|Cenotaph, Whitehall, London|
One hundred years ago this month, Woodrow Wilson ended America’s longstanding policy of isolation and led us into World War I on the Allied side. Over two and a half million Americans were shipped “over there” to Europe and served in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). By war’s end, more than 100,000 Americans would join the ranks of what British Prime Minister Lloyd George termed, without a trace of irony, “the glorious dead.”
|US Infantry 27th or New York Division|
My own great-uncle, John Wells (1895-1951), was a member of the AEF. Wells served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 27th Infantry, or New York Division. He trained with the unit at Camp Wadsworth in South Carolina before deploying to Europe in May of 1918. In the fall of 1918, this unit saw fierce action in the Somme push and along the Meuse River. The New York Division helped to break the back of the German Army along the Hindenburg line, leading to Germany’s surrender in November 1918.
Why did Wilson make his fateful decision to enter the “War to end all wars”? Two of the principle reasons behind Wilson’s decision were the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram.
Unrestricted submarine warfare has become a stilted phrase that smacks of dry textbooks and AP history examinations. It was not so then. The period prior to World War I was the golden age of ocean travel. Lindbergh did not fly across the Atlantic until 1927. The only practical means to travel between North America and Europe was via passenger ship. These passenger ships were the equivalent of commercial aircraft today. Thomas Tileston Wells (John Wells’s father), for example, booked passage in 1909 on board the RMS Lusitania, which was destined to be sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland in 1915, killing around 1,200 passengers, including at least 125 Americans. In 1916, Germany moderated its submarine policy by pledging not to attack passenger ships without providing for the safety of their passengers and crew. But on January 31, 1917, Kaiser William II reversed course, ordering the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare against Allied shipping. This desperate move helped tip the United States Congress, led by President Wilson, into declaring war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
|WWI Recruiting Poster|
Museum of Flight, Seattle WA
|Mata Hari was caught by surveillance too|
|Pope Benedict XV, St. Peter's Rome|
Thanks Dayton Daily News...http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/opinion/learning-from-our-history-the-world-1917-still-resonates-today/UzcMgcQuhd9uPhpgP8TChJ/
Thanks Military History Now...http://militaryhistorynow.com/2017/04/05/the-yanks-are-coming-the-issues-that-drove-america-to-war-in-1917-still-resonate-a-century-later/
Thanks American Grit...www.americangrit.com/2017/04/06/america-enter-world-war/
Thanks Washington Examiner...http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/why-we-entered-world-war-i/article/2619001
Thanks Times and Democrat...http://thetandd.com/news/opinion/columnists/why-did-u-s-enter-wwi/article_cd58b849-a2a3-5c7f-8e29-7a407aa37119.html
Thanks India America Today...http://www.indiaamericatoday.com/article/america-enter-world-war/
Thanks Paradigms and Demographics...http://paradigmsanddemographics.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/why-we-entered-world-war-i-100-years.html
|Cenotaph, Whitehall, London|
Christopher Kelly is the editor of An Adventure in 1914 – a memoir written by Thomas Tileston Wells about his family’s voyage through Europe on the brink of World War I.
You can purchase signed copies of An Adventure in 1914 here...www.anadventurein1914.com
Or regular copies on Amazon...www.amzn.com/0692767894