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Friday, February 8, 2013

Recruiting posters of World War I are stirring, blunt appeals to enlist

Here are only a few of the hundreds of posters the United States government printed to encourage citizens to enlist as soldiers and Marines. Hundreds of other posters encouraged others to enlist as nurses, medical personnel, ambulance drivers, merchant marine and longshoremen. The rhetoric is a mix of appeals to patriotism and a sense of wonderment that the realities of war quickly negated.

The most well-knownAmerican recruitment poster is Uncle Sam pointing to the viewer. This "I Want You" image has been used and adapted over the past 9 decades to recruit for other wars. Adaptations even discouraged enlistment in such wars as the Vietnam conflict.  Here is the original version and its famous British counterpart and predecessor featuring General Kitchener recruiting for the British Army in 1914.
Public domain in U.S. Archives

Public domain in UK, EU and U.S.
After U.S. Marines won the battle of Belleau Wood, their German opponents nicknamed them Devil Dogs, Teufel Hunden. To this day, the U.S. Marines use this name and their museum in Belleau Wood, France bears the title.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Types of services women volunteered to perform

Recruiting poster,
Red Cross nurse shown with wounded solider.
While nurses were a vital component of any medical department for the United States Army, women served in other groups and other capacities.

The Navy also developed a Navy Nurse Corps during the war.

In addition, the Red Cross is perhaps the most well-known of these other groups. These volunteers wore what we now know as traditional uniforms of white with a red cross donning the front of their caps.

To assist nurses and doctors working behind the lines, women enlisted in the ambulance corps. They, along with many men, drove cars and trucks, designed by Ford Motor Company and by the precursor of General Motors.  (Having had a look at these myself in the Fort Sam Houston Medical Museum in San Antonio, Texas, I must say they look like the most uncomfortable transport I have ever seen.)

Women also volunteered to serve as secretaries in General Pershing's headquarters staff. He, in fact, asked for women to serve in this capacity after he decided he could not and should not spare anyone from his Staff to do this work.

Signal Corps accepted female volunteers to work the telephones for communications all over the front, inter-Army and with American allied forces. These women had to be fluent in French and English, and were known as "The Hello Girls."

Then, too, many women traveled abroad to serve in many civilian capacities. Some worked in make-shift canteens making sandwiches and brewing coffee to serve to convalescent soldiers on their way home in mobile hospital trains. Others worked with displaced French populations. A few rescued orphans from temporary shelters and served as teachers in schools and convents.