At the end of World War I in France, the doughboys (Allied Expeditionary Forces or AEF) had defeated the Germans and the “world was safe again.”  An issue of the Stars & Stripes, By and For the Soldiers of the AEF, dated Nov. 29, 1918, came into our hands. Soon after the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, the Stars & Stripes issued Vol. 1, #23 in celebration. First a notice to subscribers: “All subscribers will be honored unless a refund is requested; OR any refund may be turned over to the War Orphan Fund.”  More on that later. 

There were many headlines.  According to a Signal Corps telegraph, “Five Yank battleships took part in the surrender of the German Navy in the North Sea on Nov. 21.”  “Father’s Day letter was speeding to ports” — postage employees were looking for the biggest mail in the history of the AEF — a Christmas letter on which men could write “Father’s Christmas letter” that back home meant their sons were coming home.  No accurate estimate could be determined on these letters but the postal service “was grunting and sweating under the heaviest aggravation of mail sacks since Mother’s Day.”

First divisions of combat troops, the 76th, 27th, and 30th, were to go back home, now awaiting embarkation orders at St. Nazarine.  These were men involved in heavy fighting, along with the British and Australian men, and were highly regarded in their units.  “One of the biggest problems is sending American troops home is the inadequacy of rail transport to the seaboard.  With winter coming, the French government needs the utmost capacity of its railroads to distribute foods and other supplies throughout the country.”

“Luxemburg turns into Fairyland for Yank troops. They have submitted immediately to the capital of this tiny duchy to the warm-hearted, laughing, hospitable people who gave the tired doughboys of the Argonne, a jubilant welcome. These helmeted and heavy-laden fellows from the 18th Infantry were marched through Luxemburg to cheers and flag-waving, ‘Welcome to our Deliverers!’  Their girl duchess, the beautiful Marie Adelaide, is only an 18-year-old girl who smiled down at the passing troops, the streets lined with American flags.”

“Base ports make ready for Yanks headed westward. Commanding officers have visited the ports and great quantities of clothing and equipment are being massed there.  Two officers and 150 men with necessary medical attendants and supplies are present.  Each soldier is to be provided with a neat and well-fitted uniform and serviceable equipment, but there will be no rifles, bayonets and pistols.  The rest of his ordinance: three blankets, half shelter tent, change of underclothing, and a complete toilet kit.  The commanding general at each jumping  off place for the AEF has been directed to see that every enlisted man is paid before he embarks.  Each ship will be filled as completely as possible with the sick, wounded and convalescent as troop space being available for whom accommodations are suitable.” 

Another note:  Altogether in the last 18 months, the American people have subscribed almost 18 billion in Liberty Loans and War Savings Stamps!

In another column, we’ll talk about the War Orphans, a heart-warming story indeed.  The doughboys were most generous.