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King George V Letter to American Troops

Note: This item is currently in storage.

By the time the United States joined the effort in 1917, Great Britain had been at war with the Central Powers since August, 1914. The bulk of Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces began arriving at the Western Front in the spring of 1918, after first stopping in England before sailing for France. Upon their arrival in England, many soldiers and airmen were given an envelope containing a very special message from King George V.

Printed on the stationary of Windsor Castle, the King welcomes the soldiers of the United States to the British Isles, noting that with their arrival, "The Allies will gain new heart and spirit" in the "great battle for human freedom." 

"I wish I could shake the hand of each one of you and bid you God speed on your mission," wrote the King. Upon his arrival in Liverpool in September 1918, Lt. Thomas G. Spates said the letter from the King "made a fine impression." Spates remained in England for the duration of the war and was assigned to Ford Junction Airfield as an Assistant Engineering Officer of Aero Repair.

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