Durango Museum marks 100th anniversary of World War I
By Mary Shinn
via the Durango Herald web site
David and Sheila Allen of Crossett, Ark., look over the World War I exhibit at the Animas Museum. The display went up in June and is expected to stay up until next summer. (Photo by Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)The Animas Museum is marking the service of hundreds of people from La Plata County who served in World War I this year with activities and a new exhibit in honor of the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering the war.
The conflict lasted from 1914 to 1918, but the U.S. didn’t enter the war until April 1917.
Museum volunteers dug into articles and letters published in The Durango Democrat to create an exhibit focusing on local men drafted into the war and efforts to support the troops in La Plata County.
“Patriotism was just at a fever pitch,” said Carolyn Bowra, a museum volunteer who did research for the exhibit.
A parade was held for contingents of drafted men leaving for the war, including an African American man who had to leave alone to serve in his segregated regiment, she said.
Red Cross chapters organized efforts to roll bandages, knit socks, sweaters and other clothing.
“We basically sent an army with homemade equipment,” Bowra said.
Anti-German sentiment accompanied the patriotism and a German language book-burning was held in June 1918.
The exhibit will be on display for about year, and since opening in June, it’s been well received, she said.
“People are loving it. ... They kind of knew they didn’t know too much about WWI, and then when they see it, they realize how much they didn’t know,” she said.
Read more: Durango Museum marks 100th anniversary of World War I
How NRA Trained America’s Snipers To Fight “Over There”
By Maj. John L. Plaster, U.S. Army, (Ret.)
via the americanrifleman.org web site
A “hun’s head” target was used at the Small Arms Firing School. A specially constructed “trench” range at Camp Perry also presented moving paper mache heads. At the Small Arms Firing School held at Camp Perry, Ohio, students were issued Model of 1903 Springfield rifles with Winchester A5 scopes.A century ago, amid America’s entry into the Great War, a who’s who of NRA rifle champions gathered at Camp Perry, Ohio, to conduct the most advanced marksmanship training America had ever seen. Congress had just declared war against Imperial Germany, but the United States found itself totally unprepared; 2 million soldiers were urgently needed, but hardly one-tenth that many were in uniform. And not a single school-trained sniper existed.
Overnight, the Army broke ground on 32 training camps, each to house a division of 28,000 men. After three months’ training, they’d ship out and another 32 divisions would begin training. Meanwhile at Camp Perry, a national-level advanced shooting program was organized—the Small Arms Firing School—where specially selected soldiers would learn advanced marksmanship, culminating in long-range shooting and sniper training. Upon graduation, they’d rejoin their units, instruct their skills to others, and then accompany them to France as intelligence and sniping leaders.
An Impressive Instructor Staff
To call these NRA instructors the best-of-the-best is no exaggeration. Heading Camp Perry’s 50-plus trainers was Lt. Col. Morton C. Mumma, an activated National Guard officer who’d captained the U.S. Palma Team in 1913 and held Distinguished Rifle and Pistol badges.
Directing training was NRA Second Vice President Smith W. Brookhart. An activated National Guard major, Brookhart had led the winning U.S. Rifle Team at the 1912 world championship Palma Match and authored the 1918 handbook, Rifle Training for War. Major Brookhart was also a future NRA president and U.S. senator.
Read more: How NRA Trained America’s Snipers To Fight “Over There”
August 23, 1917: Camp Logan race riot in Houston
By Erik Sass
via the Mental Floss web site
Around 100 members of the Third Battalion were tried collectively for murder in several courts martial – making it one of the biggest murder cases in American history, measured by number of defendants.The upheaval of the First World War was associated with a rise in racial tensions across the U.S., resulting from unprecedented population movements and changing social dynamics. Beginning in 1915, the surge in factory employment for wartime production saw hundreds of thousands (eventually millions) of poor African-American migrants leave the South to find work in Northern and Midwestern industrial cities – where they mixed uneasily with native whites and large European immigrant populations.
Down South, the new economic opportunities available to African-Americans in the North caused some white Southerners to fear the loss of cheap agricultural labor as well as blacks becoming more assertive about their civil rights, leading to the establishment of the second Ku Klux Klan in 1915. The huge popularity of the movie “Birth of a Nation” was also testament to enduring racial hostility across the U.S. – not just in the South.
As 350,000 African-American men volunteered or were drafted in 1917-1918, one of the most volatile combinations occurred when black soldiers - many from outside the South - were sent to Southern training camps, where they were exposed to the humiliating Jim Crow regime in addition to serving in segregated units (an Army-wide policy). On August 23, 1917, this resulted in one of the worst race riots in American history, at a training camp in Houston, Texas.
The Houston race riot and mutiny was the climax of months of mounting tension between the African-American recruits of the all-black Twenty-fourth U.S. Infantry Regiment –part of the legendary “Buffalo Soldiers,” originally formed to fight Native American tribesmen– and the local white authorities in Houston, Texas. The regiment had been deployed to guard the construction of Camp Logan, Texas (duties typical of the rear-area and supply roles commonly assigned to these segregated black units).
Read more: August 23, 1917: Camp Logan race riot in Houston
Why Did America Enter World War I?
By Christopher Kelly
via the War History Online web site
"Wake Up, America!" parade during WWI.One hundred years ago, Woodrow Wilson ended America’s longstanding policy of isolation and led us into World War I on the Allied side. Over two and a half million Americans were shipped “over there” to Europe and served in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). By war’s end, more than 100,000 Americans would join the ranks of what British Prime Minister Lloyd George termed, without a trace of irony, “the glorious dead.”
My own great-great-uncle John Wells (1895–1951) was a member of the AEF. Wells served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 27th Infantry, or New York Division. He trained with the unit at Camp Wadsworth in South Carolina before deploying to Europe in May of 1918. In the fall of 1918, this unit saw fierce action in the Somme push and along the Meuse River. The New York Division helped to break the back of the German Army along the Hindenburg Line, leading to Germany’s surrender in November 1918.
Why did Wilson make his fateful decision to enter the “War to end all wars”? Two of the principle reasons behind Wilson’s decision were the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram.
Read more: Why Did America Enter World War I
A new exhibition honors AFS volunteer efforts during WWI
By Milena Miladinovic
via the afs.org web site
A convoy of chassis, which would serve as the base for new ambulances in France in 1915.New York and New Yorkers in World War I is a new exhibition at the New York State Capitol that honors men and women from New York who served in World War I, including ambulance drivers who saved lives along the front lines of battle.
The current iteration of the exhibit shares the story of four of the 437 New Yorkers who volunteered with the American Ambulance Hospital and the American Field Service, a humanitarian organization that has evolved into the present-day intercultural education organization, AFS Intercultural Programs.
Between 1914 and 1917, AFS volunteers evacuated 500,000 casualties near the front lines in France, Belgium, and the Balkans, and drove trucks to the front with needed supplies.
After entering the war, the United States military absorbed the AFS ambulance and camion units into their ranks by the end of 1917.
Read more: A new exhibition honors AFS volunteer efforts during WWI
Guns of the “Devil Dogs”: U.S. Marine Corps Small Arms of WWI
By Kenneth L. Smith-Christmas and Mark R. Henry
via the americanrifleman.org web site
As the figures in field-gray uniforms emerged from the woods, formed up in ranks in the field of ripening wheat and began their assault across the field, raspy-throated sergeants, nearly a half-mile away, barked out sight adjustment details to the prone riflemen in forest-green and olive-drab uniforms spread out in front of them on the small ridge. The Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, lying in the grass at Les Mares farm, carefully adjusted the sliding apertures on their rear sights and dialed in the windage estimations on their Model of 1903 Springfield rifles, while laying out five-round stripper clips of .30-’06 Sprg. ammunition beside them for easy access.
Marines carried their newly issued M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles during their assault across the Meuse River on the last night of the war, Nov. 10-11, 1918. The eagle, globe and anchor insignia that some Marines wore on their helmets denotes them as “Devil Dogs”— a translation of “Teufelhunden” (or, more correctly, “Teufelshunde”), the sobriquet bestowed on them by their German adversaries, according to Marine Corps lore.When the long line of Germans came to a point hundreds of yards away, the Marines opened up on them and kept on firing, until the repeated German assaults were broken, and the enemy retreated. The attacking Germans never made it to within 200 yds. of the Marines’ position, and this was the closest point that the German army ever came to Paris during World War I.
As Col. John W. Thomason, one of the most famous chroniclers of the Marine Corps, described the action: “Already, around Hautevesnes, there had been a brush with advancing Germans, and the Germans were given a new experience: rifle-fire that begins to kill at 800 yards; they found it very interesting.”
The next day, June 6, 1918, long lines of Marines charged into the fire from spitting muzzles of German Maxim machine guns, as the Battle of Belleau Wood began. More Marines lost their lives on that day than had died in combat during the preceding 120 years of the Marine Corps’ existence. The battle raged for weeks, and many more Marines died, until Belleau Wood was finally declared secure—but this was only the first of a series of five major battles that Marines fought on the Western Front in France during the following six months. The Marines fought these battles mostly with the same small arms and crew-served arms that were also being employed by the U.S. Army, but with a few exceptions.
Foremost in the Marine Corps’ arsenal was the .30-’06-chambered Model of 1903 Springfield rifle. Although Marines would not again have the opportunity to engage the enemy at such ranges as they had at Les Mares farm, they used their Springfield rifles to great effect until the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. Marines had begun trading in their .30 Army (.30-40) Krag-Jorgensens for this new rifle as early as 1908, which coincided with the year that saw the Corps’ interest increase in competitive marksmanship. Within a short period of time, Marines were winning interservice matches with the rifle, and they began to form almost a cult reverence for the ’03 Springfield, as it began to be called.
Read more: Guns of the “Devil Dogs”: U.S. Marine Corps Small Arms Of World War I
Four Questions for Jo-Ann Power
"The women who joined the Corps during WWI were heroines we must continually honor"
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
The WW1CC website is full of interesting pages, and incredible resources. As part of our series on what you can find there, we caught up with Jo-Ann Power, who created and curates a special page devoted entirely to the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in World War I. Jo-Ann is author of more than 60 novels, dozens of newspaper and magazine articles plus non-fiction, and she has won awards and acclaim during her decades’ old writing career. During the 1980s, she became interested in the thousands of women who volunteered to join the Army Nurse Corps. Few Americans had ever heard of them, but Jo-Ann found many primary resources at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. Believing these brave women deserved wider recognition, Jo-Ann spent weeks examining boxes crammed with unannotated photographs, tattered letters and old microfilms of newspaper articles. She turned that research into a novel, HEROIC MEASURES, which was published in 2013 (info here http://amzn.to/2i9r9ms). She also turned her vast knowledge into the amazing web page we have today. Today's Army Nurse Corps was created during the war, and their history is truly remarkable. Jo-Ann brings this story to life through a number of unique and innovative storytelling features.
Tell us about the US Army Nurse Corps web page on the WW1CC website. Where is it found? What will people see when they go there? Who manages it?
The Army Nurse Corps section of the WW1CC website is devoted to honoring those 22,000+ American women who volunteered to aid wounded, ill and dying soldiers during the Great War.
Jo Ann PowerI am the curator for this section, a result of my decades of interest in the Corps and the fact that I volunteered early in 2013 to tell the story of these heroic women. Although I am not a nurse, I became interested in these brave women when I read about them in a brief article in early 1980s. I'd never heard of them, and I have found over the decades, that few other Americans have either! I am a novelist by profession, publishing more than 50 novels since 1991. Knowing that more people learn history by reading novels than reading history books, I thought the story of these nurses would make a marvelously heroic tale. (Please see: http://www.joannpower.com)
In the 1980s, I lived and worked in Washington D.C. and had worked with the staff of the National Archives and the Library of Congress to write my master's thesis. Taking the subway down to the Archives or the LOC, I asked the archivists to give me their records of WWI nurses and medical care.
What was delivered to me still makes me gasp: I was given cardboard boxes in which the archivists had literally dumped, willy nilly, letters, photos, newspaper clippings and odd bits such as postcards or hospital notes. I pieced these items together to get a "picture" of these women's existences. I also went to Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania where I received from those archivists the same uncategorized records.
Working in the past few years with historians at Fort Sam Houston Army Medical Museum in San Antonio and traveling to Cantigny Illinois to the First Division Museum there, I know that now the records of this period are not only well-preserved, but also more have been added.
Read more: Four Questions for Jo-Ann Power
100 years of the Rainbow Division marked in August 12 ceremony on Long Island
By Eric Durr
New York National Guard
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. --Veterans and current leaders of the 42nd Infantry Division and the New York Army National Guard marked the 100th anniversary of the “Rainbow Division” with a Saturday, August 12, 2017 ceremony here, where the division first organized in 1917.
Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division color guard stand at attention during a ceremony marking the Rainbow Division's centennial on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Garden City, N.Y. The color guard members where World War 1 uniforms to mark the divison's creation from National Guard units from 26 states during World War 1. New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs photo by New York Guard Capt. Mark Getman. In an effort to organize and deploy combat units quickly as the United States entered World War 1, the division was formed from assembling the most ready National Guard units of 26 states and the District of Columbia.
Because it would take in units from many states, then-Major Douglas MacArthur, the officer who came up with the idea, said it would stretch across the country “like a rainbow.”
Before it even acquired the number 42, the division became known as the “Rainbow Division.”
Units began arriving at Camp Mills, where Garden City is today, in mid-August and created a tent city in the open meadows of Long Island and all 24,000 men assembled by mid-September for training. The division completed preparations and left for service in France in November, not returning to Camp Mills until 1919.
Just under 3,000 never came home and 13,292 were wounded. With active service in both world wars, the division has been a part of the New York Army National Guard since 1947.
National Guard units in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New Jersey are aligned with the division today, which is headquartered in Troy, N.Y.
“It’s a great day to see our comrades and honor our World War I founders,” said retired Major General Joseph Taluto, who commanded the division in Iraq in 2005, and now serves as director of the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation. The foundation organized the event.
Read more: 100 years of the Rainbow Division marked in August 12 ceremony on Long Island
First Division Museum Grand Reopening set for August 26
By Gaylin Piper
Media Director, First Division Museum
Detail from First Division Museum WWI mural by Paul BarkerWHEATON, Ill., — The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton will reopen to the public on Saturday, August 26, at 11 am. The museum began a transformational update last fall including the addition of “Duty First,” an all-new gallery focusing on the modern (post-Vietnam) history of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, visitors will enter the museum for the first time since Veterans Day 2016. The experience awaiting them features new and updated exhibits plus cutting-edge storytelling techniques.
he “Duty First” gallery occupies the 2,500-square-foot space formerly used for temporary exhibits and programs. Inside it, visitors will learn about the different types of missions performed by the 1st Infantry Division today with the information, in many cases, delivered by the voices of military veterans. Interactive exhibits apply virtual reality technology that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
The First Division Museum’s other major gallery is “First in War.” This space, thoroughly updated with new media and more artifacts, will be familiar to previous visitors. Powerful immersive experiences remain intact, such as walking through a WWI trench, onto Omaha Beach and through the jungles of Vietnam.
As before, the compelling record of the Division is presented in the context of broader history, inviting museum visitors to engage in the tough issues of war and peace.
The museum’s grand reopening coincides with the 100th anniversary of the famed military unit known as the “Big Red One.” It became the first division of the U.S. Army in June 1917, assembling to fight in France in World War I. Colonel Robert R. McCormick served in the Division during the Great War, participating in the successful Battle of Cantigny in 1918. Returning after the war, Colonel McCormick re-named his farm Cantigny in honor of those who served in the battle, and on his death in 1955 left Cantigny Park in trust for the enjoyment of the people of Illinois.
“There is no better way to commemorate the centennial of the First Division,” said David Hiller, president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “We know how Colonel McCormick revered the Big Red One, and all the men and women who served in the armed forces. He’d be pleased that this wonderful museum honors veterans and all those who serve.”
Read more: First Division Museum Grand Reopening set for August 26
WWI tank installed at under-construction Museum of the U.S. Army
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
Tank "Five of Hearts" lifted into place at U.S. Army MuseumOn Tuesday August 15th the team at the U.S. Army Center for Military History placed a Renault FT-17 Tank at the construction site of the upcoming National Museum of the United States Army.
The tank followed a remarkable journey, and is a true artifact of World War I. Nicknamed the "Five of Hearts", this tank was given to the U.S. Tank Corps by France during WWI, and is the only known surviving Renault tank used in combat by the U.S. thought to be in existence.
This particular tank participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, and was used to make a critical break in German lines near Exermont, France. When it was taken out of action during the battle, it had over 100 holes in its armor. The fate of the tank's crew is unknown.
The tank would later be shipped back to America as a memorial to those soldiers who served in tanks during World War I.
A video about the "Five of Hearts" story in World War I can be found here
This installation was the last of four macro-artifacts to be pre-positioned in the construction site of the National Museum of the United States Army. The macro-artifacts needed to be installed prior to the steel-work beginning.
The other marco-artifacts include a Bradley Fighting Vehicle used in Operation Desert Storm, as well as a Higgins boat LCVP and a Sherman tank used in World War II.
Read more: World War I tank installed in the under-construction Museum of the U.S. Army
Plans to honor WWI Native veterans in North Dakota
via the Minot Daily News web site
BISMARCK, ND — Even before most Native Americans had citizenship rights, thousands of men from tribes across the country showed their patriotism by volunteering for the military and fighting in World War I.
Private 1st Class John Elk of Standing Rock Reservation in 1919 served in Company D, 139th Infantry Regiment (35th Division), with several other Native servicemen from tribes in North Dakota. Elk has been posthumously recognized as a code-talker in World War I. His commanding officer said he was an “exceptionally good scout, was very cool and calm but very quiet.” From “Warriors in Khaki,” by Michael and Ann Knudson. Photo from British National Archives.Now, as the nation solemnly marks the World War I Centennial, United Tribes Technical College at Bismarck is planning to honor Native American servicemen from North Dakota tribes who served and sacrificed. The honoring will be held on Sept. 10 during the 2017 UTTC International Powwow at the college in Bismarck.
“One hundred years ago men from our tribes willingly chose to enter the military,” said Leander R. McDonald, UTTC president, one of the planners of a World War I memorial on the college campus. “They didn’t have to do that. It was prior to the time when all Native people were granted U. S. citizenship. But they stepped-up. And we owe it to them to remember.”
N.D. Indian recruits
Native veterans are highly respected and revered throughout Indian Country. An estimated 10,000 American Indians served in the Army in World War I and two,000 in the Navy. Historians characterize their patriotism as remarkable despite having no reason to serve as most were not yet citizens.
In North Dakota, many were recruited in 1917 by Alfred B. Welch of Mandan, an officer in the North Dakota National Guard. Welch befriended Chief John Grass of Standing Rock and was adopted by him into the tribe. He commanded a company of the Guard in France during the war and looked after the wellbeing of Native servicemen.
“I had, in every instance under my observation, found them to be soldiers of great courage, initiative and intelligence,” wrote Welch about the loyalty and behavior of North Dakota Indians who made it good in the great war. “[they were] always volunteers for the most dangerous missions; brave to the point of recklessness; and had proven themselves to be soldiers of the highest type.”
In World War I Native servicemen performed duties in all military capacities. But one assignment offered a singular purpose not available to others. Those who became messengers and telephone operators transmitted information in Native languages and dialects. Along with men from a handful of other tribes, servicemen speaking Lakota were among the first Native “Code Talkers” in the military.
Only in recent years have Lakota Code Talkers been posthumously recognized for what they did in World War I, often to the surprise of descendants who knew little of the nature of their service. That’s because they remained faithful to their oath of silence, preserving the effectiveness of that field tactic for use later during World War II.
Read more: Plans to honor WWI Native veterans in North Dakota
Evansville Soldier To Finally Receive Recognition On Monument
By Steve Burger
via the Indiana Public Media News web site
Sgt. Chester Schulz (Credit: ‘Sons of Men’ – 1920, Abe P. Madison)EVANSVILLE, IN. — An Evansville soldier will finally be recognized for his sacrifice nearly a century ago.
On a monument in northern France to the First Infantry Division soldiers killed in that unit’s final battle of World War One, there are eighty names.
Soon, there will be eighty one.
In the chaos that filled the final days of World War One, Evansville native Chester Schulz’ name was not recorded among those killed in fighting near the Belgian border. His family would not learn of his fate for four months.
Posey County resident Nancy Hasting discovered the omission in 2014 when she visited the First Infantry Division monument at Wadelincourt, near the town of Sedan in northern France. Hasting is the great niece of Chester Schulz.
She began communicating with the First Division Memorial Association, which is part of the Society of the First Infantry Division. That group maintains all the monuments in the U.S. and around the world that are dedicated to First Army Division soldiers killed in action since the unit was formed during World War One.
Hasting says, “I think all of my family would be proud to know that I’m pursuing getting him the recognition he deserved.”
Hasting learned this week that the First Division Memorial Association has accepted her claim that Chester Schulz’ name should be included on the First Division monument at Wadelincourt. They are arranging to have it added in advance of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One in 2018.
Read more: Evansville soldier to finally receive recognition on Monument
Landmark exhibition “World War I and American Art” makes final stop at Frist Center in Nashville
NASHVILLE, TN — World War I and American Art, the first major exhibition to examine how American artists reacted to the First World War, opens at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts on October 6, 2017. Works by more than seventy artists, including George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin, and John Singer Sargent, represent a pivotal chapter in the history of American art that has until now been overlooked and underestimated.
John Singer Sargent’s monumental tableau "Gassed" (from the Imperial War Museums, London) is one of many high-profile loans from both private and public collections that are part of the "World War I and American Art" exhibition.Timed to coincide with the centennial of the entry of the U.S. into the war, this ambitious exhibition organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Philadelphia, revisits a critical period in history through a wide variety of artistic responses, ranging from patriotic to dissenting. Garnering acclaim from outlets such as Forbes, The New York Times, and PBS NewsHour, the exhibition and its central themes of how artists respond to geopolitical turmoil is strikingly relevant today. American artists were vital to the culture of the war and the shaping of public opinion in several ways. Some developed propaganda posters promoting U.S. involvement, while others made daring anti-war drawings, paintings, and prints. Some worked as official war artists embedded with troops and others designed camouflage or took surveillance photographs.
The exhibition features many high-profile loans from both private and public collections, including most importantly Sargent’s monumental tableau Gassed (Imperial War Museums, London), which has been seen in the U.S. only once before (in 1999). “Working as an official war artist for the British government, Sargent witnessed the aftermath of a German mustard gas attack on British soldiers. He represented the harrowing scene on an epic canvas measuring about 7½ x 20 feet,” says Frist Center curator Trinita Kennedy. “Our presentation of the painting and the exhibition as a whole will be enriched by a lecture on opening day entitled ‘Mr. Sargent Goes to War’ by Richard Ormond, the artist’s great-nephew and a renowned scholar based in London.”
Read more: Landmark exhibition “World War I and American Art” makes final stop at Frist Center in Nashville