African American Soldiers 1 The pilots doughboys with mules Riveters gas masks Mule Rearing African American Officers pilots in dress uniforms

World War I Centennial News


Doughboy MIA adds new name to missing list

By Robert J. Laplander
Directing Manager for Doughboy M.I.A. and Finding The Lost Battalion

A couple months ago or so we were contacted by Mr. Stephen Gehnrich, who alerted us to the fact that a sailor from his county in Maryland who was lost at sea and memorialized on a plaque to the soldiers and sailors who gave there lives from that county in the war was NOT listed on the official list of missing in action assembled following the war, as posted on the Doughboy MIA website.

We launched an intensive investigation, as the 100th anniversary of the loss of the sailor – Seaman Herbert H. Renshaw – was coming up fast (May 22nd), and prepared our case. If we could put this one to bed, we wanted to do so before that date got here, if we could.

Read more: Doughboy MIA adds new name to missing list

Four Questions for Colin Williamson

"This is something that we should never, ever, forget."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

There is a special partnership that we should all be aware of. It is taking place between our friends at the Blinded Veterans Association, here in the U.S., and the Blind Veterans UK. Both organizations are national charities for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women. Blind Veterans UK started during World War I, and BVA began during World War II.

The two groups have come together to help each other with exchange visits, in a program they call Project Gemini. These exchange visits center on joint U.S. and UK cooperation regarding military eye injuries, blind services, blast Shell Shock to TBI, and vision research today.

The first exchange visit took place last month in Washington DC, on the anniversary of WW I with the strong support of the American Embassy London, and British Embassy DC. The visit included meetings with senior DOD and VA officials, as well as meetings at British Embassy DC with Major General Richard Cripwell and his military staff, visits with U.S. Senator John Boozman, tour of Capitol, meetings at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and public education lectures on 100 year history war injuries, plus Shell Shock- verses Blast Concussions to Today’s TBI lecture from historian at Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE.) at National Medical and Science Museum.

Colin WilliamsonColin WilliamsonThe group also toured Arlington National Cemetery with the Old Guard, and were able to present a Poppy Wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier, as a nod to the Blind Veterans UK origins from World War I. The next exchange visit will take place in London, May 21st to May 28th. There will be public educational seminar which will include DOD military trauma vision ophthalmologists experts on TBI- Shell Shock then to blast concussions today, vision research, and history rehabilitation services 1917 to Today. Plus the UK Surgeon General is Opening Speaker for this seminar.

We caught up with one of the Project Gemini participants, Colin Williamson, to talk about this special program.

You are with the Blinded Veterans UK, an organization that has roots in World War I. Tell us about the work that your people do.

My name is Colin Williamson and I am member of the Blind Veterans UK. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend the week in DC as part of the Project Gemini group from Blind Veterans UK. Tom and I actually started the programme together back in 2011 and I’m really very passionate about this project and its objectives.

Read more: Four Questions for Colin Williamson

Four Questions for Teresa Van Hoy

"How fragile peace can be if prudent voices go unheeded"

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

Professor Teresa Van Hoy is a professor at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. She has been working with WW1CC Commissioner, General Alfredo Valenzuela, on a special World War I-themed project with her students. The projects starts with them researching, writing, and producing a series of remarkable mini-documentaries, which are viewable on YouTube. We caught up with Professor Van Hoy, to talk to her about the project, and her students progress.
You and your students have been putting together an amazing documentary mini-film series on World War I. Tell us about it.
Van Hoy 2Professor Theresa Van HoyOur World War I films have become the signature of our MobileMural history initiative. Once again, for the fourth consecutive semester, each of my students is making a short "microdocumentary" film (5 minutes long) on any aspect of World War I that he or she chooses. These films produced "by and for the people" help move history from the classroom and archive into the streets and squares. Each new class of St. Mary's University students learns from the films produced in the preceding semesters and works to leave their own legacy in turn. Our last batch will be ceremoniously uploaded at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 2018. On that centennial, all seven "generations" of students will gather to celebrate their collective opus and pray that the Great Hope of peace which ended the Great War may prevail.
How did this project come about? Was this part of scheduled curriculum, or was it a grand idea that someone was able to win support for? What challenges did you face -- What was your students reactions to this opportunity?

We have the World War I Centennial Commission to thank for the genesis of this project! Because the WWICC was listening, my students felt empowered to speak. The first to welcome their voices was General Alfred Valenzuela, thereafter, Monique Seefried and many others both at WWICC and TX WWICC. We also drew inspiration from two Frenchmen who made military history come alive for my students. Gerard Mignard and Michel Benoit helped transformed my students' microdocumentary films from course assignment to clarion call.

Read more: Four Questions for Teresa Van Hoy

National Park Service shares forgotten WWI stories from Parks

By Nathan King
National Park Service

What do Homer Saint-Gaudens, women’s suffragettes, Theodore Roosevelt, the Gettysburg Battlefield, a copper mine in Michigan, and Irving Berlin have in common? They all have a connection to World War I through the national parks.

Waving to LibertyDeparting soldiers wave to the Statue of Liberty, ca. 1917 (NPS).To tell these stories in honor of the WWI centennial, the National Park Service (NPS) launched an all-new NPS WWI website.

Park rangers, historians, and other subject matter experts contributed all new material, sharing untold stories from the parks. As the project developed, and more and more stories came to light, it was as though we had discovered an exciting new dimension to the parks, and we were eager to share it.

For example, many Civil War battlefields are now national parks. The Civil War was just fifty years before World War I, and many of the battlefields were still reserves that would not be transferred to the NPS until the New Deal era (the NPS was created in 1916). Many of these Civil War battlefields were used as training grounds for WWI. On the fields of Gettysburg, Maj. Dwight D. Eisenhower was training Americans to maneuver tanks in 1917. On the site of the Petersburg Battlefield, where Civil War entrenchment tactics reached their zenith, 20th-century Americans were digging trenches on the same ground to apply the knowledge of the nation’s bloody past to a new war. You can still walk these hallowed grounds.

Read more: National Park Service Shares Forgotten WWI Stories From Parks

Four Questions for Douglas Mudd

"A greater appreciation for how WWI has shaped our world"

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

There is a fascinating & unique new WWI exhibit that opens on May 18th at the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs. This show focuses on coinage, money, and medals of the World War I period. The exhibit title is "Trenches To Treaties; World War I in Remembrance" It will run from May 18, 2017 thru November, 2018 at the American Numismatic Association's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum located at 818 N. Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, CO . Exhibit is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10:30am to 5pm. We had a chance to speak briefly with Douglas Mudd, who is the Curator / Museum Director.
You have a great new WWI-themed exhibit coming up. Tell us about it. How did it come about?

doug1Douglas MuddYes, we do have a great exhibit coming up! We starting planning for it about two years ago to commemorate the upcoming centennial of the U.S. entry into the war. Rod Gillis and I had been talking about World War I ever since he began work on the commemorative coin project - I believe 4 years ago. I personally have been interested in World War I since I was about 10 years old. I was fascinated by the airplanes and the aces who flew them and started scratch-building them with cardboard and toothpicks. Since then, I have studied the war avidly, so having the opportunity to do an exhibit on the topic was a natural.

My approach to exhibits at the Money Museum is to use history as the starting point - most people have some familiarity with history, but relatively few know much about money or medals. We can teach people of all ages more about money by showing them how money and medals are history in your hands - if you know how to interpret the words and images on them.

Read more: Four Questions for Douglas Mudd

Remembering World War I

American Medical Units mobilize shortly after U.S. enters the War

via The American Battle Monuments Commission

Base Hospital No 4 later in the warBase Hospital No. 4 during World War I. Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine. Less than a month after the United States entered World War I, Maj. Harry L. Gilchrist with the U.S. Army Medical Corps received orders to move Base Hospital No. 4 to France. On May 8, 1917 the unit departed New York harbor for Europe, and within weeks it had replaced a British hospital and was receiving patients in Rouen, France. Base Hospital No. 4 was one of six mobilized immediately to assist the British Expeditionary Force in France.

While General of Armies John J. Pershing had not yet set foot in France, British forces could not delay in making an urgent plea for medical support. In total they requested sixteen base hospitals and additional medical staff to assist their forces. Because the British had been fighting for nearly three years, they were in desperate need of fresh staff and support. Fortunately, advanced preparation of the American Red Cross (ARC), the Army, and Allied transportation made an immediate response possible.

The Army had established reserves of medical supplies for 67 field, base, and evacuation hospitals, 41 ambulance companies, and 131 combat regiments. These supplies were distributed from medical depots around the United States, and coordinated by an established system of telegraph communication. Even though the United States had never fought in this type of global conflict, the country managed to mobilize resources in an efficient and quick manner based on the realities of the early 20th century.

The Army Nurse Corps, established in 1901, was supplemented by the ARC nursing reserve with around 8,000 trained nurses ready for overseas assignments. The ARC had been providing services in Europe since fall 1914. It worked closely with the Army and Navy, and other private American medical agencies, and it raised funds, trained reserve staff, and acquired supplies and equipment.

Read more: Remembering World War I: American Medical Units Mobilize Shortly after U.S. Enters the War

 World War I and the U.S. Army

"Its legacy continues to this very day."

By General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)
via Military Times

World War I transformed America’s Army from a 19th-century skeleton force barely capable of responding to a deadly border raid by Mexican revolutionaries into a potent modern expeditionary power with millions under arms and the resources, skills and battlefield courage to shock the enemy into submission.

McCaffrey 200By General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)The transformation would not come easily, but when it did, it would reinvent the U.S. Army in such a profound manner that its legacy continues to this day, woven into the very fabric of its fatigues.

Prior to its entry into World War I, the U.S. prided itself on not having a significant standing army. Its last meaningful engagements had been the Indian Wars of the late 1800s and the Philippines insurrection of 1900. With Congress declaring war on the Central Powers, our armed forces needed to create virtually overnight the organizational structure, staffing and logistics needed to field a modern army. While patriotism was overwhelming, the pragmatic challenge of getting from Main Street to the Marne would test the resources of a country whose entry into a global conflict would propel it to becoming a superpower.

Shortcomings became obvious, such as the absence of effective field artillery, the need to exponentially increase the number of firearms produced in our armories, uncertainty over which vehicles would survive the wear and tear of battered French roads, and much more. While the quartermaster was distributing unprecedented contracts for items ranging from boots to ponchos, the medical corps was trying to figure out how to protect the personal hygiene of millions of young men who hadn’t traveled beyond the county line, much less been deployed overseas. “Over there,” indeed.

Read more: World War I and the U.S. Army: "Its legacy continues to this very day."

"Their sacrifices remain timeless."

Composing “The Boys of ‘17”

By Gordon Thomas Ward
Special to the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission web site

In the fall of 2016, I found myself an exhibitor at a history conference in NJ, as many of my books and songs are about historic events and tell stories from the past. I had my CD Welcome to the Past playing on my table to increase traffic and interest when a woman named Nancy stopped by from a neighboring table to say she represented a genealogical society and was drawn to the historical stories she heard in my songs. This prompted a very nice conversation between us. Several weeks later, Nancy telephoned me to ask if I would be interested in writing a song about the men who died in service to our country during World War One. As fate would have it, she was working on an event to honor them in her town of Westfield, NJ. I immediately said, “Yes.”

After hanging up the phone, I realized I had some research to do. I had been a history teacher, and I knew the basic facts behind the war, but I wanted to make it personal. As a songwriter, I wanted to write a song that was about one soldier and every soldier at the same time. I needed to get into the heads of the men who served and died in The Great War. Consequently, I set out on a learning quest.

I’ve never fired a gun, except for a pellet gun that I used to shoot at cans on a fence post when I was eleven years old under my godfather’s watchful eyes and guidance. Having grown up in the 1960s, I know nothing of soldiering from experience, aside from the graphic photos and film clips I’ve seen on newscasts. As a result, I delved into reading personal accounts from WWI soldiers, reviewing pamphlets, and watching historic video footage. Eventually, I settled on a title, “The Boys of ’17,” and the flesh and bones of the song took shape and gelled in my mind, as the creative gears began to turn.

Cover Art Boys of 17 400It became quite apparent to me that most of the men (‘boys”) that served in WWI had no experiential reference point from which to prepare themselves for the situations awaiting them. Oh, sure, they went through basic training and learned how to soldier, but nothing could ever prepare them for the absolute hell on earth that they were about to witness. Farmhands and professional men, urban and suburban gentlemen, and back-country boys, barely out of their teens, were massed together amidst the glorious posters, parades, send-offs, and patriotic music. Clearly, they were made aware of the dangers and perils, but it was impossible for them to prepare emotionally and wrap their heads around the experiences they were about to have.

Life in the trenches on the Western Front was a scene out of Dante’s hell. As the lyrics in “The Boys of ‘17” mention, there was mud, disease, and cold like few of us have experienced. Rats were a very common sight, and gas warfare was a constant threat. One needed to be on guard constantly during times of attack. The zigzag pattern of the trenches created a situation where enemy soldiers with bayonets and rifles might be just around the corner of one’s trench section. The stress was never-ending and highly intense.

Read more: Composing “The Boys of ‘17”

Plaque honors MT women veterans of WWI

By Ed Kemmick
via Last Best News

Billings, MT – One hundred years to the day after the United States entered World War I, 23 female veterans of that conflict received a long-overdue salute.

Women WW1 plaqueA plaque memorializing the 23 women with connections to Yellowstone County, MT who served in World War I was dedicated April 6. (Ed Kemmick/Last Best News)A plaque honoring the women, all of whom were either born or buried in Yellowstone County, or entered federal service here, was dedicated Thursday morning on the lawn of the Yellowstone County Courthouse.

Ed Saunders, an Army veteran from Laurel who spent six years finding the female veterans and chronicling their service, called his quest “an effort to shine the light and show the road back home for them, as they have been largely lost to Montana history.”

Ed SaundersEd SaundersHe said it was the duty of people all over Montana to “follow our lead and find, validate and honor the military service of Montana’s women veterans of World War I.” Dedicating the plaque, he said, was a way of saying, “Well done, women veterans of World War I from Yellowstone County. You are forgotten no more.”

The dedication was attended by local government officials, representatives of local law enforcement, many veterans, representatives of both of Montana’s U.S. senators and more than 100 onlookers.

Three special guests were members of the Mission Valley Honor Guard—all of them female veterans who are also enrolled members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in northwestern Montana.

Saunders’ researches are not confined to Yellowstone County, and one of his most recent discoveries was the service record of Regina McIntyre Early, an Army nurse who served in four hospitals in France during World War I. Early belonged to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and Saunders thinks she might be the first female veteran of WWI who was an enrolled member of an American Indian tribe in Montana.

Saunders recounted her story and those of several of the women listed on the plaque, noting that while no American servicewomen—almost all of them Army nurses or Navy clerical workers—died from hostile fire during World War I, “hundreds died from disease, accidents of war and utter exhaustion.”

Read more: Plaque honors MT women veterans of WWI

Indians, Germans, and the great trial in San Francisco

"This was not a straightforward case."

By Suruchi Mohan
Special to the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

(Note: the new Vande Mataram in the USA section of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission web site looks at the experiences of Asian Indians in World War I America. Writer Suruchi Mohan will be exploring the intricacies of the great San Francisco trial of Indian Nationalists and Germans accused of violating the United States neutrality laws by conspiring on American soil with Germany to overthrow the British Raj. In this article, she describes how she came across the story, and the challenges of writing it.)

The Story:

In the fall of 2015, I went to a docent-led tour of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. After meandering through the lower floors of the James R. Browning courthouse, we reached Courtroom One on the third floor. Our docent pointed out the rare marbles imported from Italy, the mosaics, the Corinthian columns. We stood in the bar noting the majesty of the architecture when he called attention to a bullet hole in the judge’s bench. Although covered over by a mosaic, the entry point of the bullet was clear. A shooting had taken place there over some dispute among Indians, he said.

Suruchi Mohan 300Suruchi MohanAssuming that he was referring to Native Americans, I came home and googled. It took no time to find out that the Indians from Courtroom One were from my native country, India. This new information gave a whole new color to the story. Little did I know that a century ago there were enough of us on the West Coast to hate one another so.

When the building opened to the public in 1905, it housed the U.S. Post Office and district courts. In 1996, after earthquake retrofitting, it opened as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


A call to Rollins Emerson, Court of Appeals archivist and our docent, revealed the presence of many binders in an attic in the Ninth Circuit courthouse.

I set up an appointment with him. He met me on the other side of the security check. Together we took a steep flight of stairs to a tiny room overlooking the courtyard. There they were, an intimidating collection of boxes and binders from criminal case number 6133. They had been moved here from their home in the basement of the federal building that now houses the U.S. districts courts.

Emerson carried most of the documents down to the first floor to a beautiful, well-lighted library, which had been built just before information went online. Consequently, it doesn’t look like the law library you’d envision, with volumes of leather-bound books in red and black with gold lettering.

Read more: Indians, Germans, and the great trial in San Francisco

Four Questions for Betsy Anderson

"Every international challenge we face today has roots in that war and its aftermath."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

The WW1CC is thrilled to have a new volunteer member on board to help us! Betsy Anderson will be our Volunteer Coordinator, and will manage the contributions from our various friends, who help us with event planning, social media writing, photography, partnerships, administrative issues, etc. She is an amazing person, with a fascinating background, and she comes from a family who was deeply touched by World War I. Betsy took some time to tell us a little bit about her story.

Welcome to the WW1CC Team! Where are you coming from, what was your earlier career?

Betsy AndersonBetsy AndersonI am delighted to volunteer with the team. I retired from the Foreign Service after a 35-year career, mostly in our Embassies overseas, where my main job was to help U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad. I worked in Australia, Canada, Senegal, Switzerland, Greece and Sweden. Later, in Washington, I directed the Office of Overseas Citizens Services and the Passport Office in the Department of State. After my retirement, I worked part time as an inspector in the Office of Inspector General, visiting Embassies to make sure they were doing things "by the book."

What an amazing background & set of skills! How did you hear about the Centennial Commission, and how did come to decide to help us?

I got interested in WW1 in the early 1990s when I inherited my great-uncle's letters. He served in the AEF in France. I heard about the Centennial Commission at the WW1 Museum in Kansas City, which I visited in 2015 while doing research. In a visit to the Western Front battlefields last fall, I encountered many school groups from Canada, Australia, and all over Europe, where young people were learning about the history and sacrifices made during the war, and I decided I really had to be part of the effort to educate Americans about the importance of the war and its consequences.

Read more: Four Questions for Betsy Anderson

 World War I and the Marine Corps

Bravery at Belleau Wood set the tone for today's force

By Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, USMC (Ret.)
via Military Times

America’s initial entry into World War I, which came three years after the fighting began, was more promise than power. Military experts on both sides of the Atlantic knew the U.S. had very few experienced combat troops at its disposal.

Bryan BattagliaBryan BattagliaFirst in FranceThe Army had been deployed to the Philippines to fight insurgents, but that experience was very different from this battlefield, where machine guns, artillery and chemical warfare were capable of killing 10,000 men in a day. The Marines, totaling less than 15,000 men, had seen combat action in China and Nicaragua, but even that experience did not seem enough to help them prepare for their future charge in France.

Army Gen. John Pershing was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to lead the American Expeditionary Force; Pershing, wanting to preserve the integrity of field formations, was opposed to integrating combat units.

America was now at war, and the Marines would be called upon. Congress approved 31,000 additional Marines, and to rapidly increase the Corps’ fighting strength, Gen. George Barnett, commandant of the Marine Corps, successfully orchestrated a nationwide recruiting campaign to enlist and commission the best of America’s volunteers.

It is then that the Marine Corps would undergo a radical transformation to do what was asked of them. Following boot camp and Officer Candidate School, Marines would take on more advanced garrison and field training both stateside and following their arrival in France.

Read more: World War I and the Marine Corps: Bravery at Belleau Wood set the tone for today's force

Why biplanes won out as the warbirds of World War One

By Darren Orfd
via Popular Mechanics

Manfred von Richthofen isn't exactly a household name, but his alias is. During World War One, von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, won 80 air combat victories, and he did so while flying biplanes. But why exactly were these two-winged planes (and in the Red Baron's case the three wings of the Fokker DR.I), the aerial weapons of choice during The Great War?

AircraftReal Engineering digs into the topic, exploring the different types of planes flown during the war and the continual progression of these airplanes. Biplanes were so popular because engines weren't nearly powerful enough for the task at hand. In order to attach any weapons at all (more than just a handheld pistol and a few grenades), engineers needed to figure out how to increase lift.

Since they couldn't simply install a more powerful engine, they turned to the wings. Increasing wingspan is another way to increase lift, but they needed to keep the wings as short as possible so the plane could still maneuver. That's how the stacked wings of the World War One biplane were born.

With its ability to fly over enemy lines, whether for battle or reconnaissance, the biplane rendered trench warfare obsolete, and the evolution of aviation (along with the development of tanks) would completely change the way Europe would fight a war only a couple decades later.

Read more: Why Biplanes Won Out as the Warbirds of World War One

Founding Sponsor

PritzkerMML Logo