World War I Centennial News



The Marines’ Bloodiest Day of WWI and Two Medals of Honor for Corporal John Henry Pruitt

By Patrick K. O’Donnell
via the Breitbart.com web site

The first week of October marked the 101st anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps’ bloodiest day and one of its most important battles of WW I: Blanc Mont. Several Marines earned Medals of Honor on the blood-soaked ridge, including Corporal John Henry Pruitt.

Corporal John Henry Pruitt 640x480Corporal John Henry PruittPruitt served under Major General John A. Lejeune, the commander of the 2nd Division and 4th Marine Brigade. Several days before the battle, Lejeune stared at the large relief map sprawled out in front of him. His eyes focused on the ridgeline where the Germans had constructed an ostensibly impregnable fortress—Blanc Mont. Hundreds of machine-gun nests, an intricate maze of trenches, concrete blockhouses, artillery pieces, and tangled masses of barbed wire awaited any force foolish enough to attack. For years, the French Army had launched one forlorn assault after another on the fortress resulting in a bloodbath—thousands of men killed, gored attempting to scale the sloping limestone rock.

The tough commander, “a Marine’s Marine” later hailed as “one of the greatest of all leathernecks,” was one of only two Marine officers to hold a divisional Army command. The 2nd was one of the finest divisions in the Allied armies. Marshal Foch, noting the 2nd’s élan and battlefield prowess at Battles of Belleau Wood and Soissons, had requested the division be placed under the temporary command of the Fourth French Army, which was led by the grizzled, one-armed General Henri Gouraud.

Gouraud explained to Lejeune that the French Army had stalled in front of the high ground and his men were exhausted. He had earmarked the 2nd for the formidable task of breaking through the powerful German defenses. Gouraud’s piercing eyes and bushy handlebar mustache seemed almost to pop off his face as he emotionally placed his only hand on the German fortress atop Blanc Mont Ridge on the map.

“General,” he declared, “this position is the key of all the German defenses of this sector, including the whole Rheims Massif. If this ridge can be taken, the Germans will be obliged to retreat along the whole front thirty kilometers to the river Aisne. Do you think your division could effect its capture?” Without hesitation, Lejeune informed Gouraud that the 2nd could seize the stronghold.

The 2nd Division and John Pruitt were about to enter one of the most perilous kill zones on the Western Front. The various Army and Marine units within the 2nd Division would converge on Mont Blanc like two giant arrowheads. If they survived the onslaught, the men would link up on the crest.

Read more: The Marines’ Bloodiest Day of WWI and Two Medals of Honor for Corporal John Henry Pruitt


TV Over MindScene from the first trailer for the upcoming World War I epic 1917.

Why Don’t We Get More World War I Movies?

By Brian Hadsell
via the TV Over Mind (TVOM) web site

So as I was sitting in the theater this last week, waiting for my movie to start up in full, the usual string of trailers for the usual kind of fall movies landed on something interesting: a particularly peculiar item that’s been on my mind a lot lately. Namely, it was the trailer for 1917, Bond director Sam Mendes’ upcoming movie about a World War I era race against time for one lowly soldier to save not only his brother, but entire legions of troops against a pending slaughter.,

The thing is, though, that it was sandwiched between the usual sort of World War II era movies that we’ve been forced to sit through pretty much since the war itself was still ongoing. In fact, looking ahead to the rest of the year, you have Midway, the Roland Emmerich-directed movie about the Battle of Midway, shot very much in his Bay-adjacent style as to suggest a markedly better version of Bay’s own Pearl Harbor (2001). There’s also the awards heavyweight A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s feature about a conscientious objector in Nazi-controlled Austria. There’s also Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi’s incendiary satire about a young boy whose imaginary friend is none other than Adolf Hitler. And if Google’s to be believed, we’ve got another half-dozen or so WWII-set movies coming out over the final three months of the year.

And yet there’s only one WWI movie, at least as far as I’m able to tell: only one 1917. The next best thing we have coming up is The Kingsman (2020), the rather unfortunate-looking, grimdark Kingsman (2014) prequel that simply seems to be using the time period as a narrative jumping off point to its post-war spy adventure, with essentially nothing OF that war in the meat of the film. And looking back, I can’t even tell you the last major release I saw set in the so-called War to End All Wars. I guess we had the documentary They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) that snuck into theaters last year like a thief in the night (I certainly wasn’t able to see that one in my local theater). I guess there was Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (2011) at the start of the decade, although you’ll be forgiven if, like everybody else, you forgot that that ho-hum war drama existed in the first place (Lord knows I did). Before that was Flyboys (2006), which apparently only exists for history teachers to show in class every so often. Oh, and I guess Lawrence of Arabia (1962) got a special rerelease as a Fathom Event a little while back, although to what degree we can count a nearly sixty-year-old movie is anybody’s guess.

The simple fact of the matter is that Hollywood is not very interested in World War I as a filmic backdrop, which seems really weird when you stop and think about it.

Read more: Why Don’t We Get More World War I Movies?


Canfield, OH man receives lost military award over 100 years after great uncle died 

By Rod Cowan
via the WBKN 27 First News television station (OH) web site

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – A World War I veteran died overseas in France but Thursday night, he got an award that has been lost for years.

In Canfield, a great-nephew received his great uncle’s Purple Heart almost 101 years to the day he died in the war.

Joseph Knecht never knew his great uncle, who shares the same name.

Thanks to Purple Hearts Reunited, he and his family received a Purple Heart and something almost as valuable — closure.

“I received a phone call out of the blue, which was a big surprise,” Knecht said.

He was too young to know his great uncle but, through some research, learned about him and his service to our country during WWI.

“So I actually did some research, talked to my mom,” Knecht said. “She said she had a box of things that belonged to him. Letters from home, letters he sent to his parents, the obituary.”

He also looked into the nonprofit organization on the other end of the line, Purple Hearts Reunited.

“When they explained who they were and what they did, it was quite impressive,” Knecht said.

Joseph Knecht, from Hartford, Indiana, enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 29, 1918.

Six months later on Sept. 29, he was killed in action in France during one of the final offensives in war.

Read more: Canfield man receives lost military award over 100 years after great uncle died


5d9667e2652e2.imageThe Doughboy Memorial in Martinsburg, WV will be refurbished and moved to another location. 

 Berkeley Co. Council in WV agrees to refurbish World War I statue

By Breanna Francis
via The Journal newspaper (Martinsburg, WV) web site

MARTINSBURG — The Berkeley County Council moved Thursday to take steps in refurbishing and relocating a World War I memorial statue that currently resides on the old federal courthouse property in Martinsburg.

Councilperson Elaine Mauck brought the issue of the World War I Doughboy Statue before the council, saying it had come to her attention that the old courthouse will be going up for sale or auction in the coming weeks and in doing so, the statue could potentially go with the property.

“The Smithsonian said we are the owner and administrator of that statue,” Mauck said. “If that is sold, the new owner might chose to move or change that statue; however, Mr. (Steve) Catlett has had people come forward who want to clean the statue up and move it to War Memorial Park.”

Catlett, executive director of Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation, said he was previously approached by the Women’s Auxiliary from the American Legion and requested the statue be moved to War Memorial Park because it would be a “better fit.”

“There was some opposition, but most people did like the idea of seeing it moved,” Catlett said. “To prevent taking the chance that its sold and the new owner take it down or remove it, we should take steps to protect it. This could include sending it to a place in Pittsburgh that can refurbish it. That could be a $10,000 to 15,000 project. And, all of the names of those who served WWI in Berkeley County are listed on plaques on the statue, but according to the historical society, there are 30 names missing. So we would also have to get into correcting the plaques.”

Read more: Berkeley Co. Council in WV agrees to refurbish World War I statue


Friends and family pay their respects to WWI veteran in PA

By Bruce Gordon
via the Fox 29 Philadelphia television station (PA) web site

WEST PHILADELPHIA - A memorial service was held Monday to honor Sgt. Thomas Fearn, a soldier who was killed in action in WWI. His body laid in an unmarked grave until his relatives were able to locate the grave this year and place a marker.

By the time they gathered at the Old Cathedral Cemetery, Thomas Joseph Fearn Jr. had been dead for more than a century, but for his ancestors, it’s never too late to pay your respects.

“Great. It was a search of five years and it was fruitful. It was a warm feeling," Dr. William Francis Fearn told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon.

Thomas Fearn was a 26-year-old Philadelphian, a newly minted sergeant, who was part of the scantily-trained division of American Expeditionary Forces sent into the Meuse Argonne Offensive in Sept. 1918. It was the last great battle of WWI and it was brutal combat.

“So rather than learning lessons in a consequence-free training environment, the Germans made the infantrymen pay for their lack of experience," Lt. Col. Ryan Liebhaber explained.

Fearn was mortally wounded on the first day of battle. He died the next day, but the mystery was whatever became of his remains.

Dr. William Francis Fearn, a South Jersey doctor and the son of Fearn’s younger cousin, began to search without much luck. Then, Nancy Schaff, who heads up the descendent group of Fearn’s old unit the 314th, did some digging of her own and found an Inquirer newspaper obituary showing Fearn’s remains had come back from France three years after his death and were buried at Old Cathedral in 1921.

"We want people today and all generations to understand that we never forget our veterans. It doesn’t matter if it was 100 years ago or if it was yesterday," Schaff explained.

Read more: Friends and family pay their respects to WWI veteran in PA


Peter Simmons almost goes to war

By Bill Hand
via the Sun Journal newspaper (New Bern, NC) web site

Let’s continue with another look or two at Craven County’s World War I heroes.

AR 190928250The grave site of Peter Nelson SimmonsThe New Bern Historical Society’s Claudia Houston deserves a lot of credit for a lot of this information. Cooperating with American Legion Post 539 in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the World War I-inspired veteran’s organization and the rededication of the county World War I memorial at the courthouse, she put in hours of research on these men, helping to dig up some 16 war casualties that the original marker missed. This, despite having to temporarily move to Florida while her Florence-devastated home is being restored.

Originally set up in the Jim Crow era, no African Americans were represented on the original monument (though one was later chiseled in). But seven were added this year, among them Peter Nelson Simmons.

Peter was born in Jones County around 1896 to Abraham and Mary Jane Simmons. The family moved to Township 7′s Pollocksville Road by 1910 where his father owned a farm and Peter – now 14 – no doubt worked. Over the next few years Peter also spent some time teaching school in Pamlico County.

Originally, America was happy to let Europe fight the Great War and enjoyed the profits of selling munitions and supplies to the allied powers. Germany, however, did not see all those ships supplying England as being neutral and, on January 31, 1917, declared it would sink any ships, British, American or otherwise, that it could find in the war zones. By March, five American ships were destroyed.

So, on April 6, America declared war, joined the fray, and sent millions of young men to war, of whom 116,516 never came home – unless they did so in boxes.

In May, the US started up the draft for all men ages 21 to 31 and Peter registered for on June 5. Thirteen months later, on July 29, 1918, he was inducted into the army.

His boot camp was at Camp Greene in Charlotte where he was assigned to the 810 Pioneer Infantry as part of a medical detachment. He may have sung the popular “Over There” song with his fellow recruits, but he never made it “over there” himself. In fact, he never made it out of camp for, at the height of the influenza epidemic of 1918 on October 14.

Medicine was still in the process of becoming truly modern and up to – and through – the World War, America lost more men to sickness than to bayonets, rifles and bombs. In that war, 63,114 soldiers and sailors died of disease or other causes (including training) while 53,402 – about 10,000 less – died on the battlefield.

The influenza epidemic of that year, spreading Spanish flu around the world – was the worst in history. Historians estimate that it infected nearly a third of the planet’s population, killing 20 to 50 million of them. That didn’t match the overall death rate of 70 to 85 million civilians and soldiers world-wide, but it easily outdid our own casualties, taking out 675,000 Americans.

Peter’s body was returned home to Perrytown where he was buried in the Perrytown Community Cemetery.

Read more: Peter Simmons almost goes to war


Windmill snipThe nearly 100-year-old Dutch-style windmill is the creation of WWI veteran John Roessler. Currently, the Riverland Terrace Garden Club has taken over the upkeep of the windmill but expenses are building.

James Island residents raising money to preserve windmill created by WWI veteran 

By Alissa Holmes
via the Live 5 News television station (Charleston, SC) web site

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A two-story wooden windmill sits on the banks of the Wapoo Creek in the back of the Riverland Terrace neighborhood.

The nearly 100-year-old Dutch-style windmill is the creation of WWI veteran John Roessler. Currently, the Riverland Terrace Garden Club has taken over the upkeep of the windmill but expenses are building.

In the 1930s, Roessler built the windmill to honor his time spent in Holland. The windmill quickly became a neighborhood landmark and physical reminder for all veterans.

Edith McLemore is a member of the Garden Club and long-time resident of Riverland Terrace. She shared fond memories of the windmill and says they’ve almost lost it before.

“We were thinking about having just to give it up. Because it was so expensive to keep up. And the people in the Terrace just banded together and came down to a meeting here. And there were so many that were interested in it that we decided To go ahead and try to keep it up and keep the insurance on it and everything we needed to do,”’ McLemore said.

The Riverland Terrace Garden Club took over the windmill in the early 2000s.

Trish Bender is another member of the Garden Club, she says any help is appreciated.

“You can imagine an all-wooden structure, set on the waterside, it needs a lot of money and a lot of preservation," Trish Bender. "And we like to preserve In character with the wood and plans that were original to John. It’s an expensive endeavor and it costs a lot to ensure.”

Read more: James Island residents raising money to preserve windmill created by WWI veteran


In rededication, donor felt Illinois WWI memorial ‘needed to be done’ 

By Steven Spearie
via the State Journal-Register newspaper (IL) web site

Phineas Gates of Divernon had seen the memorial honoring Sangamon County enlisted residents who perished in World War I from afar as it sat on First Street and North Grand Avenue at “Vose Corner.”

But Gates didn’t know until recently that his paternal great-uncle, Phineas Colliflower Gates, who served in the U.S. Navy and died of Spanish influenza 101 years ago Thursday, was listed on the memorial.

“Katie Spindell (who is on the Oak Ridge Cemetery board of managers) contacted me and asked if I was related to him,” Gates said.

After Wednesday’s formal dedication of the monument, which was recently re-located to Oak Ridge, Gates said he was “proud” to see his namesake listed on the obelisk.

“I consider it an honor,” Gates said, “that they have the monument here now with the other (war memorials).”

Earlier this month, it became public that the one-time anonymous donor who paid for the monument’s construction and installation was John Kerasotes.

Kerasotes, who is now 96, was in attendance at the rededication with his son, Denis Kerasotes.

“This is where (my father) wanted (the monument) to be all along,” Denis Kerasotes said. “I’m sure this made him very, very happy, to get, not so much the recognition for him, but recognition for who he was trying to honor, these (World War I) veterans.”

Read more: In rededication, donor felt WWI memorial ‘needed to be done’


100 Years Later, MO Town Continues to Honor Their WW1 Sons 

By Shannon Becker
via the Four States Homepage web site

Looking at the newly set World War I Memorial in Carterville Cemetery you can tell there is a theme going with two pedestals standing tall and then three others empty.

“We did one memorial for the Civil War Veterans here at Carterville last year. And now this is the second we’ve done, we are privileged to be a part of honoring Veterans of Carterville,” Billy Joslen of Quality Memorials tells Joplin News First.

One of the cemetery board members, Calvin Divine, who didn’t want to speak on camera told us that the men on the front of the WWI Memorial Stone are men that fought and died in Europe. They were originally buried across the ocean. The men on the back of the memorial served but came home. Each one of them listed though are buried in Carterville Cemetery.

US Recovery of Dead

History tells us it was a different time 100 years ago. Bodies of soldiers were buried near where they died in the European conflicts. Refrigeration and transportation were a challenge with the world at war. So in 1920 after WWI the United States spent two years and more than $30 million recovering the soldiers who died on the battle front.

American families could choose, have their remains sent home to America, or have their loved ones placed in newly created American Military Cemeteries in Europe.

The remains of 46,000 soldiers were returned to the United States at their families’ request, while another 30,000 were laid to rest in military cemeteries in Europe.

Six of those soldiers were returned to the United States, to their families in Carterville, Missouri. They were then buried here, at home. And they continue to be honored with a new Memorial, 100 years later.

Read more: 100 Years Later, MO Town Continues to Honor Their WW1 Sons


Special Exhibition ETCHED IN MEMORY Opens At National WWI Museum And Memorial in KC 

via the Broadway World web site

The Great War caused vast destruction across Europe, and in addition to the lives lost in battle, many cultural landmarks were damaged or destroyed.

Etched in Stone snipEtched in Memory, the latest special exhibition from the National WWI Museum and Memorial, features color etchings by British artist James Alphege Brewer published throughout the Great War as a reminder of the cultural losses it inflicted.

"Our cultural institutions say a lot about who we are as a society," said Jonathan Casey, Director of Archives and the Edward Jones Research Center at the National WWI Museum and Memorial. "It is crucial to understand the Great War's impact on cultural institutions and how that affected society. Etched in Memory provides a window into the cultural tragedies suffered during the Great War."

Brewer's series of etchings were influential. They were begun on the basis of newspaper speculation prior to the German invasion of Belgium and their publication closely followed the events of the war in news from the front.

This exhibition features 15 etchings depicting scenes directly affected by the Great War. The etchings are supported by images of destruction and devastation from the Museum and Memorial, juxtaposing the iconic buildings before and after the tragedy of the war. Some of Brewer's war etchings were copied and distributed widely in the United States and could be found hung on parlor walls in solidarity with the Allied cause.

Read more: Special Exhibition ETCHED IN MEMORY Opens At National WWI Museum And Memorial


5d8698040a358.imageFrom left, Air Force ROTC cadets Ricardo Iniguez, Colton Estes and Dylan Harris, and volunteer Keegan Van Geem locate a veteran’s grave so they can place a medallion at IOOF Cemetery. Volunteers placed the markers on the graves of 176 World War I veterans graves in Denton.

Volunteers place medallions on WWI veterans’ graves in Denton, TX

By Zaira Perez
via the Denton Record-Chronicle newspaper (TX) web site

While one volunteer held down a patriot medallion, another used a bolt and hammer to lodge its stake about 6 inches into the ground next to a World War I veteran’s grave.

Volunteers repeated this process Saturday until medallions decorated the final resting places of 176 WWI veterans at IOOF and Oakwood cemeteries in Denton.

The project is a collaboration between the locally based Texas Veterans Hall of Fame and Historic Denton, a nonprofit making efforts for historic preservation in the city.

Gary Steele, with the Veterans Hall of Fame, said they started with World War I veterans since 2018 marked the 100-year anniversary of the war’s end.

“There’s about 800 veterans in both cemeteries,” Steele said. “Today we’re going to celebrate the 100-year [anniversary]. Our goal is to do all the veterans in these two cemeteries and we’ll partner with other cities to do this.”

Each medallion has a scannable QR code on the back. When the code is scanned with a mobile device, it’ll lead to a page on the Texas Veterans Hall of Fame website about the particular veteran once website development is complete.

Steele said families are welcome to provide biographies for veterans as long as they were born in Texas or lived in the state for at least seven years.

The computer science department at University of North Texas is also working with the organization to create a mobile application where people can find the cemetery where a veteran is buried if they know the city they’re buried in.

Read more: Volunteers place medallions on WWI veterans’ graves in Denton , TX


originalCompany A 151st MGB -Vivian Roberts served as a platoon leader in Company A, 151st Machine Gun Battalion which mobilized for France in October 1917. (Photo Credit: Georgia Guard Archives) 

First Lieutenant Vivian Roberts:The Georgia National Guard's only POW of WWI 

By Maj. William Carraway, Historian, Georgia Army National Guard
via the army.mil web site

MACON, Ga. -The United States observes National Prisoner of War / Missing in Action Recognition Day on the third Friday in September. This day allows provides a moment of pause to remember those who have been held as prisoners of war during our nation's conflicts and those listed as missing in action. One hundred years ago, the only Georgia Guardsmen held as a POW during World War I began his long journey home to Macon, Ga. from a prison hospital in Germany.


Vivian Hill Roberts Sr. was born September 29, 1887, in Jackson Ga. He enlisted in the Macon Hussars, then Company F of the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment as a private July 26, 1906. Roberts served in every enlisted rank, culminating in a stint as the first sergeant of Company F before accepting a commission as a second lieutenant March 1, 1915. He was working as a bookkeeper for Benson Clothing Company in Macon when the Georgia Guard was deployed to the Mexican Border in August 1916. Returning with his regiment in 1917, Roberts company was redesignated Company A, 151st Machine Gun Battalion and assigned to the 42nd Division which sailed to France in October 1917.

As a platoon leader, Roberts led his machine gun sections from the Baccarat Sector near the southern terminus of the Western Front through the fiery Champagne Marne Defensive. He was promoted to first lieutenant May 15, 1918.

On July 28, 1918, Roberts' Company was heavily engaged while supporting infantry assaults on German positions near Sergy France. The men of the 151st MGB were ordered to move forward with the Infantry Regiments of the 84th Brigade, 42nd Division. As the machine gunners were already overly burdened with heavy machine guns and ammunition, Roberts ordered the men to remove unnecessary gear -- including packs and canteens. In the assault, the men would only carry ammunition and gas masks.


Roberts recalled moving forward with four machine guns and establishing firing positions for his sections. Unable to proceed due to the presence of enemy machine guns positioned near the crest of the hill upon which he was advancing, Roberts requested infantry support which came in the form of a company from the 167th under command of Capt. Wyatt. Roberts recalls what happened next.

Read more: The Georgia National Guard's only POW of WWI


gbfd photo monument cropped 20164912113The Goldens Bridge American Legion monument memorializing hamlet residents who served in both WWI and WWII being moved to its new home at the Golden's Bridge Fire Department. A special dedication ceremony of the World Wars monument was held at the Golden's Bridge Fire Department third annual Community Day at the Firehouse on Saturday, Oct. 19.

New Home for Goldens Bridge, NY WWI Monument 

By Michael Woyton
via the Bedford-Katonah Patch newspaper (NY) web site

GOLDENS BRIDGE, NY — It has been a fixture in Goldens Bridge for decades. Now the American Legion monument that memorializes hamlet residents who served in both World Wars has a new home at the Golden's Bridge Fire Department.

The monument, a 4-ton granite stone affixed with a pair of bronze plaques emblazoned with the names of 76 Goldens Bridge residents, who served in the military and defended the nation during World Wars I and II, had been displayed outside the front entrance of the Community House on Old Bedford Road.

With the Community House now under private ownership because the Town of Lewisboro sold the building, Golden's Bridge Fire District and Department officials petitioned the town board for permission to relocate the monument to the grounds of the firehouse.

Town Supervisor Peter Parsons agreed with Fire Commissioner Joe Simoncini and Second Assistant Fire Chief Al Melillo, as well as John B. Winter Jr. Post No. 1734 American Legion representative Charles Green, when they appeared before a town board meeting over the summer to make the case for the monument's relocation to the Golden's Bridge Firehouse.

The monument is now prominently located in front of the firehouse on Route 138, just to the left of the main entrance across from the fire bell and, appropriately, beneath the American flag that flies over the building.

Read more: New Home for Goldens Bridge, NY WWI Monument

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