By now pretty much everyone knows the Armistice between the fighting forces of WWI, of which the United States was one, took place on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour of the eleventh month 100 years ago. It is from that date we get Veterans Day.
From what I can tell leaders from countries all over the world who were involved in the war have been invited to Paris to celebrate the Armistice. Russia has also been invited. There is apparently going to be a big parade and I assume other ceremonies that take place commemorating the Armistice or honoring those who died in that bloody war.
The Armistice did not end the war. It did end the fighting. There would be other steps taken before the war was officially declared over. There was the meeting that took place in Versailles where the victors, if anyone was really a victor from this mindless slaughter when one side used 19th century tactics to fight the other side using 20th century equipment, dictated the terms on Germany which would eventually leave Germans so embittered that they were suckered into succumbing to the blandishments and threats of Adolph Hitler.
The Americans got into this war very late. That is where we get the term Johnny Come Lately. The war started in 1914 and despite repeated outrages by the Germans on Americans we stayed out of it. The major reason for that was President Wilson’s fear that if he became involved in it before the election of 1916 the hyphenated Americans, the Irish and German Americans, as well as the newly empowered women in the western states, would not vote for him.
He came out of the convention where he was nominated for a second term with the slogan “he kept us out of the war.” Many of those he feared believed he intended to continue to do so and voted for this “peace” candidate. It didn’t work out that way for within a month of his taking the oath for his second term he asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.
It took America a long time to bring the troops up to the level where they were trained and sent to Europe and were of a sufficient amount to create an effective fighting force. It was called the American Expeditionary Force under the leadership of General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing. He refused to assign American troops to fight under the leaders of our allies, other than four regiments of black troops who were put under French command. The AEF did not wanting American black troops to intermingling with whites.
Because of Pershing’s attitude, the American were not ready to go into combat until sometime in the late spring of 1918 less than a half year before the Armistice. America would suffer the loss of over 100,000 troops during the war. The majority of these casualties were not combat related but were caused by the pandemic flu that broke out throughout the world.
Many of the combat deaths occurred when the Germans began their Great Spring Offensive which required the Americans to rush into combat to stop their pushing forward. Here’s what one site says about the Battle of Belleau Wood where the Marine expressions “Retreat? Hell, we just got here” and “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” were uttered: “In March 1918, with nearly 50 additional divisions freed by the Russian surrender on the Eastern Front, the German Army launched a series of attacks on the Western Front, hoping to defeat the Allies before U.S. forces could be fully deployed. . . . saw the Germans reach the north bank of the Marne River at Château-Thierry, 95 kilometres (59 mi) from Paris, on 27 May. On 31 May, the 3rd Division held the German advance at Château-Thierry and the German advance turned right towards Vaux and Belleau Wood”
The French and Marines held the ground at Belleau Wood. Aside from there the Germans pressed on other fronts and the Army was pressed into service and suffered losses. This was all because the Russians quit and entered into a deal with the Germans to stop fighting on their front and allow the Germans to shift forces to face the British, French, Americans and others in the west. That was the treaty of Brest-Litovsk signed on 3 March 1918.
The allied forces were left in the lurch by the Russians. Many more died because they walked away from the fight. The Russians had nothing to do with the Armistices, If they had their way, being then under the control of Lenin, they would have preferred it not have been entered into. They hoped that both the western allies and Germany would continue to slaughter each other. How then are they there in France for this 100 year anniversary of the end of the fighting?