February 2010

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT: Going to Italy in 2011! The WFA-USA and Valor Tours, Ltd., of California, have jointly announced a comprehensive tour of the Great War's Italian Front, scheduled for July 18-31, 2011. Highlights include stops at all the major battlefields, commemorative sites, cable car rides to visit mountaintop positions, great museums, sites linked to notables like Rommel, Hemingway, D'Annunzio, and Vera Brittain, plus two days in Venice. Did I mention I'll be the tour leader? This May I am going to be driving the route myself and will include a report for our readers when I return. Send me an email if you would like to be on the mailing list for the brochure, which will be prepared when I return from my reconnaissance. (email) MH

This Month's Internet Feature

H.G. Wells & the First World War

  • Biographical Sketch

  • From Project Gutenberg: What Is Coming (1916 book analyzing the war to date and extrapolating)

  • Quotes of H.G. Wells

  • Wells's Argument for a League of Nations

  • Nine Predictions of H.G. Wells (Non-WWI Slide Show, but fun)

  • Churchill's Oratorical Debt to Wells

    The Real Deal

    U.S. Machine Gun, Hidden in Depression with
    Natural Camouflage
    Learn More About
    Over the Top

    Online magazine of the
    First World War

    Next Issue:
    The Siege of Antwerp, 1914

    New at Our Own & Our Friends' Great War Websites

    Click on Title or Icon to Access

    From "AEF_Guy":
  • AEF YouTube Slide Show
    Great collection of period photos to the strains of Over There.

    At Great War Society Sites
    Access all our content and the "Researchers' Tool Kit": At the WFA-USA

  • Australian deaths in the Third Battle of Ypres amounted to almost one third of the total casualties. Over 12,000 Australians died at Passchendaele, some 6,000 of them in October 1917. This was the highest monthly total of deaths in the AIF during the entire period of the First World War. (Journal of the Australian War Memorial)

    Dressing Station, Salonika Front, 1917

  • Soldat Jean-Louis Rouly , 138th Inf. Rgt.,
    French Army, Near Souain, Champagne

    Contributed by our friend and great-grandson of Rouly, Olivier Pierrard (insert), one of the founders of the Battle of the Marne Museum at Villeroy. His ancestor saw action in all the hot sections of France, including Verdun and Artois, and finished the war in Italy in the Piave sector. He served 1913-19, survived wounds, and received the Croix de Guerre.

    A World War I Event Calendar

    We continue to add important events to our WWI Calendar. There is simply more information than we can display here on the Trip-Wire. It is available for all, however, by downloading it from our Website.
    (download calendar as Word document)
    WFA-USA & TGWS Joint Annual Seminar
    September 10-11, 2010 (Date Change)

    National World War I Museum,
    Kansas City, MO
    Mark your calendar. Check back for details.
    Western Front Association
    U.S. Branch Chapter Meetings

    Check for Your Region
    Regularly Updated
    Great War Society Monthly Chapter Meetings

    Berkeley, San Francisco, and Palo Alto, CA
    Regularly Updated
    Upcoming Events at the National World War I Museum

    Kansas City, MO
    Regularly Updated
    Send additions/corrections for our master schedule:
    Email Response

    Media & Events

    For Researchers: I thought that researchers might be interested in what is available in the University of Mississippi archives. One item of note is the two-volume diary of John Nelson Merrill, an American officer who served with the Persian Gendarmerie and army during the Great War. How it arrived in the U of M archives is unknown. He was from Maine, had a West Point education, but did not graduate. He also served in the 92nd Division, AEF, but his diary does not reflect that service. Also available are the letters (9) of Pvt. Douglas Walker, Company C, 5th Machine Gun Bn, 2nd Division; Pvt. B.H. Hunt, Wire Company B, 114th Signal Battalion (15 letters); the Cosby family of Tupelo, MS, to Pvt. Elijah Cosby, MRS 303, AEF (30 letters). It is difficult, or so I have found, to find out what Great War archival materials (letters, etc.) are in state and local archives. All too often families who find these "old" letters simply throw them away. I have rescued many from the trash bins. I hope that this might be of help.
    --from our reader Prof. James J. Cooke

    My "To think that I might have died without reading this!" book of 2009 is the 1993 novel Birdsong (Hutchinson) by Sebastian Faulks. It is part of the strange but welcome flourishing of novels about World War One. Those who think, as I do, that the war -- breaker of nations and of empires; transformer of sensibilities -- was perhaps the most important thing that ever happened might go on to Pat Barker's trilogy of World War One novels -- Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and Ghost Road.

    Columnist George Will,
    American Spectator, December 2009

    Page Two

    The Legendary
    Sopwith Camel

    A sample of the great material found at the USAF National Museum Website

    World War I Headlines
    in the
    21st Century

    A 108-Year-Old Grandmother Who Served in the War

        Fromelles Soldiers Ready for Reburial

           Fallen Soldier's Medal Returned to Chatham Family

              Review of London WWI Play War Horse

                 Red Baron's Death Certificate Discovered

    Rare Image from the Eastern Front, Originally Published in Italy

    Belgian Armored Cars Deployed to the Eastern Front

    The official name of the unit was ACM -- Auto-Canon-Mitrailleuse. After the revolution in Russia it was withdrawn along more or less the same route as the Czech Legion and was evacuated from Vladivostok to San Francisco, after which it took a grand tour of the U.S. during the summer of 1918.
    Click Here to Visit the Website of Our Contributing Editor Tony Langley
    War in a Different Light

    (Click on image or email Mike Hanlon at greatwar@earthlink.net to request a brochure for Western Front tour or more details on the other trips)
    Subscribe to Our Online Magazine

    Page Three

    Proud German Rat-Catchers, Argonne Forest
    (The renown of our WWI Rat Photo Collection is spreading, and we are now receiving contributions from around the world. This is from Nelle Rote in the distant land of Pennsylvania, where the ferocious Nittany Lion prowls the countryside keeping their neighborhood rats under control.)

    Holger Herwig's
    The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World

    Reviewed by Len Shurtleff of
    Len's Bookshelf (link)

    Basing his judgment on 30 years of research, Professor Herwig has more than once asserted that the First Battle of the Marne was the most significant land battle of the 20th century. In The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World he reexamines that thesis drawing on Saxon archives released from Russian captivity only following the end of the Cold War. He looks at the Marne as part of a series of engagements fought simultaneously and largely independently of central command along the frontiers in Belgium, in the Ardennes, and Lorraine, and along the rivers Ourcq, Grand Morin, Petit Morin, Saulz, and Ornain flowing into the Marne. He also examines several myths about the "miracle of the Marne," including the role of Lt. Colonel Richard Hentch of the German General Staff, Generals von Kluck of the First Army, Von Bülow of the Second Army, and Chief of Staff von Moltke. In all, he finds the Anglo-French victory to be the result of good tactics and strategy rather than a matter of luck. Nonetheless, it clearly was a very, very close call.

    Professor Herwig,
    Longtime Friend
    of the WFA-USA
    & TGWS
    Along with an increasing number of scholars, Herwig sees that Austria-Hungary bears a large burden of guilt for starting the war, but he abjures assertions Germany intended world conquest from the outset. Instead, he sees expanded German territorial claims as coming only after the initial battles. Nonetheless, defeat at the Marne -- quickly covered up by Chancellor von Bethmann Hollweg and the German high command -- saved Europe from German domination. Their obfuscation for decades obscured the truth behind the German retreat: a flawed command structure, inadequate logistics, antiquated communications, and inept field commanders. German victory would have meant the subjugation of the Low Countries, German control of parts of northeastern France and its Channel coast, economic domination of all of Europe from Scandinavia to Turkey and the reduction of Russia to its borders under Peter the Great.

    As this is a work about the first two months of the conflict culminating in the fighting along the Ourcq and Marne rivers, it is fitting that Herwig also addresses the German campaign in Belgium, the destruction of the university city of Louvain, and other atrocities. He draws incisive character sketches of the major French, German, and British protagonists. And he gives us a glimpse of the domestic and international politics at play in July, August, and September 1914 when all the lights went out.

    The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World, Holger H. Herwig, Random House, 2009, 391 + xix pages, photos, maps, notes, index, ISBN 978 1 4000 6671 1, $28 cloth; a History Book Club selection. The author is Professor of History at the University of Calgary and Canada Research Chair at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. His book The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary (Edward Arnold, 1999) won the Western Front Association's Tomlinson Book Prize for 2000.

    From the Archives --
    World War I in Colour

    by Andrew Melomet

    World War I in Colour was originally released in September 2003 in the UK by Fremantle Media, the first of several recent documentary series on the Great War from the British. The producers of The Century of Warfare, Philip Nugus and Jonathan Martin, revisited their edited footage from that series and created new episodes for wide-screen televisions, fully colorized for contemporary audiences who can't bear to watch a documentary in black and white. So what went wrong here? The original footage was not restored or remastered, and 90+ years of dirt, grime, and scratches is still there -- showing up as black blotches and lines on colorized footage. The original aspect ratio has been lost with the tops and bottoms of frames removed to fit wide screen televisions.

    Charles Messenger, the historian and scriptwriter, presents a fairly standard version of the war with no new insights from Niall Ferguson's school of history. But some aspects of this six-part, two-DVD set are worthwhile. First, there is something fascinating about the colorized footage on those rare occasions when its condition is pristine. After all, the producers did try for accurate colors in uniforms, equipment, etc. When this comes together the effect can be startling. Second, there are numerous interviews with surviving veterans. Personally, I can never get enough of these. The impact of their horrific experiences is still there in their faces, voices, and emotions. Last, there is a seventh extra-feature episode, entitled "Tactics & Strategy." It uses the colorized footage with CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) to recreate the first tank vs. tank battle, the heroic Zeebrugge raid, the 1918 offensives, and other pivotal moments of the war. This style is familiar to anyone who has seen the military history documentaries from Cromwell Productions. If only the producers of World War I in Colour had made the entire series in this fashion. NOTE: World War 1 in Color [note spelling change in cover image] was released on DVD in the U.S. in May 2005 but is now out of print in the U.S. A Korean release is available on eBay, and Amazon.com offers one as well, but Caveat Emptor.

    Click here to download the 2004-2008 Index for the Nickelodeon
    with Updates on Availability of Films and Videos in the U.S.
    Check the Archives for 2009's reviews.

    Thanks to each and every one of you who has contributed material for this issue. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.
    (Or send it to a friend)
    (Or send us a comment on the TRIP-WIRE)

    For further information on the events of 1914-1918 and membership information visit the Directory Pages of:

  •      The Great War Society

  •      The Western Front Association, U.S. Branch

  •      Over the Front -- League of WWI Aviation Historians