Catalogue number
  • IWM 458
Production date
Place made
United States of America
Subject period
  • whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 4


License Film
Object description

The American contribution to the war effort on the Western Front, summer 1918.

Physical description


Full description

I. The film is often disjointed, but covers the transfer of American manpower and matériel across the Atlantic, culminating in their first major engagement in the Battle of Château-Thierry in June 1918. The captioning is outspoken, "the time has come when it is America's high privilege to spend her blood upon the fields of battle already hallowed by the sacrifice of her Allies' stalwart sons", with constant emphasis on the scale of American industrial might. "One million Americans" are in Europe, American shipping has increased by "more than two million tons", a steel and concrete landing dock is "three miles long", and a refrigeration plant is "the third largest in the world". II. (Reel 1) American gunners on the Western Front open fire with French-built 155mm howitzers and 75mm field guns. To supply these men cargo vessels cross the Atlantic under escort, unloading troops and equipment in France. (Reel 2) Locomotives are assembled (Austrian prisoners of war help in the work) and cars and lorries are unloaded. The troops move forward on foot and by train to their base villages, and from their trenches launch an attack through a wood. The resulting wounded are loaded onto a hospital train for a base hospital. (Reel 3) Trainee pilots are taught to fly French-built Nieuport 17 and 27 fighters, along with veterans of the volunteer Escadrille Lafayette, now part of the elite 94th 'Hat in the Ring' Pursuit Squadron, including Raoul Lufberry, Douglas Campbell and Alan Winslow. Back in the battle zone shells for the 75mm and 155mm guns are moved up. American soldiers eat in the trenches. The French commander, General Passaga, at Boucq on 25th April 1918 presents the Croix de Guerre to Colonel Shelton, Major Doane and Chaplain de Valles of the US 104th Infantry Regiment, decorating some of the men, and pinning the Croix de Guerre on the regimental colours. The ceremony is watched by the divisional commander, Major-General Clarence R Edwards (26th Division). Major Theodore Roosevelt Jr decorates men of his own battalion of 26th Infantry Regiment at Bois-l'Evêque on 5th April 1918. American 400mm railway guns of 53rd Artillery Corps north of Mailly on 15th May, with 320mm Schneider railway guns. (Reel 4) French, British and US troops, including some wounded, talking together near Château-Thierry. As the bombardment opens on the front, lorries and columns of soldiers move up, and ambulances carry the wounded. General John Pershing addresses his staff in the open air. President Wilson makes a speech. The American celebration march through Paris, 4th July 1918. The film ends abruptly with a brief mention of Britain, "so long as Britannia rules the waves, democracy is safe".

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