March 2004

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT:   One time riding with my father in the family car in San Francisco, we stopped at a light and a little guy with a mustache wearing a jaunty beret crossed the street in front of us. Dad said, "See that fellow, he took the most famous photograph in American history." I thought at first he was pulling my leg, but later I learned that Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the San Francisco Chronicle, had actually taken the picture of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima. I never got to meet Joe myself, but I know plenty who did and everyone of them said he was a swell guy.

I remembered that episode recently when I had to deal with the death of someone else who was a swell guy and who has left something lasting behind for us. This person, however, I got to befriend and know very well. Mike Iavarone, who made the first major and still greatest presentation of World War I on the internet, Trenches on the Web, passed away February 21st. His funeral service was held on what would have been his 49th birthday. Michael loved history and shared our particular fascination with the events of 1914-1918. He also had a great visual sense. Anything produced by him looked striking and just perfect. He understood technology to the furthest degree and he was most exhilarated when he was operating at its cutting edge. Most of all, he was generous to everyone. I know first hand that he led the Great War Society into the computer age, walking his slowest student [myself] through each difficult threshold. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Mike's wife Adrienne, his family and wide circle of friends. We've all suffered a loss.

WWI Cartoon of the Month
Soldiers Three

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

Click on Title to Access
At Great War Society's Home Page
At WWI in the Near East
Expanded Features at the Doughboy Center At Legends and Traditions At WFA-USA

Back in the late sixties and early seventies, King of Hearts (1967), directed by Philippe De Broca, was one of the most popular cult films around. In a town in northern France during World War I, the retreating Germans have left behind a powerful time bomb. The advancing British army is warned about the hidden explosives and sends in French speaking Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) to locate the bomb in the evacuated town. Through accident, the inmates of the local insane asylum are freed and, in a particularly graceful sequence enhanced by the music of composer Georges Delerue, slowly take over the town assuming a variety of social roles: a barber (Michael Serrault), a madam (Micheline Presle), a General (Pierre Brasseur) and a Duke (Jean-Claude Brialy). Between frantically searching for the bomb, hiding from the Germans and being crowned the "King of Hearts", Plumpick falls in love with one of the youngest and loveliest of the escapees, a girl called Coquelicot (Genevieve Bujold). Once the town is saved, Plumpick decides to join the inmates who have willingly returned to the asylum, opting for the "madness" of the insane rather than continuing with the "sanity" of war.

A favorite on college campuses and art house movie theaters, it ran at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts for five years non-stop! For a nation torn apart by the Vietnam War, De Broca's fairytale of nonconformity held a special appeal. Even today its antiwar message packs quite an impact. The recent DVD release of King of Hearts by MGM/UA includes two short sequences missing from the original theatrical and video releases in the United States. It's certainly worth a rental, although its whimsy may not appeal to everyone. However, King of Hearts is part of my permanent collection.

For fans of swashbucklers, Koch Lorber Films is releasing Philippe De Broca's On Guard on DVD and VHS this month. This superb period adventure, set in 18th century France and based on the novel Le Bossu by Paul Feval features an appealing cast and sumptuous and authentic sets and locations. I'd rate this one of the best swashbucklers ever!

This Month's
Special Feature

Brush-Up for Seminar 2004
Palestine & World War I

The Camel Corps in Formation

On Line Resources for Focused Topics

Shouts of Praise For:

  • Member Jackie Winspear whose post-World War I detective novel Maisie Dobbs has been selected as a finalist for the Edgar Award as best Mystery Novel of 2003.

  • The WFA-USA and Phi Alpha Theta Essay Contest for keeping young scholars thinking and writing about the Great War. Visit their Website to read this year's winning piece by Justin Elhoff of the University of South Dakota, Shells and Scalpels: The Development of Military Surgery in the Great War and the Benefit to Soldiers in the AEF. All previous winning essays can be viewed at their site as well.

  • TV and magazine commentator Fred Barnes for his recent column and mega-book review on WWI's Lasting Impact: War and History.


Lt. Bob Hoffman

28th Division, AEF

Author: I Remember the Last War

Founder of York Barbell Company and Father of American Strength Training

The last World War I veteran at Bay Pines VA Medical Center has died. Frank De Meis, an Italian immigrant wounded for America, was 106. Wounded by a grenade in France, he developed blood poisoning from shrapnel - a wound that he said may have saved his life. After treatment at hospitals, he returned to his unit to find that it had been annihilated in combat. After the war, on Sept. 29, 1920, he was sworn in as a naturalized citizen. He became a baker and worked at many hotels along the East Coast. Survivors include four daughters; 16 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren.

Western Front travelers are told by their guides about the still unexploded mine from 1917 at the Messines battlefield. Well, apparently, there may be Six. (article)

Kelly Pegg's Tradition

Every Veterans Day, GWS Member Kelly Pegg lays flowers at the grave of a World War I soldier. Shown here is Kelly at her 2003 site.


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)
Ft. Robinson Conference

A New Army for a New Century: Military Culture in Transition, 1900-1917
Ft. Robinson, Nebraska

April 22-24, 2004 (email for details)
Great War Society
National Seminar

The Near East and the
First World War

Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, MO

April 23-25, 2004 (full brochure)
Reims-Verdun Conference
and Tour

Reims, France
May 6-8, 2004 (details)
WFA-USA Great Lakes

Schoolcraft College
Livonia, Michigan

Saturday, June 12, 2004 (program)
WFA-USA National Seminar

State University of NY,
Plattsburgh, NY

August 6-8, 2004 (program)
90th Anniversary, First Battle of the Marne

Mondement, Marne, France
September 5, 2004 (details)
WFA-USA NE/NY Chapter Seminar

Marriott Hotel, Springfield MA
October 23, 2004 (link)
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Stonehedge in America!
Klickitat County Washington's
WWI Memorial
See Many Unique US WWI Monuments
I don't know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace an interlude during war.
         Georges Clemenceau

The following are hereby thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Tom Jones, Tony Langley, Andy Melomet, Christina Holstein, Len Shurtleff and Kelly Pegg. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

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