April 2005

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT: Albert "Smiler" Marshall, the only surviving cavalry soldier from the First World War [20th Hussars], celebrated his 108th birthday March 15th (photo & article). . .Liberty Memorial fans. There are special evening--Tower After Hours--programs planned for the First Friday of every month. Make your visit to Kansas City a spectacular one. . .I've received several inquiries as to why I'm focusing on October 8, 1918 for my presentation at our annual seminar. You might find interesting that on that day three of the great legends of American military history came together: the Lost Battalion was finally evacuated from the Argonne Forest on the other side of the hill where Sgt. York did his mighty deed, while about 10 miles to the west, some Choctaw members of the Oklahoma National Guard became the first Indian Code Talkers. There's more, too. See ya' in LA.

Memorable Event

April 22, 1915

First Gas Attack
On Western Front

Click on Image for More Information

New at the Websites of the Great War Society and Our Friends
Click on Title to Access

At Great War Society Sites At the WFA-USA

The Real Deal

Russian Forces in France
April 1916
This Month's
Special Feature

President Woodrow Wilson

Pres. & Mrs. Wilson
Gone West

Three of the handful of German surviving veterans have died recently. Herman Dörnemann passed away on March 2, 2005 (link) at the age of 111. Arno Wagner died December 22, 2004 at the age of 110. Rudolf Wiederanders died on December 16 2004 at age 106.

All these talks and speeches and theories of Wilson's are most dangerous, and more dangerous to England than anyone else and are also dangerous to France. This 'League of Nations'. What folly!

Ex-Empress Eugénie,
Widow of Napoleon III

click on poster for information

Want to brush up on America's participation in the Great War? We have several suggestions for you: 1. Click on the seminar link above and check out our speakers list, and then look over their publications at Amazon.com. Some of them are absolutely prolific. 2. For AEF Military Operations, see our list at the Doughboy Center. (link) 3. Or check out some of these recommendations from the Chief Editor of Len's Bookshelf, Len Shurtleff himself:

--"The War to End all Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I," Edward M. Coffman, Wisconsin, 1986: A classic; solid scholarship and superbly crafted prose.
--"The Last Days of Innocence: America at War, 1917-1918," Meiron and Susie Harries, Random House, 1997: A recent social history.
--"The Doughboys: America and World War One," Gary Mead, Penguin, 2001: A British historian emphasizes the political, economic and financial impact of America on the conflict.
--"Doughboys, the Great War and the Remaking of America," Jennifer D. Keenne, Johns Hopking, 2001. A recent social history; how the war influenced American society and politics
--"The New World Power: American Foreign Policy, 1898-1917," Robert E. Hannigan, Pennslyvania, 2002: Diplomatic history of the pre-war period.
--"The First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made their Country a World Power," Warren Zimmerman, Ferrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002. These latter two monographs offer diplomatic and political background essential to understanding American foreign policy in the 20th century.
--"Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917-1921," Robert Ferrell, Harper Row, 1985. Wilson took America into war largely to create a new world order based on the League of Nations.
--Also see John Milton Cooper Jr.'s essay on why America entered WWI in Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, "The Origins of World War I," Cambridge, 2003.


WFA-USA Semi-Annual Seminar & Tour
Openings Now Available
Somme, Arras, Marne, Ch. Thierry
April 4-16, 2005 (link)
Great War Society 14th National Seminar
America & the Great War, 1914-20
Furama Hotel, Los Angeles
April 22-24, 2005 (link)
The Charles B. Burdick Memorial Military History Symposium
War Between the Rivers: Historical Invasions of Mesopotamia
San Jose State Univ.
Downtown San Jose, CA

Contact: Jonathan Roth(email)
WFA New England - New York Spring Seminar
FDR Presidential Library,
Hyde Park, NY

June 11, 2005 (link)
WFA-USA 16th Annual National Seminar

Virginia Military Museum
Newport News, Virginia
September 23-25, 2005 (link)
Send additions/corrections:
Email Response

Question: How effective was the American Air Service in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive?

Billy Mitchell put together 1485 aircraft -- pursuit, bombardment, observation -- for St. Mihiel. There American (there were many British and French areo squadrons as well as a few Italian ones) had air supremacy. During the Meuse-Argonne, however, Mitchell was not able to put that many aircraft into the skies. One must recall that the Meuse-Argonne was fought in dismal weather conditions which kept much of the Air Service on the ground. Mitchell did have a good air operations op-plan, and the Air Service moved from St. Mihiel to fields for the Meuse-Argonne with suprising quickness, but many planes were in bad need of maintenance and many air pilot and air observers were in dire need of some rest. St. Mihiel rates an A+, Meuse-Argonne a C.

Response from Air Service Historian and Mitchell Biographer, Professor James Cooke
Page Two

Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

Contributed by Charlotte Descamps of Varlet Farm

As you are probably aware, a lot is happening in the Salient in order to keep the memory of the Great War alive. Without a doubt, one of the major projects in the area was the opening of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. This museum, situated in the castle in the centre of Zonnebeke, is telling in chronological order, the story of the Great War with the emphasis on the Battle of Passchendaele. A big bonus for the museum is the reconstruction of an authentic dug-out which people can visit. This dug -out experience is the best possible way to bring across how life must have been at the time. Everything which is being shown in the dugout is authentic first WW and I can assure you that it has been build up with a great eye for detail. The museum curator, Franky Bostyn, is an authority when it comes to constructions of the Great War. He has got an University degree in history but much more than that, it is his enthusiasm for the subject, which has given this museum it's allure.

Museum 1917
Franky is not only the driving force between the museum. He is also the person who would like to build up the Passchendale Archives. This is to become a large paper file and in a later stage also a database, with as much information as possible on any soldier that died during Third Ypres. It is essential to have a picture of the soldier next to the other information. The reason why we are building up this archive is to make sure that as much information as possible (and the includes a lot more than the official information (such as ,: place of birth, service number.) will remain preserved for future generations. People studying the Great War, would be allowed to visit the archive ( initially it will be a paper archive but it is the intention to put in on the net later on, although in a restricted way) in order to be able to understand the spirit of the time. Personal letters, written by soldiers who were on the front, are the best testimony for what happened. Such a wealth of information is written down, and often a lot can be read between the lines too. That is why we hope to be able to list as much personal information on each soldier that died between July 31st, 1917 and November 10th, 1917.

PS: There is a special weekend organized in the museum on April 22nd, 23rd and 24th. On that weekend too, there will be major commemoration services organised to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the first gas attack. In the museum a special exhibition will be opened, focusing on the involvement of the Irish in the Great War.

About the Museum: The museum is situated in the centre of the village in the chateau of Zonnebeke approximately 7 km from Ieper. Open: Monday - Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays from 2.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. Closed: December and January. Admission: Individuals: 5,00 Euros per person & Groups: 3,00 Euros per person.

From Tony Langley's War in a Different Light

Austro-Hungarian Troops on the Eastern Front

Click Here to Visit War in a Different Light

2005 World War I
Film Festival

At the Great War Society Annual Seminar

By Andrew Melomet
I've been putting together the film festival that will run during the upcoming 2005 National Seminar, April 22-24 in Los Angeles. Programming during the day will consist of documentaries, features and short subjects. There are 3 interesting feature films I'll be presenting in the evenings.

On Thursday night, early arrivals will have the opportunity to watch "The Unbeliever" (1918). This was the last feature film produced by the Edison Company and was directed by Alan Crosland, director of" Don Juan", "The Beloved Rogue", "The Jazz Singer". I first read about "The Unbeliever" in Lawrence Suid's Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film. It has recently been released on DVD by Kino on Video. It tells the story of Phil, "a rich young sophisticate" who joins the Marines and sees combat in Europe. It was produced with the full cooperation of the Marines using the facilities in Quantico, Virginia. What "Sands of Iwo Jima" was to the post WWII Marines, so was "The Unbeliever" to the post WWI generation of Marines.

Busby Berkeley's Doughboy Tribute from Goldiggers of 1933

On Friday night, I'll be showing "For Me And My Gal" (1942) directed by WWI vet, Busby Berkeley. This has been released on DVD by Warner Home Video. Gene Kelly plays a vaudeville hoofer who to avoid the draft and keep his show business career going, closes a traveling trunk on his hand. But, not to worry, his character redeems himself on the battlefield as an ambulance driver. This is a fine example of Hollywood using WWI to reinforce patriotism for the Second World War audiences.

Saturday night's feature is "The Last Flight"(1931) written by John Monk Saunders, screenwriter of "Wings", "The Dawn Patrol", "Ace of Aces". It's a look at the lives of ex-WWI pilots living in Paris as part of the "lost generation." It was the first English-language film for German director William Dieterle. "The Last Flight" is a little-known but still important title that has never been released on video or DVD.

Andrew Melomet, Proprietor of Andy's Nickelodeon will answer your Great War film or video inquiry. Just click HERE.

Post Your World War I Stumper Here

Three requests for help this month:

1. Family descendants of the 310 women (all seven Units) in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, aka "Hello Girls," who have letters and/or photos, or accurately recorded stories from these women are invited to send them to Michelle Christides, former Asst. Prof. of Western Civilization at California State Sonoma and Golden Gate Universities. They will be included in a definitive history of your ancestresses' contribution to the Great War. Please visit www.jung-soul.com/Hello-Girls.html for email and details.

2. Can you tell me anything about this photo post card [cropped and on the right]? Type of soldiers or police? Type of weapons. What men are wearing on their belts? Thank you. David and Pat Kleinberg. Email: bacl@bacl.com

3. Dave Homsher writes: In reading an account of an AEF base hospital, the slang terms "gunboat" and "duck" were used by patients, e.g., "I need a duck," or "I want a gunboat." No explanation was given for what these items were, but is possible that a "duck" was a hand-held container for urinating in while bedridden, and that a "gunboat" was a common bed-pan? Email Dave at: davidhomsher@msn.com

The following are thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Sebastian, Christina Holstein, Tony Langley, Andy Melomet, Len Shurtleff, Robert Farrell, James Cooke and Charlotte Descamps. Forgive me those whom I may have forgotten. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

For Great War Society
Membership Information

Click on Icon
(Or Send it to a friend.)
(Or send us a comment on the TRIP-WIRE)

For further information on the events of 1914-1918 visit the Directory Page of

The Great War Society