November 2014        

Access Archives

Twelfth Anniversary Issue

Armistice • Remembrance • Veterans

Last month I shared our plans for continuing to honor those who served and sacrificed for us in the Great War. For this anniversary month let me simply share a photo with you that captures what we are trying to honor.    MH

U.S. Marines Parade at the Aisne-Marne Cemetery
Belleau Wood on Left Behind Memorial Chapel

The 95th 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)


  • Letters from War, Concert and Readings
    When: 7 November, 7 p.m. EST
    Where: National Cathedral, Washington, DC
    Content from the U.S. Center for War Letters, Music by the U.S Marine Corps Orchestra  Live Webcast

  • 2014 Symposium: 1914 - Global War and American Neutrality
    When: 7-8 November
    Where: National WWI Museum, Kansas City
    Sponsors: National WWI Centennial Commission, WWI Museum, WFA-U.S. Branch, WWIHA (Details)

  • World War I Centennial Symposium
    When: 14-15 November
    Where: Norfolk, VA
    Sponsor: MacArthur Memorial & Museum (Details)

  • Northern California WW1HA Annual Armistice-Remembrance Luncheon
    When: 15 November
    Where: Wedgewood at Metropolitan Golf Links; 11051 Doolittle Drive, Oakland, CA 94603
    Guest Speaker: Prof. Leland Erickson on French Tank Service in WWI Email Sal Compagno for details.


  • WWI: 100 Years of Impact
    When: 6-7 Feb 2015
    Where: Tampa, FL
    Sponsor: University of South Florida (PDF Flyer)

  • Local and Ongoing Events

    The interest in the Great War generated by the Centennial commemorations has led to an explosion of local events and ongoing displays of art and artifacts from the war. We simply lack the space here to list them all. Fortunately, however, the staff of the Centennial Commission has taken on the job of providing a listing of all these presentations they hear about. We will make their current listing available here for downloading and revise the document as it becomes available to us. Click HERE to download the current list.

    A November 1914 Headline

    San Francisco Call, 18 November
    (See article below on SMS Emden)

    The First Battle of Ypres

    The fall 1914 fighting around Ypres locked in the Western Front for 40 months, but today it is the least studied of all the major battles in Flanders.

    Overview from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Includes excellent campaign map and photo album)

    22 October 1914: Key Day at Langemarck

    31 October 1914: Key Day at Gheluvelt Chateau

    22 November 1914: Major Attacks Suspended

    Field Marshal Sir John French's First Ypres Despatch

    The Relief: Coming up to the front lines through the communication trenches which extend a kilometer or so. On these occasions little love is lost on "beautiful moon-light nights.
    Illustrator LeRoy Baldridge, from I Was There with the Yanks in France, 1918.

    Where Is the Armistice Document?

    See the valise under General Foch's arm? It contains the instrument that the Allied and German representatives had just executed earlier in the morning on 11 November 1918.

    For a quarter of a century, I have been frustrated in my every attempt to find the present whereabouts of that document. I am now prepared to offer a BIG REWARD to the first person who can: 1. provide the current location of it and 2. provide a means of my verifying that this is the actual location. To the first person who meets this test I am prepared to award the complete set of annual CDs for our monthly magazine OVER THE TOP, 2007-2014. This will include all 96 issues of the magazine plus dozens of extra features. First submittal that meets BOTH conditions wins. Email the editor at:

    PS: Please do not waste time telling us where it OUGHT to be or where it's RUMORED to be.

    Retreat? Hell, we just got here!
    Capt. Lloyd Williams, USMC, 1 June 1918

    Capt. Williams was killed in the ensuing battle for Belleau Wood.

    U.S. Centennial Organizations & Resources

    The Centennial Ticker

    News from the U.S. Centennial Commission

    Coming to Chicago

    The Commission is organizing its next meeting to be held in the Chicago area the first week of December. More information next month.

    Representing the Commission

    Chairman Rob Dalessandro, Vice Chair Edwin Fountain, Commissioner Jerry Hester, and Designated Federal Official Dan Dayton will all travel to France and Belgium for various WWI meetings and events.

    Commissioner Jerry Hester has been busy representing the Centennial Commission on two continents. On the right he and Mrs. Hester are showing the flag at the Dawn-Patrol Fly-In at Dayton this past September.

    In November he will represent the Commission at two events. On 6 November he will be in Paris at the National Assembly for the world premiere of Claude Ribbe's feature film "The Black Swallow," the story of WWI African-American Aviator Eugene Bullard. On Armistice Day Mr. Hester will represent the Commission to honor France's Fallen of the Great War at the 11 November ceremonies at the Notre Dame de Lorette National Memorial, site of France's largest cemetery on the Western Front

    Back in the U.S. Commissioner Libby O’Connell will attend a luncheon at the home of British ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott on 6 November. HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence will be present to mark the launch of the Centennial Commemorations of WWI. There will be a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery following the luncheon.

    The Centennial Commission Calls for Volunteers!

    Enlist Here to Help the Commission with the Centennial:

    Restoration Projects

    Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Project:
    Donations Needed!

    The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Working Group is encouraging those who have not yet contributed to the restoration fund to do so within the next month as the initial phase for the work is planned for early next year and funds are needed now.

    Click to Download the Brochure with information on the project and details on how you can contribute

    Château-Thierry Projects Announced

    The French Department of the Aisne, the French National Tourist Office and the Town of Château-Thierry France are constructing a new American WWI Interpretive Center, the gateway area for most of the American battle action during WWI.

    Stained Glass at the American Memorial Church, Château-Thierry

    Planning activities and fundraising are under way to restore the WWI American Memorial Church, located in the town square. American families are encouraged to aid in the restoration work. This church was built on the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in 1924 and paid for with money raised in America, notably Methodist Church contributions. It houses a stained glass window commemorating the long history of Franco-American friendship from Lafayette to generals of the First World War. (We will have more on how to contribute funds in future issues of the Trip-Wire.

    November's Big Event at the
    National World War I Museum

    2014 Symposium:
    1914: Global War and American Neutrality

    Your Editor will be at the event in Kansas City and I hope to meet some of you Trip-Wire readers there. Please say hello if you have a chance. The program looks to me to be outstanding. Below is some information from our friends at the museum.

    While Attending the Conference Visitors Will Have Full Access to
    All the Museum's Exhibits

    Examine the origins of, reactions to, and early confrontations in the First World War including the political, diplomatic, military, cultural, and scientific developments prior to the war that contributed to its outbreak. This not to be missed event is presented by the National World War I Museum and the U.S. Centennial Commission in partnership with the Western Front Association and the World War One Historical Association. Join speakers Christopher Capazzola, John Milton Cooper, Robert Doughty, Nicholas Lambert, Sean McMeekin, Michael Neiberg, Phillip Pattee, Dennis Showalter, Jay Winter, and others in a provocative exploration of European and American reactions in society and military on land and sea. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

    Registration Information at:

    Commemorative Activites

    There has been an outstanding surge of World War I commemorative Activities around the United States this fall. Here are three recent success stories, others will be presented in future issues. (Send material, if you are the organizer or sponsor of a similar event.)

    The New York Public Library has a remarkable program running until 15 February 2015 that draws on its own enormous collection of First World War resources. "Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind" explores the manner in which public relations, propaganda, and mass media in its many forms were used to shape and control public opinion about the war while also noting social and political issues that continue to resonate, such as freedom of speech and the press, xenophobia, and domestic espionage.

    An good cross section of the content of the program is also available online at:

    The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources partnered with the North Carolina National Guard to develop an exhibit for the North Carolina State Fair. The Fairgrounds is the site of Camp Polk, a World War I training facility. Over a million people regularly attend the fair. The exhibit featured a trench section, complete with sandbags, two well-equipped mannequins, a concealed rat (it was fun for the kids to find "Charlie"), barbed wire, and lots of dirt! The exhibit also featured 11 panels explaining the experiences of North Carolinians in the war, from the homefront and training grounds, to the experiences of our soldiers in Europe. Three artifact cases contained artifacts from the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina National Guard Museum, and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. A dedicated group of living history interpreters from the Great War Tar Heels assisted with day-to-day staffing of the exhibit, many in uniform and interacting with the public.

    The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the League of World War I Aviation Historians combined for a remarkable event in late September. Combining the League's Biennial Seminar, "The Centennial of Aviation Warfare, Part 1," with a two-day "Dawn Patrol Fly-In" drew huge crowds to the museum grounds on Wright-Patterson, AFB, near Dayton, Ohio.

    Visitors to the fly-in were able to view replicas of a whole range of classic WWI aircraft, watch aerial demonstrations, and meet soldier and nurse reenactors wearing authentic uniforms and displaying the weapons and equipment of the day. A repeat of the event in future years of the Centennial is hoped for.

    Let Us Help Publicize Your Centennial WWI Events & Research!
    (Email the Editor)

    November 1914:
    The Royal Navy's Blockade of Germany Begins

    Since the early 18th century, blockades had been a central and coercive element in British naval strategy. When war broke out in August 1914, the British government moved immediately to strangle the supply of raw materials and foodstuffs to Germany and its allies. This marked the beginning of the "hunger blockade", a war of attrition that lasted until Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919.

    Armed with contraband lists, British naval ships spent the war patrolling the North Sea, intercepting and detaining thousands of merchant ships thought to be harboring cargo bound for enemy shores. This aggressive display of maritime power aroused considerable anger in neutral countries, many of whom enjoyed strong trading links with Germany. Tension heightened after the North Sea was declared a British "military area" on 3 November 1914. Despite complaints about breaches of international law, however, most neutral merchant ships agreed to put into British ports for inspection and were subsequently escorted — minus any "illegal" cargo bound for Germany — through the British-laid minefields to their final destinations.

    Rare Photo of Royal Navy Boarding Party Approaching a Neutral Ship, 1914

    The blockade strategy worked effectively. As a memorandum to the War Cabinet on 1 January 1917 stated, very few supplies were reaching Germany or its allies — either through the North Sea or through other areas such as Austria's Adriatic ports, subject to a French blockade since the first month of the war. Germany attempted to counter the crippling effects of the blockade with a new weapon that seemed capable of subverting British naval superiority, the submarine. For much of the war, German U-boats were deployed only intermittently against neutral and Allied shipping. Their devastating impact — as witnessed, for example, in the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 — was offset by the international opprobrium that such attacks aroused. From 1 February 1917, however, the German naval command adopted a policy of "unrestricted submarine warfare". Despite initial successes, this high-risk strategy did not work. It provoked the USA into entering the war against the Central Powers and its worst effects were successfully countered by the convoy system. The blockade continued unabated.

    Clear on the
    Point of View

    Did the blockade starve Germany and the other Central Powers into defeat in 1918? It has recently been argued that this idea, a common assumption of First World War historiography, is mistaken. According to the revisionists, the German people often went hungry as a result of the blockade, yet few actually starved; the widely derided German system of rationing was, in fact, no less efficient than the systems used in France or Britain; and German capitulation in 1918 was precipitated on the Western Front, not among the discontented populace back home. Nonetheless, most historians still maintain that the "hunger blockade" contributed hugely to the outcome of the First World War. By 1915, German imports had fallen by 55% from prewar levels. Aside from causing shortages in important raw materials such as coal and various non-ferrous metals, the blockade cut off fertiliser supplies that were vital to German agriculture. Staple foodstuffs such as grain, potatoes, meat, and dairy products became so scarce by the winter of 1916 that many people subsisted on a diet of ersatz products that ranged from so-called "war bread" (Kriegsbrot) to powdered milk. The shortages caused looting and food riots, not only in Germany, but also in the Habsburg cities of Vienna and Budapest, where wartime privations were felt equally acutely.

    Children in a Berlin Soup Kitchen, 1917

    The German government made strenuous attempts to alleviate the worst effects of the blockade. The Hindenburg programme, introduced in December 1916, was designed to raise productivity by ordering the compulsory employment of all men between the ages of 17 and 60. A complicated system of rationing, first introduced in January 1915, aimed to ensure that at least minimum nutritional needs were met. In larger cities, "war kitchens" provided cheap meals en masse to impoverished local citizens or children. Such schemes, however, enjoyed only limited success. The average daily diet of 1,000 calories was insufficient even for small children. Disorders related to malnutrition — scurvy, tuberculosis, and dysentery — were common by 1917. Official statistics attributed nearly 763,000 wartime deaths in Germany to starvation caused by the Allied blockade. This figure excluded the further 150,000 German victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which inevitably caused disproportionate suffering among those already weakened by malnutrition and related diseases. Although the blockade made an important contribution to the Allied victory, many of its devastating side effects cast a long shadow over postwar German society.

    Source: British National Archives

    We Are Now Accepting Bookings for Our 2015 Centennial Tours:

    Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Tour
    Our 100th Anniversary of Gallipoli Tour to be conducted in collaboration with Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours of Australia is now full. We are, however, accepting waiting list requests, which require a deposit that is fully refundable.

    Western Front Tours — Full Combined Brochure Now Available

  • 2-10 May 2015: I will lead this tour and cover the 1914 and 1915 Battles North of Paris, including the Aisne & the Race to the Sea, the Siege of Antwerp, the First and Second Battles of Ypres, the Christmas Truce, and the French and British Battles in Artois. Deposits received by 2 November (extended to 11 November) will result in a 5% reduction in the tour costs. Full payment by Armistice Day will result in a 10% discount.

  • 15-23 August 2015: My summer centennial expedition will cover the Western Front Battles of 1914 and 1915 East of Paris in the Chemin des Dames, Champagne, Argonne, and St. Mihiel sectors, PLUS the American Battlefields of 1918 at Château-Thierry, Blanc Mont, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne. Deposits received by 15 February 2015 will result in a 5% reduction in the tour costs. Full payment by that date will result in a 10% discount.

    Download Flyers

    Gallipoli 100th Anniversary
    Western Front & AEF 2015 Tours

  • Click on Image to Send Email

    Click on Title to Access Story

    Historian Richard Rubin Continues To Do Yeoman Work To Ensure America's Role in the War is Not Forgotten

    American Memorials in France (Repeat from Last Month — Don't Miss It)

    Where Americans Turned the Tide in World War I

    2013 Lecture on His Book The Last of the Doughboys (Pritzker Library Video)

    Guilt Trip: Versailles, Avant-garde & Kitsch (Great Out-of-the-Box Thinkpiece)

    The First World War's Relevance to Our Times (Flip Carroll Would Have Liked This One)

    For Miners, the Trenches Were Seen as an "Escape from Hell"

    How the First World War Changed the Movies

    Those Literary Marines

    The Marine Brigade of the AEF's 2nd Division left a remarkable literary legacy. Here are four of their most remembered:

    A Doughboy Catches the Flu

    The Adventures of an American Doughboy
    I was sent back to the hospital at Toul in October, 1918, sick with the famous "flu." I was kept there two days, transferred to a hospital train and taken clear across France to the Beau Desert Hospital, a few miles from Bordeaux. There the "flu" developed into pneumonia and then empyema (pus abscesses between the lung and chest walls) and I lay there for five months between life and death.

    This hospital was built of cement and had very little heat in it and sometimes the cold was intense. It was hard to be sick and cold too — but we made the best of it, and say, we had the best bunch of nurses. They did everything in their power to make us well and happy — they always had a new joke for us to laugh at. Laughing helped like thunder; it was so easy to be blue in France every time you thought how wide the ocean was.

    One of our nurses was such a dear. Every morning when she reported for duty — she always greeted us with a "How are you, my dear children," and somehow, I always felt better — she was so like a mother to us.

    The overseas Red Cross Nurses underwent a great many hardships too. The field hospitals were near the front, and sometimes under fire. Many times I have seen German planes bombing our field hospitals — without any excuse for the outrage, four large Red Crosses were painted on the roofs of the hospitals, plainly visible from an aeroplane.

    Sometimes, too, the nurses had to live on the same kind of grub that we did — just plain "canned Willie" and hardtack, but they never grumbled. They deserve a special niche in history.

    The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and the Knights of Columbus were so good to us at the front and in the hospital. While we were lying in bed, death staring us in the face, they did far more than we ever expected them to. They brought us practically everything we asked for. Uncle Sam's boys will always have a warm spot in their hearts for these institutions and no one who ever donated anything to these organizations need regret it.

    After five months of terrible suffering at Beau Desert Hospital I had the choice of staying there until well or coming home. I couldn't see that there was any choice — home was dearer to me than heaven — so I took the chance. If I didn't last thru — at least I'd be buried in my own country.

    We were loaded onto a hospital ship — at least, the officers called it that. It was an old English boat called the Henderson and she was supposed to make the voyage in ten to twelve days. We went by the southern route, by the Azores, hoping to avoid the storms, but we ran into one after another— each worse than the last until I thought the ship would turn turtle. The drainage tube in the abscess in my side was so long that every roll of the ship drove it farther into my side and the 19 days that it took to cross the ocean seemed like 19 years. I was sent for 11 days to the Debarkation Hospital in New York. The people of New York gave us royal treatment, took us out for long automobile rides, to the theatres, etc., and did everything they could for us. They made France and its horrors seem far away.

    Flu Ward at Camp Funston, KS, Where It Is Believed the Pandemic Originated

    On March 1st, 1919, I was sent to the Base Hospital at Camp Lewis, Washington. All along the route, the Red Cross Chapters of each town and city met us, and nearly killed us, giving us so much to eat, and so much to smoke. I never had any idea that there were so many kind women in the world.

    At Camp Lewis, I stayed in the empyema ward until my discharge on the 29th of June, 1919. In my estimation, the hospital at this camp had the finest staff of officers in the army. I had begun to think I would never get well — but my recovery under their care was fairly rapid and thanks to them, I am well today — perhaps, not as well as before my enlistment, but as a doughboy once said, "As long as we're alive, we should worry."

    Camp Lewis Hospital had a great many visitors then, who brought us flowers, candies, cakes, and everything. Some came out of curiosity to hear the stories from overseas — but sick men don't like to talk — and some came to cheer us up.

    There was one woman who will remain in my memory forever. She rarely missed a day in coming to our ward, and she always came with a smile — one that seemed to say, "You're all going to get well." She nursed us all in her happy, motherly way, and made us all well. She was Mrs. Hiram Tuttle of Tacoma, Washington, and she was known as the Mother of Ward 81 at the Base Hospital. The boys of 81 will never forget her.

    I was in France 15 months — ten months on the firing line with the shock troops, and five months in the hospital. I spent nine months [total] in the hospital. Altogether I was in the army two years and three months, and I'd willingly do it again, if our Country needed me.

    William Brown, 9th Infantry, 2nd Division, AEF

    SMS Emden — The War's Greatest Surface Raider

    Emden at Sea

    SMS Emden was a cruiser that, at the start of the First World War, formed part of the German East Asiatic Squadron of Admiral von Spee. She was detached to stalk the shipping routes across the Indian Ocean and quickly became the scourge of the Allied navies. Between August and October 1914, Emden captured or sank 21 vessels.

    Emden's Commanding Officer
    Capt. Karl von Müller
    By November 1914, nine Allied vessels were involved in the hunt for Emden, and the threat she posed led to a particularly heavy escort of four warships being allocated to the first Australian and New Zealand troop convoy. Surprised by one of these escorts, HMAS Sydney, while in the process of destroying the British radio station on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Emden was destroyed on 9 November 1914.

    The Emden's captain, Karl von Müller, is remembered as one of the great naval commanders of the war. He combined elusiveness with humanity by first ensuring the safety of those crews whose ships he sank. When the Emden was lost Müller was captured and spent most of the war in captivity. He was repatriated to Germany, suffering from ill health, in October 1918, but passed away in 1922.

    Sources: Website of the Australian War Memorial and Who's Who in World War I

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

    Design by Shannon Niel
    Content © Michael E. Hanlon