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.)

shb-randy-on-the-map

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.

 

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WW1HA annual symposium

The World War One Historical Association 
Annual Symposium Details & Registration
 
October 21-22, 2016 
MacArthur Memorial
Norfolk, VA
                                           1916: Sex, Planes, and Disasters!
                                        
Our 2016 Annual Symposium in Norfolk, VA is fast approaching! The full registration package at $255 includes all presentations, the Friday dinner banquet and the must-see Friday afternoon tour of the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach including
transportation/snacks/beverages, docent-led tours, & a pilot talk.  (http://www.militaryaviationmuseum.org)

                                       World War One Aircraft at the Museum
 
Raffle Prize: Autographed Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Stick!
 

We are also offering an amazing raffle prize: a hockey stick autographed by members of the 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, along with a Certificate of Authenticity. The 86th Infantry Division of the American Expeditionary Force, known as the Blackhawks, was established in August 1917 at Camp Grant in Rockford IL and was composed of men from Illinois and Wisconsin. Frederick McLaughlin served as a commander in the 86th Infantry Division. In 1926 he was granted a franchise by the National Hockey League, which he named the Chicago Blackhawks for his unit and his home town.

Raffle tickets will be $10 each or 3 for $25, sold only at the symposium. The drawing will be during the luncheon on Saturday – you must be present to win! As a reference price, a stick signed by the 2012 team for a charity auction is currently for sale online for $1200. 
Registration Information
Can’t attend the full symposium?  We are offering one day options, both with and without the dinner, and just the tour of the Military Aviation Museum. 
Register online at http://ww1ha.org/2016-symposium-registration/or download the mail-in registration form at http://ww1ha.org/downloads/Symposium2016Flyer.pdf
Our main 2016 symposium page is http://ww1ha.org/2016-annual-conference/.
Want more details? The full Symposium Program book with all registration options and all program details and speaker information is available now at http://ww1ha.org/downloads/2016SymposiumProgram.pdf
All presentations will be held at the MacArthur Memorial. There is lots of information about about the museum and its programs at http://www.macarthurmemorial.org/.
For hotel reservations at the Sheraton Norfolk please call 757-640-2752 ask for Christine or Chelsea or send an email to Christine.Palmer@norfolksheraton.comBe sure to ask for the WW1HA room block and special rate. Our symposium daily rate of $129.68 per night includes all taxes and free WiFi.  Hotel parking is $8 per day.Norfolk has many wonderful attractions to visit beyond the MacArthur Memorial – Plan your additional activities at http://www.visitnorfolktoday.com/

 

Questions? Contact Dana Lombardy at dana.lombardy@gmail.com or at 510-301-0753 during Pacific Time business hours.  

Winner of the Tomlinson Prize announced

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. 

Learn more about the winning book:

http://bloomsburyhistory.typepad.com/bloomsbury-history/2016/01/dr-james-lyon-wins-2015-tomlinson-prize-for-his-book-serbia-and-the-balkan-front-1914.html

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.

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

World War One Historical Association 2015 Seminar

Anzac Day

Anzac Day 2015 at Gallipoli. Taken by David Pedler

2015 League of WWI Aviation Historians and World War One Historical Association Collaboration Symposium
Lisle, Illinois, Oct. 2-3
1915: Warfare Evolution; New Tactics and Strategies

In conjunction with the WWI Centennial Commission; the League of World War One Aviation Historians and the World War One Historical Association will present their Collaboration Symposium at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville.

The symposium’s 1915 focus covers a broad range of topics including aviation and significant battles and events of the second year of the First World War. For a
list of the featured speakers, some of the best historians, writers and researchers in the world, go to ww1ha.org/2015-annual-conference.

The Hilton Lisle/Naperville provides easy access to the 1st Infantry Division Museum at Cantigny Park, Wheaton, IL where we will spend Friday afternoon touring
the museum and grounds.

The registration fee of $210 (US) per person includes luncheon, dinner and transportation to and from the hotel to the museum on Friday, Oct. 2; lunch on Saturday; admission to all presentations, reenactor and model displays, and much more. The cost to add a guest for the Friday night dinner is $40 (US).

Symposium registration fees will increase to $250 (US) per person starting Sept. 10,
so act now for the lower rate.

Accommodations are at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville, 3003 Corporate West Drive in Lisle, Ill. Call 630-505-0900 and ask for the favorable “WW1 Seminar” rate of $99 per night (with free parking) to reserve a room for Oct. 1-3. A limited number of rooms have been secured, but the cut-off date to reserve rooms at this rate is Sept. 10.

Consult the WW1HA website at www.ww1ha.org for details and a registration form, or email our Symposium Chairman, Randy Gaulke, at lavarennes@meuseargonne.
com. All registrations will be handled through WW1HA.

Planning the best battlefield pilgrimage ever… (hopefully)

Aside

By Randal S. Gaulke

Organizations throughout Europe are busily preparing for the Centennial Commemorations of World War 1. The famous Ossuaire de Douaumont, outside of Verdun, and other memorials are being cleaned; signage and brochures are being refreshed; and reenactments and commemoration ceremonies are being planned. This is a perfect time for Americans considering a visit to the battlefields or a pilgrimage to their ancestor’s war to plan a trip. While it might seem a daunting task initially, the reader might just find that it is the journey, and not the destination, that brings the most pleasure.

Planning a battlefield tour requires several skill sets including knowledge of the sites and events that the reader wants to explore; some knowledge of the language and culture, and some knowledge of the local area. With the help of the Internet and translation tools it has never been easier to piece together the details needed to plan a meaningful trip “Over There.”

Before looking at each skill set, the planner should understand the limiting factors: What is the tolerance of one’s travelling companions? How much time can realistically be planned? What are the priority sites to be visited? Answering these questions can reduce the stress that inevitably arises when it takes longer to find the town, trench line, cemetery, etc. – or when one heads 100 kilometers in the wrong direction.

What is the purpose of the trip? Is it to survey the major battlefields of the war, visit a specific battle in depth, or retrace an ancestor’s wartime experience? There are scores of books and websites available on the war, covering the full range of topics. The trick is finding the resources that are most helpful. The best overall book for visiting American battlefields is “American Armies and Battlefields in Europe,” first published in 1938 and re-published in 1992. Its suggested one- and two-day tours are just as valid today as when they were first published. If more detail is needed, select a book or two on a specific battle, a regimental or divisional history, and a good biography or two.

The Internet can help guide planners; and don’t forget the used book sites www.abebooks.com and www.choosebooks.com. Scanning bibliographies and link pages can also alert the planner to other relevant materials.

It is highly recommended that the planner should gain at least some basic language skills and some understanding of the culture. Taking a French-for-Travelers course or an introductory-level Berlitz course will ease the frustration level of trying to communicate. Understanding foreign culture is equally important. The author takes a quick read through Polly Platt’s (somewhat dated) “Savoir Flair! 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French” before every trip. Rick Steves’ publications and videos also offer solid advice for the independent traveler.

Planning the itinerary comes next, and again the Internet can be a great starting point for finding lodging, exploring sites to visit, etc. Google Maps helps one plan routes and appreciate distances between sites. For driving, the Michelin Orange Series 500 (1, 200,000) maps are recommended. Traveling from Paris to the Meuse-Argonne and Verdun requires map numbers 514 (Ile-de-France), 515 (Champagne-Ardenne) and 516 (Alsace, Lorraine.) The maps can be ordered easily online, or they can be purchased at the many oasis (Aires) on France’s Autoroutes. For battlefield exploring, the IGN Blue Series (1, 25,000) maps the most useful — after one has learned how to read them. They can be ordered on line (www.ign.fr), or they can be purchased at the Maison de la Press in larger French towns.

The most important tip: Bolster the research by taking advantage of the many experts. Who are these experts? They are authors, armchair historians, tour guides, battlefield enthusiasts, etc. Where can they be found? The Internet is the best place to look. Two associations that come to mind are the U.S.-based World War One Historical Association (www.www1ha.org) and the U.K.-based Western Front Association (www.westernfrontassociation.com). Both of these organizations have websites, publications, local branches and knowledgeable members experienced in visiting battlefields. Many French towns and Departments (i.e. states) have tourism websites, too, including the Department of the Meuse (www.meusetourism.com/en). Finally, many individual enthusiasts or associations have knowledge on very specific areas, and they are often glad to share that interest with others.

Tower of the Ossuaire at Verdun by jameswberkThis is the tower of the Ossuaire de Douaumont, where bones found on the battlefield around Verdun were gathered and laid to rest. Nearly 300.000 French and German soldiers went missing during the 10-month battle.

 

What would you choose?

I apologize if this link doesn’t work; I’m working on it.

Take our survey about upcoming our seminar:

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e90tk9t4hsfb705v/a013nhshogduw/questions

Here  are possible locations, with inspiring photos.

National World War I Museum, Kansas City, Mo.

"View of the employees of the New York Central Railroad, assembled in Victory Way, showing the pyramid of captured German helmets, with Grand Central Terminal in the background."

“View of the employees of the New York Central Railroad, assembled in Victory Way, showing the pyramid of captured German helmets, with Grand Central Terminal in the background.”

Air Force Museum, Dayton, Ohio

1024px-Nieuport_17_LOC_hec.09329

French Nieuport plane, Type 17, with Lt. E. Lemaitre and Capt. J.C. Bartolf

San Francisco

On January 13, 1914, General Pershing took command of the 8th Infantry Brigade at the Presidio of San Francisco. It wasn’t long, however, before tensions along the Mexican border forced the 8th Infantry to be transferred to Fort Bliss, Texas.

General John Pershing paying tribute at Lafayette's grave in Paris

General John Pershing paying tribute at Lafayette’s grave in Paris

1st Division Museum at Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Ill.

Monument to the First Division's victory in Cantigny, France

Monument to the First Division’s victory in Cantigny, France

U.S. Naval Base, Norfolk, Va.

Battleship Division Nine joined the British Grand Fleet on 7 December 1917.

Battleship Division Nine joined the British Grand Fleet on 7 December 1917.

WW1HA 2013 Symposium

Tomorrow is the last day to register for the symposium for $195. After tomorrow, registration goes up to $245.

The Marriott Hotel in Kansas City, Mo., which is within spittin’ distance of the National World War Museum at Liberty Memorial, has a block of rooms reserved for people attending the symposium with a special price of $119 per night. The deadline for serving a room at this rate is Oct. 18.

“Spittin’ distance” is not a very elegant expression, but my grandmother used to say that, so it is contemporaneous to WWI.

Here’s a link to the museum:

http://theworldwar.org/

Museum inside