One hundred years ago, the last Allied day at Gallipoli. "The evacuation had been carried out brilliantly, of that there can be no doubt." (Peter Hart) After months of agonized fighting between forces from multiple nations, the Allies withdrew from Gallipoli, ending one of WWI's most remembered and discussed campaigns. One hundred years ago today the last British soldiers left the peninsula, leaving behind booby traps, animals dead and alive, material destroyed and as booty, and the victorious Turks. [more inside]
Extra History: The Seminal Tragedy (2, 3, 4), wherein Extra Credits' history subseries (previously) takes us into the series of coincidences, missed saves, miscommunications and bad decisions that led the world improbably into The Great War. (Bonus: Corrections, Retractions, and Lies!)
When Britain entered the war in Europe in 1914, it wasn't a sufficiently existential threat for Parliament to authorize a draft, so enlistment in the armed services was still voluntary. To "encourage" enlistment, Vice-Admiral Charles Penrose-Fitzgerald organized a group of women known as the Order of the White Feather. Their task -- to hand a white feather to any military-aged man they saw out of uniform. [more inside]
On this day one hundred years ago, the German army executed Edith Cavell. She was a British nurse who had worked in Belgium before the First World War, and then helped Belgian, French, and British men escape the country during the German occupation. A military court found her guilty of actively aiding the enemy in wartime, and ordered her execution. [more inside]
First Wave at Omaha Beach On June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded occupied France. S. L. A. Marshall Nov. 1, 1960 [The Atlantic]
When he was promoted to officer rank at eighteen, S. L. A. Marshall was the youngest shavetail in the United States Army during World War I. He rejoined the Army in 1942, became a combat historian with the rank of colonel; and the notes he made at the time of the Normandy landing are the source of this heroic reminder. Readers will remember his frank and ennobling book about Korea, The River and the Gauntlet, which was the result of still a third tour of duty.
"She was outclassed in everything except bravery" In April 1915 the Russian empire was on the verge of entering Hungary, having taken the great fortress of Przemyśl. But in May a German-led surprise offensive cracked Russian lines, shattering entire armies and causing a 300-mile retreat in what was probably "the greatest victory of World War I by the Central Powers". Nearly one million prisoners were taken. Moscow lost the ruins of Przemyśl and all of Poland. For the next two years Russia will struggle but ultimately lose, tsardom falling to revolutions and the rise of the Soviet state. [more inside]
"The new dawn lights the eastern sky; Night shades are lifted from the sea": British and French ships entered the Dardanelles and opened their attack on Turkish forces, one hundred years ago today. This bold naval assault, planned by Winston Churchill, will falter, leading to the brutal Gallipoli campaign, an Allied defeat and Turkish triumph. [more inside]
"Look around Endell Street in Holborn today and you could be forgiven for thinking it just an average London street. But one hundred years ago this year, this non-descript spot just off of Shaftesbury avenue was home to an important, and now near-forgotten, part of British history – the Endell Street Military Hospital, the first British Army hospital staffed, and managed, entirely by women.”In WW1 Dr Flora Murray and Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson (daughter of the first Englishwoman to qualify as a physician) were determined to show that there was a place in military medicine for women. This is the story of the Women’s Hospital Corps and the now-forgotten pioneering London hospital they founded.
Joseph Roth and the End of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
No standard biography of Roth exists in English, but this collection of his letters, superbly translated and judiciously edited by long-time Roth advocate Michael Hofmann, provides a more intimate portrait than any biography could. Roth’s letters are a study in authorial candor: in vino veritas, at least in part, for some of them were composed while he was drunk, getting that way, or hungover—the grim trinity that dominated his life more and more until he died of it, plus weltschmerz, in Paris in 1939. He was just short of 45 and had come a long way to die so young. He left behind one masterpiece, The Radetzky March, in which, in a series of vivid set-pieces, he evokes the reality of life high and low during the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s long decline, a vast theme encapsulated in the Trotta family, who ascend to nobility and imperial favor from provincial origins on the obscure fringes of the realm.[more inside]
This podcast, called "The First World War in 261 weeks," began in June and will run for five years, recounting every week's main events.
Links to the podcast:
Stitcher [more inside]
Links to the podcast:
Stitcher [more inside]
The Great Dorset Steam Fair [previously] WW1 commemorative convoy from Bovington Camp to Tarrant Hinton, on 16th August 2014, arrives at the roundabout in front of the Bryanston School Gates. Featuring McLaren road locomotives Gigantic and Boadicea towing an A Holt artillery tractor followed by a Foden steam lorry
UK supermarket Sainsbury's is pulling heartstrings with its 2014 Christmas ad "Christmas is for Sharing," which draws from the true story of the 1914 Christmas truce and football match between British and German troops in World War I. Sales of chocolate bars featured in the ad will benefit the Royal British Legion. The ad has garnered some glowing feedback, including positive comparisons to another popular 2014 Christmas ad with a charity tie-in, John Lewis' "Monty the Penguin." But others are less impressed.
British Pathe has made a silent film dramatizing the First Battle of Ypres available on their website. They have cataloged all of their WWI films. Personal favorites are: "Wounded Horses Recover" and "Horse Breaking by American Cowboy Soldiers".
This may be the best War of the Worlds movie ever made, and it's barely three minutes long. And it's not exactly doing HG Wells per se. It's a trailer for or clip from The Great Martian War 1913-17, which concerns "the catastrophic events and unimaginable horrors of 1913-17, when Humankind was pitted against a savage Alien invasion." The video seems to use a mix of reenactors, period film, and f/x. (SLVimeo) [more inside]
On this day one hundred years ago, Imperial German soldiers who had peacefully arrived in the Belgian city of Leuven (Fr: Louvain), having taken hostages and accepted the parole of its mayor on behalf of its citizens, without warning set fire to the city and massacred its inhabitants forever altering the city, its university's library, and the course of the war.
Belgian Judicial Report on the Sacking of Louvain in August 1914 The destruction and rebuilding of the Louvain Library: claim and counterclaim
The history of soccer in the First World War — which began in earnest 100 years ago this month — is a history of two worlds in unresolvable tension. It’s the story of a failed metaphor. Soccer in Oblivion.
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.
14-18 NOW is a project commissioning contemporary artists to commemorate the centennial of the First World War and explore its resonance and effects today. For three summers (2014, 2016, and 2018), the organization is presenting a summer season of events. This summer's opening act was curated by Billy Bragg at Glastonbury; live performances can be found on the site. Other events include a radio series of essays on the theme of Goodbye to All That, cartoons, recreating Dazzle Ships, and letters to an unknown soldier (including the opportunity to write your own).
From his time in Cairo, Lawrence was aware of the extravagant promises the British government had made to Hussein in order to raise the Arab Revolt: full independence for virtually the entire Arab world..............His first act of sedition — and by most any standards, a treasonous one — was to inform Faisal of the existence of Sykes-Picot.....The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia . Previously and Previously
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.
Operation War Diary is the newest crowdsourced science effort from Zooniverse, cataloging WWI British soldiers' war diaries from the Western Front. Participants can help tag dates, locations, people, and events from 1.5 million pages of war diaries from the Western Front. Entries range from the uneventful (October 24 | PONT DU HEM | 5:30 am | Occupied same position. Did not fire all day) to the eventful (A & B cleared the village and the regiment eventually captured the convoy in the wood about a mile on after it had been headed back by a returning movement of 12th Lancers. In all 200 prisoners). [more inside]
Melting glaciers in northern Italy reveal corpses of WW1 soldiers In the decades that followed the armistice, the world warmed up and the glaciers began to retreat, revealing the debris of the White War. The material that, beginning in the 1990s, began to flood out of the mountains was remarkably well preserved.
Dancing over the Edge: Vienna in 1914. Österreich (Austria) was one of the cultural and political Centres of modern Europe a hundred Years ago. Vienna - the Capitol of the big Austro-Hungarian-Empire and Home to the longest running imperial Family the Habsburgs. Just in 1913 Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin (previously on MeFi) all lived in Vienna.
For over a year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been digitizing old photos from its far-reaching library and putting them on a Tumblr called The Digs. [more inside]
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]
"Technically it’s not a book at all: The Great War is actually one continuous drawing, a 24ft-long panorama narrating the British forces’ experience of 1 July 1916, spatially and chronologically, from orderly morning approach to chaotic battlefield engagement to grim aftermath. There are no boxes of text or speech bubbles, no individuated characters, instead Sacco portrays a mass event in painstaking, monochrome, almost technical detail. It’s like a cross between Hergé and the Chapman brothers; the Bayeux Tapestry as a silent movie." -- Cartoonist Joe Sacco's latest project, The Great War is about one particular day in the War: 1 July, the start of the Battle of the Somme. [more inside]
Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
In 1914, Captain Robert Campbell was taken captive by the German Army. In 1916, he got word that his mother back in England was dying. He was given a laissez-passer to visit her on condition that he return to captivity as soon as practicable. An officer and a gentleman, he did exactly that. [more inside]
"It’s not often that one finds buried treasure, but that’s exactly what happened in Wayland High School’s History Building as we prepared to move to a new campus. Amidst the dusty collection of maps featuring the defunct USSR, decades-old textbooks describing how Negroes are seeking equality, and film strips pieced together with brittle scotch tape, was a gray plastic Samsonite briefcase, circa 1975."
Pitch Battles: How a paranoid fringe group made musical tuning an international issue.
The petition had its origins in one of the strangest conflicts to have overtaken classical music in the past thirty years, and many of these luminaries were completely unaware of what they’d gotten themselves into. The sponsor of both the petition and the conference that featured Tebaldi was an organization called the Schiller Institute, dedicated to, among other things, lowering standard musical pitch. ... But behind this respectable front lurks a strange mélange of conspiracy, demagoguery, and cultish behavior. At its founding in 1984, its chairman Helga Zepp-LaRouche laid out the Institute’s role in surprisingly apocalyptic termsOriginally published at The Believer.
The Poet-King Of Fiume
There is no decent way of containing the excesses of Gabriele d'Annunzio's lives. It would astonish his contemporaries to discover that he is now only faintly remembered outside Italy. Even within Italy, though firmly entrenched in the literary canon, he is most commonly recalled with a sort of collective cringe. For once upon a time, in the fervid fin de siècle - for reasons variously literary, political, military and, not least, sexual - he was one of the towering figures of European culture. Think Wilde crossed with Casanova and Savonarola; Byron meets Barnum meets Mussolini - and you would have some of the flavours, but still not quite the essence, of this extraordinary, unstoppable and in many ways quite ridiculous figure. The Pike - A Review [more inside]
Trench Talk now entrenched in the English Language - Military historian Peter Doyle and Julian Walker, an etymologist at the British Library, have written Trench Talk about how words from the first World War have become part of everyday English. [more inside]
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, a podcast in which writer and game designer Robin D. Laws (Hamlet's Hitpoints, The GUMSHOE system) and game designer and writer Kenneth Hite (Tour De Lovecraft, GURPS Horror) (previously) talk about stuff. Stuffs include: Why vampires are assholes and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, stopping WWI and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Margaret Atwood and the difference between a mystic and an occultist, why no invented setting is as interesting as the real world and Woodrow Wilson, Gencon and sundry RPGs, Neil Armstrong, HP Blavatsky and theosophy, the ebook prcing settlement, what big publishing could learn from RPG publishers, and the many crazy fictional possibilities of Charles Lindbergh and his UFO investigating chums, and Dungeons and Dragons edition wars and Aliester Crowley.
The WMD was discovered, quite by chance, lying by the side of a Bridgeville road in late July by a Delaware state trooper on an unrelated callout. Jutting out of the ground, the 75mm shell was encrusted in barnacles and pitted with rust; barely recognisable as a munition at all. The trooper called in his find and a military team took the bomb to Dover Air Force Base for disposal. As with most conventional rounds, a small charge was placed on the side of the shell and detonated to trigger the vintage munition’s own explosive. But something went wrong, and the bomb failed to explode. When the two staff sergeants and technician walked over to inspect the failed detonation, they found a strange black liquid seeping out of the cracked mortar. Given that the shell had been under the sea for the better part of fifty years, the men thought little of the foul-smelling substance until hours later, when their skin began to erupt in agonising blisters. All three were rushed to Kent General hospital, where two were released later after minor treatment. A third, more seriously injured serviceman was transported to Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, where he remained in serious but stable condition with what were only described as “burns or blisters” in a statement issued by the Army later that week. A scientific team were sent to Dover to collect soil samples from the area. The results were clear: the shell had been filled with mustard gas.
Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
Paul Fussell, author of The Great War and Modern Memory and winner of the first National Critics Award for Criticism, but who is probably best known for writing Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, is dead. [more inside]
A great deal of poetry was written about the Great War, much of it by soldiers in the trenches. Two period books of World War I poetry and poets are The Muse in Arms and For remembrance, available in a variety of formats at archive.org. There is also The First World War Digital Poetry Archive which mostly has things from the most well-known authors, but many of these are available as scans of the original documents. (The interface is a little iffy on the DPA; click on a person, then use the search for "any poem" to get a full listing of what's available)
Florence Green, the last know WWI veteran, passed away today. She was two weeks away from her 111th birthday. [more inside]