World War I in Photos: The Western Front Part II, and Armistice
Nearly four years of deadly stalemate on the Western Front slowly came to an end in 1918, as Allied armies pushed into Germany at enormous cost, leading the Central Powers to finally seek an armistice.
In early 1917, British and French troops were launching futile offensives against German lines in Belgium and France, suffering greatly. The Central Powers were building their defensive capabilities, but launching limited offensives -- continuing a stalemate costing thousands of lives every month. Over the next year, a treaty between Russia and the Central Powers freed up German resources, but American troops began arriving in France by the thousands, and Allied command became more unified and effective. The tide began to turn decisively in July 1918, beginning with the Battle of Amiens, followed by the "Hundred Days Offensive", where Allies pushed German and Austro-Hungarian troops beyond the Hindenburg Line, forcing the Central Powers to seek a cease-fire. On November 11, 1918, all fighting ceased on the Western Front, after four years, and some eight million casualties. On this 100-year anniversary, I've gathered photographs of the Great War from dozens of collections, some digitized for the first time, to try to tell the story of the conflict, those caught up in it, and how much it affected the world. Today's entry is part 9 of a 10-part series on World War I, which will be posted every Sunday until June 29. Come back next week for Part 10.
A soldier of Company K, 110th Regt. Infantry (formerly 3rd and 10th Inf., Pennsylvania National Guard), just wounded, receiving first-aid treatment from a comrade. Varennes-en-Argonne, France, on September 26, 1918. (U.S. Army/U.S. National Archives)
(1 of 2) Street scene in Exermont. Beginning the night of September 30, 1918, the U.S. 1st Division advanced seven km down the Aire Valley in the face of German resistance, suffering 8,500 casualties. Photo taken while Exermont was still being shelled. See this same scene in 2010, on Wikipedia. (U.S. Army Signal Corps) #
Scene at the French town of Barastre during World War I. Shows a bridge over the river Selle, built by New Zealand engineers in 13 hours under shell fire. An ambulance and mounted troops are crossing the bridge. Photograph taken October 31, 1918. (Henry Armytage Sanders/National Library of New Zealand) #
Trench position Chemin des Dames, May 1918. Two German soldiers (the closest one wearing a British sergeant's overcoat) move through a temporarily abandoned French trench (occupied by the British), collecting useful items of equipment. Dead English and German soldiers lie in the trench, the area littered with gear and weaponry from both sides. (Brett Butterworth) #
Scene in Mons, Belgium when the Canadian army arrived in 1917 shortly before the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Crowds welcomed the Canadian soldiers who were piped through the streets by Canadian pipers. (AP Photo) #
Royal Army Medical Corps men search the packs of the British dead for letters and effects to be sent to relatives after the Battle of Guillemont, Somme, France, in September of 1916. (Nationaal Archief) #
Skulls and bones piled in a field during World War I. Photo from a collection by John McGrew, a member of the Photographic Section of the U,S, Army Fifth Corps Air Service, part of the American Expeditionary Forces. (San Diego Air and Space Museum) #
A shattered church in the ruins of Neuvilly becomes a temporary shelter for American wounded being treated by the 110th Sanitary Train, 4th Ambulance Corps. France, on September 20, 1918. (NARA/Sgt. J. A. Marshall/U.S. Army) #
A German machine gunner lies dead at his post in a trench near Hargicourt, in France on September 19th, 1918. From the original caption: "He had courageously fought to the last using his gun with deadly effect against the advancing Australian troops." (State Library of Victoria) #
A French officer stands near a cemetery with recent graves of soldiers killed on the front lines of World War One, at Saint-Jean-sur-Tourbe on the Champagne front, eastern France. (Reuters/Collection Odette Carrez) #
Toward the end of 1918, the Central Powers began to collapse. The Allies had pushed them out of France during the Hundred Days Offensive, and strikes, mutinies and desertion became rampant. An armistice was negotiated, and hostilities ended on November 11, 1918. Months of negotiation followed, leading to a final Peace Treaty. Here, Allied leaders and officials gather in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles for the signing of the peace Treaty of Versailles in France on June 28, 1919. The peace treaty mandate for Germany, negotiated during the Paris Peace Conference in January, is represented by Allied leaders French premier George Clemenceau, standing, center; U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, seated at left; Italian foreign minister Giorgio Sinnino; and British prime minister Lloyd George. (AP Photo) #
The announcing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, was the occasion for a monster celebration in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thousands massed on all sides of the replica of the Statue of Liberty on Broad Street, and cheered unceasingly. (NARA) #
The First Battalion of he 308th Infantry, the famous "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Division's Argonne campaign of the Great War, march up New York's Fifth Avenue just past the Arch of Victory during spring of 1919. (AP Photo) #