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November 18, 2012

Letter: Reminders of war's toll on Cape Ann

To the editor:

Kudos to John Macone for the great article on Eastman Sanborn’s heroic service in France during World War I (The Times, Tuesday, Nov. 13.)

It reminds us of a war that seems in the minds of many people to be part of distant history, akin to the Napoleonic wars and the earlier dynastic conflicts that plagued Europe for centuries. However, the “Great War” was less than 100 years ago and, rather than “end all wars”, it ushered in a new century notable for mechanized, industrial-scale slaughter. The U.S. Expeditionary Force was a late entry on the Western Front, arriving after three years of ghastly trench warfare and its fresh men and equipment finally tipping the scales the Allies’ way. Our army stood at over 4 million at war’s end. I visited the Gloucester World War One Memorial recently and was stunned to see that 57 Gloucester servicemen lost their lives — this from a 1920 population of 23,000. The nation as a whole was 92 million people and our total war dead were 116,000.

This means that Gloucester lost twice as many per capita as the nation as a whole. This is striking and it seems that there must be a great event or events that would help explain it. Is there anyone among your readers who can provide some detail for this history?



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