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The Americans are coming...!

French children watch the advancing column of an American Ammunition Train
Picture made in Soulosse, France, springtime 1918.

By Rob Ruggenberg

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To the Front

US Colored Troops of the 92nd Division marching to the front in the Argonne-woods in France.
Almost 400,000 black American soldiers served in Europe - a fact that is stashed away in American history (of all the thousands of pictures in Leslie's Weekly for instance, not one showed a black American soldier).

Heading for the Argonne

An American tank colonne heading for the Argonne.
This area, where the 1st Army was to be deployed, was a difficult one. West of the unfordable river Meuse the landscape is hilly and the dense Argonne-woods were almost impenetrable.
The Americans were assigned to this mission only because the other allied armies were too exhausted to do the job. No other army was supposed to have the vitality and morale that was needed to attack the heavy German lines of defence that were built in these woods.

Supplies Follow

The Supply Train of the US 129th Infantry, 33rd Division, on the road at Bethincourt.
America entered the war on April 2, 1917, but it took the country a year to get an army ready to fight in Europe.


Soldiers of the US 318th Infantry, 80th Division, advancing through smoke screens. Picture made near Le NeFour, France, on October 27, 1918.
In the beginning the experienced Germans showed themselves military superior to the American newcomers. An US division commander estimated that his troops lost ten men for every eliminated German. In October the American offensive made progress and the soldiers finally became more or less equal to the opponent.


A bridgehead at Chateau Thierry. On the picture troops of the US 7th Machine Gun Battalion, 3rd Division.


Snipers from the US 42nd Division. Picture made at Badonville, on May 18, 1918.

In the salient

Soldiers from the US 167th Infantry, 42nd Division, have taken positions near St. Banoit in the St. Mihiel salient. Picture made on September 9, 1918.
St. Mihiel was the first victory of the American troops. There was little resistance from the Germans, because they started to back off as soon as the US attack began. There were only 7,000 casualties (dead and wounded together) and the Americans made 15,000 prisoners-of-war.
Some even called it 'the action wherein the Americans relieved the Germans'.


Tractor pulling a big gun to the frontline.

Turned over

An overturned American 155 mm howitzer.

In the Frontline

Yankee soldiers in the frontline, overlooking Nomansland.


American soldiers visiting a French café.


The US 167th Infantry engaged at Seringes in France.


American engineers clearing wire entanglements from a captured German position.


Dutch-American sergeant Louis M. van Iersel with his breast full of medals - including the Medal of Honor.
In the Great War 135 soldiers got the Medal of Honor, the highest American military award.
Louis van Iersel was an American immigrant. He was born in the Netherlands and still had the Dutch nationality.
About 360,000 immigrants served in the American army in Europe. According to recent research by there were between 1,000 and 2,500 Dutchmen among them.
Van Iersel got his Medal of Honor when he was sent out at night to ascertain the condition of a damaged bridge at Mouzon in France.
The official report states that he "volunteered to lead a party across the bridge in the face of heavy machinegun and rifle fire from a range of only 75 yards. Crawling alone along the debris of the ruined bridge he came upon a trap, which gave away and precipitated him into the water. In spite of the swift current he succeeded in swimming across the stream and found a lodging place among the timbers on the opposite bank. Disregarding the enemy fire, he made a careful investigation of the hostile position by which the bridge was defended and then returned to the other bank of the river, reporting this valuable information to the battalion commander."


Fatigued to the bone US soldiers from the 121st Machine Gun Battalion, 32nd Division, rest in a shell hole.

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