On Tobacco and the British

May 19, 1918 – Full diary entry:

“Received first issue of tobacco today.

I would not be greatly surprised if they would send us to the front inside of 10 days. We are now attached to the 30th Div. of the English Army. None of us like the idea at all.”

Supposedly, when asked what he needed to win the war, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, General John Pershing, replied in 1917:

“You ask me what we need to win this war. I answer, tobacco as much as bullets.”

Advertising from the era:


From Clair Kenamore’s From Vauquois Hill to Exermont: A History of the 35th Division of the United States Army:

[The 35th and other newly arrived divisions] were to be reserves to the British army. American newspapers at that time spoke of these American troops as having “finished their training” and of their being attached to the British army. Their training really was not finished, but they had straightened out the kinks left by the long sea voyage, they had acquired a hurried, but acceptable, knowledge of the British rifle with which they were equipped and they would have been able to put up a desperate fight if the British lines ever had given way and the Americans had been called upon to help stop the advancing enemy in the narrow stretch along the sea. But they would have paid a terrible price, for they were not as capable then of taking the field as they were four months later, and the price paid at the later date was dear enough…

The 35th Division did not get along very well with the British. They did not like the British noncoms, or the British soldiers, or the British officers. They conspicuously disliked the British rations, and they loathed tea for breakfast. It is almost impossible to make Missourians and Kansans drink tea for breakfast. 

“But WE have ALWAYS drunk tea for breakfast,” a British mess sergeant pleaded.

“Maybe that’s what is the matter with you,” the American mess sergeant answered coldly.

Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

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