Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the treadEdward Thomas, Roads
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
By Stephen Miller
|Prewar Photo of Garros|
|Full Propeller Assembly|
|Detail of a Deflector|
|Burial Site Northeast of Reims|
|Marker at Vouziers Cemetery|
His efforts to escape prisoner-of-war status are commemorated on his tombstone.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Every page of this absorbing little book contains one or two of Shenton's sketches. The first chapter covers his early years, long before he enlisted, and shows that at an early age he was already accomplished at sketching. Drawings at this time include depictions of knights, frontier soldiers, automobiles, and illustrations for a school magazine to which he also contributed stories. Sometimes he added poetry to his sketches. In the spring of 1917 he produced a booklet of short poems entitled "The Mug-Wamp and Similar Spasms". By then he had enlisted in the National Guard, knowing that America would soon be at war. I can't resist including one of his delightful handwritten poems from this time. Besides echoing Lewis Carroll, it hints at the potential he had for his later successes not only in illustration but also in poetry and fiction:
|Artillery Control (detail)|
Tragically, Ed Shenton's brother Don, who had also enlisted in an engineering company back in 1917, was killed with four others nine days after the Armistice while clearing mines. In spite of this loss, a later photo of Edward Shenton at the back of the book shows the face of a pleasant and accomplished man, a man who always claimed to be an illustrator rather than an artist. He survived the war and was widely recognized for his work in his lifetime. The Lost Sketchbooks will give you an absorbing insight into his life and WWI drawings —work that had remained unknown to anyone for some 90 or more years.
Monday, April 27, 2015
|Jan Paderewski at the Piano|
|Piłsudski and Paderewski|
|Interment at Arlington, 1941|
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Here is a summary of the casualties on the Italian Front we presented at our La Grande Guerra website.
Visit La Grande Guerra at http://www.worldwar1.com/itafront/
Friday, April 24, 2015
|Sunrise Service, North Beach, Anzac Sector with Sphinx in the Background|
25 April 2015
In September 2009 with one of my tour groups, I visited all seven invasion beaches of 25 April 1915 (Anzac Day), all from the land, and also viewed all of them, except Kumkale, the French landing site on the Asian side, from the water. Fortuitously, I had taken another group to Normandy the preceding June for the 65th Anniversary of D-Day. I still had the scale, lessons, and mistakes of that 1944 operation in mind when we toured Gallipoli.
|V Beach from the Defenders' Position|
|S Beach: Ideal Access, Few Defenders, Not Exploited|
|Y Beach: Difficult to Exit, No?|
|W Beach (Lancashire Landing): Difficult to Exit and Well Defended|
Captured by Incredible Heroism and Sacrifice on 25 April 1915
|North Beach at Anzac|
(Actually It Gets a Lot Higher Farther Inland)
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
|Memorial to the Genocide, Place de la Concorde, Paris|
|Armenian Refugees Undergoing Deportation|
Source: The New Zealand History Site (Ministry for Culture and Heritage)
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Remembering a Veteran: War Poet Sub-Lt. Rupert Brooke, Royal Naval Division, Died 100 Years Ago Today
|Rupert Brooke as a New Officer|
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven. Sonnet 5, 1914
Rupert Brooke should have died a different death.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
|June 1915 Artist Conception of the Attack|
|Map Showing the Location of the Initial Gas Release|
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
|Cartoon of the Period|
Otte contends that the July Crisis ended in war not because war was inevitable or that statesmen conspired to bring it about, but rather because of blunders and miscalculations. Governance was poor, and decision making, in the hands of old, exhausted elites, was often casual, distracted, and flawed. Statesmen failed to consider the consequences of their actions, they failed to question their assumptions, and they failed to hold open discussions among themselves where alternative policies could be developed. In many cases, information was incorrect or sometimes withheld from key decision makers.
Otte apportions the blame as follows:
A. Austria by 1914 had become the most reckless of the major powers and had developed tunnel vision. It viewed the Balkans as the only remaining venue for it to act as a great power. The murder of the royal couple in Sarajevo gave Austria the excuse it needed to crush its rival Serbia once and for all. That this action would have wider consequences for world peace was of no concern to the Austrians. That was her ally Germany's problem. Once assured of Germany's support, Austria blindly prepared for war.
B. Germany's leaders made a fatal error based on two miscalculations. The fatal error was giving Austria the infamous "blanque cheque" on 5 July and approving Austria's plan to wage war against Serbia. Germany's pledge of support removed any restraint from Austria, and Germany conceded control of its foreign policy to the hapless Hapsburgs. The first key miscalculation by Germany was that Austria would strike quickly against Serbia while public opinion was still outraged at the royal murder. Instead, Austria would proceed with the speed of an "arthritic snail". The second miscalculation was that Russia would stand aside as it had in past Balkan crises. Otte describes the German government as "a giant with a brain of clay".
|Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov|
D. Germany has been criticized over the years for giving Austria a "blanque cheque", but France did the same thing for Russia. Instead of cautioning restraint, French leaders encouraged Russia to take a strong stand against Austria by assurances of French support against Germany. French actions are a mirror image of Germany's, yet France has received little criticism over the years. This is one more proof that it is indeed the victors who write the history. At the height of the crisis, the French president and foreign minister were out of touch, traveling on a French warship while leaving French diplomacy in the hands of their ambassador to Russia. Otte contends that the ambassador overstepped by encouraging strong Russian action while at the same time withholding information about Russian military measures from his own government.
E. Serbian officials, as we now know, were the source of arms and training for the assassins that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand. When called to account by the Austrian ultimatum, Serbia gave a reply that in Otte's opinion was "a clever concoction of acceptance and equivocation, evasion and rejections, and all dressed up in accommodating language".
|British Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey|
July Crisis is a well written, witty, and convincing account of the events of July 1914. It is meticulously researched and thoroughly documented with extensive footnotes at the end of each chapter, making them a valuable part of the book. This is a very timely book in the sense that it points out the need for clearheaded statesmanship in a world filled with daily crises involving major powers. Flexibility, patience, and willingness to compromise and question were qualities sadly lacking among statesmen during that fateful July in 1914. We should heed the lessons of this history.
I must add a word of caution to those who want to successfully navigate this book. The crisis in the summer of 1914 involved intense diplomatic activity between seven European countries. Each nation had its head of state, prime minister, foreign minister, various assistants, generals, cabinet ministers, and a network of ambassadors at each other's capitals. The cast of characters is immense. At the very beginning of the book, Otte lists some 160 of the principal dramatis personae who play a part in the story. It would be a good idea to bookmark this list in order to be able to refer back to it when confronted with some of the more obscure players. I found this difficult using a Kindle and often found myself confused as to who a particular actor was and what country he was from.
Monday, April 20, 2015
|Général Auguste Dubail, Commander IVe armée|
|Unlucky Number 17, Soldat François Fontanaud|
From Terrence Finnegan's new work: A "Delicate Affair" on the Western Front: America Learns How to Fight a Modern War in the Woëvre Trenches
Click here to see our review of his full work:
Sunday, April 19, 2015
|Serbian Troops Dug In on the Danube|
Saturday, April 18, 2015
I am obliged to report that, at the present moment, the Russian Empire is run by lunatics.
|"Knight Errant", Oskar Kokoshka (Self-Portrait)|
Advice from a WWI Survivor
- Chew your food. It's more important than anything else. If you don't chew your food well, your digestive system won't be able to get all the nutrients out of it.
- Exercise the mind and body.
- Wake up every day.
Friday, April 17, 2015
|At Essex Farm Cemetery, North of Ypres|
|One of the Display Options|
Access the Virtual tour at:
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Artillery Scout: The Story of a Forward Observer with the U.S. Field Artillery in World War I
Reviewed by Peter Belmonte
|American Artillery Firing Near Exermont, Argonne Sector|
Fairfield was born in Chicago in 1892, the son of an English Protestant father and Irish Catholic mother. Len's father had a drinking problem and wasn't an adequate provider, and the family struggled with poverty. Despite disadvantages, Len studied and was able to become a stationary engineer. As war neared, Len had serious doubts as to the validity of U.S. involvement. Doubts aside, Len was drafted as part of the first quota in September 1917. Told there were too many inductees at the armory, Len was ordered to return home and report again on 3 October. He did so, and was sent to Camp Grant, near Rockford, Illinois, for his training.
Len was assigned to Battery A, 124th Field Artillery Regiment, 58th Field Artillery Brigade, 33rd Division. Going overseas in May 1918, the 124th underwent more training at Camp Valdahon before going into action. Typical of some artillery units, the 58th Field Artillery Brigade didn't serve with its parent division (the 33rd) during the war. Instead it supported a number of different divisions in combat. At St. Mihiel, the 58th supported the 1st Division in its assault against the ground overlooked by the dreaded Mont Sec. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive the 58th supported, in turn, the 91st, 32nd, and 89th Divisions. During the last phase of the offensive, Len lived through a horrific shelling of his column as it moved forward in close support of the infantry. The days of constant combat, exposure to gas, and the terrible climate slowly took its toll on Len; the war ended none too soon for him as he teetered on the brink of serious illness.
After a brief period of occupation duty in Luxembourg, during which time Len spent a month in the hospital suffering from influenza and pneumonia, Len finally returned home to his wife Maggie, whom he had married in Chicago just before departing for military service. Bilder includes a brief epilogue that covers Len's post-war life, much of which was filled with raising his large family.
Readers familiar with Robert Casey's The Cannoneers Have Hairy Ears: A Diary of the Front Lines (New York: J. H. Sears) will recognize many of the episodes in Bilder's book. Casey was the executive officer of Battery A, and Bilder must have used his published diary as a reference.
|At the Business End of a French 75|
If you don't mind a book with recreated dialog and occasional salty "soldiers' language" in the dialog and the narrative, then you will appreciate this book as an addition to the overall history of the experiences of the American soldier in the Great War.