Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Recommended: The U.S. National Park Service WWI Website

I know, America's national parks are "Over Here," not "Over There,"  where the war was fought. That, however, is just the point of this outstanding resource from the National Park Service (NPS).  It has some of the best photos and articles on the American home front that I've encountered during the Centennial of the war.  There are over 400 NPS national parks, memorials, monuments, battlefields, and historic sites, and a surprising number of them have connections with the First World War.  Here are some examples. The dozens of in-depth articles are well researched and written, and the site finder map is easy use.

Officer candidates conduct weapons training at Camp Warden McLean in 1917 near the present day Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center

The NPS Honors the Role of Industry During the War at Keweenaw Copper
Mine National Historical Park, Shown Above and Below

A Present-Day Tour of the Mine Site

Vessels in various stages of construction in the shipways of the
Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation, Alexandria, VA

Doughboys taking "Their last glimpse of old New York" and the Statue of Liberty

Explore the NPS Website here:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hellfire Boys: The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service. . .
Reviewed by Clark Shilling

Hellfire Boys: The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and the Race for the World's Deadliest Weapons

by Theo Emery
Little, Brown and Company, 2017

Signal Corps Doughboys Donning Advanced Gas Protection Gear on the Western Front

The widespread use of chemical weapons is one of the unique and tragic storylines of World War I. General surveys on the use of gas in the war have been written and there are detailed histories of the Canadian and British gas services. A biography of the leading German scientist, Fritz Haber, sheds much light on Germany's chemical war. But up to now, to my knowledge, we have not had a detailed retelling of the American effort to develop and deploy chemical weapons. Thanks to Theo Emery and his new book, Hellfire Boys: The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and the Race for the World's Deadliest Weapons, we now have that account.

The Hellfire Boys was the name given specifically to doughboys of the 30th Engineer Regiment (Gas and Flame), the first organization in the American Army tasked with using chemical weapons. The author however, uses the term in a broader sense to include all the civilian scientists and soldiers who had a hand in creating and using chemical weapons.

The author claims three main strands to his story: the research and the development of chemical weapons in American laboratories, the combat stories of the Hellfire Boys sent to France to use chemical weapons, and the story of a German chemist and spy who was captured and then forced to work for the U.S. war effort designing chemical incendiaries.

There are several other important story lines in this book. One is the development of Lewisite, a super-toxic chemical, and America's contribution to the pantheon of poison gases that combined the characteristics of an asphyxiating gas like phosgene with the blistering qualities of mustard gas. Another is the bureaucratic struggle between the U.S. Army and civilian scientists for control of the research and production of chemical weapons. Finally there is the heroic story of the mobilization of American industry to produce these weapons. In April 1917 the United States had virtually no capability to produce chemical weapons, but by the fall of 1918 the U.S. was poised to become the world's chemical weapons superpower. In many ways, this effort has many similarities to the Manhattan Project of World War II.

Parts of this book are more interesting than others. Chemistry can be dull, combat usually is not. Sometimes the author transitions from one story line to another rather abruptly. Nonetheless, there is a lot to be learned from this book. There are a lot of new names not generally known to students of the American war effort to be found here such as Vannoy Manning, George Hulett, Amos Fries, and Walter T. Scheele. There are a lot of long chemical names and terms to master like lachrymators, sternutators, asphyxiants, and vesicants.

Postwar Display of U.S. Army Gas Service Equipment

Did you know that in early 1917 the War Department outsourced the development of chemical weapons to the Bureau of Mines, because the Bureau had experience dealing with poison gas in coal mines? How did the American University, a then-struggling Methodist school in Washington DC, become the center of U.S. chemical research and development? Did you know there is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Army Chemical Corps at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where you can look at gas masks and mortars and Livens projectors from World War I, as well as more modern chemical warfare equipment?

Hellfire Boys is a well-researched and well-documented book that provides a lot of interesting information for students of the American war effort.

Clark Shilling

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Story Behind the Photo: The Machine Gunners of Verdun

The triumphant machine gunners in the photo above are standing in front of combat shelter MF2 on the Verdun battlefield.  They have just participated in the recapture of Fort Douaumont in September 1916. The shelter had been completed in 1907 and was almost destroyed in 1915 as obsolete. After Verdun was attacked in February 1916, however, it proved its value.  Located mid-way between Fort Douaumont and Froideterre (an important part fort, part field fortification complex). MF2 never fell to the enemy during the battle and withstood numerous bombardments.  It still stands today, but it's quite difficult to get to. Here are two recent photos from Christina Holstein, who helped me pin down the location of the photo.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Great Quotes from the Lost Battalion from Rob Laplander

Excerpts from: Finding the Lost Battalion, Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WWI Epic, Robert J. Laplander, American Expeditionary Foundation, Waterford, Wisconsin, 2006. (Found at, website of the American Battle Monuments Commission.)

1919 Reenactment by the Original Participants at the Actual Site

Private McCollum (32), p.204
“…We were given orders to cut a path through the underbrush…much to our surprise, we (were not) fired upon. We came to a bend in the ravine (and) could see why we had come through without being molested. In a little clearing in front of us was what remained of a large building…One of our shells had made a direct hit on the roof…Hardly had we reached this opening when we were strafed with machine gun and sniper fire. There was no place for us to go except straight up the hillside…Quickly we climbed to a ridge and safety near the crest of the hill…”

Private Julius Langer of Company H (44), p. 272
“I was alone in the hole I dug. I had only a mess kit spoon and a bayonet to dig with, but it is wonderful how fast one can dig when bullets are whistling around. There was dirt flying in all directions for a few minutes and it was everybody for themselves.”

Looking North at the Ravine and Hillside Site of the Pocket
from the Last Battalion Memorial

Lt. Eager, (161, 234), p.272
“The lieutenant in charge of G Company...had dug him out a nice fox hole and he was sitting down there and it looked like he was safe and Lt. Harrington, who went up there with me, and I were standing there talking to him. He was sitting down in his foxhole with rock piled up in front of him, which he had dug out in digging his foxhole and it looked like good protection. While we were standing there a German grenade thrown from above the road on top of the hill…came down there and landed right on the rocks and just cut his face to pieces. Lieutenant Harrington got a slug (sic) through the shoulder out of it too (but) I did not get a scratch although I was standing just as close as any of them…I took over the company (G) from then on, being the ranking officer…”

Lt. Wilhelm, (20), p. 295
“I took ten men and worked for a hundred and fifty yards to see if there was a possible chance for the company advancing between the machine gun firing from the foot of the hill and the infantry company above us…After five of these men had been shot, I determined that this was not feasible and started back toward the remainder of the company, only to find that the Germans had swung down in between myself and the rest of the company. We were cut off…The only thing left for us was to head straight up the hill…We had (only) advanced 5 or 6 yards (when) we found that there were Germans all around us. They were shouting to one another and evidently had some idea we were in the vicinity, so we crawled into thick underbrush and lay there all during that day. A little path…evidently lead to a German gun position…for during the day the Germans were passing…so close we could hear what they said. After dark, we decided it would be much safer to work back in smaller groups…in the general direction of the American lines. It took us from 8.00 pm to 12.00 am that night to go an eighth of a mile.  Directly in front of us were three stretches of barbed wire 30 yards across, protected by machine guns…We started working through this wire, our progress being necessarily slow as every time a flare went up we would have to stand perfectly rigid until it had died out. They fired frequently with machine guns, searching the wire for any enemy that might be there…As luck would have it, we got through safely…to our on posts.”

Original Rifle Pit at the Pocket, 2006 Photo

Private John, Company A (220), p.301
“My buddy and I were lying in our little…foxhole, keeping watch of the Germans coming in behind us. They were hollering as they were passing through an open space in the timber. I told him that the next time one came out, I was going to cut loose. We weren’t the only ones who had the same idea. My gun barrel got so hot I couldn’t touch it with my bare hands. They didn’t scare us as much as they though they would…”

Private Sydney Smith (256), p. 302
“When I got to him, the bullet had come straight down his rifle barrel and took both the sights off and hit him right in the temple. He was still alive and every time he would breathe, a bubble of blood would raise on the side of his head. I couldn’t get him up out of the mud and water; he’d have had the cloths shot off him in a little bit. I had to just let him lay there in the mud all that time…But he was still laying there alive when they came through there days later and took us out of there.”

Lt. Griffin, Co H – writing to his wife (20, 106) p.314
“The picture I have of you has a hole in it from a piece of shell. I have four bullet holes in my overcoat and my trousers were torn to pieces by a grenade, but I only have my knees cut besides the bullet in my shoulder. The strap to my field glasses was cut by a bullet, my gas mask was cut in half by shrapnel, and my helmet has a dent from a bullet. But they did not get me…”

Capt. McMurtry, Major Whittlesey (Commander), Lt. Cullen of the Lost Battalion

Captain Rainsford, first glimpse of ravine (103), p.345
“A steep and narrow ravine, its sides choked with brush and wire, the crests to the right and left held with machine guns, rifle and hand grenades, a long distance machine gun fire sweeping down its length from the north and the first ranging shells wailing in from across the hills. Roncesvalles or Thermopylae may have looked so to their assaulting columns, grim in the sunset light; and the thought rose unbidden to the mind – what a place for men to die.”

Private Joseph Lehmeier, (44), p.358
“John J. Knettel and Joseph Materna…and myself were in a dugout and a German grenade lit on Joe’s back. I grabbed it and threw it back and about 20 feet away from us, it went off. Joe got his ear cut and I got my head full of small particles from it, which made my head bleed considerably. If I had not thrown it back, the three of us would have been killed.”

Private Minder describes action in the Ravine d'Argonne in a letter back home (37), p.369
“We all had to go up and help the infantry on a raiding party…(so) we went over to the left about a hundred yards…mounted our guns a little higher up on the side of the hill and were told to shoot over there heads whenever we saw a flash from the other side of the valley. That was where the Germans were and also on top of the hill. The infantry started off and in about five minutes little red flashes like fireflies could be seen all over the place. They even seemed to come from the top of the trees…(and) every time we saw a flash, we sent a few shots over in that general direction (and) were very busy changing the gun from one point to another. (But) in a half hour it was all over…”

2nd Lt. Clarence Davis, 308th (29) p 392
“We were subjected to terrific machine gun fire. The fire of our own artillery did not seem to damage the wire much. They could not find it among the trees. The green men fought remarkably well; you never saw such bravery. But unfortunately, their lack of knowledge of automatic rifles soon exhausted our supply of ammunition as they fired whole clips at a burst and were soon within ten feet of the German’s strongly entrenched position with our ammunition gone. WE took what we could from our fallen comrades and looked in vain for supporting platoons. (But) instead of supporting platoons, Germans came around behind us as well as in front. My knowledge of the Argonne drive from here on is hearsay, for I was captured and sent to a German hospital…”

Unnamed Soldier (21), p. 395
“Bullets flayed the soil in straight streaks, breaking the stiffened limbs of corpses, perforating and ripping up the bodies, plunging into the vacant faces, bespattering the dried out eyes. We feel the heavens burst over our heads and the earth opening under our feet. Everything is swept away by the blasts of a tornado of projectiles.”

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Remembering a Veteran: Lt. Arthur Kimber, 22nd Aero Squadron, USAS — A Roads Classic

The Service and Death of Lt. Arthur "Clifford" Kimber

by Patrick Gregory

News Flash!  Author Patrick Gregory is flying across the Atlantic "pond" to speak on Lt. Kimber's war service next week on Wednesday, 21 February, 6:30 p.m. at the Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Please try to attend if you're in the area.

The First Flag Today
Originally Borne to France by
Clifford Kimber
Although he left from Palo Alto and the San Francisco Bay Area as a Stanford volunteer, Arthur "Clifford" Kimber was not a native of California. The family had moved west from New York only eight years before when his father, a clergyman, died suddenly in the summer of 1909. It had been a terrible loss for a still young family—his widow Clara, more than 20 years his junior, and his three sons John, Clifford, and George. At 13, Clifford was the middle child. The Rev. Arthur Kimber had been a dynamic and inspiring figure, not just to a family who looked to him for his love and support but also to a large body of parishioners in downtown New York. 

Thousands of men and women, many of them recent immigrants to the United States, flocked to his mission church in Manhattan's Lower East Side. He was the vicar of St. Augustine's, an Episcopal church in the city's Bowery, an area which acted as a magnet for the city's dispossessed or newly hopeful. St. Augustine's offered spiritual, and a good deal of practical, support on the way to a new life. The mission was an offshoot of Trinity Church on Broadway and Wall Street, the main Episcopal church of New York and by comparison to St. Augustine's, possibly the wealthiest parish in the United States. Kimber senior had been appointed in 1872 to head up this new offshoot, something he devoted himself to over the following 35 years. But it was another aspect of Kimber's ministry, his social activism, which brought him into contact with New York's public authorities along the way, working with them to try to find practical as well as religious solutions to the city's problems. 

During the mid-1890s he worked through the city's Police Board, cooperating with Theodore Roosevelt, then police commissioner for the city in a campaign to curtail the city's drinking hours. That was before the young Arthur Clifford had even been born, yet pride in the memory of his father's work and his common cause with Roosevelt fired the young Kimber in his teenage years. 

By the time Kimber was growing up in California, Roosevelt had already reached and departed the political summit, yet the former president remained young Kimber's political hero. It was no accident, therefore, that he sought out Roosevelt before he set out for Europe in 1917, anxious to receive some words of wisdom from the great man. Later still, and in France the following year, Kimber was just as pleased to have trained as a pilot alongside Roosevelt's youngest son, Quentin —"QR"— whom he described in his letters home as "a pretty good sport [who] has lots of life [and] is absolutely democratic and very well liked."

Lt. Arthur Kimber, U.S. Air Service
Formerly American Field Service
But whatever political allegiances passed down by his father, or indeed any more personal or moral qualities he instilled in his middle son, there was another more practical inheritance which young Clifford was gifted by the Rev. Kimber—an interest in gadgetry and machines. That gadgetry included the latest form of transport then being pioneered, aviation. In spite of his clerical training and background, Arthur Kimber was a man who also thought and taught with his hands—practical life skills to parishioners, as well as busying himself in his workshop at home with all manner of mechanical projects and inventions. Clifford was an avid student and helper in all his workshop activity. In time, in 1907/08, he and his elder brother spent a year at a school in Canterbury in England, and it was after their spell there that the Rev. Kimber took his two older boys for a holiday in continental Europe. There, on 8 August 1908 in France, the three were in the crowd at a horse racing track at Hunaudi√®res near Le Mans to witness Wilbur Wright making the first official public demonstration of his Wright Model A aircraft, the flying machine he and his brother Orville had designed. It was a flyaway, runaway success. It wowed the crowds and Clifford Kimber was hooked. 

After his father's death the following year he and his brothers—now relocated to California—found solace in aping the exploits of Wright, taking to the hills near the various homesteads where they lived, to build and fly gliders. They formed a little club and poured what money they earned locally into the materials needed to build the gliders, with the rather more daring Clifford acting as chief architect and pilot, even if all was not plain sailing. There were mishaps on the way, failed attempts which reduced the carefully assembled wooden constructs to firewood. His mother, Clara, in a memoir many years later, recalled her son taking off in one especially large glider and flying it from Cragmont in the Berkeley Hills, crashing further down the slopes. He emerged largely unscathed, if $10 the worse off, but at least one San Francisco newspaper jumped the gun to publish untimely—and erroneous—accounts of his death. 

Kimber with His Operational SPAD Fighter
It was that flying bug which inspired him years later to apply for a posting to the nascent U.S. Air Service in France. Within a matter of weeks of joining the ambulance corps he had written to Edmund Gros, a San Franciscan of French heritage who was the medical director of the American Field Service. Gros, a physician, managed to combine his medical duties for the American Ambulance with a different role—that of the de facto organizer of early American aviation efforts in France. It was he who had helped create the Lafayette Escadrille, the original unit of American pilots who flew with the French air service from 1916, and the Lafayette Flying Corps, the later American foreign legionnaires who would fly with a variety of other French squadrons. Ambulance volunteer Kimber wanted to be part of Gros's plans and to play an active combat role in the war and thus wrote to him in Paris. After some negotiation and medicals Kimber was accepted in September 1917 for the American air arm proper, now beginning to be pieced together. 

Clifford Kimber spent the next year in aviation service, the first six months in training over the winter of 1917/18. It was an exacting schedule of first basic, and then advanced training schools, finally being tutored at a third camp in aerial gunnery techniques. Yet delays afterward—delays in transporting a vast force of men and materiel to Europe as well as the wrangling still going on as to the American Expeditionary Force's exact role and theater of operations—saw him frustratedly having to cool his heels for a time. He then acted as a "ferryman," delivering warplanes around France from distribution depots and airfields.

But finally it was time for active service as Kimber went into combat with both the French Air Service—Escadrille Spa. 85—and the U.S. Air Service's 22nd Aero Squadron, seeing action across the front in northeastern France in the summer and early autumn of 1918. Kimber fought with the 22nd during the Americans' St. Mihiel campaign, narrowly escaping with his life in an attack by enemy fighters. Acting as his patrol's rear guard, he was jumped by a group of Fokker aircraft and his plane riddled with gunfire. "Unreasonably shot to pieces" in the restrained words of the squadron's official historian, Arthur Raymond Brooks. 

Yet less than two weeks later Kimber's luck ran out. It was late in the morning of 26 September 1918, the opening morning of the Meuse-Argonne campaign, when the young lieutenant led a patrol to strafe roads to the north of the German Kriemhilde Stellung battle lines. Descending from the clouds on an enemy gun battery in the village of Bantheville, his SPAD XIII fighter was hit by a shell from the ground. The plane exploded and Kimber fell to his death. The moment was witnessed by the fellow members of his patrol who saw the remnants of the aircraft plunge to the ground, yet his body was not recovered at the end of the war.

It took another three years for that to happen, before his body was finally identified in an unmarked grave in the village. A year after that in the summer of 1922, 1st Lieutenant Arthur Clifford Kimber was finally re-interred in an official plot, only a matter of miles from where he had fallen. His grave can today be found toward the back of the American military cemetery at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, in one of the final rows of the last plot. An early volunteer for the war in France, he came to be one of the last buried there.

© Patrick Gregory 2016

Adapted from An American on the Western Front: The Letters of Arthur Clifford Kimber, Patrick Gregory & Elizabeth Nurser (The History Press, UK, June 2016)

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Centennial at the Grass Roots: Steve Miller Documents Camp Meade, Part 2

Part 1, of Steve Miller's feature appeared in yesterday's posting on Roads to the Great War.

Displayed at the Fort Meade Museum
(4674 Griffin Ave, Fort Meade)

Photos Taken by U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographers

French Altimeter and Wristwatch Used by Lt. Donald Wilson, US Air Service

The Story of  the "Five of Hearts" FT-17 Tank

The Five of Hearts Today

A Hands-On Educational Kiosk

The Mark VIII Tank

Interior View of the Mark VIII

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Centennial at the Grass Roots: Steve Miller Documents Camp Meade, Part 1

Steve Miller
at Cantigny, France

My friend, regular contributor, and former SAC Air Force and traveling mate Steve Miller is simply the best at in-depth photographic studies of WWI subjects.

Recently Steve visited Fort Meade, MD, which was built during the war as one of the cantonments to train America's new army. In those days, it was known as "Camp Meade, of course." All the photos are Steve's, except the first old image which I found at National Archives.

Part 2, will  appear in tomorrow's edition of Roads to the Great War.

Camp Meade Nears Completion, 1917

Many Units Passed Through Camp Meade on Their Way to France

Photos of Some of the Units, Including the 79th "Lorraine" Division

The Hello Girls of the Signal Corps in Paris

Camp Meade Has Always Had a Strong Connection with the Signal Corps
Here Is Some Captured German Communications Equipment from the War

There Are Many Remembrances of the War Around Fort Meade

Today Fort Meade Has an Outstanding Museum

Tomorrow We Will Look at the Museum's Collection

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Why Did They Attack Shoulder-to-Shoulder in 1914?

Depiction of a French Attack at Charleville, 1914

Canadian Historian Rob Engen commented on this in our September 2009 issue of Over the Top:

A.  The Generals Didn't Quite Comprehend the Lethal Firepower of the New Weaponry

From the midpoint of the 19th century on, technological developments increased the lethality of the battlefield many times over, even if armies were slow to appreciate the transitions. Machine guns and rapid-fire artillery in particular created "fire-swept zones" on the field that made a frontal attack extremely dangerous.

Cadavers of Attacking German Soldiers, Battle of the Marne, 1914

B.  The Generals Had Their Doubts About Their Conscripted Soldiers

There was also legitimate concern [by the general staffs] about whether dispersion and the necessary delegation of small-group tactics could prove at all effective. Skirmishing was, correctly, seen as a form of warfare that required well-trained and disciplined soldiers and junior officers who possessed a great deal of imagination and personal initiative. The French tactical problem was that after 1870 an average of 70 percent of their army was made up of first-year conscripts. The industrial age's creation of mass conscript armies made it difficult to envisage such green troops ever being sufficiently trained to conduct effective small- group actions, with the resultant fear that, come actual battle, they would be torn apart when they conducted such actions badly.

As historian Hew Strachan put it, "Nobody in France ever really doubted the necessity of open order, but many did question the quality of the French soldier's training. The solidity of close order had helped to compensate for the conscript's lack of skill." So as the immediate lessons of 1870 faded, the proponents of mass and the frontal attack, such as Colonel Ardant du Picq, began to move French tactical doctrine back in  their direction. The notorious French infantry regulations of 1884 and 1895 enshrined this, commanding that attacking units should advance coude √† coude ("elbow to elbow") not breaking formation to take advantage of cover, but assaulting en masse to achieve the maximum shock effect, and ride the wave of high morale, with rifle and bayonet. This was enshrined as a way to sustain the offensive (which was exaggerated to be all important in war), stoke the fires of morale and moral superiority of the French soldiers, and make good on the conscripts' otherwise questionable

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Desert Anzacs
Reviewed by Bruce Sloan

Desert Anzacs: The Under-Told Story of the Sinai Palestine Campaign 1916–1918

by Neil Dearberg
Glass House Books, 2017

Neil Dearberg has based Desert Anzacs on research, analysis, more than ten years of travel and living throughout the Middle East, plus 15 years of military service. He has presented a part of WWI history of which many of us know little. As he points out,

Anzacs went to Gallipoli and exposure to incompetent British generals and a determined Johnny Turk. Evacuated to Egypt, they would once more face incompetent British generals and a determined Johnny Turk as they crossed the heated sands of Sinai.

Two Australian Lighthorsemen Pause at Mt. Meredith in the Bleak Sinai

The troops continually faced the hesitancy of the British War Office—until Allenby. After devastating failures at the Dardanelles, Kut in Mesopotamia, and stalemate in France, British morale was "rock bottom" while Turkish morale was "stratospheric". Moreover, in defending the Suez Canal, General Murray split his forces into smaller, isolated pockets forward of the canal, thus ensuring that they would be defeated—until the appointment of Henry Chauvel.

General Henry Chauvel, an Australian, became "commander of Anzac, British, and dominion soldiers, the first non-British officer ever to do so." This was "an unheard-of honor that horrified traditional caste-conscious relics of the empire." The battle of Romani would be the first bright spot in 1916 for British arms, after which the combined forces chased the Turks east into Beersheba and Gaza, on to Palestine and Jerusalem. Then, in 1918, after two failed "raids" across the Jordan River (More than "raids", these were failed campaigns, whitewashed for the War Office), and coordinating with the Northern Arab Army, Amman was captured.

A three-pronged attack, including "the great ride", "the greatest cavalry operation of all time,", or "the greatest mounted ride in history", by nearly 30,000 horsemen of the Desert Mounted Corps, faked out the Turks and ensured victory and a northward chase to Damascus and beyond. The spoils were 75,000 prisoners (Turkish soldiers along with numerous Germans, including staff officers), more than 360 guns, 800 machine guns, 3,500 transport animals, rolling stock, trucks, a wagon loaded with gold and silver, plus other booty.

This three-week operation was the culmination of three years of work in which the Suez Canal was saved, major contributions were made to the Arab forces and their support of Sharif Hussein's revolt, the Holy Land was reclaimed after 730 years of Muslim control, and a springboard was provided for victory in the west.

The Sinai campaign "showed that Australians and New Zealanders continued the spirit of mateship, pride and national identity, begun at Gallipoli." However, while praising the "other ranks" and many of the lesser British officers, the author is devastatingly firm in his disdain for most senior British officers until Allenby. After all, he IS Australian.

Bruce Sloan

Monday, February 12, 2018

Recommended: Turning the Pages of Patriotism with the American Library Association

From the New York Historical Society
by Tammy Kiter

Soldier amidst newspapers. Letter dated January 7, 1918.  Salvator Cillis Papers.

Thoughts of World War I do not necessarily conjure up images of soldiers reading for leisure. Rather, we tend to recall seeing photographs of brave young men engaged in trench warfare and scenes of the horrific aftermath of brutal battles. But through the efforts of the American Library Association, thousands of U.S. servicemen and Allied forces were given an opportunity to step away from the training camps and battlefields and into the pages of a book, magazine, or newspaper sent from the home front.

Founded in 1876, the American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library organization in the world. The War Department’s Commission on Training Camp Activities extended an invitation to the ALA to provide library service to soldiers and sailors in America, France, and several other locations. In 1917 the American Library Association established the Committee on Mobilization and War Service Plans, later known as the War Service Committee. ALA was among seven welfare groups associated with the Commission; together, they were often referred to as the “Seven Sisters”. The other partner organizations were as follows: Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, Salvation Army, Jewish Welfare Board, Knights of Columbus, and War Camp Community Service.

ALA’s Library War Service programs were directed by Librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam, and later by Carl H. Milam, who earned the nickname of “Mr. ALA”. At the time of the Library War Service’s inception, ALA had a membership of only 3,300 members and an annual budget of just $25,000. Yet, through the dedication and perseverance of both library employees and American citizens, they were able to accomplish amazing feats during a tumultuous time in U.S. history. In a guide published by the ALA War Service, the author notes that “previous wars had shown us how to equip and administer commissary departments and canteens, but they taught us little of present day value as to what the men would need in the way of literary or intellectual equipment.” He goes on to state, “Not only do the students in khaki call for more than the soldiers in blue and gray, but more is demanded of them in return.”

American Library Association War Poster

Every library in the United States was urged to participate not only as a collection site and repository for donated books, but as a source of promotion and publicity for the campaign. Librarians were encouraged to join the “Dollar-a-Month-Club” whereby they contributed their own money to the cause. Library staff catalogued books and placed a War Service label in the front cover and circulation card in the back. Volunteers were solicited to sort, pack, and ship the materials to military members at home and abroad. Citizens were invited to place a one cent stamp on the cover of their magazines and place them in the local postbox to be mailed to our servicemen. 

In a 1918 letter Salvator Cillis, a soldier at Camp Upton, Long Island, writes: “You have no doubt seen the little notice printed on all the periodicals, about when the reader gets through to put a one cent stamp and it will be sent to soldiers and sailors. Well in one corner of our barracks there are several piles of them…” His accompanying sketch (page top)  brings the scene to life. Cillis continued to send heartfelt, humorous letters with sketches home to his friends and family, even during his time in the trenches.

Continue reading the article here:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Caricature at War

Sorting through my hard drive filled with images I came upon a folder titled "Caricatures."  Below are the image contained in that folder. According to the online WWI Encyclopedia, the term “caricature”, is derived from the Old Italian word caricare which means “to exaggerate” and “to attack vehemently”. Thus the normal task of a caricaturist is to attack and to ridicule society and government, usually in an exaggerated or distorted way. Illustrative caricatures are usually more aggressive than [written] articles. The press and propaganda agencies of all the nations (including neutrals) deployed caricatures as an instrument of combat. However, not all the specimens presented here are derogatory toward their subject, and I hope you find some of them amusing. They are arrayed in rough chronological order.

Tirpitz as Neptune, God of the Sea

Jack Tar Lloyd George Reads John Bull the Riot Act 

The Kaiser Imprisoned by Burial Crosses

A Prim Miss Woodrow Wilson Must Choose Between the
Dove of Peace and the Eagle of Preparedness

A Fork-Tongued Snaky Woodrow Wilson as Viewed in the German Press

From All I've Read About General Edmund "The Bull" Allenby, 
This Placid Portrayal Seems to Miss Its Target

Clemenceau, Soldier of the Rear Area, Rooting-Out Defeatists from
Their Connection to the Front

Germany's View of the Allies' Leadership, About Early 1917

Multi-Themed White Russian Cartoon Featuring Trotsky

This Is a Postwar Painting from the National Gallery That I Think
Captures Something Essential About Pershing's Character