World War I affected everyone in America. Food and fuel had to be rationed and this meant eating less bread, cake, pastries; there was only a chance you ate sugar on your birthday. Americans learned how to make their own soap, can fruits and vegetables, and store potatoes and other root vegetables. They burned wood and saved the coal for war efforts and they bought local supplies and bought less.
President Wilson declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917 after two passenger liners and three steamships were fired upon and sank. According to History.com,
the British-owned ocean liner “Lusitania” had more than 1,900 people on board, more than 1,100 perished, which included more than 120 Americans.
Our Roy boys began to enlist, and some were drafted. Can you imagine the farewells? They were held at churches with the final goodbyes said at the Ogden Union Station.
Most of our boys were enlisted in the 362nd Infantry, which consisted of men from within our western states. They were known as the Wild West Division, and William. H. Johnston was their General.
A battle that took place in the Argonne-Meuse sector was a terrible one. The Soldiers were ordered to march into this area not knowing the Germans were overly prepared and ready for battle. Two out of our fifteen Roy boys made it out alive.
War conditions were extremely hard. Our boys spent weeks at a time in dugouts knee-deep in water. Mice and rats became their constant companions as they fought, slept, and ate in these dugouts.
On November 9th, people woke up to the sounds of bells and whistles in Ogden. Oscar Jones ran to his telephone, called the Ogden Standard newspaper, listened for a second, threw the receiver back on the hook, turned around, threw his arms in the air and yelled, “The War is OVER! The War is OVER! We’re going to town. Get ready quick!!”
Oscar’s daughter, Luella, ran through fields to nearby neighbors who didn’t have a telephone to tell them the good news.
Everyone came to Washington Ave in Ogden to celebrate. There was a parade with a band, confetti, bells clanging, shouting, screaming, and lots of happy tears. Businesses kept shops closed for the day and participated in the fun.
The war was not completely over. Our boys were not home and many of them were sick with influenza. Newel Nielson was in a foxhole guarding our front lines just in case someone didn’t hear the news. This went on until the 11th. Our boys knew it was over when they saw French soldiers on their horses yelling out “Le guerre ‘est fini! Le guerre ‘est fini” meaning, the war is over!
Major General Johnston’s letter to Governor Bamberger was full of praise for our Utah men. Among other things he said: “The people of Utah have reason to be proud of the record made by their representatives in the 91st division. It has been a pleasure to command men of this kind. They have demonstrated that no better soldiers exist than can be made of young American citizens. They will return to their civil pursuits, not only with the experience gained as soldiers, but will return better citizens because of their service during the war. They have learned how to command and how to obey; how to bear with fortitude the unavoidable inconveniences and sufferings of the campaign. I congratulate you upon the return of such men to the citizenship of your state, and with equal sincerity I part with them with genuine regret.” 1
With Thanksgiving and Veterans Day being celebrated this month, what a perfect time to express our gratitude to our soldiers from the past and the present who defend our freedoms. We love you. God Bless you and your families! Thank you for all that you do.
- Noble Warrum, Utah in the World War, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Arrow Press) 1924, p.50.