Here come the Yanks: April 6, 1917

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The U.S. Congress declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, bringing America into the war that had consumed Europe and dragged in countries on every continent, including Japan.

The National World War Museum and Memorial will commemorate the anniversary today with a ceremony at the museum that will tell the compelling story of the U.S decision to enter into the Great War through a unique multi-media program including significant and representative American writings of a century ago, including selections from speeches, journalism, literature and poetry, as well as performances of important music of the time. Invited participants and guests include the President of the United States, international Heads of State and diplomats, military leaders, veterans’ organizations, and national and state elected officials.

President Donald Trump will not attend as he will be hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping today.

The commemoration will include flyovers by U.S. aircraft and Patrouille de France, the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force, as well as the U.S. First Infantry Division Band and Color Guard, Native American Color Guard, and Army and Air Force legacy units that served during World War I.

You can livestream the ceremony at https://www.theworldwar.org/april6.

 

 

 

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Pack your little kit, show your grit!

Do your bit! It’s not too late to join up  — on the 2017 trip to the battlefields in France. From Meuse-Argonne.com:

Hello, readers!  Space is still available on the World War 1 Historical Association’s June 2017 Pilgrimage to the Western Front, but the deadline for reserving your seat is December 31, 2016!  So don’t put off your decision-making too long; and please share this post with your friends who might be interested in the tour!!  Details can be found at our website:  http://ww1ha.org/2017-ww1-battlefield-pilgrimage/.

Tour Guide’s Skill Set

This tour is being led by webmaster Randal Gaulke.  Many readers know that Randal has been traveling to the American battlefields of France almost annually since 1986.  In planning the 2017 tour he has been working with Paul Guthrie and John Snow, both directors of the WW1HA, to plan the tour.  Paul has organized / overseen seven tours for the WW1HA and its predecessor organization, and John Snow has traveled to the area frequently, too.  Randal has outlined his experience in an October 8, 2016, blog post that can be accessed here:  http://meuse-argonne.com/?p=1603.)

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Randal Gaulke gives a talk in 2007 on the map in the Mont Sec Memorial to U.S. troops in the St. Mihiel Salient. (Blogger’s note: That is Susan in the center of the photo with the suspiciously red hair.)

Endorsement From a 2017 Participant

Through this website, Randal also has the opportunity to help planning trips, including Valerie Young; who is booked on the 2017 tour.  She has written this endorsement:

Randy has been an invaluable resource to me this year in the planning of my personal journey to the Meuse-Argonne to bring to life the grandfather I never knew. His website was my initial introduction to his vast knowledge of the history and geography of the area. His recommendations for books, maps, other websites, and travel insights were tremendously helpful. We then had a lunch meeting where I shared my ideas about an individual journey; his great awareness and input validated my confidence and respect for him, his commitment to the Meuse-Argonne, and his desire to enable others to experience it as he has for so many years.

With Randy’s help, I was able to “follow in the footsteps” that my grandfather took nearly 100 years ago. Randy helped me find a guide/driver and accommodations, and provided important information on specific battlefield monuments and sites related to my grandfather’s infantry unit. His detailed knowledge of the area is essential to anyone planning a trip there. I am now writing about my grandfather’s military journey, and look forward to joining the tour in June 2017.

Making It Personal to the Participant

All of the organizing and presentation of history aside, there comes a time on a tour when a person is just struck by something that resonates with his / her soul–and that is why reading history or exploring Google Earth does NOT provide the same experience as a pilgrimage!

For the webmaster, one such occasion was listening to a Volksbund (German War Graves Association) employee talk about the last (annual) visit of an aging spouse to her husband’s grave at the cemetery.  She knew she would be meeting him again soon.

For two members of the 8th Kuerassier Regiment on the 2005 tour, it was touring Helly Ravine near Fort Douaumont.  Following their visit, they questioned whether reenacting was just playing cowboys and Indians; and they had a new-found understanding of the terrible conditions for the soldiers during the Verdun battle and during the Great War in general.

Additional Information on the Guide

In addition to presenting the events and their significance, the battlefield tour guide must become quite proficient in logistics:  One has to schedule visits, hotels, bus timing, etc.  To do this, one has to know the region and its people and be able to speak the language.  One also needs to be organized, to be financially savvy and to understand how to model / consider risks.

Randal has all of these qualifications.  He has arranged many details  for the second half of the 2007 Western Front Association USA Branch’s tour and other tours.  Randal was the coordinator for the WW1HA’s 2015 Symposium in Lisle, Illinois; which featured eight speakers and almost 100 participants over two days.  Randal’s profession as a high-yield bond analyst and his work as Treasurer of the Great War Association, Chairman of the Finance Committee at his previous church and Treasurer of Troop 56 BSA Millington, NJ has also helped him develop the skills necessary.

Again, it needs to be emphasized that Randal worked with the WW1HA and its directors to plan the trip.

Take Action Today!

Please reserve your space today;  Please tell your friends about this opportunity;  and please contact Randal with any questions:  lavarennes@meuse-argonne.com or 908-451-0252.

 

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

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

Notre Dame de Lorette: Artois 1915

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Steve Miller writes:

!00 years ago today, the Second Battle of Artois was underway. An excellent account can be found here (scroll down to the second article): http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/

Notre Dame de Lorette 400 View South
The largest French military cemetery on the Western Front marks the high ground, the Notre Dame de Lorette.
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Notre Dame de Lorette Map-2
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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.

Over hill, over dale 2014

Lost sonsI’m on my way to London, and then to France. I’ll see the poppies at the Tower, an amazing photo exhibition and, of course, the Great War exhibit at the Imperial War Museum.

And then I’m going back to the Front.

I’ll be blogging from my adventures on the road, so keep an eye out for my updates.

Centennial Countdown to the Great War

Battle on the Prussian-Russian border 1914/15 in present-day Lithuania. From the Flickr collection of

Battle on the Prussian-Russian border 1914/15 in present-day Lithuania. Jens-Olaf Walter photo

Are you following this blog by Dennis Cross? This is the clearest explanation of how the dominoes fell in July 1914.

http://centennialcountdown.blogspot.com

He said, then I said, then he said, then I said, etc.

Dennis tells a lot of stories that you might not have connected to the march toward war, including a famous murder trial in France that delayed the country’s attention to the approaching disaster.

Henriette Caillaux, the second wife of former French Premier Joseph Caillaux, was tried this month for the murder of Le Figaro editor Gaston Calmette following the magazine’s publication of private letters between herself and her husband written when both of them were married to others.  She claimed that she had not planned to kill Calmette, only to teach him a lesson, but had been overwhelmed by passion.  She told the court the shooting was an accident: “It is terrible how these revolvers go off when they begin shooting — one can’t stop them!”

 

No kidding, lady.

My thanks to Dennis for this blog post.

The Hidden World of WWI: Jeff Gusky

French soldiers dining area, underground, Vauquois. Reuse of this photo is forbidden by law.

French soldiers dining area, underground, Vauquois. Reuse of this photo is forbidden by law.

Hidden under the former battlefields of WWI lie hundreds of forgotten rock quarries transformed into underground cities by armies on both sides.

Cloaked in darkness under private land in the beautiful French countryside, these underground cities are bristling with artifacts, sculptures and emotionally charged “graffiti” created by WWI soldiers a century ago. Frozen-in-time, these cities beneath the trenches form a direct human connection to men who lived a century ago. They make hundred years ago seem like yesterday. They are a Hidden World of WWI that is all but unknown, even to the French.

American medical doctor, fine art photographer and explorer Jeffery Gusky was introduced to these underground cities by landowners and dedicated volunteers and their families who fiercely guard the secrets of these spaces with loving care to prevent them from being vandalized and to preserve them for the future.

More about the underground cities

 

 

 

A French officer’s photos restored

This post is from Casa de la Imagen, a cultural place in Logroño, Spain.

We has an impresive and unseen collection of 500 stereo negatives taken by a french officer at WWI, who portrayed battles like Somme, Arras or Ypres, and people and weapons of all the Western Front’s armies in high quality images. We had digitalized and restored the entire collection. You could see a small example here, in a special section inside the French Government official website to commemorate the Centenary: http://centenaire.org/fr/tresors-darchives/fonds-prives/archives/les-archives-photographiques-de-la-casa-de-la-imagen

Also, to reveal the 3D virtues of this exceptional images, Casa de la Imagen just made the video you can see here: https://vimeo.com/75787815

In this link you can see the new dedicated to our collection in the most important spanish journal EL PAÍS, the 1th November 2013: http://elpais.com/elpais/2013/11/10/inenglish/1384091378_813043.html?rel=rosEP

Our project is to make a book and exhibition showing the collection commemorating 2014-2018. We just finished the book (in Spanish yet). You can see it here: https://www.wetransfer.com/downloads/29a0ed440c7d35001e23b93077dfb3ea20140705143653/be062824f66e7ce77edc91c78aac3e4a20140705143653/7ac58a

For further information, please feel free to write to info@casadelaimagen.com

This is a basic information about the archive:

The collection was discovered at Tanger in 1999. It was contained in 10 wooden boxes, wherein each contains about 50 glass plates. In total, about 500 plates. All are unseen stereo negatives, made by a Verascope camera, if we believe in the advertising attached in the boxes. Each plate measures 4×10,5 cm, and each frame 4×4,5 cm. The conservation condition is variable, but mainly between good to excellent. The unknown French officer wrote notes between the stereo pairs. All the photos are dated, many are placed and a important portion has commentaries as “25/10/1917 Nettoyage du champs de batailles par les boches”.

The photographer domains the stereo peculiarities, is technically superb and the photographic, military and historic information is very rich.

After a hard investigation, we discovered the author was the captain Pierre Antoine Henri Givord, born at Lyon in 1872 and attached to the Transport de Matériel (le Train) during the Great War. We have his complete military records. The photographer travels between Northern France and Belgium: Ypres, Amiens, Hooglede, Somme…  The dates starts at 1916 and goes until the end of the war, even a familiar part of the collection after the war includes a visit to the post-war front. The officer was in close contact to the other allies armies, including a big amount of british themes photos, like soldiers and curious weapons.

Nowadays, we am working on a complete historic research on each image. The entire collection has been digitized by a full frame camera using a non-aggresive conversion method and restored, achieving high quality images for exhibition and publication purposes.

I can send you more specific info if you wish.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions.

001 Bélica expoThanks, Casa de la Imagen!