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World War 1 Combat Chronology

World War 1 Combat Chronology

April is the 100th anniversary of World War I.  So many either never have or have forgotten the key roles played in World War I.  This week and next in the Jackson County Times Profiles of Courage, we outline in chronological order the events of World War I beginning April 01, 1917 and ending November 11, 1918.   This first part of this two-part series will be the events of 1917 with the second part concluding with the 1918 series of events.  We hope this brings to life what our country has sacrificed so that we are the home of the free and the brave!

World War 1 has become the forgotten conflict of the 20th century. Yet its importance in shaping the nation’s destiny was immense. This is a tribute to those 2,171,560 Americans who sacrificed so much in one year on Europe’s Western Front.



April 1

First U.S. Servicemen to die in WW1.

Navy Armed Guard Chief Boatswain’s Mate John Eopolucci perishes in a life boat after the steamer Aztec is torpedoed off France.


April 6

U.S. declares war on Germany.


April 7

First U.S. shot of WW1.

A Marine aboard the USS Supply fires across the bow of a German motorboat from Cormoran in Apia Harbor, Guam. 


April 28

First U.S. Navy KIAs. 

Five sailors of the Armed Guard are KIA when the oil carrier Vacuum is sunk by a German Sub off of Scotland. 


May 4

First U.S. warships --- Destroyer Squadron 8 --- reach Queenstown, Ireland, to aid in the blockade of Germany.


May 19

Draft. Selective Service Act is passed. 


June 5-6

Navy’s first Aeronautical Detachment arrives in Pauillac, France, for training in Caudron aircraft. Naval aviation eventually send 18,00 men to 27 overseas air naval stations. 


June 13

First echelon--- 177 staff members --- of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) lands on French Soil. 


June 26

Naval convoy bringing in the first U.S. troops to France successfully withstands submarine attacks. 


June 26

First U.S. Ground Combat Troops land at St. Nazaire, France. 

13,000 members of the 1st Infantry Division (ID) and 2,759 men of the 5th Marine Regt. Arrive, H Co., 28th Inf. lands first. Doughboys must be a “distinct and separate component of the combined force, the identity of which must be preserved.”


July 9

In the Pacific, the German commerce raider Wolff captures and sinks the American bark Beluya. 14 people including two women are taken prisoner. 


July 14

 First U.S. Casualty of WW1. 

1st Lt. (Dr.) Louis J. Genelba is wounded in action (WIA) by a shell splinter while serving with the British Medical Corps at Arras, France. 


July 31

Armed American oil tanker Montano is torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland: 16 crew and eight Navy gunners drown. 


September 3 

1st U.S. Aero Squadron arrives in France.


September 4

First Americans killed in France.

Germans bomb American hospital units at Dannes Carniers, killing four and wounding nine Doughboys.


September 5

First AEF WIA on Front. Two members of the 11th Engineers are WIS by shellfire at Gouzeaucourt—the first Americans wounded while serving with a U.S. unit at the front. 


September 7

Merchant transport Minnehaha is torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland--- 48 men down.


October 17

Army transport Antilles is sunk by a sub on its return trip to the U.S.--- 70 lives are lost. 


October 21

U.S. 1ST ID troops relieve French forces for the first time in Luneville Sector near Nancy, France. 


October 23

U.S. 5th and 6th Marine Regiments in France are organized as the 4th Marine Brigade, part if the Army’s 2nd ID.


October 23

C Battery, 6th Field Artillery, 1st ID fires the first U.S. artillery shells of WW1. Same day, D.H. Harden, of the 26th Inf. becomes the first U.S. combat solider WIA on the front. 


November 3  

First Lethal U.S. Fire-flight.

U.S. troops engage in trench skirmishing for the first time near Bathlemont in the Luneville Sector near Nancy. Three members of the F Co., 2nd Bn., 16th Inf., 1st ID are the U.S. KIA. – James B. Gresham, Thomas F. Enright, and Merle D. Hay. 


November 5

The American armed yacht Alcedo (SP-166), is torpedoed and sunk by UC-71 off France: 22 lives are lost. 


November 18 

First U.S. naval aircraft sortie of the war is flown by a Tellier flying boat on anti-submarine patrol from Le Croistic at the mouth of the Loire River. 


November 20-Dec 4

Battle of Cambrai.  

U.S. 11th and 212th Engineers (Railway) participate. 11th sustains 18 causalities on November 30. 


December 6

U.S. destroyer Jacob Jones is torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 64 lives the Scilly Isles. 


December 6

U.S. Battleship Division 9 arrives at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys to reinforce the British Grand Fleet as the 6th Battle Squadron.


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