General Pershing and the A. E. F.

Courtesy Reuters

MY EXPERIENCES IN THE WORLD WAR. By GENERAL JOHN J. PERSHING. New York: Stokes, 1931, 2 vols., pp. 400, 436.

THE tale of Memoirs of those who held high command in the Great War is approaching completion. I have read all which have so far been published -- British, French, Italian, German, Austrian and Russian; of them all, General Pershing's appear to me to be the frankest.

Some two-thirds of General Pershing's book is concerned with the creation of the American Army in France, the remainder with its employment. That is natural, for General Pershing landed in France on June 13, 1917, and the first battle fought by an American army under his command began on September 12, 1918, with the attack on the Saint Mihiel salient. The work of creating the army was far longer, more arduous and more complicated than the work of leading it when created. It is clearly beyond the competence of an Englishman to express an opinion upon General Pershing's complaints of the delays and lack of vision of the authorities in the United States, but the opening sentence in his book is sufficient to justify much of the trenchant criticism which follows. He begins: "On May 13, 1917, four weeks after the United States had declared war on Germany, I received the following telegram from my father-in-law, the late Senator F. E. Warren in Washington: 'Wire me today how much you speak, read and write French.'" This was Pershing's first intimation that his employment in France was contemplated, and it was nearly a fortnight later that he was informed of his selection as commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Force. An army is maintained in order that it may be used in war, if the need arises; to be used, the army must have a commander-in-chief. Political considerations may make it advisable to keep the designation secret, even from the general chosen for command, but the choice should be made before the emergency arises, for when war comes it is clearly important that the chosen

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