World War One Historical Association 2015 Seminar

Anzac Day

Anzac Day 2015 at Gallipoli. Taken by David Pedler

2015 League of WWI Aviation Historians and World War One Historical Association Collaboration Symposium
Lisle, Illinois, Oct. 2-3
1915: Warfare Evolution; New Tactics and Strategies

In conjunction with the WWI Centennial Commission; the League of World War One Aviation Historians and the World War One Historical Association will present their Collaboration Symposium at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville.

The symposium’s 1915 focus covers a broad range of topics including aviation and significant battles and events of the second year of the First World War. For a
list of the featured speakers, some of the best historians, writers and researchers in the world, go to ww1ha.org/2015-annual-conference.

The Hilton Lisle/Naperville provides easy access to the 1st Infantry Division Museum at Cantigny Park, Wheaton, IL where we will spend Friday afternoon touring
the museum and grounds.

The registration fee of $210 (US) per person includes luncheon, dinner and transportation to and from the hotel to the museum on Friday, Oct. 2; lunch on Saturday; admission to all presentations, reenactor and model displays, and much more. The cost to add a guest for the Friday night dinner is $40 (US).

Symposium registration fees will increase to $250 (US) per person starting Sept. 10,
so act now for the lower rate.

Accommodations are at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville, 3003 Corporate West Drive in Lisle, Ill. Call 630-505-0900 and ask for the favorable “WW1 Seminar” rate of $99 per night (with free parking) to reserve a room for Oct. 1-3. A limited number of rooms have been secured, but the cut-off date to reserve rooms at this rate is Sept. 10.

Consult the WW1HA website at www.ww1ha.org for details and a registration form, or email our Symposium Chairman, Randy Gaulke, at lavarennes@meuseargonne.
com. All registrations will be handled through WW1HA.

“The Lost Boy”

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Inscription on the Menin Gate.

 

From Tracey McRory:

This is a new WW1 song and a special collaboration between Northern Ireland songwriter Richard Laird, Irish Songwriter Tracey McRory and Belgian Songwriter Jo Lottegier. Tracey and Richard have been working on music and Remembrance of WW1 for the last 10 years and along with Sam Starrett wrote the haunting song “John Condon.”

“The Lost Boy” tells the story of George Llewelyn Davies, who along with his four younger brothers was the inspiration for playwright J. M. Barrie’s characters of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. George was killed in Flanders, Belgium, on the 15th March 1915, he was just 21 years old. On his 100 Anniversary, Tracey McRory played a special version of this song on violin at his grave, and also at The Menin Gate Ceremony, Ypres. The song is not for sale, but exists only to let people know the story of George Llewellyn Davis.

Another young boy killed too soon….. Lest We Forget

 

We will remember him.

Remembering Neuve-Chapelle

By Steve Miller
Britain’s first offensive of 1915 began a century ago today at Neuve-Chapelle. Although it might be deemed a minor success, major lessons of trench warfare were written here and reinforced by further battles in 1915. These included:
1. Loss of communications due to enemy shelling which destroyed the telephone lines.
2. Insufficient artillery preparation.
3. Immediate German counterattacks which might nullify any gains.
4. High casualties, on the order of 28 percent in this battle. I cite it as an early example of the futility of khaki uniforms and bayonets against barbed wire and machine guns.
Neuve-Chapelle is southwest of Lille. The Memorial to the Army of India and its missing from 1914-18 is located at the roundabout intersection of the routes D171 & D947.
Neuve Chapelle 1
On the panels inside the monument itself are the names of 4742 Indians who have no known grave.
Neuve Chapelle

Book review: Freedom Struggles

Crowds waiting for the parade of the famous 369th [African American] Infantry, formerly 15th New York regulars, New York City. From the U.S. National Archives.

Crowds waiting for the parade of the famous 369th [African American] Infantry, formerly 15th New York regulars, New York City. From the U.S. National Archives.

Review by Len Shurtleff, WW1HA president

Freedom Struggles: African-Americans in World War I. Adriane Lentz-Smith, Harvard, 2009, 318 pages, illustrations, index, notes, ISBN978 0 647 03592 8, $35 cloth. The author is a Professor of History at Duke University.

This is an elegant yet powerful social history of a crucial point in America’s history. The author identifies the decade of World War I as a watershed in black America’s fight for political equality and social justice.

Heeding the call of leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, African Americans volunteered in large numbers for military service in hopes of validating their claims to full citizenship. As many as 200,000 served overseas in WWI mainly as laborers, construction workers and stevedores. Unfortunately, the Army enforced the segregated Jim Crow social norms of the Southern and border states, both at domestic training camps and overseas in France.

Many thousands more black people moved north to escape segregation, work in war industries and seek new educational opportunities, sparking racial tensions there as well.

The Wilson administration was not sympathetic to the calls of the newly founded (1909) NAACP for full citizenship for black people and, indeed, proceeded after 1913 to segregate the federal government, which had previously largely integrated its work force and opened post office and other patronage jobs to black people in the South. Though France had its own peculiar racial mores and barriers,white Army officers and politicians feared that French men (and particularly women) would undermine their efforts to keep black Americans under Jim Crow regimens.

Service overseas brought young African Americans in contact with many other men of color from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean, widening their horizons and opening their minds to the concept of a vibrant African diaspora. Returning home in the “Red Summer” of 1919, black veterans found little had changed in American society.

The Red scare, which came in the wake of the November 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, was accompanied by widespread racial violence. Some 38 violent riots rocked American cities from Detroit to Omaha. Black soldiers were lynched in the South. The Ku Klux Klan rode again in the North and Midwest. Expectations of birth of a new freedom for African Americans were crushed.

On the positive side, it was also a period during which African Americans developed the sophistication they would need to expand the fight for equal rights. What was hoped for after 1919 was demanded and won after 1945 by determined and patriotic African Americans who had learned from the Great War.

Good-bye to All That: Len Shurtleff Goes West

Ambassador Leonard G. Shurtleff, past president of the Western Front Association – US Branch and the World War One Historical Association, passed away at the age of 74 on Jan. 22 in Gainesville, Fla.

LenAmbassador Shurtleff was commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer in 1962 and served for 32 years in a variety of overseas posts including Venezuela, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, Colombia, Liberia, and the Congo. He served his country as the U.S. Ambassador to Congo-Brazzaville from 1987-1990. In his State Department career, he was Director for African Regional Affairs, Deputy Director of the Office of Central African Affairs, and an intelligence analyst. Ambassador Shurtleff spoke French and Spanish as second languages and was a Chevalier of the Congolese Order of Merit.

After retiring from the Foreign Service with a rank of Minister-Counselor in 1995, Ambassador Shurtleff moved to Gainesville and became active as a volunteer in a number of organizations. He was a Master Mason, a chapter president of the Sons of the American Revolution, an advisor for the DeMolay organization, and an honorary member of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honorary Society.

He served as President of the U.S. Branch of the WFA from 1996 to 2004 and was a Vice President of WFA in the U.K. and President of the WW1HA from 2013 to 2014.

Ambassador Shurtleff was an authority on the diplomatic and political history surrounding the First World War, writing and lecturing in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He contributed to the scholarship on WWI by serving on the Norman B. Tomlinson Jr. Book Prize Committee from 1999 through 2014 and by maintaining his “Len’s Bookshelf” feature of book reviews on the Web starting in 2000. http://ww1ha.org/lens-bookshelf/

His reviews appeared in many publications, including the WFA’s Stand To. westernfrontassociation.com/book-reviews

The depth of his commitment to World War I history organizations is best understood from the memories of his fellow directors of the WW1HA. Sheila Swigert of Staten Island, N.Y., wrote: “Len was such a presence on [battlefield] tours, at seminars, and as president of the WW1HA. On top if that, I really liked him. I shall miss him, as we all shall.”

David Beer of Austin, Texas, commented, “I am really saddened by Len’s death. He was a good friend, a great companion at conferences, and a vital part of our organization. And he really knew books.”

Richard VandenBrul of Livonia, Mich., described meeting the ambassador for the first time: “ I first met Len at a Western Front Association-US Branch meeting at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton. It must have been 1997. I had driven from St. Louis and I arrived at Wright-Patterson in the dark. It Len was holding court and sitting with a few people. I did not know anyone. He was very cordial and invited me to join the group. Over the years we attended many meetings. I shall miss Len. His book reviews were wonderful. Insightful. We were on several Western Front trips together. Len loved what he did and had a great retirement enjoying traveling to and attending WWI Seminars and events. He was our Ambassador at Large!”

Ambassador Shurtleff is survived by his wife, Christine M. Shurtleff, herself a former Foreign Service Information Officer and past president of the Association of American Foreign Service Women.

I knew him as a knowledgeable and entertaining traveling companion and late-night raconteur. He was an invaluable source of insight, especially during the summer leading up to the anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities, detailing the ins and outs – mostly outs – of the diplomacy of those fateful months. I will miss him.

Susan and Len in the Vosges

The British Journal for Military History

The British Journal for Military History launched on Trafalgar Day 2014 (21st October). Representing a unique vehicle for distributing high-quality military history to an audience beyond academia, the BJMH is open access, applies peer review policies to all the articles we receive and is published three times a year.

Endorsed by Professor Sir Michael Howard and with an editorial advisory board that includes some of Britain’s finest military historians, the first issue showcases some of the journal’s ambitions. Articles consider a number of topics, from the use and abuse of military history, to military promotion, shooting power, memory and war, the evolution of strategy and changing identities.

Future issues include papers by Professors Bruce Collins, David French, Andrew Roberts and Charles Esdaile and consider issues that range from French, British, Dutch and Italian approaches to counterinsurgency to Waterloo, Napoleon and the British Army in the Peninsular Campaign.

Apart from offering a platform for well-established historians the editors are keen to encourage new and upcoming authors – including ABD PhD Candidates – to submit their work. The Editors would be especially pleased to receive papers from authors keen to reach audiences beyond academia.

The Journal’s website is http://bjmh.org.uk/index.php/bjmh, Information about submitting articles can be found at http://bjmh.org.uk/index.php/bjmh/about/submissions

An article of particular interest in the current issue is “Ireland’s New Memory of the First World War: Forgotten Aspects of the Battle of Messines, June 1917.”

http://bjmh.org.uk/index.php/bjmh/article/view/6

“Military history is now too important to be left to the military historians” – Professor Sir Michael Howard endorses the BJMH

 

 

 

The 2014 Tomlinson Prize

Dr. Paul Jankowski, Raymond Ginger Professor of History at Brandeis University, has won the 2014 Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. Book Prize for his book “Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War.”

The prize is offered annually for the best historical work on World War One by The World War One Historical Association. It consists of a check for $3,000 and a bronze plaque. For more information on the programs and publications of The World War One Historical Association, consult our website, ww1ha.org.

The winner is chosen by a panel chaired by Professor Dennis Showalter of Colorado College. Other members of the selection panel are Dr. Michael Neiberg of the U. S. Army War College and Amb. Leonard G. Shurtleff, a former WW1HA president.

Book Review: “War’s Waste”

amputees blogOn Nov. 11, while the rest of the countries involved in WWI hold Remembrance events, the United Sates celebrates Veterans Day. Sometimes there are parades or ceremonies honoring the flag; sometimes the day passes only with the banks and post office being closed and kids getting  day off school.

Caring for veterans is a serious concern for any country. Here Len Shurtleff reviews Beth Linkner’s book about the aftermath of WWI.

War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America, by Beth Linker, University of Chicago, 304 pages, photos, tables, index, ISBN 978 0 2264 8253, $35.

Review by Len Shurtleff

In post-Civil War America, veterans’ pensions were the largest line item in federal budgets, taking up some 50% of that budget by 1900. By 1915, these pensions had cost $3 billion, more than the cost of the war itself. According to Linker, this created a virtual pork-barrel welfare state for Union veterans of about $3 million annually.

These pensions and an accompanying system of national soldiers’ homes had support from the politically powerful Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the Union veterans’ organization upon whose patronage Republican politicians depended for votes and campaign funding. Progressive Era reformers saw this as wasteful of public funds and a disincentive to productive work and self-improvement among veterans.

The outbreak of World War I prompted progressive reformers to apply their social gospel and work ethic ideals to veterans’ benefits in an effort to reduce the drain on the public purse. The War Risk Insurance Act of 1914 created a new board to adjudicate claims for war damage or loss that was independent from the corrupt Treasury Pension Bureau.

The system grew in complexity with America’s entry into the war in 1917, adding provisions for mandatory allotments for dependents, life and disability insurance, and mandatory restorative rehabilitation for wounded troops.

The aim became one of rehabilitation; returning wounded men to productive civilian lives, teaching them new skills if necessary and providing amputees with serviceable prostheses.

As a result of this dramatic turnaround in treatment of wounded veterans, the Army Surgeon General’s Office constructed some 149 new hospitals with 100,000 beds with ample facilities for treatment and long-term rehabilitation. Amputee veterans were looked upon not as objects of pity, but as candidates for total rehabilitation and reintegration into civilian life as productive wage earners and husbands and fathers rather than swelling the welfare rolls.

Still, this new effort saved no money. By 1920, the federal government was spending as much on World War I veterans it was on Civil War survivors, and veterans benefits still took up half the federal budget.

By 1935, New Deal recovery programs had, of course, vastly reduced this share as federal budgets expanded mightily.

This system now is a complex mix of war risk insurance, physical rehabilitation and vocational training managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The several iterations of the post-World War II GI Bill have added both benefits and costs that dwarf any previous veteran pension scheme dating back to the War of 1812.

Book Review: “German Assault Troops of World War I”

Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1974-132-26A,_Stoßtrupp

From Len Shurtleff

German Assault Troops of World War I, Thomas Wictor, Schiffer, 2011, 339 pages, bibliography, index, appendices, glossary, illustrations, ISBN 978 0 7643 4036 9. $69.95 hb.

This profusely illustrated coffee table-size book is typical of the quality of Schiffer Military & Maritime publications.  It includes information on the organization, tactics, weapons, equipment, uniforms and orders of battle of the elite stosstruppen who formed the backbone of Ludendorff’s abortive offensives of 1918.  Several primary documents are included to illustrate how German tactics and Allied counter measures were developed.  The author does not attempt to decide which among the several claimants developed shock troop tactics.

Other Schiffer books in this series include volumes on British and French aircraft of the Great War, Italian and Russian aces, the Lafayette Flying Corps, and US Naval Aviation in WWI, as well as any number of volumes on Imperial German uniforms.

A fully illustrated catalogue is available from www.schifferbooks.com.

Book Review: “The Hidden Threat”

German fleet surrendering to the English. First German U-boat near the Towerbridge. London, England, 1918.

German fleet surrendering to the English. First German U-boat near the Towerbridge. London, England, 1918.

The Hidden Threat: The Story of Mines and Minesweeping by the Royal Navy in World War I, by Jim Crossley, Pen & Sword, 2011, 168 pages, charts, diagrams, photos, index, ISBN 978 1 8488 4272 4, $39.95 cloth.

Review by Len Shurtleff

Mines were first (unsuccessfully) employed in naval warfare during the American Revolution. They were far more effective during the American Civil War when mines (or torpedoes as they were then called) sank some 22 vessels. Mines were also used to protect German harbors during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Traditionally thought of as a defensive weapon employed by the weaker adversary, mines came into their own as an offensive weapon in Japanese hands against Russia in 1904-05. Their use was expanded significantly during World War I, first by Germany and Turkey, then by Great Britain

Employing speedy converted destroyers and armed passenger liners, Germany mined the approaches to British fleet anchorages and ports beginning in August 1914. Russia used mines to defend her main Baltic bases. The Germans developed several classes of mine-laying submarines some of which had enough range to reach American shores. Turkish-laid fields of mines in the narrows off the Dardanelles sank or badly damaged several British and French battleships in 1915.

Faced with the proven effectiveness of this silent weapon, the Royal Navy responded by creating a fleet of small minesweeping trawlers, drifters and paddle steamers manned by fishermen and other reservist crews. By 1916, they had also mounted a major mining campaign of their own along the German coast, in the Dover Straits and English Channel expanding these in 1917 and 1918 to the North Sea between Norway and the northern most Scottish islands. Most of the 70,000 mines in this Northern Barrage aimed at containing German U-boats were laid by the US Navy from converted civilian coastal liners.

Their effectiveness was disappointing. At the most the Northern Barrage sank six U-boats.

Mines laid in the eastern North Sea were far more effective in supporting the British Grand Fleet in pinning the German High Seas Fleet in its bases while the maritime trade blockade gradually eroded Germany’s ability to sustain a war of attrition on the Western Front.