Foreign-Born Americans as WW One Soldiers

The ‘Great War’ aka World War One, had been going on for a few years before the United States entered in April 1917, sent troops against the Germans.

It is believed seeing the final outcome, the war would have probably ended in a German victory, or sputtered to a stalemate, leaving the Germans in possession of much of France, Belgium and Russia, if America had not entered. It was a final major Allied offensive against Germany at the Meuse-Argonne in France, beginning Sept 26, 1918 until Nov. 1918, which was a major victory by the Allies (including USA) against Germany.

Yet that victory offensive caused Americans some 122,000 casualties, including 29,000 dead. The American Expeditionary Force (along with 1-2 and 4-5 US Army), with 1.2 million American soldiers led by General John Perching, had many individuals who were Americans but foreign-born. Between 1870 and 1917 the United States had become a melting pot in time for the Great War: 11 percent British, 20 percent German, 30 percent Italian and Hispanic and 34 percent Slavic. The Germans referred and sneered at the American doughboys as “half-Americans.” One in three Americans in 1918 were either born abroad or of foreign-born parents, causing resentment of immigrants. So nearly a quarter of US draftees in 1918 were foreigners, often recent arrivals.

Check your family tree, a grandfather or great grandfather and see if he fit that percentage.

The end result of these ‘half-American’ immigrants were they fought as bravely and desperately as native-born Americans. The American cemeteries from World War One in France confirm this mixture with names on headstones such as Ottavio Fiscalini, Aleksandr Skazhkows, and Olaf Knutson.

Photos: Americans in the Great War; 1918-Gun crew from Regimental Headquarters Company, 23rd Infantry, firing 37mm gun during an advance against German entrenched positions; and Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France.

Related Blogs:

Prisoners during World War One

US Draft Registration

Ancestors in World War One

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.