News from the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission has picked ‘THE WEIGHT OF SACRIFICE” for the new national World War I Memorial project.

“THE WEIGHT OF SACRIFICE” was selected from a group of five Finalists and culminates an open, international design competition that has run since May 2015. The Commission’s decision endorses the recommendation of the design competition’s independent jury.
“We were thrilled by the quality and creativity by all the submissions in this competition,” stated Commissioner Edwin Fountain, who directed the competition. “This selected design concept reflects a high level of professional achievement.”
Imagery of “THE WEIGHT OF SACRIFICE,” and of the other four Finalists, can be found here  www.ww1cc.org/selection
The design concept was submitted by Joseph Weishaar, an architect-in-training currently located in Chicago, Ill., and collaborating artist, veteran sculptor Sabin Howard, of New York. Mr. Weishaar received his professional architecture degree at the University of Arkansas in 2013.
Mr. Weishar’s full professional team, necessary to implement the design concept, includes the Baltimore architectural firm GWWO Inc.; landscape architect Phoebe Lickwar, and engineering consultants Henry Adams LLC, Keast & Hood and VBH.
Regarding the World War I Memorial, Commission Chair Robert Dalessandro stated, “Those five million Americans who served in uniform during World War I literally changed the world. This new landmark in our nation’s capital will be a worthy expression of their great legacy.”
The location for the new World War I Memorial is Pershing Park, in downtown Washington, DC, bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th and 15th Streets NW. The park is one block from the White House, adjacent to the Willard Hotel and the District of Columbia’s Wilson Building.
This site was designated by Congress in 2014. The Centennial Commission is a Congressional Commission set up in 2013 to ensure a suitable observation in the United States of the centennial of World War I.

Book Review: “Dark Invasion”

Dark Invasion” by Howard Blum

Review by WW!HA President Sal Compagno

What reads like a novel, but  clearly rooted in historical research, is Howard Blum’s
study of German sabotage in the U.S. in 1914-15.  Germany, a prisoner of geography,
found itself cut off from access to America’s resources due to the British naval blockade.
With the war becoming clearly a war of attrition, access to resources would determine
victory or defeat.  America, as a neutral  nation, gifted with vast resources, found itself
supplying the voracious appetite for war essentials largely to the Entente (France-Britain
etc)  with Germany and her allies cut off.  Neutrality was making America rich!!

Germany was keenly aware of America’s notsoconvincing neutrality and set up a
clandestine sabotage system, financed and promoted through its consulates but
largely leaving their embassy untouched.  The east coast ports became the focus
of their actions.  Cleverly developing a vast spy network on the east coast with
assistance from disgruntled Irish stevedores, delayed bombs were placed on
allied ships with devastating results.  Their successes were crippling the Entente’s
war.

Tom Tunney, a New York policeman, trained in dealing with gang warfare, set up a
team of experts who would infiltrate some of the collateral members of the German
plan, eventually closing down their objectives. When the press divulged the role these
saboteurs were attempting, the nation was outraged and demanded government
action.  It too another two years before an Espionage Act was created.  Luck and
chance opportunities with British intelligence finally ended the first phase of German
espionage in the U.S.  Dark Invasion is a fascinating and highly engaging historical
study of desperate acts and an insight into America of the early 20th century.

Book Review: The First World War”

The First World War”  by Michael Howard 

Review by WW1HA President Sal Compagno

Now that we are in the 100th anniversary of The Great War—  or World War I as it is
now more commonly expressed — a short introduction to the seminal event of the
20th and now 21st century, is available.  Michal Howard, British historian, has offered
a short but inclusive introduction to that cataclysmic event.  As he states in
the foreword of  the book: “This book, as its title suggests, is intended
simply to introduce the vast subject of the First World War to those who know
little or nothing about it.”  He does brilliantly.  Merely 148 pages, he encapsulates
the key battles, effects and costs.  A few photos, maps and etchings add a certain
relevance to his approach.  Michael Howard has written a formidable and clear
understanding for those who wish to acquaint themselves with the most significant
event in our time.

Canadian remains at Vimy

From the Canadian Press:

An Ottawa historian has undertaken a mission to give proper burials to more than 40 Canadian soldiers killed at Vimy Ridge.

Norm Christie, an author and History Television host, says that on April 9, 1917, a unit of the Canadian Scottish regiment attacked across a field in northern France.

During the heat of battle, 44 of the dead were buried in a crater which was marked CA40. They included William Milne of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, a Victoria Cross winner.

Christie says the dead — including ten members of the 113th Battalion Lethbridge Highlanders — were supposed to be exhumed and relocated to a nearby cemetery called Nine Elms, but it never happened.

Christie and his supporters are trying to raise money for non-destructive testing to find the exact location of the mass grave, which he suspects is in the middle of a farmer’s potato field.

So far, they have raised $22,000 of their goal of $110,000.

“I think if we can recover them, then we should recover them,” says Christie. “It’s a real statement about a country how you treat your dead and these are, really, Canadian heroes who gave their lives for Canada on one of the most significant dates of our history.”

Christie says residents in the village of Thelus, France and area farmers have given their consent to have the area explored.

On his organization’s website, Christie notes that recent work by the Australians have resulted in the recovery of 150 Australian remains.

He says there is no reason why Canadians can’t show that level of determination and pride.

Book review: “Wounded”

“Wounded” by Emily Mayhew

Reviewed by WW1HA President Sal Compagno

In any war the term “casualty” includes many elements, e.g. killed, wounded, captured etc.  Too often war historians concentrate on the “killed” to summarize battles, final outcome and costs.  But in most modern wars, the wounded figure greater in number than killed.  They are often marginalized and ignored in the total picture.  Emily Mayhew, a British historian, found the neglected issue of the wounded not given enough focus by military or war historians.  She set about researching the treatment of the British wounded in World War 1.  This short, but fascinating study, enlightens a part of that war unseen nor
reported by the media and deliberately kept from the public.  Her research took considerable time as documentation was not often accessible, but her perseverance revealed a broad effort to provide medical care to a war whose massive and brutal  casualties overwhelmed the then medical capabilities.

Her approach was to take the whole medical spectrum through personal accounts and divides the book into chapters titled: Stretcher Bearers, Regimental Medical Officers, Surgeons etc.  As the war progressed and the wounded approached enormous numbers, innovations  such as mobile Xrays, proceeded accordingly but not always with the success perceived.

Frustrations, delays, lack of supplies, plagued all medical units and she carefully categorizes the response.  New and innovative procedures had to developed and some truly remarkable attempts to save lives were achieved. Mayhew has done a worthwhile investigation of a shadow element of the war.

Book review: “A Shattered Peace”

Review by Sal Compagno

“A Shattered Peace” by David Andelman,

When the First World War ended the fighting on the Western Front on Nov. 11, 1918, a war-ravaged Europe stood facing the opportunity to remake the world for a lasting peace.  David Andelman’s book, “A Shattered Peace,” provides a detailed account how the peace treaty of Versailles shaped the
modern world and whose creators deliberately made a lasting peace impossible.  He spares no one and is especially critical of  the famous “Big Four” who, grounded in the 19th-Century power-politics, would not bend or envision a different world.  Andelman is particularly severe on Wilson’s self-determination goal for reshaping borders and his strident demand for a League of Nations.

To say that Versailles caused most of the modern global instability is the principal point.  The author valiantly reveals how personality and individual misgivings governed decisions which had lasting effects to our own day.  Take the Middle East’s current instability as an example.  Sharply defined borders there became irrational and insecure due to greed and ignorance of local conditions.  Ethnic, religious, social and economic elements were totally ignored! Thus, chaos and bloodshed were guaranteed. Oblivious to essential conditions in their judgements, in spite of expert testimony, the leaders in the “peace” making doggedly stuck to their selfish desires in all areas the war covered.   Andelman has portrayed a dismal and tragic drama whose influence is still vividly being felt.

News from the WW1HA seminar: The presentations

Presentation Abstracts

World War One Historical Association and League of WWI Aviation Historians

2015 Collaboration Symposium

Jack Tunstall – Eastern Front 1915 (With an Eye on Aerial Ops)

Kelley Szany – In the Shadow of War: Armenian Genocide 1915-1918

The genocide of the Armenians by the Turkish government during World War I represented one of the first genocides of the 20th century; almost an entire nation was destroyed.  The Armenian people were effectively eliminated from the homeland they had occupied for nearly 3000 years.  This annihilation was premeditated and planned and to be carried out under the cover of war.  Over one million Armenians died (estimated at 1.5 million) and their traditional homeland was depopulated.  A homogenous Turkish state- one people, one language, one religion, was created by the extermination of the original Armenian inhabitants.

Jon Guttman – Through, Above, and Around: Arming the First Allied Fighters in 1915

Before the end of 1914, all combatants in World War I were taking the airplane seriously enough to seek control of the sky. After numerous encounters and experiments, 1915 saw the establishment of what became the definitive formula for an aerial weapon: a single-seater with a machine gun that could be aimed wherever the pilot pointed his plane. The problem of the year was how to do that without shooting off propeller off, which the Germans ultimately solved with mechanical interrupter gear and the Allies by several additional means, from wedge-shaped deflectors, raised gun mountings and repositioning the propeller behind the pilot.

Dick Church – The Kaiser’s U-Boats: Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, the Lusitania, and Will They Bring America into the War?

This presentation will cover U-Boat types and their missions in the War.  The topics will include: the major attacks by U-boats; the Lusitania sinking and ramifications in 1915; prominent commanders of the Great War; anti-submarine efforts by the Allies; unrestricted submarine warfare; and the final defeat of the U-boats and their return in WWII.

Steve Suddaby – Aerial Bombing 1914-1915: Crossing the Rubicon with Baby Steps

Pre-WWI attitudes against the bombing of civilians had been completely discarded by the time of WW2, which featured the near-eradication of enemies’ cities from the air. This presentation shows, through the events of 1914-1915, how the European powers “crossed the Rubicon” from one set of attitudes to the other. Other themes that will be explored include:

  • Immaturity of aviation technology;
  • Experimental nature of bombing aviation in WWI;
  • Evolution of air forces from general purpose to specialized units;
  • Role of naval aviation in advancing aerial bombing.

John Mosier – Western Front 1915

Lance Bronnenkant – Early German Aces & the Interrupter Mechanism

“Early German Aces and the Interruptor Mechanism” presents the story of how the development of a practical method of allowing machine-gun bullets to be fired through the arc of a spinning propeller changed the face of aerial warfare forever. A certain group of German airmen helped this nascent technology evolve into such a lethal and effective weapon that the period that followed its debut became known as ‘The Fokker Scourge,’ which in turn caused a chain reaction that led to the birth of fighter aviation as we know it today. The stories of those pioneer aviators, supplemented by numerous period photographs, are told as well.

Paul Grasmehr – The Naval and Aviation Aspects of the Gallipoli Campaign: Expeditionary Warfare in a Time of Emerging Doctrine

Update on the WW1HA Annual Seminar

Evacuation of our troops from the Peninsula. Barges conveyed them from transports to the Island. Photo (cropped, some digital retouching) of a black and white photographic print in an album titled Photographs of the Third Australian General Hospital at Lemnos, Egypt & Brighton (Eng.) / taken by A. W. Savage 1915-17 held at the State Library of NSW. December, 1915.

Evacuation of our troops from the Peninsula. Barges conveyed them from transports to the Island.
Photo (cropped, some digital retouching) of a black and white photographic print in an album titled Photographs of the Third Australian General Hospital at Lemnos, Egypt & Brighton (Eng.) / taken by A. W. Savage 1915-17 held at the State Library of NSW. December, 1915.

Here’s news of the seminar, Oct. 2-3, at the Hilton/Lisle in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, Ill. And here’s the link for more details and to register: http://ww1ha.org/2015-annual-conference/

Speakers

Jack Tunstall: Eastern Front, 1915 (with an eye on Aerial Ops)
Kelley Szany: In the Shadow of War: The Armenian Genocide 1915-1918
Jon Guttman: Through, Above and Around: Arming the First Allied Fighters in 1915
Dick Church: The Kaiser’s U-Boats: Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, the Lusitania, and Will They Bring America into the War?
Steve Suddaby: Aerial Bombing, 1914-1915: Crossing the Rubicon with Baby Steps
John Mosier: Western Front, 1915
Lance Bronnenkant: Early German Aces and the Interrupter Mechanism
Paul Grasmehr: Gallipoli

Also, 1st Infantry Div. Museum Tour, Friday pm
Modeling Contest, Re-enactors, Strategy Games and vendors

Program Outline

Friday, October 2
8:00 AM to 12 Noon: Seminars with breaks
Noon to 1:00 PM: Lunch
1:00 to 5:00 PM: Buses to Cantigny and Museum tour
6:00 PM: Cash bar before dinner
7:00 PM: Dinner

Saturday, October 3
8:00 AM to 11:30 AM: Seminars with breaks
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM: Lunch
12:30 to 3:15 PM: Seminars and briefings on WW1HA and League

Movie: “The Devil Dogs”

New on Kickstarter:
My name is Jean- Christophe Labrunye and I’m the producer of an author documentary film project called “ The Devil Dogs”
This film is part of the centenary of the First World War. Its main subject is the first great battle the American Marines won in June 1918 at Belleau Wood, at only 90 km from Paris.
This battle was, without a doubt, the bloodiest in American Military History before the Second World War. It is considered as “The” battle that gave birth to the Marines Corps as we know it today.Is on this woods, after loosing 7000 of their men, that they became the “Devil Dogs”.
Since the beginning of this project, the feedback from the United States has always been really encouraging. On January 27 we were honoured to receive “ The United States World War One Centennial Commission” label. Every year, hundreds of Marines come to the Belleau Wood as a testimony of the importance of this battle in their own history.
We have also been given the « Mission centenaire 14-18 » french Label (ministère des anciens Combattants) in april 2014, the writing and documentary development Aid from the Picardie region in November 2014, and the « Aisne 14-18 » label from the the Aisne General council.
The film is currently in production, and we would like to begin spreading the word and getting people to talk and share our project. I invite you to visit our website where you will find a preliminary trailer: www.devildogs-themovie.com