June 2005

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT: As I've mentioned previously, Rich Galli, contributor to our La Grande Guerra website is now deployed with the 163rd Battalion of the Montana National Guard in Iraq. Rich has sent a letter about his experiences to his home town newspaper. Please take a look. (link). Our Correspondents have become especially industrious recently. Lord of the Rings expert Diane Rooney sends the news that the director of the Hobbitt Epic, Peter Jackson, has recently restored combat footage of the Gallipoli campaign using the latest technology. We will inform the Trip-Wire readers when it is available to the public for viewing. . .Efforts are being made to identify the well-preserved body of a World War I soldier found at Passchendaele.(link)
. . .In Lincolnshire, a British village is finally being allowed to honor their fallen in the Great War. (link). . .A 106-year-old World War I veteran threw out the ceremonial first pitch recently at a baseball game in Toronto. Clare Laking climbed out of his wheelchair and made an underhand throw to Blue Jays OF Reed Johnson. Laking was a private with the Canadian Field Artillery, 27th Batter (sic.) Force Brigade, serving as a signaler in Belgium and France.

Memorable Event

June 29, 1915

First Battle of the Isonzo

First of Eleven Italian Offensives on the River

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New at the Websites of the Great War Society and Our Friends
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At Great War Society Sites At the WFA-USA

The Real Deal

Marker at Burial Vault of
Elsie Janis
This Month's
Special Feature

Light-Hearted Music of the Great War

(Media Player Required)

WWI Vet Celebrates Memorial Day

The dapper gentleman at the left is Lloyd Brown of Maryland. A young 103, Lloyd served on the battleship New Hampshire escorting convoys across the Atlantic during the First World War. Lloyd apparently fibbed about his age to enlist in the US Navy. (article)

A. E. F.

There will be a rusty gun on the wall, sweetheart,

The rifle grooves curling with flakes of rust.

A spider will make a silver string nest in the darkest, warmest corner of it.

The trigger and the range-finder, they too will be rusty.

And so hands will polish the gun, and it will hang on the wall.

Forefingers and thumbs will point absently and casually toward it.

It will be spoken among half-forgotten, wished-to-be-forgotten things.

They will tell the spider: Go on, you're doing good work.

by Carl Sandburg

Source: Smoke and Steel. Sandburg, Carl. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920;


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 [Full Program Now]
Newport News, Virginia
September 23-25, 2005 (link)
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On March 15, 1918, 15 Million hand grenades exploded at a depot near Courneuve outside Paris. The subsequent fire took two days to extinguish. Thirty persons were killed and many injured.

103rd Aero Sq. Insignia
Gone West

Cavalryman Albert Marshall, 108, who was mentioned in these pages recently has passed away. He was believed to be the last surviving horse solider of the First World War. (link)

Western Front Association Chairman Bruce Simpson announced on May 12th that following negotiations with the Lord Chancellor's Department, the National Archives, and the Ministry of Defence, his organization has been granted custodianship of the Great War Medal Index Cards for the U.K. Well done Mr. Simpson.

In war you learn your lessons and they stay learned, but the tuition fees are high.

Ernst Juenger

Page Two

Seminar 2005 Photos

Our Family's Gold Star Pilgrimage
Part I: Journey to France

Contributed by Kathy Compagno

Rosa Heidler Lorenz, the gold star mother in this story, is my great grandmother; the source is an excerpt from my own personal story about her life, based on documents carefully saved by her daughters Luella and Josephine. Her son Joseph fought with the 42nd Rainbow Division, was wounded at the River Ourcq, and died at a base hospital in France.

During the 1920's, the national Gold Star Mothers' Association lobbied for a federally sponsored pilgrimage to the cemeteries of Europe for mothers with sons buried overseas. On 2 March 1929, the U.S. Congress passed legislation authorizing funding for Gold Star Mothers and widows "to make a special pilgrimage to France . . . to visit the graves of husbands and sons killed in the World War. . . The trip will be free, the party being guests of the government."

General Pershing with a Group of Gold Star Mothers
Arlington National Cemetery

Rosa's official invitation was carefully saved amongst her treasures:

The Government of the United States extends an invitation to Mrs. Rosa Lorenz to make a pilgrimage to the Cemetery in Europe where the remains of her Son are now interred. Leaving New York on the Steamship America on May 7, 1930.

A Dayton Journal news story dated 12 January 1930 further described the Arrangements:

Dayton Gold Star Mothers To Visit Graves of Heroes in France; Others Plan to Go Next Year; Two Weeks to be Allowed in Europe, With Everything Furnished; Touching Scenes are Enacted[Headline]:

Announced yesterday by Congressman Roy G. Fitzgerald, those who are going this year [include] Mrs. Rosa Lorenz, 121 East Fairview. . . The pilgrimage will be made shortly after May 1. . . the total number of widows and gold star mothers going this year from all over the nation will be 5,323. The total number entitled to make the trip during the time allotted, May 1, 1930 to October 31, 1933, is 11,440. . . All expenses will be paid by the government. Each one going will be provided with every possible comfort from their homes to France and return. It is estimated that the cost will average $840 per person. . . All mothers of American service men now buried in European cemeteries and widows of service men who have not remarried are entitled to make the trip. This is being done by the government as a token of recognition to those who gave their all and have not yet visited the graves of their loved ones. . .

Memories of more than 11 years ago were recalled. . . One mother said, 'There is my boy in his uniform. He was so proud of it, and I too. That picture was taken just before he left. I never saw him again. Here is a picture of his grave. God bless him, I'll soon see where he is resting. I was afraid that I would pass on and never see his grave'. . . Necessary papers have been sent. . . includes special passports, accommodations, re-entry papers, etc. Each one making the trip will be allowed two weeks in France.

Joseph Lorenz, member of the 150th Infantry, machine gun battalion, was wounded in September, 1918. He died on November 22. His grave will be visited by his mother.

Rosa must have been eager to go; she filed her papers promptly and was issued Special Pilgrimage Passport No. 4 (!), valid only for that trip. At that time, she was 4 feet 10 inches tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Her birthplace was listed as Neuhammer, Germany. Joseph was buried at Suresnes American Cemetery, located in a suburb only five miles from the center of Paris and easily accessible by train from the Gare St. Lazare. Her passport had a VISA SPECIAL, SANS FRAIS - COURTOISIE, given by the AMBASSADE DE FRANCE, WASHINGTON.

News articles the following May continued the story:

Rosa's Son Joseph
Mrs. Rosa Lorenz, . . .will entrain at Union Station Monday noon. . . Mrs. Lorenz will not immediately return to Dayton from New York City after her arrival from overseas a month hence. . . Mrs. Lorenz has a daughter in New York City and she will stay with her several weeks. Josephine, who lives with her mother, will graduate in June from Julienne high school, and will join her mother in New York.

(5 May 1930) Two mothers left Dayton [by train]. . . to visit the graves of their sons who marched away 12 years ago and never came back. Mrs. Rosa Lorenz and Mrs. Julia Lehwald, with gold star badges pinned on their breasts identifying them, said goodbye to relatives on the platform and were whisked away on the long pilgrimage. By the irony of fate, both the mothers are of German extraction. Their sons, killed in battle with the Germans in the fierce fighting of 1918, were buried in different cemeteries.

The accompanying photo shows both mothers wearing a medal with a red, white and blue ribbon, which was their name badge for the trip; they were told to 'Wear this Badge in a Conspicuous Place AT ALL TIMES While On The Pilgrimage." The top bar was engraved MRS. ROSA LORENZ, OHIO. The medal has a five-pointed star framed by the words PILGRIMAGE OF MOTHERS AND WIDOWS, flanked by two American flags under the image of the Great Seal of the United States of America. Rosa was also given a medallion to be worn with a neck ribbon during the journey; this medal pictured a ship crossing the ocean between the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, with a gold star shining in the sky. Dated 1930, the obverse is engraved with the words:


Rosa was also given an IDENTITY CARD, written in both English and French, Headquarters in Europe AMERICAN PILGRIMAGE GOLD STAR MOTHERS AND WIDOWS:

The bearer of this card, Mrs. ROSA LORENZ, is in France to visit the grave of her SON who lost his life in the World War. She is a member of the official Pilgrimage organized by the United States Government, called "GOLD STAR MOTHERS PILGRIMAGE". Her address in Paris is HOTEL D'IENA, AVENUE D'IENA. You are requested to give her aid or assistance if needed. In case of accident to the bearer of this card, please telephone to the number indicated above or conduct the bearer to the Commissariat de Police du Grand Palais.

RICHARD T. ELLIS, Colonel United States Army, Officer in charge.

On Tuesday, 6 May, Rosa and her colleagues had quite a welcome:

New York City welcomed the 350 Gold Star Mothers from the Midwest who will leave on the liner America to visit the graves of their sons in France. . .Drawn up across City Hall Plaza stood companies of soldiers of the regular army, marines, sailors and National Guardsmen and details of Salvation Army lassies, Red Cross nurses, and many war veterans' and civic organizations.

Seven motor buses swung into the plaza bearing the guests. The mothers marched up the City Hall steps and into the Aldermanic Chamber. . . A color guard stood at attention, Federal, State and city officials bowed their heads in tribute, and the mothers took their places, each holding a small American flag.

Acting Mayor McKee then extended the official welcome of the city, "If America was great in the World War, it was great because of your boys. They fought and died heroic deaths, and in dying gave tangible manifestation of the idealism of a great nation. . . as long as a cross guards an American soldier's grave in Flanders or in France, there shall be a reminder of the heroism, unselfishness and high idealism of the American people. You go now to take your sad station beside one of those white crosses. . . [with] the prayers of a grateful nation."

Commemorative Stamp
Issued 1948
On Wednesday, 7 May 1930, New York's Evening Journal published a picture of Rosa's ship leaving New York harbor, which had sailed 'promptly' at 11am from Hoboken, New Jersey (Rosa spent the previous night at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City, and was taken to the ship by bus at 8 am; 'we hope you will be ready'), with parting music played by bands of the Sixteenth Infantry and of the Hoboken Police Department. The United States Line's S.S. America had four masts and two funnels; it had been built as the S.S. Amerika in 1912 at Belfast, Ireland, for the German Hamburg America Line. She had several different configurations due to various refittings after fire, collision and even sinking once while loading coal at a pier in Hoboken, New Jersey. Amerika was seized by U. S. authorities in 1917 at Boston, renamed America, and used as an army troop transport. It is possible that some of the sons and husbands of these Gold Star mothers and wives had sailed to Europe on the same ship. It is known that some units of the Rainbow Division's 83rd Brigade, the 165th Infantry of New York, had sailed on this ship in October or November 1917. Joe's unit, the 150th Machine Gun Battalion, served with the 165th, so it is possible that Rosa's son had sailed on the same ship to France that was taking her to visit his grave over twelve years later. The ship's most recent reconditioning was in 1926, when she was rebuilt with passenger accommodation for 835 in cabin class and 516 in tourist and third class. Ironically, during World War II, she once again served as a troop transport between New York and Europe, with accommodation for 5,000 troops.


The S. S. America, hero ship of the U. S. merchant marine, as it steamed out of the harbor today bearing its load of 350 Gold Star mothers on their way 'over there' to visit their sons' graves, was greeted by whistles and sirens. At left, we see a city fireboat spraying a water barrage in token of the heroic women."

Tears Shed As Mothers Sail On Pilgrimage [Headline]:

America started her second A.E.F. [American Expeditionary Force] to France today, on the 13th anniversary of the day on which she sent her first soldiers to the trenches over there. . . Thirteen years ago today the camouflaged steamship Orunda slipped out of New York bearing the first Americans to France, a base hospital unit that had been recruited in Cincinnati, Ohio. Today more than a fourth of this first group of 6,000 mothers, who will be traveling to France throughout the summer, came from Ohio."

While enroute, there was a formal ceremony to honor the 'Sea Dead'. Rosa and other mothers posed for photographs for the newspapers back home. One reporter commented:

We see smiling faces on women relaxing in deck chairs; the warm coats and blankets suggest it was a chilly crossing. The salt air and the easy rolling of the U.S.S. America seemed to agree with Gold Star mothers on voyage to France. They smile while lounging on deck. . . Shuffleboard was one of the games. . . Champion of all was Mrs. Florence Nooten of Cleveland. . . The United States government pressed every advantage to make the Gold Star Mothers' pilgrimage to France as pleasant as possible. Everywhere a mother went, an America steward was at hand.

On 7 May 1930, Rosa received a 'Ship to Shore, Shore to Ship, Ship to Ship' Radiogram 'Via RCA', Radiomarine Corporation of America,


Part II: The Visit will be presented in next month's Trip-Wire. Kathy Compagno is the sister-in-law of Great War Society President Sal Compagno.

From Tony Langley's War in a Different Light

Behind the German Lines

Click Here to Visit War in a Different Light

The Riddle of the Sands

By Andrew Melomet

Erskine Childers (1870-1922) was born on June 25, 1870 in London and lived in Ireland until he was married. He met and married his wife, Mollie Osgood, while visiting the United States in 1903. In 1914, Childers who was devoted to Irish Home Rule used his yacht "Asgard" to run guns for the Ulster Volunteers. He served in the British Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War flying seaplane reconnaissance of the German coast. A major in 1919 with the Distinguished Service Cross he returned to Ireland where he became an Irish citizen. A member of the Irish Republican Army, Childers was in unauthorized possession of an automatic pistol when he was arrested and quickly court-martialed. He was shot by firing squad while his appeal was still pending. Prior to his execution, he shook hands with the inexperienced members of the firing squad telling them, "Come closer lads, it will be easier for you." His son Erskine Hamilton Childers eventually became President of Ireland in 1973. He was only 17 years old when his father was executed in 1922, and entered Irish politics in the 1930's. He held his office for less than a year-and-a-half, before dying suddenly of a heart attack on November 17, 1974.

Erskine Childers only novel The Riddle of the Sands was published in 1903 and has never gone out of print. It's considered one of the prototypical espionage stories. The novel was published in the United States in 1915 and was re-issued here in 1940, prior to America's entry in World War II. As a military theoretician, Childers also wrote on the folly of relying on cavalry as an effective fighting force against machine guns.

The 1979 movie version directed by Tony Maylam and starring Michael York, Simon MacCorkindale and Jenny Agutter details the adventures of two Englishmen who, while yachting in the North Sea near the Frisian Islands, uncover a German plan to invade England by sea. Davies (Simon MacCorkindale) sailing around the north-west coast of Germany in his 30-foot yacht "Dulcibella" (actually a converted life-boat) has his suspicions aroused and sends for his college friend Carruthers of the Foreign Office (Michael York). They uncover an evil Hun plot conceived by a renegade British Naval Officer Dollman (Alan Badel) and witness the final rehearsal for Kaiser Wilhelm II of an invasion of Britain. Jenny Agutter plays Dollman's lovely daughter, Clara. The cinematography by Christopher Challis was composed for a wide-screen and suffers in the home video releases on VHS from the VidAmerica label and Bennett Marine Video. But, you can still realize how exciting the sailing sequences were. The direction is somewhat uneven. Some of the classic and best remembered scenes of the novel flow smoothly, others don't seem to translate as well. Maylam was a novice feature film director at this stage of his career. People seem to do and say the right things of the early-Edwardian era. Davies and Carruthers were friends at Oxford but still address each other by their surnames, like Watson and Holmes. Their relationship stirs echoes that of Mole and Water Rat in The Wind in the Willows. There's something very English about messing around in boats. There's a good non-ironic tone to this classic story with no smirking or winking towards the modern audience. I'd sure like to see a wide-screen version on DVD but I haven't heard any rumors about its release.

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

The following are thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Tom Jones, Phyllis Pettyjohn, Frank Womble, Tony Langley, Rich Galli, Andy Melomet, Cindy Timmons Carlson, Larry Butler, Dave Patterson, Len Shurtleff, Donna Cunningham, David Beer, Diane Rooney and I hope the Washington Post will forgive me for lifting Lloyd Brown's photo off of their website. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

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