So, here’s the results of the green gas floating over the camp that night… and the second anniversary I wanted to bring up. 100 years ago, in November of 1917, the first American forces were put into battle in Cambrai– and they were Engineers.
Interestingly, when America first got involved in World War One, it was for awhile assumed that we would actually not deploy as “American forces” under the U.S. flag, but rather that we would fall into British and French formations and replace lost casualties among their forces. The idea was not wholly without precedent, since large groups of American volunteers had done exactly that– one notable unit (to name a single example) was the Lafayette Escadrille, American pilots that flew for France. They operated French aircraft in French uniforms, but they were in their own squadron where they and their crews spoke English freely to expedite communication.
The American Expeditionary Forces, however, served under their national flag. Originally sent “over there” with the “campaign hat” (the forest-ranger looking hat worn by 1st Sergeant Dawg) the hat proved to be simultaneously practical but also unwieldy in the field. The “garrison cap” became popular (as seen worn by Rock, Albright, and Glass) until the troops went into combat, at which point they put on the British-supplied “Brodie Helmet”. The Brodie helmet is rather like a shallow dish, and I have always likened it to looking like a cereal bowl.
In any case, the Battalion seems to have shifted in time, and have been taken under the wing of a British Army Captain. The European combat forces had been fighting for three years, and viewed the newly-arrived Americans as untested and with low expectations. We’ll see what this means for their immediate future in upcoming episodes.