the Kingdom of Serbia. Several alliances formed over the past decades were invoked, so within weeks the major powers were at war; via their colonies, the conflict soon spread around the world.
On 28 July, the conflict opened with the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia, followed by the German invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg and France; and a Russian attack against Germany. After the German march on Paris was brought to a halt, the Western Front settled into a static battle of attrition with a trench line that changed little until 1917. In the East, the Russian army successfully fought against the Austro-Hungarian forces but was forced back by the German army. Additional fronts opened after the Ottoman Empire joined the war in 1914, Italy and Bulgaria in 1915 and Romania in 1916. The Russian Empire collapsed in 1917, and Russia left the war after the October Revolution later that year. After a 1918 German offensive along the western front, United States forces entered the trenches and the Allies drove back the German armies in a series of successful offensives. Germany agreed to a cease-fire on 11 November 1918, later known as Armistice Day.
By the war's end, four major imperial powersthe German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empireshad been militarily and politically defeated and had ceased to exist. The former two states lost a great amount of territory, while the latter two were dismantled entirely. The map of central Europe was redrawn into several smaller states. The League of Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another such conflict. The European nationalism spawned by the war and the breakup of empires, the repercussions of Germany's defeat and problems with the Treaty of Versailles are generally agreed to be factors in the beginning of World War II.
Before World War II, the war was also known as The Great War, The World War, or The War in Europe. In France and Belgium, it was sometimes referred to as La Guerre du Droit (the War for Justice) or La Guerre Pour la Civilisation / de Oorlog tot de Beschaving (the War to Preserve Civilisation), especially on medals and commemorative monuments. The term used by official histories of the war in Britain and Canada is First World War, while American histories generally use the term World War I.
The earliest known use of the term First World War appeared in September 1914 when German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel said, "there is no doubt that the course and character of the feared 'European War'" ... will become the first world war in the full sense of the word."
The terms World War I and First World War both became standard (in the United States and Britain respectively) beginning in about 1940 to 1942; before that, it was most commonly called The Great War.
In the 19th Century, the major European powers had gone to great lengths to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe, resulting by 1900 in a complex network of political and military alliances throughout the continent. These had started in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Then, in October 1873, German Chancellor Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors (German: Dreikaiserbund) between the monarchs of AustriaHungary, Russia and Germany. This agreement failed because AustriaHungary and Russia could not agree over Balkan policy, leaving Germany and AustriaHungary in an alliance formed in 1879, called the Dual Alliance. This was seen as a method of countering Russian influence in the Balkans as the Ottoman Empire continued to weaken. In 1882, this alliance was expanded to include Italy in what became the Triple Alliance.
After 1870, European conflict was averted largely through a carefully planned network of treaties between the German Empire and the remainder of Europe orchestrated by Chancellor Bismarck. He especially worked to hold Russia at Germany's side to avoid a two-front war with France and Russia. When Wilhelm II ascended to the throne as German Emperor (Kaiser), Bismarck's alliances were gradually de-emphasised. For example, the Kaiser refused to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1890. Two years later, the Franco-Russian Alliance was signed to counteract the force of the Triple Alliance. In 1904, the United Kingdom sealed an alliance with France, the Entente cordiale and in 1907, the United Kingdom and Russia signed the Anglo-Russian Convention. This system of interlocking bilateral agreements formed the Triple Entente.
Ship at sea with smoke emitting from two funnels
HMS Dreadnought. A naval arms race existed between the United Kingdom and Germany.
German industrial and economic power had grown greatly after unification and the foundation of the Empire in 1870. From the mid-1890s on, the government of Wilhelm II used this base to devote significant economic resources to building up the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy), established by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, in rivalry with the British Royal Navy for world naval supremacy. As a result, both nations strove to out-build each other in terms of capital ships. With the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the British Empire expanded on its significant advantage over its German rivals. The arms race between Britain and Germany eventually extended to the rest of Europe, with all the major powers devoting their industrial base to producing the equipment and weapons necessary for a pan-European conflict. Between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the European powers increased by 50 percent.
Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb student, was arrested immediately after he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Austria-Hungary precipitated the Bosnian crisis of 19081909 by officially annexing the former Ottoman territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which it had occupied since 1878. This angered the Kingdom of Serbia and its patron, the Pan-Slavic and Orthodox Russian Empire. Russian political manoeuvring in the region destabilised peace accords that were already fracturing in what was known as "the Powder keg of Europe".
Ethno-linguistic map of AustriaHungary, 1910
In 1912 and 1913, the First Balkan War was fought between the Balkan League and the fracturing Ottoman Empire. The resulting Treaty of London further shrank the Ottoman Empire, creating an independent Albanian State while enlarging the territorial holdings of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. When Bulgaria attacked both Serbia and Greece on 16 June 1913, it lost most of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece and Southern Dobruja to Romania in the 33-day Second Balkan War, further destabilising the region.
On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb student and member of Young Bosnia, assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Bosnia. This began a period of diplomatic manoeuvring among Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, and Britain called the July Crisis. Wanting to finally end Serbian interference in Bosnia, Austria-Hungary delivered the July Ultimatum to Serbia, a series of ten demands intentionally made unacceptable, intending to provoke a war with Serbia. When Serbia agreed to only eight of the ten demands, Austria-Hungary declared war on 28 July 1914. Strachan argues, "Whether an equivocal and early response by Serbia would have made any difference to Austria-Hungary's behaviour must be doubtful. Franz Ferdinand was not the sort of personality who commanded popularity, and his demise did not cast the empire into deepest mourning".
The Russian Empire, unwilling to allow AustriaHungary to eliminate its influence in the Balkans, and in support of its longtime Serb protégés, ordered a partial mobilisation one day later. When the German Empire began to mobilise on 30 July 1914, France, angry about the German conquest of Alsace-Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War, ordered French mobilisation on 1 August. Germany declared war on Russia on the same day. The United Kingdom declared war on Germany, on 4 August 1914, following an "unsatisfactory reply" to the British ultimatum that Belgium must be kept neutral.
The United States originally pursued a policy of non-intervention, avoiding conflict while trying to broker a peace. When a German U-boat sank the British liner Lusitania in 1915, with 128 Americans aboard, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson vowed, "America is too proud to fight" and demanded an end to attacks on passenger ships. Germany complied. Wilson unsuccessfully tried to mediate a settlement. He repeatedly warned the U.S. would not tolerate unrestricted submarine warfare, in violation of international law and U.S. ideas of human rights. Wilson was under pressure from former president Theodore Roosevelt, who denounced German acts as "piracy". Wilson's desire to have a seat at negotiations at war's end to advance the League of Nations also played a role. Wilson's Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, whose opinions had been ignored, resigned as he could no longer support the president's policy. Public opinion was angered at suspected German sabotage of Black Tom in Jersey City, New Jersey, and the Kingsland Explosion.
In January 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare. The German Foreign minister, in the Zimmermann Telegram, told Mexico that U.S. entry was likely once unrestricted submarine warfare began, and invited Mexico to join the war as Germany's ally against the United States. In return, the Germans would send Mexico money and help it recover the territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona that Mexico lost during the Mexican-American War 70 years earlier. Wilson released the Zimmerman note to the public and Americans saw it as a casus bellia cause for war.
President Wilson before Congress, announcing the break in official relations with Germany on 3 February 1917.
U.S. declaration of war on Germany
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Woodrow Wilson declares war on Germany
After the sinking of seven U.S. merchant ships by submarines and the publication of the Zimmerman telegram, Wilson called for war on Germany, which the U.S. Congress declared on 6 April 1917.
First active U.S. participation
American soldiers on the Piave front hurling a shower of hand grenades into the Austrian trenches
Two American soldiers run towards a bunker.
The United States was never formally a member of the Allies but became a self-styled "Associated Power". The United States had a small army, but, after the passage of the Selective Service Act, it drafted 2.8 million men and by summer 1918 was sending 10,000 fresh soldiers to France every day. In 1917, the U.S. Congress gave U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans when they were drafted to participate in World War I, as part of the Jones Act. Germany had miscalculated, believing it would be many more months before they would arrive and that the arrival could be stopped by U-boats.
The United States Navy sent a battleship group to Scapa Flow to join with the British Grand Fleet, destroyers to Queenstown, Ireland and submarines to help guard convoys. Several regiments of U.S. Marines were also dispatched to France. The British and French wanted U.S. units used to reinforce their troops already on the battle lines and not waste scarce shipping on bringing over supplies. The U.S. rejected the first proposition and accepted the second. General John J. Pershing, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) commander, refused to break up U.S. units to be used as reinforcements for British Empire and French units. As an exception, he did allow African-American combat regiments to be used in French divisions. The Harlem Hellfighters fought as part of the French 16th Division, earning a unit Croix de guerre for their actions at Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood and Sechault. AEF doctrine called for the use of frontal assaults, which had long since been discarded by British Empire and French commanders because of the large loss of life.
Allied victory: summer and autumn 1918
Main articles: Hundred Days Offensive and Weimar Republic
The Allied counteroffensive, known as the Hundred Days Offensive, began on 8 August 1918. The Battle of Amiens developed with III Corps British Fourth Army on the left, the French First Army on the right, and the Australian and Canadian Corps spearheading the offensive in the centre through Harbonnières. It involved 414 tanks of the Mark IV and Mark V type, and 120,000 men. They advanced 12 kilometres (7 miles) into German-held territory in just seven hours. Erich Ludendorff referred to this day as the "Black Day of the German army".
The Australian-Canadian spearhead at Amiens, a battle that was the beginning of Germanys downfall, helped pull the British armies to the north and the French armies to the south forward. While German resistance on the British Fourth Army front at Amiens stiffened, after an advance as far as 14 miles (23 km) and concluded the battle there, the French Third Army lengthened the Amiens front on 10 August, when it was thrown in on the right of the French First Army, and advanced 4 miles (6 km) liberating Lassigny in fighting which lasted until 16 August. South of the French Third Army, General Charles Mangin (The Butcher) drove his French Tenth Army forward at Soissons on 20 August to capture eight thousand prisoners, two hundred guns and the Aisne heights overlooking and menacing the German position north of the Vesle. Another "Black day" as described by Erich Ludendorff.
Meanwhile General Byng of the Third British Army, reporting that the enemy on his front was thinning in a limited withdrawal, was ordered to attack with 200 tanks towards Bapaume, opening the Battle of Albert, with the specific orders of "To break the enemy's front, in order to outflank the enemies present battle front" (opposite the British Fourth Army at Amiens). Allied leaders had now realised that to continue an attack after resistance had hardened was a waste of lives and it was better to turn a line than to try to roll over it. Attacks were being undertaken in quick order to take advantage of the successful advances on the flanks and then broken off when that attack lost its initial impetus.
The British Third Army's 15-mile (24 km) front north of Albert progressed after stalling for a day against the main resistance line to which the enemy had withdrawn. Rawlinsons Fourth British Army was able to battle its left flank forward between Albert and the Somme straightening the line between the advanced positions of the Third Army and the Amiens front which resulted in recapturing Albert at the same time. On 26 August the British First Army on the left of the Third Army was drawn into the battle extending it northward to beyond Arras. The Canadian Corps already being back in the vanguard of the First Army fought their way from Arras eastward 5 miles (8 km) astride the heavily defended Arras-Cambrai before reaching the outer defences of the Hindenburg Line, breaching them on the 28 and 29 August. Bapaume fell on the 29 August to the New Zealand Division of the Third Army and the Australians, still leading the advance of the Fourth Army, were again able to push forward at Amiens to take Peronne and Mont Saint-Quentin on 31 August. Further south the French First and Third Armies had slowly fought forward while the Tenth Army, who had by now crossed the Ailette and was east of the Chemin des Dames, was now near to the Alberich position of the Hindenburg Line. During the last week of August the pressure along a 70-mile (113 km) front against the enemy was heavy and unrelenting. From German accounts, "Each day was spent in bloody fighting against an ever and again on-storming enemy, and nights passed without sleep in retirements to new lines." Even to the north in Flanders the British Second and Fifth Armies during August and September were able to make progress taking prisoners and positions that were previously denied them.
Close-up view of an American major in the basket of an observation balloon flying over territory near front lines
On 2 September the Canadian Corps outflanking of the Hindenburg line, with the breaching of the Wotan Position, made it possible for the Third Army to advance and sent repercussions all along the Western Front. That same day Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) had no choice but to issue orders to six armies for withdrawal back into the Hindenburg Line in the south, behind the Canal du Nord on the Canadian-First Army's front and back to a line east of the Lys in the north, giving up without a fight the salient seized in the previous April. According to Ludendorff We had to admit the necessity ... to withdraw the entire front from the Scarpe to the Vesle.
In nearly four weeks of fighting since 8 August, over 100,000 German prisoners were taken, 75,000 by the BEF and the rest by the French. Since "The Black Day of the German Army" the German High Command realised the war was lost and made attempts for a satisfactory end. The day after the battle Ludenforff told Colonel Mertz "We cannot win the war any more, but we must not lose it either." On 11 August he offered his resignation to the Kaiser, who refused it and replied, "I see that we must strike a balance. We have nearly reached the limit of our powers of resistance. The war must be ended." On 13 August at Spa, Hindenburg, Ludendorff, Chancellor and Foreign Minister Hintz agreed that the war could not be ended militarily and on the following day the German Crown Council decided victory in the field was now most improbable. Austria and Hungary warned that they could only continue the war until December and Ludendorff recommended immediate peace negotiations, to which the Kaiser responded by instructing Hintz to seek the mediation of the Queen of the Netherlands. Prince Rupprecht warned Prince Max of Baden "Our military situation has deteriorated so rapidly that I no longer believe we can hold out over the winter; it is even possible that a catastrophe will come earlier." On 10 September Hindenburg urged peace moves to Emperor Charles of Austria and Germany appealed to the Netherlands for mediation. On the 14 September Austria sent a note to all belligerents and neutrals suggesting a meeting for peace talks on neutral soil and on 15 September Germany made a peace offer to Belgium. Both peace offers were rejected and on 24 September OHL informed the leaders in Berlin that armistice talks were inevitable.
September saw the Germans continuing to fight strong rear guard actions and launching numerous counter attacks on lost positions, with only a few succeeding and then only temporarily. Contested towns, villages, heights and trenches in the screening positions and outposts of the Hindenburg Line continued to fall to the Allies, with the BEF alone taking 30,441 prisoners in the last week of September. Further small advances eastward would follow the Third Army victory at Ivincourt on 12 September, the Fourth Armies at Epheny on 18 September and the French gain of Essigny-le-Grand a day later. On 24 September a final assault by both the British and French on a 4 mile (6 km) front would come within 2 miles (3 km) of St. Quentin. With the outposts and preliminary defensive lines of the Siegfried and Alberich Positions eliminated the Germans were now completely back in the Hindenburg Line. With the Wotan position of that line already breached and the Siegfried position in danger of being turned from the north the time had now come for an assault on the whole length of the line.
The Allied attack on the Hindenburg Line began on 26 September including U.S. soldiers. The still-green American troops suffered problems coping with supply trains for large units on a difficult landscape. The following week cooperating French and American units broke through in Champagne at the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, forcing the Germans off the commanding heights, and closing towards the Belgian frontier.The last Belgian town to be liberated before the armistice was Ghent, which the Germans held as a pivot until Allied artillery was brought up. The German army had to shorten its front and use the Dutch frontier as an anchor to fight rear-guard actions.
When Bulgaria signed a separate armistice on 29 September, the Allies gained control of Serbia and Greece. Ludendorff, having been under great stress for months, suffered something similar to a breakdown. It was evident that Germany could no longer mount a successful defence.
Meanwhile, news of Germany's impending military defeat spread throughout the German armed forces. The threat of mutiny was rife. Admiral Reinhard Scheer and Ludendorff decided to launch a last attempt to restore the "valour" of the German Navy. Knowing the government of Prince Maximilian of Baden would veto any such action, Ludendorff decided not to inform him. Nonetheless, word of the impending assault reached sailors at Kiel. Many rebelled and were arrested, refusing to be part of a naval offensive which they believed to be suicidal. Ludendorff took the blamethe Kaiser dismissed him on 26 October. The collapse of the Balkans meant that Germany was about to lose its main supplies of oil and food. The reserves had been used up, but U.S. troops kept arriving at the rate of 10,000 per day.
Having suffered over 6 million casualties, Germany moved towards peace. Prince Maximilian of Baden took charge of a new government as Chancellor of Germany to negotiate with the Allies. Telegraphic negotiations with President Wilson began immediately, in the vain hope that better terms would be offered than by the British and French. Instead Wilson demanded the abdication of the Kaiser. There was no resistance when the social democrat Philipp Scheidemann on 9 November declared Germany to be a republic. Imperial Germany was dead; a new Germany had been born: the Weimar Republic.
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