January 2004

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT: Happy New Year! Thomas Fleming author of Illusion of Victory will be live on Book TV, Sunday, January 4, from 9AM to 12 noon, and will have a call-in. . . From the I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP DEPARTMENT: Karl I, feeble last Emperor of Austria-Hungary is now a candidate for beatification [one step from sainthood]. Apparently a lady in Brazil benefited substantially from some prayers to Karl. I have asked him to intercede on my behalf in the California Lotto. (link) . . . Regular correspondent Christina Holstein relays this sad news: Thieves have taken headstones from the graves of ten British First World War soldiers in northern France. It is thought they may have been stolen to order for garden ornaments.

Gen. Alexander von Kluck
Commanded German 1st Army in 1914

New at the Websites of the Great War Society and Our Friends

Click on Title to Access
At Members Contributions
At the Doughboy Center At WFA-USA At Military.com

J.R.R. Tolkien Documentaries: In conjunction with the release of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy of movies in the theaters and on DVD, several documentaries have been released on DVD looking at J.R.R. Tolkien's life, his literary works and Great War service. Tolkien served as a signals officer in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 where two of his closest friends were killed. Eventually, trench fever sent him home for the rest of the war and quite possibly saved his life. The new documentaries include the National Geographic Video Beyond The Movie: The Lord Of The Rings. Using footage from the movie, The Fellowship Of The Ring, it takes an insightful and concise look at the themes of Tolkien's work, his hatred of industrialization and war; and his love of the English countryside, lovingly recreated in his works as The Shire, the home of the hobbits. The hobbits represent the best qualities of the English common folk that Tolkien had observed in the trenches and under fire.

Warner Home Video has released J.R.R. Tolkien: Master Of The Rings, which focuses on the literary works, not on the movies. It features a fine selection of interviews and analysis by Tolkien experts including Aryk Nusbacher of Sandhurst Military Academy. Kultur has released a mammoth 4 DVD box set, Secrets Of Middle Earth: Inside Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings. It covers The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and features extensive use of archival interviews with Tolkien, his children Christopher and Priscilla, his publisher Raynor Unwin and his first biographer Humphrey Carpenter. Bob Carruthers, author and military historian is one of the best presenters and analysts in this DVD set. Running 240 minutes, there is some repetition between the DVDs, but this set does have the most footage of Tolkien reading his own works. The actual voice of the master adds a special quality to this set. Both the Warner and Kultur DVDs use computer animated maps and landscapes and both feature the famous Middle Earth illustrations of the Brothers Hildebrandt. The Warner release includes a CD of music by Rick Wakeman. Kultur's set includes musical performances by Mostly Autumn. It's a tough call which of these DVDs is the best, as each has its strengths and weaknesses. All I can say is, they're all a permanent part of my collection.

For more on Tolkien at the Somme

WWI Cartoon of the Month
Soldier: Beware!

This Month's
Special Feature

Historical Screensavers

On Line Resources for Focused Topics

One way to give a certain "look" to your computer is to add a thematic screensaver on your monitor. Those listed below all contain World War I material. Go to the site and follow the directions to download.

Tea With Terraine: I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of one of the most important contemporary authors and commentators on the Great War, John Terraine. In 1989, thanks to the assistance of Western Front Association President David Cohen, I was invited to Mr. Terraine's home in Kensington, London to spend an hour chatting about his book on the 1918 Campaign. That morning, I was visiting Harrod's department store and was inspired to purchase a tin of their very best biscuits to bring along. It turned out these were my host's favorites. In the course of a long afternoon we dusted off several pots of tea and the entire tin of what I still call cookies. Our discussion covered the campaign of 1918 and the prospective campaign of 1919, the continuity of the two world wars [a favorite theme of Terraine's], submarines and convoys, the long-term importance of the Retreat from Mons, his work at the BBC and, of course, his position on Douglas Haig. By the end of the day, he had invited me along on an upcoming WFA Remembrance Day expedition to Ypres. Alas, I couldn't change my itinerary to join his party. Nonetheless, I'll never forget drinking tea with a fascinating person of vast knowledge, nor his generosity towards a beginning student of the War. MH

News Flash! Member Jacquie Winspear's Post-WWI Detective Novel Maisie Dobbs has been included in the New York Times Important Books of the Year listing.


Artillery Officer, French Army

Click on the Image to read a story of artillery technology, espionage, a frame-up, a national crisis and the service of a family to their nation

Scottsboro, Alabama: Charley Newton Cook, who had been one of Alabama's last two surviving WWI veterans, died just before Christmas at 107. Cook marched in Veterans Day parades and drove himself around town until age 99, said his son, David Cook. Charley Cook served on a Navy cruiser that guarded the first troops that crossed the Atlantic Ocean for France, making three trips there in all. After he was discharged in 1918, Cook returned to Alabama and worked on the family farm growing cotton, corn, and grain, his son said.

New Statue of General John Lejeune
By TGWS Member Patrick Miller
Click to Read About Lejeune's Greatest Victory:
Blanc Mont

In the World War I battle for Iraq, then known as Mesopotamia, British Empire forces suffered 41,000 casualties.

Chinese Workmen on the Western Front


WFA - Pacific Branch
Spring Meeting

March 12-14
Bay Street Armoury, Victoria BC (link)
WFA - East Coast Chapter
Spring Meeting

April 3
War Memorial, Baltimore, MD (link)
Great War Society
National Seminar

The Near East and the
First World War

Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, MO

April 23-25, 2004 (full brochure)
WFA-USA National Seminar

State University of NY, Plattsburgh, NY
August 6-8, 2004 (program)
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We have lost the war. It will go on for a long time, but it is already lost
         Crown Prince Wilhelm, After the First Marne

The following individuals are hereby thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Diane Rooney, Gerard Demaison, Susan Neeson, Pete Guthrie, Christina Holstein, Tony Langley, Andy Melomet, Len Shurtleff, and Alice Horner. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

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