|An Anti-German, Pro-Champagne Cartoon from the War|
|The Devastated Cathedral District of Reims|
|Civilians Sheltering in a Champagne Cave|
|The Poilu as Guarantor of the Champagne Supply|
Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the treadEdward Thomas, Roads
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
|An Anti-German, Pro-Champagne Cartoon from the War|
|The Devastated Cathedral District of Reims|
|Civilians Sheltering in a Champagne Cave|
|The Poilu as Guarantor of the Champagne Supply|
|American Field Hospital Inside a Church|
|Surgeon Edwin C. Ernst, Base Hospital 21|
|Major General Andrew Russell (center) with |
Key Staff Somewhere in France
By Chris Pugsley
General Andrew Russel (1868—1960) was a New Zealand military leader in the First World War. Russell was one of the few generals in the was to display innovation and tactical skill. He brought to his command the practical experience of a working farm manager combined with an understanding of men, and a broad study of military history and tactics. Born in Napier, he was educated in England, first at Harrow School and then at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, as was family tradition. After serving for five years in India and Burma, Russell left the 1st Border Regiment to return to New Zealand and farm sheep with his uncle, William Russell. In 1900, while still farming, he formed and commanded the Hawke's Bay Mounted Rifle Volunteers. In 1911 Russell was appointed commander of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Brigade.
When the New Zealand Expeditionary Force was raised in August 1914, Godley, its commander, offered Russell command of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. He accepted, but had time to do little more than inspect the separate regiments before the brigade sailed. It was not until the New Zealand Expeditionary Force arrived in Egypt in December 1914 that training started. The Mounted Rifles Brigade landed on the Gallipoli peninsula on 12 May 1915, without their horses, to act as infantry.
Russell took over the northern sector of the ANZAC perimeter, establishing his headquarters on the plateau that later became known as Russell's Top. His troops seized the foothills below Chunuk Bair on the night of 6–7 August and opened the way for an infantry advance, which was one of the most brilliant feats of the campaign. Russell later commanded his exhausted and depleted brigade in the unsuccessful attacks on Hill 60 at the end of August. After this offensive Sir Ian Hamilton, who commanded the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, considered Russell the outstanding New Zealander on the peninsula. He was made a KCMG on 4 November 1915. Russell succeeded Godley as commander of the New Zealand and Australian Division and was promoted to the rank of major general when Godley assumed command of the ANZAC Corps on 27 November 1915. He commanded the rearguard during the last 48 hours before the evacuation.
|New Zealand's Wellington Battalion Preparing for |
the Final Assault on Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli
Russell was one of the few commanders to emerge from the campaign with an enhanced reputation and was the obvious choice to command the New Zealand Division on its formation on 1 March 1916.. He was a front-line general, seen to take personal risks. The New Zealand Division became one of the best fighting divisions in France, due largely to Russell’s insistence upon daily inspections, zealous discipline and efficient administration. His subordinates believed Russell took too many risks; in 1917 one of his brigadiers was killed at his side, and two days later a sniper's bullet passed through his steel helmet, creasing his scalp.
New Zealanders at Flers, Somme Battlefield
The New Zealand Division attacked as part of the British XV Corps on 15 September 1916 during the battle of the Somme. Its success established its reputation as one of the finest fighting divisions in France. Much of this was due to the tactical training conducted by Russell in the weeks before the attack. Haig, the British commander in chief, wrote that for 23 consecutive days, the longest single tour by any British division in this battle, the New Zealand Division had carried out "with complete success every task set…always doing even more than was asked of it." This was at a cost of 7,408 New Zealand casualties, and Russell believed that these could only be justified if his division learnt from the experience and became more professional.
In June 1917, they were tasked with capturing the town of Messines (Mesen) in Flanders. Russell’s aggressive strategy resulted in the seizure of the town, but their concentration in "an awkward salient" led to nearly 3700 New Zealand casualties, including 700 deaths. Haig believed Messines to be the outstanding success of the war to that time. Russell's performance placed him at the forefront of the more innovative commanders in the British, French and German armies.
|New Zealand Division Dressing Station, Passchendaele|
The New Zealand Division again suffered severe casualties in October 1917, during the attack on Passchendaele. With artillery hampered by rain and mud, an attack on Bellevue Spur faltered, leaving more than 800 New Zealanders killed and almost 2000 wounded or missing. This represents the highest recorded loss of New Zealand lives in a single day, Russell blamed himself: "It is plain we attacked a strong position, stoutly defended with no adequate preparation." He told Allen that if Parliament wanted a culprit, then he was that man.
In March 1918 he trained his division in open warfare techniques in the event of a German breakthrough. This was tested when it was deployed to the Somme. The tactical superiority of the New Zealand Division was demonstrated in its advance as part of IV Corps from 21 August. The corps commander gave Russell freedom to plan and fight his division's advance, and the New Zealanders spearheaded the attack. Bypassing population centres, minimising risk, and with firm instructions to its commanders to avoid needless casualties at all costs, the division was usually far ahead of flanking British divisions. Its success often led to the German defences giving way on each flank. The surrender of Le Quesnoy and the advance through the Forêt de Mormal in early November 1918 marked the end of the war for a division that was still capable of continuing the fight, although Russell's health was increasingly problematic, and he appeared quite exhausted.
|A Fatigued Russell Later in the War|
After the war, Russell was president of the New Zealand Returned Soldiers’ Association for more than a decade. In the Second World War, at age 72 he was made inspector general of New Zealand military forces, but retired from this appointment in July 1941. For most of his post-Great War life,Russel lived on his sheep station at Tunanui until his death at the age of 92.
Russell's military achievements were recognised with a CB in 1916 and, in 1917, a KCB. He was awarded the French Légion d'honneur (croix d'officier) and Croix de guerre (avec palme), the Belgian Ordre de Léopold (commander) and Croix de guerre, the Serbian Order of the White Eagle (first class) and the Montenegrin Order of Danilo.
Source: The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Founding the Commission
The idea for the Commission for Training Camp Activities (CTCA) emerged before the United States went to war. In August of 1916, with the prospect of American involvement in World War I becoming an increasingly greater possibility, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker sent urban reformer Raymond Fosdick to observe the conditions of army camps located on the Mexican border. Fosdick reported terrible scenes of disorder, drunkenness, and sexual immorality, and envisioned a progressive solution of camp reform that coincided with President Wilson’s vision for bettering mankind. As a response, when the United States did enter the war in April of 1917, the War Department quickly established the Commission on Training Camp Activities, with Fosdick at its head, to develop a recreational morale program for the American military and to act as “the method of attack by the War Department on the evils…traditionally associated with camps and training centers.”
Over the course of the war, the Commission on Training Camp Activities developed its programs in domestic army bases and their surrounding communities, as well as overseas with the American Expeditionary Force and on Navy ships. It also enlisted the help of the seven civilian affiliates who would eventually create the United War Work Campaign (YMCA, YWCA, Jewish Welfare Board, Knights of Columbus/National Catholic War Council, Salvation Army, American Library Association, and War Camp Community Service). Programming for training camps included athletics, singing, movies, stage entertainment, libraries, and lectures, as well as unabashed modern sex education designed to curb the spread of venereal disease. The Commission on Training Camp Activities also targeted communities surrounding training camps, distributing pamphlets on social hygiene to civilians, regulating the attendance and intimacy level of public dances, and encouraging cities and towns to eliminate red-light districts and provide morally sound recreational facilities. By exercising control and influence over both soldiers and civilians, the Commission on Training Camp Activities could then monitor the interactions between the groups as well.
|Raymond D. Fosdick|
. . . Constance Ruzich's conclusion, that we can never fully grasp the multitude of ways in which "the men, women and children who lived through the war composed their own experiences of the ordeal," is undeniable. But her effort to recover "the complexity of the time, the people and the poetry of the First World War" has rounded out the picture, making this collection well worth reading.
. . . There is no doubt that International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices will reshape our understanding of First World War poetry, which remains dominant in the conflict’s literature. Its editing is a major achievement by Constance M. Ruzich, who recuperates to the critical discussion a substantial breadth of material by many different markers of literary form, nationality and identity. It is a salutary reminder that, as Ruzich notes, “there was no single representative experience of the Great War, nor was there a typical response to the conflict”
Download this free 255-page highly detailed chronology that covers the operations of the U.S. Navy from President Wilson's Proclamation of Neutrality through the Washington Arms Conference of 1922. It fully captures the enormous and somewhat forgotten contribution of the navy to the World War I victory. Note that it has active links to related artticles that are still available online.
My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.
'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung
Our families back in England were toasting us that day
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.
I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I, "Now listen up, me boys!'' each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.
"He's singing bloody well, you know!'' my partner says to me
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.
As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen'' struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was "Stille Nacht." "Tis 'Silent Night','' says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.
"There's someone coming toward us!'' the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shown on that plain so bright
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night.
Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeezebox and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men.
daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?''.
'Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost, so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore.
My name is Francis Tolliver, In Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War I, I've learned its lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we're the same
|French POWs at Christmas|
The True Story of the Christmas Truce: British and German Eyewitness Accounts from the First World War
Last Christmas in Paris — A Novel of World War I
A Reminder: To search our archives for other articles on this topic, or to explore other World War One interests of yours, take advantage of the site search engine at the top left corner of every page on Roads to the Great War.
|Wing Assembly at the Dayton-Wright DH-4 Plant|
Read HERE About the Service of the U.S. DH-4
The United States did not produce any aircraft of its own design for use at the front during World War I. American industry did make two contributions to the airwar. Building the British designed DH-4, and equipping it with the ground-briaking Liberty-12 Engine. By the end of the war, Dayton-Wright delivered 3,106 DH-4s, while the Fisher Body Division of General Motors built 1,600 and the Standard Aircraft Corporation added another 140, bringing the total to 4,846. The remaining 7,500 DH-4s still on order were cancelled. Automakers Ford, Lincoln, Packard, Marmon, and Buick produced 20,748 Liberty-12s, with varying quality, before the Armistice. These numbers, however, were far, far below the targets created shortly after America's entry into the war. This failure is considered the greatest failure of America's mobilization effor in the Great War. [Of course, it must be kept in mind that the nation had only been at war for 19 months at the time of the Armistice.] Nevertheless, America's aircraft production proved to be a major disappointment and was the subject of numerous investigations and hearings that began even before the war ended.
Even as the war in Europe demonstrated dramatic improvements in the potential and sophistication of aerial warfare, the United States failed to develop this asset. During Pershing's Mexican expedition he had eight aircraft, from a total of 13 within the Army. These were antiquated and plagued with maintenance problems but they proved their worth. But, at the time of the entry into the war, the Army had only 35 qualified aviators, all residing in the Signal Corps, and not even a prototype for a combat aircraft.
|The Ford Liberty-12 Engine Plant|
Read HERE About the Creation of the Liberty-12
A group of army officers under General Benjamin Foulois, who had been involved in U.S. military aviation since the days of the Wright brothers, formulated a production plan calling for construction of 22,625 planes, including training machines, together with 45,250 engines, although the actual types were yet to be decided. [Compare these hopes with the actual figures above!] Some officers at first expressed reservation about the size of the program but eventually acquiesced, in the assumption that their expert advisers were best qualified to know the nation's capabilities and because it was recognized that even if the program was not fully met it would still contribute to the establishment of aerial supremacy. So the War Department asked Congress for $640 million with which to carry out the program, assuring the members that the planes would be at the front by May 1918. The bill to provide this fund, then the largest single amount ever granted, was passed by the House on 14 July, approved by the Senate with a unanimous vote on the 21st, and signed into law by the president on the 24th.
Aircraft production proved to be another example of impressive work that might have made a difference if the war had lasted. The Army quickly determined that it would take too long to design a combat aircraft, so it employed an American model training aircraft but adopted European designs for the combat aircraft. Adoption of European designs involved questions of deciding upon the right design, introducing precision to conform to the American style of mass production, and metric conversion. Despite the best efforts of American manufacturers, by the end of the war the only American-built combat aircraft was an observation plane of British design. The other combat aircraft were built by Europeans, often with the United States furnishing the raw materials. In this case, France was having difficulties meeting its own aircraft needs and the United States took a lower priority. The United States made some significant contributions to aircraft technology, such as the powerful Liberty Engine and the development of a process for “doping” cotton to be used in the wings, but achieved no significant production of combat aircraft.
|Major Hap Arnold with the First Liberty-12 |
Off the Production Line
In order for the French and British to produce munitions and weaponry for the U.S. Army, the United States agreed to provide the steel for artillery and weapons, the spruce wood for aircraft, or other raw materials in return for European weapons. Although damaging to the notion of independent American power, the arrangement had one huge advantage. Raw materials used much less shipping space than finished products. If American industry had been able to enter mass production immediately, transportation of finished artillery or aircraft across the Atlantic would have been problematic until the United States could also develop the merchant marine fleet.
Transportation constituted an equally significant and intractable problem. The Army needed to move cargo and personnel within the United States by rail and to France by sea. Each form of movement created its own problems, some more difficult than others. The German advance during March had brought about a change of priorities and a virtual embargo on the shipment of anything but infantry and machine guns for several months. Fighter production was still further delayed. An order for 3,000 SPADs placed with Curtiss in October 1917 was canceled in December when it was decided to purchase fighters in France, paying for them in part with material shipped from the U.S.Thus it was not until 2 August 1918 that the first squadron of American-built planes, powered by American engines, and flown by American crews, flew a mission across the lines. Production in the U.S. was reinstated later, but the war was over before any U.S.-built machines could be shipped to France. [Statistics indicate, however, that production rates for both the DH-4 and Liberty-12 Engine were beginning to increase dramatically, just as the Armistice was signed.]
|A U.S. Built DH-4 with Liberty Engine That |
Did Make It to the Front
Five separate reviews of the aircraft production failure were made during and shortly after the war. Reasons for the lack of production included:
- Pre-war neglect of the aviation industry, and the consequent need to create an industry where none existed before.
- Indecision regarding the types selected for manufacture.
- Airplanes were not suited for mass production.
- Control by the automobile industry and favoritism in placing orders.
- Sustitution of the Liberty engine in almost every aircraft design.
All of these problems and setbacks were inevitable and should have been foreseen. Or, more precisely, it should have been foreseen that some such problems would occur, even if no one was sufficiently clairvoyant to predict what they might be. The solution of such problems is the function of management, and without such setbacks industry would run efficiently with no personnel between the board room and the shop floor, but we all know that it does not. Nevertheless, although the American airplane production failed shamefully, the war helped launch an aviation industry that would grow to be second to none.
Sources: Supporting the Doughboys: U.S. Army Logistics and Personnel During World War I, by Leo P. Hirrel; "U.S. Aircraft Production: Success or Scandal?", by Paul Hare; U.S. Centennial of Flight Website.
|French Artillery Racing Through Artois|
The second phase of the war now opened. The French, having heaved the Germans back from the Marne to the Aisne, and finding themselves unable to drive them further by frontal attacks, continually reached out their left hand in the hopes of outflanking their opponents. The race for the sea began. The French began to pass their troops from right to left. Castelnau’s army, marching behind the front from Nancy, crashed into battle in Picardy, striving to turn the German right, and was itself outreached on its left. Foch’s army, corps after corps, hurried by road and rail to prolong the fighting front in Artois; but round the left of this again lapped the numerous German cavalry divisions of von der Marwitz—swoop and counter-swoop. On both sides every man and every gun were hurled as they arrived into the conflict, and the unceasing cannonade drew ever northwards and westwards—ever towards the sea.
. . . The object of prolonging the defence of Antwerp was, as has been explained, to give time for the French and British Armies to rest their left upon that fortress and hold the Germans from the seaboard along a line Antwerp-Ghent-Lille. This depended not only upon the local operations but on the result of the series of outflanking battles which marked the race for the sea. A decisive victory gained by the French in the neighborhood of Peronne, or by the British beyond Armentières and towards Lille would have opened all this prospect. High French authorities have concluded that a more rapid and therefore no doubt more daring transference of force from the right and centre of the French front to its left, ‘looking sixty kilometers ahead instead of twenty-five,’ and generally a more vigorous attempt to outflank the Germans following immediately upon the victory of the Marne and the arrest of the armies at the Aisne, might well have shouldered the Germans not only away from the sea, but even out of a large part of occupied France. In the event, however, and with the forces employed, the French and British did not succeed in turning the enemy’s flank.
Winston Churchill, The World Crisis