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

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Friday, April 29, 2022

Deadliest Locale for the Spanish Flu: Western Samoa

(Note: Most sources I've consulted list the death rate at Western Samoa as 24%... This article, cites 22%  In any case, I think you will find it quite informative. MH)

In New Zealand governed Western Samoa—not including the adjacent territory of American Samoa—30% of the men, 22% of the women, 10% of all children died from the Spanish Flu.

The  global influenza pandemic came to Western Samoa on board an island trader, the Talune, on 4 November 1918. The acting port officer at Apia was unaware that there was a severe epidemic at the ship's departure point, Auckland. On board were people suffering from pneumonic influenza, a highly infectious disease already responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world. Although the Talune had been quarantined in Fiji, no such restrictions were imposed in Samoa.

Steamship Talune

As a result he allowed passengers ashore, including six who were seriously ill with influenza. Within a week, influenza had spread throughout the main island of Upolu and to the neighboring island of Savai'i. The disease spread rapidly through the islands. Samoa's disorganized local health facilities and traumatized inhabitants were unable to cope with the magnitude of the disaster and the death toll rose with terrifying speed. Grieving families had no time to carry out traditional ceremonies for their loved ones. Bodies were wrapped in mats and collected by trucks for burial in mass graves.Approximately 8500 people—more than one-fifth of the population—died.

The influenza pandemic took a terrible toll on Samoa’s population. In a single week, the prominent businessman and community figure O.F. Nelson lost his mother, one of his two sisters, his only brother, and a daughter-in-law. S.H. Meredith lost seven close relatives. Of the 24 members of the Fono a Faipule (the colonial legislature), only seven survived the pandemic. The total number of deaths attributable to influenza was later estimated as 8500, 22% of the population. According to a 1947 United Nations report, it was "one of the most disastrous epidemics recorded anywhere in the world during the present century, so far as the proportion of deaths to the population is concerned."

The One-Week Toll on the Nelson Family

Responsibility for the pandemic clearly lay with New Zealand. In 1918, Western Samoa was still occupied by New Zealand forces that had seized the German colony at the beginning of the First World War. In addition to not placing the Talune under quarantine, the New Zealand Administrator, Colonel Robert Logan, did not accept an offer of assistance from the Governor of nearby American Samoa that may have reduced the death toll.  A Royal Commission called to enquire into the allegations found evidence of administrative neglect and poor judgement. Logan seemed unable to comprehend the depth of feeling against him and his administration. He left Samoa in early 1919 and did not return. His successor, Colonel R.W. Tate (1920–23), was faced with immense grief and ongoing resentment.

The influenza pandemic had a significant impact on New Zealand's administration of Samoa. Many older matai (chiefs) died, making way for new leaders more familiar with European ways. For survivors, the incident was seared into memory. It became the foundation upon which other grievances against the New Zealand authorities would be built. In 2002, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark made an official apology to the Samoan people for the actions of the New Zealand authorities. Western Samoa had become an independent republic in 1962 and in 1997 adopted the name Samoa.  The U.S. Territorial possessions in the Samoan Islands are known as American Samoa.

Sources:  New Zealand History; Journal of Pacific History

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Recommended: A World War I Staff Officer Helps Plan Victory in the Pacific in the Next War.

Captain Krueger, Returned to His Permanent Rank
After His World War I Service

In his 1995 article,  "General Walter Krueger and Joint War Planning, 1922-1938," retired U.S. Army Officer George B. Eaton, discusses the contributions of AEF veteran Walter Krueger to the planning of War Plan Orange, the strategy for defeating Japan in the Pacific Theater in a future struggle.  The eventual campaign in the Pacific closely followed the final form of Plan Orange (except the atomic bomb).  Krueger was greatly guided by his earlier experience in the Great War and in the Philippines. Here's some background on Krueger, who was one of the most important officer's in American history but is somewhat forgotten today.

Walter Krueger was born in Flatow, West Prussia, on 26 January 1881. His father died in 1884, and in 1889 Anna Hasse Krueger brought Walter and his  two siblings to the United States. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Walter was enrolled in the Cincinnati Technical Institute. He enlisted  in the 2d Volunteer Infantry and served in Cuba at Santiago and Holguin. In June 1899 Krueger enlisted in the regular Army. He was posted to the Philippines and fought in several engagements during the Philippine Insurrection, rising to the rank of sergeant. Krueger received a commission in 1901, having passed a written examination in lieu of West Point attendance (a common procedure at the time). After a tour in the United States, which included teaching at the Infantry and Cavalry School, Krueger returned to the Philippines, where he mapped areas of Luzon to the north and east of Manila.

Krueger's career soon settled into the slow grind of the old Army. He was promoted to captain only in 1916, but by the end of the First World War he had spent two tours in France, as a key staff officer of two divisions, the 26th and 84th, chief of staff of the Army Tank Corps, and as operations officer of two different corps, including the one that commanded the occupation troops in Germany from 1918 until 1923, advancing to the rank of temporary colonel. For his service in the war, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919. He was then assigned to the second Army War College class convened after the war. After graduation, although now qualified for either General Staff service or higher command, Krueger was retained at the College, first as an instructor and then in the Historical Division. He traveled to Berlin in early 1922 to study German strategy.  In April 1923 Krueger began his first tour in the Army War Plans Division (AWPD).

Download the full 23-page article HERE.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

War Dogs of the Alps


Esther -- Champion Ratter with One Hour's Take

Italian War Dog Kennel

Dog Sleds atop the Adamello, Highest Battlefield
on the Italian Front

The Popular Wine Ration Delivery Squad

Austrian Officers with Their Mascot.
Every Unit Seemed to Have One.

Dog Team Exiting an Alpine Fort

Not in the Alps, But I Couldn't Resist These Guys

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Instrument of Slaughter — A Roads Classic

by Edward Marston
Allison and Busby, 2012
Reviewed by Jane M. Ekstam

Instrument of Slaughter is the second in Edward Marston's Home Front Detective Series. It tells the story of a group of conscientious objectors in London at the beginning of the war, the leader of whom, Cyril Ablatt, is bludgeoned to death after attending a meeting of the No-Conscription Fellowship. Cyril and his friends believe in "peace and universal friendship." For them conscription is the desecration of principles long held dear, the subordination of civil liberties to military dictation, and a peril to the freedom of individual conscience. Cyril and his fellow pacifists are despised and ridiculed, not least by the police. For the group, however, there is no compromise: "[w]e never compromise" is their motto. All refuse to join the Non-Combatant Corp.

Joe, one of Cyril's closest friends, reminds the group that pacifism has its foundations in the Bible. "Blessed are the peacemakers," he says as he quotes from Matthew's Gospel, "for they shall be called the children of God. If only that were true! Ablatt was a peacemaker and you can imagine the names he must have been called. War puts poison into people's mouths." One of the group, Hambridge, is a Quaker, who reminds his friends, "we utterly deny all outward wars and strife. That's what George Fox [the founder of the Quaker movement] said and he preached the gospel of peace all his life, even though they put him in prison time and again."

In addition to emphasizing the Christian roots of pacifism, Instrument of Slaughter explores the taunting of conscientious objectors. One of Ablatt's group, Leach, suffers considerably from verbal abuse, but he succeeds in winning the sympathy of Detective Inspector Marmion. It is the latter who recognizes Leach's sincerity, but also his weaknesshe is engaged to be married to a young factory worker, Ruby. His decision whether to fight or not must thus be made for two people. In a heated debate with her fiancé, Ruby remarks:

"My parents say that you ought to join up. As for the women at work," she went on, "they're already passing remarks about me. I've got some friends at the factory but there are many nasty ones as well and they keep taunting me for getting engaged to a coward."

Marmion is determined to track down the killer, despite the general public's resentment that so much effort is being made on behalf of a man whom many deem to be a coward. For Marmion, who does not sympathize with pacifism but respects the honor and bravery of the pacifists, it is easy to defend the use of police resources—"when [Ablatt] became a murder victim . . . he ceased to be a conscientious objector." Marmion's uncovering of the murderer is portrayed as a victory for conscientious objection.

Edward Marston's novel reveals the difference between a fictional and an historical account of pacifism. Instrument of Slaughter tells not only the story of the conscientious objector himself, but also of his family. What makes the characters pacifists? What are the pressures put on them by their family, community, and nation? How do they withstand these pressures? When conscientious objection is explored in detective fiction, the reader becomes part of the story, investigating and evaluating motives, clues and evidence, and drawing conclusions. The suspense of the detective story maintains the reader's interest to the end. Justice is meted out and order restored. At the same time, the reader has gained a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a conscientious objector in World War One.

Jane Mattisson Ekstam

Monday, April 25, 2022

Attacked by Flamethrowers

I don't know of a better, or more terrifying, description of what it was like to be attacked by flamethrowers than that contained in  Generals Die in Bed. The novel, written by Canadian veteran Charles Yale Harrison, was published in 1930. Critics at the time considered it the finest of the war's semi-autobiographical antiwar treatments. MH

German Flamethrower Teams at the Somme

They are coming! We look behind us. They have laid down a barrage to cut us off. We are doomed. Anderson jumps from his gun and lies groveling in the bottom of the shallow trench. I tell Renaud to keep firing his rifle from the corner of the bay. Broadbent takes the gun and I stand by feeding him with what ammunition we have left. They are close to us now.

They are hurling hand grenades. Broadbent sweeps his gun but still they come. The field in front is smothered with grey smoke. I hear a long-drawn-out hiss. Ssss-s-sss!

I look to my right from where the sound comes. A stream of flame is shooting into the trench. Flamenwerfer! Flame-throwers! In the front rank of the attackers a man is carrying a square tank strapped to his back. A jet of flame comes from a nozzle which he holds in his hand. There is an odor of chemicals. Broadbent shrieks in my ear: "Get that bastard with the flame." I take my rifle and start to fire. Broadbent sweeps the gun in the direction of the flame-thrower also. Anderson looks nervously to the rear. "Grenades," I shout to him. He starts to hurl bombs into the ranks of the storm troops.

Odor of burning flesh. It does not smell unpleasant. I hear a shriek to my right but I cannot turn to see who it is. We continue to fire towards the flame-thrower. Broadbent puts a fresh pan on the gun. He pulls the trigger. The gun spurts flame. He sprays the flame-thrower. A bullet strikes the tank on his back. There is a hissing explosion. The man disappears in a cloud of flame and smoke.

To my right the shrieking becomes louder. It is Renaud. He has been hit by the flame-thrower. Flame sputters on his clothing. Out of one of his eyes tongues of blue flame flicker. His shrieks are unbearable. He throws himself into the bottom of the trench and rolls around trying to extinguish the fire. As I look at him his clothing bursts into a sheet of flame. Out of the hissing ball of fire we still hear him screaming. Broadbent looks at me and then draws his revolver and fires three shots into the flaming head of the recruit. The advance is held up for a while. The attackers are lying down taking advantage of whatever cover they can find. They are firing at us with machine guns.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Canada's Forgotten Victory: Hill 70, August 1917


Canadian Trench Closest to Hill 70

The capture of Hill 70 in France was an important Canadian victory during the First World War and the first major action fought by the Canadian Corps under a Canadian commander. The battle, in August 1917, gave the Allied forces a crucial strategic position overlooking the occupied city of Lens.

Lieutenant General Arthur Currie took command of the Canadian Corps in June 1917, following the Corps' victory at Vimy Ridge. Replacing British General Julian Byng, Currie was the first Canadian put in charge of the corps, Canada's main fighting force on the Western Front.

German Strongpoint Defending Hill 70

In July, Currie received orders from Sir Douglas Haig, commander-in-chief of all British-led forces in western Europe, to capture the French coal-mining city of Lens. Haig hoped this action would divert German attention and military resources away from the major Allied offensive then raging at Passchendaele, in Belgium.

Lens, which lay inside German-occupied territory not far from Vimy Ridge, had suffered terribly in the war. The Canadians were sent to capture a city that lay half in ruins. Currie thought that Hill 70—an elevation on the outskirts of Lens, so named because it was 70 meters above sea level—was tactically more important. He believed that a traditional, frontal assault on Lens, followed by an Allied occupation of the city, would be futile if the Germans could simply shoot down at the Canadians from the commanding hills. So Currie convinced his superiors, including Haig, to drastically alter the plan of attack, by making Hill 70 the Canadians' main objective.

Canadians Occupying an Enemy Trench Atop Hill 70

Currie believed that by capturing the hill he could aggravate the Germans in surrounding positions and provoke them to come out of their dugouts and attack. The Canadians could then kill large numbers of the enemy and drive them out of the area.

Throughout late July and early August, as the Canadians prepared to assault Hill 70, they harassed and distracted the German forces.

Hill 70 was a treeless elevation that dominated Lens. The city itself had been bashed by years of warfare, and German trenches cut through the ruins of the brick homes of the city's coal miners. The ruins offered plenty of cover for the Germans in the city.

The Canadians eventually captured the heights of Hill 70, but the cost was high. By the end of only the first day, 1,056 Canadians were dead, 2,432 were wounded, and 39 had been taken prisoner. It's not known how many Germans died that day.

Memorial at Hill 70 Under Construction (Opened 2017)

Fighting continued around Hill 70 through 18 August, with the Canadian Corps withstanding continued German resistance and counterattacks, in localized fighting that included mustard gas and flamethrowers. After four days of hard combat, the Canadians turned back 21 German counter attacks and held on to their new positions atop Hill 70. About 9,000 Canadians were killed or wounded in the overall battle, while an estimated 25,000 Germans were killed or wounded.

The fighting at Hill 70, overshadowed by the more famous Canadian battles at Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and at Passchendaele in the fall of that year, is not as well known to many students of the war. However, some historians argue that Hill 70 was one of Canada's most significant contributions of the First World War, more important even than Vimy Ridge. A memorial to the Canadians who fought at Hill 70 was finally dedicated.

From The Canadian Encyclopedia article by Brereton Greenhous and Jon Tattrie

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Bolo Pasha: World War One's Charmer, Con Man, and Traitor — A Road's Classic

Paul Bolo—also known as Bolo Pasha—was executed as a French traitor in April 1918.

Bolo's story is a bizarre one.  A French citizen, he was born in Reunion and spent much of his youth in France. His adult life prior to the opening of hostilities in 1914 appears to have been spent as a full-fledged member of the underworld, operating in France as a confidence trickster.

With the First World War under way, Bolo decided upon a confidence operation of surprising audacity, although he conceivably believed in the cause he espoused. In February 1915 he persuaded the Khedive of Egypt that the French public could be convinced of the merits of peace were he, Bolo, successful in raising substantial funds from Germany in order to aid the press campaign he had in mind.

Thus Bolo spent a good deal of 1915/16 in traveling between the U.S. and Europe while employed by the Khedive. Subsequent inquiries revealed that Bolo had amassed a small fortune amounting to some £300,000 from a variety of German sources.

Ultimately found out by the French authorities, Bolo was arrested while in Paris in September 1917.  He was promptly charged with obtaining funds from a national enemy for the purpose of establishing a pacifist movement in France—a crime punishable by death.

Found guilty of the charge and proclaimed a traitor Bolo was duly shot by firing quad at Vincennes fort on 17 April 1918.

The Fate of Traitors: Bolo at Vincennes

After the execution, Georges Clemenceau, the prime minister of France, addressed the American people, whom he apparently thought a little naive regarding characters such as Bolo:

This Bolo Pasha, who had had his way with everybody and in almost every situation, had met a strong man at last! Bolo Pasha was one of those gentlemen who began life by betraying women; he ended it by betraying nations. There is a great difference between betraying women and betraying nations! Women forgive and forget, but nations never, never! And so at the conclusion of their little interview Mr. Clemenceau escorted Bolo Pasha to the Forest of Vincennes, and placing him with his back to a wall, compelled him to face the business end of twelve French rifles. Bolo Pasha will never betray another nation. I want to tell you Americans that that is the only way to treat a traitor!

Sources: and Wikipedia

Friday, April 22, 2022

Memorable Dialog from WWI Movies

From All Quiet on the Western Front

Tjaden: Well, how do they start a war?

Soldier #1: Well, one country offends another.

Tjaden: How could one country offend another? You mean there's a mountain over in Germany gets mad at a field over in France?

Soldier #1: Well, stupid. One people offends another.

Tjaden: Oh, that's it. I shouldn't be here at all. I don't feel offended.

From La Grande Illusion

Capt. von Rauffenstein: A 'Maréchal' and 'Rosenthal,' officers?

Capt. de Boeldieu: They're fine soldiers..

Capt. von Rauffenstein: Charming legacy of the French Revolution

Capt. de Boeldieu: Neither you nor I can stop the march of time.

Capt. von Rauffenstein: Boldieu, I don't know who will win this war, but whatever the outcome, it will mean the end of the Rauffensteins and the Boeldieus.

Capt. de Boeldieu: We're no longer needed.

Capt. von Rauffenstein: Isn't that a pity?

Capt. de Boeldieu: Perhaps.

From Sergeant York

Alvin York: Well I'm as much agin' killin' as ever, sir. But it was this way, Colonel. When I started out, I felt just like you said, but when I hear them machine guns a-goin', and all them fellas are droppin' around me... I figured them guns was killin' hundreds, maybe thousands, and there weren't nothin' anybody could do, but to stop them guns. And that's what I done.

From Doctor Zhivago

Yevgraf Zhivago: In bourgeois terms it was a war between the Allies and Germany. In Bolshevik terms it was a war between the Allied and German upper classes—and which of them won was a matter of indifference. . . They [the warring powers] were shouting for victory all over Europe—praying for victory to the same God. My task—the Party's task—was to organize defeat. From defeat would spring the Revolution...and the Revolution would be victory for us.

From The Blue Max

Von Klugermann: Well, aren't you coming [to the enemy pilot's funeral]? It's an order.

Stachel: Why?

Von Klugermann: Because our commanding officer has made it one. He believes in chivalry, Stachel..

Stachel: Chivalry? To kill a man, then make a ritual out of saluting him—that's hypocrisy. They kill me, I don't want anyone to salute

Von Klugermann: They probably won't..

From Lawrence of Arabia

Prince Feisal: The English have a great hunger for desolate places. I fear they hunger for Arabia..

Lawrence: Then you must deny it to them.

Prince Feisal: You are an Englishman. Are you not loyal to England?.

Lawrence: To England and to other things. 

Prince Feisal: To England and Arabia both? And is that possible? I think you are another of these desert-loving English.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

"Anzac" by Oliver Hogue

Lone Pine — 6 August 1915

Ah, well! We’re gone! We’re out of it now. We’ve got something else to do.

But we all look back from the transport deck to the land-line far and blue:

Shore and valley are faded; fading are cliff and hill;

The land-line we called “Anzac” . . .  and we’ll call it “Anzac” still!

This last six months, I reckon, ‘ll be most of my life to me:

Trenches and shells, and snipers, and the morning light on the sea,

Thirst in the broiling mid-day, shouts and gasping cries,

Big guns’ talk from the water, and . . .  flies, flies, flies, flies, flies!

And all of our trouble wasted! All of it gone for nix!

Still . . . we kept our end up – and some of the story sticks.

Fifty years from on in Sydney they’ll talk of our first big fight,

And even in little old, blind old England possibly some one might

But, seeing we had to clear, for we couldn’t get on no more,

I wish that, instead of last night, it had been the night before.

Yesterday poor Jim stopped one. Three of us buried Jim –

I know a woman in Sydney that thought the world of him.

She was his mother. I'll tell her – broken with grief and pride –

“Mother” was Jim's last whisper. That was all. And died.

Brightest and bravest and best of us all – none could help but to love him –

And now . . . he lies there under the hill, with a wooden cross above him.

That's where it gets me twisted. The rest of it I don't mind,

But it don't seem right for me to be off, and to leave old Jim behind.

Jim, just quietly sleeping; and hundreds and thousands more;

For graves and crosses are mighty thick from Quinn's Post down to the shore!

Better there than in France, though, with the German's dirty work:

I reckon the Turk respects us, as we respect the Turk;

Abdul's a good, clean fighter – we've fought him, and we know –

And we've left a letter behind us to tell him we found him so.

Not just to say, precisely, “Good-bye,” but “Au revoir”!

Somewhere or other we’ll meet again, before the end of the war

But I hope it’ll be in a wider place, with a lot more room on the map,

And the airmen over the fight that day’ll see a bit of a scrap!

Meanwhile, here’s health to the Navy, that took us there, and away;

Lord! They’re miracle-workers – and fresh ones every day!

My word! Those Midis in the cutters! Aren’t they properly keen!

Don’t ever say England’s rotten – or not to us, who’ve seen!

Well! We’re gone. We’re out of it all! We’ve somewhere else to fight.

And we strain our eyes from the transport deck, but “Anzac” is out of sight!

Valley and shore are vanished; vanished are cliff and hill;

And we’ll never go back to “Anzac” . . . But I think that some of us will!

Oliver Hogue


Oliver Hogue, born in Sydney Australia in 1880 worked as a journalist, achieving recognition for his writing under the pseudonym "Trooper Bluegum" during the First World War. He was born on 29 April 1880 in Sydney and was educated at Forest Lodge Public School. Despite growing up in Sydney, his ability at sports and his skill as a horseman led Hogue to consider himself a bushman and, after completing school, he cycled thousands of miles along Australia's east coast. He worked as a commercial traveller before gaining employment with the Sydney Morning Herald in 1907.  

Hogue enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in September 1914 as a trooper with the 6th Light Horse Regiment. Commissioned second lieutenant in November, he sailed for Egypt with the 2nd L.H. Brigade in the Suevic in December. Hogue served on Gallipoli with the Light Horse (dismounted) for five months, then was invalided to England with enteric fever.  In 1916 he returned to the Anzac forces deployed in the Sinai and Palestine sector. Oliver Hogue went through the whole campaign of the Desert Mounted Corps, but died of influenza at the 3rd London General Hospital on 3 March 1919. He was buried in the Australian military section of Brookwood cemetery. All through his service produced letters, articles, three books, and this poem, which is his best remembered work.

Sources:  All Poetry, Australian Dictionary of Biography

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Recommended: Ernst Jünger's Second World War

From: "Ernst Jünger: Our Prophet of Anarchy"
Originally Presented in Unherd of The Post
By Aris Roussubis

Ernst Jünger in Paris, 1941

It sounds like Jünger's second World War may have been as dangerous for him as his first when he was wounded 14 times. MH

With its modern themes of detachment and alienation, the recent revival of Ernst Jünger’s early work by the internet dissident Right is an understandable urge. When I was a younger man, Jünger’s Storm of Steel, his hallucinatory account of his experiences as a stormtrooper commander in the trenches, was, like Malaparte’s Kaputt and Graves’s Goodbye to All That, a major formative experience in my desire to experience war and, callow though it now sounds, prove myself in it. 

Perhaps it’s natural, then, that in later life, the sombre reflections of the middle-aged Jünger as expressed in his recently translated wartime diaries, a husband and father disenchanted with the modern world around him, now seem so compelling.

The diaries open in 1941, with the 46-year-old Jünger serving in an administrative capacity on the general staff of the German army occupying Paris. Initially feted by the Nazi party for the proto-Fascist tone of his early works, Jünger publicly rejected the regime’s advances and came under suspicion as a result, his house searched by the Gestapo and the threat of persecution always hanging over him. A central figure in Germany’s interwar conservative revolution, Jünger, who stated he “hated democracy like the plague,” had come to despise the Nazi regime at least as much. Ultimately, he was far too rightwing to accept Nazism.

Jünger’s intellectual circle had aimed to transcend liberal democracy through fusing Soviet Bolshevism with Prussian militarism, yet the illiberal regime that actually came to power was wholly repugnant to him. “The Munich version—the shallowest of them all—has now succeeded,” he wrote, “and it has done so in the shoddiest possible way,” filling him with dread that Hitler would drive Germany and Europe toward disaster and discredit radical alternatives to liberalism for generations to come.

Jünger’s two closest friends, the National Bolshevik Ernst Nieckish and the philosopher of law Carl Schmitt, each met different fates under the new Nazi order: Nieckish jailed as a dissident until his liberation by the Red Army in 1945 and Schmitt as the regime’s foremost legal theorist. Jünger remained friends with both. For Jünger, the internal exile, dissidence would come in the veiled form of his dreamlike novella On the Marble Cliffs, published on the cusp of war in 1939, in which he predicted the disaster and bloodshed the Nazis would bring in their train. Carefully monitored and shunted off to a desk job in France, Jünger spent his war as a flâneur along the quais of Paris, buying antiquarian books, conducting numerous love affairs, and recording his impressions of the city he loved.

 Ernst Jünger at 100

A feted intellectual, and a lifelong Francophile, he befriended the city’s cultural elite, socialising with Cocteau and Picasso as well as the collaborationist French leadership and literary figures such as the anti-Semitic novelist Céline, a monster who “spoke of his consternation, his astonishment, at the fact that we soldiers were not shooting, hanging, and exterminating the Jews—astonishment that anyone who had a bayonet was not making unrestrained use of it”. For Jünger, Céline represented the very worst type of radical intellectual: “People with such natures could be recognised earlier, in eras when faith could still be tested. Nowadays they hide under the cloak of ideas.” 

While listening to Céline’s ravings about Jews with polite horror, Jünger was embroiled in an affair with Sophie Ravoux, a German-Jewish doctor, and helping to conceal other Jews in hiding, as well as warning the French resistance about imminent deportations. He records the first reports of mass executions in the east, shared among the army leadership, initially with disbelief and then with horror, disgust, and shame. Generals back from the east recount meetings with figures like “a horrifying young man, formerly an art teacher, who boasted about commanding a death squad in Lithuania… where they butchered untold numbers of people,” or share third-hand rumors about “men who have single-handedly slain enough people to populate a midsize city. Such reports extinguish the colours of the day. You want to close your eyes to them, but it is important to view them like a physician examining a wound.” 

Continue reading the article HERE.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Women of the Irish Rising: A People's History

By Michael Hogan
Fondo Editorial Universitario, 2021
Jim Gallen, Reviewer

Constance Markiewicz,  Co-Organizer of the 1916 Easter Rebellion,  First Woman Elected to the British
House of Commons (1918)

As Roads readers are aware, the impact and history of the Great War extends far beyond the battlefields themselves. The war spawned social upheaval and provided an opportunity for others to make their stand. One of the most famous opportunistic risings was Dublin’s Easter Rising of 1916. That rising is well chronicled in Great War literature, but Women of the Irish Rising: A People’s History approaches it from a new perspective. Author Michael Hogan has skillfully woven the women’s story into that of the overall rising and the Great War in general.

More than other authors of some tomes on the subject, Hogan delves beneath the surface of a nationalistic rising to illustrate the disparate movements that brought it to a boil. There were human rights activists; think Sir Roger Casement, Erskine and Molly Childers; socialists, remember James Connolly; the Celtic revivalists, consider Joseph Plunkett; suffragettes, Margaret Frances Skinnider; labor organizers such as Helena Molony among the multitude of militant activists. Hogan also illustrates how the Great War influenced the rising, more so than the impact the rising had on the war, probably because it was negligible.

The women played a variety of roles including gun shooting warriors in the line, messengers, commissary provisioners, medical workers and whatever needed to be done. Some names are familiar, such as Countess Constance Markiewicz, some, like Nora Connolly, daughter of commander James, were associated with leaders, while others are more obscure, Dr. Kathleen Lynn being an example. It seems that women were more involved in the rising than in many insurrections, reflecting, perhaps both their enthusiasm for the cause and the need for aid from any possible source. Even so, the contrast between James Connolly’s admission of women to his command and their exclusion by other commanders is striking.

Margaret Skinnider (Center) Served as a Sniper and Was Wounded Three Times During the Easter Rebellion

Seeking to exploit the fact that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, Irish revolutionaries sought aid from Germany. Renowned for his humanitarian work in relation to the Belgian Congo, Sir Roger Casement utilized his prestige to gain access to Irish POWs whom he implored to join the fight for Irish independence (but only 52 out of 2,000 signed up) and to negotiate arms purchases, not donations, as I had believed previously.

The rising was not just a protest or a riot. It was urban warfare, aimed at seizing key points in Dublin and issuing propaganda statements to generate support throughout Ireland and abroad. Roads readers will appreciate the account of the Royal Navy’s pursuit of the Aud Norge with its German crew and cargo of munitions for the Irish that were lost when it was scuttled, as well as analysis of tactical errors that plagued both sides. Misjudgments arose in this, as in all wars. Prominent among them was the insurrectionists’ belief that the British would not shell Dublin; that was shattered when HMY Helga opened fire from the Liffey River on rebel headquarters at the General Post Office. The decision to surrender after a week of combat is shown as both calculated and controversial. Through it all a sense of almost comic civility prevailed, such as with the ceasefires to permit the caretaker of St. Stephen’s Green to feed the ducks.

The book does not end with the surrender. The characters and movements that played roles in the rising are followed to the ends of their lives and into the present day. The historiography of the rising is an interesting reflection rarely found in histories. The text is supplemented by photos, maps, and a bibliography that is most helpful. One thing I really like about the footnotes is the liberal citation of websites with URLs for easy access. The appendices contain a list of known women in the rising, pictures and descriptions of rising related flags and plays, poems and songs of the rising. This work is short, 270 pages in total but, despite my extensive readings on the Easter Rising, I learned new facts about it from these pages. The documentation of the Curragh Mutiny and Sir Roger Casement’s negotiations in Germany place the rising in both local and worldwide streams of history.

I enjoyed Women of the Irish Rising and learned much from it. It encouraged me to look up some of those websites found in the footnotes and to read further. I recommend it both to those seeking an introduction to the rising and more seasoned students looking for a new perspective on this unlikely front in the Great War.

Jim Gallen

Monday, April 18, 2022

Remembering a Veteran: Wagoner Harvey K. Redman. Ambulance Company No. 4, 27th Infantry, A.E.F., Siberia


Harvey Redman, Enlisted 1 August 1917

By Master Sergeant Michael Grady, USAF (ret.)

My grandfather, Harvey K. Redman (1899–1968), serial # 323485, enlisted in the Army to fight in the Great War. We come from an old military family dating back to the French and Indian Wars and the Revolutionary War. He was trained as a wagoner (teamster) for mule-driven ambulance at Fort Logan, CO, and then found himself assigned to the 27th Infantry Regiment (the Wolfhounds) which, at that time, was garrisoning Fort William McKinley in the Philippine Islands, far from the battlefields of Europe. Harvey's life and duties would change dramatically, though, in the summer of 1918, when the 27th Infantry was ordered to Siberia.

The regiment's Ambulance Company No. 4 arrived in Siberia on 14 September 1918. Its normal staffing was one officer and 130 enlisted men. Of the enlisted personnel, 65 men were detached for service with troops guarding the railroad on the Spasskoe-Razdelnoe sectors, about half this number being posted on duty at the Khabarovsk Hospital from November 1918 to June 1919.

The 27th Infantry on Parade, Khabarovsk, Siberia

The full complement of animal-drawn wagons and ambulances along with the required number of animals (128 mules and 96 horses) arrived with the company. The wagons were old and worn and already needed repairs. This situation was aggravated by the bad roads of Siberia. Consequently,  there were never more than six ambulances in commission at any one time. 

By May 1919, all ambulances and teams in serviceable condition—motorized and mule driven—were transferred to Evacuation Hospital No. 17, Vladivostok, although many had already been condemned as unfit for human transport. Three motor ambulances donated by the American Red Cross, furnished nearly all ambulance transportation for the last two months of the expedition's stay in Siberia. 

Transport Home: the USAT Logan

Eventually, the American Siberian expedition was liquidated, and Harvey left for home on the troop transport, USAT Logan, on 11 September 1919. After arriving in San Francisco on 19 October, he was discharged and made his way home to Illinois. He soon settled in Decatur, where he worked at the Borg-Warner Iron Works for most of his life, while also working his farm. My grandparents Fredia Long and Harvey Redman were been married on Christmas Eve 1919 and would have six children, two boys and four girls. He stayed in touch with his closest friend from the Siberian deployment, Ross Umphres of Walla Walla, WA, for the rest of his life and had a reunion with him in 1950 they both treasured. Harvey passed away in November 1968.


As a tribute to my grandfather, I decided to create this model of one of his Siberian ambulances. When I was young, my grandfather farmed with his two mules despite have a new tractor, so one day I got the courage to ask why he did it the hard way. He said "Boy, anyone can drive a tractor, but a matched set of mules are hard to come by, and being man enough to handle them is even harder." The model's mules bear the names of four that granddad cared for: Tobe and June, the leaders, Kit and Joe, the wheelers.

I would like to thank  Mike Hanlon  for putting this together, I’m very grateful, this is a small, largely  forgotten  but equally  important part of the First World War.

I'd also like to thank Greg Krenzelok,  Director of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group, who also told my grandfather’s  Siberian story,  and provided   technical knowledge of Army rigging and harnessing.  I would also like to credit the excellent designing and printing  of the 1/16 Scale Crew and Mules from  Panzer VS Tanks by HOLDEN8702 a good friend  without whom I could not have completed the model of granddad's ambulance.

Michael Grady


Sunday, April 17, 2022

How Lawrence Defeated the Turks in Arabia

Most wars are wars of contact…ours should be a war of detachment. We were to contain the enemy by the silent threat of a vast unknown desert…

T.E Lawrence 

Lawrence with Arab Irregulars

I found this nice clear evolution of  T.E. Lawrence's strategy in the Arab Revolt in the publication Small Wars Journal. The full article (HERE) was written by brothers  Capt Basil Aboul-Enein, USAF and Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein, U.S Navy.

Lawrence ends his thesis summarizing rebel warfare as “granted mobility, security (in the form of denying targets to the enemy), time, and doctrine (the idea to convert every subject to friendliness), victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive, and against them perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain.” The common dispositions in Lawrence‟s work seem to list the following requirements for a successful guerilla campaign: an unassailable physical or emotional base; a relatively friendly local population; mobility, flexibility and endurance; the ability to inflict damage on the enemy‟s ability of communication; and, lastly, an enemy too few in number to successfully occupy the territory of concern. . . 

According to historian Lawrence James, Lawrence did not invent the concept of the Arab guerrilla war, although after the war he provided it with an elaborate intellectual justification in terms of military theory. The idea of utilizing Arab irregulars as guerrillas was originated before the start of the revolt. Major Bray, an Indian officer who had served in Hejaz, Sir William Robertson, the chief of the Imperial General Staff, and Austen Chamberlain, Secretary of State for India, discussed the idea in November 1916. Robertson opened the exchange stating, “I hear you are one of those fellows who think the Arab is no damn good at all?” “No sir, I think that you cannot expect them, in their present state of organization, to hold trenches against disciplined troops, but as guerrilla fighters they will be splendid.” 

If Clausewitz‟s formulation is a classic expression of guerrilla tactics as part of modern warfare, T.E. Lawrence is often credited with the first theoretical contribution to understanding guerrilla warfare as a political movement furthered through unconventional tactics rather than as a military tactic supplementary to conventional warfare. According to Lt Col Frederick Wilkins, Lawrence “almost converted the tactics of guerrilla warfare into a science and claimed that no enemy could occupy a country employing guerrilla warfare unless every acre of land could be occupied with troops.” 

He elaborates, “in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence explained the plan that eventually defeated the Turks in Arabia. In the Turkish Army, materiel was scarce and precious, men more plentiful than equipment…the aim should be to destroy not the army but the materiel. Eventually, 35,000 Turkish causalities resulted from the new change in methods, but they were incidental to the attack on enemy material. The plan was to convince the Turks they could not stay, rather than to drive them out. The Turkish position gradually became impossible in Arabia. Garrisons withered and the effectiveness of the Turkish field force was largely on paper as the necessity for feeding the scattered units placed a heavy drain on the already burdened enemy supply system.”

Source:  "A Theoretical Exploration of Lawrence of Arabia’s Inner Meanings on Guerrilla Warfare," Basil Aboul-Enein and Youssef Aboul-Enein, 2011, reprinted at, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Why Russia Failed in the Great War: A Russian Interpretation — A Roads Classic

The First World War, which began 108 years ago, really did decide the fate of the world. However, as ironic as it may sound, the war’s results show that “military history” made only a very minimal contribution to the changes in fate, and sometimes it was only a necessary tragic backdrop to the metamorphoses taking place. Under Germany’s Schlieffen Plan, which was drawn up on the basis of a two-front war, Germany, in joining the war, was to secure victory in two stages. First, in unmanning the Eastern Front, Germany would attack through Belgium to defeat France, after which it would throw all its forces against Russia. In this way, the German command planned to end the war victoriously before autumn by completely defeating the enemy both in the west and east.

Russian Field Cemetery

As we know, for a number of reasons, the Germans were unable to carry through with this plan. The French Army was thrown back to the walls of Paris, although it did escape encirclement and defeat. Subsequent attacks in the east also ended with only tactical success for the Germans. Nevertheless, for France in 1914 and for Russia in 1915 the Germans delivered very sensitive and painful blows on vast territories, including the important industrial areas, where the armies suffered considerable human and material losses.

Militarily, the magnitude of the defeat for France and Russia was quite comparable. The results were quite disparate, however. France continued to fight until 1918 and brought the war to a victorious end. In Russia, however, the unsuccessful campaign of 1915 created a chain of events that eventually led to the collapse of Russian statehood and plunged the country into several years of chaotic and fratricidal war.

Why did the First World War bring such disastrous consequences for Russia in particular? Why wasn’t it able to achieve the same that France did? There is, of course, no single answer to this question, and there cannot be one insofar as events of this magnitude cannot be reduced to one or even several reasons. Therefore, we will name just those which, in our opinion, are the most important.

Often the main cause of the catastrophe is attributed to Russia’s unpreparedness as a country for a war of such magnitude. Entering the war, the country did not have sufficient war reserves, and its military industry was weak and dependent on foreign capital. Furthermore, its railway network definitely did not conform to the requirements of wartime. Funds allotted for defense went largely unspent by the military. All of this backfired less than one year after the outbreak of hostilities. Despite the boasting by War Minister Sukhomlinov before the war that the Russian Army was “prepared to the last button on the last soldier,” the front was without shells already in 1915. By that time chaos was reigning on the country's railways. As a result, the Russian Army was forced to retreat, causing enormous losses.

We should not forget, however, that after the removal of Sukhomlinov the dearth of ammunition was overcome due to the joint efforts of the government and the military and industrial committees. Already by 1916 the army was able to fight without having to economize on ammunition. The primary cause of the disaster that struck the country, therefore, should not be attributed to mistakes made by the military.

If we are going to talk about France, then we should first of all remember that it went to war in pursuit of a clear and specific goal—to take revenge for the defeat at Sedan and to secure the return of Alsace and Lorraine, which had been lost as a result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871. This objective was very clear and understandable to every French soldier. And what was the Russian Army fighting for? For Serbia, which most soldiers had never heard of? For the no less abstract “Straits"? As we wrote earlier, in the Russo-Japanese War, the army, which had no clue why it was fighting, was able to last for a year. Russia’s participation lasted three times longer in the First World War, and the war itself demanded a much greater effort.

In addition, the First World War was a war not only of armies but also of people – to win in the exhausting confrontation required the unity of all forces, both in the front and the rear. The French understood this and therefore a national unity government was formed in the first weeks of the war. A similar decision was made in England, where Prime Minister Asquith formed a government that included liberals and conservatives. In Russia, on the contrary, unity could not be achieved. At the beginning of the war, however, all the parties in the Duma expressed their full support for the government and the deputies sent unanimous cries to the tsar: “Lead us, Prince!” After the unsuccessful campaign in 1915, this unity began to crack, and a proposal by several ministers to make several concessions for the sake of cooperation with the progressive opposition bloc was turned back by the tsar. As a result, the country again saw conflict between the government and the Duma opposition. Against the backdrop of military setbacks and economic difficulties, the public’s sympathies were more often inclined to the latter.

Tsar Nicholas in Command at Army Headquarters

As for the government—in order to succeed in the difficult war years it needed competent and popular leaders who could lead the country. Tsar Nicholas himself clearly did not have these qualities (in fact, he had a strong reputation as a failed tsar). Among those who were subordinate such qualities were also lacking. Worse yet, Russia entered the war with the deeply conservative and elderly prime minister Goremykin, who himself said that his appointment reminded him of an “old raccoon coat that has long been placed in the trunk and filled with camphor balls.” He was genuinely perplexed when he was suddenly needed again. Replacing him was Boris Stürme, who even the monarchist Shulgin referred to as a “miserable, paltry man.” The situation with the ministers was no better, and this included the war ministers. For example, the last one, Belaev, was remembered by Korenev, an investigator on the extraordinary commission of inquiry, as “weak...with a fearful gait, all shrunken, confused...jumps at every issue. Grabbed by the arm and whispered, 'Thank you, I would have just as soon resigned and gotten a pension...just to have a pension.’”

However, even the worst of the ministers could not tarnish the authorities more than Rasputin, with whom the tsar was extremely unwilling to part. The extent to which Rasputin influenced the appointment of ministers can be debated forever, as well as whether there was an intimate relationship with the empress, among other things. One thing is certain, though—his closeness to the throne discredited Nicholas even in the eyes of the regime’s most loyal supporters, not to mention in the eyes of the broad masses. As Shulgin remembered, even in the movie theaters they had to ban the showing of the documentary on Nicholas’s visit to the front.

Thus, the natural military and economic difficulties were superimposed on the domestic political crisis, the lack of national unity, the unpopular and incompetent leadership and the lack of a solid understanding among the soldiers as to why they had to climb before enemy machine guns and rot in the trenches while their loved ones suffered deprivations at home. In this situation, a miracle would have been needed to halt the collapse of the state.

Miracles, as we know from history, happen all too rarely.

Evgeny Levin, Mir Foundation, 2013