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World War I Centennial News


 

America’s First Code-Breakers Helped Win the WW1 Intelligence War

By John F. Dooley
Military History Now, May 30, 2016

When America entered the First World War on April 6, 1917, the United States Army had virtually no experience with codes and code-breaking. France and Britain had been solving German codes and ciphers for the past three years and the U.S. military raced to get its own operations up and running.They would be based partly in Washington, and partly in France.The US Army in Britain 1917 1918 Q30005 1The U.S. military was entirely unprepared for the information war that awaited it on the Western Front. It would have to race to catch up. (Image source: Imperial War Museum via WikiCommons.)

For the next year, the United States would play catch-up in everything from codes and ciphers to traffic analysis and radio direction finding. By the spring of 1918, America was contributing its own expertise to the wireless war. Despite a few setbacks, America’s code and code-breaking efforts enjoyed some remarkable successes. Yet, the United States’ intelligence war against Imperial Germany has been all but forgotten.

An Inauspicious Start

Since as far back as 1914, armies on the Western Front relied on what were known as ‘trench codes’ to pass orders to regiments on the line. The first American trench code, a small book consisting of some 1,600 words and phrases, was developed in early 1918. At its heart was a one-part code that used a monoalphabetic substitution cipher as its superencipherment step to make messages more secure. It was intended for distribution down to the company level. But it was never used. Why? It turns out it wasn’t very secure. In early May 1918, as the code was being prepared for distribution to units on the line, the American Expeditionary Forces’ (AEF) assistant chief signal officer, Major Parker Hitt, set out to test the security of the new system.

Read more: America’s First Code-Breakers – How the U.S. Military Helped Win the WW1 Intelligence War

Battlefield 1 setting was originally rejected in fear of younger players not knowing World War 1

By Francesco De Meo
WCCFtech.com, June 2, 2016

With most first person shooter games coming with a modern or futuristic setting, the revealed of the Battlefield 1 setting was indeed welcome. Things, however, could have been different, as publisher EA revealed that they originally rejected the Battlefield 1 World War 1 setting.

Patrick SöderlundPatrick SöderlundA few hours ago, EA CEO Patrick Soderlund revealed during the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2016 Global Technology Conference that the debate surrounding Battlefield 1 World War 1 setting was also due to the fear of younger fans not knowing about World War 1. Their fear, however, has proven to be unfounded, judging by how much fans of the series loved last month’s reveal.

“World War 1, we were worried that many of the younger consumers out there didn’t know that there was a World War 2 or Vietnam, so World War 1...”

Soderlund also elaborated further on how they changed their minds after learning that World War 1 was more than just trench warfare, with the technology shift which happened during the war providing a lot of interesting opportunities.

“I think what people don’t understand about World War 1 is the technology shift that went on during the war. People started the war on horseback and ended the war with airplanes and tanks and battleships and submarines. And that’s a huge opportunity for us to be able to do a video game around.”

Read more: Battlefield 1 Setting Was Originally Rejected In Fear Of Younger Players Not Knowing World War 1

U.S. female casualties of World War I

By Elizabeth M. Foxwell
American Women in World War I, May 30, 2016

A common cause of death for the U.S. women who passed away during their World War I service was influenza or its complications (such as pneumonia or meningitis). There were some, however, who were killed:winona martinWinona Caroline Martin

  • Edith Ayers and Helen Burnett Wood, army nurses from the Chicago area. Killed on 20 May 1917 en route to France by a projectile when their ship, the USS Mongolia, was conducting target practice. Resulted in a Congressional inquiry.

  • Winona Caroline Martin (b. 1882), YMCA canteen worker. A Long Island librarian who had worked industriously to be sent abroad with the YMCA, Martin was being treated for scarlet fever at Paris’ Claude Bernard Hospital. In an 11 March 1918 German air raid on the hospital, Martin was killed. She is considered the first American woman to die in the war due to enemy action.

Read more: U.S. female casualties of World War I

Animated Guide to the The Biggest Naval Battle of World War I

By Eric Limer
Popular Mechanics

On May 31st—exactly 100 years ago—the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet met for battle in the North Sea off the coast of Denmark. Over the course of a day and a night, 250 ships (151 of them British, the other 99 German) exchanged fire and performed a complex set of maneuvers in the Battle of Jutland, World War I's first and only major naval altercation. Jutland videoBy the time it was over, more than 7,000 were dead and over 20 ships went down. This is how it played out.

This fantastic and fantastically in-depth video narrated by Nick Jellicoe—whose grandfather was a British Admiral that fought in the battle—details every twist and turn in the clash between the navies, which contained its fair share of twists, turns, and impressive maneuvering given the limitations of the time, which included commands issued with flags and signal lamps.

Ultimately neither force was able to completely defeat its opponent, and the battle was celebrated as a victory by Germany—which did inflicted more damage to the British fleet than it absorbed, despite a smaller size—even though the conflict ultimately left the British in control of the area.

Read more: An Animated Guide to the Battle of Jutland

Speaker shares impact of African Americans on WWI

By Tyler Schuster
Hastings Tribune, June 4, 2016

HASTING, NE — Democracy, segregation and the African American unsung heroes of World War I were just a few of the topics discussed Thursday afternoon during a Hastings Chautauqua presentation titled “Men of Bronze: Black Units in WWI.”Charles Everett PaceCharles Everett Pace

Charles Everett Pace, a Chautauqua speaker across the country for nearly 25 years, spoke at the Masonic Temple in Hastings of the importance of acknowledging and understanding the impact of African Americans during WWI. The theme for this week's Chautauqua is "World War I: Legacies of a Forgotten War."

“I think it’s very important. That’s what democracy is all about. If you think you have 10 percent of people in the country who didn’t participate in a defining incident of a country, like the Civil War, the question is where do they fit in the society,” Pace said. “If you don’t know that, you’re missing part of the tapestry (of America).”

Read more: Speaker shares impact of African Americans on WWI

Op-Ed: This Memorial Day, let's build a WWI Memorial

Weishaar mugJoe WeishaarBy Joe Weishaar
Lead Designer, National World War One Memorial in Pershing Park, Washington D.C.

As many Americans around the country take a moment to relax with friends and family this Memorial Day, I hope they take a moment to pause over their grills and swimming pools to ponder what the holiday really represents.

It's been my absolute pleasure the last 10 months to be involved in what I often consider an overwhelming project; designing the National World War One Memorial in Washington, D.C. I must admit that before I began I hadn't given much thought to WWI.

For anyone who didn't know that there isn't already a National WWI Memorial in D.C., I can't say I blame you. It was a war that happened nearly two generations before I was born and events like WWII and the Great Depression greatly overshadowed learning about it while I was in school. Yet here we are, and next year is the 100th anniversary of American troops heading over to Europe. Our capital is lacking a memorial to what is commonly referred to as “The Great War” and “the war to end all wars.” It was a war that changed the face of our industry, our technology and our place in the world.

As a 26 year old, I don't yet fully know what I can do to make change and progress in this country, but I do know that 100 years ago young Americans just like me were about to head off to fight in WWI, and they fought for the ideals that would go on to define the American century.

Read more: This Memorial Day, let's build a WWI Memorial

A Veteran's race against time to return WWI Purple Hearts

Purple Heart certificatesIn this May 27, 2016 photo, Zachariah Fike, founder of the organization Purple Hearts Reunited, holds in St. Albans, Vt., a certificate issued to a World War I service member wounded in battle. Fike's Vermont-based non-profit group Purple Hearts Reunited is working to return 100 medals and certificates by next April, the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I. Over the years the organization has returned hundreds of lost Purple Hearts and other medals to the people who won them or their descendants. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)By Wilson Ring
Associated Press

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) -- A group that seeks to reunite lost Purple Hearts with service members or their descendants is embarking on an ambitious project: to return 100 such medals or certificates earned in World War I before the 100th anniversary next April of the United States' entry into the conflict.

Zachariah Fike, of the Vermont-based Purple Hearts Reunited, began the project after noticing he had in his collection of memorabilia a total of exactly 100 Purple Hearts or equivalent lithographs awarded for injuries or deaths from the Great War.

"You're honoring fallen heroes," said Fike, a Vermont National Guard captain wounded in Afghanistan in 2010. "These are our forefathers; these are the guys that have shed their blood or sacrificed their lives for us. Any opportunity to bring light to that is always a good thing."

The lithographs, known as a Lady Columbia Wound Certificate and showing a toga-wearing woman knighting an infantry soldier on bended knee, were what World War I military members wounded or killed while serving were awarded before the Purple Heart came into being in 1932. World War I service members who already had a lithograph became eligible for a Purple Heart at that time.

The Purple Hearts and the certificates include the name of the service member to whom they were awarded. Fike is working with researchers to try to find the descendants of the service members.

Read more: A Veteran's race against time to return WWI Purple Hearts

Fort Hayes' white poppies honor Franklin County's WWI dead, but relatives not yet found

Columbus poppies Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center students who created an art installation of 1,300 red ceramic poppies.By Mark Ferenchik
The Columbus Dispatch

Finding white poppies on the campus of the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center isn’t difficult.

Finding the families of the World War I troops whom the 260-plus poppies represent, however, has proved to be quite a challenge.

Students and teachers at Fort Hayes have had no luck finding relatives of the troops, all of whom were from Franklin County and died during the "Great War" a century ago.

The students and teachers want to present the poppies they made to honor the sacrifices of those who died during what was supposed to be the war to end all wars — a bloody, brutal struggle of trench warfare, disease and misery that engulfed Europe and killed nearly 8.5 million troops on both sides, including 116,000 Americans.

Despite attempts at searching records and other avenues, “we have not been able to locate the families,” said Megan Evans, a visual-arts teacher at Fort Hayes.

Army soldiers trained at Fort Hayes during World War I; the site was home to soldiers from the Civil War through the Vietnam War.

The genesis of the poppy project came two years ago, during the 150th anniversary of Fort Hayes and the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

Read more: Fort Hayes' white poppies honor Franklin County's WWI dead, but relatives not yet found

World War I centennial inspires a national memorial

By Patti L. Cowger
from the Napa Valley Register

 Next April will mark the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I. It is known as the Great War for both the enormous scale of its conflict and for the moral belief that it would be the war to end all wars.

But this war does not seem as documented in our memories as the wars that followed. Unlike the Vietnam era, we did not see nightly television reports around our dinner tables. The aftermath of World War 1 hardly had time to root itself in the country’s consciousness when, soon after, the Great Depression and World War II superseded it.

Although communities have erected memorials to recognize these wars, national memorials have taken a while to follow. The Vietnam Memorial was the first to be built in our capital followed by the Korean War and World War II memorials. While there is a local monument in Washington, D.C., to commemorate World War I, there is no national one. But that is about to change.

Read the whole article in the Nappy Valley Register

Green legacy of WWI carnage: the riches of Verdun forest

Verdun (France) (AFP) - American blue eyed grass 600Sisyrinchium montanum, best known simply as American blue-eyed grass, is part of a rich legacy left by the carnage of World War I in France's Forest of Verdun (AFP Photo/Jean-Christophe Verhaegen)The little blue flowers that have grown for a century now in France near the graves of the war dead at Douaumont can easily be mistaken for local forget-me-nots.

In fact they are a foreign import, an American flower brought as seeds on the hooves of the US army horses used at Verdun during World War I.

"They call it the blue-eyed grass from Montana," says Patrice Hirbec of the National Forests Office (ONF).

Sisyrinchium montanum, best known simply as American blue-eyed grass, is part of a rich legacy left by the carnage of World War I in France's Forest of Verdun: a unique mix of flora and fauna.

The Battle of Verdun was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war.

Launched in February 1916, it lasted 300 days, killing in this region alone more than 300,000 soldiers and making Verdun synonymous with the wanton slaughter that characterised that war.

Jean-Paul Amat, geography professor at the Sorbonne University in Paris, says the fighting caused so much upheaval that the soil went through the equivalent of 10,000 years of natural erosion.

Read more: Green legacy of WWI carnage: the riches of Verdun Forest

Exhibition remembers Jewish soldiers fighting for Austria in WWI

slovenia exhibit“Forgive Us, Forgive Us, Oh You, the Dead” an exhibition remembering Jewish Soldiers fallen on the Isonzo Front during the World War 1, will be open to the public through June 17 at the Embassy of Slovenia 1in Washington, DC.

The exhibition is dedicated to Jewish soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian army who fell on the Isonzo Front (Soska fronta) of WW1 in the territory of present-day Slovenia. The exhibition is based on historical research of the documents, photos and existing literature and also interviews with people who knew about Jews who fought on the side of the Austrian army in WW1.

The Slovenian Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Alojz Steiner, said the exhibition "helps understand the present and contributes to developing respect for differences". According to the exhibition, estimates put the number of Jewish soldiers who lost their lives during WWI at around 40,000. A total of around 300,000 Jewish soldiers participated in the war.

It is not clear how many fell on the Isonzo (Soca) Front, a major battle line during WWI along which hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both sides, the Austro-Hungarian and Italian, were killed.

Read more: Exhibition remembers Jewish soldiers fighting for Austria in WWI

U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission participates in Navy League's Sea/Air/Space Exposition

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission

WASHINGTON, DC -- DC's National Harbor Convention Center played host in May to a huge gathering of naval, military, veteran, contractor, and support people, at the annual Sea/Air/Space Exposition.

SAS Boyle 500Jim Boyle (left) and "General Pershing" manning the World War 1 Centennial Commission booth at SAS 2016.The Navy-centric conference is hosted by the Navy League of the United States, and includes speeches, breakout sessions, and of course, the huge exhibit floor -- where every new naval warfare tech gadget is on display, side-by-side with examples of new military food products, 21st century uniform upgrades, and 3-D simulator demonstrations.

Nestled in with them all this year was the U.S World War I Centennial Commission exhibit booth, which told exposition attendees the story of what our Congressional Commission is doing in terms of education programs, public outreach partnerships, and the new World War I Memorial in Washington DC.

Manned by Centennial Commission volunteers and staff members, the booth was a hub for military history buffs, supporters, and people who were curious about America's involvement in the war, one hundred years ago. Visitors to the booth saw World War I artifacts on display, and picked up brochures and other literature.

This is the first year that the Centennial Commission participated in Sea/Air/Space, however the booth crew has long experience working similar national events, such as the annual conferences hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army, the Air Force Association, the American Legion, and Rolling Thunder.

 

 

 

 

Read more: Commission participates in Sea/Air/Space Exposition

Four additions announced to Board of Special Advisors for WWI Commission  

 Leon PanettaLeon PanettaVint CerfVint CerfRay KellyRay KellyHelen Patton Legion of Honor 200Helen Patton

 

 


 

 

WASHINGTON, DC -- In a media event at the National Press Club this week, four new members of the U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission's Board of Special Advisors were announced. They include:

  • Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously served as Secretary of Defense, White House Chief of Staff, Director the the CIA, Director of the Office of Management & Budget, and U.S. Representative from the State of California.
  • Dr. Vint Cerf, technology pioneer, and one of the four recognized inventors of the Internet.
  • Commissioner Ray Kelly, longest-serving Police Commissioner for the New York City Police Department.
  • Helen Patton, the granddaughter of U.S. Army General George S. Patton.

The Board of Special Advisors consists of distinguished leaders who are dedicated to helping the Commission perform its missions. Special Advisors provide expert advice to the Commission, and serve without compensation.

braun carol 200Carol Mosley BraunOther national-level leaders who currently serve on the Board of Special Advisors include former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Gordon Sullivan, General Barry McCaffrey, actor/producer Gary Sinise, and a host of senior members of the business community, the entertainment industry, and the arts.

Also speaking at the event was Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, a member of the Commission's Diplomatic Advisory Board. The Diplomatic Advisory Board provides expert advice to the Commission to enhance outreach as the Commission brings together new sponsors and partners for commemorative activities. The Board Members provide counsel, strategy and contacts in the countries where they served. The Board Members serve without compensation. Twelve other former U.S. Ambassadors serve on the Board along with Braun.

Read more: Additions to Commission Board of Special Advisors announced in DC

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