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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Day: 28 June 1919 — Part I, Setting the Stage



When students and researchers write me and ask, "When did World War I end?" I always reply June 28, 1919, the day the Versailles Treaty was signed. In the back of my mind, however, I always acknowledge that my response is not a clean one, that I'm giving an exact five-year window around which they can organize their research and writings. Actually, it was more like what Trotsky called the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk—"No war, no peace." Real fighting continued after the signing of the treaty, including the Russian Civil War and Allied interventions, the Greco-Turkish War, and, later, the Russian-Polish War. Longer term, the ill will sewn by imposing reparations and the stigma of war guilt on Germany through the peace treaty insured implacable resentment by the defeated and their new generation of politicians.

Nevertheless, the signing of the Versailles Treaty was—at the time and still today—the most logical landmark that the war had truly ended. Over the next three days, we present an article by noted military historian the late Charles Burdick, who was an early mentor of mine, describing the events of that memorable day the treaty was signed at the Hall of Mirrors, the final act of the Great War.

The German Representatives Arrive in Paris

The setting was the same as that provided for the proclamation of the German Empire in 1871. The spokesman then was the grandfather of the last kaiser, William II, the imperial refugee now huddled in Holland. The day was the same as that awesome Sarajevo day in 1914 when Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and unleashed the furies of war. The Great War, thus, closed on the fifth anniversary of its triggering event while, concurrently, officially registering the German Empire's demise.

The recently installed revolutionary leaders of the German government had named Dr. Hermann Mueller, lately appointed foreign minister, and Dr. Johannes Bell, the new minister of justice, as their representatives to the final scene of the international drama. Their signatures on the treaty would announce to the world and to history the complete submission of Germany to the victors.

The train carrying the two Germans to Versailles arrived late the previous evening, 27 June. After a substantial delay in passing through the war-ravaged zones of France, the engine and six cars pulled into the St. Cyr station at 11:20 p.m. Waiting there was Colonel Marie Henry, chief of the receiving French military mission, with his staff, and Edgar von Haimhausen, leading a small contingent from the German delegation already in Paris.

Haimhausen initiated the reception by introducing the two German delegates to Colonel Henry and handing over their credentials. Both groups saluted each other without speaking. Colonel Henry broke the uncomfortable silence with, "Gentlemen, will you follow me?"

One of the Germans responded, "Willingly," and the group, under escort, hurried to the waiting automobiles for the trip to the Hotel des Reservoirs in Versailles. Accompanying the official German representatives were 14 minor German officials, interpreters, and secretaries. No one evidenced any pleasure over the hour or the purpose of the visit to Paris.

The caravan hurried through the peaceful streets of a sleeping city. While everyone in the group knew of the portentous events scheduled for the day, the post-midnight silence was serenely peaceful. The night's darkness obscured the numerous placards posted by the mayor of Versailles, Henri Simon, which read,

The great day of Versailles has come. The victorious peace will be signed in the Hall of Mirrors on Saturday, June 28. The government wishes the ceremony to have the character and austerity that goes with the memory of the grief and sufferings of our country. Nevertheless, public buildings will be decorated and illuminated. The citizens will surely follow this example.

All measures to preserve order have been taken by the government: the public is asked to conform to them for the successful outcome of the ceremony.

The day of Versailles will take place as should such a great day in the world's history.

The Treaty Is Delivered
When dawn broke on 28 June no one was in doubt about the import of the new day. This moment, this event, this ceremony marked the termination of so much emotion, sacrifice, and death. The pageantry and glamour of the final ceremonies, the carefully planned settings, and the studied simplicity of the closing act itself could not obscure the vigorous wave of French national pride. The local newspapers proclaimed, "The war was won in France under the command of a Frenchman, " and "The peace is being signed in France under the presidency of a Frenchman." France was once again the center of international attention. Throughout the world, war-weary millions turned to Paris for the final act of a tragic era and the birth pangs of a promised glorious age.

The moment at hand—victory, peace, German defeat—awakened the Parisians to the greatness and the sanctity of the day. By noon a steady stream of automobiles, flowing from all points of the compass, centered on the road to Versailles, the highway once traversed by the state carriages of the Sun King, Louis XIV. French soldiers, waving red flags as evidence of their authority, stood at every crossroad along the way, hurrying official vehicles toward their destination without interference. They followed the ancient route by way of Suresnes, Ville d' Aray, and Picardil. At the corner of the Avenue de Saint Cloud and the Rue Saint Pierre the cars carrying the tricolor proceeded along the latter street to the Rue des Reservoirs and from there to the Place d' Ames. At that point General Charles Brecard, commander of the Sixth Division of Cavalry, and his staff had taken position before the beautiful wrought iron grill in front of the Palace of Versailles. A double line of cavalry troopers, wearing horizon-blue uniforms and steel-blue helmets, the pennants of their lances fluttering red and white in the sun, guarded the streets leading to the palace. More troops stood throughout the palace courtyard, the Cour d' Honneur. The previous Sunday the area had served as a display place for captured German cannon. This day the guns were gone—removed by French officials anxious for a different atmosphere.

There was a veritable bouquet of generals waiting for the delegates: Henri Pétain of Verdun, Henri Gouraud with his flaming red beard, and Charles Mangin, the bloody one. They and a host of others stood in their most colorful uniforms resplendent with assorted decorations. Nearby were battle-scarred veterans for whom this moment held special meaning. Around them swirled a sea of banners, flags, and bunting hanging from the roofs, windows, and balconies outside the fence. Inside the grillwork, the palace buildings stood in somber stateliness, flying only one decoration, the tricolor of France, suspended above the small balcony at the head of the Cour d' Honneur. The French government had decreed that this solitary flag was to be the only banner displayed on the palace itself, in keeping with "the calm and the dignity" of the occasion.

The Crowd Gathers Outside the Palace

By midday, masses of people milled about outside the palace grounds, pushing and shoving against the iron barrier and converging on the entrance. Few members of the crowd heeded the calls of the sentries posted at the gate that "only the red passes permit admittance." The repeated shouts of the soldiers on guard inside the fence to "stand back, ladies and gentlemen" bounced ineffectively off the multitude of men and women who sought admission by every conceivable means. Only the mass itself and the small gates prevented chaos. The secretariat of the Peace Conference had taken great care to ensure that the signing of the treaty would be witnessed only by those who had a share in its making as plenipotentiaries or commissioners. There were several varieties of tickets admitting the bearer to different sections of the palace, although few of the fortunate recipients had any idea as to the significance of their pasteboards. A few ingenious souls had forged entry passes from the tops of cigarette packages embossed with an impressive coat of arms.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Wipers Times: The Famous First World War Trench Newspaper


Introduction by Christopher Westhorp
Osprey Publishing, 2018
David F. Beer, Reviewer



Jack and Jill on top of a Hill
Had built an O Pip Station,
But Frightful Fritz blew it to bits
To their great consternation
.

It wasn't easy to make the war on the Western Front seem funny at the time, but it could be done—as this book shows. After a brief introduction, we're treated to 331 pages of reproductions of the original Wipers Times from the initial edition of February 1916 to the final edition (titled the Better Times) of December 1918. The trench newspaper underwent a few name changes during its life but is generally referred to as the Wipers Times and was published around Ypres, which the British Tommies had long referred to as Wipers.

Capt. Fred Rogers
This was an "underground" newspaper in more ways than one. Found in a shelled building, a derelict printing press was "rescued" by Captain Fred Roberts of the Sherwood Foresters and his men, one of whom had been a printer in civilian life. Sometimes working under fire, they began to put out an anonymous trench paper somewhat regularly. The paper was heavily satirical, not unlike our contemporary version of the Onion, the TV series Black Adder Goes Forth, and the musical Oh What a Lovely War!

Leafing through this book is addictive. We find humor and satire of every kind: gallows humor, tongue-in-cheek humor, black humor—all of which seem to be classified as trench humor when talking about the Wipers Times. The paper organized its content in the same way a popular British paper of the times would, that is, with a lot of variety. Each edition had an irreverent editorial, mock advertisements, jokes, riddles, letters to the editor, an agony column, "dug-out musings." and poems. We often find caricatures of the style and content of well-known writers; behind many literary spoofs loom the ghosts of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Byron, Poe, Conan Doyle, and others.


The content of the paper was clever and entertaining. It's easy to see that the writers were educated and often of a literary bent. Few author names are given, except hinted ones such as Herlock Shomes and Tuckis Shurtin. So we might have an entry for a "serial novel" starting thus:

Chapter 3. It was raining. Shomes, who had business of a pressing nature that night, shuddered as he pulled aside the gas curtain of his dug-out, and looked up and down the trench. Dropping the curtain hastily he injected a good dose from his vermoral sprayer, and disguised himself as a sergeant. He then swallowed half-a-pint of rum and went out into the night, to proceed on an urgent and secret mission to the "Culvert Arms" at Hooge. (p. 157).


Literary parody is never far away in the Wipers Times. One entry for OUR DIARY, a regularly appearing feature written not surprisingly by a Lieut. Samuel Pepys, begins with

On the Thursday of last week we did take up our
residence in a new part of the trench. 'Tis a
noisome place. And I am disgusted with it. The
mud is of a terrifying stickiness, and I am feared
for my breeches, which cost me one guinea at the
Hope Brothers' establishment in Cheapside.
Also, I have spoiled my new coat on the barbed wire. . .
(p. 237)

Poetry has a distinct presence in every issue of the newspaper and is often with a familiar tone. "The War Lord and the Chancellor" is quite typical and is printed with apologies to the late Lewis Carroll. Here are the first two of seven stanzas:

The War Lord and the Chancellor,
Were walking hand in hand;
They laughed like anything to see
The devastated land;
"If this belonged to us," they said,
"It really would be grand."

"If fifty Huns with fifty guns,
Swept it for half a year;
Do you suppose," the War Lord said,
"That vict'ry would be near?"
"I doubt it," said the Chancellor,
And shed a bitter tear. (p. 134).



It helps to have a knowledge of English and American poetry to fully appreciate the parodies and puns that resound in much of the newspaper. Also useful is some familiarity with British idiom and reference—especially in some of the mock advertisements that call up London establishments and events such as the "SPRING EXHIBITION at The 'Munque' Art Gallery" (any tube or train to Hyde Park Corner will get you there), and which is Open Day and Night; "Crumps may come and crumps may go,/But do not miss this wondrous show" (p. 71).

Advertisements were a graphic part of the paper, often taking up half or a whole page. One extols "THE DRINK HABIT," which can be acquired in three days with skilled help. The advertiser's qualifications follow: "For the first 15 years of my life I was a rabid teetotaler, but since the age of 16 I have never been to bed sober..." Publishers sometimes listed their latest releases, such as God's Good Man, an Autobiography by William Hohenzollern (Author of "The Innocents' Abroad," "Misunderstood," "The Christian," etc.), A Thief in the Night by Little Willie, and It's Never Too Late to Mend, by Dr. Wilson—a sly dig? (p. 186).

It's impossible in a short review to illustrate all the wit and satire in the Wipers Times and reproduced in this book. If you wish to delve deeper I strongly recommend John Ivelaw-Chapman's excellent 1997 book, The Riddles of Wipers: An Appreciation of The Wipers Times, a Journal of the Trenches. Also, you can go to YouTube and watch the full-length movie produced a few years ago about the newspaper. In spite of the thick British accents at times, I found the film quite interesting.

Finally, I leave you with this deep thought:

You can have your blooming Shelley,
Browning too, what did they know?
They could only see a poem in the way
the daisies grow;
Had I got five francs to bet 'em then I'd
very quickly risk it
That they couldn't find a poem in a
blooming Army biscuit (p. 272).

David F. Beer

Monday, June 24, 2019

Recommended: 100 Years Ago—The Greco-Turkish War Opens



By Christopher Kinley
Presented by Origins, from the History Departments at The Ohio State University and Miami University


A 1919 Protest of the Allies' Occupation of Constantinople

One hundred years ago [in May], the Greco-Turkish war erupted. The war resulted in the largest compulsory population exchange in history up to that time (two million people) and helped define the concept of ethnic conflict. The war also brought about the Turkish Republic, and its severity indelibly shaped modern Greece and Turkey to this day.

The armistice of 11 November in 1918 is credited for ending the fighting of the First World War, but just 12 days prior, the Allied Powers and the Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros. The Ottoman Empire was to be partitioned among the Allies, with all powers sending contingents to occupy Constantinople. As part of the deal, Greece received the city of Smyrna.

Smyrna was a wealthy city inhabited mostly by minorities in the Ottoman Empire: Greeks, Jews, and Armenians. For Greece, the city was more than just a prize for participation in World War I. It validated the Greek foreign policy goal of capturing Constantinople and reviving the Byzantine Empire, or “Greater Greece” as they called it.

Greek troops landed in Smyrna on 15 May 1919 and the war began. Local ethnic Greeks and Armenians joined forces with Greek troops. Reports soon circulated that these untrained volunteers committed acts of violence against their Muslim neighbors. Rumors of such brutality enraged an already growing revolutionary faction within the Ottoman Empire led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Greek Troops Landing in Smyrna, 15 May 1919

Initially, the Greek Army’s intent was to secure the region surrounding the Smyrna occupation zone, but by the summer of 1920, Greek forces eyed Ankara and began to push deep into the heart of Anatolia. Britain backed this move into Turkish lands because it saw the Greek military as a conduit to crush Kemal’s revolutionary movement. By October of 1920, Greek troops had gained control of northwestern Anatolia. This advance, however, was met with staunch resistance.

Turkish revolutionary forces using guerrilla warfare slowed the Greek Army’s progression, and Greek soldiers’ acts of violence against Muslim villagers created fear and panic and fueled ethnic conflict. In acts of reprisal, revolutionary forces brutally murdered Greek Orthodox villagers and forced many others to migrate east to the Greek occupation zone. The violent acts against civilians committed by both sides did not go unnoticed by the international community and spawned numerous humanitarian relief campaigns.

As the fight dragged on, the Greek public grew weary of the war and troop morale declined rapidly. Greek desertions soared. Britain, anxious about the perceived instability of the Greek government, withdrew its support. Into this vacuum, the Soviets began providing munitions to the revolutionary forces in an effort to check Western expansion and turned the tide of war in favor of Kemal’s forces.

Continue reading the article at:



Sunday, June 23, 2019

You Will Love Sgt. Stubby *


* Unless, of course, you are one of those fastidious military history obsessives, who insists every historic detail be accurate to the nth degree and the entire narrative purged of all sentimentality.  If this be the case, PLEASE, DO NOT READ ON.


Stubby and His Mates in the Trenches

After a long, long wait, NETFLIX finally sent us the number one request on our queue, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.  In case you're not familiar with the good sergeant, Stubby was a real war dog, who was wounded in action and decorated for his heroism. Adopted by the troops of the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th, Yankee Division, he followed his caretaker, Private Bob Conroy, to the trenches. The division saw a lot of action, so the animated film mostly focuses on two major operations,  their initial deployment along the Chemin des Dames when they were introduced to gas warfare and the Seicheprey Raid of April 1918,  in which Stubby and Conroy's outfit, the 102nd Infantry were the main targets.

The Real Stubby and the Division Arriving Home

It's a family movie, so some (but not all) of the harsher sides of combat are filtered out. There are a few historical errors and a lot of stretching and "cutting and pasting" of history, but I didn't find it too distracting. On the other hand, for me,  the illustrators and writers capture the dangers and spectacle of war wonderfully.  The camaraderie among the troops is also well explored, with  the inner group of soldiers including a French soldier, voiced by Gerard Depardieu, who seems to be allowed to travel with the Yanks from sector to sector.  He's a swell addition in any case.

Reading a Letter from Home

I liked the style of animation used in Sgt. Stubby, although of a different technique, it seemed to me to have a feel similar to the Wallace and Grommit, films.  It's not visually overwhelming like the recent super-hero flicks Hollywood is cranking out. Speaking of Hollywood—Sgt. Stubby is not a "Hollywood" movie. Watching the credits, I learned the main production was in Canada, the financing was from Ireland (!), and a good part of the cast (the voices) was non-American, like Depardieu, and Helen Bonham Carter, who does a fine job as Robert's sister Margaret, the main narrator of the film.

Try to see Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.  You'll love it and so will the kids in your family.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

How the Great War Reduced Crime in the UK


Great Britain had a notorious spike in criminality during the Second World War. Horace Rumpole's favorite clients, the notorious Timpson Clan, must have had a glorious time in those days. Too bad for them Horace was serving with the RAF during the hostilities. What happened in WWI was just the reverse, however.

An Empty Cell in a British Prison


While crime in Great Britain had been declining from the start of the 20th century, arrests and convictions simply crashed once war started. A 1918 paper, "Crime and the War" by Edith Abbott, reported that in England: "Convictions per 100,000 of the population had fallen . . . to 369 per 100,000 in 1913-1914, the year before the war began. Since the war the decline has been abrupt, falling to 281 per 100,000 in 1914-1915, to 159 per 100,000 in 1915-1916 and to 118 per 100,000 in 1916-1917."  This constituted a 59% reduction in crime in two years.

Similar trends were reported for Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.  For example: 

Commitments to Prison in Scotland

1914       43,535
1915       27,340
1916       19,946

What's the behind this?  Several reasons are cited by Abbott:

(1) The enlistment of many habitual petty offenders; 

(2) The restrictive orders issued by the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) and those made by the justices and by the military authorities; 

(3) The great demand for labor, rendering employment easy and well paid, and resulting in ability to pay fines, this latter being greatly aided by the operation of Section 1 of the Criminal Justice Administration Act of 1914.

One anomaly to the general pattern involved an increased number of arrests of females for drunkenness.  Many more of them were working, few had left for the continent to serve, and they had more quid to spend in the pubs while be able to avoid incarceration by simply paying fines, as allowed by the 1914 Act. Otherwise, however, the overall downward trend in criminality held for all categories of violations and regions, and for both sexes.

The article's second half included a worried discussion of the likely postwar bounce back to old numbers around this theme: "Now the importance of all this at the present time is the fact that every belligerent nation must be prepared for a grave increase in crime after the war and that the obligations upon society were never greater than they are today to see that every effort is made to save men convicted of minor offenses from the demoralization of a prison term."

As to what actually happened when the troops came home, I've found only anecdotal evidence that the feared return of higher crime rates did not occur.  However, if any readers would like to post some more specific data in the comments section, I'd be happy to add it to this article.

Friday, June 21, 2019

100 Years Ago: The Great Scuttling at Scapa Flow (A Roads Classic)


Today is the anniversary of one of the most memorable postscripts of World War I, the scuttling of the German surrendered fleet at Scapa Flow. Of the 77 ships interned, 52 were irretrievably sunk. In their rage, the British summarily executed a number of German sailors who posed no danger to them; nine were shot dead and many more wounded. Only a few cruisers, destroyers, and the 15-in-gun battleship Baden were rescued; the remaining German fleet sank to the bottom, where seven of them remain to this day. It was the largest sinking of naval tonnage in a single incident ever—more than 400,000 tons.

German Destroyer Sinking

On 21 June 1919, a party of schoolchildren from the town of Stromness was being taken on a trip around Scapa Flow to view the German Fleet. Little did they know when they left home that day what they were to witness.

The following is a piece written by one of the children, James Taylor, one of the pupils who witnessed the scuttling:

On Saturday June 21st 1919, I rose very early, as it would never do to be late for a school treat which was to take the form of a cruise on the Flying Kestrel to visit the surrendered German Fleet. The though of sailing up to them made us boys almost sick with excitement!

At long last we came face to face with the Fleet. Their decks were lined with German sailors who....did not seem too pleased to see us. Suddenly without any warning and almost simultaneously these huge vessels began to list over to port or starboard; some heeled over and plunged headlong, their sterns lifted high out of the water.


Battle Cruiser SMS Seydlitz Rolling Over

Out of the vents rushed steam and oil and air with a dreadful roaring hiss.

And as we watched, awestruck and silent, the sea became littered for miles round with boats and hammocks, lifebelts and chests....and among it all hundreds of men struggling for their lives.

As we drew away from this nightmare scene we watched the last great battleship slide down with keel upturned like some monstrous whale.

Sources:  Scapa Flow Website and U.S. Navy Archives

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Recommended: Art of the American Soldier



The Cover Illustration Showing Wallace Morgan at Work at Neufchateau, France, by Fellow Official Artist  J. Andre Smith

Art of the American Soldier is a 295-page PDF download available from the U.S. Army's Center for Military History.  It covers the full range of work done by both official war artists and and soldiers of various ranks and specialties that had an artistic bent. I would estimate that about twenty percent of the images in the document are from the First World War. Four from the Great War period are shown here. However, the part I personally enjoyed most is the great selection of illustrations from our post-Vietnam wars. Almost all were new to me and a great reminder of the sacrifices our servicemen and women are still making every day. Take in its entirety, Art of the American Soldier is a wonderful tribute to all those who served and sacrificed throughout the nation's history. 


Army Camp by George Harding


Charles Baskerville Was an Officer in the 42nd Division. 
He Make These Sketches While Recuperating from Wounds and Later Sold Some to Scribner's Magazine.


Going Through Gas by George Harding

Download Here



Wednesday, June 19, 2019

What Was the Dover Patrol?


A Destroyer Torpedo Boat of the Dover Patrol Leaving Harbor

In late July 1914, with war looming, twelve Tribal-class destroyers arrived at Dover to join the near obsolete destroyers already at anchor in the harbor, most of them built in the late 1800s. These destroyers formed the nucleus of the fledgling Dover Patrol, which, from its early beginnings as a modest and poorly equipped ad hoc operation, became one of the most important Royal Navy commands during both world wars. Its first commander was Rear Admiral Horace Hood, who would later die aboard his battlecruiser squadron flagship, HMS Invincible at Jutland.

At its bases in Dover and Dunkirk, France, the patrol assembled cruisers, monitors, destroyers, armed trawlers and drifters, paddle mine-sweepers, armed yachts, motor launches and coastal motor boats, submarines, seaplanes, aeroplanes, and airships. With these resources it performed several duties simultaneously in the southern North Sea and the Dover Straits: carrying out anti-submarine patrols; escorting merchantmen, hospital, and troop ships; laying sea-mines and even constructing mine barrages; sweeping up German mines; bombarding German military positions on the Belgian coast; and sinking the ever-present U-boats. 

Admiral Bacon
Vice Admiral R.H. Bacon commanded the Dover Patrol from January 1915 until 31 December 1917, He had been one of the prewar Royal Navy's ablest officers, Director of Ordnance, an ally of Jackie Fisher, and ironically one of the founders of Britain's submarine service. His open-mindedness and willingness to work with General Douglas Haig helped to initiate and almost to pull off one of the most innovative concepts of the Great War, a plan to penetrate the enemy's rear along the Flanders coast with an amphibious, 15,000-man, tank-supported landing code-named "Operation Hush".  Sadly, for the Allies, that scheme had to be tabled due to the lack of progress toward the coastline by the main British forces during the battle of Passchendaele. Isolated, the landing force would have suffered a similar fate to the BEF of 1940 at Dunkirk.

In 1918 Vice Admiral Roger Keyes replaced Bacon and was charged with the special duty of blockading the German-held Belgian ports and the U-boats based there. This was to culminate in what was the patrol’s "finest hour," the raid on Zeebrugge and Ostend on 22/23 April 1918.

Sources: Over the Top July 2013; the Dover, England, Municipal Website

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Backwash of War: An Extraordinary American Nurse in World War I


By Ellen N. La Motte
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019
Ron Drees, Reviewer

Nurses on the Western Front

After reading this early 20th-century book, I am not sure that it's worth your time to read as it does not provide any new information to 21st-century readers. The book was originally published in 1916 and sold well because it provided information to readers about 20th-century warfare not available elsewhere because of censorship.

After the U.S. entered the war in 1917 The Backwash of War was banned by the Wilson Administration in 1918 for being anti-war. It resurfaced in 1934 but did not regain its former popularity. The Depression probably killed book sales across the board. The difference between this edition and 1916 is a new introduction, a biography, a newer story written after the first edition, and three essays published separately during the war.

The original book was 13 short stories telling the horrors of the war based on the experiences of a nurse at a French field hospital. Authoress Ellen N. La Motte was a highly trained public health nurse who volunteered for the war effort. As best as I can tell, she served for eight months in field hospitals with breaks for vacations in the south of France and Spain.

Later La Motte traveled to Asia and began a crusade against opium in Asia. Interestingly, her lifestyle was subsidized by an uncle, Alfred du Pont, the one who made a fortune selling gunpowder to the Allies. La Motte had no noticeable reluctance to accept his cash.

This book tells some horrific stories: a man dying of syphilis, a young boy killed by a carriage in Paris among indifferent witnesses, and others that are far from uplifting. Since WWI, we have had WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, and other small shootouts. The American public is very familiar now with casualties of war, and this book doesn't add anything new, as opposed to 1916 when such horrors were fresh and startling information.

If you read The Backwash of War, begin with the short stories, then continue on with the three longer essays before considering the biography and introduction You will not find the book to be particularly enthralling—just a depressing look as some of the bitter realities of war.

Ron Drees

Sunday, June 16, 2019

What Happened at Cierges?


Cierges Today, Les Jomblets Wood in Distance

Every unit that saw action in France during the war, fought actions that would forever be uniquely associated with them. The Marine Brigade at Belleau Wood is the most famous example. It appears in every history of the war. Many such operations, though, don't make it into the general history books but are remembered mostly by the veterans who served there and their families. A good example of this is a little village six miles north of the River Marne.

"Mopping Up Cierges" by Wallace Morgan

The 32nd National Guard Division moved into the line of advance for the Second Battle of the Marne on 30 July 1918. Its initial task was to work in collaboration with  the Pennsylvanians of the 28th Division.  The following day the 127th Infantry of the 32nd Division captured a little village in a hollow named Cierges at about 1400 hrs. They continued on and attempted to capture Les Jomblets Wood and Bellevue Farm on the heights just north of the village. They were forced by heavy hostile fire to fall back from that wood.

"Destroyed Boche Ammunition Dump at Cierges"
by George Mathews Harding

On the next day, in an attack made in the early morning, the division captured Les Jomblets and established itself about half a mile farther on. There the troops repulsed a counterattack made shortly after daybreak. About  0900., however, they were driven back by a fierce German counterattack supported by artillery.  That afternoon Les Jombles  was finally taken and held by the 32nd
Division as the result of two separate regimental assaults. 

Although there's no breakout of the casualties attributable to the fighting around Cierges, they were a significant part of the 4,500 killed and wounded the division suffered for the nine days it was in the line, from 30 July to 7 August. Afterward the French nicknamed the 32nd Division Les Terribles and requested they remain in the sector when the other American units were reassigned.

As Cierges Appeared in 1918 by Earnest Peixotto

Cierges was a small action but remembered long afterward for the intensity of the fighting by the veterans of the division.  Two items of interest drew my attention to the fight at Cierges. In October, the division would capture a village with a similar name Cierges-sous-Montfaucon during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. This caused some confusion on the battlefield tours I used to lead. Also, for some reason, Cierges drew the attention of the AEF's official war artists, so I was able to use their work in illustrating this article.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Map Series #7: Closing the Gap at the St. Mihiel Salient


Map A

Click on Image to Enlarge




Source: New England in France, 1917–1919; A History of the Twenty-Sixth Division


The northern half of the pincer movement to collapse the St. Mihiel Salient was the responsibility of  General Pershing's V Corps, commanded by Major General George Cameron.  His main striking force for the effort was to be Major General Clarence Edwards 26th New England Division.  Map A shows the general plan and advance for the division.

The division's attack was launched at 0800 on 12 September just south of the village of Mouilly with the 51st Brigade to the right of Grand Tranchee de Calonne road and the 52nd Brigade to the left.

By 2100 hrs the division had reached its main initial objective and the two smaller French divisions on its flanks, which had started slowly earlier in the battle, had come up in support.

German resistance, especially artillery, was weakening. Pershing was concerned, however, that the remaining between the V Corps and his IV Corps attacking from the south that would allow most of the German forces in the sector to escape. He ordered the 26th division to renew the assault, aiming for Hattonchatel and Vignuelles 5 miles farther down the Trenchee de Calonne. The attack was renewed by the 102nd Infantry and 101st Machine Gun Battalion. Meanwhile, the 52nd Brigade pivoted and assaulted the remaining high ground to the east overlooking the Woevre Plain.

By 0220, 26th Division units were entering Vignuelles.

Map B

Click on Image to Enlarge



Source: St. Mihiel, 12–16 September 1918, US Army Campaigns of World War I Series

Shown here  on the left is the charge down Trenchee de Calonne and the broadening of the 26th Division frontage over the lower section of the Meuse Heights. On the right side of the map is shown the advance of IV Corps with the 1st Division to the left of the 42nd Division. The 1st Division began its advance toward Vigneulles and Hattonchâtel shortly after midnight, 

At 0930 on 13 September, the 1st Division and IV Corps headquarters received the message “Objective reached, held by 26th Division.” Both divisions established defenses and made contact with units of the French 39th Division advancing from the south. Mopping up continued for the rest of the day, but the First Army had closed the St. Mihiel salient.

For the story of the 26th Division scouts who proceeded the advance down Trenchee de Calonne go HERE.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Small Box Respirator Gas Mask

The small box respirator was a type of gas mask used by British Empire forces and issued to American forces. It protected soldiers’ lungs, eyes, and faces from chemical weapons. Soldiers carried their small box respirators at all times when in the forward trenches, where there was constant risk of gas attacks. 


Gas warfare as we know it began in April 1915, at the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. Looking to break the stalemate of trench warfare, the German Army released large volumes of deadly chlorine gas. The wind carried the chlorine clouds across the positions of French, British, and Canadian troops, none of whom were outfitted with anti-gas equipment. From 1915 onward, both sides used deadly gases as wartime weapons. While the early gas attacks relied on compressed-air tanks, chemical agents such as chlorine gas, phosgene, and mustard gas were later packed into artillery shells so that they could be used on more specific targets. 


By the end of the war, some 124,000 tons of chemical weapons were released by all sides. In 1918, approximately 30 percent of the artillery shells fired by Canadian artillery were packed with gas. Although gas was a common element in most operations during the second half of the war, its impact was increasingly limited by protective masks, such as the small box respirator. Gas made the battlefield even more horrific than it had been but never proved to be a decisive weapon.

Within weeks of the gas attack at the Second Battle of Ypres, the Allies issued goggles and simple cotton face masks soaked with an anti-gas solution to the troops. These masks, which were hand-sewn by civilian volunteers, offered only limited protection to the lungs.

By mid-1915 a more effective anti-gas hood was mass-produced for the British Empire forces. It was a cloth sack with eyepieces that was pulled over the head like a pillowcase. The cloth was treated with an anti-gas solution that filtered the air as the soldier inhaled.


The small box respirator, which was introduced in 1916, was much more sophisticated than earlier anti-gas equipment. It consisted of a face piece and a filter box, connected by a corrugated tube. The small box respirator was carried in a canvas haversack, normally on the soldier’s chest. In the event of a gas alarm, the soldier fastened the respirator against his face, leaving the filter box in the haversack. When the soldier inhaled, he drew air through the filter box, where it was decontaminated before passing through the corrugated tube and into the face mask.

The small box respirator was ineffective if the delicate corrugated tube was damaged, which could allow contaminated air to enter the face piece without passing through the filter. To ensure that the equipment functioned properly, soldiers went to mobile testing stations for respirator inspection and repair.

After the first gas attack, British pharmaceutical research chemist E. F. Harrison transferred from an infantry battalion to the Royal Engineers to work on anti-gas equipment. Here, he developed the small box respirator. In November 1918, Harrison died of pneumonia, a lung condition that was aggravated by his repeated exposure to deadly chemicals during respirator experiments.

Although improvements were made to the materials and construction of the small box respirator after the war, its basic design remained unchanged until 1942–1943, when a more compact model with a directly mounted filter was introduced on a limited scale in the British and Commonwealth armies.

Source: The Canadian War Museum Website

Also See: The PH Helmet Respirator

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Verdun: Act 1, Scene 2: Bois des Caures


When much of the German Army retreated north after the 1914 Battle of the Marne, Crown Prince Wilhelm's Fifth Army dug in a perimeter around Verdun. Facing them 14 km north of Verdun were French soldiers in a wood named Bois des Caures. Both sides further fortified their positions for the better part of a year, when the Battle of Verdun would begin in their sector. After the stupendous opening barrage, it would be the site of the first infantry assault of the war's longest battle.

Frontline Trenches and French Redoubts (R1-5)

Taking command of the French defenses at Bois des Caures in 1915 was an industrious, formerly retired lieutenant colonel, who had returned to service when the war broke out, named Émile Driant. He had had parallel careers as a writer on nationalist matters and Futurism (often under the pen name Capitaine Danrit), which ended with the war, and as a deputy for Nancy in Parliament, which did not. By July 1915 he had had already fought in six major engagements arourd Verdun. At Caures, Driant took command of two battalions of Chasseurs Alpin to defend 2000 meters of frontage. Recognizing the vulnerability of the position, he developed an in-depth system of defenses 800-1,000 meters deep (see map above) with strengthened firing trenches and a series of five strong points surrounding a command post built with reinforced concrete. Meanwhile, he was already telling his parliamentary colleagues that "the [German] hammer will fall on the Verdun-Nancy line." 

Driant (with Cane) Inspecting the Position

From August 1915 on, Driant used his parliamentary connections to pass on warning of an impending German attack. This, of course, raised the ire of the army staff. In early 1916 his outposts began regularly reporting a build-up just behind the German front line. On 10 February 1916, he wrote his wife, telling her of a prisoner of war who had bragged that the Kaiser was planning to be strolling on the Verdun esplanade shortly. The attack Driant had long anticipated opened with a ten-hour barrage on 21 February followed by an infantry assault on Bois des Caures. 

Driant's 1,200 Chasseurs fought valiantly there in the face of overwhelming odds until, during the afternoon of the 22nd, he found he was outflanked on both sides. Driant ordered his few remaining men to withdraw toward the Fortress line. It was during that retreat that Driant himself was killed at the southern edge of the wood. Since the men with him had been taken prisoner by the Germans, firm news of his death did not reach Paris until 3 April. Some time after that, Mme. Driant received a letter from Germany informing her that her husband had been honorably buried and that his grave would be carefully tended until peace returned. 

In holding their positions and fighting to the end Col. Emile Driant and his Chasseurs, outflanked and overwhelmed, sacrificed their lives in order to slow the progress of the enemy. He is proudly remembered by the people of Verdun who still commemorate the fighting in the Bois des Caures with a ceremony held on 21 February every year. Driant was the first hero of the Battle of Verdun.

French Re-enactors at Driant's Temporary Grave





Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Zane Grey: War Hater

(Pearl) Zane Grey was one of the first millionaire authors and with Jack London was one of the two most famous writers in America when the Great War broke out. After starting out as a dentist, he had seen an opportunity for a popular series of Westerns after reading Owen Wister's classic The Virginian. His breakthrough work was the 1912 Riders of the Purple Sage. Over his career, Grey became a major force in shaping the myths of the Old West and inspired the growth of what has become a huge literary genre. He also wrote about hunting, fishing, travel, and baseball, while also authoring six children's books. He had a dramatic response to the war, finding it repugnant, especially after the United States declared war. 

Grey suffered from extreme melancholia at times, and America's entry into the war in April 1917 set off a new and serious bout for him. He found himself repelled by its venality and fevered jingoism. He thought the young men who rushed off to the war were foolish, and he suffered vivid images of destruction and death that set off what he and his circle recognized as a breakdown. He later described it as a "hopeless, morbid, sickening, exaggerated mental disorder." 

Always an enthusiastic traveler, he was encouraged to join a group rail expedition around the States organized by his wife in the summer of 1917. It was during this trip that he had the idea of linking his reservations about the war and conditions in the U.S. to his fictional writing. This led eventually to one of his lesser-known works, The Desert of Wheat (currently published as War Comes to the Big Bend), in which the villains of the piece are "Wobblies" of the International Workers of the World, who are sabotaging the wheat harvest. 

According to Grey's biographer Thomas Pauly, the I.W.W. was just an excuse to for Grey's "anguished obsession with the war." The novel's plot involves a penetration of the union by German agents, playing on a latent disloyalty of the many immigrants who avail themselves of American opportunity but secretly hate the American government and people. The ranchers in the story eventually triumph over the subversives, but the novel was just the first of a series set in Grey's contemporary time that assessed the war's damage to the nation. Other works, for example, included veterans from the fighting who were disabled physically and psychologically. Two titles from this period are suggestive of Grey's pessimism: The Vanishing American and The Day of the Beast. Grey's self-administered form of therapy was frequent fishing, which gave him a break from his war-related writing. But, apparently, when he returned to writing, his gloominess also came back. He even wrote of his theory that the war was damaging the nation's fisheries. 

When the war ended, Grey returned to writing about the Old West, his true love. His emotional depression subsided and he came back to be the nation's most successful writer in the postwar period. His popularity declined somewhat during the Depression. Gray died in 1939. Nevertheless another war would return him to prominence. The U.S. Government reissued many of his titles as inexpensive paperbacks to be carried in the hip pockets of GIs, who loved his work. Dwight Eisenhower always called Zane Grey his favorite author. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pandora's Box: A History of the First World War


By Jörn Leonhard; Trans. by Patrick Camiller
The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2018
David F. Beer, Reviewer


The Kaiser Visits His Forces in the Field (Early War)

What was the First World War? With the hindsight that we have today, it appears as the formative prelude, elemental crisis, or early turnaround of the still young twentieth century. Soon after its outbreak, people experiencing the war had already begun searching for the right words to describe what was so vast, novel, and even monstrous about it. . . (pp. 2-3)

This almost magisterial volume is a treasure trove for military historians and serious World War One scholars, but at 1087 pages, with a bibliography of some 72 pages, it's not for the beginner or faint-hearted. The author, Jörn Leonhard, is Professor of West European History at the University of Freiburg and brings his wide-ranging knowledge and research to Pandora's Box, thereby giving us a profusion of detail, analysis and interpretation that isn't found in any other single volume that I know of.

The breadth and depth of the book becomes evident even with a cursory leafing through its pages. Its ten chapters are organized into sections and subsections which aren't indicated in the formal table of contents. For example, the 146 pages of Chapter 4, Stasis and Movement, are subdivided thus:

1. Looking for Military Decisions: Battle Zones and Strategies;

2. Violence in War's Shadows: Occupation Regimes and Ethnic Differences;

3: Progressive Tools of War, Violence, and their Political Costs: The Mobilization of Technology in Gas and Submarine Warfare;

4. Wait-and-See Neutrality and Rival Promises: New Players and Their Expansionist Fantasies;

5. Contingency and Stubbornness: The Soldier's Experience of the Front and the Limits of Wartime National Rhetoric;

6. Shirkers, Profiteers, and Traitors: Economic Pressures, Social Conflicts, and Political Volatility on the Home Front;

7. Multiethnic Societies at War: From Undisputed Loyalty to the Escalation of Ethnic Violence;

8. Justifying War, Understanding Violence: Intellectual Responses to the Wartime Experience;

9. Seventeen Months of War: Radicalization and Extension beneath a Surface of Stasis and Movement.

This chapter, like others, contains at least one map, several black and white photos, and concludes with several bulleted points of emphasis. Some photos are particularly moving, such as a young boy in chains under sentence of death in Ukraine and another of Armenian children who have died of starvation.

I can't find many aspects of the Great War that aren't discussed and analyzed in this volume. In the first two chapters, Legacies and Antecedents, the author looks at the prehistory of the war and what it inherited from the nineteenth century. Following are chapters entitled Drift and Escalation: Summer and Fall 1914; Stasis and Movement: 1915; Wearing Down and Holding Out: 1916; Expansion and Erosion, 1917; and Onrush and Collapse: 1918. The last three chapters, Outcome; Memories; and Burdens are all on the manifold consequences of the war the twentieth century experienced and that we still suffer from. Throughout the book we encounter solid historiography of the war and plenty of relevant statistics. A four-page appendix of bar graphs breaks down the losses suffered by British, Empire, French, and German armies for each month of combat, including German losses on the Eastern Front.

On occasion the author employs rhetorical questions to leap into his topics. Hence we have detailed material introduced by "What was the First World War? "But how did the outbreak of war affect families in a position between nations and states [who]could not be assigned to a single nation?" "When and how did the war begin?" "What (regarding the battle of the Somme) then, were the reasons for the catastrophe?" "Why did 1916 represent such a watershed in the war?" "Why did the German army remain capable to the end of inflicting high casualties on the Allies?" "How was the complex legacy of the multiethnic empires addressed after the end of the war?" Each question is answered at length.

Lone Dead German Soldier (Late War)

The following paragraph, from Chapter 6, section 9, and subtitled Demography, Class, and Gender: The Contours of Postwar Societies is fairly indicative of the author's overall style and approach:

In 1917, the long-term structural features that would mark post-war societies were becoming more discernible. This applied first of all at the level of demography: conservative estimates put at roughly 12 percent–one in every eight–the percentage of mobilized soldiers who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918. Another 30 percent were wounded, and 10 percent were interned in POW camps. But such totals mask considerable differences between countries: in France, for example, 77 percent of all soldiers were wounded, killed, or taken captive, while the two million German soldiers who lost their lives represented the highest proportion of all the belligerent countries. Demographically, the heaviest toll was among men aged between 20 and 24: more than 70 percent of soldiers killed came from this age group (p. 685).

Interesting anecdotes and facts frequently appear in this work. Some of the many that were new to me include:


  • Early in the war about a dozen German soldiers were actually impaled by British lancers.

  • Unlike in other parts of Africa which held out, the small 3,000-strong defense force in German Southwest Africa had to surrender in May 1915 because the 1904 near extermination of the Herero had left them with few indigenous troops.

  • The British use of Maori and Indian troops "aroused curiosity but also a subliminal fear, while the deployment of black troops in Allied units provoked German accusations of barbarian warfare."

  • Overstretched French field surgeons developed "guillotine" amputations to save time.

  • The German government coined the term "pension psychosis" for those wounded veterans they feared might be trying to get state benefits through pretense.

  • Partly because the war had "unleashed a succession of ever-rising expectations," President Wilson was seen by some as a kind of Christ-like savior figure when the Paris peace treaties were worked out, but sadly "his policies led to a final surge of contradictory and ultimately incompatible expectations."

    As might be expected from his title, Jörn Leonhard begins and ends with the myth of Pandora and her box containing every imaginable form of evil and misery. Only one good thing lay in the bottom of the box: hope. But the box was slammed shut before hope got out, and now "all forms of misery filled the land, sea and air, all manner of fevers laid siege to the earth, and death, which used to creep up slowly on mortals, quickened its step" (p. 2). The children of Thomas Mann (who along with several other literary figures is often quoted) were about to put on a play featuring Pandora's Box when they heard war had broken out. Although they didn't realize it right then, a very real box of horrors had been unleashed on Europe and the world.

    Although many may find this book a bit daunting, there's no disputing that it's a powerful and rich record and analysis of the First World War. It can also serve as a valuable reference book since end notes, bibliography and index are so thorough. I rather wish it had come out as Volumes 1 and 2 rather than as one lengthy book, but nevertheless, I'm very pleased to have it within reach on my bookshelf.

    David F. Beer

  • Monday, June 10, 2019

    Visit the June 2019 St. Mihiel Trip-Wire


    I'm always surprised when I compare the subscribers list for Roads to the Great War, our daily blog, with the listing of our subscribers to our monthly newsletter, the St. Mihiel Trip-Wire, to see how little overlap there is between the two groups. If you haven't done so yet, I hope you will take a look at our latest issue, and, if you like what you see, that you will choose to become a subscriber or regular reader of the Trip-Wire. Below is a sampler of three of the 14 articles in our latest issue. Please take a look. I've also provided links to the current issue so you can visit the full issue.




    http://www.worldwar1.com/tripwire/smtw.htm

    Sunday, June 9, 2019

    The Return of Private Olsen from the Argonne


    Recently, when I was researching new material for our Doughboy Center website, I ran across the story of Private Clarence Olsen of the 355th Infantry of the 89th Division, AEF.  It immediately brought to mind the painting below by John Steuart Curry, titled "The Return of Private Davis from the Argonne." Private Davis was a boyhood friend of the Kansas artist. Private Olsen was a Nebraskan, but his story had the same ending in the same sort of place. Read on and you will see what I mean.


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    From the Collection of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts


    November 5, 1918

    My Dear Mother:

    I had just got through writing a letter to Henry on October 28th and telling how safe we are, but Fritz got the best of me that same evening. I am now in the hospital minus one leg just above the knee and a shrapnel hole through the other one just below the knee. From present indications I am getting along as well as can be expected and lately have not suffered very much.

    This may be somewhat of a shock that I should put it as plainly as I do, but you might as well know exactly how things are now. Then you won't worry if recovery seems slow later on. Everybody has been treating me just fine, and you can be sure they are doing all they can to put me "back on my feet" in the shortest possible time. I will send Henry's letter as soon as I can find it. It is somewhat soiled, but I think he will be able to read it. I shall try to get letters out as often as I can, but you don't want to expect a large number at first as everybody is busy and I must not burden them too much. Let Hans know about this and have him inform the Kearney friends. Greetings and love to everybody.

    Your loving son,
    Clarence

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    January 24, 1919

    My Dear Mrs. Olsen:

    I am in receipt of a letter from your son, Hans Olsen, written from Bayard, NE. asking in regard to his brother Clarence, and your son.

    Clarence was evacuated from an evacuation hospital near the front to Base Hospital No.49, November 15 and came under my care. He sustained very severe wounds about November 9, I think, in a few days before the signing of the armistice.

    A high explosive shell wounded him in both legs and resulting gas gangrene made it necessary to amputate both limbs above the knees. This was all done before he entered Base Hospital No. 49, and in it no doubt was the only measure possible to give the poor boy a chance to live. The shock of course was intense. When he came to my care, he had a developing broncho-pneumonia, but he put up a most wonderful fight against the inevitable.

    I talked to him each day as we both came from Nebraska and have the same name. He related many interesting, at the same time, harrowing experiences at the front. Although very modest and reluctant in telling his own personal part in it, I could easily see that your son was one of the bravest and most courageous boys in his command.

    The tragic part of it all is the fact that he should fight through the war and be cut down when victory was in sight, but he was happy in being able to live and know that the war was over and won, and all due to the American Dough-boy.

    He was cheerful throughout, never complaining, a true soldier, even though the worst injured in my wards.

    I instructed the nurses to give him extra care, which they were glad to give and spent a great deal of time in adjusting him to protect his limbs and prevent bed sores and do all we could to give him a chance.

    He had great fortitude and resistance, but the trial was too severe and he passed away without a struggle or pain December 2, 1918.

    He was given a military funeral. Our chaplain - Jasper H. Tancock, Dean of the Holy Trinity Cathedral at Omaha - presided at the grave, and after the sound of the firing squad died away, the remains of your dear boy were laid to rest while taps was blown for him the last time.

    Clarence made the supreme sacrifice, and all in all he may have accomplished more by his death than if he had lived.

    As you will note, I am now with the 82nd division and no longer with Base Hospital No. 49, but in due time you will receive any belongings or property that Clarence possessed as it is an order from the government.

    You may rest assured that your boy did not suffer much, as we did everything to ease him, and he died a soldier in every sense of the word.

    A neat cross with his name and regiment, marks his grave at Allerey, France, and it will always be kept in the best of condition as he is sleeping in a government cemetery with many of his comrades in arms.

    Hoping this letter will allay to some extent your anxiety and worry, I beg to remain.

    Yours sincerely,

    J.E. Olson
    Capt, W.C. Field Hospital No. 526.
    A.P.O. 742


    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Obituary


    Body of Farwell [Nebraska] Youth Whose Funeral He Conducted in France, Comes Home

    Killed in the Argonne

    On December 4, 1918 at Allery, France, Dean J. A. Tancock of Trinity Cathedral, then with Base Hospital 49, said the funeral service for Private Clarence Olsen, Company F., Three hundred and Fifty-fifth Infantry, who died of wounds received in action. 

    Clarence Olsen of Farwell, Nebraska, former student at the Kearney State Normal School while in the Argonne was struck by a high explosive shell, and both legs were shot off. On December 2, 1918, he died in the hospital. 

    Tomorrow in Farwell, Dean Tancock will again say funeral services over the body that he saw buried in France. This time it will find a final resting place in the soil of the home town.

    At the funeral, will be two of Olsen’s comrades, men who served in his company with him at the front. The pallbearers will comprise six of them, Alfred C. Nielsen, Lewis Jacobsen, Christ Jensen and Einer Hermansen of Dannebrog, also R. I. Armstrong of St. Paul, Nebraska, and Ed Borzyce of Farwell. 

    The Farwell home guards will meet the body at the train tonight, when it arrives from Hoboken, and tomorrow the funeral services will be attended by the St. Paul post of the American Legion. The ceremony will be held in the Danish Farwell Church, and interment will take place in the Farwell Cemetery. 

    Private Olsen is survived by his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Olsen, also two brothers, David of Farwell and Hans of Kearney. 

    The ex-service men who attend will be in uniform. 

    Monday, February 21, 1921
    Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska)


    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Source:  NetNebraska, Nebraska NPR