January 2014        

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Your Editor's Centennial Year One
New Year's Resolutions

In 2014 I resolve to do the following on all the products of Worldwar1.com:

1. Support all American efforts to commemorate the nation's experience in the First World War, whether by government agencies, private and nonprofit organizations, or grass roots groups.

2. Encourage in every way possible the funding and building of a National World War I Memorial.

3. As my own Centennial project, to honor and remember the nearly 5 million Americans who served or volunteered in the war and the 116,000 who fell, upgrading — with a new designing and additional content — our award-winning Doughboy Center Website.

4. Inspire all our readers, especially young people, to feel pride in their heritage, traditions, and the sacrifices of those who have gone before us.



Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the League of World War I Aviation Historians, "Zeppelin Postcards, the Halberstadt CL.IV, Triplace Aces. and More," Full Day Meeting, National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Saturday, 8 February 2014. (pdf flyer with details).

The National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO, has a current exhibit running on "The Road to War," running through April 2014. Website.

The MacArthur Memorial and Museum in Norfolk, VA, has a current exhibit running on "The 42nd 'Rainbow' Division in World War One," running through September 2014. Website.

The U.S. Air Force National Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, and the League of WWI Aviation Historians (OvertheFront.com), are collaborating on what will be the first U.S.-based mega-event for the WWI centennial. The League is scheduling its 2014 Seminar to correspond with the WWI Dawn Patrol Fly-In at the Museum in Dayton, OH, 24-28 September 2014. Mark it down on your calendar.

The 85th Issue of Our
Monthly Magazine of the
First World War

All of our back issues with many special extra features on CDs can now be purchased through PayPal.

(downloadable flyer)

The number of German warships scuttled at Scapa Flow, 21 June 1919:


Red Cross Poster

From the Library of Congress Collection

Little Known, But Important, Participants in the War

We pay tribute this month to some individuals worth learning about who are mostly forgotten except in their homelands.

Canadian Soldier and Politician, Sam Hughes

French Physician, Wound Specialist & Nobel Laureate: Alexis Carrel

Serbian Field Marshal Radomir Putnik

British Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (BBC Audio)

The German General Who Commanded the Turkish Victory at Kut: Colmar von der Goltz

New Zealand's Wartime Prime Minister, David Massey

AEF Intelligence Chief: Dennis Nolan

Youthful British Brigadier, Roland Boys Bradford, VC

Burial Service at Douaumont Ossuary

Former servicemen hold French flags during the burial of 24 French soldiers who died during World War I on 5 December 2013 in the Douaumont Ossuary on the Verdun Battlefield. The remains of 26 soldiers were discovered on 30-31 May 2013 in the cellar of a farm in the nearby village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont, which was entirely destroyed during WWI. Seven of the bodies were identified by their military identification tags.

It is one of the paradoxes of this [August 1914] culmination of the Anglo-German antagonism that neither had been seriously considering war against the other when the crisis began: Britain because it was preoccupied with the real possibility of civil war in Ireland, and Germany because its faith in a short-war victory made the involvement of the tiny British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and Britain’s formidable navy seem irrelevant.

Brian Bond, The Unquiet Western Front: Britain’s Role in Literature and History

U.S. Centennial Organizations & Resources


Detail, Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, MO

Centennial News Items:

Statement from the National World War I Centennial Commemoration Commission:

Monuments, Memorials to Be Registered, Revitalized

Across the nation, thousands of monuments and memorials to America's World War 1 efforts stand in city squares, cemeteries, parks, and public buildings. The World War 1 Centennial Commission will partner with Saving Hallowed Ground, the American Battle Monuments Commission, the World War One Memorial Inventory Project, and other organizations to identify and record all these monuments. The Commission will encourage local communities and organizations to perform conservation and preservation services to the monuments themselves, and engage school students and communities in researching and learning about the history of their monuments and about the stories behind the names inscribed on these Living History Memorials, to remind citizens of their meaning and the great deeds they memorialize.

Readers of the Trip-Wire are familiar with the World War One Memorial Inventory Project endorsed above by the national commission, we featured it in our September issue: (link)

Now, however, is a critical time for the project, which is just getting off the ground, so we would like to give Mark Levitch, organizer and president of the effort, a chance to address our readers directly:

Greetings to All for 2014,

As many of you know, I recently established a nonprofit corporation—the World War I Memorial Inventory Project—to document all of the World War I memorials in the US. The National World War I Museum in Kansas City has endorsed the project, and the newly minted US World War I Centennial Commission and I are discussing how we can make the memorial project a mainstay of the centennial program. The project has also received some nice publicity in various World War I publications, such as here in the Trip-Wire.

Click on Image to Expand

Jackson, Mississippi World War I Memorial

I've been fairly successful attracting volunteers and a modicum of buzz, but less successful raising money. Our concept seems to fall between the cracks for many foundations. I would not be so crass as to ask you directly to open your wallets — though if you feel so moved, you are more than welcome to contribute with a credit card via the website (or to send a check). But I feel no compunction asking those of you who might be Amazon customers to consider designating the memorial project the nonprofit to which Amazon will contribute 0.5% of the price of your purchases if you buy through their help-a-nonprofit site, http://smile.amazon.com, which is an exact mirror of the Amazon site.

You can designate the memorial project (World War I Memorial Inventory Project Inc.) at the AmazonSmile site, or you can choose the project by linking to the AmazonSmile site via the memorial inventory site: http://wwi-inventory.org (at the bottom of the home page).

Thanks for considering this. Happy holidays.

Mark Levitch, President (email)

VFW Magazine tells the story of how 11 November first became a national holiday 75 years ago (link).

Some late-breaking news came in over the holidays:

      The American Field Service, in partnership with National World War I Museum and the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute, has organized an exhibition: "The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919." It is scheduled to premiere at that National World War I Museum on 4 October 2014. More information will be shared here at the Trip-Wire as it becomes available.

World War I Mural at the MacArthur Memorial

In 1963 the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA, began a project to complete six 7’ x 13’ murals depicting the life and accomplishments of General Douglas MacArthur. Noted artist Alton S. Tobey was commissioned to paint these after grants were received to complete the massive paintings. One of these, titled "MacArthur in the Trenches," depicts the general's service with the 42nd "Rainbow" Division in the Great War. While a few details don't quite ring true (the British Mark-series tank looks a bit out of place and the troops were probably wearing puttees, rather than leather leggings), the painting does fine justice to the Doughboys, who are trudging with fatigue but looking very determined nonetheless. Also, MacArthur is well captured, dictating a dispatch to an aide, while looking, well, very MacArthur-like. Learn more about the murals at the memorial's outstanding website at: http://www.macarthurmemorial.org/m_m_mac_murals.asp

Right Click to See Larger Version

"MacArthur in the Trenches," 1966, Alton Tobey













January 1914
War Preparations Accelerate Sub Rosa

The crisis created in late 1913 by the Turkish-German agreement on a military mission to Constantinople (known as the Liman von Sanders Affair) subsided in January 1914, when Liman gave up his command at Constantinople to become inspector-general of the Turkish Army. Subsequently — unlike the preceding period since April 1911 that featured almost nonstop diplomatic conflicts and wars — early 1914 on the surface seemed confrontation free. Britain's Naval Chief Winston Churchill was signaling the dreadnought race had been settled in his nation's favor and French President Poincaré was dining at the German Embassy. After the convivial banquet the German ambassador reported that France's desire for military revenge was a stage that had passed. Peace seemed to be in the air.

September 1897 French Magazine Celebrating
the Alliance with Russia
This was completely misleading. The French and Russians, for example, were working tirelessly to reassure one another of their stalwartness and commitment to their alliance. The recent affair had finally convinced the Tsar and his ministers that Germany could not be trusted. They concluded war with Germany was imminent. Meanwhile, the French were worried that further aggressiveness by Germany, which they deemed likely, would undermine the fragile Triple Entente. Consequently, the French government felt a need to reassure the Russians of their resolve.

France began the year by approving a Russian request for an increase in the amount Russia could borrow for railway construction. This, of course, was motivated by a desire to strengthen Russia militarily, particularly in allowing accelerated mobilization for war against Germany. The French prime minister Gaston Doumergue, in need of a new ambassador to Russia, appointed the thoroughly anti-German Maurice Paléologue to the post. Upon Paléologue's departure abroad Doumergue gave him instruction: "War can break out from one day to the next. Our [Russian] allies must rush to our aid. The safety of France will depend on the energy and promptness with which which we shall know how to push them [the Russians] into the fight." Meanwhile, Tsar Nicholas was warning Paléologue's departing predecessor regarding relations with Germany, "We shall not let ourselves be trampled upon."

Well-Respected Work
on the Alliance
Finally, through another channel and possibly unknown to the French at the time, Russia was pledging support for Serbia should Austro-Hungary invade it in the future. Unbeknownst to the people of Europe the continent was creeping to war as understandings were reached that would guide or constrain the decision makers in the coming crisis following the Archduke's assassination.

Sources: Russians Origins of the First World War By Sean McMeekin

Flyers and application form for 2014 "Opening Moves" and
"Miracle of the Marne" Trips Now Available
(download pdf file here)

Click on Image to Send Email

Click on Title to Access Story
The 2010 Burial of United States Marine George Henry Humphrey (KIA 15 September 1918) at Arlington

History Net Review of: The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy, and America's Entry into World War I (Challenges received wisdom)

The Secrets of Kent's WW1 German U-boat

Recommended New Website: Forgotten Heroes: North Africans and the Great War, 1914 – 1919 (Downloadable Brochure Available)

Sacred Soil Ceremony Takes Place in London

Major WWI Exhibit at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from August 2014-July 2015

Amazing Robert Collie, Left for Dead at Passchendaele

Let Us Help Announce Your Local WWI Events & Discoveries!
(Email the Editor)

Guglielmo Marconi
Physicist, Inventor

Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time.

Guglielmo Marconi is best known for his pioneering work on the long-distance radio transmission. He is also famous for his contributions in the development of Marconi’s law and the radio telegraph system. Today, he is often credited as the inventor of the radio.

in Uniform

Marconi was born on 25 April 1874, in Bologna. He was the second son of an Italian landowner. He was at first educated privately in Bologna. As child, he had a great interests in electricity and science. His early scientific development was influenced by Heinrich Hertz. In 1888 Hertz had demonstrated that a person could produce and even detect electromagnetic radiation (now known as radio waves). Following Hertz's death in 1894 and his rejection by the Italian Naval Academy, Marconi joined the University of Bologna. Within a year Marconi sent longwave signals over a distance of more than a mile. In 1897 he went to England to develop his invention and set up the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company (better known as Marconi. In December 1901 he was able to send a signal from Cornwall to Newfoundland.

Between 1902 and 1912, Marconi developed a directional aerial receiver and a method of producing continuous waves. In 1909 he shared the Nobel Prize with Karl Braun for the development of wireless telegraphy. He was world famous by the age 35.

In 1914 Marconi became a senator in the Italian Senate. During the First World War, Italy joined the Allied side and Marconi was placed in charge of the country’s military radio service. He was commissioned in the Italian Army as a lieutenant being later promoted to captain and in 1916 transferred to the Navy in the rank of commander. He was a member of the Italian government mission to the United States in 1917 and in 1919 was appointed Italian plenipotentiary delegate to the Paris Peace Conference. He was awarded the Italian Military Medal in 1919 in recognition of his war service.

During his war service in Italy he returned to his investigation of short waves, which he had used in his first experiments. After further tests by his collaborators in England and an intensive series of trials conducted in 1923 this work led to the establishment of the beam system for long-distance wireless communication. In the 1930s he invented the microwave radio beacon and worked on radar.

Guglielmo Marconi died on 20 July 1937 from heart problems. Italy held a state funeral for him. As a tribute, all the radio stations worldwide observed two minutes of silence.

Sources: Nobel Prize and InfoAge Websites

Robert H. Goddard
Rocket Scientist

Just remember when you think all is lost, the future remains.

Robert Hutchings Goddard is considered the father of modern rocketry. Goddard was the first scientist who not only realized the potentialities of missiles and space flight but also contributed directly in bringing them to practical realization. Goddard had a rare talent in both creative science and practical engineering. The dedicated labors of this modest man went largely unrecognized in the United States until the second half of the twentieth century.

Goddard first obtained public notice in 1907 in a cloud of smoke from a powder rocket fired in the basement of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute physics building. School officials took an immediate interest in the work of student Goddard. The school’s administration, to their credit, did not expel him. He thus began his lifetime of dedicated work.

Robert Goddard
Liquid-Fueled Rocket, 1926

By 1912 he had explored the practicality of using rocket propulsion to reach high altitudes, even the moon. In 1914 Robert Goddard received two U.S. patents. One was for a rocket using liquid fuel. The other was for a two or three stage rocket using solid fuel. At his own expense, he began to make systematic studies about propulsion provided by various types of gunpowder. His classic document was a study that he wrote in 1916 requesting funds of the Smithsonian Institution so that he could continue his research. This was later published along with his subsequent research and Navy work in a Smithsonian Miscellaneous Publication No. 2540 (January 1920). It was entitled "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes." In this treatise, he detailed his search for methods of raising weather recording instruments higher than sounding balloons. In this search, as he related, he developed the mathematical theories of rocket propulsion.

When America entered the Great War, Goddard volunteered to help the U.S. military. Although slowed by a serious case of tuberculosis, Goddard conceived of and developed a rocket-powered recoilless weapon. He demonstrated the basic idea of what came to be called the “bazooka” five days before the Armistice in 1918 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. His launching platform was a music rack.

His greatest work was done in the 1920s and '30s when his work anticipated almost all the major technology of the Space Age. In World War II, Goddard again offered his services and was assigned by the U.S. Navy to the development of practical jet assisted takeoff and liquid propellant rocket motors capable of variable thrust. Robert H. Goddard died on 10 August 1945, four days after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan.

Source: NASA Website

The Editors Recommend
Two Great Books on the American Experience

This month, I'm very proud to recommend two works by military historians, who have supported my efforts to make the story of the American effort in the First World War better known.

Some of the readers may be familiar with my website, The Doughboy Center, which has earned a number of awards over the years and is now regularly cited in WWI books and other websites. This, of course, was not the case when I started out. Three military historians, however, proved to be very helpful and supported my efforts to earn legitimacy. One was Mac Coffman, author of The War to End All Wars, who is still a reader of the Trip-Wire, and another was the late Brigadier General Ed Simmons, Chief Marine Corps Historian.

The third was Brigadier General John Eisenhower, who died on 21 December. General Eisenhower was a very private person as far as I could tell; we never spoke on the telephone, our exchanges were via email exclusively. They were, however, most fruitful. For instance, I learned about his father's service with the American Battle Monuments Commission and particular interest in the St. Mihiel operation, and how it served him well during his "Crusade in Europe." I believe John Eisenhower was won over by my understanding that the victories of the U.S. Army in the Second World War were all predicated on its experience in the First World War. He eventually permitted me to republish several excerpts from his 2001 World War I volume Yanks as articles in my various publications. One important piece can be found here at the Doughboy Center. When I heard of his death I took Yanks off my bookshelf and started paging through it. It was just as readable as I remembered, and I had forgotten how helpful its maps are. Anyway, I hope you will have the pleasure of reading it yourself.

For years when I led battlefield tours of the Western Front, my visits to the site of Sgt. Alvin York's achievement consisted of driving down the main (and lone) street of the village of Châtel Chéhéry to a monument mounted in front of the town hall, stopping the bus there, and telling the group that somewhere on the other side of this building York had performed his great deed on 8 October 1918. Then one day upon arriving in the little Argonne community, I spotted a group gathered around a fellow with a big map unrolled, who was holding forth on what I suspected was a discussion of the activities in the neighborhood of a certain American from the state of Tennessee. My suspicion proved correct, and I was pleased to be introduced to the man with the map, Lt. Col. Doug Mastriano, U.S. Army. Doug embraced our group and restarted his presentation on the research he was conducting on York. Several things became clear from the start: Doug and his team had great maps, were using the latest technologies to research the site, and — this was his trump card — had gained access through his NATO connections to the German archival records of the units, York's 82nd Division was facing that day in 1918.

After the map presentation, Doug and his team took all of us over to walk what has come to be named the Alvin York Legacy Trail. Over the years, whenever possible, Doug (now a full colonel) or his colleague Kory O'Keefe taken time to travel from Germany to Châtel Chéhéry to accompany my groups on their visits to the York site. Over that time the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition continued their work. Since that day in 2006 when we first met, Doug and his team have confirmed the route of Alvin York that day, the location of all the German units, and the validity and remarkable nature of the achievements of 8 October 1918 by York. Furthermore, a historic trail has been dedicated with information markers and a memorial that allows visitors to follow each step in the action of that day. Now, Doug Mastriano has completed a biography of York based on his new research. (More on the Discovery website.) It will be published in March, but you can order it now through University of Kentucky Press or Amazon.com. This is must-read for anyone interested in the history of General Pershing's AEF.

A Bigger 'Ole
Lochnagar Mine Crater, La Boisselle, Somme Battlefield

(Right Click "View Image" or "Open Image in New Tab" to View Full Size)

When walking the battlefields of the Somme it is evident that most of the visible signs of destruction caused by the First World War have disappeared. The enormous Lochnagar Crater is one of the few surviving scars left on the terrain in this region. A monument to the devastation of war, this crater was caused by a 60,000-lb mine and is 100 metres in diameter and 30 metres deep. It is hard to capture its sheer size in a photograph (note the parked vehicles in the upper image). The land containing the crater was purchased privately for the Western Front Association in 1978 for preservation as a memorial to those whose lives that were lost in the crater as well as on the Somme. Commemorative ceremonies are held here every July 1st.

Sources: Australian War Memorial and Picardie Tourisme Websites

The Battle of Polygon Wood,
3rd Battle of Ypres, September 1917

Polygon Wood was named for its unusual shape. Positioned four miles east of Ypres, it was the site of the local rifle range, its most prominent feature being the Buttes, the area at the back of the range.

Fighting for Polygon Wood commenced in 1914 when the Germans advanced towards the wood, at this time defended by the British and the French. At this time it was covered with thick undergrowth which made it difficult to see, so when the British were advancing they were ordered to use only their bayonets, as rifle fire might endanger other allied troops. This situation changed considerably during later battles when the trees and undergrowth had been destroyed by artillery fire. During this early battle casualties were high with the British losing about one-third of their effective strength. Polygon Wood was to change hands on a number of occasions during the ensuing years.

Australian Rations Party at Polygon Wood, September 1917

The final attack by the allies in September 1917 became known as the "Battle of Polygon Wood." Its chief objective was the capture of the 'high ground' on either side of the Menin Road between Clapham Junction and Gheluvelt Village. The attack was to be from the South near Tower Hamlet to the North East of St. Julian, a distance of six miles. The attack was scheduled to begin at 5:50 A.M. The enemy commander had packed his troops in the area, aiming for either a victory or at least breaking any counterattack again his division.

Units of the 4th and 5th Divisions (1st Anzac Corps) were given the task of attacking and capturing the areas of Glencorse Wood – Nuns' Wood (Noone Bosschen), Polygon Wood, and the former German third line to the north. This offensive was to be the first time two Australian divisions attacked together side by side. The 4th and 5th Divisions attacked Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917 on a 2000-metre front. They encountered stiff opposition and the area was not taken until 27 September 1917. The allied troops whilst on level ground were up to their knees in mud and when they were in shell holes they sank up to their waists. The Germans made two attempts to advance along the Menin Road on 30 September and a further five on 1 October. They were unsuccessful, being held back by the Australians with the support of the British. The Australians suffered heavy casualties fighting for Polygon Wood with a total of 5,748 killed, wounded and missing.

Today Polygon Wood is the Site of the Only Australian Memorial in Belgium

Sources: AWM and Australian Defence Reserves Association

Thanks to each and every one of you who has contributed material for this issue. Until 2014, your editor, Mike Hanlon.
(Or send it to a friend)

Design by Shannon Niel
Content © Michael E. Hanlon