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’s forecast calls for heavy rain and overcast skies. Up to 3 inches are expected. The temperature will be warm with the high reaching 87° and the overnight low near 59°. Today Governor Brumbaugh issued a proclamation calling on all Pennsylvanians to set aside 5 minutes for prayer and reflection this Memorial Day in remembrance of those soldiers and sailors who have died in the war. The Governor also asked that at Noon all flags be lowered to half-mast and that church bells throughout the Commonwealth be rung. Memorial Day, which is also known as Remembrance Day, will be celebrated on Thursday May 30.

Forty members of the 5th Jewish Unit of the Palestine Expeditionary Volunteers were honored by South Philadelphia’s Jewish organizations yesterday. The men are leaving tomorrow to fight the Turks in the Holy Land. The festivities were held at 6th & Tasker Streets and included a parade, music, food and the presentation of a Zionist flag by the Red Shield of David (a branch of the Red Cross) onto which money was placed in donation to the organization.

Another Philadelphia man has fallen in the cause of Liberty. Lieutenant Paul Kurtz, son of William Kurtz of the banking firm E.W. Clark & Co. 321 Chestnut Street, died in aerial combat  in France on May 22. Lt. Kurtz had recently been awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his valor with the American Ambulance Corps at Verdun. Lt. Kurtz resided with his parents on Manheim Street in Germantown. He was a student at Harvard University when the war began and left his studies to join the ambulance corps. In 1916 he returned home to complete his studies. After graduating he returned to the ambulance corps. Last June he transferred to the American flying service.

Paul Borda Kurtz


The long expected German ground offensive seems to have begun. From the Aisne river to Rheims and in the Champagne and south of Picardy attacks are being made against British and French positions. So far the Allied lines are holding. American forces in the Chemin-des-Dames sector and near the Apremont forest are also in the fight. The assault opened with an artillery barrage around 6:00am. Even the German long range guns from near St. Gobain are once again hitting Paris. Shells are falling on the city every 15 minutes.

Today’s casualty list contains 19 names including 9 killed in action, 4 dead from wounds, 1 dead from disease, 2 severely wounded and 3 missing in action. Two of the men listed as missing are from Philadelphia. They are Herman Reichman of 4847 North 5th Street and Henry Svitak of 2742 Pacific Street. It is thought the men may have been taken prisoner.