World War One
World War One engulfed Europe from 1914 to 1919, it was an extremely bloody five year war with huge losses of life with very little ground won or lost. The war was mostly fought in the trenches along with one on one, (Hand-to-hand) combat. When it was over an estimated 10 million military deaths had occurred with more than 20 million wounded.
On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson, (President of the United States 1913-1921) went before a joint session of congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Wilson cited a number of violations against Germany including Germany’s promise to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States, as his reason for declaring war.
On April 4, 1917, the United States Senate voted in support of the measure to declare war on Germany.
While many countries had hoped World War One would be a war to end all wars, in actually, the concluding peace treaty set the stage for World War Two.
Conshohocken’s Contributions to World War One
The borough of Conshohocken holds a very unique designation that no other community in America can claim title to. During World War 1, the borough of Conshohocken sent more men and women off to service in the United States military than any other community in America per capita. Robert Bell, Louis Bickings, Harry Dembowski, Daniel Donovan, Francis DeMario, Harry Wertz, John Wood, Samuel Gordon Smyth, Frank Hitner, George Hastings, James Kock and George Rodenbaugh were among the hundreds of Conshohocken residents who went off to war between 1916 and 1918.
Shortly after the signing of the Armistice at Complegne, France, that brought a close to World War 1 on November 11, 1918, the United States Congress recognized Conshohocken’s efforts during the war. A merchant marine ship was named the "Conshohocken” in honor of the town’s war service. The "SS Conshohocken” was launched on January 31, 1920, from the Sun Ship Yard and was christened by Mrs. Geoffrey Creyke, wife of the assistant to the vice president of the Emergency Fleet Corporation.
The SS Conshohocken was an eleven-thousand-ton cargo carrier and was the last of the series of ships built under the supervision of the Emergency Fleet Corporation and the twenty-third ship to be launched at the yards of the Sunbuilding Company in Chester, Pennsylvania.
(The above information, "Conshohocken’s Contributions To World War One” was taken from the book "Remembering Conshohocken & West Conshohocken.”)
Conshohocken’s Photographs & Stories Pertaining to World War One
On September 18, 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, an incident far from the United States, within a decade, the United States would be fighting for freedom. Several key events from 1931-1941 would lead the United States into war. Among the incidents, on July 7, 1937, Japan invaded China initiating World War Two in the Pacific, just two years later on September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland initiating World War Two in Europe and by the summer of 1940 Italy entered the war.
On December 6, 1941 a Soviet counteroffensive drove the Germans from Moscow suburbs in chaotic retreat. The following morning, December 7, 1941, Japan dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor. When the attack ended less than two hours after it began, the American forces had paid a fearful price. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and another 159 damaged. American dead numbered 2,403, that figure included 68 civilians, with another 1,178 military and civilian wounded.
On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan, officially entering World War Two. Within a week of the United States entering the war, Nazi Germany and its Axis partners declared war on the United States.
By the summer of 1944 the United States were gaining control of the war as they landed British and United States troops on the beaches of Normandy. By December of 1944 the Germans launched a final offensive in the west, known as the Battle of the Bulge in an attempt to re-conquer Belgium and split the Allied forces along the German border. By New Year’s Day 1945 just two weeks into the German attack they were forced to retreat.
Within months of the German retreat, Adolf Hitler senses defeat and on April 30, 1945, he commits suicide. By May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered to the western Allies, and on May 9, Germany also surrendered to the Soviets.
What was left of the war is well documented history, on August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, three days after the atomic bomb fell, the U.S. drops a second bomb on Nagasaki. The first bomb killed 80,000, the second bomb killed 70,000, not to mention the causalities.
Within weeks of dropping the bombs, having agreed in principle to unconditional surrender on August 14, 1945, Japan formally surrenders, ending World War Two.
America’s part in the war lasted from December 1941, until August of 1945, America suffered 405,399 casualties, the war also took a heavy toll on the residents of Conshohocken.
Military statistics show that in the borough of Conshohocken, on average one out of every seven residents participated directly in the war effort serving in the military. In the borough of West Conshohocken military statistics show that one out of every six residents participated in the military.
The Korean War conflict between Communist and non-Communist forces in Korea from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953. At the end of World War 11, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into Soviet (North Korean) and U. S. (South Korean) zones of occupation. In 1948 rival governments were established. The Republic of Korea was proclaimed in the South and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea in the North.
Relations between them became increasingly strained, and on June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. The United Nations quickly condemned the invasion as an act of aggression, demanded the withdrawal of North Korean troops form the South, and called upon its members to aid South Korea. On June 27, the United States President Truman authorized the use of American land, sea, and air forces in Korea, a week later, the United Nations placed the forces of 15 other member nations under the United States command, and Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur supreme commander.
The war’s unpopularity played an important role in the presidential victory of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had pledged to go to Korea to end the war. Negotiations broke down four different times, but after much difficulty and nuclear threats by Eisenhower, an armistice agreement was signed on July 27, 1953.
Casualties in the war were heavy. The United States losses were placed at over 54,000 dead and 103,000 wounded, while Chinese and Korean casualties were each at least ten times as high. Korean forces on both sides executed many alleged civilian enemy sympathizers, especially in the early months of the war.
(The above information was taken from encyclopedia/history/Korean-war web site)
Vietnam was the longest war in American history and the most unpopular American war of the 20th century. It resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths and an estimated 2 million Vietnamese deaths.
Between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese waged an anti-colonial war against France, which received $2.6 billion in financial support from the United States. The French defeat at the Dien Bien Phu was followed by a peace conference in Geneva. As a result of the conference, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam received their independence, and Vietnam was temporarily divided between an anti-Communist South and a Communist North. In 1956, South Vietnam, with American backing, refused to hold unification elections. By 1958, Communist-led guerrillas, known as the Viet Cong, had begun to battle the South Vietnamese government.
To support the South’s government, the United States sent in 2,000 military advisors—a number that grew to 16,000 in 1963. The military condition deteriorated, and by 1963, South Vietnam had lost the fertile Mekong Delta to the Viet Cong. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war, commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and committing ground forces—which numbered 536,000 in 1968. The 1968 Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese turned many Americans against the war.
The next president, Richard Nixon, advocated Vietnamization, withdrawing American troops and giving South Vietnam greater responsibility for fighting the war. In 1970, Nixon attempted to slow the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam by sending American forces to destroy Communist supply bases in Cambodia. The act violated Cambodian neutrality and provoked antiwar protest on the nation’s college campuses.
From 1968 to 1973, efforts were made to end the conflict through diplomacy. In January 1973, an agreement was reached; US forces were withdrawn from Vietnam, and U. S. prisoners of war were released. In April 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to the North, and Vietnam was reunited.
(Most of the above information was gathered from Digital History)