|Homer Newton Batson (left) was a dispatch rider with the
Army’s Motor Mobile Infantry. Batson
but moved to California with his family as
In 1918, a year after the U.S. officially entered WWI, Germany
launched its Spring Offensive in France and Belgium. They hoped to defeat the Allies before
supplies and manpower from the U.S. arrived.
Although the Germans initially made headway, by July the tide began to
turn. The Allies’ Hundred Days Offensive,
which began in August, successfully pushed the Germans back. North Carolina’s 119th and 120th Infantry
Regiments were among those who broke through the German’s defensive line, known
as the Hinderburg Line on September 29, 1918.
North Carolina sent over 86,000 troops to Europe during
the war but the state also played a significant role at home. Three Army bases were established in the
state. Two would close shortly after the
war but Fort Bragg would go on to be the largest military bases in the
U.S. The war itself came to North
Carolina, as well. During the summer of
1918 German U-boats sank eleven vessels, including the Diamond Shoals Lightship,
off the coast in North Carolina waters.
|A group of Transylvania troop.|
All men in the U.S. from the age of 18 to 45 were
required to register for military service beginning in May 1917. Jan Plemmons’ book, I’m in the Army
Now: World War I Veterans of
Transylvania County, NC provides biographical information about local men
who served during the war.
Soldiers were not the only ones doing their part though. Transylvania women knitted and sewed and
collected supplies for soldiers, the Civilian Relief Committee assisted soldiers’
dependents at home, and thousands of dollars were raised locally for the Red
Cross and Liberty Bonds.
Other effects on the home front included shortages of all
kinds. In August 1918, the U.S.
government ordered all newspapers to reduce the use of paper by at least
15%. The Brevard News, which varied in length
from six to sixteen pages, cut down to six to eight pages. They did not issue a longer edition again until
July 4, 1919.
A traveling exhibit from the NC Dept of Natural and Cultural History will be at the Transylvania County Library from May 29 – July 3. Visit the Robert’s Gallery and Local History Room on the second floor, Monday – Friday, to learn about North Carolina’s role in WWI.
Photographs and information for this column are provided
by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.
Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more
about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments,
or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]