June 2004

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT: Visitors to the Great War Society's homepage will now find a banner and link for Trenches on the Web, the remarkable creation of the late Mike Iavarone. We have been looking after for the site since Mike first became seriously ill, but the family thought it was time to make our connection explicit. The plan is to maintain this treasure as Mike intended while keeping it on the cutting edge of technology. . . For readers in New York State--This month an exhibit was opened at the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) in Troy to honor the military service of local residents. TGWS Member Kenneth Rogers has sponsored a display panel of his father. . .Keep your eyes peeled for a PBS documentary on the Gold Star Mothers' pilgrimage to their sons graves in France. I haven't been able to find a schedule applicable to all communities. . . Last month's article on Masterpiece Theatre's attention to the Great War led to this message from fabled WGBH in Boston: One of Masterpiece's productions scheduled this October is The Lost Prince - an incredible and heartbreaking story about the young Prince John of England, who was ostracized from the English court at a young age due to his epilepsy. His short life spanned much of the Great War and his exile provided him with a unique perspective on the War's earth-changing magnitude. . . The story of the Christmas Day truce is also to be turned into a movie. Details of the film, to be called Merry Christmas, were announced during the Cannes Film Festival. The cast will include British actor Gary Lewis, who played the dad in Billy Elliot, and young German actor Daniel Bruhl, star of the award-winning Goodbye Lenin. Diane Kruger, who plays Helen of Troy in the Hollywood epic Troy, will also star in the film, as a woman who finds herself in no-man's land through an unlikely set of circumstances . . . Late Travel Bulletin: The Frank Jordan and Tom Gudmestad Western Front Excursion in July is definitely a GO! Click here for information.

Benefits of a Liberty Loan
WWI Cartoon of the Month

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

Click on Title to Access
At Legends and Traditions
At the Doughboy Center At La Grande Guerra At WFA-USA

Released by Universal in 1934 at the height of Hollywood's antiwar sentiment in the 1930s, The Man Who Reclaimed His Head is the first film that I know of where a character (an arms merchant) refers to the potential destructive force of atomic weapons! Directed by Edward Ludwig and co-written by Samuel Ornitz ( a noted Hollywood leftist) and Jean Bart (Marie Antionette Sarlabous) based on her play, it tells the story of Paul Verin (Claude Rains), a pacifist French intellectual and journalist who becomes the editorial voice for Henry Dumont (Lionel Atwill) a newspaper baron in prewar France. Unfortunately, the newspaper owner is actually in league with the very arms merchants Verin is trying to expose. Plus, Dumont's been romancing Verin's lovely wife Adele (Joan Bennett) around all the Parisian hot spots while Verin's been writing through the night. Shipped off to a war he tried to prevent, Verin becomes unglued hearing more gossip about his wife. Instead of heading to Verdun with his squad he takes a train to Paris to "reclaim his head." Claude Rains had played the Paul Verin role on Broadway in 1932 before making his first film, The Invisible Man.

I first saw this extraordinary film about 40 years ago when it played on a local television station in New York City. Based on its title it had been included as part of a syndicated horror movie package! Unfortunately, it's never had an official video release. I was able to pick up a VHS copy from Forgotten Hollywood in Fall River, Massachusetts. This is a rarely seen strangely haunting film that's most definitely a "peacenik" Great War classic. It was later remade as Strange Confession (an Inner Sanctum mystery without the pacifist message), starring Lon Chaney, Jr. as a betrayed research chemist.

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

This Month's
Special Feature

Animated WWI
Features on the Web
On Line Resources for Focused Topics

Of course, these are excellent for youngsters, but they are also infomative for adults
The catalysts for modernism were Verdun, the Somme, and the other general carnage of the First World War trenches. Out of those infernos spread the belief that the old foundations of staid manners, traditional genres of art and literature, unquestioning patriotism-dulce et decorum est pro patria mori -and national politics had somehow led to Europe's millions being gassed and blown apart for years in the mud of the French countryside without either victory or defeat.

         Victor Davis Hanson

Italian Monument to the Boys of 99
Bassano del Grappa
(click here to learn the importance of Bassano del Grappa to the Italian Front)

Street Scene from Wartime Reims

TYNE COT  (Jan Theuninck)
When you left
for the front
you were
living heroes
and now
you're on top
of the hill
where only

CONGRATS! To Member Jackie Winspear whose WWI related mystery Maisie Dobbs was both the recipient of the Agatha Award for best first novel and a finalist for the Mystery Writers' Edgar Award for best novel of 2003. She is starting a national book signing tour for the sequel Birds of a Feather [also involving the Great War.] Check her website to view Jackie's schedule.


Sgt. James M. Cain
Hq. Comp., 79th Division, AEF

Hard-Boiled, Noir Author
The Postman Always Rings Twice; Double Indemnity;
Taking of Montfaucon

Click on Image for More Information

One of Canada's last living links to the First World War has been severed with the death of a 105-year-old Clifford Holliday, of California. Holliday, who was born in Plumas, Manitoba., in 1898 and enlisted with Winnipeg's 43rd Battalion, Cameron Highlanders, had mostly impressionistic memories of his teenage years in the trenches of France and Belgium.

He was wounded twice - once from a single bullet that sliced through the flesh of both legs and another time from a blast of shrapnel that struck his jaw and cheek. He recalled, above all, how a 30-minute machine-gun slaughter in one battle reduced a mighty throng of Canadian soldiers to a bloodied fraction of survivors.

Dr. Briton Busch, who was Professor of History at Colgate, has passed away. He organized the 2001 WFA Ottawa Seminar on Canada in the Great War and recruited the speakers for this year's Plattsburgh seminar. He also edited the papers from the Ottawa Seminar, which were published in 2003 by McGill-Queens University Press in Montreal.

Imagine owning this resume. You are a successful lawyer and wealthy banker. Music you've composed is played by the world's finest classical and popular musicians. You've been a Vice President of the US, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the most valuable Generals in the American Expeditionary Force of the First World War. Today, the media would be obsessed by such a celebrity. But, all these achievements are those of the true, but somewhat forgotten, historical figure Charles Gates Dawes.

On July 28th, Historian R.J. Lindsey (below, in costume) and the Evanston, Illinois Historical Society will be attempting to "raise consciousness" about the remarkable Pershing Pal, Charlie Dawes, in a one-man show called Charles Gates Dawes Live!. Visit the website of the society to book a visit with the General. (link)


WFA-USA EC Chapter
National Archives Day Trip
College Park, Maryland
Friday, June 11, 2004 (pre-reg required)
WFA-USA Great Lakes
Event Cancelled
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)
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)
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Email Response

Monument at Verdun Desecrated

The big memorial at Verdun to Jewish volunteers, both from France and overseas, (photo) who died in the Great War, was desecrated recently by being spray-painted with Neo-Nazi slogans and swastikas. It was immediately cleaned and by lunchtime the following day. The only traces of the desecration were some large newly-cleaned areas on the monument. The action caused considerable indignation in the Verdun area and there is a plan for an ecumenical demonstration at the monument, which stands close to the Douaumont Ossuary. On the 9th of May there were three formal wreaths laid at the monument (armistice day in France was on the 8 of May), plus two private bouquets, one of roses and one of lily of the valley, in full flower in the nearby ravines at the moment. Tire marks on the grass along the edge of the road by the monument showed that lots of people had stopped to have a look.

Christina Holstein

The following are thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Christina Holstein, The CanWest News Service, Leo Benedetti, Tony Langley, Andy Melomet, Len Shurtleff, Kim Olsen-Clark, WGBH Boston and Kenneth Rogers. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

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