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The Stars and Stripes

In the Trenches

The first American troops landed in Europe in June 1917. At first, American troops played a supporting role, with French and British forces taking the lead. Throughout the spring and summer of 1918, however, the American role in the fighting grew. By the fall, U.S. General Pershing was commanding a combined force of 1 million U.S. and French troops.

Shortly after the armistice, General Pershing submitted a report to Secretary of War Baker. The report is presented in two installments in The Stars and Stripes issues of December 20 and December 27. Working with several other students, locate these articles and assign sections of the articles to pairs of students. Each pair of students should read their section and look for additional articles about the events described in their segment of the report. Once pairs have compiled as much information as possible about the events covered in their section of General Pershing's report, they should create a plan for a museum exhibit on "In the Trenches in World War I." Image: drawing from page 4 of the May 31,1918 issue Caption: "Getting Hotter All the Time." What event of the war is referenced in this cartoon? What does the cartoon suggest about the outcome?

One soldier described his experience of war in "One Man and a Battle 60 Miles Long." In the moments before mounting an attack:

"All along our platoon you could hear the bunch chuckling and whispering and getting set — and some of them were singing ever so softly. I remember hearing 'Fair Harvard.' Yes, and 'Old Nassau.' And a lieutenant was humming 'My Little Girl.'"

From "One Man and a Battle 60 Miles Long," The Stars and Stripes, July 26, 1918, page 3, columns1-5

Read "One Man and a Battle 60 Miles Long" and consider the following questions:

  • What hardships did the soldiers involved in this battle face?
  • How did the sergeant convey the emotions experienced by the soldiers? The experience of the battle?
  • How do you think reading this article affected soldiers waiting to go into battle?

The September 13, 1918, issue included a front-page article reporting on the treatment of personnel exposed to mustard gas. "Hot baths are being sent into the shell-fire zone on motor trucks to help doughboys who have been burned by mustard gas." The article reassured soldiers who were wearing gas masks that burns on unprotected parts of their bodies could be checked by immediate hot baths.

  • Considering that one of the purposes of The Stars and Stripes was to help build morale, why do you suppose the paper printed articles on the use of poison gas?