Thousands of cats served in the First World War -- as rat killers, as mascots for troops in the trenches, at sea, and elsewhere. War at its furriest.
First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers "On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
"The Wall Street Journal has selected 100 legacies from World War I that continue to shape our lives today." You can sort according to your interest via the tabs at the top of the page. [Previously]
The BBC will be covering World War One in great detail over the next four years. They've already started, with podcasts, interactive guides, online courses, programs new and old plus much, much more. Perhaps it's best to start at the beginning, with Professor Margaret MacMillan's Countdown to World War One (podcast link) or the account of her fellow historian Christopher Clark, Month of Madness. Of course, how the war started is still contested by historians, as recounted in The Great War of Words. The latter two are also part of the main WWI podcast. Or you can dive into the Music and Culture section, go through an A-Z guide or look at comics drawn by modern cartoonists.
One hundred years ago today, an age came to an end and a terrible war was spawned. On June 28, 1914, 20-year-old Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Duchess of Hohenberg Sophie, in the city of Sarajevo. This triggered a diplomatic crisis which metastasized into the first World War.
"Nevertheless, one lands the real killer blow against the rather silly ‘what if’ justification for the 'just' Great War by looking at its actual results. The militarist German-dominated Europe envisaged in the counter factual just mentioned would have been worse than the one that did actually eventuate, worse than fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, the Great Depression, the influenza epidemic … how, exactly? Surely a war allegedly fought to prevent one particular outcome but which, even when won, at the cost of millions of dead, produced an even worse situation is the very definition of pointless slaughter." -- In the wake of the Michael Gove led attack on the socalled "Blackadder view" of the First World War as a pointless slaughter, historian Guy Halsall does his best to pour cold war on their idea of WWI as a just war.
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
In 1916, Bone War veteran (and poet) Charles H. Sternberg loaded 22 crates of fossils from the Alberta Badlands onto the SS Mount Temple, intending to ship them to the British Museum of Natural History. They never made it. [via Dinosaur Tracking]
On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Lieutenant John Purvis risked court-martial by taking some snapshots of the battlefield. Now his photograph album has been put online. It gives an extraordinary insight into what it was like to be an ordinary soldier in the middle of the battle, marching up to the front, resting in the forward lines, taking cover as a bomb explodes, advancing into battle, watching a shell burst, digging into freshly made trenches, or moving forward over captured ground.
The Great War Archive goes live today (November 11), the 90th anniversary of the Armistice. Launched by the University of Oxford in March 2008, the initiative invited members of the general public to submit digital photographs, audio, film, documents, and stories that originated from the Great War. Although the dealine for submissions is past, photos can still be added to the project's Flickr group.
Voices and Music of World War I and Voices of World War II: Experiences From the Front and at Home both feature spoken word, sheet music and songs galore (all audio RealPlayer). The Great War site has plenty of stuff, but the core is the collection of songs, anti-war, patriotic, France-themed, Kaiser-knocking and so forth. The WWII site also has a whole bunch of music, demonstrating the changing mood of the US, from conflicted feelings about the start of the war to conflicted feelings about the atomic bomb. Among the artists are Nat King Cole, Leadbelly, Benny Goodman and Fats Waller. But in addition the wonderful songs there are newscasts, speeches, propaganda and other radio broadcasting of all kinds.
Famous, infamous, and interesting World War I draft cards, including The Bambino, Groucho, Moe, Satchmo, Scarface, and Sergeant York. [more inside]
On this day in 1915 the ocean liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat, which helped turn public sentiment in the US against Germany in The Great War. FirstWorldWar.com is your go to site for all things War to End All Wars related, from how it began to propaganda posters to maps to memoirs and diaries to the weapons and battles to audio and video and to the justly famous poetry of World War One. Also check out the feature articles and encyclopedia.
My Boy Jack. A heart wrenching story: "For Rudyard Kipling, the most famous author of the age, the carnage at Loos on the Western Front in September 1915 plunged him into inner darkness. His only son, John, for whom he had written his best-loved poem, If, had been killed in the action just six weeks after his 18th birthday." [more inside]
90 years ago today, whistles blew around the river Somme in France as British troops prepared for an attack on German trenches. By the end of the day they had suffered 57,470 casualties. By the battle's end in November, there were over 600,000 Allied casualties, with perhaps the same number of German casualties. The Imperial War Museum has launched an online exhibition, where you can find out more about how the battle was planned, personal stories of those involved, and myths about the attack. Elsewhere you can find copies of Army reports on the first day, look at film of the attack, diaries and letters home from the troops, go on tours of the trenches, listen to contemporary songs and music inspired by the battle, and see some more modern responses.