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On June 14, 1917, the Fifth Regiment of the U.S Marine Corps left New York. True to their reputation the Marines were in the first wave of American soldiers sailing to Europe. On board was official cameraman Leon H. Caverly. With the centennial of America's entry into World War I, Caverly's pictures take on a new significance. Months before the U.S. Government set up a policy on how to deal with pictures covering the war the Marines had already sent Caverly to Europe. He was by all accounts the first official cinematographer to film the Great War with the American forces. The story is also significant because it is so well documented. We were extremely fortunate in having found Caverly's personal papers. Reading his letters from the frontline it becomes clear what sort of challenges a cameraman had to face to film the Great War. Apart from his own account much of Caverly's work has survived. At the New Jersey Historical Society the authors located about 500 World War I pictures taken by Caverly. The History Division of the U.S. Marine Corps also kindly shared with us a collection of Caverly's photographs. In addition the authors were able to locate and identify much of his war films. All of this makes it possible to reconstruct Caverly's extraordinary experiences as a war cameraman in remarkable detail.
In the National Archives at Washington, D.C., we also located Caverly's films taken with the Marines and the 2nd Division. Caverly's films have a remarkable wide scope and cover the period from the arrival of the first American soldiers in France until the occupation of Germany in 1919.
Caverly's films are listed in this Appendix that accompanies our article.
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Also, here is a selection of footage from the National Archives with Caverly's World War I films that we uploaded on our YouTube channel.