My Last Visit to the Western Front

Medal of Honor Tour
Commemorative Ceremony, Meuse-Argonne Cemetery

I have been back home for two weeks after leading two battlefield tours to the Western Front spread over 19 days. The first was for the families and friends of the most recent World War I Medal of Honor recipients, Sergeants William Shemlin of the 4th Division and Henry Johnson of the 369th Harlem Hellfighters. The second group of 38–my largest ever–made a comprehensive reconnaissance of the battlefields of the AEF. For my final tours, I couldn't have been more fortunate–the energy level, the enthusiasm, and the appreciation the members showed could not have been higher. It was simply a jolly, wonderful way to conclude my career as a battlefield guide. Of course, I had a lot of support in making this all come together. There is one person, however, I need to single out. Since 2006, I've been exclusively affiliated with Valor Tours, Ltd. of Sausalito, California. But anyone who has ever traveled with Valor Tours knows this really means I've worked for, and depended upon, Vicky Middagh, president of the company. So thanks, Vicky, you supported me in doing things the way I thought they should be done and you never let me down when we had those periodic crises, like lost passports, disabled passengers, or underperforming contractors. You were all I could have hoped for. MH

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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

League of WWI Aviation Historians Mid-Atlantic Chapter Meeting
   National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Washington, Dulles International Airport
27 October 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

General Louis Franchet d'Espèrey

Commander-in-Chief of the Salonika Front in 1918, his successful Vardar Offensive knocked Bulgaria out of the War and convinced Hindenburg-Ludendorff that the War could not be won. (See article on second page below.)

The AEF Tank Experience

The U.S. experience with tanks in the First World War was critical for preparing the new style of mobile warfare coming in the future. Do the names Eisenhower and Patton ring a bell?

American Armor in the First World War by Dale Wilson

Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces

The 304th Tank Brigade (PDF Document)

Patton's First Tank Attack (PDF Document)

Tank Training Center at Camp Colt, Pennsylvania

Ike and the Tank

Harold Roberts, 344th Tank Battalion, Medal of Honor Recipient

A Number from the Great War

This is the number of enemy aircraft downed by pilots flying the Sopwith Camel. This is more than any other Allied fighter of the war. (Please send an EMAIL if you have data on the equivalent aircraft for the Central Powers.)

The Ultimate Command

I don’t order you to attack. I order you to die. By the time we are dead, other units and commanders will have come up to take our place.

Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), Commander of the Turkish 19th Division, 25 April 1915

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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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Breaking News!

President Trump to Join in Armistice Commemoration in Paris

President Donald Trump will travel to Paris to participate in an 11 November commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced Friday [31 August].

"The President’s participation in this event will highlight the sacrifices that Americans have made, not only during World War I but also in the century since, in the name of liberty," Sanders said in a statement. From USA Today

The Bells of Peace
Has Become the Major Armistice Day Remembrance
in America

What Is It All About?

What is the National Bell Tolling?
Bells of Peace: A National World War I Remembrance is a national tolling of bells to honor those who served in the Great War. The United States participated from 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918.

Why should we toll the bells?
Tolling of bells is the traditional way to mark someone’s passing. On special national occasions, bells are tolled in honor of the fallen. 11 November is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended hostilities in World War I. In the war, 116,516 Americans died and over 200,000 were wounded.

When is the National Bell Tolling?
On Sunday, 11 November 2018 at 11:00 a.m. local time across the United States and its territories.

Where will the National Bell Tolling take place?
In communities, houses of worship, cemeteries, military installations, ships at sea–anywhere that Americans gather to honor their veterans.

Who is sponsoring the National Bell Tolling?
The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission is the sponsor. The Commission was created by Act of Congress in 2013 to honor, commemorate, and educate the public about American participation in World War I. The Pritzker Military Museum and Library, our founding sponsor, also endorses this event. Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion are partners, as are the National Cathedral and the Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. State World War I commissions and other partners are encouraged to co-sponsor and publicize the event.

How can my community group participate?
At 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, 11 November toll your bells slowly 21 times with a five-second interval between tolls. Groups that do not have bells can render the salute by other available means such as guns, cannons, rifles, and sirens. No bell? No worries. We are planning to create a special downloadable smartphone app that can be used privately or with public address systems.

Why is it important to toll the bells 21 times?
The 21 tolls of the bell symbolize the nation's highest honor. It is based on the 21-gun salute, whose origin is described here. We suggest you toll your bells 21 times and follow that with an individual toll for each veteran you wish to honor, stating their name before each toll. The ceremony could conclude with "Taps" or a solemn reading.

Where can I get more information?
At: At this link, you will be able to find suggestions for songs, poems, and other content you can use for your community event. You can also upload photos, videos, and information about your event and find links to education and other World War I Centennial information.

Service in Washington, D.C. on 11 November

The World War One Centennial Commission will be producing an Interfaith Sacred Service on 11 November 2018 in partnership with National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The program is currently under development. We are happy to share the ideas and the program elements below as they evolve to provide you inspiration and concepts for your own services. Meanwhile, please check the list below for ideas.

Prayers: Prayer of a Soldier in France by Joyce Kilmer, The Act of Remembrance Adapted from the Hebrew Union Prayer Book. Hymns: Eternal Father, Strong to Save (Navy Hymn), Amazing Grace, Battle Hymn of the Republic Music: Loeffler’s Music for 4 Stringed Instruments Poems:

  • The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak by Archibald MacLeish,
  • Hymn of Dead Soldiers by Walt Whitman,
  • The Death of a Soldier by Wallace Stevens,
  • There was a Crimson Clash of War by Stephen Crane,
  • Adieu to a Soldier by Walt Whitman,
  • The Children by Rudyard Kipling,
  • Recessional by Rudyard Kipling,
  • The Last One Down: Henry Gunther by M. Naylor,
  • Lament by F.S. Flint,
  • The Parable of the Old Man and the Young by Wilfred Owen,
  • Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon,
  • In Flanders Fields by John McCrae,
  • And There Was a Great Calm by Thomas Hardy (On the Signing of the Armistice, 11 Nov. 1918)
  • Grass by Carl Sandburg,
  • Soldier’s Dream by Wilfred Owen,
  • Perhaps by Vera Brittain,
  • The March of the Dead by Robert William Service,
  • Survivors by Siegfried Sassoon,
  • Does it Matter? by Siegfried Sassoon,
  • Rouge Bouquet by Joyce Kilmer,
  • Rendezvous by Alan Seeger,
  • For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon,


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  • 30 September 1918
    Bulgaria Surrenders

    Allied Military Police Detail in Salonika
    Britain, France, Serbia, Russia, Italy Represented

    The Salonika, or Macedonian, Front is mostly neglected today, except by specialists. But consider: almost all the war's combatants sent forces to the theatre; three quarters of a million men were deployed along its 170-mile front; even down to the 21st century it remains the greatest focal point of debate between the war's "Easterners" and "Westerners," and, undeniably, it was the front where the final collapse of the Central Powers began.

    Anglo-French forces began landing at the Greek port of Salonika on 5 October 1915. The troops were sent to provide military assistance to the Serbs, who were threatened by combined German, Austro- Hungarian, and Bulgarian armies. The intervention came too late to save Serbia, and after a brief winter campaign in severe weather conditions on the Serbian frontier, the Anglo-French forces found themselves driven back to a small perimeter around Salonika. At this point the British advised that the troops be withdrawn. However, the French, with Russian, Italian, and Serbian backing, still believed something of strategic importance could be gained in the Balkans.

    After preparing the port of Salonika for defense, the troops moved up-country. During 1916, further Allied contingents of Serbian, Italian, and Russian troops arrived, and offensive operations began. These culminated in the fall of Monastir to Franco-Serbian forces during November. A second offensive during the spring of 1917 made little impression on the Bulgarian defenses.

    Bulgaria Surrenders

    After Georges Clemenceau became premier, theater commander Maurice Sarrail was sacked in December 1917 and replaced first by Marie Louis Guillaumat and in the spring of 1918 by Franchet d'Espèrey, who had been advocating an offensive in the region since 1914. He proved himself the right man for the job by launching a series of decisive attacks that resulted in the surrender of Bulgaria on 30 September 1918.

    Despite the precipitous Bulgarian collapse and the abdication of King Ferdinand, Franchet d'Espèrey continued to advance in accord with the plan he drew up in 1914. Allied forces were to drive toward the Danube and Budapest. These dispositions did not coincide with either French or British policy and were bitterly opposed by the Italians who had territorial claims. The French public wanted immediate peace, not a continuation of war in the Balkans. Lloyd George pressed to have the British contingent hived off for a drive on Constantinople under the command of General Allenby. In the end, Franchet d'Espèrey was ordered to liberate Serbia while the British army with French and Italian elements under Lt. General George Milne advanced on Constantinople. The Ottoman Turks, however, capitulated before the British reached their frontiers.

    Sources: The Salonika Campaign Society; OVER THE TOP, August 2008

    Click on Title to Access Story
    Michigan Tech University Digs Deep into World War I

    The United States Navy in the Mediterranean During the First World War and Its Immediate Aftermath (PDF Download)

    New Interpretive Trail for the Battle of Mont St. Quentin (PDF Download)

    Rebuilt Renault FT-17 Tank in Action (Video)

    Ireland's German Internment Camp

    U-boats Off of Massachusetts

    San Francisco's Hidden World War I Memorial

    Home on Leave: British Tommies Remember Their Trips Home

    Re-enactors at the Verdun Battlefield

    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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