On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 1918
There will be fair skies over the city today with slightly warmer temperatures. Today’s high will reach 48° but this evening will be chilly with the low about 26°. The Mummers will be holding their 2nd annual ball tonight at Musical Fund Hall, 8th & Locust Street. The clubs attending are Klein, Silver Crown, Lobsters, Grey’s Ferry, Fralinger, Trilby, Biggans, Federal, East Side, South Camden, Sour Kraut Band, Talbot String Band and Young American.
The 4th floor of City Hall has been used for temporary housing for soldiers, sailors and marines passing through the city for training camp or for France. This is necessitated due to the lack of room in the armories of the city or at the Navy Yard. Today 159 soldiers were welcomed to the temporary barracks (shown below). The men brought with them 68 trucks and 5 tanks which are currently parked on City Hall Plaza.
Unfortunately someone or some persons have stolen pillows laid out on the cots the soldiers will be sleeping on. Six collapsible air pillows in all are missing. The cots are located in the north corridor and that area is constantly guarded. The floor is also shared by one of the Municipal Courts which has policemen coming and going throughout the day and by certain units of the police department. The detective bureau is on the floor above. So it is a mystery as to how the pillows could be stolen with so many police officers in the same area. What is certain is that the pillows were not stolen by soldiers since none of them were in the building yesterday.
Twenty-five Americans were awarded the French Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action today. Among those receiving the award was Colonel Douglas McArthur, chief of staff of the 42nd Division (nicknamed the “Rainbow Division”). Colonel McArthur received the award for gallantry in action while assisting French troops during an assault on German trenches which also resulted in the capture of German prisoners in February.
American troops now occupy their first German trenches. They consist of nearly 2 miles along the Luneville front and were taken in broad daylight. The boys that took the trenches are from the Ohio National Guard. One of the men involved will be, unhappily, remembered by Philadelphia baseball fans. He is Hank Gowdy, catcher for the Boston Braves who played superb ball in the 1914 World Series against the A’s. Hank batted .545 in that series and knocked out the only home run as the Braves swept the Athletics in 4 games. Hank was also the first major leaguer to volunteer for service.
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