World War 1(The Great War) began after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian heir, and his wife were assassinated by a Yugoslav nationalist.on June 28, 1914. Blaming Serbia, Austria-Hungary made demands on Serbia that were rejected. Interlocking alliances in Europe caused the dispute in the Balkans to divide into two coalitions – France, Russia and Britain (Allied Powers) vs the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary). The war between these two alliances created the bloodiest war in history at that time. By 1916, the war became a stalemate of trench warfare in France against the German invaders on the western front with opposing trenches extending from Alsace to Belgium. With modern weapons – improved artillery, machine guns, tanks and chlorine gas warfare, millions of soldiers and civilians had already died by 1916.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, the United States maintained a policy of neutrality towards the Allies and the Central Powers. After Wilson was re-elected in November 1916, the Germans continued to sink U.S. shipping. On April 2, 1917, President Wilson requested Congress to declare war on the Central Powers. Thomas Pinkerton Paine of Waterford, Pennsylvania had entered Cornell University in September 1915. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets as required by being a land grant university.

WWI in “The Wars Among the Paines”

Anticipating his involvement in The Great War, Thomas enlisted as a second lieutenant as a training officer on the Cornell Campus on May 31,1917. As a land grant school, Cornell University became an Army, Army Air Force and Navy officer training camp. A new Drill Hall (Barton Hall) was built as an aircraft hangar for the teaching of military aviation. General Jack Pershing was named the commanding officer of the American Expeditionary Force in preparation for its departure for France. However, Pershing insisted that raw recruits be intensively trained in the United States for a year. The existing regular army was sent to France as the AEF (becoming the First Division). Pershing would not let his soldiers be mixed in with the Allied soldiers. He insisted that his regular troops would not enter the battle line until they had at least nine months of training with their new weapons.

2nd Lt. Thomas Pinkerton Paine received his orders to report to Hoboken, NJ by April 1 to board a troopship to embark for France and the First Division, leaving his pregnant wife in Waterford. He arrived at the western front at the time that the First Infantry was the only fully trained American division in France. He was immediately assigned as a platoon leader in the 1/26th. He had been in France for less than one month, but he was about to engage in his first combat mission. The mission was to capture the French town of Cantigny and the surrounding high ground. His story continues in Chapter 13 in “The Wars Among the Paines.”

BATTLE CASUALTIES – WORLD WAR I (1914-1918)

NATION ALLIES TOTAL MILITARY DEATHS (1) CIVILIAN DEATHS (2) TOTAL DEATHS (3)
UNITED KINGDOM 887,000 107,000 994,000
BRITISH EMPIRE 950,000 950,000
BELGIUM 38,000 62,000 100,170
FRANCE 1,357,000 300,000 1,657,000
ITALY 460,000 589,000 1,049,000
ROMANIA 335,000 200,000 535,700
RUSSIAN EMPIRE 1,700,000 730,000 2,430,000
UNITED STATES 116,708 116,708

 

CENTRAL POWERS TOTAL MILITARY DEATHS (1) CIVILIAN DEATHS (2) TOTAL DEATHS (3)
AUSTRIA-HUNGARY 1,494,000 467,000 1,961,000
GERMANY 2,037,000 763,000 2,800,000
OTTOMAN EMPIRE 771,000 1,000,000 1,771,000

(1) ALL CAUSES (2) DISEASES-SPANISH FLU (3) NOT ALL NATIONS INCLUDED

TOTAL ESTIMATED DEATHS IN WW1 = 40,000,000

GALLERY

The Wars Among the Paines

by John M. Millar

“The Wars Among the Paines” documents the Paine family’s saga as citizen soldiers through America’s wars: WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Find out what are the consequences of their experiences both fighting in the wars and leading anti-war movements.

About the Author

John M. Millar grew up in Central Pennsylvania; and graduated from Cornell University in 1966. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1969; graduated from Officer Candidate School in July 1967; served as a First Lieutenant with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969; and received two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal and a Commendation Medal from the U.S. Army. From the Vietnam government, Millar received the Vietnamese Honor Medal and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross for joint operations.