April 2004

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT:  Our far-flung network of correspondents have waken from their winter hibernation ...From Diane Rooney - Learn about the creative interaction of two WWI veterans, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. (link)... From Susan Neeson - Profile of an Ace: Mick Mannock had been interred in a Turkish jail at the start of the war. After joining up he transferred out of the Medical Corps because he wanted to "Kill Germans, not nurse them." Due to a useless left eye, had to cheat on his Flying Corps induction physical to become a pilot. He was killed by ground fire on July 26, 1918 after winning 73 air victories... From Noel Shirley - the History Department at San Jose State Univ. which has a powerful military history tradition has opened its Research Room, located in Industrial Studies, Room 219C. It contains the entire collection of research materials and is open to the public ... Hope to see you in Kansas City.

WWI Cartoon of the Month
The Church Arms

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

Click on Title to Access
At WWI in the Near East
Expanded Features at the Doughboy Center At Legends and Traditions At WFA-USA

The Charge At Beersheba: This year's National Seminar is on the Near East and the First World War, and this month's column is also on that topic. Specifically, it's on the two Australian feature films that cover the legendary exploits of the Australian Light Horse and its charge at Beersheba and its all-important desert wells. The Light Horse were mounted infantry and their charge was made with hand held bayonets!

40,000 Horsemen (1940) was written, produced and directed by pioneer Australian director Charles Chauvel, considered one of the most important and influential early Australian filmmakers. His In The Wake of the Bounty (1933) partially filmed on Pitcairn Island gave Errol Flynn his first starring role. Chauvel was attracted to the subject of the Australian Light Horse in Palestine for very personal reasons. His father was an officer in the Light Horse and his uncle was General Sir Harry Chauvel, the commanding officer who led the legendary charge. 40,000 Horsemen is primitive by Hollywood standards of its time; the sound effects and explosions are especially weak but its raw power and energy come through. And the final charge is very powerful with editing that is more than competent and effective. Its storyline focuses on the exploits of Red Gallagher (Grant Taylor) and his desert romance with Juliet (Betty Bryant), the daughter of a French spy (who's masquerading as an Arab boy). A film of its times, the Germans are depicted as despicable evil warlords and the Turks are sympathetic.

The Lighthorsemen (1987) was directed by Simon Wincer with a screenplay by Ian Jones. The superb desert cinematography is by Dean Semler (Academy Award winner for Dances With Wolves (1991)). An expensive Australian production (for its time), all the money is on the screen. Hundreds of horse and men, authentic costumes (including the famous bush hats with emu plumes), authentic British and Turkish rifles, revolvers, pistols and machine guns, replica First World War tanks, horse drawn vehicles, field guns and limbers. A complete Arab town, Beersheba, was built in the middle of the outback for the climactic charge. There are beautiful composed scenes in this movie that are very reminiscent of the cavalry films of John Ford and David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. As opposed to the earlier version, the Germans, though out fought are highly respectful of the Light Horse. Now it's the Turks who are duplicitous in their false surrenders. The strong cast of Australian actors, unknown to American audiences is appealing and their camaraderie brings a very human face to the mass of riders.

40,000 Horsemen is available on VHS from Amazon, Movies Unlimited and Belle & Blade. The recorded sound is somewhat garbled and the thick Australian accents can pose a problem. But the story line is easy to follow. Regrettably, The Lighthorsemen is currently unavailable in the United States on VHS or DVD. There's an Australian Region 4 PAL wide screen DVD that be purchased on-line but you will need a multi-region DVD player. There was also a now out of print wide screen laserdisc release from Lumivision that featured the extended director's cut, audio commentary and the charge sequence from 40,000 Horsemen. And for a complete Charge at Beersheba collection, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Chapter 15: Daredevils of the Desert directed by Simon Wincer and available on VHS also features the charge utilizing footage from The Lighthorsemen. A.M.

This Month's
Special Feature

The Zimmerman Telegram

On Line Resources for Focused Topics

The Original

The worst part of a battle is its invisibility and never knowing what it's going to do next.

         Hugh Walpole serving as doctor on the Eastern Front.

Announcing a Trip-Wire Policy!

Actually, this has been the case for some time, but I thought I should make it explicit for our readers. Many of the members of the Great War Society, WFA, Aviation Historians and other WWI organizations; our contributors; and our supporters are working on publishing their work. It will be our policy to support their effort. Regularly, we will list some such works currently in print or about to be released. Please let me know about your project so I can include it in future listings. To begin, here is list of works I've just heard about in the last month:
Conquerors of the Sky
by Thomas Fleming
The paperback version of the epic fictional depiction of the history of flight is coming out; good WWI sections.

Harlem Hell Fighters
by Steven L. Harris
Part of a trilogy on NY City regiments.

Foch by Michael Neiberg
Short but informative bio of the great marshal.

Birds of a Feather
by Jacqueline Winspear
Sequel to the highly rated WWI mystery Masie Dobbs.
All can be ordered at Amazon.com


Robert W. Service


Correspondent & Ambulance Driver

Poet Laureate of the Yukon
Author of
Rhymes of a Redcrossman

Click on Image to Learn More

Gene Lee, the oldest Marine combat veteran and one of the last surviving wounded soldiers of World War I, died Thursday at Community General Hospital in Syracuse. He had turned 105 the day before. Lee, who grew up in Liverpool, NY and lived most of his life there, enlisted in the Marines in April 1917, weeks after the United States entered the war and weeks after he turned 18. He was in France two months later, as part of the Fifth Marine Regiment.

He fought at many of the main engagements involving the Marines, including Belleau Wood. There, he earned a Silver Star for carrying wounded troops to safety as shells exploded around him. In that battle, he took a bullet in the left wrist. He returned from France a hero and as a member of an elite ceremonial guard for Gen. John J. Pershing. When he arrived back in Syracuse on Sept. 29, 1919, he was greeted at the train station by about 200 Liverpool residents.

He retired in 1964 from Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. after nearly 50 years with the company. He met his future wife, Mabel, while skating. They were married 66 years. She died in 1993. He continued to live, quite independently, on his own until he moved into the Residential Health Care Facility at Community General in September 2002.

Distinguished military historian Russell Weigley passed away in March 2004. He participated in many of our seminars and he was always approachable and full of insights. His field of vision spanned centuries. His best work on the Great War was incorporated in his broader treatments of American and 20th century military history. Farewell and thanks, good friend.

By the end of 1915 the French Army had already suffered 1,961,687 casualties of which 1,001,271 were killed or missing. From Corelli Barnett.

Theodore Roosevelt & J.J. Pershing
Atop San Juan Hill, Cuba


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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The following are hereby thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Frank Herron, Tony Langley, Andy Melomet, Diane Rooney, Len Shurtleff, Susan Neeson and Noel Shirley. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

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