Hometown Boys from California: Information and Statistics about WWI Service Members

California provided over 112,000 soldiers to the U.S. Army and Marines during World War I. The 40th Division (National Guard) was largely drawn from California, as was the 117th Engineer Regiment of the 42nd Division. California provided much of the original manpower of the 91st Division, the “Wild West Division”. The 91st attacked in the first wave of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, and seized Véry, Épinonville and Éclisfontaine after fierce fighting. Californians rushed to join the military from all walks of life. Indeed, actor and comedian “Buster” Keaton is one of the most famous soldiers who served in the 40th Division.

California hosted the major training installations of Camp Fremont and Camp Kearny. Camp Fremont, near Menlo Park, trained over 43,000, including the Regular Army’s 8th Division. It also supported the 332nd Auxiliary Remount Depot, which trained and dispatched thousands of military horses and mules to where they were needed. Camp Kearny, near San Diego, was the original home of the 40th Division. Ross field, near Arcadia, was used to organize and train airmen and balloonists. California’s agriculture, timber, mining and fishing were harnessed to the war effort, and many citizens grew war gardens to conserve food. Hundreds of thousands served as volunteers or in an official capacity.

Editor's Note: This ongoing series will feature information and statistics about World War I service members from every state. You can also find this information in our new Chateau-Thierry Visitor Center that will be opening later this year.