First Americans Enter the Front Line
The 1st Division enters Sommerviller.
October 21 1917, Sommerviller–Over six months after American entry into the war, and nearly four months after the first American combat troops arrived in France, the first American troops entered front line service on October 21. After extensive training, the 1st Division was deployed that day around Sommerviller in Lorraine. The sector was chosen because it was one of the least active on the front; neither side had attempted major operations here. Furthermore, each American unit was attached to a French unit, hoping that they would be able to learn the lessons of the last three years of war from their French allies.
The 1st Division was comprised of regular Army personnel, plus various graduates of Plattsburgh and various other preparedness camps; among the latter group was Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Many in both groups thought the pace around Sommerviller a bit too quiet. George C. Marshall, the division’s assistant chief of staff, recalled that “the first thrill of service in the trenches soon passed with a realization of the mud and other discomforts and the dearth of excitement.”
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Sources include: Andrew Carroll, My Fellow Soldiers.