May & June 2010

Access Archives

TRENCH REPORT: Well, your editor is off to Europe. I'll be leading a group to the battlefields of the Western Front and doing a recon of the Italian Front. This issue will be our last until July 1st. Hang in there -- keep sending me those news items, opinions, questions, and articles.    MH

This Month's Internet Feature

Researching Online

A little change of pace for this issue. Some of our readers may wish to use their computer for some in-depth systematic learning about the Great War. Of course, you can just start "googling" and find a lot of material. It's better, however -- at least when you're starting out -- to have a guide to get you pointed in the right direction. The search engine, I've discovered, has a group of well-informed guides to give such help to visitors. Their guide responsible for the Great War is their European history expert, Mr. Rob Wilde. When I discovered that he has done a fine job of organizing his section on World War I (full disclosure: he recommends a number of my sites), I decided to ask if he would like to be interviewed. Rob could not have been more receptive, and we conducted an email interview with him in March. Click here for the interview and access to the portal to the Great War.

Learn More About
Over the Top

Online magazine of the
First World War

Next Issue:
The Last WWI Dreadnought
USS Texas (BB-35)

New at Our Own & Our Friends' Great War Websites

Click on Title or Icon to Access

From Bradley Omanson, expert on World War I literature and the U.S. Marine Corps
Bradley has conceived and begun this terrific new eclectic Blog. Enjoy the aptly titled: From Jeffrey Lamonica, Vice-President of the WFA-USA
Using "Wetpaint" technology, Jeffrey has created an interactive site that has become a magnet for WWI images, videos and discussions. You can enjoy the contributions, but you must subscribe if wish to post yourself. Enjoy: At Great War Society Sites
At WFA-USA Sites

Question: What was the site of the most intensive mine warfare on the Western Front?

That honor goes to the Eparges Spur, a ridge in the St. Mihiel Salient that was contested almost from the beginning of the war until September 1918. Twenty-six mines were exploded along its 1.4 km length during that period. Visitors today describe it as mindful of a hunk of Swiss cheese with more holes than cheese. Christina Holstein contributed a nice article about Eparges in our October 2008 issue.

U.S. Poster
James Montgomery Flagg, 1917

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

National World War I Museum,
Kansas City, MO
(Program and News)
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

The San Francisco Film Festival is showcasing a New French/Belgian WWI documentary film 1914-1918: The Noise & the Fury at the Kabuki Theater, 1881 Post St., May 1, 2:00 PM and May 3, 9:00 PM.

Two forthcoming WWI flicks are creating a buzz and have exciting promotional Websites: Beneath Hill 60 (link) from Australia and the Red Baron (link) from German producers.

Correspondent Richard Vandenbruhl reports that the first-ever North American exhibition of noted expressionist and WWI veteran Otto Dix is being held at New York's Neue Galerie. It runs until 30 August. (link)

Some of history's greatest quotes get a little mangled over time. Professor Robert Hanks of the University of Toronto has tracked down at least two versions of Clemenceau's famous line about Woodrow Wilson.

The British political insider Lord Esher recorded in his diary on October 14, 1918 that: "Clemenceau said: 'God was satisfied with Ten Commandments. Wilson gives us fourteen.' " A slightly different version of this story made the rounds of London's clubland a fortnight later. On November 1, 1918, the Manchester Guardian reported that when a draft of Wilson's 14 points was presented to Clemenceau, he was reputed to have said: "Quatorze points, mais cela est un peu fort. Le bon Dieu n'en avait que dix." (trans: "Fourteen points: that's a bit much. The good lord had only ten.")

Page Two

The Caproni
CA. 36 Bomber

World War I Headlines
in the
21st Century

Missing British Soldier KIA Found through Relative's Detective Work

    New WWI Chemical Finds in Washington DC

       Fred Siegel on Woodrow Wilson and the American Left

          Scottish VC Hero Honored after 93 Years

             95th Anzac Day Commemorated at Gallipoli

A Double Feature This Issue:

1. Two Soldier Portraits from German Artist Ernst Vollbehr

L: A Hero from the Fighting along the Chemin des Dames; R: Hessian Soldier with Gas Mask and Steel Helmet

Ernst Vollbehr was born in Kiel in 1876 and studied painting at various academies in Germany. A born traveler, Vollbehr painted scenes during his many prewar journeys to such countries as Albania, Brazil, German West Africa, Cameroon, and Togoland. After the war, he continued painting in what where then faraway and exotic lands such as India, Ceylon, Indonesia, Hawaii, California, and many others.
2. Wartime Advertisements

L: British Chocolate; R: German Cognac

Seriously, you did not believe a mere war could halt the advertising industry, did you?
Click Here to Visit the Website of Our Contributing Editor Tony Langley
War in a Different Light

Speaking of advertisements:

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

Page Three
The Real Deal

Inventor John Browning (l.) with Winchester Arms Expert Inspecting the Browning Automatic Rifle
a Standard U.S. Weapon for 50 Years, Introduced in WWI

More by Our Readers

Five Recent Works Written by Trip-Wire Subscribers

In the past we have carried announcements and reviews for the books published by our readers. Last month, for instance, we had an item on Jackie Winspear's latest Masie Dobbs mystery novel. In this issue we would like to recommend five more works for you. Naturally, we are proud that all five authors have been longtime Trip-Wire readers.

The Russian Military Air Fleet in World War I
Vol. 1: A Chronology 1910-1917
(Vol. 2 forthcoming)
August G. Blume
Schiffer Books, 2010

Our late friend, August (Augie) Blume had two subjects that fired his imagination: aviation and the Great War on the Eastern Front. Before he passed away last year he delivered his two-volume work combining both his passions to his publisher. Vol. 1, now available, is a chronology of the development of aeronautics and aviation in Russia beginning in the earliest days and the eventual emergence of the Air Fleet, which is carried through to its dissolution by the Bolsheviks and the beginning of the Red Air Fleet in March 1918. There are also chapters on manufacturers, airmen badges, aviation uniforms, flight helmets, markings, flags and pennants, organizational charts, maps of the Russian and Romanian Fronts, and bibliography. (order)

Beginning of Futility, Futility Ending in Disaster, Disaster Ending in Final Victory (Three Volumes)
Gaetano Cavallaro
Xlibris, 2010

Dr. Gaetano (Guy) Cavallaro is the Chairman of the New England/New York Chapter of the WFA-USA. He has spent years researching the war on the Italian Front and has produced a monumental three-volume history of that aspect of the war in every dimension: political, social, economic, and military operations. All three volumes are available now. I just received my review set, but I have to say the volumes incorporate numerous photos and the best collection of Italian Front maps I've ever seen. In the provocative titles, "futility" refers to the 11 mostly failed Isonzo offensives. Caporetto is, of course, the disaster, and "final victory" entails the late-1918 resurgence of the Italian Army with Allied support. This link takes you to the order page for Volume I: The Beginning of Futility. (order)

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.: 1928-2010, A History
Holly Fenelon
Gold Star Mothers, Inc., 2010

Starting in World War I, families hung blue stars in their windows to honor members serving in the war and, when they lost a loved one, hung gold stars to honor those killed. In 1928 twenty-five mothers met in Washington, DC, to establish Gold Star Mothers, Inc. to support grieving families and provide services to wounded soldiers. The organization then lobbied and won support for the famous pilgrimages of the Gold Star Mothers to the graves of their sons buried in France and Flanders. Holly Fenelon tells the story of this vital, still active American institution in her new history. (order)

The Soldier from Independence: A Military Biography of Harry Truman
D.M. Giangreco
Motorbooks International, 2009

Harry S. Truman was commander-in-chief at one of the critical moments in American -- and global-- military history: when the decision had to be made to drop the atomic bomb. As to his military credentials, however, he is often dismissed as little more than a weekend warrior, the Kansas City haberdasher. The Soldier from Independence attempts to show that nothing could be further from the truth. The future president commanded a battery of French 75s for the 35th Kansas-Missouri National Guard Division of the AEF. His inexperienced division went over the top for the first time in the opening of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, which--at least until the Normandy Campaign of 1944--was the biggest battle America ever fought. His division had a very tough time of it, through which Captain Truman watched and learned. Author Dennis Giangreco served as an editor at Military Review, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS, for 20 years and has lectured widely on national security matters. (order)

Blood on the Snow: The Carpathian Winter War of 1915
Graydon A. Tunstall
University of Kansas Press, 2010

The Carpathian campaign of 1915, described by some as the "Stalingrad of the First World War," engaged the million-man armies of Austria-Hungary and Russia in fierce winter combat that drove them to the brink of annihilation. Habsburg forces fought to rescue 130,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers trapped by Russian troops in Fortress Przemysl, but the campaign was waged under such adverse circumstances that it produced six times as many casualties as the number besieged. It remains one of the least understood and most devastating chapters of the war -- a horrific episode glimpsed only previously but now vividly restored to the annals of history by Professor Graydon "Jack" Tunstall of the University of South Florida. Jack does a tremendous amount of work in World War I studies, encouraging research, speaking at our seminars and supervision the award of the Phi Alpha Theta Undergraduate Essay Prize on behalf of the WFA-USA. (order)

From the Archives --
Lew Ayres

by Andrew Melomet

When Lewis Milestone was casting for the lead role of Paul Baumer in All Quiet on the Western Front he was looking for "a brand new face." He considered several actors, including Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and the book's author, Erich Maria Remarque. None were right. But while Milestone was looking at test shots of the soldiers in the field kitchen he found his Paul. Milestone later said, "I watched this boy. It was not even a close shot, it was kind of mid-shot. But I liked everything I saw about this guy - I liked the way he stood, I liked the way he talked, and I liked the way he impressed the lieutenant with the justice of their demand." That boy was Lew Ayres (1908-1996). All Quiet on the Western Front was only his third film role.

Lew Ayres in His
Greatest Role

Compare to Vollbehr's Depictions Above
Lew Ayres's film career was nearly destroyed by his conscientious objection to World War II. He refused combat duty on religious grounds. He said that to bear arms would cause him "to live in a nightmare of hypocrisy." His films were banned from more than 100 theaters. Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, told him, "You're through in Hollywood." Ayres was currently starring as the lead character in the popular Doctor Kildare series produced by MGM. The studio actually polled the cinemas in key markets to determine if they should continue to release his films. The Doctor Kildare films continued, but Ayres was dropped after making nine films in the series, and crusty Doctor Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore) would eventually have new assistants in the remaining six films. In the early 1950s Ayres and Barrymore would be reunited for a radio series, The Story of Dr. Kildare.

Ayres's beliefs were only partially based on his involvement with All Quiet on the Western Front. He was deeply read in philosophy and religion. His beliefs were based on the New Testament and the writings of Romain Rolland and Leo Tolstoy. In a April 1, 1942 interview with The New York Times, Ayres stated that he believed in "The Christian creed of nonresistance to evil" and that he was "convinced that as like attracts like, hate generates hate, murder incites revenge, so charity and forgiveness reflect their kind, and the world's brotherhood will be made manifest not through economic experiences but through man's awakening to the irresistible power of love."

The April 6, 1942 issue of Time magazine reported that Ayres "was sent to an undisclosed camp in the West as a conscientious objector. The chairman of his draft board said, "We finally came to the conclusion that his objections to army service were sincere. That's about all there is to say about the matter." An open letter to Time magazine was published in the April 20, 1942, issue signed by John Huston, George Cukor, Mary Astor, Franchot Tone, Olivia de Havilland, George Oppenheimer, Walter Huston, Charles Lederer and Humphrey Bogart. It stated (in part): "There was nothing of either a seditious or treasonable nature in his words and action. Such being the case it is not within our own conscience to remain silent while so many voices are raised against a man who acted according to dictates of his conscience. As members of the motion picture industry we deny the representation that we are ashamed of Lew Ayres and that we would disclaim against him."

In the same issue Ayres was quoted as saying ". . .In my opinion, we will never stop wars until we individually cease fighting them, and that's what I propose to do. And I propose to proclaim a moratorium on all presumed debts of evil done to us, to start afresh by wiping the slate clean and continuing to wipe it clean. To hold no malice and so seek no revenge. To set our hearts in the right direction-and have confidence in God's beneficent wisdom to help us work out details."

Ayres actually wanted to serve in the Medical Corps, but the military would not guarantee his choice of service and he declared himself a conscientious objector (CO) when he was drafted in 1942. He explained that it was his belief that killing was wrong, but he did not "mind working with the army because you do have a tremendous problem with the Hitler situation, I can't deny these things. But I said as far as I'm concerned I couldn't kill, and I couldn't go into the army even on your side unless I did what I considered to be constructive work. [The Selective Service] said no you may not make that choice, you have to go where we will put you, and I said well then I won't go at all."

He reported to a labor camp in Cascade Locks, OR. Ayres worked in the camp for two months the Army relented, and he volunteered for noncombatant duties and was inducted as a medic. His precedent allowed other COs to choose to serve as medical personnel or in the Civilian Public Service (CPS). Those in the CPS fought fires, worked in prisons, mental wards and hospitals. Some were used a volunteer human guinea pigs for medical research. There were 42,000 COs who refused to bear arms. Twenty-five thousand would serve as noncombatant medical corpsmen and chaplains with the military. These non-combatant medical corpsmen went into battle unarmed. During the war Ayres eventually became a sergeant and served in the South Pacific, in New Guinea and the Philippines, as a medic and chaplain's assistant with a hospital unit. Ayres was often among the first medics to enter the combat areas to treat both wounded Americans and enemy Japanese soldiers. Some of his Filipino patients recognized him as Doctor Kildare. He made first-wave landings at Leyte and Luzon, served for three and a half years and was awarded three battle stars. According to Paul Fussell, author of Wartime and The Great War and Modern Memory, "The soldiers admired Lew Ayres, actually, because he was the most publicized CO in the country. [Ayres] was the one conspicuous CO because he was a film star. And the troops I dealt with thought he was terrific. They envied him. They wished they'd thought of it."

Lew Ayres Remembered
The November 5, 1945, issue of Time magazine had a brief mention of Ayres in their "Vision" section. It describes "His post-discharge plans: perhaps a go at writing, producing or acting in educational and religious movies, teaching men to understand one another." In 1954 Ayres took a world tour and wrote, produced, narrated, and financed the documentary Altars of the East (1955). He would eventually produce several documentaries on the world's religions. Altars of the World (1976) won a Golden Globe award. In the early 1960s he was offered the role of Doctor Kildare on television but turned it down due to the sponsorship by cigarette manufacturers.

For reasons of authenticity, Universal Studios purchased 250 genuine German uniforms and field accessories to be used during the production of All Quiet on the Western Front. The full kit included uniform, rifle and bayonet, gas masks, spades and cooking utensils. A canteen and gas mask used during the production are on display in The Universal Experience exhibit at Universal Pictures Hollywood.

Lew Ayres is buried in the Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park in Westwood, California.

When man understands, he no longer fears;
When he no longer fears, he loves;
When he loves, there is peace.

Lew Ayres

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