Following the U.S. entry into World War One in April 1917 and subsequent shipment of American soldiers to France for active duty, servicemen's centres were established throughout the world but most notably in Europe. This had been initiated a week earlier with the publication of a General Order (#26-II-1) by U.S. Commander-in-Chief General John Pershing.
Published on 28 August 1917 it affirmed that the Y.M.C.A. would "provide for the amusement and recreation of the troops by means of its usual programme of social, physical, educational and religious services."
Perhaps the most famous of the servicemen's centres was the so-called Eagle Hut opened in London on 3 September 1917. Operated by the Y.M.C.A. the centre, staffed by some 800 voluntary personnel, offered overnight accommodation and food for American servicemen passing through London.
The centre additionally helped with arrangements for London sightseeing tours and entertainment. Turnover was heavy: in February 1919 alone 134,566 meals were served. The Eagle Hut remained open beyond the armistice, finally closing its doors on 25 August 1919.
Many other such centres were operated worldwide, each funded through a combination of public government and private subscriptions.