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.

 

 

 

Visit the battlefields

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.

You can find a full flier and terms and conditions on the http://ww1ha.org website; and you can contact Randal Gaulke with any questions at 908-451-0252 or lavarennes@meuse-argonne.com.

Sign up today to reserve your space!  Enrollment ends in late December.

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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.

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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.”]

Book review: “War of Attrition”

 

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.

 

 

 

 

‘COUNTDOWN TO VETERANS DAY’

From Chris Isleib of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
OUR ‘COUNTDOWN TO VETERANS DAY’ HAS BEGUN!
Today is Wednesday, September 21, fifty days away from Veterans Day. 
We feel that one day per year is not enough to talk about veterans, veterans contributions, and veterans needs. So, for the next fifty days, we will join others in posting about veterans, using the #CountdownToVeteransDayhas htag.
We also feel that we can help people to have a more meaningful experience for their Veterans Day, by collecting an easy list of opportunities to volunteer, donate, or participate in local events. We have posted our list here – www.CountdownToVeteransDay. org
We invite you to join us in this Countdown To Veterans Day. Please feel free to repost or retweet any of the #CountdownToVeteransDay social media posts, or create your own, to help us get the word out.
Veterans needs, and veterans issues, will always need our help.

 

Chris Isleib

U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

Director of Public Affairs
301 641 4060
www.ww1cc.org/design
https://www.facebook.com/ww1centennial

 

News for New Yorkers

You’ll be interested in this nes if you’ll be in the Big Apple on Saturday.

NEW YORK – There will be a host of World War I-related activities this Saturday at NYC’s Governors Island. A platoon of living history reenactors will bring World War I Doughboys to Governors Island National Monument on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, for a free exhibition. See demonstrations and hear stories as reenactors portray famous New York regiments, including the Harlem Hell Fighters, at Doughboy Day at Fort Jay.
The centennial of American involvement in the “Great War” is in 2017 and this group of volunteer reenactors will share the story of U.S. participation. Both men and women will be in full uniform and provide displays and talks about the role America played in World War I. It is free and suitable for all ages.
Participants: Long Island Living History Association (facebook.com/longislandlivinghistoryassociation), military historians whose main purpose is to educate the public on all wars America has participated in; the Ebony Doughboys (ebonydoughboys.org) a group of African American living historians who are focused on telling the story of the outstanding record of service of African Americans during the First World War; Mark D. Van Ells, author of “America and World War I: A Traveler’s Guide.” Actress Laurie Gaulke will represent women in the war with her show, “Doughnuts for Doughboys: A Salvation Army Lassie in Neuvilly.”
The events are free, open to the public, and run 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Governors Island National Monument. The displays will be on the Parade Ground and talks in and outside Castle Williams.
“We are proud to be part of ‘Doughboy Day’ on Governors Island” said Dr. Libby O’Connell, Chair of the World War I Centennial Committee for New York City. “Events like this bring the diverse history of the Great War alive for new generations. “
Colonel Robert J D’Alessandro (Ret.) Chairman of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission observed, “This upcoming living history event on historic Governors Island will raise awareness of the innovations and the sacrifice that characterized America’s involvement in this ‘War to End All Wars’. I’m pleased that this commemoration will be part of the annual observances during the centennial. “
Schedule:
10:00-4:00: Displays of vintage artifacts, equipment, uniforms, and weapons. Parade Ground.
10:30: Opening remarks on Parade Ground.
11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 2:00, 3:30: “Eugene Bullard, America’s first black fighter pilot” (actor Chadd Gray). Gazebo outside Castle Williams.
11:30 and 3:30: “Doughnuts for Doughboys: A Salvation Army Lassie in Neuvilly” Castle Williams.
12:00: “Harlem Hell Fighters and the Black Doughboy experience.” Stories of: Pvts. Jenkins Fennell and Lewis A. Taylor. Presented by the Ebony Doughboys. Castle Williams.
12:30: Doughboy March from Parade Ground to Fort Jay and back to Castle Williams.
2:00: “America and World War I: A Traveler’s Guide” author Mark D. Van Ells. Castle Williams.
3:00: “Rediscovering the Doughboy Experience in WW1” artifacts presentation, Randy Gaulke, WW1 Historical Association. Castle Williams.
4:00: Doughboy March from Castle Williams to Meuse-Argonne Point.
5:00: End of event
Getting There:
Governors Island is located in New York Harbor, 1/2 mile from the southern tip of Lower Manhattan and 400 yards west of Brooklyn’s Red Hook waterfront. Ferry service is provided from Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street on the corner of South and Whitehall Streets (next to the Staten Island ferry terminal). Ferry service is provided from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 at the end of Atlantic Avenue. Commercial ferry service is provided by the East River Ferry and serves several points on the East River. Ferries run every half hour. For a ferry schedule: https://govisland.com/info/ferry
Supporting Organizations:
Governors Island National Monument (nps.gov/gois) manages 22 acres containing Fort Jay and Castle Williams. The U.S. National Park Service provides education and historic interpretation of the island.
World War One Centennial Committee for New York City (wwi100nyc.org) is dedicated to planning, producing, and coordinating events and activities commemorating the First World War in New York City and the surrounding areas.
U.S. World War One Centennial Commission (worldwar1centennial.org) was created by Congress in 2013 to provide public outreach, education programs, and commemorative events for American involvement in World War I. The Commission was also authorized to build the new National World War I Memorial in Washington DC.

 

A call for writers

From Sergio Lugo, Editor, MPHS
I am writing to solicit articles for an upcoming issue of the Military Postal History Society Bulletin to be released in April 2017.  That Anniversary edition bulletin will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war in WWI and American involvement in the war.   The articles we publish always have to have a tie in to postal history.
The website of the MPHS is at www.militaryphs.org.  The website contains limited sections of MPHS Bulletins.  The Bulletins treat subjects for all wars, not just WWI.  Recent editions have included articles on tankless raining in WWI; the year 1916 and its import for the U.S. in WW I; special British mailing cards of WWI; the correspondence of a British captain KIA at Kut, Mesopotamia;  clandestine British censorship of U.S. mail,  and others.
The citation for issue # 2, 2017 lists the numerous articles we have lined up (either completed or pending) for that edition.  Attendees to the annual WW1HA seminar in October are welcome to submit articles for that issue – provided, of course, that it focuses on the U.S. and use supporting postal history.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

“100 CITIES/100 MEMORIALS”

WASHINGTON, DC:  The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library have announced a new program to help people across the country restore and preserve local World War I memorials.
“100 CITIES/100 MEMORIALS” is a fund-matching program, where groups or individuals can A) identify local World War I memorials in their area, B) put together a conservation treatment proposal for a memorial in distress, C) submit their plan for consideration for matching grant funds, D) have the memorial treated by an accredited conservator, with communication help & possible matching funds.
The details of the program, including guidelines and online application form, can be found on the website www.ww1cc.org/100Memorials
The program is designed to foster a sense of heritage in local communities, to recognize local stories & people who were involved in the war, and create a way for community members to participate in the national World War I Centennial.
Kenneth Clarke, President and CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library stated, “The words ‘Lest We Forget’ appear on World War I memorials across the nation. Sadly, however, many of these memorials are in need of conservation and restoration, in this, their centennial year.”
The 100 CITIES/100 MEMORIALS program is particularly well-suited for community-service projects hosted by school groups, scout troops, veteran group posts, historical/cultural organizations, faith groups, local sports teams, and others.
Dan Dayton, Executive Director of the Centennial Commission, commented
“Doughboys came from every town and village in the US. This program gives the Commission a way to say thank you in a very tangible way.”
The sponsor organizations have teamed with the World War I Memorial Inventory Project, which is assembling a crowd-sourced, online database to document and assess the condition of the thousands of World War I memorials across the country.
Some of the 100 CITIES/100 MEMORIALS program specifics include the following:
– All submitted projects will be given communication resources to help participants publicize their work, post imagery to social media, and tell their own stories.
–  Webinars & videos hosted on the Centennial Commission website will provide information about conserving memorials, researching a memorial’s history, and creating a project plan for submission.
– All World War I memorial projects are eligible to be considered for this program’s matching funds. However, the matching funds available per project is currently limited to $2,000, which is likely to be most useful for smaller projects.
– In November 2016, one hundred of the submitted projects will be selected by a jury to receive matching funds.
– To qualify for a matching grant, a project proposal needs to be submitted by November 11, 2016.  Memorials need to be located in the 50 states or US territories, and the preservation work must be completed (or have been completed) between January 1, 2014 and November 11, 2018.
This fund-matching program has been adopted by The American Legion by Resolution of the National Executive Committee. The Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library welcome additional supporting organizations as well as additional sponsors to expand the funds available to the awardees.
Information on the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission can be found here
Information about the Pritzker Military Museum and Library can be found here
Information about the World War I Memorial Inventory Project can be found here

 

Do you belong to the WFA?

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.

Plant a rose to remember someone who fought or served in other ways during the Battle of the Somme with ‘Tommy’s Rose’.

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.

“The Lost Boy”

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Inscription on the Menin Gate.

 

From Tracey McRory:

This is a new WW1 song and a special collaboration between Northern Ireland songwriter Richard Laird, Irish Songwriter Tracey McRory and Belgian Songwriter Jo Lottegier. Tracey and Richard have been working on music and Remembrance of WW1 for the last 10 years and along with Sam Starrett wrote the haunting song “John Condon.”

“The Lost Boy” tells the story of George Llewelyn Davies, who along with his four younger brothers was the inspiration for playwright J. M. Barrie’s characters of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. George was killed in Flanders, Belgium, on the 15th March 1915, he was just 21 years old. On his 100 Anniversary, Tracey McRory played a special version of this song on violin at his grave, and also at The Menin Gate Ceremony, Ypres. The song is not for sale, but exists only to let people know the story of George Llewellyn Davis.

Another young boy killed too soon….. Lest We Forget

 

We will remember him.