In a 2015 U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center presentation for his book “Doughboys on the Great War: How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experience” (available on YouTube), Dr. Edward Gutierrez included an interesting quotation from author Coningsby Dawson, who had served with the Canadian Field Artillery in the area around the Somme for two years from 1916 to the end of the war.
By the spring of 1918, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division and several others had already been bloodied during rotations into generally quiet sectors to gain experience, or in support roles with the British Army as the latter sought to contain the Imperial German Army’s Michael offensives. In the last week of April, the 1st Division made the move into the sector that would in a month’s time earn the division national acclaim: Picardy, in northern France, in which province stood the village of Cantigny. The Battle of Cantigny is regarded as the first distinctly American victory of the war.
Stubby was a stray bull terrier adopted in 1917 by a soldier, Robert Conroy, during the latter’s training with the U.S. 26th “Yankee” Division on the grounds of Yale University. Smuggled by Conroy onto a troopship bound for France, Stubby is said to have participated in four campaigns and 17 battles. He has been called the most decorated war dog of World War I and was even presented with a gold medal from the Humane Education Society by Pershing in 1921.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of America’s first big battles, I’d like to offer the titles below as a starting point for a conversation on the American Expeditionary Forces that fought against Germany during World War I, not a definitive list. My summaries are based on readings that may be 10 or more years old, so if your memories of a particular work are fresher, please feel free to share them in the comments, plus any other titles you believe worthy of addition or substitution.