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WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday August 23, 2017 - Episode #34

Mail Call in ParisThe delivery of letters from home is a great event. Giving out the mail to the Red Cross chauffeurs at the garage, Paris

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  • Moving the goods - The railroads and the war effort |@ 01 :00
  • Lynn Heidelbaugh - The postal service in WW1 |@ 08:20
  • The “Hat in the ring Gang” - Centennial of the 94th Aero Squadron |@ 13:40
  • Mike Shuster - Dissent in the German forces |@ 15:15
  • Richard Rubin & Jonathan Bratten - Being German ain't easy in 1917 |@ 19:50
  • Speaking WW1 - This week’s word “Strafe” |@ 29:30
  • John Motley - 100C/100M project in Fort Towsen, OK |@ 30:20
  • Andrew Carroll - Center for American War Letters |@ 36:45

And more…  


Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - It’s about WW1 100 years ago this week  - and it’s about WW1 NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.

Today is August 23rd, 2017 and our guests this week are:

  • Lynn Heidelbaugh, Curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum
  • Mike Shuster from the great war project blog,
  • The Storyteller and the Historian, Richard Rubin and Jonathan Bratten   
  • John Motley from the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project in Fort Towson, Oklahoma
  • And Andrew Carroll, Founding Director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University

WW1 Centennial News is brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. I’m Theo Mayer - the Chief Technologist for the Commission and your host. Welcome to the show.

World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week


We’ve gone back in time 100 years to explore the war that changed the world!

It is 1917 and America is preparing a war effort that is transforming her

more quickly than any previous event in her short history.

For example, 100 years later people will simply take for granted, the country’s ability to move huge volumes of goods, resources and people across the vast land. But there is no highway system in 1917… There are few canals… but there is a large and even transcontinental infrastructure - The railroads!

So it is not surprising, that trains quickly becomes a key strategic element in the war effort, 100 years ago.

Following are some the headlines and notes from the Official Bulletin - America’s War Gazette published daily by the Committee on Public Information, the US government propaganda ministry headed by George Creel.

We’ll track the story about the railroads through its headlines and pages starting just a month after war is declared.



Dateline: May 15, 1917


The story reads:

"As war conditions develop It is certain there will be times when the shipment of arms and ammunition may be of prime importance ; at another time the movement of provisions may be more important; yet at another, the movement of coal and Iron ore may become the most Important of all.

Under these conditions It is thought essential that the President should have the power to determine what particular freight shall have priority and for how long this priority should continue.

Less than a month later --  the scope of the challenge is outlined in the Bulletin:



Dateline: June 5th, 1917


The story reads:

Freight cars are lacking…

There are 2,500,000 freight cars in the United States and their capacity is barely sufficient for current commercial needs.

The railroads in the near future will use 120,000 cars to transport material for the construction of the ' new army ' training camps, and a continuous flow of cars to keep those camps in supplies. They estimate that It will take 200,000 cars to carry the material used for the construction of the Government merchant ships, whether of steel or of wood. They will require an enormous number of cars to move the steel for the ships under construction for the Navy, and no estimate whatever can be made of the number of cars which will be needed to carry the material used in the manufacture of munitions and supplies for the Army, and in moving them a second time from the point of manufacture to the shipping point.



Dateline: June 21th, 1917


TM: The “maxing out” of capacity is clearly being recognized by all concerned --- and everyone is looking for answers as this story illustrates:

“The president of one of our leading railways has recently said : " The railroads of the United States are carrying more freight than ever before in the history of the country, but when they have carried traffic up to 100 per cent of their capacity there still remains 15, 25, perhaps 30 per cent in traffic which it is impossible for them to carry at all."

No one --- who knows the facts, will question that the railways of the country are overwhelmed by the present traffic. There is said to be a shortage of 150,000 cars. Radical measures are being taken In an effort to meet the situation.

The railroads are Insufficient for the task laid upon them and the problem is likely to become more serious. It will not be long before large bodies of troops must be moved with their equipment in this country.

TM: Although Americans were used to traveling through the country by rail - A visit to aunt Tilly in not in the cards anytime soon,



Dateline: July 17, 1917


The story reads:

The railroads of the United States, as part of their effort, under the direction

of the Railroads' War Board, report the elimination of passenger

trains aggregating over 16,200,000 miles of train service per year.

This is done by the railroads to save man power, fuel, and motive power, that they may be applied to the transportation of necessities.

Every ton of coal, every locomotive, every mile of track space, every man whose duties are absorbed by an unnecessary passenger train --- can be put to effective use in freight service, and nothing is more necessary at the moment to insure the safety and prosperity of the country than that the railroads be able to handle the utmost possible amount of freight.

The elimination of passenger service already reported will make available over 1,120.000 tons of coal for other purposes.

TM: 10 days later a positive public relations story is published in the bulletin about the railroad companies



Dateline: July 27, 1917


The story reads:

To help increase the Nation's food supply by utilizing as much idle acreage as possible the railroads of the West and Middle West are leasing millions of acres of lands - which they own  - at nominal rental for grazing and agricultural purposes.

In addition to leasing their land to farmers and cattlemen at a nominal rental, a number of the railroads are offering garden plots, rent free, to families along their right of way.

This leads to the big story this week one hundred years ago…



Dateline: August 20th, 1917


The American Railway Association Is Preparing Schedules To Insure Safe

and Prompt Carrying of the Armies.

The story reads:

Altogether, 687,000 men will have in be transported to the various cantonments that the Government is building to house the new National Army. The movement will start September 5. Between that date and September 9 the railroads will complete the entrainment of 200,000 men, or approximately 30 per cent of the total number scheduled to be moved to the various training camps.

The facts are that to move merely one field army of 80,000 men requires 6.229 cars made up into 366 trains, with as many locomotives and train crews.

Meanwhile, in addition to moving the 687,000 recruits for the National Army,

the railroads have been asked to supply transportation for the 350,000 members of the National Guard to their training camps.



TM: It is easy to see how challenging and strategic this key piece of infrastructure is to the war effort - So….Finally, in December of this year , 1917,  the Interstate Commerce Commission recommends the total federal control of the railroad industry to ensure efficient operation.

The takeover measures are to go beyond simply easing the congestion and expediting the flow of goods; they will have total control of all parties—management, labor, investors, and shipping— on behalf of this national interest. President Wilson issues an order for nationalization of the US railroad industry on December 26, 1917



The US Postal Service in WW1

Interview with Lynn


Now that the troops are shipping out - first to training camp and soon thereafter overseas, another key logistics elements has to be nailed into place - one that is essential the the mental and spiritual well being of our fighting forces - Mail service!

With us today is Lynn Heidelbaugh (HEIDEL-BAW), Curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum who is going to talk to us about the mail service and how it adapted to the changing needs of a population at war.

Welcome, Lynn!

[exchange greetings]

[Lynn, can you fill us in on how the postal service in america had to transform and adapt when war was declared? ]

[You lost postal workers to the draft didn’t you?]

[Lynn - later in the show we’ll hear from Andrew Carroll from the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University - he contributed to your Pershing  “My fellow Soldiers - Letters from WWI” exhibit at the museum. When did that open?]

[Lynn - Museum exhibits are not really about artifacts and objects - they are about stories - as the curator for a postal museum exhibit about WW1 - is there anything that sticks out as a particularly memorable story.]

[Did the postal service get Involved with mail censorship or was that strictly the war department?]

[Thank you Lynn]

That was  Lynn Heidelbaugh (HEIDEL-BAW), Curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.



War in the Sky


This week in our War in The Sky segment we are going to talk about the famous US 94th Aero Squadron- which is established at Kelly Field, Texas on August 20, 1917.

The “Hat in the ring Gang” named for their squadron logo -  is one of the first American pursuit squadrons to reach the Western Front and see combat.

Three notable airmen serve with the squadron, perhaps the most well known is Eddie Rickenbacker, who will be awarded almost every decoration attainable, including the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross.

On a personal note, I have a silver cigarette case from my grandfather that is signed by a bunch of his flying buddies including Eddie Rickenbacker. I’ve always treasured that...

So, another interesting member of the Hat in the Ring Gang is  Raoul Lufbery.. Who transferred over from the famous Lafayette Escadrille. Lufbery, a really colorful character, famously adopted a lion cub while with the Lafayette and named him Whiskey, later got Whiskey a lioness playmate called Soda. Now - besides being a little eccentric, he is, of course,  also a great aviator…

Finally there is Douglas Campbell who will become the first AMERICAN  TRAINED pilot to be an air ace.

We will follow more of the 94th Aero Squadron’s exploits over the coming months, a famous squadron that was born 100 years ago this week.

There are several links in the podcast notes to learn more.









Great War Project

Next we are joined by Mike shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War Project blog.

By now, we’ve heard about the French Mutinies of 1917, the mass desertion in the Russian army, and bewildered and beleaguered troops across the war fronts. But it wasn’t just the allies. Today Mike’s post looks at the war weariness in the German Military.

Welcome Mike!

Thank you Mike. That was Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.


The Great War Channel

For videos about WW1, our friend at the Great War Channel on Youtube have been producing great videos about great war since 2014..

Here is Indy Nidel - the host of the Great War Channel.


This week’s new episodes include:

  • The Battle of Hill 70 - Mackensen Advances in Romania
  • Trench Mortars, German double standards and Hughes Shovel
  • And Romanian Guns of WW1

Follow the link in the podcast notes or search for “the great war” on youtube.




Storyteller and the Historian

Next, it is time for the Storyteller and the Historian -  Today the intrepid duo are going to explore the challenges of being a German American during WW1.





Thank you gentlemen! That was - the StoryTeller - Richard Rubin and The Historian - Jonathan Bratten

The Storyteller and the Historian is now a full hour long monthly podcast. Look for them on iTunes and libsyn or follow the link in the podcast notes.

Link: http://storytellerandhistorian.libsyn.com


World War One NOW


We have moved forward in time to the present…

Welcome to WW1 Centennial News NOW  - This part of the program is not about history but how the centennial of the War that changed the world is being commemorated today.

Commission News

This week in Commission News, We are announcing a new program from the National WW1 Museum and Memorial - called - Send A Deserving Teacher on an Adventure -

You can nominate a teacher of your choice (which can include yourself) for a drawing to win a free trip to the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The drawing is random, but the platform being used to collect the entries allows users to enter more ballots by doing actions such as: sharing the contest on social media, visiting the education resource archive, and so on. And of course, you and your nominee will be signed up for semi-monthly Education Newsletter. The contest runs through Sept. 8 at theworldwar.org/contest

There is a link in the podcast notes.

Link: theworldwar.org/contest


Activities and Events

[Sound Effect]

At the Commission we created U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register where we are compiling and archiving WW1 Commemoration events from around the country- not just from major metros and museums but also local events from the heart of the country- showing how the WW1 Centennial Commemoration is playing out all over America.. You can access and contribute to the register at ww1cc.org/events. Click the big red button to put your ww1 commemoration event into the register or use the search box in the left column to see what is happening in your neck of the woods.




Oil Paintings

Our local event pick for this week comes from the Public Libraries of Maryland. A special WW1 Oil Paintings exhibit is currently on display at the Thurmont Regional Library and will be moving to the C. Burr Artz Public Library in Frederick, Maryland until end of September. The exhibit includes a set of five paintings of WW1 planes by Robert Horvath, a former Talbot County Free Library director. The paintings are on loan from the U.S. Air Force Museum in Washington, D.C.

Margaret Carty, executive director of the Maryland Library Association, who helped put the exhibit together, noted: “When you look at the aviation then and the aviation now...for young people it must be almost mind-boggling to think that anyone dared to get into those,”

In Oct the exhibit will go to Montgomery county at the Olney branch, followed by Talbot County in November. Follow links in the podcast notes to find out more.








Boston General

For our major metro event pick of the week,  we go to Boston Massachusetts where the Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation features: The Spirit of Devotion: Massachusetts General Hospital and the First World War

There is  a short film about the hospital’s involvement in WWI and they will host several lectures. The hospital lobby exhibit will be changed every few months with new material.

The organization operated a Base Hospital in Talence, France between 1917 and 1918, with many doctors, nurses and other personnel joining medical efforts in support of the Allied forces. Read more about the upcoming exhibits and lectures by following the links in the notes.






Speaking WW1

And for our newest feature “Speaking World War 1 - Where we  explore today’s words & phrases that are rooted in world war I  ---

This week’s word is Strafe or Strafing…

In German.. The word for “punishment” is “Strafe” -

And that is exactly what german fighter planes did - as they swept down from the skies, flying low to the ground as they unloaded their machine guns into the soldier in the trenches. It was a punishment from the sky.

This air to ground support maneuver soon become known as to “strafe” or strafing the troops - an anglicized version of the german word for punishment -

Strafe -  this week’s word for - Speaking WW1 - see the translation from Google Translate in the podcast notes.

Naya - da geb ich dir eine strafe!

link: https://translate.google.com/#de/en/Strafe


100 Cities/100 Memorials


John Motley - Fort Towson, OK

Every week we are profiling one of the many amazing projects submitted to our $200,000 matching grant giveaway to rescue ailing WW1 memorials. The program is called 100 Cities / 100 Memorials. Last week we profiled the Albert Harry Bode Gravesite in Jackson California. This week, we head to Fort Towson, Oklahoma to learn more about a very unique project there.

Joining us is John Motley, Retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel and nephew of Mrs. Margie Motley who, at 95 years young, has commissioned a new WW1 Memorial for the town of Fort Towson, Oklahoma in memory of her father, Cecil Evan Hopson, and all the doughboy veterans of Fort Towson, XXX county and Oklahoma featuring a life-size World War I Doughboy statue.  Welcome, John!

[exchange greetings]

John, this started as a small and simple search for a figureen for a headstone,  but has become much much more. Would you share the story with us?

John, when will the memorial be dedicated?

John - On behalf of the World War One Centennial Commission, from all of us here at WW1 Centennial news - and I am sure on behalf of our listeners - Would you please extend our warmest thanks and congratulations to your aunt - Mrs. Margie Motley for her dedication in remembering our WW1 veterans’ service -  in the war that changed the world.

Mrs. Motley. You are an amazing patriot and an amazing human being. We are all incredibly proud to have met you through your nephew and your work. Thank you!

Thank you John!


That was John Motley for the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project in Fort Towson, Oklahoma.

We will continue to profile the submitting teams and their unique and amazing projects on the show over the coming months. Learn more about the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials program at ww1cc.org/100memorials or follow the link in the podcast notes.

Link: www.ww1cc.org/100memorials




Today in our Education section, we are going to continue with our theme on letters from the past -

On this show, we’ve heard time and time again - about the powerful emotional impact and personal connection - experienced from reading the letters of the era.

This makes the archiving and sharing, of letters and journals from WW1 one of the most powerful commemorations there is. And it is also the focus of our next guest...

Andrew Carroll is the Founding Director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University.

[Welcome Andy!]

[Exchange greetings]

Andy - your focus is on letters from all wars - but from your WW1 collection - is there one letter or series that particularly stands out for you?

[You’ve worked with Lynn Heidelbaugh from the smithsonian who was “on” earlier in the show -

We have a lot of people and organizations from the centennial community that listen to this show  - How can  individuals and  organizations access your archive?]

[Andy - a related question - how can that community of interest contribute to your work?]

[Finally Andy - You have another commemoration project you mentioned to Katherine - a commemorative WW1 plaque in memory of Edward Stone -- can you tell us a little about that?]

[Thank you for joining us]

That was Andrew Carroll, the Founding Director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University. Follow the link in the podcast notes to connect to the Center.




Updates from the States


Welcome to our Updates from the States - starting with some exciting news from our friends in the Prairie State!  Illinois - The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL will reopen to the public after a 1-year restoration. The reopening and ribbon cutting is on Saturday, August 26, at 11 am.

The museum features new and updated exhibits and some new, cutting-edge storytelling techniques.

The museum’s reopening coincides with the centennial inauguration of the famed military unit known as the “Big Red One.” It became the first division of the U.S. Army in June 1917, assembling to fight in France. Read more about the First Division and the museum's new features by following the link in the podcast notes



North Dakota

Next, from the Roughrider State -- North Dakota,  important plans are underway to honor Native American World War One veterans.

Even before most Native Americans had citizenship rights, thousands of men from tribes across the country showed their patriotism by volunteering for the military and fighting in World War I.

Now, as the nation solemnly marks the Centennial, United Tribes Technical College - UTTC - at Bismarck is planning to honor Native American servicemen. The honoring will be held on Sept. 10 during the 2017 UTTC International Powwow.  We hope to have a guest on from the event in the next few weeks to tell us more - but for now - you can follow the link in the podcast notes.



The Buzz - WW1 in Social Media Posts

That brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine - You have two photos to tell us about today - Take it away!

The 94th Aero

The Hat in the Ring Squadron strikes a pose


The Eclipses

Not one but two eclipses swept over the earth during WW1



Thank you Katherine.


And that is WW1 Centennial News for this week.

We want to thank you for joining us and our guests:

  • Lynn Heidelbaugh, Curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum
  • Mike Shuster updating us on conflict in the German Army
  • The Storyteller and the Historian, Richard Rubin and Jonathan Bratten giving us a glimpse of life as a German American in World War One
  • John Motley from the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project in Fort Towson, Oklahoma
  • And Andrew Carroll, Founding Director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University
  • Katherine Akey the Commission’s social media director and also the line producer for the show.

And I am Theo Mayer - your host.


The US World War One Centennial Commission was created by Congress to honor, commemorate and educate about WW1.

Our programs are to--

inspire a national conversation and awareness about WW1; This program is a part of that….

We are bringing the lessons of the 100 years ago into today's classrooms;

We are helping to restore WW1 memorials in communities of all sizes across our country;

and of course we are building America’s National WW1 Memorial in Washington DC.

If you like the work we are doing, please support it with a tax deductible donation at ww1cc.org/donate - all lower case

Or if you are on your smart phone text  the word: WW1 to 41444. that's the letters ww the number 1 texted to 41444. Any amount is appreciated.


We want to thank commission’s founding sponsor the Pritzker Military Museum and Library for their support.

The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn  

on  iTunes and google play ww1 Centennial News.

Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.

Thanks for joining us. And don’t forget to share the stories you are hearing here with someone about the war that changed the world!



Is that plane going to strafe us!?


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