America’s “Foreign Legion”

Immigrant Soldiers in the Great War

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About the Book

Immigrant American soldiers played an important, often underrated role in World War I. Those who were non-citizens had no obligation to participate in the war, though many volunteered. Due to language barriers that prevented them from receiving proper training, they were often given the most dangerous and dirty jobs.
The impetus for this book was the story of Matthew Guerra (the author’s great-uncle). He immigrated to America from Italy around age 12. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1918 and shipped to France, where he joined the 58th Infantry Regiment of the 4th “Ivy” Division and participated in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. Wounded in the Bois de Fays, the 22-year-old Guerra died in a field hospital.

About the Author(s)

Retired teacher and media specialist Dennis A. Connole spent 32 years in the Worcester school system. He is the author of three books and numerous scholarly articles and lives in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Dennis A. Connole
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 254
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7543-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3467-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
1. The Quest Begins 9
2. Matthew Guerra in America 21
3. America Enters the War—The World War I Draft Act 26
4. Registration Day 33
5. Selection of the Candidates 38
6. Deferments and Exemptions—The ­Non-Declarant Alien Dilemma 43
7. Welcome to Camp Upton 52
8. Recruit Processing 61
9. Basic Training—Camp Devens 69
10. Social and Recreational Activities at the Training Camps 84
11. Foreign-Born U.S. Army Recruits—Non–English Speaking Draftees 93
12. Enter Lt. Stanislaw A. Gutowski 100
13. Creation of the “Foreign-Speaking Soldier ­Sub-Section” (FSS) 109
14. FSS Recruit Training Efforts at Camps Custer and Grant—January–February 1918 116
15. Restructuring Plan Canceled—An Unexpected Reversal of Direction 121
16. The “Camp Gordon Plan”—June 1918 130
17. FSS English Education Program 136
18. Resurrection of the Immigrant Training Program at Other Camps 145
19. The 76th Division Overseas—The St. Mihiel Offensive 150
20. The ­Meuse-Argonne Offensive—Phase One (September 26–October 3, 1918) 164
21. Meuse-Argonne—Second Phase (October 4, 1918) 174
22. Bois de Fays—“Woods of the Fairies” (October 5, 1918) 188
23. October 5–7, 1918—The Death of a Doughboy 199
Conclusion 208
Chapter Notes 217
Bibliography 233
Index 237

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Valuable”—The NYMAS Review.