World War I Centennial

History

As we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Great War,  we remember those from Washington State who fought with allied forces.  

On April 6, 1917, the Congress of the United States, at the behest of President Woodrow Wilson, declared  war on the German Empire after their repeated depredations against civilian shipping and pursuance of total war in Europe.  

The State of Washington played a major role between 1917 and 1918 in this conflict to preserve democracy and check the advance of German imperialism.  Before the United States entered the war in 1917, a group of volunteers started a training camp at American Lake to encourage citizen readiness for the war in Europe.  This led to the construction in 1917 of Tacoma’s Camp Lewis which became the Army’s major West Coast training facility, housing the Ninety-First or “Wild West” Division which bore a green fir tree insignia on their uniforms.

July 1918, 27,000 soldiers from the Ninety-First Division stationed at Camp Lewis sailed for Europe where they performed exceptionally well in the Meuse-Argonne offensive that was launched September 25 and broke through the German lines.  On October 4 the Ninety-First Division stood down and 12 days later fought in Belgium in the Battle of Flanders, one of the final battles of the war and had an outstanding record, capturing 2,300 German prisoners, 400 machine guns, and a large number of field guns and tanks.  The Ninety-First Division suffered losses of 1,100 killed in action or missing while five division soldiers earning America's highest honor, the Medal of Honor, including a University of Washington graduate and Seattle resident, First Lieutenant Deming Bronson (1894-1957), who earned the Medal of Honor for leading several attacks while seriously wounded.  

The Washington National Guard had just returned home from guarding the Mexican border when in March 1917, Washington Governor Ernest Lister (1870-1919) ordered units mobilized. The 2nd Washington Infantry Regiment was drafted into federal service on August 5, 1917, and folded into the 41st Division along with National Guard units from Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.  The 41st Division served as a replacement, training, and depot unit, and is currently the oldest continuously serving infantry division inthe Regular Army having seen continuous service since WWI; and the 146th Field Artillery was formed and after leaving Camp Murray in 1918, saw action near Chateau Thierry; the Aisne-Marne Operation; Saint Mihiel; and the Meusse-Argonne Operation.

The Armistice between the warring nations of WWI was signed on November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.  For 23 years, Americans recognized the 11 hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as Armistice Day, the end of the War to End All Wars. 

After World War II, Armistice Day was re-named Veterans Day to accomodate those who fought in the most recent war.  

World War I Centennial Commission

More than four million American families sent their sons and daughters to serve in uniform during the Great War.

116,516 U.S. soldiers gave their lives in combat. Another 200,000 were wounded,
a casualty rate far greater than in World War II.

More than 350,000 African Americans served in the U.S. military, as did Native Americans and members of other minority groups. And, for the first time, women joined the ranks of the U.S. armed forces. 

Washington State Monuments

Winged Victory today (2012) photograph by Benjamin Helle

Winged Victory Monument

https://des.wa.gov/services/facilities-leasing/capitol-campus/memorials-and-artwork/winged-victory-monument

The winged victory monument on Capitol Campus, honoring those who served in World War I, was first conceived in 1919. Plans were approved in 1927, soon after completion of the main buildings of  Capitol Campus. It was designed by noted sculptor Alonzo Victor Lewis. The monument was dedicated in 1938. The central figure represents the Greek goddess Nike, or Victory, flanked by members of the then-three armed forces: sailor, soldier, and marine, along with a Red Cross nurse.

Listed below are a few of the World War I memorials in Washington.

Can you think of any in your community? Email us

• Causland Memorial Park – Anacortes

• City Hall World War I Memorial – Arlington

• Peace Arch State Park – Blaine

• Veterans Memorial World War I – Bremerton

Spirit of the American Doughboy – Centralia

• Road of Remembrance – Des Moines Memorial Way, Des Moines

• Stonehenge Memorial – Maryhill

• World War Monument Plaque – Mount Spokane State Park, Mead

• War Memorial – Montesano

• World War I Memorial – Okanogan

• Winged Victory Monument – Capitol Campus, Olympia

• City of Puyallup Veterans Memorial – Puyallup

Doughboy (Bringing Home Victory) – Seattle

• Memorial Way – University of Washington Campus, Seattle

• Veterans Memorial Stadium plaque – Snohomish

• War Memorial Park – Tacoma

• Woodland Community Veterans Memorial – Woodland

Events & Exhibits

  • Washington's Great War, World War I in Washington Washington State Historical Society

Profiles & Notables

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

  • Stories of Service

  • Charles Stann Sicade, the son of prominent Puyallup Indian and civic leader, Henry Sicade, enlisted during World War I and went off to fight in France.  He returned and worked for many years in the work in the naval shipyards in Bremerton.

  • Deming Bronson, was a member of the 91st Division during the Muse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. Bronson was hit by a grenade blast, but continued to hold his position and helped capture an enemy trench, during which he was shot in the arm. The next day he helped lead an attack on a French village, where he was hit a third time. Later recovering, he became the only Washington resident to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I.

  • Norman Archibald, son of a prominent Washington family. Archibald enlisted in the Army air corps just days after the U.S. joined the war. He went through training and became a member of the 95th Aero Squadron in France. Shot down and captured by the Germans in 1918, he spent the rest of the war in a prison camp, while his sister became a nurse and his family tried desperately to locate him. Released at the end of the war, he later published a memoir about his experience entitled Heaven High and Hell Deep.

  • William John “Wee” Coyle, a star Quarterback at the University of Washington from 1904-1908, became an officer in the 91st Division and won a medal for bravery leading a night attack against German lines. Later, he was elected to the State Senate and rose to become Lieutenant Governor from 1921-1925

  • Monrad C. Wallgren from Everett was a proud citizen-soldier in the Washington National Guard, served in World War I and became a U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator and the 13th Governor of Washington State

Additional Resources