The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission has picked ‘THE WEIGHT OF SACRIFICE” for the new national World War I Memorial project.
Monthly Archives: January 2016
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 not–so–convincing 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
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.