Despite a premonition that he was going to die, Sgt. Gordon L. Rhodes did not hesitate when the signal was given to prepare for advance. The 25-year old soldier from Kinston, North Carolina, dug his fingers into muddy trench walls and pulled himself over the top. He crawled forward and motioned for his platoon follow. The division was lining up belly down on a white tape which the 105th Engineers had placed on the ground forward and parallel to the zig-zagged trenches.
At Zero hour, exactly 5:50 a.m., Sunday, September 29, 1918, 16 brigades of British artillery opened up with one the heaviest barrages ever put down on German lines. The earth began to quiver and shake as other heavy Allied artillery joined the attack. Red, green and white rockets from the German trenches arched into the air as signals for the German guns to return fire.
Sgt. Rhodes' platoon was part of F Company 119th Infantry Regiment, United States Army's 30th Division. Within the ranks of the 119th were a number of other Kinston men. The objective that day was to break through a heavily fortified German position known as the Hindenburg Line. But first the American "doughboys" would have to cross through "no man's land," and the 119th and 120th Infantry Regiments had been designated to lead in the attack.
THE HINDENBURG LINE
The Germans had spent four years constructing and fortifying the Hindenburg Line near Verdun, France. The line consisted of three rows of heavy barbed wire, each row 30-to-40 feet in depth. Behind the wire entanglements were three rows of trenches which criss-crossed in front of the San Quentin Canal and the village of Bellicourt. The canal, built by Napoleon, flowed through a tunnel which was about a mile and a half long and ran beneath Bellicourt. From the tunnel and canal were concrete passageways to the village and to various other German concrete bunkers and trenches.
Behind Bellicourt and the canal were open fields with more barbed wire entanglements and trenches called the Catelet-Nauroy Line. Although the Germans had never been able to capture Verdun, the French and the British had been just as unsuccessful at pushing the Germans back from the Hindenburg Line.
THE 30TH INFANTRY DIVISION
Of the more than 86,000 men and women who went into the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard from North Carolina during World War I, the largest number served in the 30th Division. The 81st, nicknamed the "Wildcat" Division, had the second highest number of North Carolinians.
The 30th Infantry Division was created July 18, 1917 shortly after the United States entered the fighting in World War I. It was organized as a division on August 3, 1917 when it went into training at Camp Sevier near Greenville, South Carolina. The troops comprising the 30th were state militia and National Guard units of Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, many of which had seen active duty on the Mexican border. Two of the 30th's four regiments of infantry - the 119th and 120th - plus the 113th Field Artillery and the 105th Engineers were made up of a majority of North Carolinians.
From the outset of its beginning in South Carolina, the 30th became known as the "Old Hickory" Division in honor of Major General Andrew Jackson (1767-1845).
After completing its training at Camp Sevier, the 30th sailed to England on May 1, 1918 as part of the American Expeditionary Force under General John Joseph Pershing. Once the 30th arrived in England, it was assigned to the British Armies in northern France for training in trench warfare.
On July 9, 1918, the 30th entered combat.
Upon its arrival in France, the 113th Artillery was detached and sent south as part of the American Army and took part in the Meuse-Argonne battle. It did not rejoin the 30th Division until after Armistice.
The 30th and the 27th American Division from New York were the only American divisions placed with the British Army.
In August, 1918, the 30th Division was assigned the Canal Sector from Ypres to Voormezele, Belgium. On September 1, the 30th advanced 1,500 yards, capturing the Lankhof Farm, Lock Number 8 on the canal, and the city of Voormezele.
On September 12, the 30th took part in the battle of St. Mihiel, after which the division was moved to an area near Verdun. There it was ordered to participate in an Allied attack against the "impregnable" Hindenburg Line.
Orders were given for the 46th British Division to attack the Hindenburg Line from the right. The North Carolina doughboys of the 30th Division were to attack in the center near the San Quentin tunnel. The 27th Division of New York was to attack on the left. The Australians were to wait in reserve and follow the 30th through.
At Zero hour, whistles shrilled, signaling the North Carolina regiments to begin the assault. They were among thousands of other soldiers who "went over the top" that September morning.
The Tarheels moved forward close behind American tanks that were grunting and grinding as they plowed lanes through the German barbed wire.
Sgt. Rhodes gallantly led his platoon forward despite the hail of German machine gun bullets and exploding shells. North Carolinians began falling beneath the deluge of shells and machine gun bullets that were whining through - 100 to the minute per gun. Hot metal shrapnel slammed into their bodies splattering human flesh all over the battle field. Smoke from the exploding shells mixed with dust and poisonous gas and blanketed the battlefield.
The screams of the wounded and dying echoed through the haze from all directions. Confusion became chaos. No one knew where his company officers were. Many had already been killed and the stench of death was everywhere. The shells continued to fall and hundreds of machine guns fired point blank into the Americans.
Still Sgt. Rhodes, like the other doughboys of the 30th , continued to charge the German line.
By 7:45 a.m., the 30th had overrun the German trenches and were beginning to cross San Quentin Canal to capture Bellecourt. One company stopped in Bellecourt and flushed the remaining Germans out of cellars and dugouts. Another company moved quickly, seizing all exits from the San Quentin tunnel, trapping some Germans inside.
Forward they continued, crossing through the wire entanglements and trenches of the Catelet-Nauroy Line. By 11:30 a.m., the 30th had captured the fortified village of Nauroy, and by 11:45 a.m. had finished cleaning up Bellicourt.
The men of the 30th had done it. They had broken through the Hindenburg Line.
They lay down in exhaustion.
To the right, the 46th British Division had bogged down and not kept pace with the 30th Division. On the left, the 27th American Division from New York was still battling desperately to take the village of Bony. They also had failed to keep up with the Southerners.
It became clear that the North Carolinian doughboys of the 119th and 120th Regiments were the first of the Allied Army to storm and cross the "impenetrable" Hindenburg Line.
It also soon became clear that the 30th Division's gallant and critical attack and seizure of the Hindenburg Line had delivered a critical blow to Germany's will to continue the fight. By shattering the Hindenburg Line, the North Carolinians had opened the road to final victory.
Just over a month later, on the 11th hour and 11th day of November, 1918, Germany capitulated and signed the Armistice. The war was over.
Although the casualty lists of the United States were quite small when compared to those of the European armies (over nine million combatants lost their lives from 1914 to 1918), the few months of battle in which the American Expeditionary Force participated was one of the deadliest periods in American military history. After no more than seven months of fighting, 275,948 American soldiers had become casualties -- 50,554 were killed in action or died of wounds, and an additional 69,550 died of other causes in France and the United States.
The 30th Division had engaged in several other fights by the time it was withdrawn from the battlefield in November. The "Old Hickory" Division had lost 1,652 killed in action and 9,429 wounded for a total of 11,081 casualties.
North Carolina sent 86,450 men into the combat zone. Of that number, 933 were killed in action or died as a result of their wounds. Another 1,542 died of diseases or other causes.
In October 1918, the family of Sgt. Gordon Lee Rhodes was unofficially notified that Sgt. Rhodes had been killed in action in France.
Then on November 1, the Rhodes family received official word that their son had been killed on September 29. The Kinston Free Press reported that a letter had arrived that same day from Lyle Smith, of New Bern "stating that he had an agreement with Gordon Rhodes that in the event one was killed the other should inform the bereaved relatives." Smith said that the regimental chaplain was in possession of the bulk Sgt. Rhodes effects.
The Free Press reported November 7, that Rhodes' mother , Mrs. Etta Brinson Rhodes had received another letter from Sgt. D.S. Barrus of Kinston telling her more about the death of her son.
Barrus said that he was with Sgt. Rhodes the day before he was killed and was just to the right of his company "in the battle at the Hindenburg line." He said that the captain of F Company had described Sgt. Rhodes as "exceedingly brave" and that he planned to personally write Mrs. Rhodes.
J. Marvin Rochelle another Kinstonian with the 119th Infantry wrote home describing "the Hindenburg line at the point where the Carolinians attacked" as a "great nest of machine guns." He said that he had learned where Sgt. Rhodes was buried and that Rhodes had died bravely.
Also in November of that year, the Rhodes family received a message from the War Department informing them that their other son Private Richard L. Rhodes had been "slightly wounded in action in France in the late summer" and that Richard was OK and had been returned to duty on September 2nd .
Finally on November 30 the Free Press reported: "A premonition that he was going on a fatal mission obsessed Gordon L. Rhodes on the day in September that he, a Kinston sergeant, at the head of a platoon of the 119th Infantry broke the Hindenburg line and was killed . . . Young Rhodes did not stop at the enemy works. He went beyond them. He told his brother, Richard L. Rhodes a short time before the action that he 'had been assured a home in Heaven'. He was a pronounced Christian. 'He felt like he was going to his reward,' says a letter from Musician Richard Rhodes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. E. L. Rhodes. A touching service was held at the soldier's grave."
FIRST KINSTONIANS SHIP OUT
The October 5, 1917 edition of Kinston's Daily Free Press reported on the arrival of the first men from Kinston to reach the battle front:
"The anxious hearts of parents, loved ones and friends were relieved Friday morning with the receipt of cablegrams announcing the safe arrival of Lieutenants Robert H. Rouse and Richard Harry Lewis, sons respectively of Mr. And Mrs. N.J. Rouse and Mr. And Mrs. E.B. Lewis, at a British port. A cablegram was also received by Mrs. G.P. Fleming from her brother Sergeant Hal Beasley of the Medical Corps of the Regular Army, who was aboard the same ship with Lieutenants Rouse and Lewis. Mr. Henry Miller, a former resident of Kinston, was also with the contingent, the Free Press is informed.
"Lieutenants Rouse and Lewis graduated with high honors at the first officers' training school at Fort Oglethorpe and were among the first to be selected to be sent to France. They left Kinston about six weeks ago and remained at an Atlantic port for some days. The exact date of their sailing was not, of course, made known. They are the first representatives of Kinston to reach the battle scenes and the news of their arrival has been awaited with general interest."
FIRST LENOIR COUNTY MAN TO DIE
The first Lenoir County man to fall on the battlefields of France was Private 1st Class Joseph Dixon Rountree of Company C, 1st Division, 28th Regiment.
Private Rountree entered service April 19, 1917 at Kinston. He was sent to Savannah, Ga. and then transferred to Texas. He fought at Cantigny and was wounded there May 30, 1918.
The Free Press reported July 9, 1918, "Mrs. L.A. Cobb [Rountree's foster mother] is in receipt of a telegram from Adjutant-General McCain stating: 'Deeply regret to inform you that it is officially reported that Private Joseph D. Rountree, Infantry, died May 31 from wounds received in action.'"
In 1919 several of Kinston's veterans organized an American Legion Post in Kinston. The members voted to honor Lenoir County's first World War I casualty by naming the new post Joseph Dixon Rountree Post 43.
COMMANDER PARROTT KILLED INSTANTLY IN ACCIDENT AT SEA
Lt. Commander G. Fountain Parrott of Kinston was one of about 30 officers and men lost in the sinking of the destroyer Shaw in English waters in October of 1918. Lt. Cmdr. Parrott's younger brother Dr. Albert DeK Parrott told the Kinston Free Press that he was apparently killed instantly when the British liner Aquitania crashed through the sides of the American warship.
Dr. Parrott and his father, ex-Senator George F. Parrott, traveled to New York where they spent a half day with Lt. Albert G. Berry, a survivor of the Shaw accident.
Lt. Berry, who was the son of retired Admiral Berry, told them that Lt. Cmdr. Parrott had just been assigned to the Shaw as her commanding officer and had gone aboard a short time before the collision. They and other officers were asleep in the officers' quarters in the bow of the destroyer when the accident occurred at an early morning hour.
According to Lt. Berry, the Aquitania, in the American transport service, was met by a flotilla of some half dozen destroyers at a distance of 30 or more knots from Portland Bight.
All the ships were zigzagging. There was trouble with the Shaw's steering gear as the destroyer approached the larger vessel. The Aquitania cut her in two. Her bow pierced the Shaw at the point where the officers were quartered. Lt. Berry said he believed lt. Cmdr. Parrott and Lt. Edwards of Virginia were both killed instantly.
The blast of a siren awakened Lt. Berry. When he left his berth, water was deep in the compartment. He groped about in utter darkness for the door to his room. Unable to put his hands upon anything that he could identify, he recalled that there was a flashlight in a pocket of his coat. He found the light and turned it on, discovering that the door he sought was over his head. The bow section of the ship was floating on one beam.
Berry got outside and joined other survivors. The section floated three quarters of an hour. The little destroyer died hard, he said.
At a distance of several hundred yards, Berry saw what appeared to be a ship afire. Many explosions were occurring. He thought at the time that the Shaw was still intact and that she was down by the stern. He was shocked when he realized that it was the main part of the Shaw that was exploding and lighting up the skies.
The Free Press stated that Lt. Cmdr. Parrott was the only naval officer from this area, possibly the only Annapolis man from North Carolina, to lose his life in the war. "He was a young officer of fine appearance and gentlemanly bearing," the article noted, "as his fellow officers and subordinates and thousands in his hometown saw him."
OTHER DUTY REQUIREMENTS
Although the majority of the 86,000 were intended for the fighting in France, there were other duty requirements, including guarding the shores of the United States from enemy submarines or other attacks. This was not an idle fear. A German submarine had sunk the Diamond Shoals Lightship off Cape Hatteras.
James Goodwin of Edenton, North Carolina fired the first American shot against Germany during World War I. He was a gunner's mate serving on the Mongolia when it took on a German submarine and sank it.
Frank Jerome of Union County sank a submarine with his second shot fired from the Calhoun. A destroyer was later named for him because of that achievement.
Five letters arrived in Kinston on November 8, 1918 informing the family of signal sergeant F.T. McDevett of the 119th Infantry that he had died. On the same day, however, another letter arrived reporting him much improved in a hospital in England. Lt. Paul Zimmerman of Rocky Mount had written in October that he thought Sgt. McDevett would "probably succumb to wounds" suffered in battle. On October 23, however, Lt. Zummerman said he visited Sgt. McDevett and "found him to be doing well."
During the same month, a young soldier died in battle on the same day and at the same hour that his father had died in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
The Kinston Free Press reported on November 25 that Maj. John Manning of Kinston addressed a letter to Col. W.T. Dortch at Goldsboro. Maj. Manning's letter was written to inform Col. Dortch that his son, Lt. Haston Dortch, was killed in action by an enemy shell. But Col. Dortch was not there to read the letter. He had died "at practically the same hour" as his son.
Catherine Stewart, great great granddaughter of Jesse Jackson, related to the Olde Kinston Gazette a strange occurrence that place during World War I at the Jesse Jackson homeplace at Jackson's Crossroads, south of Kinston.
There were three Jackson brothers from the family in service at that time. The youngest was Burwell Jackson. The family is described as being very close and Alice (Catherine's aunt) raised the children after her parents had passed away.
In July 1918, Alice was getting ready to go to a summer picnic at the New Hope Baptist Church. She was looking in her dresser mirror, fixing her hair, when she saw in the reflection of the mirror her younger brother Burwell come into her bedroom door. Surprised, she was about to ask him when he got back from France. She turned and he just wasn't there.
Needless to say, Alice was too shaken to attend the picnic that day. The family was later notified that Burwell was blown up in France on the same afternoon as the church picnic.
Burwell's body was never located, but there is a memorial marker in the family cemetery next to the house. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his service, second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. The other two brothers returned alive from the war.
KINSTON MAY HAVE BEEN FIRST CITY IN NATION TO CELEBRATE SIGNING OF ARMISTICE
The Thursday, November 7 1918 edition of Kinston's Daily Free Press contained a banner headline declaring: "WORLD WAR IS OVER, Armistice Signed At 11; Last Gun Fired Little Later."
Kinstonians were elated and staged a peace demonstration that night. They had formed a committee and invited everyone to be present, including their cats and dogs. Thousands swarmed down Queen Street and congregated on the courthouse lawn. They heard speeches and yelled and clapped with patriotic enthusiasm. A general fire alarm and the sounding of mill whistles had preceded the demonstration.
There was a problem, however.
The Free Press's announcement was not entirely accurate. The Armistice had not been signed. The Free Press had based its report on a dispatch issued and signed by Roy W. Howard, President of the United Press Association.
Howard's message "was based on information from Admiral Wilson in command of American naval forces in French waters." The admiral had prematurely announced the signing of the Armistice between Germany and the Allies at Brest, France, and "United Press, with the admiral's approval," had made it public.
The following day, the admiral withdrew his announcement saying the information was not confirmable and that the fault of the premature announcement did not lie with the United Press.
On Thursday afternoon, the Free Press attempted to correct the error, but Kinston did not seem to pay attention or care about the denials that were being released. The people remained elated that peace was at hand.
The Free Press did manage, however, on Monday, November 11 to be possibly the first newspaper in the nation to break the real story of the signing, which had taken place in France at 11 a.m. on the 11th of November French time.
Within minutes of the signing, the editor of the Free Press had received a long distance telephone call which occurred at 3:15 a.m. Kinston time. In less than an hour, at 4:54 a.m., a Kinston Extra was on Queen Street announcing the signing of the Armistice. Kinstonians were awakened early that morning to the news boys' cry: "Free Press Extra. The war is over."
WHAT THE VETERANS SAID ABOUT
"We were supposed to have a solid front to move forward at the same time, but it didn't last . . . . The air was filled with smoke, and dust, and fog to where you didn't have much chance to keep your sense of direction. I think that partially accounts for the disorder we had within the ranks. A few of us could stay together, but if we got maybe forty feet away from the other men we couldn't see those men . . . We got scattered." -- Sgt. Roby Yarborough of Lexington, North Carolina
"The Germans shot up flares on their rifles and the people who had gotten through the wire were just clear shooting, and they (the Germans) used their machine guns very effectively, and a great many of our men were killed or wounded . . . We were sitting ducks and they mowed our men down like grass." - Private Isham Hudson, a replacement in the Wildcat Division from Winston Salem.
"One poor lad came to me, soaking wet and limping holding one puttee in his hand. He had a bullet through the shinbone. Though frightened, I did the best for him I could in the way of binding his wound, and found a place where the water was not standing so deep in the trench, and asked him to wait there for the stretcher bearers." -- Private Isham Hudson of Winston Salem, North Carolina.
"I was a stretcher bearer in the Hindenburg Line for about a half a day. We had to step on these dead soldiers to keep from going in the water and the mud so deep and throwing the (wounded) off the stretcher . . . . that's unbelievable . . . . (People) don't believe you when you tell them . . . ." -- Private Clarence C. Moore of the 117th Infantry Brigade.
"The worse mess we got into was in Belgium. We had to eat horse meat up there. It was so coarse it was sort of like eating shoe strings. That was all the meat we had - well no - they had those old Belgium rabbits, and they were just about as bad as the horse meat." - Clarence C. Moore.
"While I was up there in the trenches they brought up a bucket full of fatback. It was supposed to have been fried, but I think they threw it in there and took it out. I would crack when you bite it. We would reach in there (the bucket) with dirty hands and get some to eat and would be glad to get it." - Sgt. Noah Whitaker of Forsyth County.
"They would tell you in the Army that after an attack you would go back to a rest camp. We would come by these cemeteries, where the soldiers were buried, and we always said, 'There's the rest camp' ." - Isham Hudson
"Harry was the first one killed. He was sort of a chow hound. He finished up early and said, 'Boys, I'm going for seconds.' So, he went for seconds and he caught it in the neck. Up in the woods we had a dugout covered with logs where we were then. He had no place to bury him, so we just rolled him up in a blanket; all we had were blankets. He was just as well off as the rest of us." - R.J. Marshall.
"I remember the night we first got them. We came to a little place where the French had driven the Germans out, and it looked like a good barrack. There was straw in there so everybody stayed in there that night. The next morning when everybody woke up they were full of cooties. The Germans left them there."
Sergeant O.F. Offman of the 81st Division.
"I never will forget it. Our company commander told us 'I got news for you boys, you are going to get lousy tonight.' And sure enough, the place was just full of lice, and we did get lousy. The place was called 'Dirty Bucket,' that was the name of the camp, 'Dirty Bucket'." - Clarence C. Moore.
"April 1918: My first 24 hours on the Western Front. Arrived about 11 o'clock p.m. muddy and tired. It was raining and had been so for many days. Mud was nearly knee deep. . . We finally found our dugout after walking miles it seemed (with) full pack, so slipping and sliding we went in the dugout. It had mud all over the floor and a big pool of water under the boards . . . After unpacking we went to bed or rather got on a bunk. Well, when the candle went out and all was still we got introduced to the trench rats and what a welcome they gave us. Never will I forget it or them . . . ." - R.J. Marshall, "War Diary."
THE FIRST WORLD WAR WAS THE FIRST LARGE-SCALE TOTAL WAR
In the early 20th Century, all the major European powers had through a web of alliances and agreements ranged themselves into two armed and opposing camps.
The oldest alliance was between the German and Austro-Hungarian empires which dominated central Europe. France, Russia and Britain were the major powers of the second alliance.
All these countries were imperial superpowers which were competing with each other to annex or colonize the smaller countries throughout the world.
In 1909, Austria-Hungary grabbed the Balkan states of Bosnia and Herzegovina through annexation which had generated bitter resentment on the part of the Serbs and Russia.
The first shots of the war were fired June 28, 1914 when Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Ferdinand was the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Austria-Hungary accused the Serbs of organizing the killings, setting off a series of diplomatic crises and blunders.
Austria-Hungary reacted by sending to the Serbs an ultimatum containing a list of impossible demands. The message to Serbia was clear: accept the ultimatum or face war.
Assured of Russian support, Serbia rejected the demands, and on July 28, Austria/Hungary invaded.
Russia, Serbia's ally, started to mobilize forces.
Germany, seeking to strike first, declared war on Russia on August 1 and, two days later, began advancing through the neutral country of Belgium to attack Russia's ally, France.
Great Britain, which had guaranteed Belgium neutrality in 1839, responded to Germany's breach of Belgium's neutrality by sending Germany an ultimatum demanding that German forces leave Belgium.
On August 4, Britain declared war on Germany.
Before long, the fighting had spread from Europe to Africa, the far East and onto the oceans. The Senegalese joined the French, some African countries helped the Germans, an Indian army supplemented the British, Portugal joined the Allies in part to defend or extend its African empire, and Japan seized former German possessions in China.
At first, the United States had no quarrel with either side in the war, which was considered a European squabble. Despite strong links of friendship with Britain, the United States remained neutral - until February 1915 when German U-boats began attacking neutral shipping.
In May, the Germans torpedoed the ocean liner Lusitania, killing 1,153 people including 128 Americans.
Even though in 1916 more American ships were sunk, President Woodrow Wilson was reelected as a peace candidate and did not move against Germany. He had pledged in January: "So far as I can remember, this is a government of the people, and this people is not going to choose war."
It was not until 1917 when British intelligence intercepted a secret telegram from Germany to Mexico that the United States jumped into the war. The message (known as the Zimmerman telegram) promised German assistance for Mexico "to regain by conquest its lost territories in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico." The cable, which was dated January 17,1917, was passed on to President Wilson who released it to the press.
The first American troops landed in France in July 1917.
ORIGIN OF VETERANS DAY
World War I officially ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, but it was not until 1919 that President Wilson declared November 11th as Armistice Day as a reminder to Americans of the horrors of war. In 1954, Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all U.S. wars.
Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day is a holiday aimed at honoring the survivors of war while they are still alive.
KINSTONIANS HONORED WITH WORLD WAR MEMORIAL
The Kinston Lions Club, with help from the City of Kinston and Lenoir County, erected a permanent monument to the Lenoir County heroes who gave their lives in World Wars I and II. The memorial contains a list of 20 who died in World War I and 121 from World War II.
The World War I list: Edgar P. Alexander, Jesse R. Alford, Frank R. Brown, Charles W. Carpenter, John L. Croom, John K. Grady, Pearlie H. Harris, Burwell C. Jackson, Don Mercer, Price Morrison, George Fountain Parrott, Jr., Leland A. Patrick, Gordon L. Rhodes, Clem M. Riggs, Joseph Dixon Rountree, Herbert Rouse, Willie Simons, Richard L. Thomas, Arthur L. Turner and Mark W. Tyndall.
World War I had cost Europe very dearly. It was one of the "greatest upheavals" in history involving more than 70 million combatants - nine million of whom lost their lives. The war had ruined the economies of most European countries. High unemployment and civil violence had caused serious instability.
In Russia following the revolution of 1917, the Communists had seized power, and by 1922 in Italy, Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had seized power.
In 1929, a major worldwide economic recession began, casting Germany's already war depleted economy into further deprivation.
A former German corporal who had fought in the trenches of the Western Front began to gain prominence in the internal politics of Germany. After becoming leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis), Adolph Hitler skillfully used the depressed state of the humiliated German people to gain absolute control of Germany.
It soon became clear that all the appalling slaughter of the First World War had been in vain.
Sources for this story include: North Carolina's Role In The First World War by Sarah McCulloh Lemon, North Carolina Doughboys In The Great War 1917-1919 by R. Jackson Marshall III, North Carolina In The World War by Walter Clark, Jr., Internet resources, Heritage Place at Lenoir Community College, J.Y Joyner Library at East Carolina University and the Kinston Free Press.