World War I -- Life Histories/Section 018/John Wilmer Blue

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John W. Blue
John. W. Blue in uniform
BornNovember 6, 1892
Efland, North Carolina
DiedNovember 18,1934
Fort Benning, Georgia
Years active17
Known forPolo

Overview:[edit | edit source]

John W. Blue was raised in Efland, North Carolina. He was one of seven children, born to Malcolm and Margaret Blue. He was a member of the American Expeditionary Force during the Great War. [1]

Biography:[edit | edit source]

Early Life:[edit | edit source]

John Wilmer Blue was born November 6, 1892. He lived in Efland during his childhood. John Blue eventually left Orange County and attended Roanoke College, but he did not receive a degree. Afterwards, he studied dentistry at Atlanta Dental College, from 1916 to 1917. His family remained in the Raleigh area for his entire life. [1]

Later Life:[edit | edit source]

John Blue joined the army in 1917, where he was part of the American Expeditionary Forces in Vladivostok, Siberia. [2] During this time, he regularly corresponded with his mother. He kept her updated on his life. In 1919, his sister Flora died after getting sick with the Spanish Influenza. John later entered the general army and went on to become a captain. He served in the Philippines after the end of the Great War. Upon returning to the United States after serving abroad, he served at Fort Hamilton. John became active on the First Division polo team of Fort Hamilton. The team had a winning reputation and won many games amongst the army league while Blue was a player. Blue also played on the Second Corps Area Team. Within the army polo league, he became known as a talented polo player . [1]

Death:[edit | edit source]

John W. Blue died in November 18th, 1934 following a polo accident in Fort Benning, Georgia, where he fractured his skull. He was taken to the hospital but did not survive his injury. His mother had just recently suffered a heart attack, which made her severely ill. She died a few hours after Blue. She had not yet been informed of his death. [1]

Social Issues:[edit | edit source]

The American Expeditionary Force:[edit | edit source]

The American Expeditionary Force in Siberia consisted of an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 American soldiers. [3] Most of the soldiers were in the 27th and 31st infantry of the U.S. Army. The 31st infantry was stationed predominantly in Vladivostok. [4] The United States sent troops to Germany after the Russians withdrew from the Allied powers. Following their withdrawal, the Bolshevik party took control of Russia. The United States feared that as a result, the German and Austrian troops would gain power within the country. The troops were sent to guard the Trans-Siberian railroad. [5]. The U.S. saw the railroad as a symbol for a modernizing Russia. It ended at Vladivostok, where the American troops were mostly stationed. The American forces provided security for the railroad. President Woodrow Wilson and his administration did not favor the Bolshevik government. They provided secret funds to anti-Bolshevik groups within Russia. [6] During this time, the United was beginning to work to prevent the rise of communism in Russia and across the world. The United States’ government justified America’s military presence in Russia because the U.S. troops were attempting to prevent Germany from regaining power and influence. However, the United States also had underlying goals of preventing the spread of communism. [5].

The Spanish Influenza and North Carolina:[edit | edit source]

More than 13,000 North Carolina residents died of the Spanish Influenza between October 1918 and March 1919. Treatment of the flu was ineffective. Alcohol, calomel, sunshine and fresh are were all suggested in order to combat the illness. The disease reached its peak during the first week of October. The disease reached epidemic proportion in the state capitol, Raleigh. The disease remained prevalent throughout the state until March. [7]

Overall, the Spanish Influenza killed more people than the Great War. Estimates of the death toll range from 20 to 40 million people. This form of influenza was highly contagious. The disease had the highest death rates of any epidemic in history. Ten times as many Americans died during the epidemic than during the Great War. Within the United States, the flu most heavily impacted people between the ages of 20 to 40. The disease infected a total 28 percent of Americans in 1918, leading into 1919. The Spanish Influenza was so severe that it cut the American life expectancy by 10 years. [8]

The Rise of Polo:[edit | edit source]

Polo gained popularity in the United States in the early 1900s. In 1902 the Army Polo Society joined the United States Polo Association. Seventeen Army stations had polo teams by 1914. By 1928, that number had grown to 47 to stations across the United States and abroad. Polo was more popular in the military than among civilians. Roughly 1,500 military service men played polo by the 1930s, when polo had reached its peak popularity. During this time, the United States was dominating the game on the world stage. [9]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The Blue Family Papers #4955, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  2. Lieut. John W. Blue Arrives in Siberia, The News and Observer, (Raleigh, North Carolina), 1919-05-03.
  3. Army Days in Siberia Described, Los Angeles Times, 1925-04-04.
  4. U.S. Intervention in Siberia as Military Operations Other Than War Military Review, Ebsco Host.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Geopolitics of Revolution, (2014-07-23), Diplomatic History, Oxford Journals.
  6. Wilson vs. the Bolsheviks, Diplomatic History, Oxford Journals.
  7. North Carolina.The Great Pandemic: The United States in 1918-1919, United States Department of Health and Human Services.
  8. [ The Influenza Pandemic of 1918), Billings Molly, (June 1997), Virology at Stanford.
  9. The History of Polo, Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame.

"Army Days in Siberia Described". Los Angeles Times. 1925-04-04.

Billings, Molly (June 1997). "The Influenza Pandemic of 1918". Virology at Stanford.

"U.S. Intervention in Siberia as Military Operations Other Than War". Military Review (Ebsco Host). Nov.-Dec. 2002. 

"Geopolitics of Revolution". Diplomatic History (Oxford Journals). 2014-07-23. 

"Lieut. John W. Blue Arrives in Siberia". The News and Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina. 1919-05-03.

"North Carolina". The Great Pandemic: The United States in 1918-1919. United States Department of Health and Human Services.

"The Blue Family Papers #4955". Southern Historical Collection. Wilson Library: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"The History of Polo". Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame.

"Wilson vs. the Bolsheviks". Diplomatic History (Oxford Journals).