October 2004

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT: You will probably be able to see in this month's Trip-Wire that a great awakening seems to be underway regarding the events of 1914-1918. I'm receiving more and more announcements, press releases and emails about new books, TV programs, seminars and commemorations regarding the war. . . Stay tuned; we will be tracking this trend in future months. . .As I've reported earlier, the family of the late Mike Iavarone has asked the Great War Society to look after his fabled website Trenches on the Web. The site is so vast, that I've never searched it systematically before. In this process, I've discovered some gems that I never knew existed. We will be including a few of them each month in our new websites listing. [They're new for me anyway!].


Lt. Col. Emile Driant
Author, Politician, Warrior


56th and 59th
Battalions of Chasseurs
First Hero of Verdun

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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
The Dawn Patrol Assembles
At a British Airfield
This Month's
Special Feature

Speculative Fiction and the Great War

Mobile German Chapel

The Pilates exercise regime, a favorite of both seekers of the "Thin Ideal" and physical therapists for the seriously injured had it's origins in the First World War. German athlete and vaudeville performer Josef Pilates was caught in Britain at the war's outbreak and interred for the duration. He developed his novel program to help his fellow "guests" stay fit. (Learn more.)

Announcing a Literary Explosion!

Yes, it is now official. I'm no longer worried that I was imagining it. USA Today has announced it. In their recent article, World War I Front and Center on Bookshelves (link), America's daily has made it clear that there has been an explosion of both new titles and reissued classics for World War I readers.

You might be asking yourself, "How can I possibly stay current given this avalanche." Well, you have come to the right place for the answer. We have Len Shurtleff looking out for us. The recently retired WFA-USA President and survivor (so far) of all the hurricanes that Nature can send at Florida, where he abides, Len is continuing his editorial and review service at Len's Bookshelf, one of the most popular features at the WFA-USA website. Truly, whenever I receive an inquiry as to where information can be found on the best reading on the Great War, I refer them to his site: (link)

No announcements were received on fallen veterans during the past month, so I will use this space to post an important announcement.

A monument honoring the legendary Rainbow Division of World War I, located in Garden City (NY), is being rededicated on Veterans Day, November 11, 85 years after the end of what was then called The Great War.

Rainbow Division Monument
A ceremony will be held featuring patriotic music from the period, posters, photos and other memorabilia donated by families of WW I veterans, readings of award-winning essays by Long Island middle school students, and reminiscences of the period by family members of veterans.

The ceremony will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Nov. 11 at Rainbow Division Plaza at the intersection of Clinton Road and Commercial Avenue in Garden City. Further information on the essay contest and the event is available from George Haber. email


An Improbable War? The Outbreak of World War I and the European Political Culture before 1914

Scottish Centre for War Studies (University of Glasgow)
International Conference at Emory University-October 13-16, 2004
(for info.)

WFA-USA NE/NY Chapter Seminar

Marriott Hotel, Springfield MA
October 23, 2004 (link)
WFA-USA East Coast Chapter WWI History Seminar

Maryland War Memorial Building, Baltimore
November 13, 2004 (link)
TGWS Armistice Day Event: Uncle Sam in the Great War

Mouraux Museum, Sonoma CA
November 13, 2004 (link)
Send additions/corrections:
Email Response

A recently returned doughboy reflects on his service:

[Arriving home] I was not sure that I wanted to return to school and complete my law course, but I did know that I wanted to do something to end the madness of conflict and the insane business of arbitrating the differences of men and nations with poison gas and high explosive shells.

Lt. Everett Dirksen, 19th Balloon Company, 328th FA, AEF
(Dirksen chose to go into politics and eventually became US Senate Minority Leader.)
Page Two

Victory Through Air Power
By Andrew Melomet

In 1942 Major Alexander P. De Seversky published Victory Through Air Power, his treatise on the strategic use of air power through a unified high command. It became a best seller and copies are still readily available today from many used book sellers. In July, 1943 the Walt Disney studios released a feature length animated film directed by H.C. Potter based on Seversky's book and starring Seversky himself. Long unseen, this powerful piece of propaganda was finally released on DVD this year as part of Walt Disney On The Front Lines. This 2 DVD set also includes a variety of training, propaganda and educational films made by the Disney studio for the allied Armed Forces. Der Fuehrer's Face starring Donald Duck, an Academy Award-winning short is also included in this superb collection.

Seversky was born in Russia in 1894. He graduated from the Russian Naval Academy in 1914 as a lieutenant. After serving with a Russian destroyer flotilla in the Baltic through the winter of 1914-15, he was selected for duty with naval aviation and went to the Military School of Aeronautics at Sebastopol in the Crimea where he graduated as a military aviator. Returning to the Baltic, he completed a Naval postgraduate course in aeronautics and received a degree as a naval aviator. For the next three years he flew combat missions with the naval aviation forces of the Baltic Sea, both in bombardment and pursuit. In 1915, he lost his right leg while on a bombardment mission but he returned to active duty with a wooden leg! In 1917 he was appointed the Chief of Pursuit Aviation of the Baltic Sea. He became the leading Russian ace of the Naval Air Force and in 1918 he was selected as a member of the Russian Naval Aviation Mission to the United States. He stayed in the United States and in 1921 he acted in an advisory capacity to General William"Billy" E. Mitchell during the demonstrations of the ability of aircraft to sink battleships. In 1927 he became a U.S. citizen and was commissioned a major in the U.S. Air Corps Specialist Reserve in 1928.

Both the book and the film are dedicated to General Mitchell and the film includes a 1934 newsreel clip of Mitchell defending his views on air power. The first segment of Disney's Victory Through Air Power is entitled History of Aviation and offers an animated version of aviation history that was broadcast and shown in schools. It tells the story of flight from the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, through the first transcontinental flight, into World War I, through the 1920s, the 1930s and up to the world at war once again. All of this is in a fairly realistic style of animation. Once the World War II segment begins, the powerful animated propaganda images take over and we are confronted with impressive battle scenes, animated maps, and even an American Bald Eagle attacking a dagger-wielding Imperial Japanese octopus! The final animated sequence depicts a strategic bomber force based in Alaska taking off in a highly atmospheric rain storm to bomb Japan. And "Sasha" Seversky is there to explain it all to us.

This is a marvelous piece of animated propaganda and Seversky's theories are still very interesting to hear, even though actual war-time events would soon catch up with them. This DVD set was produced in relatively small numbers, but is still available at Amazon.com. If you have an interest in aviation, military history, propaganda or animation this is a must buy!

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

From Tony Langley's War in a Different Light

Dogs At War

Click Here to Visit War in a Different Light

New John W. Thomason Manuscript Ready for Publication
By George Clark, Historian

Thomason Bio

Perhaps you have read John W. Thomason's Fix Bayonets? He is also the originator of the long sought after text The 2nd Division Northwest of Chateau Thierry (basically Belleau Wood), which was to be part of the 2nd Division's anticipated unit history. It wasn't for various reasons. It is thorough, includes many eye-witness accounts and is frequently critical of the leadership of the Marine Brigade.

I have managed to bring Thomason's final material to a publisher and it will be published in a few months. However, they will want to issue this desireable rarity in soft cover and I am working hard to convince them a hard cover is more appropriate. Would you send me you opinion to brasshat@surfglobal.net or George B. Clark, P.O. Box 358, Pike, NH 03780?

The following are thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Christina Holstein, Margaret Haas, Tony Langley, George Clark, Andy Melomet, Len Shurtleff and Susan Neeson. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.

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