|Private Joseph Edward Avery, AEF|
While the United States remained neutral during the first two and a half years of the First World War, a series of events resulted in an American declaration of war on Germany in early April 1917. Six weeks later, The United States Congress approved the introduction of a military service registration system. In the autumn of 1917, Joseph enlisted with the 326th Infantry Regiment. He spent the winter of 1917-18 training at Camp Gordon, near Atlanta, GA. In April 1918, the 326th relocated to Camp Upton, NY, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Le Havre, France, early the following month.
The 326th set foot on the European continent on May 17, 1918. Within days, its soldiers commenced introductory tours in the line with experienced units, the regiment reporting its first fatality on June 9. Shortly afterward, the 326th’s 82nd Division was placed under the command of the French 7th Army. Joseph and his comrades logged their first tours in the line in the Tour sector, west of Nancy. The Division engaged in its first offensive action on August 4, when its soldiers launched an attack on the German line opposite their trenches.
Meanwhile, American and Allied commanders completed plans for the war’s first American offensive—an attack on the St. Mihiel salient, a 200-square mile triangle protruding for 14 miles into the Allied line between the Moselle and Meuse Rivers. German forces had captured the area early in the war, disrupting communication lines between Verdun and Nancy. American forces officially assumed responsibility for a large portion of the salient’s trenches in late August, the 82nd becoming one of five Divisions occupying sections along its most eastern portions.
In early September, the 326th’s solders entered the salient’s trenches as military commanders completed preparations for the assault, initially scheduled for September 10. Tragically, Private Joseph Edward Avery was not among the victorious American soldiers who secured the salient in a series of attacks that commenced two days after the scheduled date. He was killed in the line on September 7, 1918, and laid to rest in Saint-Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France. No details are available on the specific circumstances of his death.
Joseph’s story is one of 64 profiles contained in Bantry Publishing’s First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II: 1918 - 1937, available for purchase online at bantrypublishing.ca .