Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Conscription in America

Lieutenant-Colonel Collings-Wells

Wednesday 6th June 1917

The adjutant of 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has let us know that their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel J S Collings-Wells has been temporarily placed in command of 190th Infantry Brigade in the absence of Brigadier-General H W E Finch. During his absence Major G P Nunneley has taken over command of the Battalion(1).

We have heard heartening news from across the Atlantic, conscription having been introduced yesterday in the United States of America. The American army is small, smaller than was ours in 1914, so this step is necessary to bring it up to suitable strength to tackle the Germans on the Western Front. Naturally, it will take time to train these men. Experience with our own forces suggests it takes about a year from the time a man enlists to the time he and his unit is ready to be sent overseas - many new units were raised in our country in August 1914 and most did not come to France and Flanders until July 1915. With the advent of conscription it should mean that, provided ourselves and our French and Belgian allies have not dealt a knock-out blow to the Kaiser before then, the Germans will find themselves swamped by vast numbers of American troops in early summer 1918.

Source: X550/5/3

(1) Both men would be killed in action on 27th March 1918, Collings-Wells being awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for gallantry.

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