The Battle of Jutland

The war’s major sea battle began today in 1916.

This is how The Western Front Association describes it:

“The last great naval battle fought solely with surface ships, Jutland (or the Skagerrak as it was called by the Germans) was a strategic victory for the British; the High Seas Fleet never again challenged British dominance in the North Sea and in future the German naval effort was concentrated on unrestricted submarine warfare. Tactically it was a drawn battle, there being considerable British disappointment at the failure to bring the enemy to a decisive action. British losses were heavier than the German and for this reason the battle was claimed to be the latters victory. The British had suffered 6,784 casualties, and lost three battlecruisers, the cruisers and eight destroyers; the Germans lost one old battleship, one battlecruiser, four light cruisers and five destroyers, as well as 3,099 casualties.”

This YouTube video shows the action as it unfolded:

Here’s the story of John Travers Cornwell, who posthumously received the Victoria Cross for remaining at his post on the Chester despite mortal wounds. He was 16.

Here’s the battle from the other side (yes, it is in German):

For more, here’s our Storify version:

The SMS Seydlitz, damaged in the battle.

The HMS Queen Mary explodes.

“And We Were Young” news

Animator Andy Smetanka was victorious in the effort to raise money for the film “And We Were Young.”

So, the paper Meuse-Argonne is coming to a movie screen near you — sometime in the future. I’m very excited to see it, as my many posts on the subject will attest, because it’s all done in silhouette.

You’ll get a bang out of this news!

Fellow blogger Buried Words and Bushwa passes along a report of an unexploded WWI bomb being found in an Australian museum. The article doesn’t say how big the bomb was, but did identify it as German.

Solar eclipse in 1918

This is a lovely, almost eerie photo of an eclipse, taken by a nurse serving in France, from our blogger friend Portraits of War..

Here’s an itty bitty copy of the photo. That little white smudge is the sun. Portraits of War, of course, has the full photo.


Maps of the American Expeditionary Force(s)

This is a beautiful colored map that would no doubt look great on your den wall. I’m a little uncomfortable with the copyright issue — who owns the rights to this image? — but it looks terrific.

Here’s another source of maps with the Battle of Cantigny featured. The site has a very detailed description of the battle.

The Battle of the Aisne III: The Americans Fight

This is not really a sequel, it’s the 3D release.

Today in 1918, about 4,000 soldiers from the 1st Division — the Big Red One — are continuing to fight off German counter-attacks in the village of Cantigny, 75 miles east of Paris. They attacked yesterday, backed by French tanks, and had taken the town by afternoon. Now they have to hold on. Victory will be declared tormorrow.

Little Cantigny sat on a bit of high ground — always useful — but it was important mostly because it showed that the Doughboys really could fight.The 1st Division lost more than 1,600 men in the battle.


Cantigny after the battle.

Memorial Day in France

Here’s video from the 2011 Memorial Day ceremony at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, just east of Romagne, France. I attended the 2009 ceremony at the cemetery where 14,246 American troops lie. It was very moving, especially to travel through the village of Romagne where the Stars and Stripes hung at every window.

This video begins with the French national anthem (much better sung than in “Casablanca”). Following is Taps. Tears are running down my face.

It’s Memorial Day

I heard a jet go by very low and loud, which scared me into assuming that it must be about to crash — should I stay here and keep out of the way of the first responders, or should I run there and start interviewing witnesses for the newspaper? Then I realized I had heard the plane leaving the formation in a Missing Man flyby above a nearby Memorial Day celebration.

If this custom is not familiar to you, here’s a description:

“The `Missing Man’ is usually flown by four to six aircraft in a V formation with the left leg longer than the right (viewed from below) and the flight leader at the point of the arrowhead. As the formation approaches the gravesite or other ceremony area, the wingman following to the leader’s right (left from below) leaves the formation in a spectacular pull-up, suggesting the hero’s soul going up to God.”

Here’s an example:

Lest we forget.

Paul Fussell, 1924-2012

George Simmers, blogging at Great War Fiction, reports the death of Paul Fussell, who wrote the widely-read “The Great War and Modern Memory.” Simmers gives the book a quick review, pointing out what he considers its flaws, but praising it, too, saying, “Historians have rightly bashed him for his exaggerations and errors, but he was a pioneer, opening up the literature of the Great War, going beyond piety to look critically at the subject.”

It has been a long time since I read it — anyone else want to chime in?

The Battle of the Aisne III: The Americans Attack

The Third Battle of the Aisne began May 27, 1918 — it says something that so many of the battles have sequels, doesn’t it? — when the Germans launched their third offensive. Tomorrow will be the Big Day for the American Army with a victory at Cantigny, but here’s a great source of information about this stage of the war — some of these posts are fascinating.

And here — you know you love them — is a map!

In the center you can see the town of Fismes — right across a stream was the village of Fismette, which you might recall from my review of Hervey Allen’s “Toward the Flame.”