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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A WWI Documentary Gem

By Editor/Publisher Mike Hanlon

Readers of this blog  have glimpsed hints that I'm not a big fan of the recent PBS Great War six-hour series.  However, I have asked one of our reviewers to evaluate the series and I don't want to preempt his commentary.  If you are interested in my personal views these can be found at the June issue of the St. Mihiel Trip Wire.

Let me share with you one WWI documentary, though, that I know everyone can enjoy. On my recent battlefield tour of Flanders, my group visited the Flanders Field American Cemetery, which had just opened its new visitors center. The introductory film produced by the American Battle Monuments Commission for the center simply knocked the socks off of everyone. In ten minutes it covered the U.S. entry into the war, the raising and transport of a massive expeditionary force, the intensity and scope of the fighting, the specifics of the American efforts in Flanders, and then concluded with a tear-inducing essay on how the sacrifice of our fallen is remembered by the nation and the appreciative people of Belgium. Below are some stills from the film, but don't take my word on its quality and effectiveness. Watch it yourself on YouTube at this site: 


  1. I also really liked it Mike. The two the ABMC recently put up for the Meuse-Argonne cemetery are very well done too.

  2. I didn't like it either, it lacked depth. I wasn't moved as I have been by other docs, such as the French Apocalypse WW1 series. It seemed to skim the surface of a lot of ground without going deeply enough into anything in a way would make me feel that I had been moved or had learned anything new.

  3. As you said Mike, a well done and emotional tribute. My Grandfather was with the 27 ID and trained near Ypres. They saw limited actin near Mt Kemmel. His unit's first caualty was an accidental drowning near the Ypres-Comines canal. The soldier was buried at a place called Pointhoile. During the burial, the women of the nearby village covered the casket and grave in flowers. Apparently the Belgium & French people showed their appreciation than and continue to this day.

  4. Thanks for the reference to this ABMC film, Mike. It is excellent.