Even a hundred years on, it is hard to make a definitive judgement on the entry of the US into the Great War. In America, the involvement of the US has been largely pushed into the background, with the Second World War having a greater place in public consciousness. In Europe the shadow of the Great War falls much further and even today has a place in the public consciousness, however the US only endured the western front for one year, unlike the British, French, Belgians and indeed Central Powers who had four years of hell. In spite of all this, the crucial role of America was recognised by those in power at the time- the unlimited influx of American youth and materiel being the crucial turning point in the war following the failure of the Kaiserschlacht in Spring 1918. The key role of the US was recognised by a formal dinner at The Mansion House in London on April 6th 1918, as can be seen by this menu:
The Times reported the upcoming luncheon on 6th April 1918:
It is a year since the United States entered the war. The anniversary will be celebrated to-day by a luncheon at the Mansion House given by the Lord Mayor, to many distinguished guests. It may be expected that it will be marked also, officially and unofficially, by the flying of flags and privately, by evidences of good will among individuals of the allied countries.
The Mansion House promises to be worthy of the occasion, both from its distinction and its representative character. The Prime Minister and Mr E A Baker, the United States Secretary for War, are to be present and the American Ambassador (Mr Page)will be guest of honour…The string band of the Grenadier Guards, under the direction of Captain Williams, will play a programme of music, including a selection of American airs.
The menu was a frugal affair, as might be expected with wartime shortages:The rear of the menu has a list of the music played while guest ate:The menu fold open to provide a seating plan with the seats of all the guest marked- including many of the leading members of British society and parliament of the time:Clearly the luncheon was a great success as the Times gave an extensive report of the event and its speeches in its Monday morning edition:
A luncheon was given by the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House on Saturday to commemorate the first anniversary of the entry of the United States of America into the war, and was worthy of the traditions of the City. It will be remembered as being among the most remarkable events associated with the war to have taken place in London.
The chief guest was Mr Page, the American Ambassador. Many officers of the united States Navy and Army were present, and also the heads of departments in the immense and far-spreading organisation which America has brought into existence for the purposes of the war. The company invited numbered over 400. Leading members of the Government were present, and many other distinguished guests, including members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of the Dominions and of the banking and commercial interests of the City; men of letters, actors, scientists, artists, journalists, and members of Parliament.
As for the meal, it was in conformity with the demands of the Food Controller. It was probably the most frugal that has ever been served at the Mansion House on a public occasion. It consisted only of soup, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit. In contrast to the simplicity of the meal was the magnificent gold and silver plate of the Mansion House, which was displayed on the table…