One hundred years ago this month, the guns of August began firing across the European continent.
The Great War, which is now more commonly referred to as World War I, was originally forecast to last all but a few months. Instead, it lasted over four years, spilled over into several continents and set the stage for future wars and land squabbles, many of which continue today (see Israel/Palestine).
The conflict pitted the Allied, or Entente, Powers (France, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, United States, Serbia, etc.) against the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, etc.).
By war’s end, an estimated 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians lost their lives as a result of the war, whether on the battlefield or through disease, malnutrition and crimes against humanity.
Figures released by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2010 suggest approximately 116,516 Americans lost their lives during World War I: 53,402 combat and 63,114 non-combat deaths. Most non-combat deaths resulted from disease, either contracted in camps at home or in the trenches overseas.
Twenty-two individuals from Ashe County, including one African American, never made it back home. They were: Charlie O. Ashley, Cecil Bare, John Barker, Chester A. Brooks, Marcus W. Cockerham, Fred N. Cox, Lester Ham, Samuel C. Hardin, Brant Lewis, Corbitt Lyalls, Luke P. Mahala, John Parker, Edgar Parsons, Harrison Perry, Frank C. Porter, Eula Price, Hedrick Roark, William L. Sheets, Roscoe Thompson, Osco Tucker, William M. Wallace and John E. Yates.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.