July & August


My Last Trip "Over There"

This issue of the Trip-Wire will again have to cover two months to allow for my final two tours of the Great War's battlefields. The next issue should be ready on or about 1 September 2018. Our readers probably know about my long-planned comprehensive AEF expedition since I've been advertising it here for over a year. I've been looking forward to it, of course. It's a very large group and it has a unique itinerary. I've promised the participants that I would see to it that they would be able to visit the very sites their family members served. The program is designed around visiting those sites.

Also, I haven't mentioned it before, but prior to the AEF group, I'm also leading a private tour. You might recall that in 2015 two Doughboys, Sergeants William Shemin of the 4th Division and Henry Johnson of the Harlem Hellfighters were awarded Medals of Honor almost a century after their deeds. Last year, after I had announced that this would be my last year leading tours, I was approached to organize a tour to the Medal of Honor sites of the two heroes for their family and friends. I just couldn't say no to the request. So I took on one additional group before retiring. As you can see I'm going to be pretty busy the next couple of months. All of you have a great summer, though. I'll tell you all about my last trips when I get back. MH

Presenting the 139th Issue of Our
Monthly Magazine of the First World War
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Echoes of the Great War
   Library of Congress
Washington, DC
Thru January 1918

USMC WWI Historical Symposium
   Marine Corps University
Quantico, VA
18-20 July 2018

League of WWI Aviation Historians Seminar
"Dedication and Remembrance" – Centennial of Aviation Warfare

   National Museum of the USAF
Dayton, OH
19-21 September 2018
Details: HERE

2018 Symposium – 1918: Crucible of War
   National WWI Museum & Memorial
Kansas City, MO
1-3 November 2018
Registration & Details: HERE

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Portrait of the Month

Ulysses Grant McAlexander (1864-1936)
"Rock of the Marne"

As commander of the 38th Infantry, 3rd Division, AEF led the defense at the Marne River line that helped break the last German offensive of WWI on 15 July 1918.

Tanks in 1918

By 1918, tanks, at least for the Allies, were contributing to operational successes. They were not yet the decisive war-winning technology, but their improvement in design and tactical operations from the first attacks in the Somme in September 1916 was clear to observers.

First Tank vs. Tank Battle, 24 April 1918

The British Mark V Tank

The Renault FT-17 French Tank

Australian Corps' Use of Tanks at Le Hamel

The U.S. 304th Tank Brigade (PDF Document)

Canadian Corps Use of Tanks in "Not Glamorous, But Effective. . ." (PDF Document)

A Number from the Great War
12 Million

This is the highest number of letters delivered to British Army soldiers during the Great War by Great Britain's General Post Office per week.

Source: BBC & British Postal Museum

Letter from Brixton Prison

. . Existence here is not disagreeable, but for the fact that one can’t see one’s friends. That one fact does make it, to me, very disagreeable — but if I were devoid of affection, like many middle aged men, I should find nothing to dislike. One has no responsibilities, and infinite leisure. My time passes very fruitfully. In a normal day, I do 4 hours philosophical writing, 4 hours philosophical reading, and 4 hours general reading – so you can understand my wanting a lot of books. . . I shall be glad when it is over! I have given up the bad habit of imagining the war may be over some day. One must compare the time with that of the Barbarian invasion.

Bertrand Russell, 3 June 1918

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A Concise Summary of the Major U.S. Military Operations of the War with Illustrations, Maps and GPS Navigational Aids
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U.S. Centennial Organizations & Resources
















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The Centennial Ticker

America's Military Services Are Honoring the
World War I Centennial

Naturally, the nation's armed forces are highly visible at all the commemorative events associated with the 100th anniversary of the war. Our readers, however, might not be aware of the resources that each of the services are making available for free on the Internet. These are usually produced by the services' history branch and/or museum and include fresh historical interpretations of their operations in the war, lots of illustrations and photos, and the republication of some classic works. Here's a brief survey of some of the best of what's available. The services are listed by their date of founding.

U.S. Army

The U.S. Army Center for Military History has released four volumes in their new series of WWI brochures that will eventually cover the entire war. Above is one of the covers. The works are very informative and well-illustrated, using Signal Corps photos and official U.S. Army artwork from the war. They can be downloaded as PDF documents from the address below. Currently available are the works covering up through Cantigny and operations around Château-Thierry.
       Download Page: Here

Also available from the Army Center for Military History as a pdf document is the classic American Armies and Battlefields in Europe. originally produced by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It is a combination history, atlas, touring guide, and photo album for the AEF and includes much information about the Naval and Marine contributions to the war in Europe.
       Download Page: Here

U.S. Navy

The Navy History and Heritage Command has created a one-stop website for its centennial commemorations. Its "Tool Kit" provides full access to the Navy's collection of documents, data on ships and aircraft, key personnel, and on and on.
       Download Page: Here

In addition, the History and Heritage Command has produced a remarkable 255-page chronology of naval activities during the war. Authored by Frank A. Blazich, Jr., it's titled United States Navy and World War I: 1914–1922.
       Download Page: Here

U.S. Marine Corps

The Marine Corps Museum and History Division have collaborated on providing an enormous amount of information on the Corps' WWI service at a number of Marine and Navy sites.
       USMC Centennial Page: Here

       USMC Museum WWI Page: Here

       USMC WWI Chronology: Here

Also available is a classic Marine Corps history document from the 1920s, The United States Marine Corps in the World War.
       Download Page: Here

U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office has an excellent website which includes information on the Coast Guard's service overseas during the war, and–since it is presently part of the Department of Homeland Security–interesting material on the World War I service of its current sister agencies in the Department like the Secret Service and Customs.
       Download Page: Here

A concise summary of Coast Guard activities during the war has also been made available.
       Download Page: Here

U.S. Air Force

The Centennial retrospective effort for the Air Force (they use "Centenary") has been led by its National Museum and its academic branch, the Air University. The website of the Air Force Museum has access to a lot of good articles and the multi-volume official history of the Air Service, but it doesn't provide one-click access to most of the museum's tremendous database on aircraft, aviators, and operations. The home page search engine has to be engaged to find many of the museum's Great War "gems."
       Download Page: Here

Dr. Bert Frandsen of the Air University has provided an excellent overview of the American air war, The Birth of American Airpower in World War I.
       Download Page: Here

17 July 1918
Tsar Nicholas II and His Family Are Murdered
by Bolsheviks

The Royal Family, Date Uncertain

The mounting pressures of World War I, combined with years of injustice, toppled the rule of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917. Forced to abdicate, he was replaced by a Provisional Government committed to continuing the war.

Increasing losses at the front and the fear of a German advance on Petrograd eroded what little support remained for the war and undermined the Provisional Government's authority. Capitalizing on this situation, the Germans secretly transported the exiled Vladimir Lenin in a sealed train from Switzerland to Russia in the hope he would enflame the turmoil. German expectations were realized on the night of 6-7 November when Trotsky managed the Bolsheviks successful attempt to grab the reins of power in Petrograd. Anti-Bolshevik forces (the White Russians) immediately took up arms to oust the Communist regime and Russia was plunged into a brutal civil war. The following March the Communist regime signed a treaty with the Germans ending Russia's participation in World War I.

Site of the Murders
Damage Due to Investigators Searching for Bullets

Against this backdrop of political chaos, the Tsar and his family were initially kept as prisoners at Tsarskoe Selo and then transported beyond the Ural Mountains, to Tobolsk for some months, finally ending up in the town of Ekaterinburg in the spring of 1918. The seven members of the imperial family and their small retinue were confined to the house of a successful local merchant, N. N. Ipatiev, which had been commandeered by the Bolsheviks for this purpose.

By mid-July, a Czech contingent of the White Army was approaching Ekaterinburg and the sounds of gunfire could be heard in the distance by the royal prisoners and their Bolshevik captors. The arrival of their potential liberators sealed the fate of the Tsar and his family.

During the early morning hours of July 17 the Tsar, his wife, children, and servants were herded into the cellar of their prison house and executed.

Sources: "The Execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918," Eyewitness to History,(2005); Beinecke Collection Yale University.

Click on Title to Access Story
Review of The Struggle for the Soul of the West

Remains of Canadian Soldier from WWI Found in France

The Story of the Islay Island Stars and Stripes Flag

Imperial War Museum's "Photos from the Trenches"

Centernary of Foch's Rise to Generalissimo Remembered

Camp Hancock, Augusta, GA, Interactive Map and Photos

The Great Achievements of the Red Cross in WWI

Mini-Controversy of Monash's Involvement at Villers-Bretonneaux

How Did WWI End?

Four Most Hardcore Shock Troops

Thanks to each and every one of you who has contributed material for this issue. Until our next issue, your editor, Mike Hanlon.
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Content © Michael E. Hanlon