Sketching Out Blog: Sketches of art, watercolor, photos, recipes, books, interviews, Jewish topics, and Highland Park, New Jersey

What’s a Doughboy?

We have this statue down the street from our house. It’s referred to as the “Doughboy.” That’s where the Memorial Day parade today ends.

American men who fought in World War I in France were called “doughboys.” It’s such a strange name, I decided to find out how the name came to be. The term goes back as far as the Mexican-American War of 1846-47, referring to the infantry.

From this site on World War I:

Independently, in the former colonies, the term had come to be applied to baker’s young apprentices, i.e. dough-boys. Again, American soldiers probably were familiar with this usage. This version of doughboy was also something of a distant relative to “dough-head”, a colloquialism for stupidity in 19th Century America. When doughboy was finally to find a home with the U.S. Army it would have a disparaging connotation, used most often by cavalrymen looking down [quite literally] on the foot-bound infantry.

Doughboy statue of Highland Park, New Jersey

More on Memorial Day:

Ilana-Davita says

Any idea where these guys fought? I'm asking as a lot of the battle fields are near my hometown.

Leora says

Here are some World War I battle lists:

(Seems like all French names here)

Important battles of the First World War:
Here's the Palestine front battles:

hihorosie says

Very interesting! I've used the term dough-head a time or two. ;) Thanks for your posts for Memorial Day. We Americans have a habit of forgetting what some of these holidays are all about so I thank you for the reminders.

Leora says

Rosie, I'm glad you enjoyed the Memorial Day posts. I found our local Home News Tribune (a Central New Jersey paper) yesterday had some even more meaningful ones, as some local boys had recently lost their lives. Our celebration here had a good mix of remembering and fun for the family.


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