Category Archives: USA

Why some American Troops went to France Via Folkestone in the #FWW

At the end of January beginning of February 1918 a series of conferences and discussions were held with the Americans over the transport from America  and the training of six American divisions by the British.  To serve with the British Army. The letter is from the GHQ. AEF (General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force.)

 

G-3. GHQ. AEF: Fldr. 685: Letter
Transport of American Divisions
121/Transport/893 (S.R 1.) March 7. 1918.
Sir:
I am directed to refer to the question of the transportation and arrival in France of American divisions and other troops to be carried in British tonnage. You will be aware that the arrangements made at Versailles is as follows: (a) The British Government are to carry in British tonnage or in tonnage provided by Britain. 12.000 American troops per months destined for the American army direct. (b) The British Government are to carry in British tonnage or in tonnage provided by Britain the personnel of 6 divisions (American) totalling 150.000 men. to France. the infantry of which are for training with the British army. A provisional program of the shipping available has been drawn up. which shows that from march 15 to April 15. there should arrive on this side. vessels with a total carrying capacity of about 42.000 all ranks.

This means that there will be 12,000 men for the American army area, and about 30,000 Americans for the British army area arriving between these dates. This information has been communicated to the authorities in America who have been asked to inform us of the designations of the divisions, the units comprising them, and their order of despatch. As soon as these particulars are received, you will be informed accordingly. The principles being followed in shipment is that as far as possible the men both for (a) and (b) shall be taken direct to France. This is practicable at present only to a limited extent, but it is hoped to increase the numbers carried direct, month to month, Arrangements have been made for such vessels as can go direct to France, up to a total cany1ng capacity of 12,000 men per month, to take American troops for the American army area, and to discharge at Brest. During the period March 15 to April 15 referred to above, two vessels with a total canying capacity of about 3,000 men will be sent direct to Brest, the remainder of the vessels coming first to ports in the United Kingdom. The two vessels should arrive at Brest about the end of March, and as indicated above will cany troops destined to go direct to the American army. With regard to the onward despatch from England of the American troops which are brought first to this country, the numbers destined for the American army direct (in the period referred to above, say 9,000) will be sent as hitherto via Southampton-Le Havre. It is also proposed to use this route as far as possible for the 6 divisions destined for training with the British army, but it is possible that the limitations of this route may render it necessary to send some of these troops via Folkestone-Boulogne in order that their undue detention in England may be avoided. I am therefore to request that you will inform me whether you foresee any difficulty in this arrangement which would, as far as possible, be confined to those formations destined for attachment to the northern line. In this connection I am to ask that as soon as you receive the desIgnations of the formations comprising these 6 divisions you will communicate with this office as to the allocation of the various formations in order that this principle may be followed. A copy of this letter is being sent to Brigadier General C. M. Wagstaff, C. I. E., D. S. 0., R. E., British Mission attached American Expeditionary Force.
lam,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
The Field Marshal                                                                     SAM FAY.                                            Commanding-in-Chief,                                                             Director of Movements                    British Armies in France.

(Letter reproduced from Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War Volume 3 “Training and use of  American Units with the British and French”)

As can be scene from the letter, the intention was to use the Folkestone-Boulogne route as a temporary back up to the main movement of American troops through the United Kingdom. With the eventual aim of moving all American troops directly to France from the continental United States.

In the event the following four units are known to have been transported to France via Folkestone, after March 1st 1918, under this arrangement: (1)

The 117th Infantry, part of 30th division U.S. Army.

120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.(2)

311th US Infantry.  (78th Division?)

312th US Infantry. (78th Division?)

Were the French happy with this too? It appears not. The French could not understand why the Americans seemed to be so eager to help the British. At the time.  The American special relationship was with the French not the British. This was vocalised by Colonel Charles Stanton the year before,  “Lafayette, nous voilà”. Petain said on the 28th April 1918, Recorded in a letter sent by Major Paul Clark, AEF. to the Commander in Chief, AEF from the French General Headquarters, Sarcus, Oise.
“With regard to the first if General Pershing or the American Government see fit to send those six divisions to the British Army. it is not my affair. There is no doubt but that those divisions will contribute to the general need of the Allies. As for the second question General Pershing has believed stories that are not true. I know what I am talking about. The British should have a million more men in France now than they have. Why did Gen. Robertson resign? Because his government would not send over the 500.000 men asked for by Gen. Haig and Gen. Haig would have resigned at the same time if he had known …,  … Look at the map. Here is the French front (indicating). here is the British front (indicating). the British have 48.000.000 people in England. Scotland. Wales and Ireland. and the French have 39.000.000 in France. and think of all the British colonies. and yet France can put 1.000.000 more men on the front than Britain. Why? Because we make more effort. because in England a man is excused from service upon slight cause. whereas in France he is not excused for slight cause. ”

“If they are not soldiers they ought to be. The men are there. but Lloyd George and the others are afraid to act. Ask Gen. Pershing if he does not recall the day at the Supreme War Council when Gen. Foch made a comparative statement of the effort made by the two countries. It was illuminating. even Mr. Lloyd George said it was convincing. No “Jamais. jamais. jamais” (with emphasis) England has not made the effort that France has made. She has produced only about 1/2 of the soldiers that France has produced. though she has 10.000.000 more population and her colonies to draw from.
The General spoke with emphasis. even feeling. and while perfectly polite gave the impression of one who is profoundly sure of what he said. He looked in perfect physical and mental condition. I plan to come to Chaumont tomorrow a. m.
PAUL H. ClARK. Major.

By the Armistice nine American Divisions had been trained either entirely or in part by the British, these were

4th, 27th, 28th, 30th, 33rd, 35th, 77th, 78th. and the  80th.

Three American Divisions served operationally in British Armies, these were the:

27th Division which served in the Second, and in the last few weeks of the war, Fourth Army.

30th Division with Second and Fourth Armies

33rd Division with Fourth Army.

 

(1) Information about other units welcome.

(2) The 120th went into the line on the night of the 17thth-18th August.

Advertisements

#Folkestone, 3rd North Carolina’s and the Chinese Labour Corps

Late May, or early June 1918 the HMT Bohemia arrived at Liverpool with soldiers from the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army, on board. From Liverpool the headed down to a waiting cross channel packet steamer at Folkestone. From there to Calais. The 3rd were initially billeted at a British Rest Camp just outside of Calais. Here they came into contact for the first time with the CLC (Chinese Labour Corps). All the American equipment the men had carried with them from America was handed over for salvage. Salvage was carried out by the CLC inside of a warehouse. Page 9 of the “History of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.” records the men were given an order  “Requesting American soldiers to refrain from shooting Chinamen”. Prior to the arrival of the 3rd Carolina’s it seems American sentries had shot at the Chinese for reasons the 3rd’s history does not divulge.

After the 30th US Division had completed their training the 3rd were ready to go into action. On the night of the 17-18th August the 30th took over from the British 33rd Division out side of Ypres. Roughly from Zillebeke Lake to near Voormezelle. The 1st Battalion were sent to “Belgian Battery Corner” On the night of the 22nd-23rd August the 3rd Carolina’s took over from the 1st Battalion. At last they were at the front. Shortly after their arrival, page 16 of their history states the 3rd captured the 30th Division’s first prisoner of war. A member of the CLC. His English was limited to “Yes” and “Calais” so the history does not record why he was there. The Carolina’s sent him back to the rear along with a note which read, “Here is a Chinaman captured near post 5. He is either on leave or A.W.O.L. In either case he picked a damn bad place to spend it.” the note was signed by the 3rd’s commander.

No other incidents or meetings with the CLC are recorded in the “120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, U.S. Army.” published history.

Brandhoek Mil. Cem. No3’s Dark Secret #FWW #WWI #WW1

Guides love to tell stories. Stories about the battles places and the soldiers, especially the soldiers. The punchline is in more than a few cases is, “… and here he is.”

So this is where we are, plot II row N, grave number 1. and the story is about Frank J Clute. You can tell I didn’t go to guiding school. Frank was executed. He was killed by a shot from a revolver to the back of the head. His body was then thrown into a ditch. Frank though wasn’t killed in Belgium, not in France, or anywhere on the Western Front. Frank didn’t die in the war. He was killed in 1913 thousands of miles away.No one goes to Brandhoek Military Cemetery Number 3 to visit his grave. Not even me, so why are we here? This is why,  the motive for Frank’s execution on the 1st April 1913 outside Watervliet, New York state, is thought to be robbery.  He was a chauffeur and on the night he was killed his passenger is thought to have robbed him at gunpoint then shot him. He may have been shot first, it doesn’t really matter. A young man was arrested the son of a millionaire.The evidence against the young man, witnesses who met him after the killing say he had muddy shoes, dishevelled clothes and had lost his gloves. A pair of gloves very like the ones owned by the young man were found at the scene of the crime. Some of Frank’s belongings were found at the young man’s lodgings. The weapon used was pawned by someone with the same name as the young man and an identical signature. Then if you were wealthy in the USA you could stack a jury. That is exactly what the young man’s parents did. The trial was declared a mistrial and thrown out. There was a retrial this time the defence had found witnesses who gave the young man an alibi again the trail was declared a mistrial and thrown out. The prosecution believed the young man was guilty. No one else was ever tried for the crime.With the modern techniques of DNA testing and modern forensics, not being available at the time, the young man remains an alleged murderer.   The young man spent a few more years at college. In February 1917 he along with others attested in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in Montreal Canada. After basic training in Canada and Shorncliffe, he crossed to France, quite possibly from Folkestone. The timings on his service papers indicate that this was the likely route taken. He refused to make a will why is not known.  He was killed in action at Passchendaele,(3rd Ypres).His name is Gunner 1251785 Malcolm Gifford, KIA 8th November 1917, age 21, 8th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He was the son of Malcolm and Marion Wells Gifford, of 345, Allen St., Hudson, New York. Enlisted at Montreal, 7th February 1917. His parents remained as parents do immensely proud of their son and themselves. The inscription on his headstone reads, “Son of Malcolm & Marion Gifford of Hudson, New York, USA.(1)

And here he is, Plot II, row N, grave number 1. Brandhoek Military Cemetary No3.

1)Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Sources and references

CWGC

Malcolm Gifford’s Service Record

Atlanta Constitution, 3rd may 1914. Washington Post, 20th April and 2nd July on Fold3 website.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/justice-story/justice-story-slain-chauffeur-article-1.1327376

 

 

TheWar the USA Forgot? #FWW, #WW1

From April 1917 to April 1919 the war cost the US taxpayer over $1,000,000 an hour.

From 4th August 1914 to 30th April 1919 The war cost the British Empire $38 billion (nearly 5 years)

In just two years April 1917 to April 1919, the US spent $22 billion on the war.

 

Although American forces did take part in the Cambrai battles they were few in number and mainly medical and engineering units. The American War was the campaigns in 1918.

29 US divisions were engaged in combat, with 1,390,000 men on the front line.

From the German Offensives 21st March to 18th July

On the Somme 21st March to 6th April,                      2,200 Americans engaged

Lys 9th April to 27th April                                                500

Asine 27th May to 5th June                                           27,500

Noyon-Montdidier  9th June to 15th June                  27,000

Champagne-Marne   15th July to  18th July                85,000

Allied Offensives 18th July to 11th November

Aisne-Marne    18th July to 6th August                          270,000 Americans engaged

Somme 8th August to 11 November                                 54,000

Oise-Aisne   18th August to 11th November                 85,000

Ypres-Lys     19th August  to 11th November                 108,000

St Mihiel   20 September to 11th November                  550,000

Meuse-Argonne September 20th to 11th November    1,200,000

In Italy

Vittorio-Veneto 24th October 4th November                  1,200

In the Battle of St Mihiel, 550,000 US soldiers were engaged, 5.5 times as many as fought for the Union at Gettysburg. American Artillery fired a million shells in four hours.

In the  47 days of battle during the Meuse-Argonne campaign, 4,214,000 rounds of Artillery ammunition were fired by American guns. 150 towns and villages were liberated, 10% of American troops became casualties (120,000men)

On the 11th November 1918 1,718,000, British and Portuguese troops were on the ration. The American forces on the ration strength numbered 1,950,000.

The British held 18% of the Frontline, the US,21%

With the Peace to end Peace in 1919, As W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman would say in 1066 and all that, “ America was thus clearly top nation and History came to a.

With the Yanks at Cambrai 1917

On the 8th August 1917, a train pulled into the Harbour Station on the Mole in Folkestone. The soldiers on board detrained and embarked on one of the small ships waiting to take them to France. They were an American unit, the 11th Engineers Regiment (Railway).(1) Two men from the Regiment Sergeant Matthew Calderwood and Private William Branigan, became the first American Army Casualties on the Western Front when they were wounded by shellfire on the 5th September 1917. Also on the train and an officer in the regiment was Lieutenant Paul McLoud.

The regiment was on there way to help maintain, repair and expand the railway system prior to the Battle of Cambrai. The railway was used to bring the tanks forward to the assembly points prior to the attack. On the arrival of the tanks at the railhead the 11th Engineers  helped to assemble them. (2)

On the 3oth November 1917 the 11th were working on the railway line between Villers (Plouich) and Epethy when the Germans broke through. Retreating back to their camp to collect their weapons, a group of men from the 11th under the command of Lt Mcloud fought a fighting retreat and rear guard action near Gouzeaucourt.  For his part in the action Lt Paul Mcloud is awarded the American, Distinguished Service Cross. His citation reads:

Awarded for actions during the World War I

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to First Lieutenant (Corps of Engineers) Paul McLoud, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 11th Railway Engineers, A.E.F., at Gouzeaucourt, France, November, 30, 1917, in remaining under shell fire until the escape of his men, who had been caught unarmed by the German attack, was assured. First Lieutenant McLoud then assisted in leading troops to the trenches, directing the procurement and distribution of ammunition, and displaying coolness, and judgment while continually under fire.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 129 (1918)

Action Date: 30-Nov-17

Service: Army

Rank: First Lieutenant

Regiment: 11th Railway Engineers

Division: American Expeditionary Forces (3)

Paul was also awarded the Military Cross from the British for his bravery on the 30th November. Unable to find his citation, but came across this;

paul mcloud(4) Clearly shows Paul Mcloud’s awards.

REFERENCES

  1. Jones, Raymond W, WW1 Officer Experience Reports AEF
  2. http://www.webmatters.net/france/ww1_cambrai_us.htm
  3. http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=13549
  4. The original source for this image was http://www.archives.nysed.gov/. This copy from Fold3. Image url: https://www.fold3.com/image/591030625
    Publication Title: New York, Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919
    Content Source: New York State Archives

“Lafayette, We Are Here” USA enters #WW1

Well almost, at least on their way, but they were”Here” already.   When Stanton utter those words on 4th July 1917 at Lafayette’s tomb, it was more than telling the French that the America Army had arrived it was confirming the American Special relationship was in 1917 with France,  not the UK.

Americans were already involved in the war.They had been since 4th August 1914. James Gerard was saving British lives before the British Army landed in France. Americans had also been serving and dying in the armed forces of Britain and France in increasing numbers in places as far away as Singapore, as well as on the Western Front. Pete Seeger’s uncle Alan Seeger had been killed on the Somme.

But from the 6th April 1917, they were officially in it for the duration. American troops served in Italy, Russia, during the advance into Germany as well as on theWestern Front. 24,234,021 men were registered for the draft. 4,800,000 men served in the US armed forces. 367,864 were New Yorkers. 4,00,00 in just the army. 1,390,000 fought in France. 1,200,000 in the Meuse Argonne battle.  Out of a total of 112,422 deaths in the army 50,00 were battle deaths. Surprisingly more American soldiers died from the disease (56,00) than were killed in action.  Although up to 11 November 1918 more Americans had been killed in Battle. The war cost the American Taxpayer more than a million dollars an hour.

Both the British and the French sent over specialist instructors to help train the US army. In the list of 261 French Specialist Instructors, only one was an Artillery Specialist. 59 were gas and another 38 were machine gun specialists.

In Defence of the Empire, Americans Volunteer #FWW

On the 6th April 1917, America declares war against Germany.  Two years earlier in May 1915, Americans volunteered to help defend a small corner of the British Empire as long as they could serve “…without prejudice to our allegiance to the United States of America.” This small group of Americans had already served as Armed Civilians, one was almost court-martialed for falling asleep but the British Officer in command thought better of it. These armed American civilians were also Methodist 5 of them clergymen. There was another proviso which reflected this.”…Mr Oechali has a public service to conduct every Tuesday from 5.30 to 6.15. The authorities will, we anticipate, give due consideration to this fact…”

So where was this? Who were these Americans? How do we know?

The places is the Settlement of Singapore.  The Americans were:

William T Cherry, Superintendent Methodist Publishing House.

Earl Hibbard, Principle, Oldham Hall.

Osbourne E Hooley Teacher Anglo-Chinese school, Oldham Hall.

Harry H Mansell, Mission Treasurer,

J Stewart Nagle, Principal Anglo-Chinese School

Leonard Oechali, Paster Wesley Church

and George E McComb, Teacher Anglo-Chinese School

The quoted pieces and the names are from a letter to the Editor of The Straits Times published by the Straits Times on the 10th May 1915.

All the men named had served as Armed Civilians helping to suppress Singapore Mutiny.