TRENCH REPORT: The Great War Society 2004 National Seminar concluded last weekend. Thanks to all who attended and worked to make it a success. . .John Shetler is trying to contact descendents of the men serving in the 314th Inf, 79th Division, AEF (email). . . In this column far down below you will see a photo of the dashing and debonair Serbian General Staff Intelligence Department head Colonel Dragotin Dimitrijevic [aka Apis], leader of the infamous "Black Hand" organization. Alas, he did not survive the war having been executed at dawn, June 26, 1917 at age 40. . . Late Travel Bulletin: The Frank Jordan and Tom Gudmestad Western Front Excursion in July is definitely a GO! Click here then Group Tours for information.
WWI Cartoon of the Month
Released in 2003, two marvelous PAL DVD documentaries from Eureka Video (Eurekavideo.co.uk) sensitively cover two aspects of The Great War on the Western Front. Letters From France: The Tragedy Of The Great War 1914-1916 uses the letters and essays of a young subaltern, Havilland Le Mesurier to describe the horrific life of a young British officer during the first two years of the war. The documentary makes considerable effort to place the short combat life and death of this prolific writer in context of the bigger picture of the contemporary events and weapons of the war. We learn of Le Mesurier's enlistment while still in Oxford and the terrible peer pressure he describes in reserved and understated terms. When he receives a "blighty" wound substantial enough to warrant his return to England, his comic description of what it was like to be shot clear through the neck and the chaos it caused among his comrades allows us to share in the suffering. Le Mesurier was a sensitive, insightful writer and knowing that he will die on the Somme battlefield in the course of this documentary brings on a genuine sadness. I would strongly recommend this title as required watching for anyone who wants to try to understand what the loss of a single life can mean in the context of the loss of millions of lives thrown away by their military and civilian leaders.
The Yanks Are Coming: The Western Front 1916-1918 covers the battlefield exploits of the AEF but places America's entry into The Great War in the historical context of the dead-locked Western Front and unrestricted submarine warfare. It covers the introduction of mass tank warfare at Cambrai as well as the Russian Revolution and subsequent peace treaty that freed the German soldiers from the Eastern Front, allowing them to be deployed in the West. There are easily recognizable quotes from poems by the major war poets interwoven into the documentary thrust, always remind you that war is hell and the Yanks don't have a clue what they're getting into.
Both of these documentaries run about 56 minutes. Both misspell Theodore Roosevelt's name. Both deserve to be in your DVD library. You can order directly from Eureka Video or buy them at Amazon.co.uk. or sendit.com (formerly Blackstar.co.uk). But remember, you need a DVD Player that can play and decode PAL DVDs to watch these titles in North America.
New! Andy Melomet, Proprietor of Andy's Nickelodeon will answer your Great War film or video inquiry. Just click HERE.
I've been a long term viewer of Masterpiece Theatre and have discovered my local library has a great stock of their productions on video. Many of them touch on the Great War. I'm sure many of these are available from the BBC or can be rented at video outlets.
- Upstairs, Downstairs, III
- The Duchess of Duke Street, II
- Testament of Youth
- Unknown Soldier
- All the King's Men
- Glory Enough for All [Banting & Insulin]
- The Cinder Path [Over the top sequence]
- Goodbye Mr. Chips
- To Serve Them All My Days
- Point Counterpoint
- Lord Peter & The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
- Upstairs, Downstairs, IV
VETERAN OF THE MONTH
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Roy Scow, believed to have been Montana's oldest surviving World War I combat veteran, died Easter Sunday. He was 107. Roy's son, Orval Scow, said his father died at Evergreen Nursing Home in Clancy where he was a resident. Roy Scow had been in remarkable health until the past couple of years. At age 105, he had still made it his daily chore to raise the American flag each morning at the nursing home, and take it in each evening. Roy Scow was born in Manhattan on July 18, 1896. He volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1917, trained at Fort Harrison in Butte and was among the first American troops to join the fighting in Europe. Scow's unit took part in the final push against the German army in the fall of 1918. An exploding artillery shell during one October battle cost Scow most of his hearing.
But Roy was also crusty and crotchety and something of a hell-raiser, Townsend recalled. "He smoked cigars all his life. He chewed snuff all his life. He drank Jack Daniels. That's why he lived so long," Townsend said. Scow disliked talking about his war experiences. He was interviewed in 2001 for an oral history project of the Library of Congress. Then 104, he answered a few questions before refusing to go on. "Every time I think about it it gives me a headache," Scow said at the time.
During World War I, in an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power, Germany and Austria took time by the forelock, and began saving daylight at 11 p.m. on the 30th of April, 1916, by advancing the hands of the clock one hour until the following October. This 1916 action was immediately followed by other countries in Europe, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Turkey, as were Tasmania, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba. Britian began 3 weeks later, on 21 May 1916. In 1917, Australia, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia initiated it. The plan was not formally adopted in the United States until 1918. 'An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States' was enacted on March 19, 1918
GREAT WAR 2004 EVENT CALENDAR
Reims-Verdun Conference |
May 6-8, 2004 (details)
WFA-USA Great Lakes|
Saturday, June 12, 2004 (program)
WFA-USA National Seminar|
State University of NY,
August 6-8, 2004 (program)
90th Anniversary, First Battle of the Marne|
Mondement, Marne, France
September 5, 2004 (details)
The Outbreak of War: New Thoughts on 1914|
Scottish Centre for War Studies (University of Glasgow)
September 8, 2004 (email for info.)
WFA-USA NE/NY Chapter Seminar|
Marriott Hotel, Springfield MA
October 23, 2004 (link)
Germany's WWI Naval Monument
From the Battleship Scharnhorst