103 YEARS AGO TODAY, FIRST U.S. TROOPS LAND IN FRANCE AS AMERICANS ENTER WORLD WAR I

The French port of Saint Nazaire, in the Bay of Biscay, was supposed to be among the best-kept secrets of World War I. Why? Because that is where the first 14,000 American infantrymen were to land on June 26, 1917. German submarines had been wreaking havoc in the Atlantic Ocean, and loose lips could turn ships into easy targets.

Americans arrive at Saint Nazaire.

Someone forgot to tell the French that it was a secret, though. The Americans came ashore, albeit safely, to a loud and appreciative crowd of French citizens; and that became the United States’ entry into the Great War.

The inexperienced Doughboys weren’t ready for prime time, though, and spent several months training in France under General John J. Pershing. They didn’t see combat until October 21, 1917, when they went to the trenches near Nancy, France, and didn’t fire their first shot until October 23.

American troops line up prior to marching through town.

No matter. The Americans’ entry into the war became the turning point in a war that began in 1914. More than two million American soldiers joined the fighting by the time the armistice ended the war on November 11, 1918. More than 50,000 Americans died in the so-called “War to End All Wars.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: