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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kentucky and the Great War
Reviewed by Dr. Margaret Spratt

Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front

by David J. Bettez
University Press of Kentucky, 2016

The first generation of social historians taught us that there is a great deal more to the past than biographies of "great men" and generalizations about the grand sweep of history. They showed us that to understand the lives of the ordinary, one must dig through the flotsam of lives lived. Although I am not sure if Dr. Bettez would describe himself as a social historian, he has produced with Kentucky and the Great War, history from the bottom up.

Alexander McClintock of Fayette County,
 Kentucky, Could Not Wait to Fight
 and Joined the Canadian Army.
This book looks at the politics, economic life, culture, and contributions of Kentuckians in the war by researching newspapers, country records, university records, and private papers located throughout the state. Kentucky and the Great War takes us on a journey from the early rumblings of war in Europe to the memorials to the fallen. We see how war affects the mining and agricultural interests in the commonwealth, as well as the community efforts to support the Red Cross in small towns from the mountains in the east to the Mississippi River in the west. The successes and failures of the Kentucky Council of Defense and war activities on college campuses both earn entire chapters.

Perhaps most fascinating is the process that the citizenry underwent to become a united front. That process required the rooting out of sedition and the hunting down of "slackers." In a case involving the owner of a shoe shop in Covington (a town with a German heritage across the Ohio River from Cincinnati), the charges relied heavily on conversations recorded by a dictograph in a grandfather clock. For African Americans, the question of loyalty was double-edged—were the goals of America and of racial solidarity the same? Bettez found that  African Americans in Kentucky ultimately did their part by contributing to the Red Cross and Liberty Loans, conserving food, and enlisting. Louisville's leading African American citizen, Roscoe Conkling Simmons, reassured his community when he spoke at a rally: "There is for me and my people but one country and one flag, the flag that set me free." Yet not everyone agreed. One minister told his congregation that this was a "white man's war" and that "they have 'Jim -Crowed' us and otherwise mistreated us and now when trouble comes they want us to fight for them" (pp. 182–183). However, Kentucky had one of the lowest rates of draft dodging in the country.

Often a social history loses its overall relevance by getting lost in the details. It becomes vital to be grounded in context for a study to contribute to the larger narrative of history. Bettez has succeeded at this task, and yet those readers interested in Kentucky history are bound to be his most appreciative audience. Kentucky in the Great War details the workings of a population undergoing economic and social change. It shows us that history is not necessarily a straight line. It zigs and zags with setbacks and great achievements. Sometimes, it is difficult to see those larger trends because the details of the story are so overwhelming. The author shines in his effective use of evidence, and traverses the complexities of the story with ease. I predict that historians will use this study for years to come as the standard for a state history during the Great War.

Dr. Margaret Spratt

Monday, February 27, 2017

Cuxhaven: The World's First Carrier-Based Air Assault

Britain, in the first months of the war, realized the danger of zeppelin raids on home shores when the Germans became entrenched in Belgium. A series of air patrols in the Channel was immediately established, costing the Royal Naval Air Service a number of seaplanes and pilots in casualties.

TARGET: The Zeppelin Sheds at Cuxhaven
(Note: The Shadow of the Airship Taking the Photo)

In December 1914, the British planned a raid on zeppelin bases at Cuxhaven. This time, they tried a new tactic, launching the attack with seaplanes based aboard ships. The converted Engadine, Riviera, and Empress were pressed into service, accompanied by a screen of destroyers and submarines. The mission was not restricted to the bombing of the airship sheds, but broadened to obtain as much information as possible on the strength of the German Navy in the area.


On Christmas morning, the ships converged at a point some 12 miles north of Heligoland. An hour later, seven planes took off. En route, they were attacked ineffectively by two zeppelins, and, as they neared the enemy’s main naval base, by seaplanes. Three hours after launching, three of the seaplanes returned to their ships, the mission only partly accomplished. The remaining four were forced to ditch. The crews of three were rescued by a friendly submarine; the fourth was captured by a Dutch trawler.

The seaplanes did not succeed in finding the zeppelin sheds, thus failing that aspect of the mission. But they did bring back valuable information on harbors and the number of German ships in them. The Admiralty was not disappointed.

AIRCRAFT: The Short S.81 of the Royal Naval Air Service

If any single action gave birth to the concept of aircraft carrier operations, says one noted U.S. naval historian, this raid would qualify. Several similar raids were made in later years of the war, but attention was directed first at the development of seaplanes and then of flying boats. It was not until the last months of the war that Britain fully realized the limitations of seaplane characteristics and the superiority of land-based planes; various experiments with true aircraft carrier design then ensued.

Source: Naval Aviation News, March 1962

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Penn State Goes to War: How an American College Supported the War Effort

By Michael Bezilla

The Memorial To Penn State's
Seventy-Four Fallen of
the Great War
From the Editor: This article is intended to be a case study demonstrating how colleges all over America typically supported the war and how the schools changed [usually temporarily] through that experience. The Pennsylvania State University [Penn State] was founded in 1855, became the nation's second Land Grant College in 1862 and is today one of our largest publicly operated learning and research centers. Your editor spent two tours of duty at Penn State. MH

...By 1917 nearly everyone's attention was fixed on events in Europe. The flames of a war that had been consuming the European continent since August 1914 were about to engulf the United States. During the early years of that conflict the question of American neutrality divided the Penn State community no less than it divided the nation. Should the United States remain neutral at all costs, or should it come to the aid of Great Britain and France in their struggle with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire? Not until the fall of 1916—ironically as President Woodrow Wilson was campaigning for reelection on the theme that he had kept the nation out of war—did the first signs appear at the college that America might soon become something other than an interested spectator. The cadet regiment, composed of all physically qualified male freshmen and sophomores (juniors and seniors were no longer required to participate) finally exchanged the blue uniforms that had been a hallmark of Penn State military training since the Civil War for the regulation olive drab apparel of the regular army. Weekly drill periods were lengthened, and in contrast to past indifference, students participated in these exercises with at least occasional seriousness of purpose.

Through the National Defense Act of 1916, Congress authorized the formation of a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to help supply the leadership the army would need in the event of a sudden involvement in a large-scale war. Students enrolling in ROTC units, which were to be established on a voluntary basis at colleges nationwide, would receive instruction in military subjects in addition to their normal academic studies. Upon graduation they would be awarded reserve officers' commissions. Since Penn State already had a military cadre—albeit one limited to freshmen and sophomores and offering no promise of commissions—the college declined to join in the stampede of institutions that besieged the War Department with requests to set up ROTC programs on their campuses.

Relations between United States and Germany worsened throughout the winter of 1916–17. On 3 February diplomatic ties were severed. Two days later, 2,300 Penn State male undergraduates voted to send identical telegrams to President Wilson and Governor Martin Brumbaugh advising them "that we tender our services, in whatever capacity they can be used, for preserving the national rights of a country against aggression." The measure was a purely symbolic one, but it did show that student opinion was fast congealing in favor of America's entry into the war. In March the board of trustees seconded the students' gesture by volunteering the use of the college's grounds and buildings to the War Department and to the Pennsylvania National Guard for training purposes. After Congress issued a declaration of war against Germany on 6 April, gestures turned to action, as the first wave of students left the college to enlist in the military or to take civilian defense jobs. Unsure how to handle this exodus, President Sparks and his Council of Administration decided to award academic credit for the entire semester and a course grade equivalent to the one earned upon termination of studies to all students who could present proof that they were engaged in war-related employment. By the time June commencement arrived, about 200 undergraduates had joined the army or navy, and another 570 were working on farms or in defense industries.

The Nation's Second Land Grant Institution, 
Penn State Had a Substantial Armory That 
Was a Center of Activity During the War

World War I was America's first technological war. Because the nation's colleges and universities could provide on a continuing basis the large numbers of technically trained men demanded by this kind of conflict, these institutions assumed a strategic value that they had not possessed in previous wars. Edwin Sparks joined presidents and representatives from 187 institutions of higher learning in Washington, DC, in May to discuss how their schools' human and material resources could best be utilized. It was agreed that students should be discouraged from enlisting for military service until they graduated or reached the draft age of 21 so that they might take with them into the service as much prior training as possible. This training should incorporate topics that were militarily valuable, and as many students as possible should have the opportunity to enroll. Upon his return to Penn State, Dr. Sparks applied to the War Department for a Reserve Officers Training Corps unit, which was formed in the fall of 1917 and comprised more than 200 juniors and seniors.

At the Washington meeting, college and university officials also promised to cooperate fully with the federal government and the quasi-military agencies that had been created to coordinate mobilization for war. The implications of this pledge were not to be realized for many months. In the meantime, Penn State geared up to meet the emergency. The 1917 summer session for teachers began on schedule with a record enrollment of 1,104. Except for compulsory military drills for men and a course in first aid and nursing for women, the session resembled those of past summers.

More defense activity occurred in the School of Agriculture, which added personnel to its county extension staffs to assist in the campaign to increase Pennsylvania's food production. County agents became official representatives of the federal government in overseeing the planting of additional corn, wheat, and other staple crops and proved invaluable in cutting through bureaucratic red tape to help farmers to obtain the extra fertilizer and seed they needed. Agents kept meticulous records of food production and storage as part of a government plan to export as much food as possible to America's allies without undercutting domestic needs. Home economists, who had been added to the extension staff under the Smith-Lever Act, fanned out across the Commonwealth with information on home canning of surplus foods and planning nutritious meals using substitute foods for those that might not be available because of war-induced shortages.

When the fall semester began, approximately three-fourths of the 1,600 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors of the previous year returned to the campus, a signal that students were heeding the message to stay in school. A freshman class slightly larger than the one admitted in 1916 put the college's total enrollment at about 1,900, down less than 300 from 1916–17. Soon after the new academic year got under way, the School of Engineering became directly involved in military training through its new course in "storekeeping, accounting, continuous inventory, disbursing, and transportation." Students took it on a voluntary basis in addition to their normal academic load. Hugo Diemer originated the course at the request of the Army Ordnance Department, and it was taught by Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering J. Orvis Keller.

Members of the Boys' Working Reserve Learn 
Proper Techniques for Spraying Fruit Trees

The war had not yet caused a significant disruption in the academic routine at Penn State. There were the usual plantings of war gardens and campaigns on behalf of Liberty Bonds, of course, but in spite of succumbing to such occasional bits of patriotic fervor as renaming sauerkraut "liberty cabbage," students and faculty did not seem to harbor the intense anti-German feelings that prevailed at some other institutions. No serious attempt was made to delete the German language from the curriculum. True, German eventually ceased to be taught for a short time, but it was squeezed out by military subjects added at the direction of the War Department. Nor did any threat materialize to remove German books and periodicals from the shelves of Carnegie Library. To the contrary, the faculty expressed fear that the war would halt the flow of internationally respected technical and scientific writing from Germany, causing irreparable loss to the library's holdings. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries many American scholars went to Germany to pursue doctoral studies, for the universities there led the world in the quality of their graduate education and in fact set the pattern after which American schools fashioned their own graduate programs. After the United States entered the war, faculty trained at German institutions were thought to have divided loyalties and became objects of suspicion on many American campuses. Relatively few members of the teaching staff at Penn State held PhDs from German or any other universities, thus sparing the college the embarrassment of having the patriotism of its faculty called into question.

Neither Penn State's faculty nor its students questioned the wisdom of unconditionally committing their school to the war effort. They viewed their institution's participation in defense work as the logical culmination of the service ideal of land-grant education, Furthermore, instruction in military subjects represented no departure from past practice, having been explicitly called for by the Morrill Act of 1862. On college campuses everywhere there was the feeling that in time of war, the survival of the nation was at stake. If making academic institutions instruments of the federal. government would significantly increase the chances of military victory, then the traditional freedoms and independence of higher education had to be sacrificed for the duration of the crisis.

This view was never seriously challenged, even as the college was being transformed into first a trade school and then an armed military camp. In December 1917 Penn State agreed to join about 150 other colleges and vocational schools in providing technical training for large numbers of army enlisted personnel. To make room for the expected influx of soldiers, the college was put on an accelerated schedule for the remainder of the academic year, and commencement exercises were held on 24 April. Three weeks before, a vanguard contingent of two hundred men from the Ordnance and Signal Corps had arrived to begin eight weeks of instruction in such subjects as carpentry, sheet metal working, and radio telegraphy. Additional contingents followed until by midsummer over 1,000 men were undergoing training in automobile repair, topographical surveying, and other topics selected by the War Department.

The greatest burden fell on the School of Engineering, which was hard pressed to find enough teachers since it had lost so many of its regular faculty to the army's Engineering Reserve Corps and war industry plants. The School of Agriculture also supervised a vocational training program, although it worked with civilian rather than military students. Soon after the close of the spring semester, the school and the U.S. Department of Labor's Boys Working Reserve cooperated in establishing a Farm Training Camp on the campus, the only camp of its kind in Pennsylvania. Four groups of about 250 youths each were selected from the Working Reserve, a volunteer army of males between ages 16 and 21, to attend the camp for two-week periods of intensive instruction in the rudiments of farm work. The students were then dispatched to "liberty camps" scattered throughout the state, and from there they were assigned as needed to nearby farms in an attempt to relieve the labor shortage that threatened to limit food production.


Before the year was out, nearly every department in the college became involved in some manner in national defense. In February 1918 the War Department created a joint civilian-military Committee on Education and Special Training (CEST), whose principal objectives were to encourage students to acquire as much education as possible before entering military service and to develop a standardized program of defense-related instruction for these students. In the spring of 1918, the CEST formed the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), a unit of which was to be established in September at all colleges and universities and at all professional and technical schools enrolling at least 100 males over the age of 21. As originally contemplated, enlistment in the SATC was to be voluntary and all SATC students were to receive 15 hours of military field and classroom instruction every week at government expense. It was hoped that the SATC would give students more tangible evidence that they were helping their country and at the same time give the War Department more control over the kind of training available at institutions of higher education.

The SATC, as originally planned, would have been little more disruptive of the academic routine at Penn State than the Reserve Officer Training Corps, but in August Congress decided to lower the draft age to 18. In the absence of educational deferments, this action left the SATC without a reason to exist and threatened to deplete the ranks of the college population. With the consent of the War Department, the CEST resorted to the drastic measure of making enlistment in the SATC compulsory for all physically qualified male college students. The only legal means by which this could be accomplished was to make each student an army private on active duty. This wholesale conscription in effect nationalized all colleges and universities and enabled the federal government through the CEST to dictate their curriculum. Legally speaking, the executive powers of military commandant Major James Baylies exceeded even those of President Sparks. Required military instruction was increased to 30 hours per week, put under the direction of some 30 officers, and covered such topics as grenade throwing, bayonet practice, and trench construction. Even instruction in the humanities was altered to suit the exigencies of national defense. History, economics, and political science courses all focused, by government fiat, on the background of the European conflict and America's war aims. Study of the French language assumed an importance it had never known before. At Penn State even the library offered its support, as head librarian Erwin Runkle busied himself amassing special collections in military history, and—his personal favorite—" adventure and daring."

SATC Cadets on the March near the Armory Parade Ground

The CEST put all institutions on a quarterly academic calendar, with the first term beginning 1 October. At noon on that day, over 1,600 Penn State undergraduates gathered on Old Main lawn to take the oath of allegiance, sing the national anthem, and listen to the reading of a telegram from President Wilson. Identical ceremonies occurred simultaneously at 500 college campuses across the nation as over 150,000 students were inducted into the Student Army Training Corps. All members of the SATC were expected to have obtained sufficient training within nine months to enable them to be transferred as needed to military assignments both at home and overseas. Going to college was hardly an option for any youth who wished to avoid service in the armed forces.

The SATC snuffed out the remnants of student social life at Penn State. Undergraduates had to wear uniforms at all times and observe military regulations just as they would at any other military base. To meet the demand for additional living quarters, fraternity houses were converted to barracks, two new barracks were erected on Old Beaver Field, and a mess hall was built adjacent to McAllister Hall. A rigidly prescribed schedule governed daily activities, with students rising promptly at 7:00 A.M., marching to and from classes and meals, and observing a strict 8:30 P.M. curfew. While this routine bore only an approximate resemblance to real military life—surely most troops on active duty did not enjoy the luxury of a seven o'clock reveille—and was well insulated from the horrors of combat, it did make freshman customs seem downright childish by comparison. Among the 500 undergraduates disqualified from the SATC (that is, female students and males who did not pass the physical exam),green dinks (beanies) worn by freshman males and hair ribbons for their female classmates disappeared as quickly as the old taboo prohibiting first year students from walking on the grass. Compulsory attendance at daily and Sunday chapel was also discontinued for the first time in the college's history.

Even before the full weight of the SATC was felt, the war was bringing about changes in extracurricular activities. In their spring 1918 production of "It Pays to Advertise," the Penn State Thespians for the first time included women in the cast. (The women's appearance was a short-lived one; not until 1926 would the Thespians again include a female in their show.) A shortage of qualified players was not so easily solved by the varsity athletic teams, although the 1917–18 schedules were adhered to with few modifications. In the fall of 1918, the CEST restricted intercollegiate play, preferring intramural sports as less costly and time-consuming and encompassing a greater proportion of the student population.

The great influenza epidemic that struck the nation that autumn further reduced the football schedule. Many communities fared worse than State College, where six students and six townspeople died from influenza. Strict quarantines had to be instituted in many parts of the Commonwealth. The football team managed to play only four games that year, all in November and all under new head coach Hugo Bezdek. Former coach Dick Harlow had resigned in July to join the army. In August, when the schedule still seemed fairly complete, Bezdek, who had coached football at the Universities of Oregon and Arkansas, was secured as his replacement. As head of the Department of Physical Education, Bezdek was also expected to breathe renewed life into the program of physical conditioning that the college ostensibly required of all students. The army and navy had discovered a dismayingly high number of potential inductees physically unfit for service, prompting Penn State and other schools throughout the country to reexamine the place of physical training in higher education.

Outright militarization of the college had been a long time coming, but once an armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, demobilization occurred swiftly. The Student Army Training Corps was disbanded by mid-December. Nearly 2,200 Penn State students and alumni (excluding those in the SATC) saw military service during the World War I, nearly half of them as commissioned officers, along with 49 members of the faculty. Many months would have to pass before most of the students and teachers who had left the college and were fortunate enough to have survived the war could return. Yet life at Penn State as the prewar generation knew it would never be quite the same, for the institution had come to the end of another era in its history and was about to enter a vastly different epoch.

The college experienced this rite of passage literally in a trial by fire. On the evening of 23 November 1918, flames broke out in the rear of the Main Engineering Building, and despite the valiant efforts of Penn State's own student fire brigade and those of the borough's Alpha Fire Company, the structure soon became a roaring inferno. Wind-whipped embers threatened to ignite other buildings until additional firemen from Bellefonte and Tyrone arrived to confine the fire to the Engineering Building and adjacent power plant. The wall of the steam whistle at the power plant first sounded the alarm and then continued throughout the night, a fitting accompaniment to the awful destruction of the architectural capstone of the entire campus. Morning light found the Main Engineering Building a smoking hulk and the college without steam heat and electric power. Classes were cancelled for a few days while utilities were restored, but it was not clear how the college would cope with the loss of one of its most important academic structures, one providing classrooms for hundreds of students and containing thousands of dollars worth of laboratory equipment.

The mental and physical stress arising from the aftermath of the fire proved more than Edwin Sparks could bear, and in February 1919 he suffered a nervous breakdown. Sparks had been extremely active during the war. Besides guiding Penn State through a period of sudden, radical change, he served on numerous state and federal commissions, devoting practically every spare moment to defense work of one kind or another. That he accomplished so much with so little rest and relaxation was due in part to the assistance of Mary Nitzky, who since 1905 had served as presidential secretary and handled many of the administrative chores of the office. In the fall of 1918, Miss Nitzky herself became incapacitated by nervous exhaustion and had to take a temporary leave from her job, forcing Sparks to spend much of his time dealing with petty details. The president was already attending to more routine administrative matters than usual, having assumed many of the responsibilities of Arthur Holmes, who in 1917 had given up his post as dean of the general faculty to accept the presidency of Drake University. The burning of the Main Engineering Building simply stretched Sparks's personal stamina too thin. The board of trustees granted him a leave of absence for the remainder of 1919, expecting him to resume his duties by the end of the year.

George Pond, dean of the School of Natural Science, was named head of a faculty committee charged with carrying on the necessary presidential activities in the interim. After his long period of recuperation, however, Sparks still felt he had not regained his health sufficiently and submitted his resignation. The trustees accepted it with reluctance, although they did prevail upon him to return to his post until the June 1920 commencement. Sparks also agreed to remain at the college as a lecturer in American history, an appointment he held until his death from heart failure in 1924.

In Case You've Ever Wondered What "Happy Valley" Looks Like

Sources and thanks: Michael Bezilla was formerly the Director, Development Communications & Special Projects at Penn State University, University Park, Pa. This article is excerpted from his full work, "Penn State: An Illustrated History," which can be found at the Penn State Libraries Website. By permission of the author and his publisher, The Pennsylvania State University Press. MH, PSU 69, 73.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salandra Got the War He Wanted

Antonio Salandra
Roiling Italian politics brought conservative, traditionalist Antonio Salandra to the top of the heap in March 1914. He was a nationalist who favored a foreign policy that suited Italian interests and was in no way an enthusiast for the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. His appointment, which was considered a stopgap measure at the time, would prove to be highly influential on the course of the war. 

When the rest of Europe rushed toward the battlefields, Prime Minister Salandra announced that Italy would not be entering the war, claiming that the terms of the 1882 Triple Alliance Treaty did not apply because neither Austria-Hungary or Germany were attacked. As a practical matter, there was substantial opposition to the war in Italy and any territory that Italy hoped to gain was in Austrian hands rather than those of the Entente powers. The Germans and Austrians were furious, of course, feeling betrayed. But worse was to come for the Central Powers. 

Salandra and his minister of foreign affairs, Sidney Sonnino (initially a supporter of honoring the Triple Alliance), continued discussion with their purported allies, while also initiating secret negotiations with London and Paris to see how Italy could profit from the war by joining their side. The Allies won the bidding war, and Salandra patched together a broad, but somewhat thin, coalition from across the Socialist-Nationalist spectrum to support entering the war on the side of the Entente. Italy joined the war against its former Allies in the spring of 1915. 

Salandra, however, did not get the war he intended. The Army high command seized control of the war effort and suffered enormous casualties by mounting huge offensives across the Isonzo River with very little to show for it. Little more than a year after Italy had entered the war, Salandra's government lost support and fell, the first such dismissal for any World War I belligerent. The war that Salandra had engineered would be a disaster for Italy, but the fighting on the Italian Front would be a steady drain on the resources of the Central Powers, especially Austria-Hungary, and would contribute immeasurably to the eventual Allied victory. 

In the Distance, the War Memorial of Asiago, Site of the 1916 Austro-Hungarian Offensive

Salandra was Italy's war leader for about a year. Following the success of an Austrian offensive from the Trentino in the spring of 1916, Salandra was forced to resign. After World War I, Salandra moved further to the right and supported Mussolini's accession to power in 1922. Nine years later he died in Rome.

Sources: Giolitti, Giovanni. In Great Britain, Collected Diplomatic Correspondence

Friday, February 24, 2017

World War I Press Kit Surprises

As a publisher of a large amount of material on the First World War, I'm sent—usually unsolicited—press kits with background information, photos, and even ready to go articles, by organizations seeking to promote their coming events. During my current somewhat maddening effort to upgrade my hardware (I was still using Windows Vista on my desktop) the hardest challenge has been to transfer all my accumulated files to the new desktop and laptop. I keep uncovering resources I had forgotten I had, one category of which is my collection of these press kits. I couldn't resist going through some of these—they always send some of their best stuff—and, in doing so, I've discovered many interesting items. Here are a few pleasant surprise discoveries I've made. More will follow, I'm sure.

Source 1:
German Historical Museum, Berlin: “1914–1918. The First World War” (2014 Program)

Source 2: The U.S. National Archives: "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?—The Government's Effect on the American Diet" (2011 Exhibit)

United States Food Administration Poster, c. 1918 
During WWI the Food Administration Under Herbert Hoover Promoted
 "Wheatless Wednesdays" and "Meatless Mondays."
This Poster Suggests Cottage Cheese as a Protein Substitute. 

Mugshot of the Vile Criminal Charles Wille, 1918 
Sent to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for Breaking the Oleomargarine Laws

Source 3:
The Library of Congress: "American Artists View the War" (Open Through May 2017)

"Submarines in Dry Dock, 1917" by Pacifist Artist Joseph Pennell

 "Is It Really Getting on His Nerves?" 1917 Pro-Intervention Cartoon
by Charles Dana Gibson

Source 4:
French Tourism Board: "Visiting American Battlefields" (2016 Package)

American Troops Take Their First Meal in France

Freshly Spruced-Up Montfaucon Memorial — 234 Steps to the Top

Source 5:
Minnesota History Center and Many Other Organizations: "WW1 America"
(Opens This April in St. Paul and Will Tour the Country Afterward)

America at the Time of the War

  •  The country’s total population is 103 million (323 million today).

  • About one out of seven people is foreign-born (about the same today).

  • 90 percent of Americans are of European descent (62.6 percent today).

  • One-third of all Americans are younger than 15 (20 percent today).

  • The median age is 25 (nearly 40 today).

  • More Americans live in rural areas than in cities and towns (more than 80 percent reside in cities and suburbs today)

  • Women make up one-fifth of the paid workforce.

  • Women have full voting rights in 11 states, mostly in the West.

  • The average manufacturing job pays 53 cents an hour.

  • The federal income tax—created by the 16th Amendment to the Constitution—has only been in effect since 1913. Just one in ten Americans pays any income tax.

  • Fewer than one in four adults owns an automobile.

  • About a third of American households have a telephone.

  • There are 16 teams in Major League Baseball. The westernmost major league city is St. Louis, which supports two teams.

Compiled by the Minnesota Historical Society

Source 6: Getty Research Institute: "World War I: War of Images, Images of War" (2014–2015)

Cow Shoulder Bone Painted by a German Soldier on the Eastern Front,
Anonymous (German), 1916. Lent by Jane A. Kimball

Vaska the Prussian Cat—The Russian Foe, 1914. From "Kartinki"

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

World War I Burials in Paris

Paris does not have a national military cemetery, but French veterans of the war are buried throughout Paris. Some have personal memorials and graves. The Pantheon, for instance, has several interesting interments connected with the war: former Poilu and Nobel Peace Prize recipient René Cassin, Marie Curie, who developed a mobile X-ray service for the French Army, and the assassinated socialist politician Jean Jaurès.

The American Battle Monument Commission maintains a Suresnes Cemetery on Mont Valerian just across the Seine, east of Bois de Boulogne. It contains 1,500 American burials from the war, mostly of soldiers who died in Paris hospitals. There is also a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery with about 100 British burials of men who died while being treated at hospitals in the Paris area. It is located at near the Porte de Pantin on the road to Le Bourget Airport.

Père Lachaise Cemetery located at Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 10th Arrondissement, is the largest cemetery in the city limits and is reputed to be the world's most visited cemetery. It holds the remains of numerous memorable and notable individuals, such as Great War writers Henri Barbusse, Jules Romains, and Guillaume Apollinaire, as well as the controversial minister of the period, Joseph Caillaux. It is also the site of multiple Great War memorials, two of which are shown above, monuments to the Italian (upper) and Belgian (lower) Fallen of the War.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

World War I
Reviewed by James M. Gallen

World War I

by S. L. A. Marshall
American Heritage Press, 1964, 1971

Although now over 50 years from its original publication, Gen. S.L.A. Marshall's World War I remains a good survey study of the Great War from its inciting spark in Sarajevo through its controversial end with the Versailles Treaty. It consists primarily of narrative with black-and-white photographs of scenes and individuals involved and maps to aid the readers in understanding the course of battles. World War I is a lot to pack into 500 pages, but I feel that the significant facts of the war are covered.

U.S. 108th Field Artillery Firing During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive

Even readers well versed in Great War literature are likely to learn from this book. I think author S. L. A. Marshall does a good job in illustrating the modifications Moltke made to the Schlieffen Plan. The original Schlieffen Plan was devised while Russia was reeling from its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, but the plan was less suited against a nation that had improved its military in the intervening years and had not yet succumbed to the revolution that Schlieffen had foreseen. Marshall characterizes Moltke's modifications to the Schlieffen plan not as a modification but as a burial. The Kaiser's vacillation between seeking victory in the east or the west ruined his chances of finding it in either direction.

Marshall also claims that the lack of fertilizer was of greater importance to Germany than lack of food. He raises the continuing British concern of rebellion in Ireland after the Easter Uprising, and, finally, makes the peace process, both on the Russian Front and at the conclusion of the War, more understandable.

American involvement, both political and military, are afforded their due ink. Wilson's Fourteen Points are enumerated and his delays in dealing with initial German peace feelers are examined. The maps accompanying the 13  pages devoted to Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood and ten pages on Saint Mihiel and the Argonne Forest facilitate understanding of the battles. Citation of actions by Cols. George Marshall and George Patton illustrate the seasoning of the American officer corps that would bear fruit in a later war. I must note that I think that veterans of the Spanish-American War would take issue with the assessment that the engineering regiments rushed to the aid of the British Fifth Army were "the first American troops to know full-scale battle since the Civil War."

Admittedly, the author's writing style, as well as the setting of the photographs and the black-and-white maps and illustrations give this book a dated appearance. However, while I have found contemporary works to be more satisfying, Marshall's tome remains worthwhile for the well-read Great War student. Each historian interprets history through his own eyes, hence a more complete view is obtained by reading histories written over time. I have been trying to study World War I during its Centennial, and this book has served as a good refresher. I would recommend that readers start elsewhere, but after an adequate introduction to the Great War in some more specialized volumes, a book like this is helpful to pull it all together and put it into context.

James M. Gallen

Monday, February 20, 2017

Let's Not Forget: General Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre (1852-1931)

As the Centennial commemorations start paralleling the final two years of the Great War, let us remember the one man who—for better or worse—made certain that the war did not end in 1914.

The French Army enthusiastically marched to war in 1914 with the wrong plan, the wrong tactics, even the wrong trousers, the dashing "Rouge Pantaloons" which simply made their infantrymen easy targets for enemy machine gunners. Within a month, desperation had replaced optimism. Four of France's five field armies and their British ally's expeditionary force were in full retreat. The Republic suffered over 300,000 casualties, abandoned its original war plan, and its government had fled Paris. A repeat of the Debacle of 1870 seemed to be unfolding. But then for a few days the character of one portly, inarticulate, unimaginative career soldier rose up to dominate history.

Joffre Monument,
École Militaire, Paris
Throughout the dismaying month of August 1914, the unlikely savior of France, Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre, remained imperturbable and confident, ignoring his defeats, patiently waiting for the Germans to overextend themselves and provide a favorable opening. In early September, when he saw the First German Army veer to the east of Paris, exposing its flank to him, he pounced. What resulted from this one man's patience and timely resolve was the Battle of the Marne, one of the decisive battles of world history and the turning point of World War I.

Joffre had joined the army as an 18-year-old during the Franco-Prussian War. An expert in fortifications, artillery, and—most important for 1914—railroads, he prospered in the colonial army, where his lack of pedigree and formal schooling seemed unimportant. His tours of duty included Indo-China, Sudan, Timbuktu and Madagascar, where he would gain an important mentor and career advocate in Joseph Galliéni. His absence from France fortuitously kept him from any involvement in the politically charged Dreyfus Affair. Success abroad led to his appointment as director of engineering for the French Army in 1905, later—with Galliéni's support—election to the Supreme War Council and, in 1911, promotion to chief of staff.

As chief of staff, General Joffre had responsibility for war planning and was the designated commander-in-chief in case of war. His views communicated through a few trusted subordinates—guided France's war preparations. Officers in tune with the spirit of the offensive (offensive à outrance), the principal governing French prewar doctrine, were encouraged and defensive-minded officers purged from influential positions under his regime. In 1913 the fruit of Joffre's planning effort, Plan XVII, was approved. In Joffre's words, after deployment of five French armies:

"Whatever the circumstances, it is the Commander-in-Chief's intention to advance with all forces united to the attack of the German armies. The action of the French armies will be developed in two major operations: one, on the right, in the country between the wooded district of the Vosges and the Moselle below Toul, the other, on the left, north of the line Verdun-Metz."

In August 1914, being a man of his word, Joffre attacked as promised in both of these sectors with disastrous results. Meanwhile, the German Army was implementing the great wheeling movement around Paris conceived by Alfred von Schlieffen. It seemed as Joffre's planning had played directly into the German scheme. By advancing in eastern France, the French Army had opened itself to being rolled up from the west. More failures heightened the danger. Belgian fortresses were crushed. The British Expeditionary Force barely escaped entrapment at Mons. The French anchor on the left flank, General Lanrezac's 5th Army, was sent reeling from the River Sambre. 

With the situation crumbling, General Joffre's personality came to the forefront. He calmly called for a retreat to regroup, build some new armies, and await a chance to counterattack. On 25 August he issued General Instruction Number 2, which outlined the strategy which would guide his forces at the Marne. He was ready to strike when the enemy gave him an opening, which eventually came in early September. His stand on the Marne, brought the shortcomings of Germany's Schlieffen Plan clear to Moltke and his staff. The great enemy advance was halted and sent into retreat.

Present-Day Marker at Joffre's Paris Residence

Joffre's service after the Marne was anticlimactic for him and devastating for France. 1915 was to prove the bloodiest year of the war due to his ill-conceived offensives in Artois and the Champagne. In 1916 he would earn further criticism for failing to prepare defenses in the Verdun sector despite warnings of an impending German attack. He was relieved as commander-in chief in December 1916 and named a Marshal of France. Although he subsequently did notable service as head of the military mission to the United States, his singular achievement in the Great War is considered to be his shaping of what came to be known as the Miracle of the Marne.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

DADA: World War One's Lasting Contribution to Art

World War I began in 1914 and lasted four long years. A war fought to "make the world safe for democracy" resulted in ceaseless death and destruction. Everything the radicals claimed was hidden by the old lineup of art, life, and morals burst forth in the trenches. Men were beasts. The individual counted for nothing. The mangled bodies of victims and veterans made the most distorted prewar paintings seem tame. Even more haunting were the trenches themselves—they turned the landscape of Europe into a cubist canvas. If few saw the link at the time, many sensed that the defenders of the old morals were horribly wrong, and the radical artists—whose work had seemed to deny normal reality—so very right. In its greatest moment of glory, the avant-garde predicted the future, only to be consumed in the very flames it foresaw.

On 1 Feb 1916, a German playwright named Hugo Ball opened a combined café, theater, and art exhibition space in Zürich, Switzerland—the cabaret of a movement of art and anti-art that is still strong to this day. Or it was a birthplace. DADA could have no single origin. A good case could be made for the Futurists in Italy just before the war or for Duchamp and his friends in New York in the earlier teens. Paris has to be part of any avant-garde mix, and soon Germany would add its claims. Some even think of Mark Twain as DADA's spiritual father. Let's start at Zürich's Cabaret Voltaire. 

A Collage of DADA—Collage Is One of the Lasting Techniques of DADA

Of an evening, Emily Hennings, Hugo Ball's lover and an avant-garde performer in her own right, sang. A Romanian poet named Tristan Tzara recited. On display were the latest and most provocative paintings by people such as the metaphysical Italian Giorgio de Chirico or the ever-challenging Picasso. Soon artists began to gather and hold evenings devoted first to Russian and later French literature. These were no sedate poetry readings. Huelsenbeck was passionate about what he thought of as "Negro music," especially the tom-tom drum. According to Ball, he wanted to "drum literature into the ground." And, as Ball wrote in his diary on 15 May 15, the group was starting a magazine with an unusual name.  "'DADA' ('Dada'). Dada Dada Dada Dada."
Marc Aronson, Over the Top, July 2007

New York City 2007, Graffiti Incorporating Multiple Elements of DADA

DADA promised, in the words of its mercurial chatterbox poet, Tristan Tzara, "to destroy the drawers of the brain, and those of social organization; to sow demoralization everywhere." DADA was the child of trauma; the first World War, that cultural chasm, had revealed — in the sheer incapacity of words to convey its degree of lethal absurdity — the extent to which language itself was owned by the officer classes of Europe. One did not have to be a combatant (and few of the Dadaists were) to see that. The task, then, was to free language from its weight of inherited content, in the hope of freeing life itself. Chance, ambiguity, insult, nonsense, anything would serve, if it promised to break the crust. Above all, there was irony: the indifference of Duchamp, the attacks on the social jugular perpetrated by German Dadaists like George Grosz and John Heartfield, and Picabia's drawings, which make mock of the cult of the machine.
Robert Hughes, Time, 6 February 1978

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Charles Lindbergh's Gesture

Charles Lindbergh
My parents, like many in their generation, considered Charles Lindbergh a great American hero. This is one of the things we never agreed on. After I had read some of the things that Lindbergh had said as spokesman for the American First movement, I concluded the famous aviator was somewhat blind to evil, and an outspoken fool. Since becoming a student of the Great War, however, one episode has been brought to my attention by several readers, and I think it should be shared with others. Also, although I cannot say I've changed my opinion about him much, I think this does shed a little light on one reason why Lindbergh so ardently opposed America's entry into the Second World War.

After landing the Spirit of St. Louis at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris on 31 May 1927 and receiving a tumultuous welcome, Lindbergh, while being driven to the American Embassy, asked to pay a visit to the tomb of France's Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe. This gives both a clue to his strong feelings about the fallen of the Great War and a preview to a great gesture that followed. 

Flanders Field American Cemetery

Several days later he was invited by King Albert to visit Brussels. At the conclusion of the successful visit, Charles Lindbergh directed his now world-famous aircraft to Waregem, Belgium, site of the newly opened American Flanders Fields Cemetery. Bringing the Spirit of St. Louis in low over the graves and monuments, Lindbergh opened a window, dropped a wreath of flowers on the graves of his fellow Americans, and then continued his journey. 

Spirit of St. Louis over Flanders Field Cemetery

Charles Lindbergh had been too young to serve in the First World War, but it appears that he held his countrymen who had fallen in the war in great esteem. Maybe the regret and sadness he felt over their deaths led him to make some of the poor judgments of his later life with which some of us still associate him.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Was the Last Major Fight at Gallipoli?

It Was for Hill 60, Vital Link Between 

the Anzac and Suvla Sectors

At the beginning of August 1915, Hill 60, which commanded the shoreline communications links between the forces at Anzac and Suvla, was in Turkish hands. Hill 60 was included as an objective for the renewed Suvla offensive of 21 August. Its capture would secure the link from Suvla Bay to the Anzac beachhead. On 22 August, the hill was attacked from Anzac by the Canterbury and Otago Mounted Rifles from New Zealand. They succeeded in seizing part of the Turkish trench system but could not dislodge the Turks from the hill. Six days later the remnants of the whole New Zealand brigade (about 300 men, down from the 1865 who landed in May) made another daylight attack that extended the line but again failed to capture the target.

Skeletal Remains on Hill 60 Afterward

The initial attacks were followed later by the 18th Australian Infantry Battalion and supported on the flanks by other troops. Hill 60 was partly captured and on 27–29 August the captured ground was extended by the 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, and 18th Australian Infantry Battalions, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, the 5th Connaught Rangers, and the 9th and 10th Australian Light Horse. The summit of Hill 60 was never wrested from the Turks, but, by holding the seaward slopes, the ANZAC flank was secured and the link with Suvla opened. In 1920 Major Fred Waite, New Zealand's historian of the Gallipoli campaign, wrote, "The struggle near Kaiajik Aghala was the last pitched battle on the Peninsula."

Hill 60 Cemetery and New Zealand Memorial Today

The British historian Robert Rhodes James later wrote that "For connoisseurs of military futility, valour, incompetence and determination, the attacks on Hill 60 are in a class of their own." 

The position, however, was held until the evacuation in December.

Sources: New Zealand and Australian governmental and veterans websites

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Rare Aviation-Themed War Poem

Night Flying

By F.V. Branford
Illustration by Francois Flameng

Aloft on footless levels of the night 
A pilot thunders through the desolate stars, 
Sees in the misty deep a fainting light 
Of far-off cities cast in coal-dark bars 
Of shore and soundless sea; and he is lone, 
Snatched from the universe like one forbid, 
Or like a ghost caught from the slay and thrown 
Out on the void, nor God cared what he did. 

Till from these unlinked whisperers that pain 
The buried earth he swings his boat away, 
Even as a lonely thinker who hath run 
The gamut of greatlore, and found the Inane, 
Then stumbles at midnight upon a sun 
And all the honor of a mighty day. 

About Frederick V. Branford

Born Frederick Victor Rubens Branford Powell in 1892, the Scottish poet was educated at Edinburgh University and Leiden University.

Serving as a captain in the Royal Naval Air Service during World War I, Branford was very badly wounded at the Battle of the Somme, when he was shot down over the Belgian coast and swam ashore to Holland, where he was interned. Most of his poems were written in a long period of recovery from his injuries, which left him totally disabled. He lived on a disability pension for the rest of his life.

Branford stopped writing poetry in 1923, disillusioned with the prospects for future peace. He remarried in 1937; his second wife was his cousin Margaret Branford, the playwright daughter of John Branford. He died in 1941.