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World War I Centennial News


 

 

It's 58 feet long and 10 feet high: NJ sculptor's WWI monument will speak for a nation 

By Jim Beckerman
via the NorthJersey.com web site

"That's fitting for World War I" quipped artist's model Christian Ashdale.

It was a detached leg.

A casualty, not of war, but of the artistic process, explained Sabin Howard — the master sculptor behind an extraordinary First World War monument taking shape in Englewood.

"We're still redesigning on the fly now," said Howard, who on a recent Wednesday afternoon had that leg — literally — in hand.

A perfectly good leg. Or anyway, as good as a leg made of Styrofoam covered with a thin coating of Plasteline clay needs to be.

But it no longer seemed to work, in the context of the 38 figures that crowd and jostle on the enormous 58-foot long, 10-foot high tableau he calls "A Soldier's Journey." It would have to be redone. "Everything is relational," Howard said. "You see how we move things around."

Since August 2019, Howard and a dogged team of sculptors and models have been at work on what, for sheer scale alone, must count as one of the epic art projects of the 21st century.

His mammoth sculpture group, which will become the nation's official World War I monument when it's unveiled in Washington, D.C., in 2023 or 2024, may be the largest freestanding bronze relief in the western hemisphere. 

Read more: It's 58 feet long and 10 feet high: NJ sculptor's WWI monument will speak for a nation

 

New Book Gives Voice to the Men of the Famous Lost Battalion 

Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

71IRgfrrL8LIn the history of American participation in WW1, two stories remain the most recognized: that of Sergeant York, and that of the ‘Lost Battalion.’ Now another chapter in the tale of the Lost Battalion has been told in a new book by WW1 author and historian Robert J. Laplander titled The Lost Battalion: As They Saw It.

Most know the general story. Between October 2nd and October 7th, 1918 Major Charles Whittlesey of the 77th Division led nearly 700 men into the narrow Charlevaux Ravine during the battle in the Argonne Forest.

They were quickly surrounded by the Germans and during their five-day siege in that ravine endured starvation, continual enemy attacks, a mistaken artillery barrage by their own forces, and an eventual casualty rate of nearly 72%.

Many will recall the story of the "surrender demand" sent to them by the Germans, and Major Whittlesey’s supposed reply that they could ‘go to hell’, as well as the story of Cher Ami, the little pigeon that delivered the message that stopped the American artillery barrage. But few people have heard the stories of the men themselves. Until now.

Author and World War I historian Robert J. Laplander has been researching the Lost Battalion episode for 25 years, and has amassed an enormous collection of information concerning the story – including many personal remembrances. Much of his research was used in his first book on the subject, ‘Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WW1 Epic’ which was first released in 2006. Since then it has become the ‘bible’ of that event. The updated US WWI Centennial Edition was released in January, 2017.

“I have dozens of diaries, letters and memoirs from the men who were there,” Laplander says, “and everywhere I go to speak on the subject, folks ask me for more of the men’s stories.” And speak on the subject he does, all over the country, including a lecture recorded at the National WW1 Museum in Kansas City in 2018 and broadcast on CSPAN as Hell’s Half Acre: The Story of the Lost Battalion (available for viewing on YouTube).

Read more: New Book Gives Voice to the Men of the Famous Lost Battalion

 

From Clay to Bronze: The First Pour

By Theo Mayer
Chief Technologist, United States World War One Centennial Commission and The Doughboy Foundation

January 19, 2021 was a significant day for the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.

On this date, the 58-foot long, 38-figure Memorial centerpiece sculpture titled "A Soldier's Journey" reached a new milestone on its journey, as the sculpture's first elements were cast into bronze in a "First Pour." It was very exciting for members of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission staff, the American Battle Monuments Commission staff, Sabin Howard Studios, and the Doughboy Foundation who were privileged to take a virtual field trip to Pangolin Editions Foundry in the United Kingdom to witness the milestone event.

“This first pour was one more step toward fulfillment of a vision that was planted more than a decade ago," said Edwin Fountain, General Counsel at the American Battle Monuments Commission, and former Vice Chair of the WWI Centennial Commission. "By memorializing them in figurative bronze, we will honor America’s World War I servicemen and women in a noble and timeless medium that is fitting to their service.”

Sculptor Sabin Howard, after observing the first pour, declared that "With the clay sculpture now being cast in bronze, the sculpture will now outlast us all. This memorial will play forward the sacredness and importance of WWI; it is made for the visitors coming to Washington to see this country’s history."

Describing the Action:

Click on the image above to play the 5 minute video of the first pour. You will see a volume of molten bronze transferred into a big metal container called the crucible. According to the experts, it is usually made of graphite or silicon carbide, which can handle the extreme temperatures of the molten metal.

As you watch them fill the crucible, you will see the "Lead Pour", the person in charge of the operation, toss little nuggets of something into the crucible. It turn out that those are pieces of Silicon which helps the bronze flow better, makes it less brittle and reduces metal contraction as it cools. More than simply a large mechanical process, there is a a great deal of craft and art in the process.

Read more: From Clay to Bronze - The First Pour

 

Burial Card Both SidesInspired by the diversity of the members of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, three Vietnam Veterans worked for several years to build a database of WWII casualty cards.

Doc Hall’s World War One Casualty Records 

By Bill Henson with Dick Arnold
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission

Ernest Hemingway, who took living and dying seriously, once told Lillian Ross of The New Yorker that “time is the least thing we have of.” He could have been describing the first rule of war. Keeping time, killing time, wasting time, hard time, and remembering time are all the same. In the end, someone runs out of time, as Hemingway did when seriously wounded during WW l in 1918.

James Hall The late James “Doc” HallIn the Spring of 2011, the late James “Doc” Hall visited the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, to search for World War ll KIA records of the 35th Infantry “Cacti” Regiment, in which he served in Vietnam. It was during his visit that he came across the Graves Registration records for WW l. The names he uncovered reflected the profound diversity of those who enlisted or were drafted in the U.S. Army to bear arms in the Great War. Immigrants, native Americans and boys from cities and farms were called to serve.

Hall’s discovery of a KIA named Isaac, His Horse Is Fast fascinated him. He contacted two fellow Vietnam combat veterans, Richard “Dick” Arnold and William “Bill” Henson, and proposed photographing the WW l records. The plan then was to transfer the critical data to a spreadsheet. None of us fully understood what we were to experience.

Arnold previously spent years working with the late Richard D. Coffelt, creator of the Coffelt Database of Vietnam casualties. That database identifies the unit assignments, death circumstances and burial site of the war’s U.S. dead. Coffelt, a Korean War era veteran and Kansas attorney, began his work in 1980 after learning there was no public central information source for the military men and women who died as a result of service in Vietnam. (In 2002, the database was deeded to the National Archives. Richard Coffelt died in 2010.)

After both Arnold and Henson agreed to Hall’s proposal, Jim immediately began traveling from his West Deptford, New Jersey, home to the National Archives at College Park to photograph both the front and back of the casualty forms stored in more than 100 boxes. Nearly four years later, he completed recording the boxes. His task took more than 500 hours, and involved 75 trips to Maryland.

Read more: Doc Hall’s World War One Casualty Records

 

WhyKeepThat WebHeader sm 

Why Keep That? exhibition opens January 27 at National WWI Museum & Memorial 

via the National World War I Museum and Memorial web site

Collecting, cataloguing, conserving. The heart of a museum is its collection, but how do Museums make decisions and who gets to answer the question, “Why Keep That?”

Why Keep That?, the latest special exhibition at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, follows the journey of a collection item from the moment it is donated to the Museum, to the decision-making and archival process of our collections staff. To help illustrate, archival staff track the processing and digitization of a collection of 16 objects and share behind-the-scenes information about obtaining the artifacts, processing the items and storing and protecting them. Largely featuring ephemera – objects usually meant to be thrown away, like ticket stubs, advertisements and written scraps – there is a wry sense of irony in objects meant to be short-lived that have lasted 100 years and are now preserved in a museum.

These objects provide a wealth of historical information. Some were only used for their intended purpose and forgotten; others kept as souvenirs. But what they all have in common is the ability to tell the stories of the individuals who acquired them. The objects provide insight into those serving in wartime and context for a historical period shaped by a world in conflict, interpreting a catastrophic global event through human interaction.

Highlights of the exhibition include a Barometer of Feelings – a chart which provides a weekly timeline of the war through one woman’s emotional reactions – as well as dance cards, receipts, tickets, coupons and posters, sometimes accompanied by a letter that provides personal context and value to the item.

Read more: Why Keep That? exhibition opens January 27 at National WWI Museum & Memorial

 

wwi candy gettyimages 530856840 

Why the Candy Bar Market Exploded After World War I 

By Jessica Pearce Rotondi
via the History.com web site

Candy bars may seem quintessentially American, but they have origins in the World War I chocolate rations given to European soldiers. The American military followed suit, helping its doughboys develop a sweet tooth they would bring home after the war. Throughout the 1920s, thousands of small, regional confectioners emerged to meet the demand, creating a candy boom brimming with catchily named bars based on popular expressions, pop culture icons and even dance crazes. (Hello, Charleston Chew.) The goal of the most ambitious new sweets makers? To take a bite out of a candy business dominated by Hershey’s, the planet’s biggest chocolate maker.

The Military History of Chocolate

While the history of chocolate consumption stretches back 4,000 years to ancient cultures in what is today Mexico and Central America, the U.S. story of chocolate has strong military associations.

In the earliest decades of the United States, candy was quickly recognized not just as a sweet treat, but as a valuable way to fuel troops. During the Revolutionary War, chocolate, a favorite treat of George Washington, became part of his soldier’s rations. It was prized for its combined kick of caffeine and sugar; it even served as occasional payment to American troops in lieu of money. Candy also played a role in the Civil War, used as “a provision with quick energy and lots of sugar,” says Steve Almond, author of Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America.

While the first chocolate bar was created by Joseph Fry in Great Britain in 1847, and Cadbury began selling individual boxes of chocolate candies there as early as 1868, it would take the outbreak of war on a global scale for the chocolate candy bar to really take off. 

Read more: Why the Candy Bar Market Exploded After World War I

 

american expeditionary forces christmas package couponThe American Expeditionary Forces “Christmas Package Coupon” was devised so that each military member still in Europe for Christmas 1918 could get one package from home for the holiday. This example was sent by an Army private, probably to a family member, who used it to send nonperishables weighing less than 3 pounds.  

AEF ‘Christmas Package Coupon’ helped soldiers during WWI 

By John M. Hotchner
via the Linn's Stamp News web site

Linn’s reader Robert Munshower recently came up with a truly unusual item, the American Expeditionary Forces “Christmas Package Coupon” shown here.

The War Department recognized that the United States Army soldiers fighting in France in 1918 were about to endure their second Christmas far from home. To help combat the Christmas blues, each soldier was issued one Christmas package coupon. The soldier filled in his address and sent the coupon home to someone who he thought might send him a Christmas package.

After this concept was devised and put into action, World War I came to an end on Nov. 11, so the troops still in Europe had more than one reason to celebrate.

The directions on the label say that “One Christmas package not heavier than 3 pounds and not larger than 9 by 4 by 3 inches will be carried free from Hoboken, N.J. to each American soldier in Europe. Standard boxes of these dimensions will be furnished upon application, by local chapters of the American Red Cross in the United States. Christmas packages must not contain perishable articles or any articles prohibited by the postal laws from transmission by mail. …”

The package had to be mailed by Nov. 20, 1918, and 15¢ postage to Hoboken had to be affixed. But from there, the package would be shipped free by the military.

In the case of the Christmas package coupon shown here, the package was inspected and accepted by the American Red Cross in Calhoun County, Mich., as certified by the “Merry Xmas” sticker affixed to the left.

Despite the fact that there must have been hundreds of thousands of these labels produced, this is only the second example I have seen. While it is a bit beaten up, it is still an unusual artifact of WWI.

Read more: AEF ‘Christmas Package Coupon’ helped soldiers during WWI

 

Sabin Howard Departing Dad 5 Triad Guys 6 and 7 1In the completed section of A Soldier’s Journey, the soldier heads into battle with two comrades. Courtesy of Sabin Howard 

Behind the Epic WWI Memorial Being Sculpted in an Englewood Warehouse 

By Leslie Garisto Pfaff
via the njmonthly.com web site

Behind the soaped window of a former warehouse in downtown Englewood, an epic journey is taking shape. Under a skylight that catches the day’s waning glow, Sabin Howard is carefully applying small swipes of clay to the figure of a soldier in a World War I doughboy’s uniform. Howard’s gaze moves from the sculpture to actor Mark Puchinsky, a live model who looks every inch the young warrior, down to the authentic olive drabs that Howard purchased from World War I reenactors.

The figure, about 10 percent larger than life, is one of 38 that will eventually comprise an intricate, 60-foot-long bronze relief titled A Soldier’s Journey. It will form the centerpiece of the country’s first national World War I memorial, commemorating the 4 million Americans who served in what was once known as the Great War. Chosen out of a field of 360 entries in an international competition, Howard’s piece will be installed in Pershing Park, just steps from the White House, in the fall of 2023 or the following spring.

SabinHoward FullSculpture 9 20 copyA scale model hints at the scope of Howard’s epic work. To date, he has completed 10 of the planned 38 figures. Courtesy of Sabin Howard

The uncertain timing reflects the arduousness of Howard’s process. Each figure requires some 600 hours of work, meaning Howard can complete only nine or 10 figures in a year, even with two assistant sculptors and a team of models. Considered a master of modern classicism, Howard, 57, creates sculpture that is startlingly realistic. He is, says project manager Traci Stratton—the novelist/documentarian who is also Howard’s wife—a perfectionist: “If he had 800 hours to complete a work, he’d want 1,600,” she says. “If he had 1,000, he’d want 2,000.” 

In fact, the project would literally have taken a lifetime to complete if Howard had followed his traditional routine: creating a drawing of the proposed sculpture, producing a small-scale 3-D maquette (or preliminary model), building foam-covered steel armatures (or frameworks) of each figure, applying clay to the armatures, and then casting the work in bronze. He was able to skip the labor-intensive third step in favor of a digital process in which the armatures are 3-D printed.

Read more: Behind the Epic WWI Memorial Being Sculpted in an Englewood Warehouse

 

Forgotten for 100 Years 

By Michael T. Naya, Jr.
via the tapinto.net web site

KENILWORTH, NJ – Many of you reading are now witnessing a major moment in our nation's history. We are witnessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, our nation may be preparing to lockdown once again, and ultimately may come to a halt once more. It was during the coronavirus pandemic that I discovered two veterans of two different wars that were lost to time. I had discovered Horseshoer Thomas W. Regan who perished on November 3, 1918 and Second Lieutenant Roger D. Allcroft who was killed in action on June 22, 1945. Since discovering Roger he has had a street sign dedicated to him and his name is being planned to be added to Kenilworth’s war memorial outside VFW Post 2230.

Thomas W. Regan Seaman s ApplicationThomas W. Regan Seaman's ApplicationI normally write articles focused on World War II and the Greatest Generation but I wanted to take time to write about Kenilworth resident Thomas W. Regan, a veteran of World War I.

Thomas was born in Sligo County, Ireland on July 1, 1892. He immigrated to the United States at some point prior to 1910. From 1910 to 1916 he had been employed as a Seaman and his last assignment in 1916 was aboard the S.S. Edmund on a trip from New York to Texas. Through his employment, he was able to apply for a Seaman’s Certificate of American Citizenship which allowed him to work and live in the U.S. legally.

Shortly after his last assignment at sea, he moved to Kenilworth where he was living on 11th Street as of June 5, 1917. As of 1917, he had been employed at the American Can Company in Kenilworth. At that time the American Can Company had been producing shells for the Russian military who were our Allies throughout World War I.

On July 9, 1917, Thomas enlisted in the New York National Guard at the age of twenty-five. After enlisting he was assigned to First Company Military Police, New York National Guard. From there he was assigned to the 27th Company, Military Police, New York National Guard.

He was sent overseas on May 17, 1918 at the rank of Corporal which he had attained on July 21, 1917. While overseas he was demoted to Private on January 2, 1918, before being promoted to Horseshoer on January 3, 1918. He served overseas until his death on November 3, 1918.

Thomas, like so many other Doughboys did not die from an artillery shell, a bullet wound, or war related injuries. Thomas was killed by an invisible plague known as pneumonia. I speculate that Thomas may not have died of pneumonia but rather the Spanish Influenza which had not been widely studied at the time. Much like pneumonia and the present day Coronavirus, Spanish Influenza was a respiratory illness. The Spanish Flu had targeted young, healthy adults in the prime of their lives separating it from other known viruses throughout the years. This is why I believe that Thomas may have been among Kenilworth’s casualties due to the deadly virus.

Thomas’s story deserves to be remembered especially today. An immigrant who felt the need to serve his country so he answered the call to duty. Although he may not have died in combat he gave his life serving his country in uniform and that is what makes him a hero. November 3, 2020 is the one-hundred and second anniversary of his death and I hope that you will remember him.

Read more: Forgotten for 100 Years

 

hard hat bullard 

Hard Hat Turns 101; Impact on Industrial Safety Never Gets Old 

By John Hitch
via the industryweek.com web site

Luckily for industrial workers everywhere, Lt. Edward Wheatley Bullard of the U.S. Cavalry climbed out of the French trenches with an idea that would spark the industrial safety movement: the hard hat. Bullard, the son of a mining equipment supplier, was inspired by the metal helmets Doughboys wore to deflect the hail of bullets raining down on them courtesy of the Kaiser. When he returned home, he invented the first commercially available industrial hard hat, called the Hard Boiled hat. Prior to its invention and subsequent production in San Francisco, gold and copper miners in California and Nevada basically wore leather caps—which might not be all that good at stopping hail, let alone the rocks or tools potentially pouring down on them.

Now a century later, Bullard's great granddaughter, current Bullard CEO Wells Bullard, recounts how this now 100-year-old equipment was invented and how it redefined protecting the workforce.

NED: What's the Hard Boiled Hat's origin story?

Wells Bullard: My great grandfather, E.W. Bullard, was exposed to miners his whole life because his dad supplied them with equipment such as carbide lamps. When he was in the U.S. Cavalry during World War I, he wore one of those metal doughboy helmets in the trenches, so he came back and pointed out to his dad that miners were only wearing canvass caps at that point, and they faced very similar hazards to what he saw in the war. For miners it was falling rock and ore, or tools dropped by workers higher up in the mine.

As an inventor, he was very user focused and understood the miners couldn’t afford metal helmets. And metal was a lot heavier and they didn’t need to be protected against bullets. So he invented the Hard Boiled Hat, which was made with steamed, or hard-boiled, canvass, leather, glue, and a very elementary suspension. It was shellacked with black paint. 

Read more: Hard Hat Turns 101; Impact on Industrial Safety Never Gets Old

 

French cavalry with an aircraft overhead, 1916.  WWI was a time of incredible technological innovation and so is its remembrance.French cavalry with an aircraft overhead, 1916. World War I was a time of incredible technological innovation and so is its remembrance.

Technology & World War I: Then and Now 

By Theo Mayer
Chief Technologist, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission/Doughboy Foundation

“The soldiers rode into World War I on horseback and rode out in tanks and airplanes,” is a popular quote about WWI. "The War that Changed the World" was a driving force for incredible technology advancement and innovation. So it is only fitting that WWI’s remembrance should also be imbued with innovation.

The industrialization of warfare and its horrific destructive forces such as machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, bombs, tanks and submarines were one aspect, but WWI also helped shape the modern world with incredible advancements in medicine, radio, automobiles, even personal technologies like wrist watches, and pocket cameras.

The point of this article is not those 20th century technologies. Instead, we are going to present the new 21st century technologies being used for the remembrance and commemoration of WWI including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, podcasting, streaming, photogrammetry, 3D printing and more.

Augmented Reality Used for a Virtual Field Trip to the WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.

002 Virtual explorer header image 1200

In August of 2020, the Doughboy Foundation released a very advanced smartphone app called the: WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer”. The App allows anyone to take a virtual field trip to the WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. using a powerful technology called Augmented Reality or AR.

Many people have heard about AR but most people have not used it much. This virtual field trip brings the new National WWI Memorial to living rooms, classrooms and backyards anywhere, in a very realistic and experiential way. It is also filled with stories and information about WWI. Learn more with this video that provides a demonstration, as we explain a bit about AR and follow a group of first-time users, aged 17-48 while they discover and explore the App and its content.

Read more: Technology & WWI: Then and Now

 

PHOTO 1 BTS Location Fort Souville Joe and DayleJoe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D. are on location, filming outside the crumbling walls of the redoubtable Fort Souville, near Verdun, France.  Camera operators and a boom soundman are setting up to shoot a scene for the documentary movie, Pershing’s Paths of Glory. Some young American student cadets can be heard talking nearby with decorated Army veteran, David A. Poe. Sandra (Sandy) S. Pershing, the granddaughter-in-law of General John J. Pershing, is on set to talk about his accomplishments as the leader of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in WWI. The filmmaking team of 32 people spends two weeks shooting on the battlefields, in the trenches, and at the graveyards left behind by this “war to end all wars”. The group will also discover small, home-built WWI museums whose proprietors/guides add emotional texture to the emerging documentary. Returning to the United States, the documentary team films in historic American locations such as Laclede, Missouri, the boyhood home of Pershing, Kansas City, Missouri, the WWI Museum, and Washington D. C., the Arlington National Cemetery where Pershing is buried. The resulting 45-minute documentary film, Pershing’s Paths of Glory, is distributed via Dreamscape, and available as a DVD on Amazon.com.

Pershing’s Paths of Glory Comes to Life 

By Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D.
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

Following careers in marketing and education, we (Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D.) decided to direct and produce documentary films. Initially, Joe produced branded content and marketing documentaries. He was fortunate to have worked with Oscar-winning documentary director, Mark Jonathan Harris on the short documentary, A Delicate Balance, shot in 2005 at the City of Hope (Duarte, California), his marketing client. To raise funding for that effort, the Pacific Film Foundation (PFF), a 501c3 IRS-approved nonprofit was founded.

We then began a prison project, visiting and filming inside two California prisons, San Quentin and the Valley State Prison for Women in 2012. Unfortunately, the project was interrupted and subsequently cancelled by the closure of the women’s prison. However, the property is now in pre-production, entitled Female and Finally Free.

We produced and directed a documentary titled With One Tied Hand in 2013 which explores the fighting and subsequent liberation of Tuscany in WWII by American Buffalo Soldiers. During this process, we learned that Pershing had commanded the Buffalo Soldiers three times during his legendary military career.

After that, in late 2015, Sandra (Sandy) S. Pershing, the granddaughter-in-law of General John J. Pershing, reached out to the Pershing Rifles, a college drill fraternity Pershing had founded, originally called Varsity Rifles in 1894, offering to fund a film to help people understand the achievements of Pershing and his role in the defeat of the Central Powers in WWI. We were introduced to Captain David Poe, a former national commander of the National Society of Pershing Rifles. Poe, representing the organization, then recommended the Pacific Film Foundation (PFF) to make this film honoring Pershing and his diplomatic expertise in asserting the right from our Allied partners to have American commanders lead American troops.

We additionally decided to explore the importance of Pershing’s influence and legacy on contemporary students in the Pershing Rifles, Pershing Angels (female university cadets), and Blackjacks (high school cadets). These groups currently learn and practice leadership, teamwork, and competitive drilling in his name.

Read more: Pershing’s Paths of Glory Comes to Life

 

Page image RuzichA page from the new book International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voice, edited by Connie Ruzich.

“Here is poetry’s abundance in the face of horror” 

By Connie Ruzich
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

I’ve always loved browsing used bookstores: the beauty of decorated book spines, the smell of well-loved volumes, and the surprise of finding a treasure you didn’t know you were searching for. In 2014, I was granted a Fulbright Scholar award to live in England and research the ways in which poetry was being used in commemorations of the First World War.

Ruzich book coverIn my free time, I visited second-hand bookshops and developed a passion for volumes of poetry published during the war. Although these one-hundred-year-old books were often dirty and tattered, their poems were alive with the voices of ordinary soldiers, nurses, and sweethearts from a century ago.

I began to collect these lost poems and share them on a blog I’d created, Behind Their Lines (endorsed by the USWW1CC). After six years, 250 posted poems, and over 500,00 views, the research from the blog has been extensively revised and published as a book: International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices. One reviewer has described the collection as “an astonishing feat of literary archaeology… [that] cuts through the smoke and noise of the First World War to present us with poems that have been hidden in history's unforgiving mud for far too long…. Here is poetry's abundance in the face of horror.”

For me, the most important part of the journey has been rediscovering and sharing these lost voices, for they show us that there was no single representative experience of the First World War, nor was there a typical response to the conflict. This new anthology is not intended to challenge the value of previous anthologies, the poets, or their work, but rather to supplement the familiar poetry of the war and to provide a richer understanding not only of war poetry, but of the war itself.

The most famous poems of the war are those written by British soldiers who fought in the trenches of the Western Front, writers such as Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas, and Wilfred Owen. But some of the most haunting poems I discovered were written by Americans: the loneliness of John Allan Wyeth’s “The Transport,” written aboard a ship sailing for France by a soldier who served with the 33rd Division of the A.E.F.; the power of Mary Borden’s “Song of the Mud,” in which an American nurse describes “the vast liquid grave of our armies”; the tragedy of Gladys Cromwell’s “The Extra,” written by an American nurse volunteer who was overwhelmed by the trauma she witnessed in France and who took her own life; or the devotion expressed in John Hunter Wickersham’s “The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat,” the poem written by this Congressional Medal of Honor recipient the night before he led his men over the top at the Battle of St. Mihiel.

Read more: “Here is poetry’s abundance in the face of horror”

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