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.
What better way to remember those who fell in World War One than to book a battlefield tour! The World War One Historical Association, working with Randal S. Gaulke of Meuse-Argonne.com, is offering an eight-day tour of the major American battlefields of WW1. Tour dates are June 3-11, 2017. Tour cost is $2,300 per person, assuming double occupancy. The price includes most meals and costs, except airfare to France. The tour will be by motor coach, and it will include two walks each day of moderate length over relatively easy terrain.
If you’ve visited these battlefields before, Randal hopes to be able to show you some new things. If you haven’t visited the battlefields yet, be prepared for a moving experience. Our soldiers walked these roads, fields and forests. Many of them died there.
To some degree, there is flexibility to visit sites of importance to individual tour participants. Please contact Randal regarding such requests.
Sign up today to reserve your space! Enrollment ends in late December.
Posted at Flickr by the National Library of Scotland: This image shows a British artilleryman demonstrating to a group of American soldiers. The gun, which is mounted rather precariously on a post, appears to be a Hotchkiss machine gun. This was a light, French-manufactured gun which was useful for its easy manoeuvrability.
Rudyard Kipling, in his poem, “The Ballad of the Clampherdown,” describes the sinking of a warship by a cruiser, “that carried the dainty Hotchkiss gun.”
[Original reads: “OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. A British machine gunner explains the working of his gun to American troops.”]
A personal note from Susan:
I strongly encourage you to make this trip. I have traveled with Randal Gaulke and can attest that he is knowledgeable — his particular interest is the German army, so he can give perspective from the enemy side as well as the Americans’ — and a good tour leader. You’re in France! Yes, you want to go over hill, over dale, you want to hit the dusty trail, but you also want to enjoy yourself. Like these guys.
Posted at Flickr by the National Library of Scotland: Six soldiers are standing looking into the camera. They are wearing American uniforms and hats but they are not armed or equipped. The background is mostly obscured by the soldiers and is also out of focus. Three soldiers stand in a line with a fourth just visible behind them. They are laughing and look relaxed. In front of this stands two more soldiers. The older of the two has bent his head round to talk to the younger, while his hand is round his mouth forcing him to smile.
Although there is no official caption with this photograph it does record a very personal and intimate moment amongst this group of friends. It also illustrates the strong sense of camaraderie experienced by soldiers in World War I across a very wide age range.
[Original reads: “BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE WESTERN FRONT – AMERICANS AT THE FRONT.”]
WAR OF ATTRITION
By William Philpott
Overlook Press, 400 pp
Review by Sal Compagno, WW1HA President
The first world war has left its permanent mark on military fighting in both small and large campaigns. That war was to change the nature of fighting ever since. William Philpott has demonstrated the shift in military tactics in his recent study, War of Attrition. A British author of note, he has investigated why the first world conflict of the twentieth century was significantly different from previous wars. His focus is on the learning curve needed to end the struggle after four years of fruitless efforts.
Philpott covers many theaters of the war, but concentrates mostly on the Western Front as this campaign defined the crucial change in military tactics. He emphasizes the long and painful lessons learned in the first two years of the war leading to an acknowledgement of the different character fighting had changed. The bloody battles of Verdun and the Somme and those of the Eastern Theater were preliminary to a conscious awareness among military minds how the war underwent a new direction. New tactics and weapons were increasingly introduced yet progress was both slow and costly.
Throughout the writing, Philpott demonstrates how supply, manpower reserves and will eventually turned the tide in favor of the Allies and the weakness of the Central Powers who could not match them. It took more than two years to build and change the waring nations to adopt a total war consciousness. He extends great praise to Ferdinand Foch and Phillipe Petain for recognizing what was needed to defeat the German army. The French expression grignotage —gnawing — the enemy strength was to become the modus operandi for the last six months of the war literally wearing the the opposition out. But the price was equally harsh for both sides. Yet, Foch, who was supreme commander, realized the price had to be paid.
The author spares no one for mistakes and errors in judgment. He notes how Ludendorff never grasped the full extent of collapsing morale of the German soldier even with the spectacular victory in the Eastern Theater. It was the declining morale and the lack of men and the desperate shortness of supplies which Germany could not replace forcing their submission. Men, supply and determination were the key to victory.
War of Attrition is a study not to be ignored by serious students of military history and is highly recommended for the average reader. Phillpott investigation of the nature of fighting in the first global conflict will enlighten both the historian and for those who appreciate the importance of the war.
You’ll be interested in this nes if you’ll be in the Big Apple on Saturday.
Here’s a list of the articles available at the Western Front Association website.
Welcome to the May 2016 issue of Trench Lines, the newsletter of The Western Front Association.
Create a ‘Memory Square’ of someone and it will be featured on the ‘Path of the Remembered’.
Engage with a local community event, with ‘The Living Memory Project’ – one of 141 events to emphasise that the Battle of the Somme lasted several months, not just a single day.
Go along to the study day ‘1916: The World at War’ courtesy of the First World War Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton on 28 May.
See Mike Sheil’s huge, evocative photographs of the Battlefields of the Somme in the exhibition ‘Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 1916’ that opens in the City of London on 1 June.
Attend the two Western Front Association day long conferences with the joint title ‘A World At War 1916’. Our first conference is on 4 June ‘The Somme and Beyond’ in Birmingham and our second conference is on 9 July ‘Perspectives on the Somme’ in York.
Read reviews of First World War books by Western Front Association members: ‘Fatal Charge at Gallipoli’ reviewed by Richard Pursehouse; ‘Trapped Behind Enemy Lines’ reviewed by Dr. Giovanni Timmermans, and ‘Lancaster in the Great War’ reviewed by Simon Phillips.
One-day event Sept. 19 in San Jose, Calif. The details are here