Help tell Savannah's WWI story

Help tell Savannah's WWI story
(Source: Savannah Research Library and Archives)
(Source: Savannah Research Library and Archives)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Turn the clock back 100 years and America had just entered World War One. U.S. troops helped turn the tide with the war finally ending in the fall of 1918.

The Savannah Research Library and Archives is in the process of putting together a Centennial exhibit to honor Savannahians' role in WWI and they need your help.

Savannah's world-famous Victory Drive—a memorial to the men from Chatham County who died in what is now a mostly forgotten war.

"I would really love to know about every single name. What happened to them? What is their individual story," said Library and Archives Director Luciana Spracher.

Spracher is on a quest to find out more, not just about those who went off to fight in WWI from Savannah, but those they left behind.

"What is that doing to the families at home? Or what is that individual soldier experiencing in Europe and writing home about," Spracher said.

While it was known as the Great War, it was also a controversial war.

"It was kind of seen as someone else's fight and we wanted to remain neutral and the reason we wanted to remain neutral is because we didn't want to hurt our economy," she said.

But once the U.S. entered the fray, Savannahians showed their support. Sometimes taking their patriotism to the extreme.

"There is documentation through newspapers of an ugly instance of a German immigrant who unfortunately was paraded through the streets and forced to kiss a flag," Spracher said.

More than 120 men from Chatham County died in the war, at least 10 killed during a maritime disaster when the Otranto sunk off the coast of Scotland. And even though the war ended in 1918, the last troops did not return home for almost five years.

"We have this special distinction of being the welcoming port of those very last troops that came home from Germany and many of them had been over there for so long they had gotten married and they came home with their German war brides and babies right here through Savannah," Spracher said.

Stories that Spracher hopes we will all learn more about as Savannah remembers and reflects on the contributions and sacrifices made a century ago.

If you have any artifacts or documents from World War One that you would be willing to put on loan or know someone else who does, you can contact Spracher at the city library and archives at 912.651.6411 or e-mail her at

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