Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source8
A film showing US soldiers in a camp in France, 1918
(ITN Archive/Pathé: 1880-56)
  • US troops fought alongside British empire and French forces in the latter stages of the war.
  • French forces were the mainstay of the allied armies for the first two years of the war, before Britain's large volunteer armies could be readied for action.
  • The USA entered the war in April 1917 as a result of the German policy of submarine warfare, which resulted in many American ships being sunk and many Americans killed.
  • When the war began, the US army was very small. Around 4 million men were ultimately conscripted into the armed forces.
  • By July 1918, there were over a million American soldiers in France. They first saw action in the 3rd Battle of the Aisne in May and at the Marne in June. US troops also took part in the Allied attacks at Le Hamel and Canal du Nord.
  • More than 2 million troops eventually reached Europe, though a large number arrived too late to see any action. The American Expeditionary Force suffered 264,000 casualties during the war.
  • About 200,000 black Americans served in the US Army in Europe. Only about 42,000 were classified as combat troops. They fought with the French Army during the war as they were completely separated from 'white' American troops.
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