WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday February 8, 2017- Episode #6
1. US break diplomatic relations with Germany same day as they sink American Merchant ship
2. Ryan Hegg joins Commission team to focus the education initiative
3. Georgia VFW makes $10,000 donation to Georgia World War I Centennial Commission
4. National Air and Space Museum exhibits art from the front lines of WW1
5. New version of "journey's End" film debuts at euro film fair
6. Mike Hanlon interview on his Euro battlefield tours
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WW1 Centennial News - Weekly Video Podcast
February 8, 2017
World War One THEN
100 Years Ago This Week
United States Severs Diplomatic Relations with Germany
As we talked about the last 2 week, on February 1st 1917, Germany declared that it would conduct unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic. After this announcement, President Wilson addressed congress on the 3rd to proclaim that the U.S. would be severing diplomatic ties to Germany.
Usually, a severing of diplomatic relations is seen as the final step before war, However, Wilson still held out hope for peace. Unfortunately, on that very same day, German U-boat-53 sank the American merchant ship Housatonic, carrying a cargo of wheat to Liverpool, England.
However, this act alone was not enough to start the war. German forces evacuated the ship prior to sinking it. Then the U-boat towed the lifeboats to safety. There were no casualties.
Ludendorff Scales Back Hindenburg Program as Problems Mount
On February 6th, Erich Ludendorff halted the construction of any new Hindenburg plants that could not be completed by May. Construction of these factories put a strain on Germany’s economy and its infrastructure, especially in the middle of a cold winter in which canals froze over. The railroads could not handle it, and the national resource systems began to break down in late January.
The Great War Channel
The Great War Channel is covering these very topics this week, with three new videos:
- Germany Resumes Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
- The Hindenburg Line - Ludendorff's Defence In Depth
- Smoking - Hearing Protection - Sanitation
War in the Sky
A few days ago I saw that we received a note from our web contact form that read:
Dear commission: 99 years ago today, February 5th, my father Stephen W. Thompson became the 1st person to shoot down an enemy aircraft. You can find him at the US Air force Museum. I'm now older than he was when he died so I may not be around next year for the centennial of the event.
Well, I thought - I need to dig into and tell the story about Robert Thompson's dad - a WW1 vet. Here is what I learned:
Stephen W. Thompson was born March 20, 1894 and lived till October, 1977.
Thompson arrived in France in September of 1917 and was assigned to the United States 1st Aero Squadron for training as an observer. Five months later, on February 5, 1918, the 1st aero squadron had not yet begin combat operations but Thompson and another buddy from the squadron went to visit a french unit.
Both American soldiers got invited to fly as gunner-bombardiers with the french on a raid over Saarbruken, Germany. It is not a proven fact, but apparently they responded with a hearty "hell yea!"
It was after the bombing run that they were attacked by German albatross fighter planes. During that encounter, Thompson, manning the machine gun managed to shoot down one of the German Albatross fighters - making him the first member of the United States military to shoot down an enemy aircraft and earning him a place in US military history. However, he wasn't actually the first American to shoot down an enemy aircraft. That distinction went to an American member of the French Lafayette Escadrille - his name was Kiffin Rockwell -
You see the Americans that flew with the Lafayette Escadrille were technically civilians since they flew in combat even before America declared war.
We'll have another story about Stephen Thompson next May, 2018 when he has a famous encounter with german ace Erich Lowenhardt - from Richthoven's flying circus.
And that is Robert Thompson's fathers story from 99 year ago this week! Robert I hope you enjoyed it, We are going to get a copy of this segment to you!
Great War Project
Mike Shuster and his Great War Project blog:
World War One NOW
Education Ryan Hegg
Today we have some exciting news from the commission. Ryan Hegg has joined our team to help manage our educational efforts. For over two decades, Ryan has been helping tell the stories of those who served and sacrificed for America. In 2014, he wrote and produced "From Flanders Fields", a multimedia piece that featured actors and military veterans telling the story of World War I through readings and images. On behalf of everyone here at the commission, I would like to formally welcome you to the commission.
Updates from the States
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Department of Georgia stepped forward in a significant way with a $10,000 contribution to support the efforts of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission (GWWICC), making the first such donation to the effort.
The donation was presented Feb. 3 on behalf of VFW Department of Georgia State Commander William Sandberg by former commander Al Lipphardt to retired Army Col. Billy Wells, chairman of the GWWICC. Wells is also senior vice president for leadership and global engagement at the University of North Georgia.
Also from the Georgia Commission’s events calendar we see that starting on the 21th, the Georgia Southern Museum will begin it’s year long commemoration event, “The World’s War is Georgia’s War.” This celebration will highlight the unique role that the state played in the war through the stories of its soldiers and civilians. For more information, save the link in the chatroom.
Michigan’s event calendar shows that there will be a special presentation by Military Historian John Moschetti on the Great War. The event will be held at the Marquette Regional History Center on February 22nd. Moschetti will talk about how the outcomes of war set the stage for the rise of the communist and fascist dictators, World War II, The Cold War and the current chaos in the Middle East and Balkans. You can find more information about this on the Michigan Commission's calendar of events page.
On the 11th, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will have event about popular music of the Great War era as social history. The speaker is public radio host and Peabody Award winner Michael Lasser. If you’re in the area, check it out.
Stunning photographs show huge World War One German U-Boats
From the Uk the headlines read: Stunning photographs show huge World War One German U-Boats washed up on a British beach. New photos have surfaced showing submarines wrecked on the coast after hostilities ceased. Stripped of their engines, submarines were difficult to tow and occasionally sank or wrecked on Britain’s beaches. The photos were taken in 1921 by the notable naval officer Jack Casement. Take a moment to look at these photos when you can.
Red Baron left Oxford cobbler in debt before going off to fight in World War
Here’s an interesting story also from the UK. The headline says: Flying ace the Red Baron left Oxford cobbler in debt before going off to fight in World War One. This story talks about how the infamous pilot left for the war without paying for his boots. The Baron’s debt was revealed in the ledgers of shoemakers Ducker & Son. His account was eventually settled, but not until the 1980s. Follow the link in the chatroom to learn more.
Corpse of Ottoman soldier killed in WWI discovered a century after his death
Turning our attention over to the middle east now, the headlines read: Corpse of Ottoman soldier killed in WWI discovered a century after his death. The Gallipoli Site Management Directorate has found the corpse of a Turkish soldier, who died 102 years ago, during a landscaping and cleaning project. Sergeant Mehmet was killed during the Gallipoli battle in 1915, which was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied Powers. The tomb was covered by vegetables, which had grown over time and kept it hidden.
Posts and Articles
Four Questions with Lt. Colonel Joe Buccino, U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division
An interview with Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino is now available on the commission’s site. The U.S. Army's 82nd All-American Division is celebrating 100 years by telling their story through an innovative series of videos and podcasts. The Colonel is Division’s Public Affairs Officer, and he took some time to tell us about their great new project. Check it out.
Four Questions for historian Mike Hanlon
Another interview with historian Mike Hanlon is also available. Mike has been a volunteer since the Commission's earliest days. His latest effort includes a battlefield tour of Italy, to visit World War I battles sites. This includes sites where the U.S. Army fought side-by-side with Italian troops, and where Ernest Hemingway served as an ambulance driver. Follow the link in the chatroom to find out more.
Art made on the front lines of the First World War
The National Air and Space Museum is offering a rare view of the conflict by artists who became soldiers and soldiers who were amateur artists. “Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War,” opening April 6th, will showcase more than 100 pieces of art and artifacts. The Washington post has the full story, check it out.
Also opening at the Air and Space Museum, soldier-artists are represented by 29 photographs by Jeff Gusky, who documented stone carvings on the walls and ceilings of underground quarries that housed soldiers and equipment. Never before exhibited in a museum, these photos depict a broad range of art, from religious to humorous to self-portraits, caricatures and military unit emblems. Take a look at them at the link in the chatroom.
Warren, PA couple raises awareness for WWI national memorial in DC
Our next post, follows the story of one of our doughboy reenactors as he worked the crowds at the inauguration last month. Mark Nickerson and his wife were just a few of the volunteers that handed out poppy seed packets at the celebration. Follow the link to learn about his experience.
On the WWrite blog, there is a follow up to last week’s post from Benjamin Busch. This time Busch recounts his return to Iraq and fate of the World War One cemetery he discovered a decade before. It’s a great read so stop by and take a look when you can.
Spotlight on the Media
First look at Sam Claflin in WWI drama 'Journey's End'
A new film about world war one, entitled Journey’s End, will debuting this week at the European Film Market. The film is an adaptation of R.C Sheriff’s classic play about trench warfare. The original play premiered at Apollo Theatre in London on December 9th, 1928 and it starred a young Laurence Olivier. The new stars Sam Claflin and is directed by Saul Dibb. Keep an eye out for this one.
The Buzz - Social Media
Some of the stories from our social media conversation wall
This week we have a special guest to help walk us through our social media feed. Kathy Akey, our Social Media Director.
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