Progress news Penn State exhibitThe Field to Front mobile exhibit in the Penn State DuBois Library. 

Field to Front exhibit at Penn State DuBois Library recalls WWI Veterans 

By jbenamati
via The Progress newspaper (PA) theprogressnews.com web site

DuBOIS — A mobile exhibit on display in the Penn State DuBois Library this semester tells the story of Penn State athletes who served the United States during World War I. Titled “Field to Front, this mobile display was created by the team at the Penn State All-Sports Museum at University Park, and will be open to the public in the campus library for the entire fall semester.

During the course of World War I, 2,155 Penn State students, faculty, and alumni entered the military. Of these, 73 lost their lives with the majority falling due to enemy action. Among the over 200 former varsity lettermen who served, seven were killed in combat while an eighth was lost in a training accident shortly after the end of the war. Field to Front recognizes the service and sacrifice of these individuals.

The mission of the Penn State All-Sports Museum is to honor the achievements of the men and women who have built the proud tradition of Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics through the preservation and promotion of their legacy for the education and benefit of the community. 

 

zimmermanntelegram e1529062057641 1In March 1917, a secret telegram penned by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann appeared decoded in American newspapers. The telegram was one of five big reasons that the U.S. reversed its staying out of the war stance. 

5 Reasons the United States Entered the First World War 

By Cassie Pope
via the HistoryHit web site historyhit.com 

The United States joined World War One in April 1917. However, just under 3 years earlier, in August, 1914 the United States declared its neutrality in the war then engulfing Europe. President Woodrow Wilson, reflecting the views of much of the nation, announced that his country would be “impartial in thought as well as in action”. But this stance soon came under pressure, as the impact of events across the Atlantic were felt in the US. By 1917 isolation had become untenable. In April, Wilson sought the approval of Congress to go to war.

Several key factors played a part in this change of course. These are 5 reasons why the United States joined World War One:

The Lusitania

In early 1915, Germany introduced a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic. This meant U-Boats were hunting and sinking merchant shipping without warning. The RMS Lusitania left New York on 1st May, 1915, bound for Liverpool. On 7th May it was spotted off the coast of Ireland by U-20 and torpedoed. Of 1,962 passengers, 1,198 lost their lives. Among the dead were 128 Americans, causing widespread outrage in the US.

Remember Belgium!

Following Germany’s invasion of neutral Belgium in 1914, stories began to circulate about atrocities committed against Belgian civilians. These stories, both true and exaggerated, were seized upon for propaganda. So-called “atrocity propaganda” spread far and wide, painting the Germans as a barbaric nation bent on ruthless, indiscriminate destruction. This propaganda was soon sweeping the US, firing anti-German sentiment.

American Loans

The US had a vested financial interest in the outcome of the war in Europe. American businesses and banks made huge loans to the Allies. If they didn’t win then they were unlikely to get their money back. 

 

Long-lost letters dating back to WWI discovered in Chester County, Pa. 

By Ashley Johnson
via the WPVI-TV Philadelphia (PA) television station web site 

COATESVILLE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Letters dating back more than 100 years are now considered a treasure for one history buff in Chester County.

The letters were written by Coatesville resident Cpl. Wellington Sahler, who gave life while fighting in World War I.

They're a mark of freedom and the ultimate sacrifice.

"It really mentions his love for Coatesville. He would go canoeing in a dam and he mentions that a lot. He mentions dancing going to parties," said history buff Joseph Felice.

The journey began when the VFW Post 287, which is named for Sahler, was celebrating its centennial.

Felice noticed banners featuring Sahler and did his own digging.

"He was in the Army with his best friend Lance Eck, the one who chartered to post when he came home in 1919," said Felice.

Felice was featured at the VFW celebration in July where he made it a point to reach out to one of Sahler's living relatives, given he had no children.

"To find these letters meant a lot to him because he really wanted to know what Sahler himself thought that, and we all got that chance," Felice said.

Felice said Sahler's legacy speaks to overcoming struggles, including a rough childhood.

Sahler went on to Girard College in Philadelphia before enlisting.

"So that's what Sahler represents. Despite struggle, freedom is still worth it," Felice said. 

 

Killeen TX dog tagTracy McLoud, left, presents Perrie Bigham with the World War I dog tag of Bigham’s father, William L. Villines. 

The tie that binds: WWI dog tag returned to soldier’s relative, 85 

By Larry Causey
via the Killeen Daily Herald newspaper (TX) web site 

There were a lot of surprises for everyone in the case of the recovered World War I dog tag of U.S. Army Pvt. William Larkin Villines.

First, Tracy McLoud of Belton was surprised when her metal detector led her to dig up the disc. She’d been over that ground before, she said.

Then, she was surprised when, with the help of her sister, Stacy McLoud, and a friend, Roxann Patrick, she was able to identify the owner of the dog tags and locate his daughter, Perrie Bigham, 85, who lives in Temple.

Bigham was pretty surprised herself.

“I’m the last survivor of the family,” she said. “I don’t know how they found me. I was shocked when she called me. I had a nephew with the same name who was in the Marines. I thought it was him. But she said it was World War I.”

On Saturday afternoon, McLoud and Patrick paid Bigham a visit, told the whole story and gave her the dog tag.

“I was born in 1936, so I didn’t know anything about World War I,” Bigham said, adding that her older brother, Charles, was in World War II.

“He never was OK after it,” she said.

Bigham said her daughter, a chemistry professor in Fort Worth, sent her an embarkation document with Villines’ name on it. Tracy McLoud looked at it and said she thought it marked young Villines’ passage from France to New York.

“I’m very humble that she took the time to find me,” Bigham said. “I’m excited about that. I’m going to put it in some kind of little case to preserve it." 

 

Louisiana Gold Star Mother graphic 

Human Condition: The story of one Louisiana WWI Gold Star Mother 

By John Singleton
via The Advocate newspaper (LA) web site 

Editor's note: Sept. 26 is Gold Star Mother’s Day, which is observed in the United States on the last Sunday of September each year. It is a day for people to recognize and honor those who have lost a son or daughter serving the United States Armed Forces.

After World War I, the United States Government was under great pressure from the families of soldiers who died in Europe.

This had been the first major foreign war the U.S. had ever been involved in, so it was a bit of on-the-job-training when it came to the war dead.

Although it took over 10 years after the signing of the Armistice in 1918, Congress voted to approve funding for what became known as “The Gold Star Mother’s Pilgrimage.” Congress allocated $5 million, not an insignificant sum of money during the Great Depression.

The specifics of the program were fairly straightforward: The government would pay all expenses to send the mothers via ocean liners to visit their son's graves in Belgium, England and France, where most of the soldiers were buried.

Lenora Vaughan was a Louisiana Gold Star Mother with a unique story.

Her son, Elwood Jacob Vaughan, was born in Pecan Island on July 11, 1892, and, like thousands of other young American men, registered for the draft for the First World War. Mrs. Vaughan, a widow, and her children scratched out a living farming, but after Elwood left for France, she moved the family to Arkansas.

Pvt. Vaughan died in France, not from a bullet or a grenade, but from pneumonia, yet another casualty of the Spanish Influenza pandemic. After learning of her boy’s death, Mrs. Vaughan held out hope that some day she’d save enough money for a trip to Elwood’s grave.

As if her life hadn’t had enough setbacks, her little farm in Rex, Arkansas, was wiped out by a tornado. Her hopes reemerged in 1930 when she received her invitation for the pilgrimage.

Although she lived in Arkansas, she decided she wanted to follow her son’s trek as accurately as possible, so she scraped together a few dollars to make the trip from Arkansas to Pecan Island, allowing her to take the same 10:25 train that carried Elwood and other boys from Vermillion Parish. 

 

Homer Peckham, Franklin, CT's only African American WWI veteran 

By Matthew Novosad
via the Norwich Bulletin (CT) newspaper web site 

Homer Peckham GraveHomer Peckham GraveHomer Eugene Peckham was born in May 1890 in Willimantic of African American descent. By the middle of the 1910s, Homer Peckham had started working as a farmhand as his father, George Peckham, had. This work led him to Blue Hill Farm in Franklin where he lived and worked under Felix Garceau, Sr. Homer Peckham is part of a long history of African American farm laborers who, while living and working in Franklin, served in the military. 

On April 6, 1917 the U.S. declared war on Germany and entered World War I. A draft law was soon implemented and Homer Peckham registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 alongside many other Franklin residents. His draft card was marked with an “X”, meaning that he could not read or write. Almost a year later, on April 30, 1918, Homer Peckham was drafted into the U.S. Army.

African Americans had limited options when serving in the U.S. military during the war. The Navy only allowed African Americans to work as messmen and cooks, while the Marine Corps barred African Americans entirely. The Army did allow black men into its ranks, but the vast majority were relegated to labor roles where in many cases they were not even issued the standard khaki uniform.

However, Homer Peckham was not assigned to a labor unit. He was instead assigned to ‘C’ Company, 367th Infantry, 92nd Division. This was one of two African American combat divisions to serve during the war, and the only to serve under the American flag. The other, the 93rd Division, served under the French.

Homer Peckham arrived in France on May 10, 1918. In France, the 92nd Division would face not just the Germans, but also prejudice from its commanding officers and fellow American soldiers. “Jim Crow” followed the army to Europe. In this violent, tense atmosphere the 92nd Division was trained by the French, and in late August 1918 they served their first period in the trenches of the Western Front in the Saint-Dié sector.

There, on Sept. 5, Homer Peckham was “lightly” wounded in action. After recovering from his wound, he saw action during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive which was one of the bloodiest battles in American history.

 

Eureka Springs WWI statueA Doughboy statue that has been in Eureka Springs’ Basin Spring Park for almost a century was damaged by a vandal. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette) 

Eureka Spring, AR WWI statue's face smashed; suspect sought 

By Bill Bowden
via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper's arkansasonline.com web site 

Someone smashed the face of a historic doughboy statue in Eureka Springs' Basin Spring Park.

Mayor Robert "Butch" Berry said it happened Wednesday night.

The statue is about 11 feet tall, so some effort would have to be made to reach the face, said Berry.

"It's just beyond my comprehension why somebody would destroy a historic statue representing our veterans," he said.

Police Chief Brian Young said police have surveillance video and a suspect.

"We are currently working on securing an arrest," he said in an email Friday afternoon.

Berry said that about $20,000 was spent a few years ago to restore the statue and base.

According to the Lovely County Citizen, Annie Ross House, a newspaper reporter, began a campaign around 1919 to purchase a doughboy statue for Basin Spring Park as a memorial to those who fought in the Spanish American War and World War I.

A contract was awarded in 1928 for the marble statue, according to the Citizen, which is a Eureka Springs weekly. But because fires destroyed newspaper records, exactly when the statue was installed in the park couldn't be determined, according to the article.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, the statue has been on its pedestal in the park since 1929.

An inscription on the front of the base reads: "In memory of our deceased World War veterans, Western District of Carroll County." 

 

Hello Girls action 1280The year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Burlington County (NJ) Library System will feature an Oct. 14 lecture about the U.S. Army Signal Corps telephone switchboard operators, also known as the “Hello Girls”, and their importance to battlefield communications during World War I and their fight for veterans status. 

“Hello Girls” lecture highlights NJ library system's 100th anniversary 

via the centraljersey.com web site 

The year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Burlington County Library System (BCLS) will culminate in October with a collection of activities, programs and events designed to mark the important milestone.

The festivities will kick off on Oct. 2 with a special celebration at the Main Library in Westampton, where visitors will be able to explore the library’s spectacular 100-year history, from its origin as New Jersey’s first county library through its growth and expansion into the modern system residents rely upon today, with a History Walk display of archived photos, documents, artifacts and more, according to information provided by the county.

After touring the library’s history, guests will take a step back in time to the 1920s with a performance by Svetlana and the Delancey Five.

Registration is required for this event, which is hosted by the Burlington County Library Commission and the Burlington County Library System Foundation with sponsorship in part by First Harvest, PSE&G and TD Bank.

To register online, visit https://bcls-nj.libcal.com/event/8302623 .

“One hundred years is a huge milestone and we’re thrilled to have Svetlana and the Delancey Five here to help us kick off a systemwide celebration that will feature a variety of special anniversary programs and events at the Main Library and branches,” BCLS Director Ranjna Das said in the statement. “The BCLS was founded to serve as a repository of knowledge for our communities and we want our entire county to be able to come together and celebrate this special anniversary.”

“Not many things last 100 years so the foundation wanted to do something special to mark the occasion,” BCLS Foundation President Patricia Lindsay-Harvey said in the statement. “We are delighted to bring Svetlana and the Delancey Five to the library to help us celebrate this milestone and swing in the start of the library’s next century.” 

 

WI Purple Heart returnedPurple Heart returns to family of WWI soldier (WBAY) 

Purple Hearts Reunited returns medal to Oconto County, WI family of WWI soldier 

By Megan Kernan
via the wbay.com (WI) web site 

LENA, Wis. (WBAY) - The Purple Heart awarded to a World War I soldier, returns to his great nephew in Lena.

78-year-old Jake Neta, Vietnam Veteran, U.S. Army, received his great uncles purple heart at the “return ceremony” on Friday.

PFC John Francis “Dutch” Hansel of Medford Wi., served in the 32nd Infantry Division when he was wounded in World War I.

His Purple Heart Medal and World War I Victory Medal was found in someone else’s home when they were moving out.

“I was kind of surprised because I had no knowledge of my great uncle being in the service,” said Neta.

Hansel’s medals were then given to Purple Hearts Reunited, a non-profit foundation that has returned 850 medals, either lost or stolen, to their rightful families.

“Our organization did the research and found out that family members were in the area here and therefore we came out today to return the medal,” said Michael Brennan, Valor Guard for Purple Hearts Reunited.

Neta said he never met his great uncle and learned about his service for the first time during the return ceremony.

“I didn’t know the man, but I can honor the man,” said Neta.

Brennan said the organization travels throughout the country to reunite medals of valor to family members, who most of the time have never met them, to tell them about their service and sacrifice.

“This specific Purple Heart return is one of the few that we do that is actually from World War I,” said Brennan.

Neta said it has been a special experience learning about his great uncle and his service in World War I, especially knowing that serving in the military runs in their family, “It makes me very proud that, that blood runs in me.” 

 

 Donegal memorialA new roadside memorial which pays homage to those who served at a World War I US Army base in Donegal, reland more than a century ago has been unveiled in Inishowen.

New World War I Memorial Unveiled in Inishowen

via the Donegal Daily newspaper (Ireland) web site 

A new roadside memorial which pays homage to those who served at a World War I US Army base in Donegal more than a century ago has been unveiled in Inishowen.

The Naval and Air Station at Ture, Quigley’s Point was in operation for less than a year but served as a base for a number of attacks against the Germans and housed more than 400 servicemen.

A number of local men also helped with its construction from January, 1918.

The station opened on September 3, 1918, and formally closed on February 22, 1919.

During the operational life of the base a total of 27 patrol flights, 12 training flights and 9 test flights were made.

Ten convoys were escorted, and two U-boats were attacked. Ten pilots, 10 ground officers and 432 enlisted men were attached to the base.

Local farmer, Gordon Rankin, on whose land the base was built, has permitted the erection of three memorial plaques on the entrance to
one of the fields that was used for the facility. To this day, the field contains the last remaining building of the base.

The plaques, on the main R238 road between Moville and Muff, give the details of the former base and operations of the five ‘Large
America’ Curtiss flying boats that operated there.

The erection of the memorial was delayed by covid and has just recently been completed.

The memorial came about as part of the Decade of Centenaries programme. The Inishowen Maritime Museum in Greencastle was grant
aided by Donegal County Council and FLAG North to carry out research on marine activities around Inishowen during World War 1. 

 

TombThe interment ceremonies for the Unknown Servicemen of World War II and the Korean War at Arlington National Cemetery. May 30, 1958. 

Celebrating the Tomb’s centennial 

via the American Legion magazine web site 

The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is leading national efforts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sacred crypts at Arlington National Cemetery. The society plans events in multiple locations in the United States and France to honor the anniversary of the monument that came into existence in 1921 due to legislation from U.S. Rep. Hamilton Fish Jr. – a founder of The American Legion – with support from the organization.

The Legion has been actively involved in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier since its installation, having participated in multiple ceremonies there, calling for 24/7 guarding of the site and raising funds to pay for its lighting in 1969. American Legion Post 1 in Paris is providing local support for the society at several events in France, and for a “pilgrimage” by leaders of various groups such as American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Commemorative events in October and November, subject to change, are listed below. Times are local. For updates, visit tombguard.org on the web.

October

1-31, Tyler, Texas. Commemorative display, Robert R. Muntz Library, 3900 University Blvd. uttyler.edu/library

5-9, Rome, Ga. “A CALL TO HONOR: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Replica” on display for the public to visit and ask questions. This half-scale traveling replica is maintained by the Exchange Club of Rome, which has united with the society to help educate citizens about the tomb. Coosa Valley Fairgrounds, 69 Church St. SE, daily 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., tomb.romeexchangeclub.com

14-15, Covington, La. “A CALL TO HONOR: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Replica” on display; questions will be answered for visitors. St. Tammany Justice Center Veterans Plaza, 701 N. Columbus St., daily 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

18-19, Paris. A walking tour of key American monuments and sites in Paris is followed by a wreath ceremony at the American Legion Mausoleum. A Never Forget Garden at the American Cathedral will be dedicated at 5 p.m.; the Memorial Cloister is the first memorial in France to Americans fallen in World War I. See tombguard.org for more information. RSVP required to contact@parispost1.fr.

 

Lucie Oelrichs Jay and the Anti-German Music Movement of WWI 

via the John Jay Homestead web site

On April 6, 1917 the United States joined its allies and officially entered World War I. Patriotism was at an all time high and Americans furiously attacked any traces of German culture in the country. German place names were changed, German books and newspapers were burned in the streets, and sauerkraut was even renamed “Liberty Cabbage.” The growing opposition to German culture came to a head on October 30, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra took the stage in Providence, Rhode Island. The chief executive of the symphony, Henry Lee Higginson denied a request to include The Star-Spangled Banner in the program that evening stating that patriotic tunes had “no place in an art concert.” The refusal to play the national anthem eventually led to the ruin of the orchestra’s German-born conductor, Karl Muck. The opposition to Muck was part of a larger campaign in the United States to eliminate German music and musicians from the country. Several wealthy Americans were involved in this cause, but none of them were as passionate and determined as Lucie Oelrichs Jay.

Lucie Oelrichs JayLucie Oelrichs JayLucie Oelrichs Jay (1854-1931) was the wife of Colonel William Jay (1841-1915), John Jay’s great-grandson. Her father was Henry Oelrichs, a wealthy German immigrant who founded Oelrichs & Co. Steamship Company in Baltimore in the mid-19th century. Her father’s wealth allowed Lucie to study in Europe as a young woman and become friends with the New York elite.

Starting in late 1917, the widowed Mrs. Jay threw herself into the campaign against German music. Mrs. Jay was a subscriber to The Chronicle, a short-lived invitation-only magazine aimed at wealthy New Yorkers. Right after the Providence concert the November issue of The Chronicle was published. That issue included the first-ever published article by Mrs. Jay entitled, German Music and German Opera. Using her position as the only woman on the board of the New York Philharmonic as credential, Mrs. Jay asserted that German instrumental music was acceptable to American audiences but stated: “to give the German operas, particularly those by Wagner, at this time would be a great mistake. Given as they must be in the German language and depicting in many cases scenes of violence and conflict they must inevitably draw our minds back to the spirit of greed and barbarism which has led to so much suffering.”

On November 2nd the New York Times quoted Mrs. Jay’s article and reported that the Metropolitan Opera was discussing her demands. The following day the Met announced that it would suspend performances of German operas and German singers for the duration of the war.

The Chronicle continued to publish articles and opinion pieces about the need to remove German music from performance. In December 1917 it credited Mrs. Jay’s article as the sole reason the Met eliminated the German works from its performance schedule. In January 1918, it claimed that Wagner’s Ring Cycle was an allegory for current events and should not be played. And in February 1918 The Chronicle praised the resignation of both the president and treasurer of the Philharmonic board claiming they were both German pacifists. In truth, The Chronicle was nothing more then a propaganda publication. And since its subscribers were wealthy New Yorkers, many whom were patrons of the arts, it was the perfect vehicle for the attacking of German culture in America, most specifically music.

By March of 1918, Lucie Jay had become the face of the Anti-German music movement. After getting both the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic to cancel German musical performances, she renewed calls for the ousting of Karl Muck in The Chronicle with “Doktor Muck Must Go.” She urged New Yorkers to boycott the upcoming performances of the Boston Symphony scheduled to take place at Carnegie Hall. The performances went on as scheduled but had to be performed under police guard due to protests. 

 

concrete ships 

The US Navy built 12 concrete ships for World War I 

By Blake Stilwell
via the We Are The Mighty web site 

During World War I, steel for building ships was in short supply.

While American President Woodrow Wilson was determined to keep the U.S. out of the war, he didn’t want America’s Merchant Marine to be left unbuilt. So he approved the construction of 24 ships made from concrete to the tune of $50 million ($11.4 billion adjusted for inflation) to help build American shipping capacity.

Concrete, while cheap and readily available, is expensive to build and operate when it comes to ships. They need thick hulls, which means less room for cargo. Only 12 were ever built and by the time they were ready, the Great War was over.

A website dedicated to this “experiment in ship building,” ConcreteShips.org, keeps track of what happened to these 12 innovations.

SS Atlantus

The Atlantus was a steamer that was sold as a ferry landing ship. Before she could ever be used for that, she broke free during a storm and grounded near Cape May, New Jersey, in 1926.

She’s been falling apart ever since but what’s left can still be seen from shore.

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