TRENCH REPORT: There is so much material in this issue and of such varied topics I can't even begin to summarize it for you. Please read on. Our Correspondents, though, as always, are on their toes. Anne Steele passes on word of a Lawrence of A exhibit at the IWM (link). Donna Cunningham sent two good stories: German Expressionists at War (link) and the First WW in Malta (link).
August 7, 1915
Second Landing at Gallipoli
Click on Image for More Information
Intelligence & Security
Stanley Samuel Lane
Stanley Samuel Lane, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in the Army Quartermaster Corps and who served in both World Wars died July 15 at the Bedford Court nursing home in Silver Spring, Md. He was 103 and had renal failure.
I recommend that you and the Minister of War leave for your vacation so as to keep up the appearance that nothing is going on.
Lane was born Samuel Levine in a Jewish ghetto in Warsaw and raised in New York, where he left school in the eighth grade. Out of a fondness for Zane Grey's frontier novels, he enlisted in the Army cavalry in 1917. "Never saw a horse before," he later told the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.
He lied about his age to enlist and had not told his family about his intentions. When the error was discovered - he said he thought his parents informed the American Red Cross - he refused an offer of a discharge.
von Berchtold to Conrad von Hötzendorff
July 8, 1914
Following the late Jack Vandiver and Tom Fleming in our series of interviews with notable World War I authors is Martin Middlebrook. Since publishing his classic The First Day on the Somme in 1971 he has regularly produced fascinating and readable works on 20th century wars including the naval and air campaigns. Thanks to the internet, we were able to have this exchange last month. Click here to continue...
German Gunboat Panther
Set off Morocco Crisis of 1911
The flag of the Arab Revolt was raised at Aqaba following the remarkable capture of this Red Sea port from the desert side by Auda abu Tayi, Ali ibn el Kharish, T.E. Lawrence and their forces on 6 July 1917 was auctioned at Sothby's this past July 12th for $325,000. Lawrence is reported to have flown an Arab flag over All Souls College, Oxford, in 1920, but its fate is unknown.
GREAT WAR 2005
The Gentler Sex? Responses of the Women's Movement To the First World War|
University of London
September 8-9, 2005 (link)
WFA-USA 16th Annual National Seminar|
Virginia Military Museum [Full Program Now]
Newport News, Virginia
September 23-25, 2005 (link)
WFA-USA 16th Annual National Seminar|
Virginia Military Museum [Full Program Now]
Newport News, Virginia
September 23-25, 2005 (link)
Uncovering the First World War
International Society for First World War Studies
Trinity College, Univ. of Dublin
September 23-25, 2005 (link)
The Red Cross at War|
Great War Society Event
Sonoma, CaliforniaNovember 12, 2005 (email for info)
1915 - Innocence Slaughtered?|
In Flanders Fields Museum
November 17-19, 2005 (program)
1. Our best selling World War I mystery writer, Jackie Winspear, is coming out with her third
Masie Dobbs novel in August. It's titled Pardonable Lies and the plot centers around...
Wait! I can't give away the plot. Read the book.
Mary Gavin [with pointer]
2. Friend Mary Britton has produced a documentary film about her Aunt Mary Gavin who was Chief Nurse at Base Hospital 42 for the AEF and went on to a distinguished career in the Army. The film is premiering August 11th in the Gloria Film Festival at 4:30 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center at 1355 West 3100 South in West Valley City just outside of Salt Lake City. If you plan to attend, please send us a report. It's our policy to support all efforts of our members and contributors, like those of Jackie and Mary to help honor the memory of those who served in the Great War.
Jewish Welfare Board Poster
Sgt. Rich Galli in Iraq
As I've mentioned in earlier Trip-Wires, one of our regular contributors, Rich Galli, from Montana has been deployed to Iraq near some famous WWI battlefields. Rich had some time and sent us this report to share with you. In his civilian life Rich is a high school teacher, a mountain and ski guide depending on the season, and a writer of military history. His observations are presented here uncensored.
Rich with Some New Iraqi Soldiers
Dear Mike, A salaam alekhum, very very sorry it has taken so long for me to
correspond to you, but hello from Iraq. I have been here six months, with
six more to go. It has been an experience, to say the least, being a grunt
at 49 more so. I know a long time ago you asked for a photo of me over
here, and I send three. I log onto your excellent sites now and then. Or
send Joes here, there. Indeed I have a few articles almost ready. Do I
sound the same? I do about four major jobs over here, and dozens of other
little ones any platoon sergeant has to do. Being a platoon daddy is even
more profound these days, with an Army of 19 year olds and "forty-somethings". Pups and old dogs I say.
My main mission is in electronic warfare. It is sort of like radar in 1940, a real miracle, but doubted by some. Sort of like those who called the M-1 Garand "a god-damn pepper grinder." I run vehicles in counter-IED patrols and other missions [convoy, raids, patrols] We hunt roadside bombs and look for ambushes. My beloved mission, the opposite of the others, is the hearts of every man on
our FOB - the internet/phone center. I have some great computer guys
working there, doing miracles with electrons- I am learning a lot, and keep
it fair. I am also one of seven designated snipers in our battalion, "on
call" for larger operations. I love my "Lillith" M-14, my surrogate wife. I
have four "kills" shooting IEDs at 300 meters. Two blew up, to the delight
of all, everyone loves big explosions. Unless they are near you! I have
been hit four times by these devices. They really ring your bell. They also
cut vehicles in half, and their passengers. I unfortunately have lost a
dear friend to one, he had three kids. My other on call job is the most fun
and source of good photos, gunning up in the turret with my M-240B "Johnny
Too Bad." I love the 240B; I suffered with that piece of schiess M-60 for
four years plus. So I pretend I am a gunner on a Bristol two seat fighter
over Arras. The war here is not Gettysburg or Verdun, but it is enough. We
are in the north end of the Sunni Triangle, in Hussein's tribal area. Alas
just south of the Kurdish areas. But the people here for the most part are
OK. It is too complex to explain in a sentence or two. I have no real
malice for the hajis.
Checking Out a Blown Pipeline
As a history teacher it is unbelievable to skirt the
Tigris near ancient Ninevea. Or sleep a few hundred meters from the Silk
Road. We are just south of Za'ab, famous in 750 for the assention [by
battle] of Arabs in the region; or in 1918 where the Brits cut off the
Ottoman Army in retreat. And Zaab has baklava for $2 a kilo! It is quite an
experience- the rockets and mortars, haji is a terrible shot, in sh'allah.
He uses a lot of Katyushkas, very romantic, WW2 vintage stuff. Zzzzzzzzzz
bang = incoming, bang zzzzzzzzzz = outgoing. I roll over and go back to
We live in bunkers.... with a/c so it is glorious. I hooked up a
satellite dish so we watch BBC, CNN and Spice Platinum. Do you think they [the stars] would
come here for a visit? No one does. Robin Williams, singing Playboy
bunnies, Charlie Daniels, Hooters girls, all go to the big bases with their
pizzerias, mini malls and swimming pools. What else to say? I read and
write a lot. Write Teresa. We had a third son born 2Jan05 I've never seen.
Joseph "Yusef" for the culture here and for every Joe in the Army. I get a
leave in August. I will finish by saying I am reading Barbusse, Juenger and
a brilliant book my dear darlin' Tereser found on Italian WW1 Aces. Reading
Homer, the Odyssey [my favorite book] and the Iliad- so profound, a war of
revenge and ego. Take care Mike and keep up the great work.
[This last section arrived after I asked Rich's permission to publish his report.]
Mike, by all means, I'd be honored. And it would be fun to talk to fellow
WW1 students. We might warn them that all I saw of Al Kut was a road sign
and Za'ab [or Zab] was during a raid and I noted on the map where the
battle was, during mine. I go on leave tommorow for two weeks. It will be
like WW1.... We got rocketed yesterday, and in a couple hours I go on a
patrol trying to draw fire, then in a couple of three days I will hold my
wife in my arms in our kitchen and hug my sons and try to explain things to
my friends; and then back over. Talk to you again soon, in sh'allah,
Love peace and superior firepower.
SFC Richard Galli
163rd Inf Bn
Send Rich an Email and share your comments with him. (email)
Rich with Some Friends
PS. The last time a Galli was here was 2000 years ago, SPQR baby; it was probably just as wretched, but at least they had beer and orgies.
From Tony Langley's War in a Different Light
Depiction of the Second Battle of the Champagne, Sept. 1915
Click Here to Visit War in a Different Light
As I was preparing the interview with Martin Middlebrook above, a middle school student sent in a request for some summer titles to read during vacation. You might be happy to know that we have quite a readership among the young. All the WWI sites I manage drop in readership by 20%+ when schools are on vacation. It occurred to me that some of our readers might not realize how important the Battle of the Somme is to both the history of the war and its mythic heritage. Here Len Shurtleff gives a nice intro for the new students of the Great War and a little refresher for the rest of us.
The Significance of the Battle of the Somme
From Ambassador Len Shurtleff
Martin Middlebrook writes about what is -- along with Verdun -- one of the two most famous and best-remembered battles of World War One. In Great Britain, it is the best remembered and most heavily analyzed action of the conflict with literally hundreds of books and articles written and continuing to be written about various aspects of the battle -- which opened on July 1 and lasted for nearly five months, into November of 1916.
French & British Soldiers Dealing With a
Shared Problem at the Somme
Why is the Somme so well remembered?
In part, it is remembered because of the huge number of casualties. The British Expeditionary Forces lost over 57 thousand men killed wounded and captured on the first day alone. Of these, over 19 thousand were killed, and 2,100 missing. And, virtually all these men were volunteers, not conscripts as in the other European armies of the period. (Conscription was not imposed in the UK until January 1916.)
The attack was the first test of so-called "New" or "Kitchener" volunteer armies raised in 1914 and 1915. It was conducted initially by 26 British and 12 French divisions and preceded by an artillery barrage consuming some 1.7 million shells. The Somme also witnessed the first use of tanks. By the end of the battle (which blended into the Battle of the Ancre) on November 20th 1916 an estimated 499 thousand British and 444 thousand German troops lost their lives.
Though many historians contend that Britain wasted too far many lives for small gains along the Somme, the battle did result in the final destruction of German army that entered the war in 1914. Historians have also criticized the Germans for dogmatically clinging to their system of fixed linear defenses and costly counter attacks. Having also suffered massive casualties in a fruitless attempt to break French morale at Verdun in 1916, the Germans withdrew in early 1917, abandoning the Somme battlefield and falling back to a prepared line (the Siegfried Stellung or Hindenburg Line) shortening its front by some 50 miles. The battle also resulted in valuable lessons for infantry attack and artillery tactics and eventually the combined arms infantry-artillery-aviation tactics which evolved in time for the renewed Allied offensives of 1918, including another one along the Somme which involved two American divisions fighting with the BEF in fracturing the Hindenburg Line southwest of St. Quentin.
So many individual British citizens lost family members on the Somme that even today the dozens of Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries there are still heavily visited. And, the battle itself became immediately and almost instantly familiar to British civilians as a result of the feature length film of the battle produced by G. H. Malins and J. B. McDowell for the War Office and shown nationally beginning in August 1916 while the battle was still being fought. Copies of the film are still available today on VCR from the Imperial War Museum and make an excellent companion to Middlebrook's work on the first day of the battle.
The Big Parade
By Andrew Melomet
Last month, I had the great pleasure of seeing an archival print of The Big Parade on the big screen as part of the 10th Anniversary San Francisco Silent Film Festival held at the historic Castro Theatre .I've always felt that the enjoyment and thrill you get from seeing a silent film is directly proportional to the viewing circumstances. Watching a silent film on a small television set of less than 30" is almost unbearable. We're so used to watching TV with just a small portion of our consciousness that the skills necessary to watch and enjoy a silent film are almost inaccessible. Since many of our perception queues come from sound that it's very hard to give total focus to a silent film on a small TV screen.
But, seeing a silent film in a good home theatre or on the big screen can be an unforgettable experience. The Castro Theatre's presentation of The Big Parade was blessed with a stunningly detailed archival print struck from the original camera negative. For years MGM had thought the original camera negative had been lost in a fire. The prints of The Big Parade we've all seen over the years were made from a 1931 reissue version with a synchronized soundtrack and sound effects. But, George Eastman House had the original camera negative safely stored and now new archival prints are circulating. The screening I attended had the original 242 page musical score played on the Castro's mighty Wurlitzer by accomplished organist, Chris Elliott.
The Big Parade was a huge hit earning between 18 and 22 million dollars. It was MGM's highest-grossing picture until Gone with the Wind in 1939. It was popular with the public and the critic's .The New York Times review from 1925 called it "an eloquent pictorial epic" that is "so compelling and realistic that one feels impelled to approach a review of it with all the respect it deserves, for as a motion picture it is something beyond the fondest dreams of most people."
Eighty years later, its flaws and strengths are more readily apparent. John Gilbert (Jim Apperson), the leading man has a warm and natural style of acting that allows you to be totally involved with his actions and experiences. Renée Adorée (Melisande), his French girl friend is delightful. But, the first half of The Big Parade with its romantic comedy and army buddy scenes seems too long and slow paced to modern audiences, no matter how delightful the actors. There's fluidity to the editing and pacing in these scenes but they seem too extended and almost drag down the picture.
But, if you can last through the first half, the second half is almost unbearable in terms of intensity of both action and emotion. Once the big push is on, once the "Big Parade" of men being rushed to the front starts, the powerful images never stop. The linear thrust of men and machines stretching to the horizon on their way to the front; the near hysterical Melisande frantic with fear clinging to the truck carrying her lover, falling to the street with a shoe he has given pressed to her breast; Jim giving his last cigarette to a dying German soldier and reclaiming it for himself when the German dies before smoking it; Jim returning home severely wounded and his mother's reaction- these are unforgettable scenes.
Before the screening, Chris Elliott, the organist confessed he had never cried so much as during the rehearsal for the evening's screening. No matter how many times I've seen The Big Parade, it's that emotionally stunning scene of Jim and his mother, of the wounded suffering man returning home to a place he'll never fit it in, that does me in.
The Big Parade was released on laser disc and on VHS. It's in the Turner Classic Movies library of MGM titles and airs several times a year.
Now, suppose Jim Apperson had been a real person and instead of returning to France right after the war to find Melisande he returned in the last decade of the 20th century. There's a real story about a real veteran, Paul Jarrett, who does just that. The Return of Paul Jarrett tells the story of 93 year-old Paul Jarrett who served on the Western Front with the 42nd Rainbow Division. He was the last WWI veteran to return to the battlefields of France. Written, produced and directed by his grandson, Clark Jarrett, this is an exceptional documentary. Further information can be found here: http://www.clarkjarrett.com/index.htm.
Andrew Melomet, Proprietor of Andy's Nickelodeon will answer your Great War film or video inquiry. He is also soliciting your recommendations for the WWI Filmography he is compiling for our readers. Just click HERE.
|The following are thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Anne Steele, Donna Cunningham, Rich Galli, Martin Middlebrook, Tony Langley, Susan Neeson, Andy Melomet, Len Shurtleff and the Washington Post. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.