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World War I Centennial News


 

 

Lectures bring WWI exhibition at Knights of Columbus Museum to close 

By Peter Sonski
via the Knights of Columbus Museum (CT) web site

Two lectures on September 7 at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, CT  will be the final events in the museum’s exhibition World War I: Beyond the Front Lines, which concludes September 8.

At 11:00a.m. on the 7th, War Within War: The 1918 Influenza in America will examine the impact of the so-called "Spanish Flu" on America and the world.  At 2:00 p.m. on the 7th, The Red Baron & Military Aviation Developments in World War I will examine a key figure in the rise and impact of military aviation spawned by the world conflict. Free parking and admission is offered to both events.

Exhibit posterThe early years of the 20th century were a time of growing tension in the United States and abroad. 1914 marked the first time that a single military conflict would have significant impact on a global scale. Though U.S. involvement in the war in 1917 would tip the balance if favor of the Allied Powers and bring fighting to an end, still another watershed event was forming in Western Europe. An influenza outbreak, aided by the effects of war, spread rapidly and extensively to other world regions.

The disease, commonly known as “Spanish Flu,” added to the misery America felt as a result of war casualties, and brought added hardship at a time when people sought to reclaim life as they knew it before international warfare. Simon Perlsweig, an author and historical researcher, will discuss the bearing of the nation that was, at once, celebrating victory “over there” while mourning losses at home.

Perlsweig recently published Front Porches to Front Lines, a historical memoir of World War I and the concurrent influenza epidemic, providing an account of his maternal great-grandparents, who lived in Springfield, Vermont, during the Great War.

Read more: Lectures bring WWI exhibition at Knights of Columbus Museum to close

 

Spectrum News 1 snipKentucky soldier Clifford Fralick in France during World War I. Fralick's dog tag was recently discovered and returned to his family, 100 years after the war ended.. 

WWI Dog Tag Discovered in France Returned to Soldier's Family in Louisville 

By Jonathon Gregg
via the Spectrum News 1 television station (KY) web site

CRESTWOOD, KY — At first Larry Fralick thought it was a scam call. A man with a French accent on the other end of the line was trying to convince him he found something that belonged to his family.

Turns out he was telling the truth. "He sent us a picture of the metal detector he used to find it, Fralick tells Spectrum News 1. Fralick's grandfather, Clifford, spent his entire life in Louisville apart from his service in World War I. Thankfully, the Army private returned home from the Great War in 1917.

According to his grandson, Larry, the war veteran didn't share too many stories about his time fighting in France.

"Just day after day going from foxhole to foxhole and fighting and how much it rained and how muddy it was." are the details Larry Fralick recalls.

Mr. Olivier Bena, the mysterious caller, convinced Clifford's descendants that the soldier left something behind.

“I wish you good reception and thank you for having responded favorably to this approach which was really close to my heart. Best Regards, Oliver Bena" the man wrote in a letter to the Fralicks along with a now prized possession.

Read more: WWI Dog Tag Discovered in France Returned to Soldier's Family in Louisville

 

Minnesota Family Reunited with WWI Dog Tag After More than 80 Years 

By Ryan Juntti
via the WDIO television station (MN) web site

Alan Carpenter often looks for buried artifacts in Hibbing's Cobb Cook Park using his metal detector. It's something he does for fun, but he and his partner Jim Kochevar also return lost items.

Last spring, Carpenter made his most important discovery, a World War I dog tag found buried under at least 6 inches of frost.

"At first I didn't know what it was, I thought it was some kind of token or something until I got home and rinsed it off, then I seen the United States Marine Corps on it," said Carpenter.

With Kochevar's help, this past Memorial Day he figured out the dog tag belonged to Anton Bernhardt, a World War I veteran, and former Hibbing police officer.

Then it was time to track down a family member who they could return it to. After a year of looking, they found Joseph Martin, Anton's great nephew.

"To find something like this after being lost for 80 years that's just unbelievable," said Martin.

And on August 19 at Maple Hill Cemetery in Hibbing where Anton is buried, Martin was given an American flag with the dog tag on top.

"It means a lot to be able to return it to a family member that deserves it. Anything found that we find, if a ring has a name in it, or something, we always return it to the owner. It makes you feel good," said Carpenter.

Read more: Family Reunited with WWI Dog Tag After More than 80 Years

 

SLO early1900sEmersonSchoolMrs. Nicholson’s class at Emerson School in San Luis Obispo. About 35 students pose for a photo in an early 20th century classroom, in a room full of blackboards and folding desks.

World War I pins and their finest overalls:
Back to school circa 1918 in San Luis Obispo was a lot different 

By David Middlecamp
via the San Luis Obispo Tribune newspaper (CA) web site

It is the end of August, and the days are getting longer — if you are a student.

I remember the shock when endless summer was over and bicycling to the pool was replaced with bicycling to school.

Teachers usually find a way to get a room full of random energy all working in the same direction. In the undated photo above, the only information provided on the teacher bringing this room together is Miss or Mrs. Nicholson, Emerson school teacher.

It was picture day, for what appears to be about a fifth-grade class of 35 students. Many of the boys are wearing ties, two in their best clean overalls.

All of the students sit with hands folded. Many of the girls have giant ribbons in their hair. Boys have their hair brushed back out of their eyes.

At least one boy couldn’t hold still for the long exposure, his face blurred.

Several of the children are wearing buttons with a cross on them; perhaps it was a fundraiser for the Red Cross during World War I which makes me guess the photo is circa 1918.

Read more: WWI pins and their finest overalls: Back to school circa 1918 in San Luis Obispo was a lot...

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

WWI Now: Daniel Basta on the "Ghost Fleet" of Mallows Bay    

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In August 19th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 136, host Theo Mayer interviewed Daniel J. Basta, Doughboy Foundation board member and accomplished scientist and diver. Mr. Basta shed light on the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay, an armada of ships scuttled by the U.S. government in Maryland after the war. Today Mallows Bay is a National Marine Sanctuary, a protected area for wildlife and human recreation- and something that connects contemporary Americans to the Great War. Read on to discover this unique and powerful outdoor destination. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: 

Daniel BastaDaniel J. Basta is the former director of of NOAA's Office of National Marine SanctuariesTheo Mayer: When America entered the war in 1917, the country was totally unprepared for prosecuting an overseas war at scale. Even before the US joined the war, the Shipping Act of 1916, signed by President Wilson, created a five member United States Shipping Board, the USSB, to create a subsidiary corporation to build ships. In fact, the US effectively nationalized the ship building industry. We needed tonnage fast. So under the Ship Building Board in 1917, they started to mass produce a fleet of cheap, small wooden steamers at about 3000 tons each, rather than larger, state-of-the-art, oil burning steel ships at 8000 tons. Well, that nationalized push to build ships and get our boys material over there did get a lot of ships built fast, but they weren't designed or built for the long term. So having served their purpose, or not even put into service, over 200 of them were scuttled and sunk right after the war.

A lot of this happened in a small bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in Charles County, Maryland. With the scuttled ships protruding partially out of the water, the area became known as the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay. It's considered the largest shipwreck graveyard in the Western Hemisphere, and has recently been designated as one of the most interesting National Marine Sanctuaries in the United States. Now this designation was the result of a large number of people who felt passionately that this heritage site should be a National Marine Sanctuary, including our next guest. Daniel J. Basta is a board member of the Doughboy Foundation and has also enjoyed a colorful and illustrious career, including as the Director of the National Marine Sanctuary System, which is within NOAA, the government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dan, welcome to the podcast.

Dan Basta: I'm happy to be here, Theo.

Read more: Podcast Article - Ghost Fleet

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

War in the Sky: Mark Wilkins on Pilots and PTSD   

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In August 12th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 135, (originally aired in Episode 66) we heard from writer and historian Mark Wilkins on the high incidence of shell shock, or PTSD, among WWI pilots. Held up as fearless and daring, these men cracked underneath the extraordinary danger of their occupation. In his research Wilkins uncovered many letters written by the pilots themselves that illustrate the toll aerial combat took on their psyches. Read on to learn more about PTSD and the effect it had on WWI pilots, in their own words. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: wilkins 2

Mark Wilkins (far left)


Theo Mayer: Shell shock is a term that was first heard in World War I and was often treated as cowardice or even treason. It was really the equivalent of what we recognize today as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. We normally think of shell shock as an infliction for those affected by horrendous barrages of artillery fire and machine guns on the battlefields and in the trenches. It turns out that pilots apparently suffered greatly from PTSD. Here is Mark Wilkins, historian, writer, museum professional, and lecturer. Welcome to the podcast, Mark.

Mark Wilkins: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Theo Mayer: Mark, to start with how did you get the trove of letters you used for your research?

Mark Wilkins: Well, research as you know, is a treasure hunt. It's intuitive, and sometimes information is found in the most unlikely places. That being said, there's some recent books that have collections of pilots' letters. University and national archives are another great source as are aviation museums or war museums like the Imperial War Museum in London. Local historical societies, sometimes relatives of the pilots, also online newspaper and periodical archives are another fabulous source for information.

Read more: Podcast Article - Mark Wilkins Interview

 

military convoy 2Retired Army Sgt. Mark Ounan drives his restored 1918 Army staff car as Military Vehicle Preservation Association’s convoy of historic military vehicles made its way through northwest Ohio. Ounan noted that “Five of these cars went on the original convoy in 1919, and Eisenhower was on that trip with the Army so he probably rode in one just like it.” (Photo via the 106.3thefox.com web site)

MVPA 2019 100th Anniversary Transcontinental Motor Convoy in Iowa this week

By Mary Seely
via the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce (IA) web site 

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association continues its 100th Anniversary Transcontinental Motor Convoy this week, including a stop in Clinton, IA on August 22. The convoy of World War I and II military vehicles will be parked up on the riverfront between the Clinton Riverview Pool and the NelsonCorp Baseball Field from 2p-3:30p. Iowans can check out as many as 70 historic military vehicles as they retrace the route of the original 1919 US Army's Transcontinental Motor Convoy. 

The Military Vehicles are retracing the original 1919 US Army’s Transcontinental Motor Convoy route – along the famed Lincoln Highway. The MVPA Convoy launched from Washington, DC on 11 August, 2019 and will arrive in San Francisco, CA some 37 days later, on 14 September, 2019. The convoy made it's way west from the MVPA 44th Annual International Convention in York, PA on Saturday 10 August.

Over 50 Historic Military Vehiclesare expected to travel the entire 3,200+ mile coast-to-coast route with over 50 more vehicles joining in to drive a portion of the trip.

The Convoy will follow the original Lincoln Highway route as closely as possible. The route crosses all or part of 11 states from Washington, DC to San Francisco, joining the Lincoln Highway at Gettysburg, PA. The route begins on the lowlands of the eastern seaboard, traverses the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, travels the lush farmlands of the Midwest, crosses the high plains, dips into the Great Salt Lake Basin in Utah, crosses the Nevada Desert, climbs the Sierra Nevada and descends to Lake Tahoe, and ends in the splendor of California and the San Francisco Bay area.

This is a Convoy of Historic Military Vehicles – of all eras, from WWI through to current-issue military vehicles. The vehicle roster currently includes cargo trucks, through to Harley Davidson WLA motorcycles, staff cars and jeeps to later model M913 5-ton cargo trucks. The Convoy daily stopping points will be many of the same locations as the 1919 Convoy.

Read more: MVPA 2019 100th Anniversary Transcontinental Motor Convoy in Iowa this week

 

084 Area S 84The Area S Bungalow Section of Nitro, West Virginia, August 19, 1918. The town was home to a factory that helped supply the U.S. Army with gun powder during World War I.

What’s in a Name: The Definition of a ‘Boom’ Town 

By Eric Douglas
via the West Virginia Public Broadcasting web site

There’s a town in Kanawha County, West Virginia where some locals say living there is a "blast."

As part of our occasional series, "What’s in a Name," we take a look at the history and folklore of the names of Appalachian places. The town in question, Nitro, West Virginia, grew out of the explosives industry and was home to a factory that helped supply the U.S. Army with gun powder during World War I. Ken Thompson volunteers at the World War I museum in the city of Nitro.

According to Thompson, Nitro was established in 1917 by the federal government to manufacture nitrocellulose, a highly flammable compound formed by bringing cellulose from trees or plants into contact with it to nitric acid. It is also known as “guncotton,” because of its explosive characteristics.

“It was to support the war effort for WWI," he explained. "A lot of people were under the impression it was nitroglycerin. It was not. It was nitrocellulose. That was added to the other components to make the gunpowder smokeless."

It took the federal government about 11 months to build the town from 1917 to 1918, and approximately 100,000 people representing 41 nations participated.

Nitro's construction coincided with one of the coldest winters in recorded history, Thompson said.

One of the town's builders would go on to become famous: Clark Gable.

Read more: What’s in a Name: The Definition of a ‘Boom’ Town

 

John Glass Square dedicationMembers of the Simeon L. Nickerson American Legion Post 64 in Middleboro and a number of other local veterans and town officials gathered at Glass Square in downtown Middleboro last Thursday to dedicate a new sign memorializing the late John F. Glass, Jr,. who was the last service man from Middleboro to be killed in action in World War I. The spot has long been known as Everett Square, but Post 64Commander Bob Lessard and a number of other local veterans led a decade-long push to have the square rededicated in keeping with a 1929 Town Meeting vote which established he spot as Glass Square.  

Middleboro, MA town square renamed for WWI soldier 

By Jon Halglof, Editor, Middleboro Gazette
via the South Coast Today .com (MA) web site

MIDDLEBORO — The somewhat disorienting five-way intersection located at the top of Center Street in downtown Middleboro known locally as Everett Square is due to be redesigned in 2020, but before that, Everett Square had to be renamed, or better yet, reestablished, as John F. Glass, Jr. Square, as it was always supposed to be.

That happened with little or no resistance from those partial to the name “Everett Square,” which in all likelihood was named so for no other reason than its proximity to Everett Street, one of the five intersecting streets converging at the Square — along with Station St., High St., Center Ave and the aforementioned Center St.

So now, John Glass Square is again — and as it has been since it was decided so in 1929 — John Glass Square, and John Glass Square is due to be redesigned in 2020.

Well, that redesign got an early start last Thursday with the unveiling and dedication of a new sign recognizing the square as John F. Glass, Jr. Square, and for Bob Lessard, current Commander of American Legion Post 64 in Middleboro, it’s a small gesture that will go a long way in correcting a bit of local history and acknowledging, for all time, a Middleboro soldier who paid the ultimate price while serving his country.

“He died October 26, and the war ended Nov. 11. So, the poor guy got killed just a couple of weeks before the war ended,” Lessard said, relaying the story of PFC John F. Glass, Jr at the dedication.

PFC Glass was the last serviceman from Middleboro to be killed in action in World War I. At the time of his death, he was serving with the Yankee Division’s 101st Infantry, Company D. His remains did not make it home to Middleboro, and he is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France.

Lessard, who’s been leading the call for the correction for the better part of a decade, says Middleboro American Legion Post 64 membership petitioned to have the square memorialized in the name of John F. Glass, Jr. back in 1929. The spot was dedicated and took the name of John F. Glass, Jr. Square on May 30, 1929, part of that year’s Memorial Day services, and later that spring, on June 18, the request to make it official and put it on the books was approved by Town Meeting voters.

Read more: Middleboro, MA town square renamed for WWI soldier

 

3d Wall scan in French CavesA team from Wheaton College in Norton, MA led by Professor of Computer Science Mark D. LeBlanc recently returned from France with a collection of hi-tech image and data collection of the cave carvings and messages left by American soldiers in World War I. 

Project demonstrates 3D collection of cave messages in France left by American soldiers in WWI

By Mark D. LeBlanc, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science at Wheaton College in Norton, MA
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

A team from Wheaton College in Norton, MA recently returned from two days in the caves at Braye-en-Laonnois, France (August 4-5, 2019) capturing 3D data of the cave etchings left there by American soldiers in World War I.

Working for an 11-hour and then 8-hour day under the guidance of Gilles Chauwin, our team returned with gigabytes of data (3D Lidar laser scans, 360 pano-images, and photogrammetry images) to demonstrate the concept by example that the messages left 100 years ago by the men in the American Army’s 26th Division, as well as French and German soldiers, can be preserved, reproduced, and disseminated.

The work of our project, involving honor, diplomacy, and a pursuit to provide new and exciting ways to teach history so the next generations will not forget, is based on 12 years of research at National Archives. Team members (artist Kelly Goff and videographer Keith Heyward) have demonstrated the potential to:

  • Make 3D virtual experiences (bringing these messages to those in the US since most will never get the chance to actually visit);
  • Create milled pieces of individual etchings;
  • Create full-wall installations for museums; and
  • "Starter Kits" for teachers to use the data for teaching history in new ways.

Read more: Project demonstrates 3D collection of cave messages in France left by American soldiers in WWI

 

5d57430a8b71b.imageFrom right, Pottawattamie County Veterans Affairs Director Nick Jedlicka with Denny and Carolyn Robison at the county VA building on August 15. County officials presented Denny Robison with a grave site marker for his grandfather Dan Robison, a World War I veteran whose grave at Walnut Hill Cemetery went unmarked until recently.

Iowa World War I soldier's grave marked after 45 years 

By Courtney Upah
via the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpariel newspaper (IA) web site

Denny Robison wasn’t sure why the grave of his grandfather — a World War I veteran — was unmarked for 45 years. Now, together with his wife, Carolyn Robison, and Pottawattamie Veterans Affairs, that has been corrected.

“Whenever we would go out (to Walnut Hill Cemetery) on Memorial Day and such to decorate the grave, we never knew exactly where Grandpa was,” Denny said.

He figured it was an oversight that his grandfather — WWI U.S. Army veteran Dan Robison — remained buried in an unmarked grave, and that oversight was buried with time.

“Grandpa was a tall man, yet very soft spoken, and I will always remember that no matter what the occasion or situation, there was a kind laugh,” Denny said. “A very welcoming grandfather to both my brother and I.”

Denny and his family were close with Dan when he died.

After so many years unmarked, Carolyn decided to look into installing a marker as a surprise. To start, she reached out to the Veterans Administration.

The VA assisted Carolyn in finding the right documents — like a birth and death certificate — needed prior to receiving the grave marker.

Carolyn gathered the majority of paperwork by herself with the VA’s help, until she needed the death certificate.

“The last thing I needed was the death certificate,” Carolyn said. “Because I wasn’t a direct descendant, they wouldn’t give it to me. I went home and said ‘here’s what I’ve done but you have to finish it because they won’t give it to me.’”

Read more: Iowa WWI soldier's grave marked after 45 years

 

Group proposes moving World War I memorial from Grant Beach Park following vandalism 

By Katie Kull
via the Springfield News-Leader (MO) web site

The World War I memorial may soon be moved from its longtime home in Grant Beach Park following an act of vandalism earlier this year.

b3ec00dd 2e17 4d01 92f4 63b4f3f25cf3 MG 0138A World War I memorial was knocked off its base at Grant Beach Park in north Springfield. The parks department was called Sunday, April 28, 2019 about the vandalism.The local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution on Thursday got an endorsement from the Greene County Commission to proceed with an effort to move the one-ton obelisk from the northwest Springfield park to a new home in the Springfield National Cemetery.

J. Howard Fisk, the past president of the Sons of the American Revolution, told members of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board last month they wanted to move the memorial bearing the names of 64 men who died during World War I to a more "ideal" place.

"We're not saying there's anything wrong with Grant Beach Park," he said. "(But the move) is the right thing to do for the right reason." 

The proposed location would be near the Rostrum on the opposite side of the Pearl Harbor monument if approved by the federal government. 

Fisk said his organization would find a way to pay for the likely costly move. 

The memorial has sat in Grant Beach Park since 1924, when it was dedicated on the sixth anniversary of the signing of the Great War's armistice, according to information provided by the Sons of the American Revolution to the park board. 

Read more: Group proposes moving World War I memorial from Grant Beach Park following vandalism

 

2019 marks 101 years since death of WV's Louis Bennett Jr. 

By Rebecca Young
via the Weston Democrat newspaper (WV) web site

August 24 will mark the 101st anniversary of Louis Bennett Jr.’s death during WWI. Bennett, Jr. served in the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. At the time of his death Bennett had flown 25 maneuvers against the Germans. He formed the West Virginia Flying Corps, which was commissioned by then WV Governor Cornwell on July 26, 1917. The U.S. Army, however, refused to accept the corps, which led Bennett Jr. to enter flight school with the British Royal Air Force in Canada.

bennettlouis01Louis Bennett Jr.On the day of Bennett, Jr.’s death, his aircraft had burst into flames after being hit by ground fire. He never received a medal for his actions in combat. His mother, Sallie Maxwell Bennett, ensured her son’s death would not be in vain, and because of her efforts, Lewis County is home to a war memorial in his honor-the Louis Bennett Library in Weston.

Maxwell Bennett had lost not only her son, but also her husband within weeks of each other. Maxwell Bennett spent the rest of her remaining years honoring her son for his service. Three different countries have memorials in honor of Bennett Jr., the United States, England, and France. Maxwell Bennett came from a wealthy family in Wheeling, and married into a wealthy family in Lewis County so money to honor her son was of no consequence.

The first memorial was erected in Wavrin, France, with Maxwell Bennett not only erecting a memorial, but rebuilding the church that was destroyed by the retreating German Army. The church was rebuilt in dedication to her Bennett Jr.’s memory on the anniversary of his death in 1919.

The rebuilt church was also served as a thank you to the village that helped smuggle her son’s remains out of France back to the U.S. for burial. This was in violation of French law. On the same day in 1919, St. Paul’s Espiscopal Church held a memorial service for Bennett Sr. and Bennett Jr.

The next memorial to be erected was in Wheeling on the campus of the Linsly School. There stands a seven and a half foot tall sculpture of her son in his flight coat with wined arms. After this, Maxwell Bennett commissioned a stained glass window for Westminster Abbey in England in 1922.

Read more: 2019 marks 101 years since death of WV's Louis Bennett Jr.

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