WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday November 29, 2017 - Episode #48
The player below allows you to share and download the show from here as well. See buttons on the top right. Contact us if you have any questions.
- Thanksgiving reflections from 1917 @ | 01:15
- Tank warfare in the battle of Cambrai - Mike Shuster @ | 11:35
- Introducing WW1 Centennial Commissioner Zoe Dunning @ | 15:55
- Ceremonial Coin Strike at Philly mint @ | 16:15
- Trench Coat and Wristwatch - Speaking WW1 @ | 17:20
- 100C / 100M project in Springfield, MA @ | 19:55
- WWrite Blog article by WW1CC intern Sarah Biegelsen @ | 25:15
- Yurok Native Americans in WW1 - Chag Lowry & Rahsan Ekedal @ | 26:15
- Memoire - An adventure in 1914 - Christopher Kelly @ | 32:00
- DH4 WW1 Aircraft restoration progresses @ | 37:50
- The Buzz - Katherine Akey @ | 38:30
Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - It’s about WW1 THEN - what was happening 100 years ago this week - and it’s about WW1 NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.
Today is November 29th, 2017. Our guests this week include:
- Mike Shuster from the great war project blog,
- Jacqueline Farrow and Eddie Boulrice [bowl-reece] from the Godfrey Triangle Restoration Committee, in Springfield, Massachusetts
- Graphic novel team Chag (ChAIg) Lowry and Rahsan [Ruh-SAN] Ekedal [ek-uh-dhal]
- Author and historian Christopher Kelly
- And Katherine Akey the shows line producer and the commissions social media director...
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.
It is sometimes difficult in our media overloaded, multi-faceted, social and general media inundated world --- not be cynical - but in 1917 many people genuinely believed that they were answering a higher calling.
That makes Thanksgiving 1917, 100 years ago this past week an interesting moment of reflection for millions of Americans both within our nation and those who find themselves “over there”.
We are going look at this - plus a series of other stories that occur as the American Military finds itself on the precipice of major battle action.
So let’s jump into our wayback machine and see what was happening 100 years ago this week in the War that Changed the World.
World War One THEN
100 Year Ago This Week
Thanksgiving 1917 - at home, President Wilson uses the Official Bulletin - the government’s daily war gazette published by George Creel the head of America’s propaganda machine - to get a short statement from each member of his cabinet -
Dateline, November 28, 1917
The masthead of the Official Bulletin reads:
Cheering Thanksgiving Messages to Americans at Home
And Fighting Forces Abroad From the President’s Cabinet Are in This Issue
It starts with an excerpt from President Wilson’s Thanksgiving Proclamation!
On this day of the revelation of our duty not only to defend our own rights as a nation but to defend also the rights of free men throughout the world, we are filled with the resolution and spirit of united action.
We should especially thank God that in such circumstances, in the midst of the greatest enterprise the spirits of men have ever entered upon, we have, if we but observe a reasonable and practicable economy, abundance with which to supply the needs of those associated with us as well as our own.—
From Robert Lansing - Secretary of State
If we measured our national blessings by the materialistic standard of physical comfort and prosperity, which has been in recent years so potent in our thought as a people, the observance of Thanksgiving Day this year might seem almost a mockery, for we are engaged in the most destructive and terrible war of all times. But a new conception of national blessings has come to the American people, a conception in which the spiritual is exalted above the material, in which the life of the Nation is placed above the life of the individual. No greater blessing could have come to the Republic than this awakening to the fact that patriotism is more to be prized than wealth.
From William McAdoo Secretary of the Treasury
For the first time in more than fifty years Thanksgiving
Day finds America at war. In this chaos of civilization the power of America was needed to tip the scales in favor of freedom and democracy as against the enslavement of the world which would inevitably follow the triumph of military despotism. Terrible as war is, and fearful as are the sacrifices it entails, nothing is comparable to freedom and liberty.
From Newton D. Baker - Secretary of War
I am glad to take advantage of the opportunity which the OFFICIAL BULLETIN gives to send a word of appreciation and good cheer from the men of the War Department who are in this country to the men who are now in France. We are striving our hardest to send them, promptly and plentifully, the material things they need - as they take their stand by the side of the gallant men who, for so long, have been holding the battle front for a world - that shall look forward and not look backward.
From Thomas Gregory - the Attorney General
Nearly a century and a half ago our forefathers, hungry and poorly fed, clothed, disciplined, and armed, --- gave, when needed, their all --- for liberty to live undefiled by license that men are free and self governed. They dreamed and labored, so that real freedom and free institutions were born. To-day you battle that these principles do not die --- but may live on and reach untold millions - who now live under the blight of despots.
From Albert Burleson - Postmaster General
Our Thanksgiving holiday is like many other good things—of New England origin.
It came into national use during the Civil War. The people of the United States in the celebration of this festival now have special cause for returning thanks to the Almighty Ruler of the universe for the many blessings He has showered upon us.
While Europe, Asia, and Africa are ravaged by war, no foe has invaded our country --- our cities have not been destroyed,
and our people go about their business and live in peace, in plenty, and in security.
After every honorable effort had been exhausted to avoid it --- we were thrust into the world's war. In the name of allied nations we have entered into the contest. We have met the crisis unselfishly, patriotically, and nobly. Today, our sons, true to the traditions, ideals, and standards of their heroic fathers are mustering on the battlefields of Europe.
From Josephus Daniels - Secretary of the Navy
We are grateful to have discovered what some doubted before the war:
- That we have many youthful Nathan Hales in this
generation --- who regret that they have only one life to give for
their country. -
- That the spirit of “Don't give up the ship” actuating
men in the Navy to-day gives us many Lawrences who meet
death with little thought of self but deep concern for their
- That the people of the United States are justified in
their faith in the soldiers and sailors and marines who are of the same stuff as the men whose courage made Bunker Hill and King's Mountain and Yorktown and Lake Champlain meccas of patriotism.
- That all America is mobilized and all true Americans have highly resolved to make every sacrifice that may be demanded for the sway of liberty and freedom in the world, where neither the autocracy of crowned heads nor entrenched privilege can deny the right of all men to govern themselves.
From Franklin Lane - Secretary of the interior
I cannot give thanks for war, nor for the method that men make war, nor for the turning of the minds of men from things constructive to things destructive; but I can give thanks that this is a Nation unashamed; that the spirit of Bunker Hill and Santiago is still quick and aggressive; that men are willing to die that liberty and justice may live; that we are not to see the free peoples of the earth humiliated or crushed; and that Fear is not to master the world.
From William Wilson Secretary of Labor
I have traveled through the most diverse parts of the country and come in contact with every variety of our citizenship
—the rich and the poor, those who have sprung from old English stock, as well as naturalized citizens who have come to us from the different lands of Europe, including the central powers.
In the midst of all this diversity of place and people, behind all differences, I find a common and complete devotion to this country and an unquestioning devotion to the aims of freedom and democracy which are the purposes of this country going to war.
Meanwhile in Europe, the US Army tries to bring a bit of home to the boys.
Dateline: November 29, 1917
Headline: A story from the NY times…
Cooks Prepare Feast For Pershing’s Men - Thanksgiving Dinner Expected to be the Best Ever Service to Army on Foreign Soil.
The story reads:
In every village in France where American troops are stationed, the company cooks started to make cranberry sauce and to lay out great piles of plump turkey, sweet potatoes and everything else that goes to make a real thanksgiving Dinner.
Thanksgiving Day for the American forces will be one of resting, eating and recovering. After the dinner settles there will be real american doings such as football games, in which some american stars who are there will play.
But back to the fighting front...
Early in this month, in Episode 45 we told you the story of a company of American Soldiers who were the first to contact the enemy - they were training in bunkers in a quiet part of the western front. Suddenly Germans attacked, over-ran the positions and took 12 prisoners of war. They also killed 5 and wounded others.
This week, the incident is in the news again as the French Government endeavors to decorate 15 men of this unit.
Dateline November 27th 1917
Headline: From the pages of the New York Times
“French Decorate 15 of our troops… “French War Crosses” conferred on men who met German Trench Raid on November 2… but TOLD NOT TO WEAR MEDALS - Recipients must wait until Congress authorizes them to accept honors from a foreign nation.
Now I see that the follow on of this story offers great insight into the situation on the ground…
After months of waiting - American soldiers finally head to the front early in the month. It’s a quiet area but in the actual war zone…
The Americans are essentially still training when suddenly themselves in an unintended engagement as the Germans attack.
The story in the times includes:
The French General, in referring to the actions of this american company said:
“On the night of November second, this company, which was in the line for the first time, met an extremely violent bombardment, despite which it seized arms and offered such stubborn resistance that the enemy, though numerically superior, was obliged to retire”
Also this week -- another group of Yankee Doughboys find themselves “In the Fight” - somewhat unintentionally - during the battle of Cambrai.
The 11th engineers are helping to build the rail system that has been transporting a new power weapon to the front - in preparation for the british Cambrai campaign that was, for the first time make major use of the tank!
Suddenly near the town of Gouzeaucout, ( GUZ- Oh - COO) the germans counter-attack and the engineers suddenly find themselves in combat.
The following is from an article printed in a UK magazine called "I was there". The author is Major General Seely of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade as he describes the German counter attack at Cambrai around November 30th.
“I have to say that a good many stragglers from the battle gallantly came forward with me. Amongst others we found a curious and most interesting party, American engineers whom we had seen 12 days before, engaged in making a light railway some five miles behind the front line. They were pursuing their peaceful avocations near to Gouzeaucourt ( GUZ- Oh - COO) , which had been close to the front line before our advance on November 21. They belonged to the American 11th Engineers.
Colonel Hoffman was the Regimental Commander and I think Captain Hulsant was commanding the party, when the German advance fell on upon them. Some had rifles with them, in the case of others the rifles were far away, but that made no difference to these gallant Yankees. With spades and pickaxes they fell upon the advancing Germans and although many were knocked out, I am assured that they got the best of it in a hand to hand combat.
It was a brave thing to do, for surrender would have been easy and for once justifiable. When I came home on leave a month later, I gave some account of this at a luncheon, given by Lord Beaverbrook. I do not know if this account has reached America from other sources, but I am glad to put it on record now.
Dateline December 1, 1917
Headline from the story in the New York times reads
Every State now has Militia in France - Not a man lost of those who have sailed from America to the Front
So by November of 1917 - the Americans are mobilized - sent the troops “over there” - have been busy training and helping to build infrastructure - and are beginning to engage the enemy - though not intentionally yet.
None of this is deemed fast enough or big enough by the British who warn that the pace and power projection of the Americans is crucial but lacking 100 years ago this month - in the War that changed the world .
Great War Project
Tanks were to be a major strategic shift in the planning for the Battle of Cambrai - Nearly 500 were deployed for the campaign - but with some mixed results…
Here to tell us about it is Mike Shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator of the Great War Project blog. The tank is to be the new super weapon in the war - the game changer - but apparently did not come out of the gate quite as planned - tell us about it Mike:
Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.
The Great War Channel
For video about this week in WWI 100 years ago - from a more European perspective - we recommend the Great War Channel on Youtube hosted by Indy Neidell.
Their episodes this week include:
- The End Of Passchendaele
- Jagdkommandos - Austria Hungary’s Special Forces
- Tank Corps Unleashed - The battle of Cambrai
- Dropping Bombs on Germany - Indy takes audience questions in an episode of “Out of the Trenches”
Follow the link in the podcast notes or search for “the great war” on youtube.
World War One NOW
It is time to fast forward into the present to WW1 Centennial News NOW - this section is not about history, but rather - it explores what is happening to commemorate the centennial of the War that changed the world!
Commission News: Coin Strike and Zoe Dunning
When Commission Chair Robert Dallesandro retired from the US World War One Centennial Commission it left a seat open for a new commissioner. So last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi filled that seat with Commander Zoe Dunning, USN (Ret.) of San Francisco. We welcome Commissioner Dunning who is our first commissioner from the west coast. Read more about Commissioner Dunning by visiting the link in the podcast notes.
Philadelphia Mint Ceremonial Coin Strike
In more commission news - on Tuesday, November 28th in Philadelphia-- the US Mint hosted a ceremonial coin strike event for the new 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar. A distinguished group who were involved with the coin project were on hand, including Congressional sponsors of the legislation that authorized the coin; Don Everhardt, legendary US Mint coin engraver; Terry Hamby, the Chair of our WWI Centennial Commission; and Gerald York, grandson of WWI hero Sergeant Alvin York.
This commemorative coin -- which will be produced in limited quantities and will be available for purchase from the Mint beginning in January 2018 -- will support our endeavors with surcharge on the sale of each coin that will go directly to help us honor, educate and commemorate the centennial of WWI. You can learn more about it by going to ww1cc.org/coin or by following the link in the podcast notes.
And now for our feature “Speaking World War 1” - Where we explore the words & phrases that are rooted in the war ---
Fashion was not exactly top of mind when you were dodging shells, machine guns and sleeping with rats in the trenches... But those very conditions lead to some pretty iconic and common contemporary fashion items.
Two of these - that are very much with us today - were created to solve very practical issues: first, of course, mud, mud, mud everywhere! So get yourself a trenchcoat!
Mud clung to clothes in the trenches, caking and weighing men down. The traditional serge greatcoats of the French and British armies were impractical in such conditions, so the lighter, more water resistant trench coat was developed.
Secondly, how the heck are you supposed to begin an attack on time - everyone going “over the top” simultaneously when your units are strung out over the horizontal miles of trenches? Audio doesn’t work very far because there are big guns and shells exploding all over the place - There’s no internet or chat - radio and telephone are large clunky things...
The answer: create a fashion forward, trench adapted wrist watch for every officer and commander.. No fumbling with devices in pockets - it’s right there and available -
hey wait a minute - that’s apples new pitch for their generation 3 apple watch…
Well - in any case - 100 years ago - specially with the development of tactics like the creeping barrages, the precise synchronization between the artillery gunners and the infantry advancing just behind the barrage - coordinated timing became essential to a successful campaign.
Though wristwatches existed in some fashion since the 1500s, the watches produced during the War were specially designed for the rigours of trench warfare, with luminous dials and unbreakable glass. Those luminous dials have a whole horror story attached to them as well… check out The Buzz in episode #19 for the story of the Radium Girls.
With a watch on nearly every commander, whole divisions could synchronize their timepieces and be sure to “jump off” all together.
By the end of the war, almost all enlisted men wore a wristwatch, and after they were demobilized, the fashion soon caught on.
Wristwatch and trenchcoat -- words for items with their roots in the trenches! See the podcast notes to learn more!
100 Cities/100 Memorials
Springfield, MA 100 cities
Moving on to our 100 Cities / 100 Memorials segment
about the $200,000 matching grant challenge
to rescue and focus on our local WWI memorials.
As you listen to our guest tell us about the project, remember that we are taking grant applications for the second round of awards - the deadline to submit the applications is January 15, 2018 - go to ww1cc.org/100Memorials to learn all about it.’
This week we are profiling the Indian Orchard Godfrey Triangle Project
in Springfield, Massachusetts--
with us tell us about the project are Jacqueline Farrow and Eddie Boulrice [bowl-reece] from the Godfrey Triangle Restoration Committee.
Eddie - Tell us a little about your Indian Orchard Heroes of WWI memorial - it’s past, current and future role in your community.
Eddie - Like so many other 100 year old memorials, your memorial is both a weather worn and unfortunately it was vandalized - tell us about the eagle!
So the memorial is in the city of Springfield Massachusetts - Is Indian Orchard a neighborhood?
Jacqueline-- In March you held a fund raiser with The Indian Orchard American Legion Post 277 Ladies Auxiliary - how did that go?
Your project was submitted in Round 1 and has continued on to Round 2 of the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project. What would you say to the selection committee about why THIS project should be selected specifically?
Thank you both!
Jacqueline Farrow and Eddie Boulrice are from the the Indian Orchard Citizen’s Council in Springfield Massachusetts.
If you have a local project you want to submit for a grant - go to ww1cc.org/100 memorials or follow the link in the podcast notes to learn more about how to participate in this program!
In our WWRITE blog, which explores WWI’s Influence on contemporary writing and scholarship, this week’s post is a perfect dovetail to our weekly 100 Cities/100 Memorials segment--
The title reads “Forgetting to Remember: Making America's Great War Monumental Again”
As the new national WWI Memorial materializes in D.C., we want to look at other war memorials and the narrative of their construction. Reading the "story" of the ways memorials are conceived plays an important role in the understanding of public, cultural memory. You can delve into the subject with this week’s blog post by WW1CC intern, Sarah Biegelsen. Read the fascinating tour of some of America's interesting WWI monuments and their stories by visiting ww1cc.org/wwrite
Spotlight in the Media
Soldiers Unknown Interview
For our Spotlight in the Media segment this week, we are speaking with Chag Lowry (ChAIg) and Rahsan Ekedal (rah-SAN Ek-uh-dhal) --the author and artist for a Graphic Novel ---- Soldiers Unknown ---- which tells the story of Yurok soldiers - native americans - who were part of the 91st Infantry Division in WW1.
This question is to you Chag - To start, can you tell us a bit about the Yurok peoples? And what drew you to the story of the 91st Infantry division?
So you have a great subject here - how did the two of you come together and decide that a graphic novel was the best way to tell the story?
The native american commitment to serving is huge - probably as a community the large % veterancy.
When it comes to being a graphic novel, have you found any challenges particular to this story during illustration?
Chag you have experts on your side that you consult with?
If you were going to do a companion book to this one, about another WW1 story -- what would you each choose to focus on?
[thanks and goodbye]
Chag Lowry and Rahsan Ekedal - creators of the Graphic Novel - Soldiers Unknown. Learn more at the links in the podcast notes.
Chris Kelly Interview
In another Spotlight in the Media segment this week, we are speaking with Christopher Kelly, an American history writer based in Seattle and London, and editor of An Adventure in 1914: The True Story of an American Family’s Journey on the Brink of World War I.
Chris, this book is in fact a memoir that you edited. Can you tell us a bit about the man whose memoir it is, Thomas Tileston [Tile-ston] Wells?
You’ve written and co-written a number of other books, but came to this one as an editor; what kind of work is done by the editor of a pre-existing text like this one?
So what is the story about?
The story is just incredible-- made for the movies almost! Just for fun, if a film version of this story were to be made, who would you cast as as your great grandfather - Mr. Wells?
There So I understand there is a romance side of the story… tell us about that…
Where do i find the book, and how can i get it?
Christopher Kelly is an American history writer based in Seattle and London. You can find links to the website for the book, An Adventure in 1914 in the podcast notes.
Articles and Posts
Our website at WW1cc.org is the home and archive for lots of things WW1 - with over 3700 articles on WWI, 2,000 locations listed in our map database and nearly 1400 WWI related events in our national events register - its a great place to explore and new articles are published weekly.
This week we will highly a few of them for you.
Pow-wow honors Wisconsin
Pow-wow honors Wisconsin World War I Native American vets
First from the Badger State -- Wisconsin-- it’s an update from the states, an event and an article.
About 200 people gathered on Veterans Day to commemorate 28 Ho-Chunk men – known as the Winnebago Indians in 1917 — from the area surrounding Volk Field National Guard training base in Wisconsin.
The families of these warriors — known as Descendants of Red Arrow — have met at Volk Field since 1977 to celebrate their service, their memory, and the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division, which continues today as the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Read the story about the ceremony and its World War One origins by following the link in the podcast notes.
Historic WWI DH4 aircraft will fly again
For all the aviation buffs out there, some exciting news coming out of Kentucky.
There, a team of enthusiasts is hard at work restoring the first warplane built in America — the Dayton-Wright DH4.
The group members hope to remind the public of the plane’s importance by restoring the DH4 in time for test flights this coming spring with plans for airshows across the country and even a trip to France.
Read more about the ongoing efforts to get the so-called Liberty Plane flying again by visiting ww1cc.org/news or following the link in the podcast notes.
The Buzz - WW1 in Social Media Posts
And that brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine, what’s going on in the world of social media this week?
This week, we shared the story of one of the worst accidents of the war, certainly the worst in North America. In the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 6th, 1917, a ship carrying aid collided with a ship carrying high-explosives, causing an explosion and tsunami wave that destroyed the north end of the city, and killed some 2,000 people and injured a further 9000. At the time, the explosion was the largest human-made blast that the world had experienced, reaching a measured height of 2.25 miles
Sadly, the explosion was followed by a blizzard that severely restricted efforts to help the city for days. Commemorations of this disaster are to take place soon, and you can read more about both the explosion and the upcoming commemorations at the link in the podcast notes.
Cello from the Trenches
Finally, let’s end on a lighter note, with some music!
An article shared on Facebook this week comes from ClassicFm.Com and features a video of a very special, and special looking, cello being played. The cello is a long, narrow rectangle, rather than the large, curvaceous instrument we’re used to calling cello. This is a “holiday cello” – an instrument you can pack up and take away with you so you can still practise when you’re away from home. And, indeed, it went very far from home as its British owner, Harold Triggs, was sent to the trenches and took the cello with him. He played it in the trenches of Ypres and he wasn’t the only one – there were reportedly other instruments in the trenches, some made from ammunition boxes and pipes.
In that bleak place, people needed music. Decades and decades later, it found its way into the hands of a stringed instrument expert. In the video, cellist Steven Isserlis plays it for us so we can all hear the music that once filled the war torn landscape 100 years ago.
And that’s it this week for the Buzz!
And that’s WW1 Centennial News for the end of November, 1917 and 2017
Our guests this week..
- Mike Shuster, explaining the growing role of tanks in the war
- Jacqueline Farrow and Eddie Boulrice [bowl-reece] from the Godfrey Triangle Project in Springfield, Massachusetts
- Chag Lowry and Rahsan Ekedal telling us all about their graphic novel Soldiers Unknown
- Christopher Kelly sharing the story behind the memoir An Adventure in 1914
- Katherine Akey the shows line producer and the commissions social media director...
Thanks to Eric Marr for his great help on our story research…
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; Your listening to this podcast is a part of that…. Thank you!
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.
This week’s featured web page is ww1cc.org/coin - where you can learn about the US Mint’s 2018 commemorative WWI coin
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, and on Amazon Echo or other Alexa enabled devices. Just say: Alexa: Play W W One Centennial News Podcast.
Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.
Thank you for joining us. And don’t forget
to share the stories
you are hearing here today
about the war that changed the world!
So I’m putting on my Matrix trench coat - snapping on my third generation dick tracy apple watch - in costume and all set to take in a special showing of “All quiet on the western front” at my local movie house - So long!
WW1 Centennial News Video Podcast on iTunes
Weekly Dispatch Newsletter