National WWI Museum and Memorial
National WWI Museum and Memorial
A | Animals
Over 16 million animals served during World War I. This included cats, dogs, horses, mules, camels, monkeys, carrier pigeons, even bears and lion cubs. All played a crucial role in the war effort while also acting as companions for military personnel on both sides.
B | Barbed Wire
Originally developed in the United States to restrict cattle movements, barbed wire was used during World War I as a deadly means of hindering troop movements across No Man’s Land. Years after the war, French and Belgian farmers were still removing it, along with artillery shells, from their fields.
C | Champagne
Though most famous for its production of sparkling wine, the Champagne region of France was also at the forefront of fighting during World War I. Despite the destruction, wine production continued, with the modern dry style of champagne emerging after the war due to a shift in market from Russia to Great Britain.
D | Doughboy
Likely originating while Americans were stationed on the Mexican border prior to World War I, the term “doughboys” became the most enduring nickname for General John J. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Forces that fought with the Allies in France.
E | East Africa
The war in East Africa proved just as violent and horrific as that seen on the European fronts. German forces in the colony held out against the Allies for the entire war, not surrendering for several weeks after the November 11 armistice on the Western Front.
F | French 75
The French 75 was a quick-firing field gun developed around the turn of the twentieth century. It is also the name of a World War I-era cocktail, made from gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar with a kick that felt like one was being shelled with the famous artillery piece.
G | Gas
The first successful use of poison gas occurred at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. By the end of the war, both sides had used chlorine, phosgene and mustard gas against the enemy with horrific effect.
H | Harlem Rattlers
Part of the 93rd Division, the 369th Infantry Regiment, or “Harlem Rattlers,” was an African American unit that fought with the French on the Western Front. One of the most decorated units of the war, the 369th witnessed the awarding of the French Croix de Guerre to Private Henry Johnson, the first American to receive that honor.
I | Isonzo River in Italy
From 1915 to 1917, the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies fought twelve battles along the Isonzo River in what is now Slovenia. The final battle, also known as Caporetto, was a disastrous defeat for the Italians, who were nearly knocked out of the war.
J | Jazz
Born in New Orleans in the late nineteenth century and rooted in African and European musical traditions, jazz was introduced to the European continent during World War I. One of the most famous bands to do so was James Reese Europe’s 369th Regimental Band.
K | Kut al-Amara
After suffering a near-150-day siege, British forces surrendered to the Ottoman Empire at Kut al-Amara in modern day Iraq. Although a great victory for the Ottomans, they were ultimately unable to use the success to their advantage, allowing the Allies to regain the initiative in Mesopotamia.
L | Lingerie
Perhaps one of the least-known transformations brought on by World War I is the accelerated shift in women’s fashion, especially lingerie. The corset, the literal backbone of women’s dress, was replaced with more loose-fitting undergarments including the brassiere.
M | Mud
Mud was an integral part of the First World War, in the same way that artillery, trenches, barbed wire and machine guns were. This was especially true on the Western Front, which countless photographs and personal accounts attest to.
N | Nurses
Women volunteered as nurses from the war’s outset in 1914, working for the Red Cross and assisting with humanitarian efforts on both sides. In the U.S., women not only volunteered but also served in the U.S. Army and Navy Nurse Corps, receiving equal pay and benefits.
O | Oil
Typically associated with the Allied war machine of World War II, oil was first developed as an industry of war a generation earlier, with airplanes, motorized vehicles and ships relying on the fuel. Oil was also one of the key factors behind the postwar mandate system in the Middle East.
P | "Polar Bears"
The American contingent of troops sent to aid the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War was nicknamed the “Polar Bear Expedition” because it was stationed in Siberia. Consisting mostly of men from Michigan and Wisconsin, the men fought against Bolshevik forces well after the November 11, 1918 Armistice.
Q | Quentin Roosevelt
The youngest son of former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, Quentin Roosevelt was killed in aerial combat over France in July 1918. Originally buried with full honors by the Germans, Roosevelt’s body was later moved to the Normandy American Cemetery to be next to his eldest brother Ted (Theodore) who died in France in 1944.
R | Razors, Safety
In existence before the twentieth century but made inexpensive and disposable by King Camp Gillette, safety razors reduced the skill level needed for shaving. During World War I, Gillette provided all American soldiers with a field shaving kit that they were allowed to keep once returning home.
S | Souvenirs
The collection of war souvenirs was a means by which soldiers could both remember the conflict and tell the story of their experience. One very popular example was trench art, decorative pieces made from artillery or rifle cartridges.
T | Tanks
One of the most important technological innovations of World War I was the tank, designed to break the stalemate on the Western Front. They first appeared on the battlefield in 1916 and while slow and bulky, they did offer protection to troops. The full military potential of the tank was not realized until World War II.
U | U.S. Signal Corps Telephone Operators
One of the more famous American army groups was the U.S. Signal Corps Telephone Operators, an all-women’s unit that worked the switchboards connecting the front lines with supply depots and the AEF military leadership. Despite their valuable contribution to the war effort, the women were denied veteran status, and the benefits that entailed, until the 1970s.
V | Versailles, Treaty of
A main component of the 1919-1920 Paris Peace Conference, the Treaty of Versailles ended the war between Germany and the Allies. Its harsh treatment of Germany, which included the infamous “war guilt clause,” reflected France’s, and to a lesser extent, Great Britain’s, desire to punish the defeated nation.
W | War Memorials
In the aftermath of World War, I towns and cities across the world erected war memorials to remember and commemorate their loss. In 1926, Kansas Citians dedicated what is now known as the National WWI Museum and Memorial.
X | X-Rays
When war broke out in 1914, Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie put her scientific research on hold and developed the first radiological ambulances. Equipped with X-Ray machines operated by women Curie trained, they allowed wounded soldiers at the front to receive immediate, and potentially lifesaving, medical care.
Y | Yeomen
Beginning in early 1917, women in the U.S. could enlist in the navy due to a loophole in the Naval Act of 1916. Known as Yeoman (F), they served as radio operators, mechanics, truck drivers, stenographers, cryptographers, nurses and munitions makers. Their voluntary participation helped pave the way for greater female participation in the military.
Z | Zeppelin
First built before 1914, Zeppelins were initially used by the German army and navy for reconnaissance. As the war settled into a stalemate, the airships were sent to bomb British cities, with the first raid in early 1915. By the time Zeppelin raids were called off in 1917 (due to increased British anti-airship defenses), over 1500 British civilians had been killed.
Curator of Education: Lora Vogt
Digital Content Manager: Liesl Christman
Special Projects Historian: Dr. Jennifer Zoebelein
Senior Curator: Doran Cart
Registrar: Stacie Petersen
Director, Archives and Edward Jones Research Center: Jonathan Casey
Made possible in part by the generous support of the William T. Kemper Foundation, the Regnier Family Foundation and the David T. Beals, III Charitable Trust.