tv America Goes Over CSPAN December 31, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
centennial of world war 1 american entry, we document the was experienced in world war i. we provide context and commentary throughout the film, made by the u.s. army signal corps. this is one of many world war i films that the film archive has restored. >> welcome to "reel america" on c-span history network. started, before people see this film, how have these films been made, and who saw them? >> this was done by the u.s. government. it was a compilation of mostly u.s. army signal corps footage by cameramen overseas. propaganda, tore
promote what america did, which was held bring the war to a close on the allied side. >> how with the government propaganda intended at that time? >> this was to ensure that that they fought for a just cause, which was important. there was quite a bit of backlash against world war i after it finished. the is when you see rejection of the league of nation. this film would have given a boost in morale. >> how were these films preserved? >> the copies are maintained by the national archives and are being digitized and placed on the youtube channel for the national archives. anyone can watch these anytime. host: is this preservation a difficult part? >> it is. in some cases you have original
copies that might have scratches and so forth. we have a staff that will meticulously check to make sure that each seat is clear, and try and do some sort of scene script, so you know what is going on. often it came with that sort of thing when it was transferred from government agencies. host: thanks for the background. nobody film " -- no we will rollw the film "america goes over." thehe signal corps was communications for the u.s. army, responsible for motion picture. >> the eastman kodak company, an important name in american corporations. >> i like watching this official film because they have the borde r and 2 flags. those are signal flags.
it was a moment of pride for the signal corps to have these films. host: don't you love the guarantee? >> so many films were done with reenactments. for example, the british did a reenactment of the battle of the somme. host: this is a background of what got us to the war. >> the entrance of the u.s. into the first world war is interesting. scholars still debate it until today. what they are showing on screen is the u-boat, submarine warfare by the germans, where they were supposedly attacking civilian ships. this caused a lot of tensions between the u.s. and germany. scholars cite this as one of the factors leading to the first world war. most particularly the sinking of the lusitania. host: remarkable footage they
were able to get of the allied vessels being sunk. >> i agree. the fact that cameras were so antiquated, certainly the surroundings would have shook from the verb -- from the reverberation. host: we are seeing president wilson. how controversial was the decision to go to war in congress? >> for one thing, wilson ran on his reelection platform of keeping the u.s. out of the war. some were against theodore roosevelt, who was still active. there was a huge war preparedness movement. some folks were saying, it is about time we get into the war. others were like, do we really need to get into this? merchant shipsur were being sunk, some of them
were carrying armaments in the eyes of the germans, so they were warships to them. host: what country are they in? >> i am guessing this would be france. it is hard to tell because pretty much all of the western front was torn up. this could be village in. -- be belgium. host: talk about how trench warfare was done. >> trench wherever is probably the most iconic battlefield aspect of world war i.. it did not define the whole theater, but at least on the western front. with both stalemate sides were using weapons. it against to the point where both sides could not go further on the battlefield without risking suicide attack, which is
what happened in the battle of the song with the british -- britain -- battle of the somme with the british. you get a type of warfare that makes it difficult to survive. they huddle into trenches to get some sort of children. host: forhost:--from a strategic standpoint, what are the germans trying to capture. >> the germans were on the defensive for most of the war except early on. the somme,ks around where they moved around a little bit. here you see completely different scenery. heguess this is in the alps, t italian theater. host: can you lineup the signs? who are the allies and who are the axis powers? >> the allies were great britain, france.
belgium started off as neutral, then they were invaded . you have germany, austria hungary, the ottoman empire. world war i stretches beyond the western front of italy. you have a middle eastern theater. you have lots happening in places that are now part of the modern middle east. host: we are now back to the united states with a buildup of armaments. >> what we are showing here is how america is becoming prepared for the war. we started completely unprepared. we have to rely on allies from shipping to what armaments we would use in combat, especially airplanes. here you show the navy being built up. the navy's central role was not so much,. destroyers were used to protect transport ships as they left american ports.
under threat just as the merchant ships were from german u-boats. host: how was the war financed? war was financed from the american coffers. eventually there were these liberty loan drives, similar to the same sort of drives in world war ii, when americans were asked to give help of the effort for men and women. host: for men and women taken from their normal jobs and put into these countries? to work? == into these factories to work? >> you had>> african-americans migrating north to take these jobs. here we see the draft. this might be the first selection of the first draft a member. >> this is the first draft, secretary with baker. host: theater roosevelt -- theodore roosevelt was active at
the time. >> he had three sons that were in the war. >> he lost on. roosevelt was a pilot the indicted during the war. that strongly affected teddy roosevelt. >> the graphic set up at 3 million men drafted ultimately. >> ultimately. not all of them served. the vast majority of what would become the american expeditionary forces was enlisted and drafted. host: here you see people being conscripted into war to be turned into soldiers. >> yes. quicklyildings were built structures by the army quartermaster corps. we did not have enough training ground. there were some forts scattered around the u.s., but they needed these temporary camps. they were constructed mostly in the south and southeast.
the claimant has to stay warmer year-round. trading was nine months after the year. you had to factor in the wind. host: how difficult was the turning of citizens into soldiers? >> it is pretty difficult. you find out most soldiers did not have the training they thought they needed. footage, yout this want to wonder what happens to these men. you can see the statue of liberty. i think we thought that was camp upton. >> did you notice they were using wooden rifles? >> yes. >> now, there were british and french officers who came to the u.s., whose transportation and
housing was paid for why the war department. they would lecture what they had seen at some or verdun. not until they got overseas did it really had home. host: how much of the war was fought overseas? >> by the time americans got into the war, practically none, aside from some attacks on u-boats. there wasn't a major naval engagement that the americans were involved in. >> this is one of my favorite stories from world war i. one of the first thing general pershing did upon arriving in paris is arriving at the tomb of the marquis dendy lafayette -- de lafayette, famous for the
battle of yorktown. connecting the historic alliance between france and the united states. >> cure you have american troops in the so-called quiet sector. what is interesting is that even though trenches are synonymous with world war i. the americas primarily did not fight from the trenches. general purging was adamant they fight in open warfare. they would leave from above ground through the woods. he was fearful because the french and british were using trench warfare, that this war would go on and on. he felt the only way to defeat the germans was to attack by: over the top. attack by going over the top.
host: what are they depicting here? that good times can still be had? alice: this looks like camp life. these men are young, between 18 and 25 years old. trying to do some laundry, living life on the front. these personal zines are some of the most interesting of the film. >> they are jumping ahead to the screen of 1918, where the germans realizing that the americans are in the war among we are starting to get more and more troops. they have launched an offensive against the british and french to drive those allied forces away and capture parents and bring -- capture paris
before more americans get into a war. host: health pete -- we have people wearing gas masks. can you talk about the use in world war i? >> it started by the germans, slowly the allies caught up. the idea of the gas, whether it was mustard gas -- it was a choking element. it did not necessarily kill soldiers, but it made you so miserable -- it got into your lungs in your skin, that you cannot by any longer. they were taken out five suffering they experienced. -- taken up by suffering. alice: it was also psychological. soldiers began to fear gas attacks. it made them a lot more jumpy at the front.
host: alice: here is general pershing, leader of the expeditionary forces. >> the scene right before that where they showed casualties in the trenches, those would have been either french or british troops. general pershing was adamant that the core photographers do not show deceased or wounded american soldiers. host: because it would be harmful to the war effort? >> exactly. censoredl film footage before it was printed. host: here we see the overwhelming force. alice: you see some african-american service members. the military was segregated the time. those servicemembers were probably working in battalions. it is an interesting yet sad and
heroic story about their service. >> roughly 200,000 african-americans served. the vast majority were either in labor battalions or pioneer infantry. there were exceptions. there were infantry regiments fighters longerl than any other american unit. alice: the germans were well under of the american buildup. they would have wanted to destroy these ships? >> absolutely. they were not successful. as the caption showed, 2 american ships were sunk during the course of the war. alice: this is why we see them traveling in convoys protected by other naval ships. >> amazing footage. hand by the steady
photographer. >> i am not aware of any photographers getting killed during the war. host: there we see that the sexual -- the successful destruction of. u-boats. navy airships. 40 men, 8 horses is what that translates to. >> many were purchased from the french. you have a mascot probably snuck over by americans. i don't think dogs were allowed on the troop transports. in the letters that i have read, it was astonishing. often all they would see in these towns are women dressed in black. ofows or the daughters fathers who had been killed.
host: the americans must have been floored. >> these are americans put into the line to stop the germans in this great offensive in the spring and summer of 1918. >> santini is famous for the efforts of the first division, the bank red one. >> this is artillery, 75 millimeter french artillery. the americans did not have their own guns to bring over, so we borrowed them from the french. one of the most famous artillery commanders was captain harry s truman, a battery commander. host: and the germans were hoping to overtake paris? >> they were. they had tried several times before. they had got close again, but logistics. certainly the fact that americans were in place.
they were hungry and eager. the third division troops. you will see them in the town. it is amazing when you see how decimated they are. when you go there today, you don't recognize there had been war. alice: no, these towns are basically small villages left over to. -- over today. you can see where just a few small ruins may have been restored. we have american captured pows. a lot of times they would send these german helmets home. alice: 10,000 men per day coming to eight the war effort. >> that is only because we got from transport ships. the americans did not have
enough at the beginning of the war. the british went us transport ships. host: these ships are interesting. they are painted with dazzle camouflage, which is a technique used to make the harder to be hit. the second battle of them are is where the germans were stopped to get into paris. this would last through the summer. engagemente are the were americans were jumping and a lot more. ofse places become symbols the american role in the first world war. today there was a prominent american monument there. host: you can see the conditions under which troop advancements were made. earlier you suggested these battlefields are firm fields.
still they find unexploded ordinance. >> it is miraculous that farmers are able to use them. there is so much metal in the ground. farmers areo often maimed and killed when their plows go over the ordinance that was on fire. -- was unfired. you had the second world war going over some of this same ground. alice: many of these trench lines were not filled in. you can find trench lines and shell craters, barbed wires, please ghosts of the americans. -- these coasts of the americans. these are pretty much in the land. >> these communications were sophisticated for their time. there was wireless.
a wire was laid for telephone to relay messages from the front to the rear or vice versa. you had runners that would deliver messages. often they were native americans. you had some in the back that were handled by the u.s. army corps telephone operators known as the hello girls. host: you can see there is little protection from the troops firing repeatedly these weapons without any protection for their years. we saw a soldier putting his fingers in his ears. if you looked at their uniforms, compared to the high-tech equipment we had, how much protection that they provide?
>> v they did not have bulletproofests. one of the reasons why casualties were so high. host: nothing like we had today. >> they gave them more protection during the war. the guest asked was an important part of the soldier kit. -- the gas mask was an important part of the soldier kit. hey wanted to access it easily. occupied,village was americans would use it for headquarters. >> look at the destruction. --ce: europe has been more has been at war for several years. there is nothing left when the americans arrived.
i believe this is a mobile field kitchen. here they are narrating the story of the american engagement in the first world war. making sure equipment was in good order. getting their hair cut. >> shaved, actually. alice: de-lousing stations. that is something soldiers complain about in their letters. lice, having wet feet. here you see a number of the salvation army and women serving donuts, which the women were famous as donut dollys, trying to give them enjoyment on their brakes. >> the salvation army employed paper and encouraged soldiers to
write letters home. they did that in droves. the information of the letters tends not to be that informative. again, they were censored. if you mentioned something about platoon, men in my that probably would have been redacted. >> this is a tremendous effort to resupply the war. >> it was tremendous, despite the fact that we got into the war late. we built up tremendously. sections-called base which were near various parts of the front where supplies came in on a daily basis. they were transported by rail. breadn see hot loaves of being baked. host: do you want to talk about general pershing?
>> he was the ultimate leader for the americans. he was a good-looking guy, a part of experience. he is what we would consider a micromanager. he had control over everything. if you go to the national archives a and researchef records -- archives and research aef records, you'll see markings with his initials jjp. alice: he was adamant that the americans would fight under american command. he did not want them to be commended by the british or french. >> here they are talking about somme. this is the first time a full american army went on the offensive. capturede by the germans. pershing desperately wanted the americans to show what they could do as an independent army.
alice: that hill is is now the site of a memorial for the service of americans in the offensive. there is a cemetery nearby, where many of the men who served in this offensive are carried. -- are buried. >> the germans did not exactly note when and where. they were caught by surprise. these are french guns, either 75's or 110's. that could hit either the front of the lines, or the rear area. a lot of it was for morale. watch theseu artillery pieces, you can see they have automatic recoil.
as opposed to earlier wars, people had to move them physically. >> here you can see wire, which is an important defensive structure. when soldiers move forward -- first off the artillery was supposed to break through the wire, but it ultimately didn't. you have troops that would carry clippers. alice: a very dangerous task. >> jumpoff, another synonymous term for world war i, meaning leaving the trenches and heading forward. host: through the wire. wow. >> through the wire. alice: you can see there is no c over at all. >> these were tanks that the french provided the americans. although he was not in charge of the tank corps, the most famous was george s patton.
host: again, this was the army air corps? how significant was their contribution to the effort? >> as you can see, it is often cloudy in northern france. some places did not get into the air because the cloud cover was so low. planes would have been used more for reconnaissance alerting the troops. or when there was a large concentration of enemy troops. they mentioned a barrage. the idea of a roger was artillery fire that provided
cover for the american troops. they would time it so that artillery would go ahead of the troops and move it forward. it did not always work out that way and you had a system of friendly fire. alice: a law of these battlefields had been used already four years by the germans and french. fresh fields.just they have been devastated. many of these judges are german trenches. host: we talk about the event of medical technology. alice: they had a lot of sophisticated medical technology. the professionalization of nurses and occupational therapists trying to expand the use of triage and bringing casualties out of the front lines to hospitals. they could get more sophisticated treatment. you had a lot of university
hospitals that would go over as a team. you had skilled doctors, nurses, and surgeons that would volunteer services to go as a unit to europe. a graphic showing the events of the allied effort in france. >> all of their objectives were captured in one day september 12. this is the 13th the next day where they are mopping up. this is a great morale boost for the americans. the other allied commanders were skeptical about the americans. it was the american first army under pershing leadership who drove the germans of. 2 of the most famous work rags and sergeant stubby.
next week would be a greater offensive. >> we saw the doughboys interacting with families. of frenchere hundreds villages occupied or the germans. the americans came and liberated them. not having enough food, father -- food, water, heat. pow's were brought to camps. they called them cages. watchs were allowed to captured.ce they were host: this is one of the
offensive work americans supported efforts by the allies. >> this is primarily americans with support from the french, plus the air power used by the italians and british. here is a completely different theater, the so-called hindenburg line north of paris, where 2 american divisions had spent time with 2 national guard. they would attack one of the positionsdefensive late in september. host: complemented by the australians. >> yes. the australians love the americans. roads, youing at the get a sense how the landscape had to be manipulated.
-- pontoon bridges, trucks there was so much logistics as part of the battlefields and trenches. adjusting.l is the tunnel was built by napoleon. when the germans built their defensive system in 1917 and for, they used the tunnel communications. host: now we're going into america's greatest battle. >> ultimately 47 days. more than one million american troops. do you the number of losses? >> roughly 26,000 americans died during the battle. 100,000 were wounded. host: and in the worst of
conditions if looks like. >> if you have been to france in this part of fall, it rained almost every day. these roads have been used in previous battles numerous times. they were not in the best condition. engineers were trying to fill in holes using lumber, stones from houses that have been decimated. way to get the best transportation to the front. >> massive truck it jams. -- massive traffic jams. importantcame an battle of transportation. the americans have a division of fighting, almost 20,000 officers.
being in a hot air balloon over an active battlefield? >> no. i like how the film shows these different technologies from the balloons to the airplanes. you see the eclectic techniques used in the first world war. >> here are american troops in french trenches, waiting for the initial jumpoff on the 26th. can you imagine how nervous they must have been? host: these are 18-year-old, 19-year-old. >> some have fought previously, but a majority had not seen,. -- had not seen combat. host: what are they saying here? >> the artillery started around 1:00 a.m.. thousands of guns without the night sky. -- lit up the night sky.
>> artillery barrage was so important to repair the soldiers for advancing. host: they give homage to the teutonic preparedness, the german warmaking ability. >> they certainly were the best troops in world war i. as this battle with proof, the americans came of age. they were first rate fighters. had the war not ended in an alley victory, the world would have gone on. host: is this a credit to general pershing? >> i think so. he is heavily criticized because of open warfare and throwing his troops piecemeal at the germans. he told that was the only way -- he felt that was the only way to break through. in reality they learned small tactics. >> this gives you a sheer size
of the battlefield. of such alefields are scale, but today you can't go around them on one foot. to drive them to see the space these troops carried. >> massive fields where you are exposed. it is amazing that any success at the. -- success happened. the filmmakers continue to narrate the days of the battle. 47 days since this particular offense of. >> the other allied commander
thought it would go much longer. guns were smaller mobile artillery, kind of like mourners used for close range fighting. for close range fighting. these machine gun nests for a real detriment to the americans. man was able to capture 232 germans in the forest. americans are using french technology, weapons developed by other countries. problem, you had smoke plus fog plus rain. soldiers tocult for recognize where they were.
compasses do not always work. soldiers became separated from their units a month and often ended up with other units were got captured. high ground in the area was important for americans to capture. it took 2 days. it drove the germans from that particular part of the high ground. >> it became an iconic symbol of american progress, the cite of a major. you can see the benefits of capturing that feel. -- capturing that hill. >> there is some nick -- question about where this nickname started. it is believed it dates back to the mexican-american war, when the americans were covered in
dust and looked like the adobe houses in mexico. -- have heardn other explanations. of this was because this was the largest battle involving americans. more than one million american troops. it became a symbol of world war i for the americans. even though it took 47 days, the americans were able to break through the german position. had the americans not attacked in this area, it is hard to imagine that the war would have ended anytime soon. it might have ended in favor of the germans. c?t: c in commander in chief. >> when things were going well
and into mid-october, the allied commanders were starting to call for pershing's head. aef,d not only committed but the first army. he recognized that was too much for him and steps down as first army commander. again, having the dogs as a mascot. >> you can see the conditions they were living in, walking these huge fields. it is quite a burden on the body. >> more pows. >> the germans were starting to surrender in droves. many hadgnized that been in line for at least three years.
there seem to be a lot of people standing around. >> most people have probably never seen a movie camera before. to see someone filming would have been rare and exciting. they probably wanted to get in on the action of the film. there were three main decorations during the war. next to the medal of honor, there was a distinguished service cross, then a distinguished service medal. the silver star and purple heart were awarded to world war i soldiers, but not until later on in the 1930's. interesting.
>> there were so many mascots they had. you can see a playful side as well. >> columbus providing welfare to the salvation army. you had entertainers come over. you had a stage and film star from new york who came with her mom to entertain from the british sector. some of the new york soldiers had their own group of actors. >> a film director who did the iggersin the 1930's, "gold " 1943. he did overseas entertainment with the army.
>> don't forget about the influenza within the -- epidemic, which devastated the troops. the best doctors were brought in from the u.s. civilians along the east coast were suffering because there were not enough doctors. so many of them were in the army. >> you can get a but -- you can get a much better idea of how influenza spread quickly. >> not a lot of hygiene. people close together for a long periods of time. detonated,s, once would stay on whatever plans were alive.
were alive. grass soldiers would be impacted later on. >> you can see the struggles they are having, trying to push another vehicle that is probably stuck in the mud. >> moving what looks like artillery forward. >> in world war i, they would rotate troops out. you have them going behind the lines to front-line trenches. they would not be has worn out. intendedt work as always, but that was the main goal. >> for the most part, soldiers moved on foot. if they were going long distances, they would be transported by motor vehicle, often driven by chinese drivers led by the french.
host: have you guys wondered how they had the energy to fight between the long distances to walk, the roads they have to grade, and then fight the battle? >> that is a good point. exhaustion must have been great. planes?ing about these >> these were french models used by the americans. host: now strongly reinforced. october, early part of germans have brought up a number of divisions. they were really holding their ground against the americans. the battle was starting to fall apart if it. regroup.had to it started september and october, where the germans were preventing the americans from moving forward.
host: it is quite stunning to look at these battle scenes between the germans, french, and british. i think of what strong allies we are today. >> you can see the progression of history, but the people fighting in these wars did not know what was going to happen. we have a privileged way of looking back at it. >> these are the beginnings of coalition warfare. today we have nato. it is not unusual for american troops and french troops fighting together, analogous to the war against terrorism. timeis the first americans, french, and british joins together and form on the
same battlefield and served under each other's armies. host: when you look at these extreme conditions, today we are familiar with the terms being shellshocked. we did not know much about that at the time. imagine what the reentry was like. >> it would have been difficult. people recognize if they don't know what to call it were treated -- or treat it. that is why use also many veterans struggling after the war. >> this is an area where there was heavy fighting between the first and 35th division. this river is strategically important.
>> you get a sense of the distance is these armies had to go to gauge in battles. the danger of transporting troops across an open field. miles, whichut 34 was quite large. >> many of these roads are very similar today if you drive along the battlefields. created in thes 1920's. it is interesting to compare those landscapes. just as the american civil war battles are preserved. they preserved in europe? >> from my experience, there are a lot less visitors to them. it is more untouched. in other sectors where the french and british had a famous battle, like verdun, they are preserved in ways we went see
more as tourist spots. >> the american battle monuments commission. --d job of turning it if you visit the battlefields today, you have to use your imagination. you have to find out where the fighting was. host: what happened to the french villagers displaced by these battles? i am sure many lost their lives. how were they given care and comfort? >> some of them never returned. although some villagers returned and some left for shelter, many were wiped out. today there are even remnants of villages that were never restored. >> as the germans started coming
in either the french went to southern france to get away from the war zone. some were captured and used as civilian labor by the germans, some even brought to germany. here it points out that the americans have broken through. it is the beginning of november. behind-the-scenes, the germans are negotiating an armistice based on president wilson's 14 points. they know that the war is pretty much done. or givingot ending it up, unless they can get some say in the peace discussion. the fighting continues. despite the fact that americans are overwhelming germans, they are still fighting back. it continues to be high casualties.
>> of course these look like older men and families. people that have gone through a lot. host: this is now late october 1919? >> this is the second phase. this is the third week in october. host: an pharmacist declared -- an armistice declared november 11. here they are talking about the november 11 armistice. it is a cease-fire, not necessarily a surrender. >> you can see the joy on the soldiers faces. >> they were still fighting until the last minute. that meant soldiers were dying, even though they knew there would be an armistice. >> did all fighting stopped on the 11th? >> some of it lingered because word did not reach.
it was very critical for the americans for the postcard -- part.e most >> these are french followed by some americans. people were so devastated and part. neutralized by the war, it is difficult to imagine what their feelings must have been at the time. >> here is the american truth. parading triumphantly through paris. it took a while for the americans to come back home. it wasn't until 1919 that they had enough troop transportation to get them back to the u.s. welcomedch every city the troops back,. >> let's end where we begin.
the troops are coming home. what is america's reaction to what happened? >> it is interesting you bring that up. it is a joy to see the troops come over. newspapers are posting special editions. slowly as the troops come home, a lot of them don't want to talk about the war. some of them saw such horrible fighting, they don't want to talk about it. they don't -- they want to get back into civilian society. slowly the americans stored to forget about the war. even as they are trying to think about it, you have other things going on. you have the volstead act, with provision. -- prohibition. the country has changed significantly. so many of the soldiers did not want to talk about war. they did not write about it
until later on, unlike the civil war. >> many of these soldiers and service members struggled to adjust back to life in the u.s. once the war was over. it was mostly world war i veterans that crafted the g.i. bill that would help world war ii veterans cope better you see people. learning from their experiences, trying to figure out better ways for the next generation of the military to cope with them. >> our thanks to both of you. this rare footage shot by members of the army signal corps during actual battle in world war i that we have been able to bring to you today on "reel america" on history tv. >> thank you so much. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily.
in 1979, c-span was created as a public service but america' cable-television companiess, and is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> president president franklin d. roosevelt appointed general george c. marshall u.s. army chief of staff in 1939. next, professor andrew roberts discusses marshall's role in america's world war ii victories. he argued general marshall's skills as a strategist transformed the u.s. army despite opposition from president roosevelt and winston churchill. the new york historical society hosted this event. t is just over 50 minutes. >> we are so very pleased to welcome back andrew roberts, the distinguished fellow at the new york historical society. professor roberts is a fellow of the royal historical society in london and a recipient of the 2016 bradley p