On the groups I belong to, I often see the question if American troops in World War 1 really mattered.
The short answer is yes.
When the US entered the war, the allies believed the battles would continue to rage for another 10 years. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. And America’s entrance was a major factor in how quickly the ending came.
But not the only factor.
After the disastrous results of the Chemin des Dames led to mutinies in the French Army (271,000 French casualties in 12 days with no ground gained). The French declared they would hold the line but not advance. General Petain returned to oversee the Army and after certain incentives (longer leave) and some executions, restored order.
The October Revolution that turned Russia into the Soviet Union meant that Germany could now bring experienced soldiers from the Eastern Front to the Western Front. The Spring Offensive had to take place before the US landed its millions of soldiers and shored up its supply lines. Germany threw its best at the Allies but couldn’t break through. They lost nearly 1 million men in 6 months, a loss they couldn’t make up with their reserves. To complicate matters, the family at home was starving and unrest with a possible Communist revolution divided the soldiers’ attention.
But the British were worse off. Their casualties approached half a million. And they had no reserves. None. Food shortages were rampant at home. Strikes were common.
By August 2018, 1-2 million American troops were in France. The Allies consolidated leadership and began to act as one force.
Of course, the British did have an ace up their sleeve. They invented a tank that could cross the trenches, protecting the men following behind it. The German’s couldn’t build enough tanks to stop the advantage the British had gained. Interesting facts about tanks: the word comes from the code name given to those who worked on the top secret project. They were told, they were building water tanks. And, lastly, the idea for a tank came from HG Wells’ The Land Ironclads.
Until next time