WWI Military Cablegrams - AEF and War Dept

Records: 63,731 · Complete: 100%


Much of the information contained in this description is from NARA's descriptive pamphlet, M930.


On May 26, 1917, Maj Gen John J. Pershing, named commander of the American Expeditionary Forces of World War I by General Order 1, Headquarters, AEF, announced the formation of a staff of 31 officers. Two days later Pershing and his staff sailed for Europe, arriving in England on June 9 and in France on June 13. The headquarters of the AEF was located in Paris from June 13 to September 1, 1917, when it was moved to Chaumont. Headquarters of the AEF was organized on July 5, 1917, by General Order 8, Headquarters, AEF, into a General Staff and an Administrative and Technical Staff in addition to the Chief of Staff, the Secretary to the General Staff, and the personal staff of the Commander in Chief.

The General Staff was divided into five sections: an Administrative Policy Section in charge of the organization and equipment of troops, replacements, tonnage, priority of overseas shipments, and auxiliary welfare associations; an Intelligence Section in charge of censorship, enemy intelligence, and gathering and disseminating information; an Operations Section in charge of strategic plans and supervision of combat operations; a Training Policy Section in charge of education and supervision of training schools; and a Coordinating Section in charge of regulating operations of supply services, construction, transport arrangements for combat, and hospitalization and evacuation of the sick and wounded. The Headquarters Commandant was in charge of headquarters troops, provost and other guards, billeting, messes, transportation, and property.

The Administrative and Technical Staff consisted of the Adjutant General, the Inspector General, the Judge Advocate, the Chief Quartermaster, the Chief Surgeon, the Chief Engineering Officer, the Chief Ordnance Officer, the Chief Signal Officer, the Chief of the Air Service, the General Purchasing Agent, the Chief of the Gas Service, the Director General of Transportation, the Commanding General of the Line of Communication, the chief of the Red Cross, and the Provost Marshal General. This organization remained fairly stable until February 1918 when the staff was revised by General Order 31, GHQ, AEF.

The officers appointed to General Headquarters in February 1918 were the Commander in Chief and his personal staff, the Chief of Staff, the five Assistant Chiefs of Staff, the Adjutant General, the Inspector General, the Judge Advocate, the Headquarters Commandant, and the Chiefs of Artillery and the Tank Corps. The offices of the Assistant Chiefs of Staff were redesignated: First Section, G-l (Administration); Second Section, G-2 (Intelligence); Third Section, G-3 (Operations); Fourth Section, G-4 (Coordination); and Fifth Section, G-5 (Training). This remained the basic organization of General Headquarters during its stay in France.

Document types

The documents reproduced in this publication are no longer security-classified. Some were confidential at the time of their creation and had this classification typed on them. The Adjutant General's Office reviewed the classification of this entire series in December 1947 and stamped almost every folder, file cover, or cablegram "CLASSIFICATION CANCELLED." The National Archives and Records Service has since reviewed and declassified the few cablegrams overlooked or not declassified in 1947.

There are nine series of cablegrams comprising this microfilm publication. They are:

  1. Main Series of Cablegrams From GHQ, AEF, to the War Department ("P" series), June 8, 1917-Aug. 30, 1919.
  2. Confidential Cablegrams From GHQ, AEF, to the War Department ("P" confidential series), July 2, 1917-Aug. 30, 1919.
  3. Weekly, Semi-Weekly, and Daily Summaries, Oct. 30, 1917-Apr. 26, 1918.
  4. Summaries of Activities, U.S. Troops, Mar. 11-May 14, 1918.
  5. American Official Communiques, May 16-Dec. 13, 1918.
  6. Courier Cablegrams From GHQ, AEF, to the War Department ("CP" series), July 19, 1918-Aug. 29, 1919.
  7. Main Series of Cablegrams From the War Department to GHQ, AEF ("A" series), June 14, 1917-Aug. 25, 1919.
  8. Confidential Cablegrams From the War Department to GHQ, AEF ("A" confidential series), July 26, 1917-Aug. 30, 1919.
  9. Courier Cablegrams From the War Department to GHQ, AEF ("CA" series), Aug. 8, 1918-Aug. 12, 1919.

Some examples of documents within the series are pictured here and include:

  1. July 23, 1918, AEF to Chief of Staff, Washington, previously confidential This cable describes recent battle activity in France, in the Verdun region. It also reports the capture of material and prisoners. In less than two months this area would be the site of the AEF’s greatest battle, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
  2. December 1, 1918, Courier Series, AEF HQ to War Department AEF Commander in Chief withdraws a Distinguished Service Cross to an AWOL sergeant, ultimately deemed a deserter.
  3. July 25, 1918, Main Series, AEF HQ to War Department “By Royal Decree Spanish Government has prohibited exports of horses and mules from Spain,” directly affecting military operations.
  4. July 23, 1918, Main Series, AEF HQ to War Department Pershing requests personnel for base printing plant, ammunition, construction troops, and more. “No special gun is needed to attack enemy’s balloons.” Two other types of guns are described in great detail that can do the job and extra “guns for this purpose is not considered necessary.”
  5. March 17, 1919, Main Series, War Department to AEF HQ Requests verification and status of casualty reports received stateside.


Cablegrams Exchanged Between General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Forces and the War Department 1917-1919, Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), 1917-23, Record Group 120, Publication Number M930; National Archives, Washington.