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100 Years Ago: May 1918 – National News

100 Years Ago May 1918 – On The Front

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

With the American Army on the French Battle Front, May 1, 1918:  The last stages of the forward movement to the front were made in cold, misty mornings of two days while rain was falling.  One of the most popular songs while the boys were enroute was “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.” But it had to divide honors with a sort of chant which ran: “Iodine and pills, iodine and pills, Good for rheumatism, good for chills.”  Other verses playing on the medical officers’ alleged habit of prescribing iodine and pills for all ailments, enlivened the march

On a clear, chilly night advanced contingents arrived at the village on which the constant rumble of the big guns could be heard. The horizon was constantly lighted by the flashes.

Auto Racer’s First Air Flight. With the American Army on the French Battle Front, May 1, 1918: Lieut. “Eddie” Rickenbacker, an automobile racer, has engaged in his first air flight on the Toul front.  Lieut. Rickenbacker and Captain Hall gave combat to a boche [German soldier] airman. “I flew above the German and opened up on him with my machine gun. Captain Hall had come up behind and firing briskly into the boche machine,” said Rickenbacker. “We kept after the Hun machine until it got too close to the ground. It was a pretty fight but it was over in a few moments.”

3 Million More Troops. Washington, May 1, 1918: An American army of 3,000,000 combatant troops will be asked of congress by Secretary of War Baker. A fighting total of 3,000,000 would involve a total army establishment of approximately 5,000,000 men.

Killer of Prince Ferdinand And Who Started The War Dies in Prison. Washington, May 1, 1918: Gavrio Prinzip, the assassin of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, heir to the Austrian throne died of tuberculosis in prison. The assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne led to the world war, which has engulfed Europe with blood for nearly four years.

Health In The Training Camps. Washington, May 2, 1918: One hundred and sixty-seven men among the troops training in the United States died from pneumonia during the week ending April 26.  “General health conditions show continued improvement,” the report says. “Pneumonia prevalence is increasing.”

Congress In Fight Over “Gag” Measure. Washington, May 3, 1918: Congress was embroiled again in bitter fight over the right of free speech and free press during the war.  The particular “bone of contention” was the new espionage bill, which is …branded as a “gag” measure designed to increase the power of the postmaster general over the newspapers and magazines of the country.

Most Vicious German Propagandist. An Atlantic Port, May 6, 1918: Characterized as “the most vicious propagandist,” Gerald Liebisch, arrived by ship from Porto Rico…enroute to a federal penitentiary in Atlanta, where he will serve four years at hard labor for sedition.  Liebisch shouted “You Americans are a pack of rotters. You cannot beat the Germans who are the finest people in the world. The Germans already have killed all the soldiers you have sent over to France.” Liebisch’s trial showed that he carried propaganda to the young men of Porto Rico. He advised those of draft age to obey the call to the colors, but to desert as soon as they got to France and go to the German lines. Each deserter, he promised, would be paid $2,000 by the Germans , have his pick off attractive German girls and be given a pension of $1,000 a year for life.

Hun Treatment of French Women. Hot Springs, Ark., May 8, 1918: A story of frightful atrocities upon French women prisoners by Hun soldiers was told here by Dr. Esther Clayton. “A large number of women are returned by German authorities from occupied provinces back into France. But no healthy woman of child-bearing age is permitted to return unless she has more than one child. A strong young woman has a labor value beyond that required for the care of one child. In addition to this service, the above rule operates to prevent most of the children born to young French and Belgium women by German fathers from being returned home.”  There are approximately 1,200,000 refugees, most of them infirm aged people or ill-nourished children.   “Those refugees are of no military value,” he continued.   “…so they are sent to southern France, where they become a charge upon the over-burdened French Government.”

Million Men July First. Washington, May 9, 1918: America’s contribution to the allied army reserve which will stop the Hun advance in Belgium, France and Italy will be 1,000,000 men by July 1. It will not alone be men, however, but guns of a new type, designed to cope with the latest terrors of the Krupp and Skoda [artillery and arms] plants.

Airplane Mail Service Started. Washington, May 15, 1918: The inauguration of the aerial mail service between Washington and New York was attended by a mishap when the propeller of the machine broke and the aviator was forced to make a landing on the state road near Waldorg, Md. Postal authorities said the mail will be forwarded by train or by courier to Philadelphia, where it will be placed aboard another machine and the flight continued.

Germans Disturb The Dead. With the American Army on the French Battle Front, May 24 1918: German shells have repeatedly destroyed a little cemetery at the edge of the entanglement in No Man’s Land on the Picardy front, but as often as this happens, the living comrades of the dead risk their own lives to patch up the disturbed graves.  The story was told by Lieut. David Morgan, who wears a medal of valor in carrying wounded soldiers from the brow of a trench in daylight.  “I will never forget the scene on the night Lieut. Colonel Griffith was buried there. The boches were within a few hundred yards of us so we had to whisper the ritual. It was pitch dark as the grave was dug and the boys had to be mighty careful to keep their shovels from clicking against stones. The burial took place after midnight. It was the only funeral I ever attended that was conducted in whispers. Twice the ritual was suspended while the mourners took cover to avoid German bullets. Privates had gathered wild violets and poppies to the rear of the trenches, keeping them fresh in a dipper of the water in a dugout.”


Note: Do you have letters you are willing to share from WWI soldiers or letters of interest about the war? Contact HaddamNow  at [email protected] and we will share with our readers.


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

One Response to 100 Years Ago: May 1918 – National News

  1. Tony Giamei

    May 19, 2018 at 2:45 pm