Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, November 5, 2018

The AEF Purchased Its Guns and Ammo from the Allies

A Battery of 155mm Howitzers of the AEF at Soissons

The priority for the Allies was fresh manpower, and the available shipping was limited, so General Pershing's forces needed to purchase most of their weaponry and ammunition from the Allies. The figures involved are quite astonishing, however.  One of the unsung heroes of the war was future vice president Brigadier General Charles Gates Dawes, Chief Purchasing Officer of the AEF.

No American-made cannon or shell was used by the American First Army—except for four 14-inch naval guns, the First Army throughout its entire service at the front did not fire a single cannon or shell which was made in America.

No tank of American manufacture was ever used on the Western Front—all tanks operated by the U.S. Army in the war were of French or British make. American manufacturers were just beginning to produce tanks in quantity when the Armistice became effective.

Munitions which were provided by the Ordnance Department of the A. E. F.—an idea of the munitions furnished for the A. E. F. by its Ordnance Department is given by the following figures, which indicate the total number of articles furnished but do not include the equipment and supplies brought with the American units when they disembarked in France:
  • 600,000 rifles
  • 93,326 machine guns
  • 75,000 automatic rifles
  • 4,000 cannon
  • 10,000,000 rounds of artillery ammunition

Two Doughboys Man a French Hotchkiss Machine Gun

Partial list of munitions which were purchased in France by the A. E. F.:
  • 514 tanks
  • 1,190 155mm howitzers
  • 3,035 75mm guns
  • 9,592 Hotchkiss machine guns
  • 40,000 Chauchat automatic rifles
  • 2,909,200 trench-mortar shells
  • 3,000,000 bombs
  • 5,011,000 75mm shells

Partial list of munitions purchased from the British by the A. E. F.
  • 122 9.2-inch howitzers
  • 212 8-inch howitzers
  • 865 6-inch Newton mortars
  • 2,550 3-inch Stokes mortars

Instruction in the Chauchat Automatic Machine Gun

Ammunition expended by the A. E. F. in actual combat with the enemy:
  • 181,391,341 rounds, caliber .30 (rifle)
  • 120,901,102 rounds, caliber 8-millimeter (automatic rifle)
  • 21,385,164 rounds, caliber .45 (pistol)
  • 2 27 4 229 rounds, caliber 37-millimeter
  • 7,550,835 rounds, caliber 75-millimeter
  • 1,983,937 rounds, calibers greater than 75-millimeter
  • 2,724,067 grenades, all types
  • 362,911 bombs (Stokes mortar, etc.) 


  1. The French seem to have off-loaded their dud stuff onto the Americans - the Chauchat was unreliable and crude; the Hotchkiss not much better.
    The 75mm gun was as good as any though, and the Renault FT was good as a light tank.

  2. Many US soldiers thought the French Chauchat was not that bad considering the conditions. It was the disastrous US conversion to .30-06 that doomed its reputation.