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HAB ww1 1918

Wartime era portrait of a typical American doughboy, circa: 1918.

Doughboy is an informal term for a member of the United States Army or Marine Corps, especially members of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. They were widely memorialized through the mass production of a sculpture, the Spirit of the American Doughboy. The term dates back to the Mexican–American War of 1846–48.

The term was used sparingly during World War II, gradually being replaced by "G.I.". It was still used in popular songs of the day, as in the 1942 song "Johnny Doughboy found a Rose in Ireland."[1] It dropped out of popular use soon after World War II.[2]


The origins of the term are unclear. It was in use as early as the 1840s.[3][4]

An often cited explanation is that the term first came about during the Mexican–American War, after observers noticed U.S. infantry forces were constantly covered with chalky dust from marching through the dry terrain of northern Mexico, giving the men the appearance of unbaked dough.[5] Another suggestion also arises from the Mexican–American War, and the dust-covered infantry men resembled the commonly used mud bricks of the area known as adobes.[5] Another suggestion is that doughboys were so named because of their method of cooking field rations of the 1840s and 1850s, usually doughy flour and rice concoctions baked in the ashes of a camp fire, although this does not explain why only infantryman received the appellation.[5]

Pvt Harry Shelly receives British Distinguished Conduct Medal from King George V

An American doughboy (right) receives an award from King George V.

See alsoEdit


  1. In 1942 two infantry soldiers wrote The Dogface Soldier, later officially adopted as the song of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division. The Dogface Soldier
  2. George, John B. (Lt. Col), Shots Fired In Anger, Samworth Press (1948), pp. xi, xii, 21: Lt. John George, an Army officer writing a World War II autobiographical postwar combat memoir in May 1947, freely used the term to describe himself and his fellow U.S. Army infantrymen.
  3. Dana, Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh (Lt), Monterrey Is Ours! The Mexican War Letters of Lieutenant N.J.T. Dana, 1845-1847, University of Kentucky Press (1990), ISBN 0-8131-1703-8, ISBN 978-0-8131-1703-4: Lt. Dana, an infantryman in the Mexican-American War, wrote in a letter posted during the campaign, "We 'doughboys' had to wait for the artillery to get their carriages over."
  4. Chamberlain, Samuel, My Confessions: Recollections of a Rogue, Austin: Texas State Historical Association (1965): Chamberlain, a horse-mounted Dragoon in the Mexican-American War, wrote in his memoirs years later, "No man of any spirit and ambition would join the 'Doughboys' and go afoot."
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Hanlon, Michael E., The Origins of Doughboy, 16 June 2003, Origin of Term Doughboy
  6. Last "Doughboy" dies at 110 from

Further readingEdit

Faulstich, Edith. M. "The Siberian Sojourn" Yonkers, N.Y. (1972–1977)
Gawne, Jonathan. Over There!: The American Soldier in World War I (1999)- 83 pages, heavily illustrated
Grotelueschen, Mark Ethan. The AEF Way of War: The American Army and Combat in World War I (2006) excerpt and text search
Hallas, James H. Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Force in World War I (2nd ed. 2009) online edition; includes many primary sources from soldiers
Hoff, Thomas. US Doughboy 1916-19 (2005)
Kennedy, David M. Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980) excerpt and text search
Nelson, James Carl. The Remains of Company D:A Story of the Great War (2009)
Rubin, Richard The Last of the Doughboys: the forgotten generation and their forgotten world war ISBN 9780547554433 plus online webcast presentation of book
Schafer, Ronald. America in the Great War (1991)
Skilman, Willis Rowland. The A.E.F.: Who They Were, what They Did, how They Did it (1920) 231 pp; full text online
Smith, Gene. Until the Last Trumpet Sounds: The Life of General of the Armies John J. Pershing (1999), popular biography.
Snell, Mark A. Unknown Soldiers: The American Expeditionary Forces in Memory and Remembrance (2008)
Thomas, Shipley. The History of the A. E. F. (1920), 540pp; full text online
Votow, John. The American Expeditionary Forces in World War I (2005) - 96 pp; excerpt and text search
Werner, Bret. Uniforms, Equipment And Weapons of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I (2006)

External linksEdit

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