14-18 Langres

at war

Place Diderot:

The Americans in Langres.

On 6th April 1917, The United States entered the war against Germany. It took some time for the American army to organise the crossing and the first « Sammies » (nickname for American soldiers) landed in France in June 1917. Under the command of General Pershing, the American Expeditionary Forces, trained to fight on the move, had to be trained for the new methods of warfare in the trenches. The French and the British offered to take American soldiers in their units on the front, but the American commandment preferred to retain its autonomy. American soldiers had to be trained for war, so military schools had to be set up. John Pershing chose to set up his HQ in Chaumont, and Langres hosted a large part of the American military academies.

From the moment of their arrival, the Americans became involved in the life of the town, and did not hesitate to put their lives in danger when they judged it necessary. Thus, when fire broke out on 18th November 1917, American soldiers came to the aid of the fire brigade to help extinguish the fire. « Each man did his duty and we have been told of the bravery of three or four allied soldiers who, defying the flames, took positions in very dangerous places, to the admiration of everybody.»
(Le Spectateur, 21 November 1917)

After the initial excitement of the first contact with French « exoticism », the calm of a small provincial town and homesickness affected the morale of the « Sammies ». This feeling grew after the Allied victory and the signing of Armistice on November 11th 1918, as the soldiers could not understand why they remained in France.

Place  Diderot

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