The World War One Historical Association blog went dark three years ago because of a shuffle, and now I have shuffled back. I am Susan Hall-Balduf, daughter, granddaughter, etc., of a citizen soldier family going back to the American Revolutionary War. My brother received a Bronze Star for Valor for his actions in Vietnam, and my nephew — his son — fought in Fallujah, Iraq, as a Marine. (Our only Marine. None of us knew what to make of that.)
My Great-Uncle Elmer fought in France with the 35th Division, which was organized at Camp Doniphan, Okla., in August 1917 from units of the Kansas and Missouri National Guards. The Division fought in the St. Mihiel Campaign and in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, where on Sept. 29-30, 1918, it was virtually destroyed in the village of Exermont, northwest of Verdun. Great-Uncle Elmer was shot through the throat and gassed in that battle, one of 6,006 casualties. The 1st Division took the town on Oct. 1.
Here’s a link at Doughboy Center’s website to an excerpt from Robert H. Ferrell’s book Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: The Failure of the Missouri-Kansas Division that describes why the 35th had such a hard time. Here’s more on the Meuse-Argonne Offensive from the website of WW1HA President Randal Gaulke: https://meuse-argonne.com/
Here’s a link to images of Exermont then and now, from Andrew Pouncey’s website War Untold.
The WW1HA blog will wander through the First World War as I continue my own research. I hope I touch on subjects you are particularly interested in. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
The World War One Historical Association (WW1HA) annual Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr., prize for 2016 for the best work of history in English on World War One (1914-1918) has been awarded to three exceptional historians:
Dennis Showalter for his “InstrumentofWar: TheGermanArmy 1914-1918″ (Osprey Publishing);
Michael S. Neiberg for “ThePathtoWar: HowtheFirstWorldWar CreatedModernAmerica” (Oxford University Press), and
Graydon Tunstall for “WritteninBlood: The BattleforFortressPrzemyslinWWI” (Indiana University Press).
This is the second time that multiple books won the Tomlinson prize. Three 2010 titles shared the award presented in 2011. For the books published in 2016 the editors of WW1HA’s publication, World War One Illustrated, chose the three winners since all three authors have served in the past as judges on the Tomlinson award committee and recused themselves for 2016.
The prize consists of a cash award and original bronze plaque sculpted by Andrew L. Chernak, a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran whose sculptures are installed at Arlington Cemetery and state and private parks:
It is made possible through a grant from Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr., Director-emeritus of The Western Front Association – United States Branch. (WFA-US became the World War One Historical Association in 2011.)
One of the most iconic figures of the early 20th Century is Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States. A. Scott Berg has written a comprehensive study of this President from birth to his demise. With deep Southern roots and a profound Presbyterian religious conviction, the scholarly Wilson has made a lasting and fascinating influence to our current day. To reach the highest office of the United States and a deeply respected international figure from an academic background, was deemed remarkable even by today’s standards.
Berg’s approach in defining Wilson is without any sharp criticism or defenses. He
sees him as a complete human being – brilliant, scholarly, opinionated, prejudiced
humanistic and forceful. His two marriages are given wide focus. and his personal
life is exposed. He made many friends, but was implacable with those
that disagreed with him. If one can made a single judgement of Wilson, it is
that he was a great reformer, but flawed in human perception. Convinced
he was right in political and international decisions, he would not accept any
criticism or challenge to his convictions. This overbearing self-righteousness
became the root of his failure in his greatest lifetime goal of the United States as a
active member of the League of Nations. Ultimately, he suffered both a physical
and political ending to his life.
Wilson was the first southern Democratic President to be elected twice to the highest office since the Civil War. After a dynamic role as President of Princeton and a brief role as governor of New Jersey, Wilson was catapulted to the Presidency. His lowering of many tariffs, creation of the Federal Reserve, popular election of Senators, giving women right to vote, made him revered throughout the nation.
Berg does a well-developed study of how Wilson gradually was drawn into the world conflict of World War 1. Reluctant to engage in the slaughter, he used his good offices to offer solutions only to be rejected leading to a slippery decision to finally be fully engaged militarily. Overwhelming received as the savior of the Allies in the victory, he was convinced he could alter the “mistakes” of old Europe by the establishment of the League of Nations. He was to find his nation not ready to engage in world leadership. This disappointment undermined his entire life effort, and he paid a great price.
A. Scott Berg’s Wilson is a wonderful source of understanding this great figure and
the background of the nation he represented. The first twenty years of the
twentieth century is definitely captured in his opus and is highly recommended
for the historian.
I am a Puffin children’s author and I’d like to tell you about my new children’s series, Wings which I hope will be of interest to aviation enthusiasts and their families associated with World War One Historical Association.
I wrote Wings with RAF Museums as their children’s writer in residence in the run-up to the RAF’s 100th anniversary in 2018. The Wings series is about four children at a football summer camp, who find themselves propelled back in time. If they can learn how to fly the great RAF planes – the Sopwith Camel, Spitfire and Typhoon, history will lead them on a flightpath home to the present.
“Tom is the RAF Museum’s Writer in Residence. His close relationship with the museums and his obsessive eye for detail mean that I was not at all surprised that his Wings books are both highly authentic and hugely exciting. These are Biggles books for the 21st century.”Phil Clayton, Education Office at RAF Museum
“Flyboy is like a cross between ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Alex Rider’. I liked the book because it was spooky. The main character is Jatinder and the story is about World War One. It’s a total page turner! I think it is an amazing book. It attaches you to it straight away on the first sentence. “Kamran Mustfa aged 8
The Wings series feature:
· Hardit Singh Malik – the first Sikh Indian to fly into combat with the Royal Flying Corps
· flight simulators
· military museums
· female pilots
· making model aircrafts.
And each book comes with a simple model plane you can make yourself!
“Wings: Flyboy is a wonderful, warm tale. Stories highlighting the diversity of Britain’s troops during both world wars are rare and this one deserves a wide audience. It is a cracking read.”Bali Rai
We are pleased to announce that the annual Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr., prize for 2015 for the best work of history in English on World War I has been won by Dr. James Lyon, author of “Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914: The Outbreak of the Great War” (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015). Professor Lyon has studied the Balkans for over 34 years and currently works at the Austrian University of Graz’s Center for Southeast European Studies.
“Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914”is the first history of the Great War to address in-depth the crucial events of 1914 as they played out on the Balkan Front. James Lyon demonstrates how blame for the war’s outbreak can be placed squarely on Austria-Hungary’s expansionist plans and internal political tensions, Serbian nationalism, South Slav aspirations, the unresolved Eastern Question, and a political assassination sponsored by renegade elements within Serbia’s security services. In doing so, he portrays the background and events of the Sarajevo assassination and the subsequent military campaigns and diplomacy on the Balkan Front during 1914.
The book details the first battle of the First World War, the first Allied victory and the massive military humiliations Austria-Hungary suffered at the hands of tiny Serbia, while discussing the oversized strategic role Serbia played for the Allies during 1914. Lyon challenges existing historiography that contends the Habsburg Army was ill-prepared for war and shows that the Dual Monarchy was in fact superior in manpower and technology to the Serbian army, thus laying blame on Austria-Hungary’s military leadership rather than on its state of readiness.
Based on archival sources from Belgrade, Sarajevo and Vienna and using never-before-seen material to discuss secret negotiations between Turkey and Belgrade to carve up Albania, Serbia’s desertion epidemic, its near-surrender to Austria-Hungary in November 1914, and how Serbia became the first belligerent to openly proclaim its war aims, “Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914” enriches our understanding of the outbreak of the war and Serbia’s role in modern Europe. It is of great importance to students and scholars of the history of the First World War as well as military, diplomatic and modern European history.
James Lyon received a Ph.D. in Modern Balkan History at the University of California, Los Angeles (dissertation: The Forgotten Ally: Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914), an M.A. in International Relations from Brigham Young University (thesis: Yugoslavia’s Post-World War Two Economic Development), and a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Brigham Young University.
Dr. Lyon directed Balkan projects for the International Crisis Group for ten years: an accomplished analyst, he has written three books, many scholarly articles, dozens of published reports, numerous Op/Eds, and has testified before the U.S. Congress and parliamentary panels of EU member states. He has twenty years’ experience in conflict/post-conflict areas of the Balkans, worked on EU and USAID projects and with the Office of the High Representative, as well as in the private sector.
He is the founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Heritage, which is working with the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina to digitize their endangered collections.www.fphh.org. He is also an associate researcher with the University of Graz in Austria.
The Tomlinson award winner is chosen by a panel chaired by Professor Dennis Showalter of Colorado College, a past president of the Society for Military History. Other panel members are Dr. Michael Neiberg, Professor at the US Army War College, and Graydon A. Tunstall, senior lecturer at the University of South Florida. The prize is made possible through a grant from Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr., director-emeritus of the Western Front Association – US Branch. (WFA-US became the World War One Historical Association in 2011.)
The panel chose this book because it takes a new look at the critical Balkan front using the latest archival evidence. Panel members were impressed that Lyon takes a transnational approach to the subject, setting the Serbian front into an international context. Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914 analyzes diplomatic, political, and military arenas to give the fullest picture yet of events on the Balkans, the true fulcrum of 1914.
Geoffrey Wawro is professor of history in Texas and has written a painful study of the role
of the Austro-Hungarian military in the first six months of World War 1. He relates how in
these first months the empire of the Hapsburgs was doomed to extinction. Most emphatically, he emphasizes the deliberate intention of the Austrian government and military in starting
the war. Revenge for the killing of the heir apparent, Austria knew attacking Serbia, whom
they believed instigated the assassination, would draw Russia in. Blatantly unprepared for
war, her infantry had little or no training, she attacked Serbia, only to be thoroughly defeated
three times by an inferior but determined enemy. Conrad von Hotzendorf, a palace General,
enjoyed the reputation as the most incompetent supreme military leader. Gen. Potiorek,
whose military experience was minimal, led the disastrous Serbian ventures.
The Hungarians were described by Wawro as continually undermining all the Austrian efforts
before and during the war. They refused to fund or modernize their joint armies nor were
they willing to cooperate in battle! When both faced the Russian army in the east, they were
unable to achieve even the the most modicum of victory. Exhausted by heat, long marches,
little food, they died or surrendered in thousands. Losing enormous territory, they begged
assistance from the Germans, who reluctantly complied. The first winter in the Carpathian
mountains saw their Austrian-Hungarian troops frozen. Gross incompetence by their leadership led to over 800,000 casualties in six months! The end of the empire was guaranteed. Wawro has painted a sorrowful & agonizing portrait of a mad reckless nation.
British historian Alexander Watson has written a voluminous book on the history of Imperial Germany and the Empire of Austria-Hungary in the First World War. He offer no excuse for their culpability in starting the conflict and places clear blame on Austria-Hungary more than
Germany, whose backing sparked the war. His judgement is clear, both created and
convinced themselves the war was necessary and just. Nevertheless, the war was one
of total illusions. Austria-Hungary was totally unprepared for a modern war and her
reverses on the battlefield in the first six months devastated her martial ability through
unbelievable incompetence. The result was a decent into the collapse of her empire.
Germany, as he states, bit off more than it could chew. Even its military prowess was
incapable of confronting a two-theater war. Brilliant in tactics, her strategy guaranteed
What renders his study most fascinating is the effect of the war on the peoples in each
country. To the Germans, Russia was the real threat with deep feelings of being overrun
by a barbaric hoard. This fear galvanized the German people to support wholeheartedly
their military effort extending the support to the Western Front. But the price was phenomenal. The war was not even a year old when food shortages became evident in both empires and grew progressively worse as the war dragged on. Stubbornly, they persisted in the downward spiral to total exhaustion. The Austro-Hungarian army, short of every valuable resource, became totally dependent on Germany. Her internal disintegration undermined her resolve to be a competent ally.
Watson is very careful and detailed explaining how the lack of resources, especially food, became so critical in both areas. An urgent & vociferous cry to end the war became paramount and unstoppable. He emphasizes how the last desperate and most blundering act when Germany allows unrestricted submarine activity brings in the United States & its failure ended any possibility of victory. With over 118 pages of notes, Watson has created a formidable study how both in military and domestic areas intertwined in a catastrophic war.
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.
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.
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 ignoredin 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 tookconsiderable 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 andshe 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.
This blog discusses strategic and security issues, both in general as well as specific to Singapore. Through this blog, I hope to encourage informed and reasoned debate on regional as well as national security issues.