1. American Doughboys Suffered Thousands of Needless Casualties During the Last Hours of WWI
American military commanders’ aggressiveness is usually admirable, but that was not the case on the last day of WWI. The Armistice bringing the conflict to an end was signed at 5AM on November 11th, 1918, to take effect six hours later, at 11AM. However, American commanders, especially general John J. Pershing, who headed the American Expeditionary Force, were unhappy with the Armistice and its conditions. Pershing in particular thought that the terms were too soft, and he believed that the Germans should be severely defeated militarily, in order to “teach them a lesson“. So in the last few hours of the war, American commanders continued to launch their men against German trenches.
The result was thousands of needless casualties, both American and German, but mostly American, since they were the ones attacking heavily fortified positions. The US 89th Division, for example, was ordered to attack the German held town of Stenay on the morning of November 11th, and successfully took it – the last town forcibly captured on the Western Front. However, that achievement came at the cost of more than 300 American casualties. The American V Corps alone suffered over eleven hundred casualties in the war’s final hours, including over three hundred killed. All in all, over 3500 Americans became casualties on the war’s last day.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading