July 2004

Access Archives

March to War: 90th Anniversary of the July Crisis

TRENCH REPORT: We are entering a cycle of anniversaries and will be highlighting them in the Trip-Wire. June 28th was the 90th Anniversary of the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. You will see many features in this issue focusing on that event and the July Crisis. In the spirit of Great War Society Founder Flip Carroll, I search high and wide to find something that captures the "Relevance" of that long ago today. Let me recommend From Sarajevo to September 11 for your consideration. (link) . . . From Antwerp's Tony Langley: The newly restored German trenches in Wyschaete near Ypres are open to the public since a few weeks. It was called the 'Bayerisches Walde' during the war I believe and was later known for being a section of the front-lines where Hitler is said to have served. He visited it himself in 1940 in any case and made out that it was indeed so. (more information)

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

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At the Doughboy Center At Members Contributions At War in the Near East At Legends and Traditions

Rattlesnakes and Wildcats

Men of Bronze: There's more to the story of the US Army in WWI than is told in The Fighting 69th and Sergeant York. This hard to find documentary from 1977 recounts the history of The 369th Combat Regiment from New York, the famed "Rattlesnake Regiment". It a while to track down a copy, but the search was worth it. The first American troops to fight on French soil, these African-American soldiers served with distinction along side French, Moroccan and Senegalese soldiers at the campaigns of Champagne-Marne and Meuse-Argonne. For its courage and gallantry at Maison-en-Champagne, the entire 369th Regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government and 171 officers and enlisted men received the Legion of Honor. Its regimental band lead by James Reese Europe, former musical director for Vernon and Irene Castle, was the best in France. Using historic photographs, on-camera interviews with Hamilton Fish, Melville Miller and Frederick Williams, and film from both French and American archives, Men of Bronze does an excellent job of telling the inspiring and moving story of black military service in a fiercely segregated army. The director, William Miles also co-directed Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II, a more controversial documentary that explores the racism in the segregated armed forces of that war and rescuing of Jews from concentration camps by the 761st Tank Battalion and 183rd Combat Engineers.

F4F Wildcat: For aviation buffs, Red Pepper Creative is releasing a new series, Aircraft Films that covers great historic aircraft. Among their first releases is F4F Wildcat. The first aircraft carriers were developed by the British Navy and were deployed during the First World War. But, it was in the Second World War, that they became a truly strategic strike force. The Grumman Wildcat was the US Navy's second monoplane fighter and it served with distinction throughout the war. This 2 DVD set includes an original 43 minute documentary and digitally transferred archival footage. The historic footage is clearly identified so the viewer knows the battle and the aircraft involved. This is a pleasant switch from most military history compilations that leave you guessing where and when the footage was shot. If you have an interest in WWII carrier operations and the Wildcat, this release is a must. Future releases of particular interest to WWI aviation buffs will include: U.S.A.S. Aircraft of WWI and Pioneers of Flight. (Further information)

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

This Month's
Special Feature

Assassination 1914

Sophie, Sophie, don't die. Live, for the children's sake. . . It's nothing, it's nothing. . .

         Franz Ferdinand, dying.

Trial of the Assassins
Princip Circled

Great War Society President Sal Compagno likes to start out his talks on World War I by saying the Great War was started by a teenager. Gavrilo Princip was born July of 1894 [There is an old calendar date and a new calendar date, but both are in July] making him still nineteen on June 28, 1914.

News Headline of the Assassination

Robert H. Ferrell: Prolific AEF Author

Distinguished presidential and diplomatic historian Dr. Robert Ferrell is enjoying his retirement by focusing his efforts on the AEF as editor, commentator and author. He is soon to turn out his eighth treatment of America's WWI effort: America's Deadliest Battle: The Meuse Argonne, which is to be published by the University of Kansas Press. While you'll have to wait awhile for his latest effort, all these previous works are available through Amazon.com. Dr. Ferrell has also given us permission to excerpt them on our websites, so you will be hearing more about these in the future:
  • Trench Knives and Mustard Gas-With the 42nd Rainbow Division in France
  • Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: The Failure of the Missouri-Kansas Division,
  • Meuse-Argonne Diary - A Division Commander in World War I, William M. Wright [89th Div.]
  • A Soldier in World War I: The Diary of Elmer W. Sherwood
  • A Youth in the Meuse-Argonne: A Memoir [Wm. Triplett], 1917-1918
  • Woodrow Wilson and World War I
  • Fighting Soldier [Jos. D. Lawrence]: The AEF in 1918

Check out Len Shurtleff's comparative review of the first three of these works: (link)


Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph & Heir Apparent

Assassinated with Wife in Sarajevo
June 28, 1914

Click on Image for More Information

William Lake, a US World War I veteran, died in June. He was 108. Lake was 22 when he was drafted into the Army on Oct. 4, 1917. He served as a private in the 91st Infantry Division and as a machine gun ammunition transporter for the 346th Machine Gun Battalion. He fought in the Meuse-Argonne Forest in France and Belgium in the winter of 1918. Lake was a farmer in the Yakima Valley for 32 years. He also worked as a truck driver for many years. An on-the-job accident forced his retirement at age 75.

With a twinkle in his eye, World War I veteran Ted Smout - who died on June 22, aged 106 - would often say he was no one special, just an old Digger who became famous by weight of his longevity. Many people yesterday remembered a man with a touch of the larrikin about him who typified his patriotic, hardworking generation. He was never enamored of the British army bosses, and even less happy when a British MP found him in Paris after he went AWOL the day after Armistice Day, partying hard at the Follies Bergere. His son said his father was still causing trouble in Paris in 1998 as a 100-year-old, when he and three other veterans returned to be awarded the Legion of Honour. Annoyed at not being allowed out on his own on an earlier visit, Mr Smout assembled some Diggers and went out for a stroll around Paris while the tour doctor was asleep.


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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The Murder Weapon

Christina passes this on: The Browning pistol that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and sparked the crisis leading to the First World War has been discovered gathering dust in a Jesuit community house in Austria.

The weapon is going on show in the Vienna Museum of Military History in time for the 90th anniversary of the assassination of the heir to the Austrian empire and his wife, Sophie. Gavrilo Princip, a student from Belgrade, fired seven shots at the couple as they were driven through Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

Father Thomas Neulinger, the head of the archive of the Austrian Jesuits, said the order had decided to hand the objects to the authorities in time for the anniversary. "We thought we could no longer carry the responsibility for their upkeep and decided to hand them to the military museum where they'll be expertly looked after and the public will have access to them," he said.

From The Telegraph

The following are thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Christina Holstein, Tony Langley, Andy Melomet, Len Shurtleff, Associated Press Wire, Robert Ferrell, The Telegraph and Pete Guthrie. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

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