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World War I Centennial News


"Hardly prepared to play a secondary role," U.S. adopts Draft in 1917

By Erik Sass
via the Mental Floss web site

Registering 0Young men at the first national registration day held in association with the Selective Service Act of 1917.After the end of the U.S. Civil War, conscription was swiftly abolished and the American military reverted to its traditional all-volunteer basis, with the U.S. Army bolstered by National Guard units when needed. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, the U.S. Army swelled to around a quarter million, all volunteers and National Guardsmen, and U.S. forces involved in the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902 totaled 126,000. Later the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa in northern Mexico in 1916-1917 numbered just 10,000 men, with roughly another 130,000 guarding the border.

By the time the United States entered the First World War in April 1917, the U.S. Army tallied 128,000 officers and men, along with 182,535 mobilized National Guardsmen. Needless to say, these figures were laughably small compared to the monstrous machines now locked in a titanic death struggle in Europe. In the spring of 1917 Germany had around 5.5 million men under arms, the British Empire 4.5 million, and France had two million serving on the Western Front alone – and these were just a fraction of the total manpower mobilized over the course of the war (France mobilized a total of 8.3 million men, including around half a million colonial troops, from 1914-1918).

Although America had adopted an unconvincing “preparedness program” in 1916, raising the target size for the National Guard to 450,000 by 1921, this goal was far from being realized, and the Americans would obviously be unable to make more than a symbolic contribution to the Allied war effort in terms of manpower in the near future: in July 1917 just 20,000 Americans were deployed in the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, increasing to 129,000 by the end of the year.

However the United States was hardly prepared to play a secondary role in the long run, demanding an energetic, decisive intervention to bring Germany to terms and end the war. To accomplish this the country would have to train and equip armed forces numbering four million by the end of 1918 – a massive undertaking which would require months of feverish effort, including the construction of a whole network of training camps and, most importantly, bringing back the draft.

Read more: "Hardly prepared to play a secondary role," U.S. adopts Draft in 1917

Award-winning Liberty graduate shows WWI through a fresh lens

By Drew Menard
via Liberty University News Service

For recent Liberty University graduate Becky Barker, it wasn’t enough to trudge through World War I trenches deep in the pages of history books — she was so captivated by the stories that she brought them to life on film in the forests surrounding Lynchburg.

becky barker wearethedeadFilmmaker Becky Barker (second from left) with cast members from her movie "We Are the Dead" at Liberty University in Virginia.“I fell in love with this area of history because of the many untold stories I discovered,” she said. “World War I is not as thoroughly studied as the wars that came later. This is mostly because although it was a war of previously unheard of catastrophic size, World War II eclipsed it only 20 years later. WWI also fascinated me because, unlike WWII, the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides of the conflict are not nearly so black and white.”

As a student in Liberty’s Department of History, Barker took advantage of the university’s cross-disciplinary program and added a minor in cinematic arts. When she discovered that she loved filmmaking, she added a cinematic arts major, and that’s when she embarked on a project to bring the First World War to life. Her short film, “We are the Dead,” focuses on a young soldier who must overcome fear before his first battlefield attack and an almost certain death.

For her short film, Barker turned a creek bed 30 minutes from campus into a trench in France's Argonne Forest in 1918.

“The point of the story is that although the Great War is often thought of in terms of the millions lost, every one of those numbers had a name, a family, hopes, fears, and dreams,” Barker said. “My goal was to take the First World War and distill it down to a micro level, a personal level, and show the humanity in what is often characterized as an inhuman war.”

Barker’s dedication to uncovering history’s forgotten stories led to multiple accolades. She was awarded Liberty’s History Student of the Year in April 2016. The following semester, Barker was given the Zaki Gordon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting for “We Are the Dead,” her thesis film.

Read more: Award-winning Liberty University graduate shows WWI through a fresh lens

World War I memorial in Los Angeles restored, rededicated

By Michael Hjelmstad
via the American Legion web site

The monument at Victory Memorial Grove in Elysian Park near Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles had nearly been forgotten. Inspired by the 100 Cities 100 Memorials project of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the United States World War One Centennial Commission, American Legion members have helped restore it and refresh the area’s memory, or initial understanding, of what it meant.LA MemorialWWI Memorial in Los Angeles is rededicated. Photo by Jon Endow/The American Legion

Volunteers chose Flag Day, June 14, 2017, for the rededication ceremony. Nearly 100 people, ranging from community volunteers to Disney executives to veteran organization leaders, unveiled a stone memorial tablet that looks as good as did 97 years ago. In 1921, the Daughters of The American Revolution held the original ceremony to present the memorial in conjunction with The American Legion and local residents honoring members of the community who served and fell in the Great War. It was an effort to unite the nation in a collective celebration of victory.

The memorial plaque reads: "Erected 1921 by Daughters of the American Revolution of Southern California to honor the service in the World War of all men and women from the families of the state society and in memory of twenty one who made the supreme sacrifice."

Victory Memorial Grove is a part of the oldest park in Los Angeles. Elysian Park is filled with trees, ponds, hiking trails and the Chavez Ravine, featuring Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Police Academy.

“This is a park within a park,” said Janice Gordon with the California Daughters of the American Revolution Regent. “Victory Memorial Grove was donated to the city by a DAR member from our chapter. Then they erected this monument and it’s kind of a forgotten part of the park.”

The American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution, Disney and The Mission Continues were all a part of making this come together, with action and fundraising.

Lester Probst, a member of American Legion Hollywood Post 43 who worked closely with Courtland Jindra, a war historian and volunteer with the United States World War One Centennial Commission, brought the restoration project to The American Legion.

Read more: World War I memorial in LA restored, rededicated

At Paris Air Show, symbolic paint scheme by Daher honors Centennial of U.S. entry into WWI

By Krista Kuznecova
via the Fifty Sky Shades web site

a symbolic daher tbm 930 to honor the centennial of americas entry into world war i 11189 LVgB201ZSlWUQmHj4VCufzGydSymbolic paint scheme honors the Centennial of Americas entry into WWI.As part of its presence at this week’s Paris Air Show, aircraft manufacturer Daher is honoring the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I with a symbolic paint scheme on one of its new TBM 930 very fast turboprop aircraft.

The stars and stripes featured on this TBM 930 are a reminder of the role of France’s Morane-Saulnier – the predecessor aircraft manufacturer to Daher – in developing America’s nascent air power during the early 1900s. Morane-Saulnier’s “Parasol” high-wing aircraft served as trainers for the American Expeditionary Forces at Issoudun, France, which was the world’s largest air base at the time.

“The World War I centennial celebrates 100 years of French and U.S. cooperation, a camaraderie that continues today across the Atlantic,” said Nicolas Chabbert, Senior Vice President of the Daher Airplane Business Unit. and President of Socata North America Inc., which is Daher’s subsidiary in the USA.

“We are proud of Daher’s continued American presence, with nearly 1,000 airplanes in operation – composed of our TBM very fast turboprop, as well as the Rallye and TB general aviation aircraft. Backed by a network of 15 service centers, our company continues to give wings to U.S. aviators.”

Daher’s largest single market for its TBM aircraft family is the U.S., with more than 600 delivered to owners and operations in the country.

Read more: At Paris Air Show, symbolic paint scheme by Daher honors Centennial of U.S. entry into WWI

Remembering muted voices: WWI conscientious objectors

By Andrew Bolton
via The Mennonite web site

“The First World War was a tragic and unnecessary conflict.”

These are the first words written by British historian John Keegan in his book, The First World War.

World War I was unnecessary because it was preventable: it was a local conflict that did not need to escalate. It was tragic because at least 10 million people died, 20 million people were injured and 50 million died from the Spanish flu epidemic that incubated in the trenches. One hundred countries were involved and the seeds of World War II were sown.Hofer BrothersA watercolor painting depicting the Hofer brothers, David, Joseph and Michael, Hutterites and WWI conscientious objectors who were courtmartialed and imprisoned. Joseph and David died in prison after enduring torture. (Don Peters, copyright 2014 Plough Publishing, Walden NY.)

The Great War happened from 1914-1918 and now we take time to remember: 100 years later.

The United States entered WWI (ironically) on Good Friday, April 6, 1917. It was a war to end all wars, promised President Woodrow Wilson, but he was not a true prophet, just a politician.

And what of those who resisted? Should they not be remembered? Many Anabaptists, Quakers and others would neither fight, nor buy war bonds, nor fly the flag. At the time their voices were often silenced or muted. Mennonites who spoke German as their first language suffered twice.

“Conscientious objectors were the shock troops of anti-war dissent in World War I,” according to historians Scott H. Bennett and Charles Howlett. There are many moving stories of WWI conscientious objectors in the USA, Canada and Europe.

Perhaps the most moving for me is the story of four Anabaptist Hutterites from South Dakota. These Hutterites were part of a 400- year tradition of resistance to war. Jacob Hutter, an early leader, wrote the following in a letter in 1536:

“We do not want to harm any human being, not even our worst enemy. Our walk of life is to live in truth and righteousness of God, in peace and unity. ... If all the world were like us there would be no war and no injustice.”

In 1918, three Hutterite brothers, David, Joseph, and Michael Hofer, and Joseph’s brother-in- law, Jacob Wipf, were absolutist objectors. They were in their 20’s, married with children, and farmers with an eighth- grade education. However, they clearly understood that Jesus said no to participate in war. They were court-martialed and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor.

In the Alcatraz prison, they were subjected to torture. In November 1918, they were transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Joseph and David died. The authorities said they died from Spanish flu. Their families and fellow Hutterites considered them martyrs who died from their ill treatment. I knew this account and others from WWI and I felt called to help tell these stories 100 years later.

Read more: Remembering muted voices: WWI conscientious objectors

Chillicothe Ohio to Celebrate Camp Sherman Days

Just north of Chillicothe, Ohio, Camp Sherman lays nestled on the banks of US-23, once a WW1 training camp. Now a National Guard training facility, it will be part of a nine-day celebration (July 1-9) in honor of the training center and the contributions made from those who served.Unknown 7Postcard shows Camp Sherman during World War I.

camp sherman days logoIt was a hundred years ago that the rapid entry of the U.S into WW1 left the nation ill-equipped for what laid ahead. Established in 1917, Camp Sherman trained thousands of American soldiers – drilling military instructions, instilling discipline and order, and marching recruits to mobilize for the war effort.

In just matter of a couple of months, one hundred years ago, the camp was ready to accept 40,000 draftees and later produced one of the top engineer units – the 112th Engineer Battalion -- as well as four other divisions.

This year marks the centennial anniversary of the opening of Camp Sherman. Presented by the city of Chillicothe, Camp Sherman Days is a centennial commemoration event of WW1 and the training camp, which will take place from July 1-9 in multiple locations.

“We have a lot of people right here in this county who don’t really know what Camp Sherman was, so this can be a public awareness event,” says Junior Vice Commander Robert Leach of Veterans Foreign Wars in an article with Chillicothe Gazette.

Read more: Chillicothe Ohio to Celebrate Camp Sherman Days

Sabin Howard panel discussion in NYC spotlights Memorial

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

Howard at National ArchivesSabin HowardSabin Howard, sculptor for America's new National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC, was a member of a lively arts discussion last week, at the Paul Booth Gallery in midtown Manhattan, New York City. He was invited to provide his insights on the World War I Memorial project.

It was a panel discussion, which included the prominent art critic Donald Kuspit.

The panel's formal topic was Heroic and Public Art, and the event was attended by an enthusiast crowd of artists and arts supporters.

Howard appreciated the back and forth dialogue between audience and panelists "Through the discussion, it soon became obvious that there is an opening in the art world for work that is narrative in nature and explains stories through the figurative tradition."

He described the reaction to his memorial bas relief "The project of the relief wall is groundbreaking and leading the way for the next generation in the direction that art will take. The public has become tired of looking at art that needs to be explained by reading a book rather than by looking at the art and understanding it immediately. This bas relief wall is a return to art that elevates. It's about making an art that is truly visual in nature first and foremost."

Howard shared artwork from the World War I Memorial project. His drawing for the 65 foot-long bronze wall was met with oohs and aahs from the crowd. There were many questions about the next step in a project, which will be the of building a 9 foot long miniature maquette of the piece.





Battleship Texas has reopened after divers repaired leaks

By Steve W. Stewart
via the kjas.com web site

593f15e0757d6.imageUSS Texas, last remaining US Navy battleship from WWI, is open again after leak repairs were completed.The Battleship Texas reopened on Saturday after divers last week were able to make underwater repairs to a major leak which filled her hull with water faster than her bilge pumps could evacuate it, and caused her to list 9 degrees to starboard.

Texas Parks & Wildlife, which oversees the 103-year-old warship, noted that leaks are common and occasionally they grow in size. In 1988, the last surviving dreadnought was wrestled from her berth at San Jacinto State Park in LaPorte and she was dry docked in Galveston where her hull underwent complete restoration.

Over the last 30 years, there has been much talk of creating a permanent dry display for the warship with her sitting slightly elevated over a concrete base, allowing visitors to actually walk underneath. The display would protect her from the corrosive brackish water that continuously rusts away her hull.

Plans were drawn up, but it has never gotten beyond that stage due to funding issues.

Commissioned in 1914, the Battleship Texas was at one time the most dangerous weapon in the world and served in both World War I and World War II, and she provided offshore bombardment during the D-Day invasion off the Normandy Coast on June 6th, 1944.

Read more: Battleship Texas has reopened after divers repaired leaks

Golfer Bobby Jones, the Red Cross, and the 1917 U.S. Open that didn't happen

By Alyssa Carter
Staff Writer

One-hundred years ago this week, the 1917 US Open was cancelled due to the recent American involvement in the First World War. Even though he wasn’t playing in the Open, Bobby Jones made some of his most important contributions to the war effort and to the game of golf.

Bobby Jones c1917He often played and traveled with Alexa Stirling and Perry Adair. Through the two years spent touring, Jones earned $150,000, all of which he donated to the war effort.

At the time of the cancellation, Jones was a teenage golf prodigy. In 1916, he had won the inaugural Georgia Amateur Championship at the age of fourteen, earning his first invitation to the U.S. Amateur Tournament at Merion near Philadelphia. He was eliminated from the tournament after the third round, but his level of play greatly impressed the spectators and the golf community as a whole.

Instead of attempting to qualify for the US Open in 1917-18, Jones toured the country playing exhibition matches in front of crowds. These matches were organized by the American Red Cross, and one of the more successful of these events took place in September of 1918. The exhibition was held at Baltusrol Country Club in northern New Jersey.

The night before the event, members of the club raised $2,000 to add to proceeds from the match. The morning of the match--before Jones and his partner, Chick Evans, played against Oswald Kirkby and Max Marston-- a set of golf clubs and the privilege of caddying for one of the players was auctioned off, and this part of the fundraiser combined with the ticket sales made $4,000 dollars total. In 2017 dollars, this is about $50,000. The four-ball match went to hole 16, with Jones and Evans winning 2 and 1.

The donations that Jones made allowed him to famously keep his amateur status. He would never turn pro -- but in 1930, he would win his grand slam by winning the Amateur Championship, Open Championship, US Open, and US Amateur in the same calendar year.

Read more: Golfer Bobby Jones, the Red Cross, and the 1917 U.S. Open that didn't happen

BYU World War One document archive is a national resource

By Alyssa Carter
Staff Writer

Did you know that one of America's most comprehensive university archives on World War I is at Brigham Young University? Richard Hacken is the European Studies Librarian at the BYU campus in Provo, Utah. He was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his work developing their World War I Document Archive. His answers show how he feels about this important work, and how important the contributions from relatives of WWI soldiers are to the expansive and ever-growing archive.

Tell us about your Archive. What is it? What makes if unique/different from the other collections that are out there?

Hacken Richard 300Richard HackenThe World War I Document Archive has been online, growing and developing, for some 22 years now. The late Dr. Lynn Nelson, a digital history pioneer who had been encouraged by Tim Berners-Lee to develop and expand the WWW Virtual Library for History in 1993, approached me about hosting a site for the Great War at Brigham Young University in 1994 or 1995. (He had known me from my efforts to establish EuroDocs, a portal to online primary documents from Europe.)

What connected you with the volunteers from the World War I Military History List?

This World War I Document Archive was, and continues to be, to be a collaboration of the World War I Military History List (WWI-L). My particular emphases have been on developing the Diaries, Memorials and Personal Reminiscences, on the one hand, and a page linking various topical and geographical aspects of the Great War, on the other. As may be expected in such a collaboration, certain elements of the site are better developed than others. Of particular help have been separately maintained pages on the Maritime War, the Medical Front, and an Image Archive. One disappointment to me was the establishment of a parallel site that has developed separately for the past 12 years or so.

For approximately the first decade of its existence, the World War I Document Archive was an html site. Then, in order to facilitate easier participation of volunteers, I converted it to a wiki. Counting both formats, we have had roughly 30 million virtual visits since the archive's beginnings.

What is the most common submission that comes into the archive?

The most common submissions submitted to the site are diaries and other personal memorabilia. In cases where only physical materials were donated, we have from time to time digitized materials here. The section on diaries is augmented by links to previously established books, articles and other materials in the public domain.

Read more: BYU World War One document archive is a national resource

The Real Story of WWI Poison Gas in 'Wonder Woman'

By David Hambling
via the Popular Mechanics web site

When Diana leaves the secret island of the Amazons in the new DC movie Wonder Woman, she finds herself racing to end "the war to end all wars." That means Gal Gadot's superhero is doing battle against not only mythological forces of evil, but also the technological forces of destruction that defined WWI: warplanes, machine guns, and most importantly to the plot of the movie, poison gas.

Wonder Woman still Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman in the superhero movie set in World War I.Chemical warfare plays a key role in Wonder Woman, and while DC Comics may not be the obvious source to look for factual accuracy about military history, the movie's take on toxic weapons is more realistic than the usual Unobtainium-powered McGuffin you'd find in a superhero movie.

Here's everything you need to know about Wonder Woman's take on war history, and whether the villain's superweapon really could have been true.

Chemical Warfare

Gas was intended to win the war. On that much Wonder Woman is absolutely right.

In the film, the evil German general sees his extra-deadly super-gas as the way to strike a decisive, deadly blow against the British. In real life, barbed wire and machine guns had brought the ground war to a stalemate of trench warfare, and it was up to the scientists and engineers to find a solution. The resulting burst of inventiveness actually yielded some good things—inventions like synthetic rubber and ultrasound. But it also brought new, horrible forms of destruction, including lethal gases and the strategic bombing of civilian targets.

Gas warfare had been around in some form since ancient times. People used smoke to drive out enemies from inside tunnels or caves, and the addition of arsenic or sulfur to the burning material made the smoke that much more effective. These weapons were ineffective out in the open, though.

Read more: The Real Story of WWI Poison Gas in 'Wonder Woman'

Five new names added to roll of Aggies lost in World War One

By John Blair and Greg Bailey
via the Texas A&M Today web site

TAMU WWI MemorialThe WWI War Memorial on the plaza adjacent to the Corps Arches at the front of the Quad on the campus of Texas A&M.Texas A&M University has long recognized the loss of 55 former students in the First World War, but recent research by members of the Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee has uncovered five additional students who died during the conflict, but whose names have never been included on any memorial. They include John W. Butts ’10 and Ira W. South ’17, both of Austin, Texas; Hubert R. Florence ’11 of Leesburg, Texas; Joseph Z. Sawyer ’16 of Clarendon, Texas; and George W. Splawn ’17 of Greenwood, Texas.

The Centennial of the First World War for the United States officially began on April 6 of this year—the day war was declared against Germany in 1917. Nearly five million Americans served with over 116,000 losing their lives. An armistice was announced for November 11, 1918; yet, the war did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.

The Association of Former Students verified the men’s attendance at the university. Butt’s name surfaced during a research project concerning the Memorial Trees planted on the Simpson Drill Field. He was originally considered, but for some reason was discounted. An inquiry into why that occurred prompted further research on each case of the previously confirmed 55 students to determine what criteria was used at the time to classify them as “Gold Star” Aggies.

In 1918, a service flag, approximately 12 feet by 10 feet, was crafted by the university to honor all former students who were in service during the war. A maroon star identified that service, but the flag also featured 50 gold stars for those who had lost their lives.

The committee felt that Butts should have been included because he was killed in an airplane accident one month prior to Jesse Easterwood’s death, who is a Gold Star Aggie.

Read more: Five New Names Added To Roll Of Aggies Lost In World War One

CeremonyAs part of a June 14, 2017 twilight tattoo event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., held on honor of the Army's 242nd birthday, Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer, left, and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, right, present a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for Army Capt. James E. Miller to Miller's great grandson, Byron Derringer, center. Miller served as a pilot during World War I, and was the first combat aviation casualty of the war. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Trevor Wiegel)

First fallen aviator of World War I honored with Distinguished Flying Cross

By C. Todd Lopez
via the army.mil web site

Capt. James E. Miller, one of the first aviators in the U.S. military and the first U.S. aviation casualty in World War I, has been named recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross more than 99 years after his heroic actions over France in 1918.

On the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Army, during a twilight tattoo ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Acting Secretary of the Army Robert M. Speer presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to Miller's great-grandson, Byron Derringer.

MillerCapt. James MillerWe're very proud today to have some of the descendants from James Miller's family here and able to represent him and a lineage of what he achieved on those battlefields as the first individual who gave his life in that war in aviation," Speer said.

The presentation of the Cross to a WWI Soldier is significant, given that the theme for this year's Army birthday is "Over There! A celebration of the WWI Soldier."

"This is the 100th anniversary of World War I," Speer said. "And it's the 242nd birthday of our Army. But 100 years ago, there were significant changes in terms of the character of war. You had at that time, for the first time, the Army going off to war in foreign lands with our allies, fighting side-by-side with our allies, and representing the United States -- which placed the United States into a significant leadership role in the world."

Speer said several aspects of warfare changed during WWI, including the development of armor units and precision artillery. One of the most significant developments, however, was that the U.S. military had "aviation for the first time as part of the U.S. Army Air Corps," he said.

"We have a privilege today to be able to recognize not only the heraldry of our total 242 years but also that point and time, where we recognize, late, a Distinguished Flying Cross for an American hero," said Speer.

As a Soldier in World War I, Miller was one of the first to make use of new aviation technology. The captain took command of the 95th Pursuit Squadron on Feb. 10, 1918 -- just 10 months after the United States declared war on Germany. The men in the squadron were the first American-trained pilots to fight in the war.

Read more: First fallen aviator of World War I honored with Distinguished Flying Cross

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