Home » Features » Our Region » 100 Years Ago... » 100 Years Ago, August 1917. War Prep – Part 2

100 Years Ago, August 1917. War Prep – Part 2


100 Years Ago: August, 1917.  US War Prep Continues, Part 2

Selected from the pages of the Penny Press and lightly annotated by Sally Haase


Underground Tunnels To Front. France, Aug. 9, 1917: American officers have returned from inspection of parts of the French front speak with amazement of intricate underground lines of communication. Tramways are operated underground and even miniature subways have been constructed for the transportation of supplies to the trenches. Huge warehouses are constructed beneath the ground where they are safe and unseen.

French officers impressed the Americans deeply with the fact that an army is dependent upon its supplies. Consequently it is seen that the task confronting the American quartermasters’ corps is the biggest it has ever known … based on the fact that all the American army supplies must come from America. United States forces must in no sense be dependent upon the French.

WWI Tunnel

American Wounded To Be Treated In France. France, Aug. 10, 1917: The health of the “Sammies” continues unusually good. The ailments are to date are trial and include mostly mumps, measles and colds. The shortage of personnel of the medical corps is noticeable. There is but one medical officer with eleven assistants for every 800 men. The army medical corps will take care of them inside the army zone. After treatment is given the men will be turned over to the Red Cross and taken to the base hospital.

Draft Objectors To Do Camp Work. Washington, Aug. 10, 1917: Whether or no, the “C.O.” [Conscientious Objector] is going to be a military man. Those who refuse to report to national army, immediately come under military jurisdiction. They will come under the orders of the court martial and will not be given an opportunity to languish in jail. Instead they will be given work of ordinary military prisoners. This consists in camp work, which is dirty and onerous. At the front the military prisoners are ordered to the front line trenches.

Army Will Tax Railroads. Washington, Aug. 11, 1917: American railroads are face to face with their greatest task. Between September 1 and September 5, 229,000 soldiers of the national army must be mobilized. They must be moved from 3,800 cities and towns to 16 cantonments. Troop trains must have the right of way, and government materials must move without a halt. Half a hundred traffic experts are at work on the plan of transportation.

Conscript Men For Ship Building. Washington, Aug. 13, 1917: Conscription of labor to carry out ship building contracts taken over by the government is being urged by Pacific coast constructors. The builders stated that there is an organized movement on foot to make it certain that war time conditions will prevail after peace is established, and that the fat pay they receive will go to those now engaged in that class of labor, prohibiting returned soldiers from competing with them. If men conscripted to go into the trenches, at certain risk of their lives, the builders have pointed out, the government should take like steps in its war industries. They strongly advocate fixing a standard and reasonable wage for employees in industries directly contributing to waging war, just as the pay of drafted soldiers is fixed.

Czar To Siberia. Copenhagen, Aug. 16, 1917: The bleak Siberian town of Tobosk, far removed from any railways, is to be the abiding place of the former czar of Russia and the ex-czarina, according to reports from Petrograd. The Romanoffs are on their way to Siberia now. Tobolsk is reached by a small boat that touches the town once a week. Formerly the place was used as a clearing house for political exiles sent into the Siberian wilderness to toil in the mercury mines.

Tuesday may Be Meatless. Washington, Aug. 20, 1917: America’s meatless day if ordered is to be Tuesday. Plans to conserve the food supply of the nation during the war are rapidly coming to a head.  Hotels, restaurants and dining cars will serve no meat on Tuesdays after the appeal is issued. The public will be asked to regulate itself.

Huns Call Us Cowards. Los Angeles, Aug. 20, 1917: In a letter sent here reciting his war experiences, a Canadian sergeant tells what German prisoners thought about the United States entering the war, said: “Money for allies, yes, at interest. Food, yah – at a profit. Fight? Never! They are too cowardly to fight.

Parlez Vous?

Smashing Drives Against The Germans. London, Aug. 21, 1917: Three terrific offensives, on as many fronts are in full swing against the Germans allies today. On the Italian front, after months of preparation, have opened a new drive smashing their way past the mountain fortresses of the Austro-Hungarians, creeping nearer to Trieste. The Russians…have succeeded in stopping the Austro-Germans advance. The hope of the Germans to force their way into the rich Russian province of Bessarabia and capture Odessa seem doomed.

Colored Soldiers Spirited Away. Houston, Aug. 25, 1917: Uncle Sam delved deep into the investigation of the wild riot of negro troopers, which resulted in 17 deaths and 21 seriously injured. About 600 negro soldiers of the 24th United States infantry were enroute today to Columbus, N.M., spirited away for fear that the wrath of the white citizens of Tex would result

The entire battalion was forced to stack their guns and see hauled away. Then, disarmed, and their heads bowed in shame, the 600 members of the once “gallant24th” were marched between files of white soldiers to trains bound for Columbus. After the colored soldiers were hauled away, Colonel M.F. Waltz addressed his men. He told them they would be protected from violence and would be prevented from committing further violence.

Wilson Rejects Vatican Proposal. Washington, Aug. 29, 1917: President Wilson Informed Pope Benedict that the Government of the United States cannot entertain proposals looking to the restoration of peace unless definitely stated and backed by the peoples of the Central powers and not their rulers.

Soldiers Votes May Give Women Ballot. Sarasota Springs, N.Y., Aug. 29, 1917: More than 150,000 New York voters will e in training camps and across the sea when the suffrage issue is decided. Recognizing that it was at the vote of the men in the trenches that enfranchised the women of Canada, the campaign conference of the New York Woman Suffrage party opened the session determined upon plans to get this vote.


100 years ago, much has changed and, then again, nothing has changed.