previous arrow
next arrow
previous arrow
next arrow

Sync Call for Wednesday June 24 at Noon EDT
Italian Front, 1915
Please update your Flash Player to view content.

1. News and Announcements:

Connecticut and the Great War--Call for Papers due July 15
Several Connecticut historical organizations are sponsoring a one-day conference called Connecticut and the Great War on Saturday, November 7th, 2015. The meeting will be held at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT and will feature speakers from diverse backgrounds discussing a wide variety of topics that focus on the any and all aspects of World War I in Connecticut.
Historical society and museum personnel, graduate students, independent scholars, teachers, and members of the academic community are all invited to make presentations. To be considered, you must submit a paper title, abstract, and a short c.v. to the conference organizers. The application deadline is July 15, 2015. Their website can be found here.

Upper Midwest Regional Meeting - Save the DateUpper Midwest Region (in red)
The Pritzker Museum and Military Library located in Chicago, Illinois would like to extend an invitation for the volunteer representatives in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Wisconsin which comprise the World War I Centennial Commission’s Upper Midwest Region to a collaborative meeting. The meeting will be held on 16 September, 2015. The purpose of this meeting is to provide updates on the strides each state has made in the planning efforts for the centennial. Reach out to Susan Mennenga with questions or comments.

Design Competition 
As you know, last week we officially announced the our competition for the design of the National WWI Memorial at Pershing Park! Details about the competition, as well as the competition manual can be found hereYou can also help make this restoration a reality by making a donation to the Memorial Fund.
They deserve a memorial. We can build it for them. Share this link on social media and on your organization's website--however you can get the word out. We cannot do this without your support. Thank you.

Stamp Committee Letter
We completed and mailed our letter to the stamp committee last week. Did you?- let us know so we can brag about you! 

Next Commission Meeting
We are just one month away from the next Commission Meeting - 15 July 2015 at the National WWI Museum in Kansas City. The Commission Meeting is open to the public and we will provide a call in number for those who can’t make it to Kansas City. We encourage you to join us or listen to the commissioners make decisions about our future. We want to the thank the Museum and great partner for hosting this event. We can’t wait to visit the memorial in its new designation as a NATIONAL WWI Memorial and Museum.

Devil Dogs
A Commission endorsed project is getting under way and needs your help. Devil Dogs, the story of the only Honorary Marine in Europe as he helps a family retrace the footsteps of its Marine ancestor who foot during the Battle of Belleau Woods. Head to Devil Dogs’ Kickstarter page to see how you can support them.

Valor Tours 2016Tours with Mike Hanlon
Our own Mike Hanlon is leading tours in France next summer with Valor Tours company. There are two planned trips: one to Verdun in May 2016 and the other to the Somme in August 2016. For more information, check out the flyer we’re sending out to our sync call roster.

We are moving....
Tomorrow the Commission staff will move from 1 Thomas Circle in Washington DC to 1776 G St NW. Our mailing address is and will remain (701 Pennsylvania Ave NW Suite 123). You are all welcome to come visit us anytime, just please note the new location.

2. Shout Outs:

A shout out to those who have written and sent in letters to the Stamp Committee--Commission O’Connell, Virginia Dilkes, Georgia Dilkes Harris, Lola Dilkes Koniuszy, Arthur Tulak, and to everyone else we haven’t heard from!


4. How you can help the WWICC this week:

  1. Help us get a WWI stamps series!
    Help us Get a WWI series of stamps!! We need help from all of your organizations. The USPS uses a committee to choose stamps for the upcoming years and they take suggestions by letter. We know that they are considering a WWI stamp for 2017. We want to not only ensure that this happens, but also encourage them to create a series of stamps throughout the centennial period. We will send out the template to everyone on our Sync Call roster. You can edit as you see fit, place it in your letterhead, even provide suggestions of what you think the stamp should be. You can only pick a subject USPS has their own designers. We just ask that you ask them to do a series of WWI stamps. We are getting ready to send ours off, but we want to make sure this happens. Please please please take this template or just make your own and suggest to the stamp committee to make WWI series of stamps throughout the centennial. You can submit the letter as an organization or as a person. Thank you in advance. Here is a link to to post office stamp selection process.
  2. If you are interested in helping with state and regional organization, please let Andrew McGreal know and he will send you information on how to get involved.
  3. Shop at SMILE.AMAZON.COM! Enter the "United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars" as your charitable organization.


5. The Great War Channel

Would you like to see some great videos on YouTube about WWI? Check out The Great War Channel. Posting twice a week, ‘The Great War’ shows you the history of the First World War in the four years from 1914 to 1918. The host, Indy, takes you back week by week and shows you what was going on in the past. Please subscribe to see these great posts. Their last two videos are:

A Genius and A Madman - Fritz Haber: WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?
June 22, 2015. Fritz Haber is one of the most famous German scientists. His inventions made it possible to feed an ever growing human population and influence us till this day. But Fritz Haber had a dark side too: His research made the weaponization of gas and the increased production of explosives possible. Find out more about the life of Fritz Haber in our biography.

Cavalry, Spies and Cossacks: THE GREAT WAR Week 47
June 18, 2015. The war seems like a romantic novel this week: In the East the Russians are saved by Cossack Cavalry while August von Mackensen's artillery is plowing through Galicia. In the meantime, the British discover a German spy ring in London and the French gain a few miles in the west.


6. The Great War 100 Years Ago

Presented by Mr. Mike Hanlon -http://www.worldwar1.com

100 Years Ago: The First Battle of the Isonzo on the Italian Front Opens, 23 June 1915

Almost everyone recalls that Caporetto, in October 1917, was the most famous battle of the Great War in Italy. But what was the war like before Caporetto?

062415 ITFront 450

For the most part, the action on the Italian Front was concentrate in its Eastern-most 15% or so along the Isonzo (now Soca) River.

Throughout most of the rest of the mountainous 400-mile length of the S-shaped Italian Front the dominating positions almost everywherewere in the hands of the Austro-Hungarian forces. A Delimitation Commission following the war of 1866 had intentionally given Austria a highly defensible frontier

The 60- mile-long valley of the Isonzo [Soca] River running from the Julian Alps south to the Adriatic Sea bisected the only practical area for offensive operations by the Italian Army during the Great War. Supreme Commander Luigi Cadorna judged he could feasibly acquire a series of territorial objectives from Gorizia to Trieste down to the Dalmatian Coast.


The lower coastal zone seemed to present more possibilities for advancing, but it featured some peculiar geography and geology that aided defending forces. Most important was a vast, plateaued scrub wilderness, scorching hot in the summer, freezing in the winter due to the "Bora" winds from the Alps, between Gorizia and the Adriatic, known as the Carso.

Secondarily, the upper zone — actually in the Alps, seemed to present possibilities for getting deep into the enemy rear if they could get over the mountains – which they never quite did.

Map of the Isonzo Region

Four battles would be fought in this sector in 1915, five in 1916, and two in 1917. The First Battle of the Isonzo began with a week-longartillery barrage from General Cadorna's forces on 23 June 1915
After failing to make any other significant progress, Cadorna halted on 7 July. He realized his artillery was inadequate and he was further hindered by a chronic shortage of shells which was never to be resolved.

In hindsight in what seems to be a fit of monomania, Cadorna continued attacking along the Isonzo, primarily in the Carso region, but also regularly pressing assaults in the mountainous area to the north. Of 11 Isonzo Offensives, only two can be considered moderately successful, the Sixty, when the strategic city of Gorizia was captured and the 10th, when the line was advanced substantially compared to earlier efforts. However, the total advance after 11 costly offensives never came close to capturing Trieste, the main objective. But the Austro-Hungarian defenders were pushed to the wall and the German High-Command, sensing this, sent reinforcements in the fall of 1917 to mount a counteroffensive. That operation would be known in history as the Battle of Caporetto and would completely change the character of war on the Italian Front.

A Note on Terminology:
Caporetto is known in some sources as the 12th Battle of the Isonzo. I've found it's best to treat it as a separate entity, though. Caporetto was a German/Austrian Offensive rather than Italian, the style of operations was substantially different, and it was undeniably a decisive victory.

Recommended Reading:


The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 by Mark Thompson


The Eleven Battles of the Isonza at La Grande Guerra

Next week: WW1 99 years ago: The Somme


Upcoming Events

If you have an agenda item to include, please email Andrew McGreal before next Wednesday.

If you have an event for our calendar, please submit it here.

For a listing of events and exhibits, please visit the Commission Events Page. (We are in the process of transitioning into this calendar--please bear with us if your event does not appear immediately. Thank you.)



"Pershing" Donors

$5 Million +

Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo

Starr Foundation Logo

The Lilly Endowment