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World War I

  • "Americans Underground: Secret City of World War I"

    Americans Underground: Secret City of World War I

    Click here for video clips and current showtimes.

    An amazing discovery has been made beneath a farm field in Northern France: a vast underground city where World War I soldiers, on both sides of the conflict, took refuge a century ago. Even more remarkable, it is one of hundreds of buried havens set up close to a 45-mile stretch of the Western Front. Follow American photographer Jeff Gusky and a team of historians as they document one of these long forgotten shelters, and witness their attempts to connect the names of the American soldiers etched into the limestone walls to their living descendants.

    Maine soldiers from the 103rd Infantry Regiment in the 26th "Yankee" Division are featured in this film. It was made with assistance from Maine historian Jonathan Bratten, the Maine Army National Guard, Passamaquoddy historian Donald Soctomah, the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services, and the Maine Military Historical Society.

  • "It Aimed to Make the World 'Safe for Democracy:' World War I and Its Aftermath"

    It Aimed to Make the World 'Safe for Democracy:' World War I and Its Aftermath

    February 7, 2017

    "The world must be made safe for democracy."  With those words, President Woodrow Wilson committed Maine, and the rest of the country, to fight in World War I.  It was April 2, 1917.   To mark the coming centennial, the Maine Historical Society opens a new exhibit in Portland today. To read the full article from Maine Public's interview with curator Jamie Rice, click here.

  • Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI

    Americans Underground, Secret City of WWI


    A documentary airing on the Smithsonian Channel on an “underground city” found beneath a French wheat field that served as refuge for American soldiers during World War I.  They carved names and inscriptions and artwork in the limestone walls of the caves.  The documentary includes an interview with Dr. John Morrow, history professor at the University of Georgia and a member of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission.  Atlantan Jonathan Wickham, who has collaborated with the GWWICC on potential video projects, is a co-producer.  Initially scheduled air times on the Smithsonian Channel are:

    Monday, March 13, 8 p.m.
    Friday, March 17, 10 p.m.
    Saturday, March 18, 1 a.m.
    Sunday, March 19, 1 p.m.

    Check the Smithsonian Channel schedule guide for potential future airings.

    Details at


  • Honoring WWI Soldiers in Anne Arundel County

    Tina at St. Annes Cem

    Honoring WWI Soldiers in Anne Arundel County

    For the past 20 plus years Tina Simmons has been researching Anne Arundel County cemeteries and their occupants for the Anne Arundel Genealogical Society. She is trying to keep track of the WWI soldiers buried in those cemeteries, recording their military service. She currently has information on 221 individuals buried within Anne Arundel County. As a disclaimer, although she also has information on individuals at the Annapolis National Cemetery, none are currently listed as World War I veterans although she believes that there are some. At the United States Naval Academy cemetery, there are 52 individuals listed as World War I veterans who she is currently adding to her database.

  • Maine WWI Centennial Home

    Maine WWI Centennial Home

    Why remember World War I?

    That is the question that we will work to answer during the centennial of Maine's involvement in the American war effort. This page is dedicated to providing stories, events, and news related to Maine in World War I.

    26 division 13rd Battalion, 103rd Infantry in the assault on Torcy, July 18, 1918 (U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo)In 1917, the unthinkable happened: the United States joined the hell that was the Great War. No one knew what the future would hold after the Declaration of War was signed on April 6, but all somehow sensed that things had changed. The hand of war gripped Maine immediately, as the state's National Guard was called up in the days after war was declared, the coast was fortified, and industry shifted from peace to war. More than 32,000 Mainers served in uniform during the war, out of a population of 777,000 in 1917. Over one thousand of those who served would not return to Maine alive. From the Home Front to the Western Front, Mainers made their presence known through their vitality, can-do attitude, and Yankee ingenuity. At the same time, the war left its mark on Maine. In just two quick years, World War I spun the state into a frenzy of activity and propelled the United States to the forefront of the world stage. 

    On April 3, 1917, the Lewiston Evening Journal carried the ominous headline "United States at War with German Empire." Below it was Governor Milliken's war message. Three days later, Congress officially declared war on Germany. On April 12, a telegram arrived to the Military Department at Camp Keyes in Augusta: “I am, in consequence,” read the telegram from Secretary of War Baker, “instructed by the President to call into the service of the United States forthwith, through you, the following units of the National Guard of the State of Maine: the Second Regiment Maine Infantry.”

    The Second Maine was the largest National Guard organization in the state, with companies ranging from Dexter to Augusta, and from Houlton to Eastport. These companies assembled at their hometown armories and began recruiting drives immediately. As they had done in the Civil War, brothers, uncles, fathers, and sons joined up in the same unit to serve alongside each other. 

    As the Second Maine was mobilizing and conducting guard duty at various sites around Maine, other units were being formed. The call to arms was met with a flood of enlistees.  A regiment of heavy artillery was raised, nicknamed "The Milliken Regiment" in honor of the governor, Carl Milliken. Its headquarters was in Brunswick for some time, at Camp Chamberlain on the grounds of Bowdoin College. Chauffeurs and truck drivers formed the 303rd Motor Truck Company. Railway workers from the Maine Central formed the nucleus of Company C, 14th Engineer Regiment (railway). Mainers joined the Navy in great numbers as well. 


    Women went to work in the factories, many for the first time. They made munitions at the Portland Company or shoes, coats, or blankets at the textile mills in western Maine. Maine industry became centered on the war effort. Even potatoes from Aroostook County were being sent to the front. Communities held war bond and Liberty Loan drives, raising more than one hundred million dollars over the course of the war. 


    In the summer of 1917, New England began organizing the first National Guard division. Called the 26th Division - later nicknamed the "Yankee Division" - it contained troops from the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. In August of 1917, the division assembled in Massachusetts. The Second Maine was redesignated as the 103rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, taking on about 1,500 men from the 1st New Hampshire and 400 men from the 1st Vermont. Battery C of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment, from Lewiston, lost its big guns and was issued mortars, becoming the 101st Trench Mortar Battery. Hundreds of men from the Maine Coast Artillery were transferred into the 101st Engineer Regiment and 103rd Field Artillery Regiment to fill the vacancies there so that the division could leave for France.

    And thus it was that in the fall of 1917, the 26th Division - with its thousands of Maine men along with it - slipped away in the night and boarded transports headed for France. Beginning in February of 1918, the Yankee Division would enter the front lines and - with the exception of two weeks in August - would remain in combat sectors until the Armistice on November 11. These men - and the thousands of Mainers serving in other units across the Western Front - endured some of the harshest fighting of the war. Despite artillery bombardment, poison gas barrages, machine gun and sniper fire, the influenza, and the ever-present mud, Maine's service members pushed on to ultimate victory.


    When it was all over, Maine's Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines came back home and returned to their lives. Three who served - William Tudor Gardiner, Sumner Sewall, and Owen Brewster - would become Maine governors. Other veterans became active leaders in the legislature or in community politics. Many returned to industry or their farms. Some came home with physical or mental wounds. Most would never forget - for good or ill - what they had witnessed in the Great War. And all fell under the shadow of the war that followed - World War II - and faded into memory. Which is why we must remember them.

    Proclamation from Governor Paul R. LePage

    Proclamation of Maine Observance of the Centennial of World War I

  • Never-before published photos show the U.S. entry into World War I

    Never-before published photos show the U.S. entry into World War I

    By Jonathan Bratten and Thomas Gibbons-Neff for the Washington Post

    24. Americas First Expeditionary Force 16th Regiment U.S. regulars marching thru La Place de la Concorde on July 4 1917

    Thursday marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I. On April 6, 1917, Congress authorized then-President Woodrow Wilson’s declaration of war on Germany. The sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania in 1915, coupled with attacks on U.S. merchant ships and the Zimmerman Telegram in January, convinced a large swath of the American public that war was in the country’s interest.

    Before official military involvement in World War I, Americans had contributed to the Allied war effort with participation in the American Field Service, which consisted of ambulance drivers and medical personnel. With the United States’ official entrance into the war, the American Field Service expanded its efforts, recruiting thousands more to serve overseas.

    The first American combat troops arrived in France in June 1917. These soldiers were with the 1st U.S. Infantry Division and were accompanied by service members of the American Field Service. Once in France, the ambulance drivers and medical personnel were divided up into Section Sanitaire États-Unis, or S.S.U. for short. One of these men was an unnamed ambulance driver with S.S.U. 642 who took pictures of his experiences on the Western Front.

    After the war, his photo scrapbook made its way to Maine, where it ended up with the papers and collections of Albert Greenlaw, an officer in the Maine National Guard and a World War I veteran himself. The scrapbook found its way into the Maine Military Historical Society’s museum in Augusta, Maine. These never-before seen photos provide a snapshot into the remarkable life of ambulance drivers in World War I.

    Read the full article here.

  • New exhibit to showcase Maine woman’s World War I experiences as a ‘Y’ Girl

    New exhibit to showcase Maine woman’s World War I experiences as a ‘Y’ Girl

    Memorabilia from Faith Hinckley's nine months overseas aiding American soldiers will be a featured display at Fairfield's L.C. Bates Museum.


    Faith Hinckley held vigil over the wounded soldier who asked only that she hold his hand tightly until the end.

    They were in a pup tent within a military camp housing 20,000 soldiers near St. Nazaire, France. It was the summer of 1918.

    Hinckley, serving as an international volunteer during World War I, told the soldier she would write a letter home for him. The soldier told her he had no one at home, not a single relative who would remember him.

    She told the dying soldier, whom she knew only as Bill, that he could dictate a letter to her own mother, Harriet, back home in Fairfield, Maine, and that Harriet could be his “borrowed mother.” He dictated two pages of his thoughts and wishes for prayers, picturing his own home as he took his final breath.

    Read the full story here.

  • New short story features a Maine Guardsman in WW1

    New short story features a Maine Guardsman in WW1

    A new short story released in the journal "The Strategy Bridge" is from the perspective of a Maine National Guardsman of the 103rd Infantry Regiment in the Aisne-Marne Offensive.


    "Death. He saw it everywhere. It was hard not to see. The fragments of what once had been beautiful groves of trees and verdant wheat fields were scattered everywhere, mixed in with what surely must have once been men.

    But at this point he couldn’t tell.

    The night before, he had dreamt about back home. It was pure, pleasant torture, a dream like that. He was back on his family’s farm, tilling the ground. Cursing at the ever-present rocks that seemed to get gleefully in the way of the blade. Maine grew rocks. And if you could convince it to stop growing rocks, you could grow other things.

    Like wheat."

    Find the rest of this story in its entirety, here.

  • The Great War – Prohibition becomes Patriotism

    The Great War – Prohibition becomes Patriotism

    How could the Elks Lodge members’ traditional 11 o’clock toast to departed members become unpatriotic? 

    This Way Out2After decades of advocacy, prohibitionists found in World War I food conservation programs an unstoppable vehicle to make prohibition of alcohol patriotic. Even before America declared war, programs saving food aimed to feed starving European refugees. Making alcohol used starch (potatoes, grain, corn) that could feed troops or hungry allies. Drinking alcohol was transformed into an unpatriotic act. Elks Lodge 616 would be square in the debate, and eventually labeled unpatriotic.

    Both Hawaii’s branch of the national Anti-Saloon League and Elks Lodge 616 were founded in 1901. By World War I, the Anti-Saloon League was well organized and part of the ‘establishment.’  The press supported prohibition, even if their readers didn’t. Nippu Jiji editor Yatsutaro Soga supported prohibition and nearly lost his job. Advertiser headlines (“Grain much too precious to waste in intoxicants”) reminded readers liquor was now unpatriotic. “Sake not distilled wants exemption” was neutral, but “Liquor Men squealing” showed Advertiser leanings.  

  • The State of Maryland in World War 1

    poppyMaryland and World War I

    Over 62,000 Marylanders served in WWI, nearly 2,000 of whom lost their lives. During the war, Fort McHenry became the site of U.S. Army General Hospital No.2 while military installations such as Fort George G. Meade and Aberdeen Proving Grounds were created. Private Henry G. Costin and Ensign Charles Hammann received the Medal of Honor.

    Returning Maryland Veterans made important contributions. House of Delegates member Millard E. Tydings became a Lt. Colonel in the Army and later represented Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. SGT James Glenn Beall of the Army Ordnance Corps later served in the State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. These were just two distinguished veterans among the thousands that returned to Maryland.


  • The State of Maryland in World War 1 (full article)

    poppyMaryland and World War I

    Over 62,000 Marylanders served in WWI, nearly 2,000 of whom lost their lives. During the war, Fort McHenry became the site of U.S. Army General Hospital No.2 while military installations such as Fort George G. Meade and Aberdeen Proving Grounds were created. Private Henry G. Costin and Ensign Charles Hammann received the Medal of Honor.

    Returning Maryland Veterans made important contributions. House of Delegates member Millard E. Tydings became a Lt. Colonel in the Army and later represented Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. SGT James Glenn Beall of the Army Ordnance Corps later served in the State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. These were just two distinguished veterans among the thousands that returned to Maryland.

    America’s declaration of war against Germany in April 1917 found the nation unprepared for the multitude of tasks that had to be performed before an American Army could contribute in any meaningful way to an international land war on the scale of the fighting in Europe. The U.S. industrial base had barely begun to shift to a war footing, mostly as a result of business contracts to support the war requirements of England and France. As a result, U.S. combat forces were largely reliant on French and English military equipment, much of which was unavailable for training purposes—much less combat—until the American units reached France.

    It was not the habit of the United States to maintain a large standing army. Instead, the U.S. maintained a small army reinforced in time of emergency by federalizing National Guard units from the various states. Additional manpower could be raised through the draft. However, National Guard readiness for mobilization varied widely and units would have to be pulled together to undergo training and equipping before sailing to France. New inductees, either through the draft or volunteering, would require significantly more training before their readiness to participate in the collective tasks of combat or support units. Training camps to manage the influx of millions of young men were established throughout the U.S., including Camp Meade, southeast of Baltimore (now Fort Meade), and Aberdeen Proving Ground north of Baltimore.

    The first U.S. infantry division did not enter combat until April 1918. Others soon followed, but most U.S. divisions deployed to France during the spring and summer months of 1918, arriving only in time for the final offensives in September through the end of the fighting on November 11, 1918.

    Building these divisions, of approximately 20,000 men each, began when the government federalized the state national guards, including the Maryland National Guard, on August 5, 1917. Just under 6,900 Maryland national guardsmen mobilized and deployed to Camp McClellan, Alabama, where they became part of the 29th Division.

    In addition to the national guard, the U.S. implemented the Selective Service—the draft. Maryland eventually provided more than 34,000 inductees through this program, the first of whom were sent to Camp Meade on September 26, 1917. Marylanders inducted through this program constituted a large part of the 79th Division. However, the demand for trained soldiers, especially officers and non-commissioned officers, throughout the AEF was so severe that the 79th—and other divisions still in the U.S.—were constantly losing those who had recently undergone training to fill the gaps in divisions either in France, or deploying sooner.

    Men and women from Maryland served throughout the military, including the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Maryland was especially noted for its contribution of medical officers to high positions in the American Expeditionary Forces.

    The 29th Division was known as the ‘Blue and Gray’ Division because its combat regiments came from both northern and southern states. Maryland contributed the 115th Infantry Regiment, and the 110th Artillery Regiment. Together with the 116th Infantry Regiment from Virginia, this constituted the 58th Infantry Brigade—the Gray part of the division. New Jersey provided two infantry regiments that formed the 57th Infantry Brigade—the Blue part. After forming at Camp McClellan, the division finally deployed to France in June 1918. After training in quiet sectors of the front, the 29th Division fought in the final major battle of the war--Meuse-Argonne Offensive that began in October 1918. In its 21 days of combat, the division suffered more than 30% killed or wounded.

    The 29th Division returned to the U.S. in May, 1919, demobilizing at Camp Dix, New Jersey at the end of that month. The 29th remains a National Guard today, and includes units of the Maryland National Guard.

    The 79th Division was one of the new national army divisions. It followed a path similar to that of the 29th, though its ranks were filled with the new inductees rather than national Guardsmen. It was formed in August 1917, sailed to France in July 1918, and fought with the American Expeditionary Force in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. As a result of its service in France, the division was nicknamed ‘The Cross of Lorraine Division.’ Like the 29th Division, the 79th suffered about 30% killed and wounded during the offensive. It returned to the U.S. and demobilized in June, 1919.

    More than 11,000 African Americans from Maryland also served in the US military in World War I. The military at that time was largely segregated and, to a large extent, African Americans served in non-combat logistics roles in the rear areas. While unglamorous, the functions they performed were critical to military success, and literally kept the wheels of the American Expeditionary Force turning. African Americans helped move supplies from French seaports to warehouses, along railroad tracks they laid or maintained, and then distributed the supplies to forward areas to the combat units.

    Others served in combat units, including the 92nd and 93rd Infantry Divisions, formed with African Americans from every state. Included among these were soldiers of the Maryland National Guard’s 1st Separate Company. After being mustered into active service with other National Guard units in July 1917, this unit became part Company I of the 372nd Infantry Regiment in the 93rd Division. Regiments from the 93rd Division were assigned to French divisions, trained with and used French equipment, and fought gallantly during several major battles of 1918. As a result of their service during the Second Battle of the Marne, the division was nicknamed the ‘Blue Helmets’ and wore a patch with the familiar blue helmet of the French ‘poilu.’ The 372nd Infantry were assigned to the French 157th ‘Red Hand’ Division. The 92nd Division was wore a patch with a buffalo, in honor of African American cavalry units on our western frontier who were called ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ by Native Americans.

    Maryland also contributed its share to the naval forces, supporting the regular navy and Marines as well as the Naval Reserve and Coast Guard with nearly 11,000 servicemen, including more than 500 African Americans. In July, 1917, the U.S. navy also took over a small maritime organization belonging to Maryland’s State Conservation Commission. The ‘Oyster Navy,’ as it was called, was redesignated as Squadron 8, Fifth Naval District. With about 100 men and 19 small craft, it patrolled Maryland waters until early December 1918, after the war ended. The city of Baltimore also became a navy center for a variety of activities, including recruiting, naval intelligence, and securing the region’s waterways.

  • Why We Fought: American WWI Posters and the Art of Persuasion

    Why We Fought: American WWI Posters and the Art of Persuasion

    August 28 – December 8
    AREA Gallery, Woodbury Campus Center, Portland campus

    Thirteen World War I posters provide a diverse historical context for the many ways in which graphic propaganda was used by the U.S. government and various community groups to bolster support for an unpopular war and convince Americans to do their part to ensure an Allied victory. Rotating displays of USM student responses provide a wide range of contemporary perspectives. The posters are a recent gift to USM Special Collections by retired Tufts history professor Howard Solomon. Co-organized by USM Special Collections and USM Art Galleries.

    All exhibitions and events hosted by the USM Art Department and Gallery are free and open to the public. To learn more about 2017 exhibitions and programs, visit