17 photos that show how great-grandpa got ready for WWI
By Logan Nye
via the We Are The Mighty web site
Basic training sucks, but it follows a predictable pattern. A bunch of kids show up, someone shaves their heads, and they learn to shoot rifles.
But it turns out that training can be so, so much better than that. In World War I, it included mascots, tarantulas, and snowmen.
Check out these 18 photos to learn about what it was like to prepare for war 100 years ago:
1. If the old photos in the National Archives are any indication, almost no one made it to a training camp without a train ride.
The National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.
By Thomas J. Brown
via the HISTORY@WORK (The NCPH Blog) web site
Public monuments chart development within a cultural form at the same time they commemorate historical events. Maya Lin found inspiration in British architect Edwin Lutyens’s enduring World War I monuments when she designed her brilliant Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1981-82). In contrast, the World War I Memorial recently inaugurated with the raising of its first flag in Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C., renews the longstanding American tendency to base commemoration of that conflict on a vocabulary forged in the making of Civil War monuments that glorified war rather than promoting a just peace. This formulaic thinking presents an ironic remembrance of what the World War I Memorial Commission rightly calls “the war that changed the world” and misses an opportunity to participate in an extraordinary period in the history of public monuments.
The projected focal point of the new memorial, Sabin Howard’s sixty-foot-long frieze “A Soldier’s Journey,” tells a stock tale about warfare as maturation. The sequence of thirty-eight larger-than-life-sized figures scheduled for installation in 2024 begins with a soldier taking leave of his family. Most figures appear in scenes of combat, imagined as a dramatic charge into a tumultuous battlefield where some doughboys fall dead or wounded. A sculpture in which the hero stands upright and looks directly outward in the aftermath of the ordeal highlights the forward momentum of the composition. Triumphant soldiers marching beneath the American flag separate the war zone from home, to which the protagonist returns at the end of the frieze. The narrative proposes a parallel between the individual and the nation both “coming of age through the conflict.”
Hundreds of Civil War monuments told similar stories in the quarter-century before World War I, and American remembrance of the Great War was remarkable for the extent to which the country stuck to its established patterns rather than sharing in Allied responses to the unprecedented event. Jennifer Wingate’s Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, and Taste in America’s World War I Memorials (2013) reports that more than 60% of American soldier statues depicted combat scenes. The centerpiece of Howard’s frieze follows directly from E. M. Viquesney’s best-selling Spirit of the American Doughboy (1920) and Karl Illava’s 107th Infantry Memorial in Central Park (1924-27). British and French monuments generally did not exalt danger and aggressive energy. Within the figurative tradition endorsed by the American centennial commission, for example, veteran Charles Sargeant Jagger’s Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park (1922-25) demonstrated the potential for innovation in designing a monument as a powerful, sensitive witness. The most widely adopted British stock statues featured soldiers in a mourning pose with weapon inverted rather than modeling the belligerence common in US Civil War monuments since the 1890s.
Persistence in pre-World War I commemorative convention is especially disappointing in a monument commissioned a century after the event, when the passage of time and a vast scholarship have further illuminated its significance. Philippe Prost’s The Ring of Remembrance in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, France (2011-14), shows that a thoughtful memorial might animate a past that no longer draws on the force of living memory. This variation on monumental listing of names honors 579,606 soldiers from forty different countries who died in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. The monument recognizes the tragic results of militarized nationalism in World War I and underscores that European cooperation since the 1950s, especially the partnership of France and Germany, is one of the central achievements of modern history. The emphasis of the Washington centennial project on American emergence as a world power is a less timely theme and disregards the disastrous World War I consequences for which the United States shared responsibility.
Latin American Neutrality During the First World War
By Larry Slawson
via the Owlcation web site
In recent decades, historians have expressed a newfound interest in reexamining the role of non-European countries in World War I, as well as the contributions that these nations made in regard to the diplomatic, political, and economic policies adopted by the Allies and Central Powers.
While largely ignored in prior years, more recent historical works have focused on the importance of Latin America to the war effort, as well as the decision of many South American countries to remain neutral throughout the duration of the conflict.
This article seeks to examine these works through a historiographical analysis of trends surrounding Latin American participation in the Great War. Specifically, this article is concerned with the issue of Latin American neutrality during the war; why did it occur, and what causative factors have historians assigned to their decision to maintain a position of non-alignment?
In the 1920s, historian Percy Alvin Martin offered one of the first attempts to answer questions such as these in his work, Latin America and the War. In his analysis of Latin American countries that remained neutral throughout the First World War, Martin argues that these nations sought a position of nonalignment due to their desire to “counteract” the growing influence and pressure of the United States over South America (Martin, 27).
Upon entering the war in 1917, Martin argues that the United States attempted to use its regional authority as a means of coercing “nations south of the Rio Grande” to follow suit in “the war against Germany" (Martin, 24). However, in the early twentieth century, Martin posits that many Latin Americans viewed any encroachment of the United States (whether diplomatic or political) with both “suspicion and distrust” as a result ofAmerica’s “past actions” in the War of 1848, the Panama Canal, as well as their recent establishment of political hegemony in several “Caribbean and Central American republics" (Martin, 24-25).
As a result, Martin argues that many Latin Americans “firmly believed the United States was aiming at the establishment of a political preponderance over the entire Western Hemisphere” and, in turn, actively sought measures to counteract this ambition from reaching fruition (Martin, 25). Consequently, Martin states: “Latin Americans honestly believed that the best interests of their own nations, and even those of civilization and humanity, could best be subserved by adherence to a strict neutrality” to the war effort, regardless of whatever sympathies they held toward the Allied cause (Martin, 29).
The World War I Army-Navy Baseball Game Played for the King of England
By Matt Fratus
via the Coffee or Die web site
On July 4, 1918, the biggest sports competition in Europe wasn’t soccer, rugby, or cricket. Rather, two teams of “Yanks” — one from the Army and another of Navy personnel, drawn from soldiers and sailors sent to England for World War I — squared off in what British newspapers called the “extraordinary baseball match” pairing teenagers off hometown sandlots with major leaguers. The game brought a stoppage to wartime London and was watched from the stands by no less than King George V and Winston Churchill.
The game was the brainchild of Rear Adm. William Sims. The president of the Naval War College had sailed to London on a secret mission in April 1917. It was the first time the United States had entered a coalition force, and Sims was the first senior American commander to arrive on the European front. In order to improve morale among the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, Sims established the Anglo-American Baseball League and informed all inbound ships from America to Europe to carry baseball teams.
The arrival of the foreign pastime brought forth American culture and identity and Allied cohesion the Europeans hadn’t seen before. Early on, 30 expatriate American businessmen in the London area had formed the new league, and by the summer of 1918 eight teams were entertaining Allied troops stationed in the area. The four American and four Canadian teams played routine games throughout the year, but Sims prepared to make the day of America’s national independence one not to soon forget.
King George and Queen Mary reviewing American troops marching past Buckingham Palace, 1918. King George V welcomed US troops to England and to the war effort. When the Anglo-American Baseball League planned an Army-versus-Navy baseball game to celebrate the Fourth of July, the monarch accepted an invitation to attend. What London newspapers called the “baseball match” became important news on both sides of the Atlantic. Photo courtesy of the Anglo-American Baseball Project Inc.
Ahead of the special planned baseball game held at Stamford Bridge, home to the Chelsea football club, umpire Arlie Latham visited the gardens of Buckingham Palace to teach King George V how to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. “He had a middling fair arm but it was hard to break him of the habit of his stiff arm way from playing cricket,” Latham said, who had played for the New York Giants and was known as a brawler and jokester. He told the monarch the key to woo the crowd was “More speed!”
Although a protective netting canceled the king’s honorary pitch, he still took the field before the game to shake hands with the team’s captains. He even used a fountain pen to sign and date the game ball, which would be presented to the game’s winner, and ultimately to President Woodrow Wilson. Also in attendance was a young Winston Churchill, who made a speech.
The Story Of The Harlem Hellfighters, The Overlooked Black Heroes Of World War I
By Annie Garau
via the All That’s Interesting web site
To soldiers fighting in World War I, the front lines were hell on Earth. But one American regiment fought hellfire with hellfire. Dubbed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by their terrified German foes, this all-Black group of soldiers proved their mettle on the battlefield despite overcoming extraordinary obstacles.
The Hellfighters, officially the 369th Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard, fearlessly fought the Germans for longer than any other American unit. Before long, stories of their bravery quickly spread around the globe.
But the Hellfighters never truly got their due — and had to fight much more than the enemy in the trenches. From the beginning, they faced racial discrimination from their own country, which did nothing to let up even after they returned home as heroes at war’s end.
For decades after the war, their valiant efforts went all but overlooked. Only in recent years have the Harlem Hellfighters begun to earn their rightful place in history.
How The Harlem Hellfighters Were Formed
Before they became the Harlem Hellfighters, they were the 15th New York National Guard Regiment — a rare all-Black unit.
New York’s governor, Charles Whitman, had bowed to pressure from Black political leaders to create the unit in 1916. It included men from all walks of life like Melville Miller, who was just 16, and Henry Johnson, whose bravery would later distinguish him on the battlefield.
They were led by William Hayward, a white former Nebraska National Guard colonel who’d managed Whitman’s campaign. Hayward advocated for his unit. He hired both Black and white officers. And he told the white officers that if they “intended to take a narrower attitude, [they] had better stay out.”
World War I Veterans Are America’s Forgotten 'Greatest Generation'
By Michael Peck
via The National Interest magazine web site
Why does the First World War get no respect in America?
After all, it’s been seventy-five years since World War II, and we still praise the “Greatest Generation.” But on this hundredth anniversary of America’s declaration of war on Germany on April 6, 1917, our nation’s participation in World War I is seldom remembered except for a few old statues on town squares.
Perhaps this has to do with time. Many Americans alive today have parents or grandparents who fought in World War II, and as of 2016, there were still 620,000 of these veterans among us. The last American veteran of World War I passed away in 2011 at age 110, but most (including my grandfather) had long since departed by then.
Or, maybe it has to with with why the war was fought. In the First World War, Johnny went marching off to fight the “evil” Kaiser Wilhelm, and returned home to parades and adulation. But then the doubts set in. Had Germany really posed a threat to the United States, or had innocent America been manipulated by greedy arms manufacturers and British propaganda? Some fifty-three thousand Americans had been killed in action, but were they heroes or just victims, pawns in yet another intra-European conflict?
And then there was the general revulsion aroused by the First World War itself. World War II is remembered as a war of motion, of glorious thrusts by tanks and aircraft and ships. The symbol World War II is blitzkrieg: the symbol of World War I is trench warfare, of dutiful sheep sacrificed on the altar of the machine gun and the barbed wire fence.
Given enough time, the “Great War” might have gone down in history as the “Greatest War.” But just twenty-one years after the armistice was signed in November 1918, the world was again engulfed by global war. And what a war the sequel was! No cartoony Kaiser Bill with spiked helmet and giant mustache. Now there were real villains—real monsters—to battle: Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo. America wasn’t being duped into intervening in a squabble between rival European empires. Now there were real causes to fight for: democracy versus fascism, good versus evil, barbarism versus civilization. Surely the men and women who fought in such a conflict must have been the Greatest Generation?
Yet far from diminishing those who fought in World War I, it only enhances their courage and commitment. In 1941, Americans had the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor to galvanize their patriotism. In 1917, America declared war on the basis that German submarines wouldn’t stop sinking neutral ships, including American vessels. This was hardly a Pearl Harbor moment, yet ultimately four million Americans served in the military during the conflict.
Comparing which soldiers had the harder war is a question that generates much heat but rarely any light. In World War II, America saw 417,000 people killed, nearly eight times the number killed in action in World War I. Yet in 1941–45, America was also able to lavishly support its armies and fleets with the most powerful war economy in history. In 1917, America was so ill equipped for war that it needed to be supplied with British tanks and French aircraft. The Doughboys of World War I had it no easier than the GIs of World War II.
Remembering a Manitou Springs World War I Veteran
By Matt Cavanaugh
via the KRCC Public Radio Station (CO) web site
A few years ago, I was standing in Memorial Park in Manitou Springs when I noticed this enormous rock in the middle of the park. It was a platform for a bronze statue of a World War I-era soldier, a “Doughboy,” lunging forward towards Pikes Peak, as if to meet some unseen danger.
But, who was he?
I dug into historical records and old newspapers. The statue honors Marine Corps Pvt. George Eber Duclo, born in 1893. “Eber,” as he was known, was an only child who moved to Manitou when he was 4 years old. He was the second-best hitter on his high-school baseball team. He won a box of cigars in a speed-walking contest.
Eber enlisted in the Marine Corps and was among the first to go “over there” for World War I. He saw combat in 1918, and was unfortunately killed on June 15, 1918 at Belleau Wood, France.
Tragically, a boy from Manitou Springs, known for its artesian water, died in a place named by joining the French words “belle” and “eau,” meaning “good water.”
Eber’s funeral was “one of the largest ever held in Manitou,” according to the Gazette’s coverage on September 12, 1921. The American Legion post in Manitou, named for Eber, held dances and took donations to fund the 7-foot bronze statue—“Over the Top to Victory”—in his honor. They placed the statue atop a 20-ton boulder of Pikes Peak granite, taken from near what’s now the Manitou Incline.
In the public address books of those days, thereafter, Eber’s parents listed two addresses: the house where they actually lived, and Memorial Park, where their only son’s memory lived on.
Champagne and Hot Dogs: How the Allies Celebrated the Fourth of July During WWI
By Claire Barrett
via the HistoryNet.com web site
“It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more,” John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.
For 245 years the Fourth of July has been synonymous with hot dogs, red, white, and blue outfits purchased from Old Navy, and fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. Precisely as our Founding Father predicted.
But in 1917, as war continued to rage on the Western Front, the newly arrived American doughboys expected little pomp and circumstance to mark their nation’s independence.
However, leave it to the nation’s oldest ally, the French, to throw a party.
French soldiers and citizens gathered across the country to celebrate the American holiday while U.S. troops marched through Paris as crowds of people cheered them on, according to the National World War I Museum and Memorial.
The following year the celebrations were even more grand, with a ceremony being held to rename Avenue du’Trocadero after President Woodrow Wilson.
“There was a warmness there. Roughly a third of [France’s] male population between the ages of 18 and 35, died in the first few years of the war,” Lora Vogt, Curator of Education at National World War I Museum and Memorial, told HistoryNet. “So anyone else who’s willing to come in and help defend their nation… I would say that most French were quite pleased that the Americans were coming in to be a bulwark.”
After three long years of brutal fighting, the U.S. entrance into World War I all but spelled defeat for the Germans. Only a mere three months after President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on the Central Powers American boots were on French soil.
That gratitude played out in the embracing America’s day of independence from the seats of both the Allied governments — King George ordered that the American Flag fly from Victoria Tower to mark the Fourth of July — on down to ordinary civilians.
Washington C.H. WWI Cemetery Tour July 19
By Paul LaRue
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
The Fayette County (Ohio) Genealogical Society is hosting a World War I-themed tour of the local Washington Cemetery Monday July 19, 2021at 6:30pm.
The program will be led by Paul LaRue, local historian, retired educator and member of the Ohio World War I Centennial Committee.
One of the featured graves is 1st Lt. Paul Hughey, shot down near Tronville, France Sept. 14, 1918. Lt. Hughey's body was returned to Washington C.H. from France July, 1, 1921. Thus July 2021 is the centennial of Lt. Hughey's burial in Washington Cemetery.
Other featured World War I Veterans will include:
Private Donald Michael and Private John H. Burns.
Private Michael died of influenza at nearby Camp Sherman.
Private Burns served in an elite Black Battalion; the 325 Field Signal a Battalion, organized at Camp Sherman. The 325 was the only Field Signal Battalion in World War I composed of Black Soldiers.
The stories of service and sacrifice of World War I service members continues to educate our communities.
High School Perspective: Writing and Illustrating a Children’s Book on Battlefield Preservation in 4 Months
By Charlotte Yeung
Special to the Douhboy Foundation web site
In May 2020, I was 1 of 15 youth chosen to be a representative of the American Battlefield Trust, America’s largest battlefield preservation organization. As I attended workshops and meetings in the Trust, it became clear that I knew very little about this topic.
Battlefield preservation is often justified by saying it’s good for history. Preserving battlefields also means preserving delicate ecosystems, ensuring better local quality of life by ensuring open space, and honoring the soldiers, nurses, and others who died. Soldiers, historians, and history buffs walk the land to better understand what happened there. Children and students can visit the parks as an opportunity to learn outside of the normally restrictive classroom.
Battlefields also serve as economic engines that draw visitors for historical fairs, educational purposes, and other events.
The Process of Writing and Illustrating a Children’s Book
I felt that these reasons weren’t communicated to me adequately. So I decided to make a project that would highlight these reasons to preserve battlefields. I would take this a step further and target a demographic that is often left out of the historical preservation discussion: children. I wanted to create a children’s book that I would have wanted to read as a kid, one that promoted environmental/historical preservation and youth activism.
What I Learned About WWI and America
While researching historical preservation, I came across the history of sanctification in terms of WWI. That war is unique in the global scope of the conflict, the military tactics, carnage, and the swathe of Americans involved. Women worked as nurses, the Harlem Hellfighters and 370th Infantry Regiment (known as the “Black Devils” by the Germans) made waves, and Choctaw and Cherokee code-talkers participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the fall of 1918.
After the 1918 Armistice, communities ranging from states to colleges marked the conflict in a diverse collection of memorials.
Memorials ranged in all shapes and sizes. Doughboy sculptures were specifically for WWI soldiers (Doughboy was a term used for American WWI soldiers; supposedly because of the piping on their uniforms). Honor rolls listed the names of those who fought. Other memorial types include neo-classical works such as arches, murals, and gates. Bridges, librairies, and other practical structures were dedicated to people who aided in the fight.
The United States World War One Centennial Commission was formed to commemorate the Americans involved in WWI and to educate the American public. It also constructed the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, honoring all Americans who served during the conflict. The Commission employs creative tactics such as bell tolling and podcasting.
Why the Marines' first battle in Europe still influences the Corps a century later
By Benjamin Brimelow
via the Business Insider web site
June is usually marked by commemorations of D-Day, when thousands of Allied soldiers landed in Normandy to begin liberating France from the Nazis.
But 26 years before D-Day, 9,500 US Marines fought what became one of the Corps' most defining battles, facing the Imperial German Army in fields and woods about 45 miles northeast of Paris.
The Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918 was an attempt to halt a German offensive making its way through the battered French and British armies.
It was the first battle for the Marines in Europe and one that had tremendous impact on the Corps. A century later, it still holds a sacred place in Marine Corps history.
A badly needed relief force
The US joined the war on the side of the Allies in April 1917. The French and British armies were exhausted after years of fighting, and the hundreds of thousands of fresh American soldiers were a badly needed relief force.
By the end of June that year, the first American Expeditionary Force soldiers had arrived in France. But the Americans were mostly newcomers to this new kind of warfare and did not join the trenches until October.
At first, American soldiers mostly augmented French and British defensive positions. On March 21, 1918, however, Germany — which had 50 more army divisions available after signing a separate peace treaty that ended Russia's involvement in the war — launched a push in France to defeat the British and French before US forces could fully deploy.
German successes meant the Americans were soon in the thick of the fighting. On May 28, they went on the offensive and retook lost territory at the Battle of Cantigny — the first major American battle of the war.
But the Germans were still advancing elsewhere. By June 1, they were locked in battle with French and American forces at the town of Château-Thierry and were moving toward Belleau Wood.
Desperate to stop the German advance, the Allies sent the US Army's 2nd Infantry Division, which included the 4th Marine Brigade, to hold the line.
The Marines' orders were clear: "No retirement will be thought of on any pretext whatsoever."
Life after the 1918 flu has lessons for our post-pandemic world
By Kristen Rogers
via the Gwinette Daily Post newspaper (GA) web site
A widespread sense that time has split into two -- or pandemics creating a "before" and "after" -- is an experience that's associated with many traumatic events.
That's the reflection of Elizabeth Outka, a professor of English at the University of Richmond and author of "Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature."
This social phenomenon is both psychologically and practically relevant, in that pandemics -- including the 1918 influenza and Covid-19 pandemics -- significantly affect how we assess and act on risk, or stay resilient, but also how we work, play and socialize.
The startling and harrowing nature of the 1918 flu and its fatal consequences induced a sense of caution that, in some places, had permanent implications for how people would respond to disease outbreaks in later decades -- such as using isolation and quarantine, according to a 2010 paper by Nancy Tomes, a distinguished professor of history at Stony Brook University.
Similarly, as the Covid-19 pandemic fades, "some existing trends will remain," said Jacqueline Gollan, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
For example, the recent expansion and use of online shopping, telehealth services, hybrid work models and technology that allows virtual gatherings will endure, Gollan said. And "given our recognition that global crises occur," she added, "we're likely to retain an inventory of cleaning supplies and personal protection materials. We are also likely to adopt habits that improve cleanliness to promote personal or group hygiene."
As the world gradually reopens in a patchwork of ways amid other crises -- much like how states' reopenings varied after the 1918 flu and World War I -- we'll be evaluating many of the lifestyle habits we've engaged in before and during the pandemic, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
These are the changes that might stick around post-pandemic.
“Little Sure Shot”: Annie Oakley during The Great War
By Charles Pauley
Annie Oakley is renowned for being probably the best Woman Sharpshooter to ever live. Through her talent with firearms, she became a national celebrity in the United States during the late 1800s and into the early 20th century. While she was most famous for her feats of skill and shooting tricks during her time performing with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, she was also a huge supporter of the war effort when the United States entered into World War I.
She participated in a number of ways, and even tried to raise a small army to be used at the United States’ disposal. Some might even say that at one point, she had the opportunity to “prevent” the war with a single shot. Despite her involvement’s relative obscurity, the role she played during the conflict was quite interesting and unique.
Annie Oakley’s Humble Beginnings
Phoebe Ann Mosey (or Moses on some accounts) was born on August 13th, 1860 in Darke County, Ohio. Phoebe endured a difficult childhood. Her Father, Jacob Mosey, died when she was very young leaving her mother, Susan Wise Mosey, to raise Phoebe and her 6 siblings on her own. When her mother remarried to Dan Brumbaugh, he died soon after, leaving her with another child to support. After her mother’s third marriage to Joseph Shaw, Phoebe found herself using her father’s old Kentucky rifle to hunt and sell game to a local grocery store in order to help support her family. Through necessity, Phoebe began to discover her talents as an excellent shot. She was so successful in hunting game that at the age of 15, she was able to pay off her mother’s home mortgage. Considering her age and the time period, this was a truly remarkable feat. Little did she know that this would prepare her for a lifetime in show business.
Phoebe found her way into stardom through her participation in a shooting competition with renowned sharpshooter of the time, Frank Butler. Butler was one of the popular travelling marksmen of the day and thought that he could beat most anyone. When he was on tour in Ohio, the locals there told him they had a shooter who could best him. On the day of the competition, Frank was quite surprised to find that his opponent was an unassuming young woman. Despite their skill being evenly matched for the duration of the competition, Frank eventually missed a shot, handing the competition over to Phoebe.
Of course, Phoebe found herself the victor of the close competition, and with that winning shot, her life changed forever. After his loss, Frank began to fall in love with her. They eventually married in 1876. It was once she started performing with Frank that she adopted her iconic stage name, Annie Oakley.