Two Million U.S. Soldiers Served in France during World War I…

We are in the midst of commemorating World War I–100 years since the “War to End All Wars was fought.” On 13 March 2017, Smithsonian Channel presented “American Underground”–a secret city of World War I. This hidden site was found in Chemin des Dames, France.

Carvings on the walls in the quarries and art–names carved by soldiers who sought shelter and protection in these quarries: American, German, French.

“Yankee Division,” regiments from New England, served against 1/2 million Germans. This included Company I, Pasmaquaddy (with 9 American Indians who were not yet citizens of the United States–citizenship was not granted until 1924–largely encouraged by the role these men and others played in the War).

In one Limestone Cave, large enough to hold 2000-4000 men and their weaponry, the different armies took turns leaving a record for the rest of us. Casualties were high–3,000 wounded and killed Americans in 1918. 1,200 French troops were killed in German booby-traps.

Jeff Gusky, a doctor, artist, and journalist took photographs of the writings and art on the walls of the quarries. Some of the soldiers also kept diaries which are part of the archive collection at the Smithsonian.

The death toll of World War I was horrific–over 10 million casualties. 2.1 million Americans fought; 125,000 died of battle wounds and disease including the flu which ultimately filled American cemeteries with more than 500,000 dead. A whole generation of men gone as a preparation for World War II and major unrest throughout the world.

Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS Remember, genealogy is where you find records of the people important to you. Keep your eyes and ears at the ready as we learn together of recordings and writings that document evidence of the lives of our ancestors.


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