The one-hundredth year marking for the entrance of the United States into World War I occurs on April 6, 2017. As the event, first known as the Great Ware, would eventually involve many nations, it was renamed WWI.
In Europe, hostilities began three years earlier with major adversaries being Germany, leading the Central Powers, and the Allies led by Russia. By the spring of 1917, exhausted soldiers and resources were expended with no foreseeable victory. Over one million soldiers had died and no end was in sight.
The Central Powers was said to have the advantage. They'd invented poison gases with Germany producing the first tank in Sept. 1916. On the other side, Russia's army was more numerous.
Notices were published to encourage recruitment. During World War I, 'Come Across Now' was the message to Canadians to volunteer so as not to be drafted.
New momentum would come to the Allies side when Canadian Corps arrived. They were known for getting things done and would prove themselves several times over by advancing great distances into enemy territory. The arrival of the Americans also bolstered the ranks.
Many advances in air and sea warfare came into being. Airplanes were fragile, constructed with wood and cloth. Blimps and zeppelins took to the skies. As the latter flew higher than planes, they were more difficult to down.
In the water, submarines were modernized to carry torpedos with attacks possible from a 10,000 yard distance A new invention was the depth charge. By war's end, German subs had sunk 5,554 Allied and merchant ships. However, they also had serious loses with 18 of their 371 sub fleet destroyed.
Late in Oct. 1918, the German government had contacted U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to arrange an armistice.This was three weeks prior to Nov. 11, 1918, when German diplomats and military officers boarded a rail car in the Forest of Compiegne in France. Hostilities ended and later the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. By then, most American soldiers had returned home.
It is those returning locals on which The Luminary has focused in an effort to tell 'The rest of the story.' Since Feb. 2016, this paper has published 12 articles under the logo 'World War I Memories.' It is thanks to those individuals who've shared memory namesakes of those brave men and women when alive.
A brief recap of those featured are as follows: Dr. James Akehurts, a physician in a stateside camp who reported an average of 20 soldiers dying of influenza daily in the fall of 1918; Samuel Fought returned to become owner of the Hughesville grist mill; Harry Snyder returned to farm in Wolf Township while a cousin Harris Snyder was a fatality. Harold Lauchle of Huntersville was wounded and for many years wore a brace; Benjamin Reen of Muncy, a seasoned soldier in former wars, made the military a career; Lairdsville area soldier Lee Harding was with the 102nd Ammunition Train; Merle Crawford of Montoursville suffered hearing loss, and impairment thought the cause of his untimely death; Earl Kohler of Hughesville listed the menu of the soldier's Christmas Dinner; fatality Roland Ritter's name identifies Muncy's American Legion Post. Nurse Meryl Grace Phillips of Sonestown was one of 374 nurses listed as lives lost. Kate Snowden chaired Hughesville's Red Cross Chapter sending comfort kits to soldiers.
There were also stories of work done by women to aid the cause, and an article covering a program presented to the Hughesville Rotary that contained vignettes of additional names of local soldiers.
The Luminary seeks additional submissions for future articles. A WWI story is scheduled for the second week of each month. The next issue will feature Raymond O.Confer of Muncy, with Raymond Hill of Hughesville printed in May. Both Hill and Confer served with the 314th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, trained at Ford Meade, MD.