Survivors of the USS President Lincoln in lifeboats before being picked up the two destroyers USS Warrington and USS Smith on June 2, 1918. Fifteen year-old Samuel Hart was among the crew members of the President Lincoln who survived the ill-fated voyage.
Eyewitness: the Sinking of the U.S.S. President Lincoln
By Samuel Hart
Edited by Orton Begner
Editor's Introduction: Despite being one of the most effective weapons of World War I, the German submarine did surprisingly little damage to all the troop transports carrying American soldiers to fight in France. One of the few exceptions was the troopship, U.S.S. President Lincoln, which was torpedoed and sunk on her sixth trip across the Atlantic on May 31, 1918 with the loss of 26 lives. The following reminiscence is from a member of her crew, Mr. Samuel Hart of Atlanta, Georgia, who has a vivid memory of this unusual event in World War I history.
Samuel Hart in his U.S. Navy uniform at age 14.I was born in Henderson, North Carolina on August 27, 1902. I was living in Washington, D.C. when the President and Congress declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. Although I was only 14 years old at the time I borrowed a pair of long pants from a friend of mine and proceeded to the Navy recruiting station and told them I was 16. I was sworn in on April 10th and sent to Newport, R.I. for training.
Upon completion of training at Newport, I was sent to the U.S.S. Maine, an old battleship, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I became ill and was sent to the hospital. Since the Maine was getting ready to sail I did not go back after my stay in the hospital.
From there I went to the U.S.S. President Lincoln and took part in remodeling it from a former passenger ship to a troop ship. Most of the crew came from the U.S.S. Granite State, a Naval Reserve ship stationed on the Hudson River. After a shakedown cruise we were ready to take on troops.
On the morning of May 31st, 1918, I was on the 6-8 watch in the forward crow’s nest. The four ships in our convoy were going abreast at the rate of speed of the slowest vessel (about 12 knots per hour). The Lincoln was the third ship to the left. The morning was clear and fairly warm.
Our escort destroyer had left us during the night as we were about five hundred miles from France and subs did not usually operate that far out due to their short range of fuel and other supplies.
I was relieved at eight and went directly to the mess hall for breakfast. After breakfast I went to my quarters to stow my gear. I heard and felt an explosion. I first thought maybe one of the gun crews was having target practice. Then there were two more explosions and the battle alarm was sounded.
I rushed to my bunk, picked up a life vest, and went to my battle station. It was then and only then that I realized we were sinking. You could look down the cargo batch and see the water rising. Whitey Cramer, the senior NCO, passed the word along after it came down from the bridge, “All hands, abandon ship".
Read more: Eyewitness report: The Sinking of the U.S.S. President Lincoln
Samuel W. Hart pictured as a 14 year-old U.S. Navy sailor in World War I, and later in life after also serving in the U.S. Army in World War II.
"To keep the memory of her father’s generation alive."
By Joshua Baker
Recently I had the privilege and honor of interviewing Mrs. Ava Jarboe of Georgia. Now 87, Mrs. Jarboe contacted the World War One Centennial Commission to share a lost piece of American history dating back to the First World War.
Ava JarboeMrs. Jarboe belongs to a long line of proud Americans who have answered their nation's call to arms in times of war. Mrs. Jarboe's grandfather served in the Spanish-American War, her brother served in the Korean War and later in the Strategic Air Command, her son served 22 years with the Air National Guard while being deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Her late husband Colonel Wallace E. Jarboe also served many years in the U.S. Air Force. Mrs. Jarboe is immensely proud of her family’s service and dedication to the nation, but the story she wished to share with the Commission is her father’s story.
Mrs. Jarboe’s father Samuel W. Hart was born on August 27, 1902, in Henderson, North Carolina. At the time the United States of America entered the First World War, Hart was only 14 years old. Despite his age, Hart was determined to join the war effort, and on April 10, 1917, Hart (misrepresenting his age) enlisted in the Navy as an Apprentice Seaman. Hart enlisted only four days after America’s declaration of war against Germany, and soon was off to basic training.
Upon completing his training, Hart was sent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for his first posting, but became ill and was hospitalized. Once he had recovered, Hart was reassigned to the U.S.S. President Lincoln, a former passenger ship built by the same company that produced the Titanic. The President Lincoln was re-commissioned as a troop transport ship on July 27, 1917, and soon set sail across the Atlantic with the mission of bringing wounded American soldiers home. Hart and his fellow sailors completed four trips across the Atlantic between Brest, France, and New York City without incident. The fifth voyage across the Atlantic however, would turn out to be it’s last.
Read more: Jarboe interview Samuel W. Hart
A plaque on the World War I memorial in Norwalk, CT listing the names of the local men who died in service from 1917 to 1919.
Who are these people on these plaques?
Jeff DeWitt, CMSgt, USAF (retired)
Chairman, Advisory Military and Veterans Liaison Committee, Norwalk, Connecticut
My hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut has a strong, deep history of love and respect for veterans. Our Memorial Day parade is one of the cornerstone events of the year that brings out residents in droves to pay respect to veterans. As a 26-year veteran myself, it’s a great place to live knowing that level of patriotism gets passed from generation to generation.
Jeff DeWitt Around town are plaques and monuments that recognize all veterans by name. Then there are plaques that name only those who died during wartime service. In 2019 I made a point of finding those plaques and at that point in time, simply took pictures of each one. What struck me most about it all was how little I knew about each of those people. It was then that I decided to tell their stories.
Certainly, this patriotic city needs to know the back story of each of them. It’s just a name on a plaque with little meaning except for the surviving family members that know of them. It is said that people die twice. The first time is when the physical self is no longer breathing. The second time is when nobody is left that knows the story of your life. My goal is to prevent the latter.
In 1921, our city was gifted a cannon by the French government. The cannon was captured by the Germans from the French and then retaken by American troops. It was to have been mounted in a park in Paris but was sent to the United States by mistake. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Commander Joseph W. Lockhart, had a friend in the French government and convinced him to donate the cannon to the City of Norwalk.
With all the pageantry befitting an event such as this, the cannon was officially presented to the city by M. Casenave, Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States from the French government. It is a gift From France to Norwalk as a token of America’s service in the war.
The cannon sits on a concrete base. Surrounding the base are plaques with names of residents who served during World War I. One plaque has only the names of those who died in service 1917 to 1919. I recognized three people on that plaque who are namesakes of our VFW and American Legion posts in town. The rest were a complete mystery to me.
There I was, over 100 years later, knowing that I had to find out who they were. Simple questions like where did they live in town, were they married or have children, what branch of service were they in, what was their job in the service, how did they die, where did they die, and more. A story that needed to get told.
Read more: Who are these people on these plaques?
A statue of Henry Johnson is displayed in the Arbor Hill neighborhood in Albany, NY in July 2014.
Two-front warriors: Remember the centuries of heroism of African-American soldiers
By Rich Lowry
via the New York Post newspaper web site
While serving as a sentry with French forces in the Argonne Forest in 1918, a black American private fought off German attackers. Unfazed by his wounds, he hurled grenades until they ran out, shot his rifle until it jammed, used his rifle as a club until it broke and finally used a bolo knife until reinforcements arrived.
The French recognized Henry Johnson’s heroism with a Croix de Guerre, while the United States gave him the Medal of Honor — posthumously, almost 100 years later.
Johnson is a part of a long African American military tradition of exceptional devotion to a country that, through its history, denied blacks their rights and discriminated against and humiliated its black soldiers.
These were the men of the iconic 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War and of the Harlem Hellfighters in World War I, of the Buffalo Soldiers on the frontier and of the legendary Tuskegee airmen in World War II.
They were always fighting a two-front war — against the enemy in battle and against prejudice at home. They were fighting to prove their mettle and that they were as — or more — American than their white countrymen.
They hoped that their patriotic commitment would loosen the grip of racist repression, and they were disappointed, often cruelly so. Still, they volunteered and, when given the opportunity, fought.
Read more: Two-front warriors: Remember the centuries of heroism of African-American soldiers
The World War I Memorial in the Lawrencevilel section of Pittsburgh, PA was covered in red paint with a spray-painted message on the base of the memorial, reading “June 19, 1986, Glory to the day of heroism” on the Sunday evening before Memorial day. The message was accompanied by a number of hammer and sickle symbols. The phrase has been used by some groups in reference to 1986 Peruvian prison uprisings by imprisoned Maoist revolutionaries.
Fundraiser started for WWI memorial vandalized in Lawrenceville
via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper (PA) web site
This story was updated at 11:24 a.m. on May 26, 2020.
A fundraiser has begun for the nearly century-old Doughboy statue and war memorial in Lawrenceville that was vandalized with splotches of red paint on Memorial Day.
City workers spent part of their holiday on Monday scrubbing and cleaning the statue, and now a GoFundMe page has been established to fund ongoing maintenance and future restoration needs of the statue at Penn and Butler streets, which has long been maintained by community volunteers.
“This fundraiser is set up to make a positive out of a negative act,” said organizers with the Lawrenceville United group, which set up the fundraiser. The initial goal is $10,000.
The statue was covered in red paint with a spray-painted message on the base of the memorial, reading “June 19, 1986, Glory to the day of heroism.” The message was accompanied by a number of hammer and sickle symbols. The phrase has been used by some groups in reference to 1986 Peruvian prison uprisings by imprisoned Maoist revolutionaries; more than 250 people died.
Pittsburgh officials, including Mayor Bill Peduto, and residents of the neighborhood expressed shock and outrage after the vandalism was discovered Monday morning.
“This is not Pittsburgh. Whoever did this. Please leave. Today,” the mayor tweeted.
Read more: Fundraiser started for World War I memorial vandalized on holiday in Lawrenceville
Pittsburgh WWI memorial vandalized on Memorial Day, police say
By Rebekah Riess and Hollie Silverman
via the cnn.com (television network) web site
Pittsburgh Police are investigating after a WWI War Memorial at Doughboy Square in Lawrenceville was vandalized overnight, according to a release from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.Police in Pennsylvania are investigating after a World War I memorial was vandalized on Memorial Day, according to a news release from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
The vandalism was discovered at 8 a.m. on Monday on the monument in Doughboy Square in the Lawrenceville neighborhood, the release said.
Red paint was splashed on the memorial and "indeterminate messages" were written in the paint, police said.
"Vandalizing a memorial on any day is wrong, but it is incomprehensible to vandalize this memorial on a day in which we honor those who served and gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today. Pittsburgh Police will vigorously investigate this crime," Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said in a statement.
Investigators are reviewing video footage of the area, police said.
Residents told CNN affiliate WTAE they were disappointed that the vandalism occurred on a day meant to honor those who gave their all.
"I almost feel like crying," Navy veteran Lawrence Cmar told the affiliate. "As a veteran, this is the worst thing you could do on the worst possible day of all days."
Holly Hicks-Opperman, whose father served in World War I, said seeing that memorial targeted was upsetting.
"This has been the hallmark, the centerpiece of Lawrenceville, for every veteran who has ever fought in every war for this country for our freedom. Awful," Hicks-Opperman told WTAE.
The memorial, which turns 99 in five days according to the Lawrenceville Historical Society, was being cleaned Monday afternoon, WTAE reported.
Read more: A WWI memorial in Pittsburgh was vandalized on Memorial Day, police say
Henry Johnson, the One-Man Army Who Fought Off Dozens of German Soldiers in May 1918 during World War I
By Mildred Europa Taylor
via the face2faceafrica.com web site
Even though minorities served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War, they were usually not given the needed training and support compared to their white folks.
That was William Henry Johnson’s situation from the beginning. The Albany, New York native had enlisted in the all-black 15th New York National Guard Regiment, which was renamed the 369th Infantry Regiment when it shipped out to France.
William Henry JohnsonThe unit performed menial jobs as members were poorly trained but it was later lent to the French Fourth Army, which was experiencing a shortage of men.
With the French Army, Johnson would perform an act of heroism, earning him praise from then-President Theodore Roosevelt who eventually called him one of the “five bravest Americans” to serve in World War I.
What was this brave act? Johnson fought off scores of Germans single-handedly in the Forest of Argonne in 1918 during World War I.
Having joined the French Fourth Army, Johnson and his men who became the Harlem Hellfighters, were sent to the front lines in March 1918. They learned enough French words to be able to understand commands from superiors. They were given French rifles and helmets, even though they held on to the bolo knives used by the U.S. Army.
Alongside Needham Roberts, a man from Trenton, Johnson was assigned sentry duty on the western edge of the Forest of Argonne in 1918.
Johnson and Roberts were given the late shift; they were to patrol until midnight on the evening of May 14. They weren’t on duty long when the Germans started attacking them.
It first started with strange noises late into the night. Hearing these, Johnson urged Roberts, who was then tired and resting, to get up. But Roberts ignored, thinking his fellow soldier was just nervous.
Johnson, nevertheless, began “piling up his assortment of grenades and rifle cartridges within arm’s reach. If someone was coming, he would be ready,” writes Mental Floss.
Then he began to hear rustling noises, which ultimately became German soldiers who were rushing through the darkness. Realizing they were surrounded, Johnson urged Roberts to run and get help. This was around 2.a.m.
Roberts was hit with a grenade in the process and got badly wounded to the extent that he couldn’t fight. Lying in the trench, Johnson handed him grenades, which he threw at the Germans.
But the German forces were too many, and they were advancing from every direction. Soon, Johnson ran out of grenades.
Read more: Henry Johnson, the One-Man Army Who Fought Off Dozens of German Soldiers in May 1918 during World...
Red Cross workers aid the military during the 1918 flu pandemic. In the period September through November 1918, influenza and pneumonia sickened 20% to 40% of U.S. Army and Navy personnel.
Remembering the World War I soldiers who succumbed to the 1918 flu pandemic
By The Editorial Board
the Cleveland.com and Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper (OH) web site
The 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic surged in the military training camps and foxholes of a brutal world war - the perfect incubation conditions for an influenza historians now believe got its start not in Spain, but in U.S. military camps.
The flu first traveled with U.S. soldiers to European battlefields, it is surmised, where in the crowded fighting conditions, it found even more ideal conditions to spread, mutate and become more deadly. It felled young men in their prime, the very demographic of those fighting.
Then, it returned to U.S. shores with these same troops, erroneously called the Spanish flu because of early reporting on the deaths from Spain.
So many soldiers succumbed at Ohio’s Camp Sherman outside Chillicothe that the city tried to barricade itself from infection, but then had to loosen those restrictions as the bodies piled up and makeshift morgues had to be created in the city.
A recent Ohio History Connection article by Karen Robertson details the horror:
“Camp Sherman quickly became a very dark place during the summer and fall of 1918,” Robertson writes. “About 5,686 military personnel fell ill, with 1,777” eventually dying from the flu.
Read more: Remembering the World War I soldiers who succumbed to the 1918 flu pandemic
Interior of isolation ward, Naval hospital at Naval Training Camp Gulfport, Miss., during 1918 influenza epidemic. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photo)
Navy, Marines Struggled With 1918 Influenza Pandemic
By John Grady
via the United States Naval Institute web site
As the 1918 flu pandemic raged, Navy doctors preached that the rawest recruits and most senior flag officers needed to wash their hands often and to isolate the sick from the healthy, medical historians told USNI News.
Despite its best efforts, Navy medicine had mixed success containing the epidemic, the service’s reports from the time show.
In 1918, Naval medical facilities admitted 121,225 Navy and Marine Corps patients with influenza. Of these patients, 4,158 died of the virus. Sick patients spent more than one million sick days in these facilities worldwide.
Navy medical personnel were familiar with smart practices, like decrying sailors’ “promiscuous spitting,” to keep hygiene and sanitation standards high and to reduce the risk of contagion, Andre Sobocinski, the historian manager with the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, told USNI News.
Medical personnel used circulars and medical notes on outbreaks to keep up to date with best practices. The medical providers studied influenza treatments but also the work to care for patients with pneumonia, diphtheria and meningitis.
Still, even with access to the best information available at the time, Navy medicine had to face the realities of the world around them.
“Crowding is the issue” that causes the rapid spread of infectious diseases, retired Capt. Thomas Snyder, executive director of the Society for the History of Navy Medicine, said in an interview with USNI News.
In World War I America, there were movies drawing crowds, large ballrooms for dancing and huge war bond rallies that fueled the influenza outbreak. By 1918, influenza was helped spread from place to place by the way Americans were moving about the country in much higher numbers than they had at the dawn of the 20th century. Much of this movement is attributed to the wartime movement of soldiers, sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen from training bases to installations to embarkation ports along the East and Gulf coasts for France.
Read more: Navy, Marines Struggled With 1918 Influenza Pandemic
WWI nurse Clara Goldsmith is East Liberty, OH Hometown Hero
via the Bellefontaine Examiner (OH) newspaper web site
Local military heroes have been spotlighted during the last four years at the East Liberty Memorial Day Celebration, and among their ranks have included a Civil War captain; Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s personal secretary during World War I; a survivor of the Bataan Death March; and a corporal who served in World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.
This year as medical personnel locally and around the world bravely work on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, a World War I U.S. Army nurse, Clara Goldsmith, has been named the 2020 East Liberty Hometown Hero for the fifth annual award.
While the East Liberty Memorial Day ceremony is among the many local observations that have been canceled this year, East Liberty resident Jeff Hall and his son, attorney Tyler Hall, have researched the late Mrs. Goldsmith, a Logan County native, to put together a video presentation honoring her work as a nurse during another difficult time in the medical field.
The video will be available at the Perry Township website, www.perrytownship.net, along with the East Liberty Church of Christ’s Facebook page. Tyler wrote a reflection about Mrs. Goldsmith, World War I nurses and the current times to be shared in the video.
“We are generous and compassionate by nature in this country, and we see that generosity and compassion time and again,” he wrote.
“Sometimes we realize it during the times of national or local emergencies as communities band together to support each other. Other times we will simply notice how our neighbor comes to plow out our driveway after a few inches of snow.
“At its base, we all have, and we give to those who have not. We do not need to be commanded to do so by some higher authority; we want to help.
“The pinnacle of that selflessness manifests itself in segments of our populace that we all know: medical first responders, law enforcement, and military service members. These are individuals whose assistance goes well beyond the norm. In many cases, they hold our own lives in their hands as they treat us, protect us, and defend us.
“Clara Goldsmith, this year’s Hometown Hero, was such a person.”
Read more: WWI nurse Clara Goldsmith named East Liberty Hometown Hero
French soldiers arrayed in gargoyle guise. French soldiers wearing anti-poison gas mask and respirators while expecting an attack under cover of gas cloud. (Photo by: SeM/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
How Fast The World Ends
By Rod Dreher
via The American Conservative web site
New unemployment numbers are out today. After reading them, I told my wife, “If a soothsayer had shown up on New Year’s Eve and said that by summer, 40 million people would be unemployed in this country, we would have thought he was crazy.”
A global economic crash like 2008, sure, that we could understand — but even then, the job losses weren’t this bad, and they happened over 18 months. This thing, though? Forty million made jobless in 10 weeks? Seriously, if someone had told you that this was going to happen, and you believed them, what kind of plausible scenario would you have come up with to explain this catastrophe? I don’t know if most of us could have done it.
And yet, here we are.
An aside: it’s a tale that has been told many times: how World War I destroyed European civilization, and ushered in modernity in full force. I don’t know when I last read it told with such insight than by the historian Modris Eksteins in his acclaimed 1986 book The Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, which is available on Kindle for just over seven bucks. I downloaded it the other day after reader Rob G. recommended it. It’s very hard to put down. Eksteins begins with the 1913 Paris premiere of the Nijinsky ballet of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a scandalous event at the time. To have been present in the hall that night, he says, was to witness the violent birth of modern art. This essay tells you what happened, and why it happened. Excerpt:
What is certain is that the audience was shocked – and with good reason. Stravinsky’s score for The Rite of Spring contradicted every rule about what music should be. The sounds are often deliberately harsh, right from opening Lithuanian folk melody, which is played by the bassoon in its highest, most uncomfortable range. The music was cacophonously loud, assaulting the ears with thunderous percussion and shrieking brass. Rhythmically it was complex in a completely unprecedented way. In the ‘Ritual of the Rival Tribes’ the music unfolds in two speeds at once, in a ratio of 3:2. And it makes lavish use of dissonance, i.e. combinations of notes which don’t make normal harmonic sense. ‘The music always goes to the note next to the one you expect,’ wrote one exasperated critic.
Read more: How Fast The World Ends
The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO will reopen to our members on Monday, June 1 and reopen to the general public on Tuesday, June 2.
National WWI Museum and Memorial Sets Reopen Date
By Mike Vietti
Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services, National World War I Museum and Memorial
KANSAS CITY, MO. – The National WWI Museum and Memorial will reopen to its members on Monday, June 1 and to the general public on Tuesday, June 2.
“We have monitored the COVID-19 situation closely during the past few months and, in accordance with guidance from public health officials at the local, state and federal levels, we are ready to reopen America’s official WWI Museum and Memorial,” said Dr. Matthew Naylor, National WWI Museum and Memorial President and CEO. “We’ve spent considerable time developing a comprehensive reopening plan that allows for people to visit one of the world’s great museums and memorials in a safe and welcoming environment.”
Upon reopening, several elements of the Museum and Memorial will be adjusted to account for guidelines established by public health officials. Among those items:
- Guests may visit the Museum during one of two timed sessions each day (10 a.m. - 1 p.m. & 2-5 p.m.) to maintain limited occupancy levels and provide for additional cleaning between sessions.
- Guests are strongly encouraged to buy tickets online in advance to guarantee entrance due to limited occupancy levels.
- The organization has increased the frequency of cleaning using CDC-rated disposable products, installed hand sanitizing stations throughout the complex and adopted “no-touch” measures such as hands-free door openers and touch-free waste containers. Staff and volunteers will wear face masks at all times in public spaces. In conjunction with city regulations, guests are encouraged, but not required to wear face masks.
- While the Main Gallery, Exhibit Hall, Memory Hall and Wylie Gallery are available, some areas will be unavailable such as the Liberty Memorial Tower and the Edward Jones Research Center.
- Some amenities such as checking of coats/backpacks and complimentary use of wheelchairs/scooters will be unavailable.
“The experience of walking through the Museum, seeing the exhibitions and spending time looking though the materials and information we offer will remind visitors about the passion, strength and resilience humankind is capable of,” Naylor said. “The world was devastated by the Great War, compounded by the pandemic of 1918, yet re-emerged. We can look to the past to gain an understanding that we have the capacity to get through this and quite possibly emerge stronger than before.”
Read more: National WWI Museum and Memorial Sets Reopen Date
Eisenhower Memorial awaits dedication, World War I Memorial construction continues
By John Henry
via the WUSA9 television station (DC) web site
WASHINGTON — The Dwight Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. is basically completed. Now, it's just waiting for a formal dedication.
United States Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) has spearheaded the project to create a memorial honoring his fellow Kansan, President Dwight Eisenhower, for years.
Construction crews broke ground on the Independence Avenue project, across the street from the National Air and Space Museum, in 2017. Roberts said the project was to be formally dedicated on May 8, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
"But the virus and social distancing stopped that," Roberts said.
The memorial is essentially finished, according to Roberts. He said there are only a few minor tasks that need to be completed to wrap up the $150 million project.
The block-long memorial boasts green space, tapestry, and statues of Eisenhower in both his roles of President and general.
"He dreamed big and then look what happened," Roberts said. "He became one of the most famous generals of all time and then President the United States. So, if you're from a small town, you can do it too."
Read more: Eisenhower Memorial awaits dedication, WWI Memorial construction continues