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 – TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 17, 1918
The day will begin with fair skies but clouds will move in as the afternoon continues. Rain is expected overnight. Today’s high will reach 80° with the low about 58°.
Women are now entering jobs that no one would have ever thought possible or appropriate before the war. And now they have become street sweepers. Yesterday eight women began working in West Philadelphia for Cunningham & Murry, street cleaning contractors for the city. Twenty-five women were expected to take the jobs but the others failed to appear. The women who did report for work were assigned to the area bounded from 58th to 63rd Street and Market Street to Larchwood Avenue. The eight are all husky Negresses who took to the work with gusto. The women laughed, sang and chatted to make the hard work enjoyable. Some wore the company issued trouserette uniform while a few worked in skirts, believing that was more ladylike.
In sports, the public high schools of this city have yet to decide whether to play football this season. But the Roman Catholic High School has already decided to field a varsity team regardless of what the public schools do. Forty boys at Catholic High began working out at Cahill Filed, 29th & Clearfield Streets, last week. Coach Frank Geer is away from the city so the practices have been led by team captain Joe Worthington. Due to the lack of decision regarding the public high schools, Catholic High has scheduled games with Radnor High, Wenonah Military Academy, Central High, Chester High, West Chester High, Germantown High and Norristown High.
In national news, at Camp Lee in Virginia an outbreak of Spanish Influenza has struck 500 soldiers. It is believed the flu was brought there by recruits from seacoast cities. None of the patients are seriously ill but they are being quarantined as a precaution. Temporary hospitals are being erected to house the sick. All soldiers at the camp are being given daily medical checks to catch the disease early and segregate the infected. Currently there are 8000 Pennsylvania men stationed at the camp.
Today Field Marshal Haig issued a special order of the day congratulating the American forces on their victory at the St. Mihiel salient. In St. Mihiel church bells rang out to proclaim the end of the German occupation. Military authorities have declared that the operation was one of the most successfully executed offensives of the war. The attack began on September 12 with Americans leading the fight and supported by French troops. The battle plan was devised by General Pershing and included the, very American, component of allowing the commanders in the field to adapt their tactics to the situation they encountered.
The Americans attacked so quickly and furiously that the Germans were taken by surprise. What was thought by Allied observers would take a week or more was accomplished by the Yanks in 5 days. During the course of the battle a number of American commanders exhibited great bravery in the face of the enemy. They include: General Douglas MacArthur who personally led troops of the 42nd Division in battle; Colonel William “Billy” Mitchell who commanded an aerial bombing attack of 1500 airplanes; and Colonel George Patton (shown below) who commanded 3 tank brigades and executed a daring “cavalry-style” attack at Jonville.
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