U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division presents long-awaited awards to WWI Veteran’s Family
By CLt. Col. Lindsey Elder
via the U.S. Army's army.mil web site
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Charles D. Costanza and Command Sgt. Maj. Quentin Fenderson, the command team of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, presented a long-awaited Purple Heart Medal and World War I Victory Medal to the granddaughter and extended family of one of their own, 103 years after he was killed in action in France.
The special ceremony took place on Aug. 9 at the 3rd Infantry Division Museum on Fort Stewart and was the culmination of the efforts of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, the 3rd Infantry Division, and the Beasley Family to properly recognize the service and sacrifice of 1st Lt. Thomas Reed Beasley, Sr.
A native of Reidsville, Georgia, Beasley was a member of Company D, 4th Infantry, 5th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, fighting in the frontline trenches when he was killed in action on Oct. 5, 1918, in the Argonne Forrest sector. His remains were interred at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France.
Kay Beasley Toups, Beasley’s granddaughter and his closest living relative, remarked that while it has been a long, team effort to have this level of recognition for their lost loved one, the Family is incredibly grateful for the ceremony and for honoring his memory in this way.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s beyond belief. It’s really a miracle it happened,” said Kay Toups. “The gratitude my Family is feeling right now is truly indescribable. We will always be eternally grateful to the 3rd Infantry Division and to the U.S. Army, who truly never forgets its own.”
Beasley was killed at the age of 22, just shy of his 23rd birthday. At the time, his then-pregnant widow received only a telegram informing the Family of his death.
More than a century later, the emotional ceremony included remarks by the division command team, Beasley’s Family members, and a presentation of the awards with the assistance of a current 3rd Infantry Division Soldier in a WWI period costume.
Town Seeks to Match Grant Funds for Repair of WWI & Other War Memorials
via the Franklin Town News (MA) web site
The Franklin Town Common has 11 war memorials, “and most of them need a little bit of work – some need major work,” says Dale Kurtz, Franklin Veterans Services officer. Kurtz worked with Debra Martin, also of the Veterans Services Office, on a grant through Massachusetts SHRAB, the state-level review body for grant proposals submitted to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). At the end of April, Franklin received a grant of $18,338 the monuments, but that’s under half of what it will need to complete the whole project..
“We’re hoping to get that up and in progress by the fall,” says Dale Kurtz, Franklin Veterans Services Officer, who will retire this month. “I have to match the funds provided to us, either with cash or in-kind work.
A few of the memorials, says Kurtz, including the Revolutionary War memorial, the Persian Gulf memorial, and the Spanish American War Memorial, need some cleaning, and four memorials along Main Street need repairs to the concrete, says Kurtz.
“Every one of them needs a bit of work, but some more significant (repair) than others,” says Kurtz.
The second oldest memorial on the Franklin Common, the Gettysburg Address, built in about 1913 and placed by the Grand Army of the Republic Post #60 (which disbanded in 1939), is in significant disrepair, needing to be restored, with broken pieces that need to be fixed.
Another in disrepair, according to Kurtz, is the Civil War memorial on the end opposite the Veterans Memorial Walkway. “People pass by this, and they probably don’t notice it, but it’s probably third on the list (needing repair),” says Kurtz. This monument was erected in 1903 in a project that was led and presented by Frederick Newell, who served in the 5th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War.
The WWI memorial, known as “The Doughboy,” in Franklin, has some significant leaking issues, says Kurtz.
“When it was originally erected, in 1929, it faced the center of the Common,” says Kurtz. In 1979, when the memorial plaza was created, that has the WWII, Vietnam and Korean memorials, the Doughboy was turned to face the monument and St. Mary’s church, he says.
A Flyboy’s Rifle: The Air Service ’03
By Bruce N. Canfield
via the American Rifleman web site
Perhaps the most venerable United States military rifle of all time is the “U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model of 1903,” better known to several generations of Americans as simply the Springfield “Oh-Three.” The ’03 was the premier U.S. service rifle from the time of its standardization in 1903 until the adoption of the M1 Garand rifle in 1936. Even after the M1 came on the scene, large numbers of M1903 rifles remained in front-line use well into World War II.
During the ’03’s long tenure of service, many variants and modifications of the rifle were developed. These ranged from the well known, such as National Match rifles and several types of sniper rifles, to the rare and obscure, such as the version with the semi-automatic Pedersen Device attachment and the Cameron-Yaggi Trench Periscope Rifle. Among the most interesting, rarest, and least-known variants is the Air Service ’03.
Developed during World War I, the Air Service ’03 was essentially a standard M1903 service rifle with a specially made shortened stock and handguard, simplified rear sight, and a 25-round non-detachable extension magazine. The rifle was not intended for infantry use and was described in a 1918 Ordnance Department Report as “… Stripped for Air Service.”
While the existence of the Air Service ’03 has been well established, the intended use for which the rifle was designed remains the subject of some conjecture and speculation even today. Several theories regarding the intended purpose of these arms have been proposed, including the idea that the Air Service rifles were to be utilized as a form of rudimentary armament for personnel in observation balloons. Such balloons were widely used in World War I for artillery spotting and similar purposes. It has also been suggested that the rifles were to be used as defensive armament for two-man fighter or observation aircraft. Still another theory is that the rifles were intended to be carried in aircraft as personal defense arms in the event a pilot was forced down behind enemy lines and had to defend himself.
After considering all the stated theories, the latter application is clearly the most plausible. The first theory can probably be dismissed when one considers that the usefulness of a bolt-action rifle against an enemy fighter airplane, while in a swaying observation balloon basket, is questionable. The theory about using the rifles as aircraft armament is also rather unlikely. Machine guns for aircraft had proven their effectiveness several years before development of the Air Service ’03, and, in any event, a bolt-action rifle would be a very poor substitute against an enemy plane armed with machine guns. On the other hand, a full-power, service-type rifle with which a downed aviator could defend himself seems to be a much more logical concept. Since a pilot would not be wearing a cartridge belt, the 25-round extension magazine used with the Air Service rifle would have provided an adequate supply of ammunition self- contained in the rifle and ready for immediate use. Even though relatively minor, the weight savings of the shortened stock, and elimination of unnecessary sling swivels and other hardware also support the idea that the rifle was intended for aircraft use where any sort of weight reduction, slight as it may have been, would have been viewed as an asset.
Worth the visit: Our time at the World War I Memorial in Washington, DC
By George Whitehair and Leigh Ferrier
via the Veterans of Foreign Wars Pennsylvania Department web site
The new memorial honoring World War I soldiers is now open in Washington DC, located in Pershing Park at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest for those who were not aware. During a recent visit to our nation’s capital, we had the opportunity to visit the memorial. We were in town for meetings and collaborations to continue our push for national recognition for an American hero and WWI veteran, Dr. Frank Erdman Boston. However, we ended up doing much reflection as well.
The memorial is situated in downtown D.C. and acts as a memorial to all Americans who served in World War I. The design is modern and respectful. The park is open to paying respects to those who have fought and sacrificed for this country.
An American flag flies over the memorial, and you can hear taps at 5 pm each day. As a group, we visited the memorial and watched as a bugler, dressed in authentic attire, played taps. On the street and the grounds of the memorial, people stopped and watched as the bugler played. It was a very solemn and moving experience for us, especially since we were in Washington to push awareness of Dr. Frank Boston, a WWI veteran, as we seek a third U.S. Presidential Citation.
Dr. Boston may be one of the first African American Doctors to receive two Presidential Citations from two different U.S. Presidents for his community work. Dr. Frank Boston was honored by President Harry S. Truman (1945 to 1953) when he received a "Red Cross Certificate of Appreciation, signed by President Truman and presented to Dr. Frank E. Boston, director and founder of the Lansdale Volunteer Medical Services Corps. He also received a citation from President Eisenhower (1953 to 1961) for work among the disabled. For Dr. Boston, that was his second Presidential Citation. The doctor is also the recipient of a 25-year Red Cross service certificate.
As for service to his country, Dr. Boston served as a medical officer with the 317th Engineers Regiment of the 92nd "Buffalo” Division. It was June 1918 when the Fort Des Moines officers left for France for combat against Germany. They were the 3rd Battalion, 92nd Division of the American Expeditionary Force. After completing training, Lt. Boston was assigned as a medical officer with the 317th Engineers Regiment of the 92nd Division. He served in France with the rank of Captain and ended his military service as a Major. During his tour of duty, he treated soldiers while under aerial and gas attacks. His division, the 92nd, would fight bravely across France and in the Meuse-Argonne sector.
After the war, Dr. Boston returned to begin work in Philadelphia and later settled in Lansdale’s rural community. It was there that Dr. Boston established the First Aid Emergency Squad in Lansdale, which would eventually become known as the Volunteer Medical Services Corps (VMSC). Dr. Boston also started the first hospital in the area called the Elm Terrace Hospital and subsequently became part of the Abington Jefferson Health Systems. Dr. Boston may be the first African American doctor to start both a Hospital and an Ambulance Corps, which remain viable to this day.
How World War I Influenced The Fashion Industry
By Annika Wells
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
There is a significant influence of the Great War on the importance of clothing and fashion. The fashion of that time gradually faded away, making ways for more practical clothing. This gave rise to the need for new types of dresses like lagenlook dresses, etc
At that time, women took up employment in offices, nursing, driving jobs, etc., while their husbands fought. Many of them even became militia members. They need a uniform or pants during their work, so fashion took on a more rigid military aspect. Their long dresses were reduced to skirts to make them more wearable. Her designs, which were often influenced by men's clothing, were simple and comfortable to wear. Men's clothing is tailored to the harsh conditions of combat.
The diversity of World War I uniforms demonstrates how many different countries contributed to the war effort. For example, French forces initially wore blue coats and red, whereas British troops wore khaki-colored trousers and shorter jackets. During WWI, clothing trends drastically changed. The designs became more superficial, and the lines between men's and women's fashion merged.
Before World War I, the style had taken on an entirely new appearance, with soft and bright patterns influenced by Turkey, the Middle East, and Asia. Russian clothes were first seen in hip-length tunics.
World War I and Women
Before the war, Paris was the fashion capital of the world. Due to the hardships of war and the lack of communication between the US and Europe, Innovative York rose to prominence as a fashion pioneer with new designs that blended femininity and functionality. When males went to fight in WWI, women took up roles that men had previously held. Women and girls who had previously worked as domestic servants worked in munitions factories, administration, drivers, nurses, and farms. They enlisted in the military and volunteered for groups like the Red Cross. A new image of independence and self-respect drew women away from traditional genital mutilation. For many of the vocations, uniforms, including pants, were necessary. Military-style tunic jackets, belts, and epaulets also made an appearance in fashion. Individuals embraced a more basic style of life during World War I. The Edwardian period's beautiful clothing was abandoned, and women wore less jewelry.
Fashion Shows between 1911–1918
The fashion show was a new phenomenon in 1911. Designers collaborated with specific clients to create fresh style, cut, and fabric combinations for a more customized look. Fashion shows were held during World War I to help generate cash for the war effort. Edna Woolman Chase, the editor of Vogue, organized a fashion exhibition in 1914 to showcase the work of New York designers.
Fashion in Shoes between 1914–1920
Higher hemlines exposed space between the boot's tip and the hem of a skirt during the Great War is very popular. The style detracted from the overall appearance of an ensemble. Therefore women abandoned their high-button boots in favor of shoes with a slight bend in the heel.
"Americans now should always remember, without the backing of our citizens and military strength, we are vulnerable. "
By Thomas Nelson
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
The book History of 318 Field Hospital came to be as a result of my father passing down my grandfather’s belongings to include uniforms, documents, and photographs. My grandfather, Dr. (Major) Hugh Thomas Nelson, Jr., who commanded the 318th Field Hospital during World War I in France. Having never met him, I became introduced through the research writing this book.
I learned about his devotion to his unit, my grandmother, Edith, and the medical profession. His WWI experience from Camp Lee, Virginia, the journey across to ocean to France, the difficult trip going to the battle front, and the emergency trip home starting on Christmas Day 1917.
His dedication to be a part of the WWI effort was that of a family history starting back with his 2nd great-grandfather, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of Virginia, Brigadier General Thomas Nelson, Jr., his father and grandfather, Robert William Nelson and Hugh Thomas Nelson, Sr. who both fought in the Civil War. I the midst of the War, he fought to save lives on both sides of War with his medical leadership and skills.
As the French came to the American colony aide in the American Revolution, I am sure he went to France returning the favor, this time against the Germans. Americans now should always remember, without the backing of our citizens and military strength, we are vulnerable.
The book tells the first hand account of drafting or enlisting would be soldiers from all walks of life. The journey on a German cruise ship on the long voyage to France and what soldier thought of the French mademoiselles upon arrival. The arduous journey by marching, train and convoy to the Front and finally settling is a small village to treat thousands of combat wounded coming off the battlefield to include German prisoners. The horseback ride towards Verdun and being spotted by German artillery. Finally, word from home is wife was seriously ill from the death at birth of his first child, and leaving on Christmas Day to attempt to catch a ship back to America.
The book provides details of all 105 men in the unit as well as songs sung, burial sites, orders, diaries, and numerous photos to include some I shot while visiting 318th sites.
The Aftermath of Wisconsin’s Experience as the “Traitor State”
By Leslie Bellais
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
As I began a new job as a curator, mainly in charge of clothing and textiles, at the Wisconsin Historical Society in the early 1990s, I had no idea that it would lead me to an abiding interest, almost a passion, regarding the history of Wisconsin’s home front during World War I. The first spark was an exhibit I did on the topic for the 75th anniversary of America’s entrance into the war, but a decade later, when the exhibit staff asked me to do a smaller version for the museum’s permanent exhibit, my interest was rekindled and I decided to return to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin and make it the focus of my Ph.D. dissertation.
The drama surrounding Wisconsin during World War I probably drew me to the topic. Wisconsin became known as the “Traitor State” in the summer of 1917, an epithet it acquired in part due to its U.S. Senator Robert La Follette’s vociferous fight against American participation in the European war, its outspoken Socialist Party adherents, and its significant German population (about 30 percent of Wisconsinites at the time were German immigrants or their children).
My interest became focused on those who described themselves at the time as “militant patriots,” specifically their reaction to the perception of Wisconsinites as traitorous and their campaign to expunge that perception, at first with educational campaigns, but as their frustration against the disloyal intensified with violence and vigilantism. My dissertation, “’Traitor State’: A Crisis of Loyalty in World War I Wisconsin,” follows their story from the beginning of the war in August 1914 to the early 1920s, by which time their interest in German-American disloyalty had dissipated and La Follette had been vindicated to the point he could run for president in 1924.
My original intent had been to look beyond the 1920s to see the affect the war’s turmoil had had on the state and its residents. As a graduate student, I had taken a course on historical memory and did much of my research on the post-war years for the required paper. What I learned was that there was only a tenuous connection between the way the war was experienced and the way it was remembered. The state’s militant patriots attempted to control its memory by writing books, building monuments and memorials, and organizing Armistice Day celebrations in an effort to expunge any hint of traitorous behavior from the official record. I argue that in the end it was all for naught. Despite the constant repetition at the time of the phrase “Lest We Forget,” the reality of the false promises made during the war, such as making the world safe for democracy, led most Wisconsinites to put the war behind them, essentially to forget it. Although some of this post-war material made it into the dissertation’s epilogue, the paper did not become a separate chapter and I set aside most of this research.
When the history department at Michigan Technological University decided to hold a conference in 2018 about the war’s effect on the American Midwest as part of a centennial commemoration for World War I, this seemed a perfect place to share my unused research with others interested in the topic. A few months later the conference organizers asked me, along with other presenters, to turn their presentations into chapters for their book Home Front in the American Heartland: Local Experiences and Legacies of WWI. I jumped at the chance to improve the text of my original paper and share it with a larger audience.
Bringing to Life the Brave Nurses of World War I
By Tracey Enerson Wood
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
After writing about the amazing feats of Emily Warren Roebling in The Engineer’s Wife, (who despite tremendous obstacles and laws against women working, completed the Brooklyn Bridge) I cast about, searching for my next heroine. And indeed, she needed to be a heroine as my goal is to shed light on untold stories of women who accomplished great things, yet are lost to history.
Coming from a multi-generational military family, and having interviewed dozens more for Homefront Cooking, Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom from American Veterans and Their Loved Ones, I thought it was time to explore a woman who served in war time. Although I enjoy WWII stories, it seems there are already many excellent novels to choose from. Much less common are ones set in WWI era, with even fewer featuring women protagonists. As I am a retired registered nurse, I thought my experience could lend insight to the unique challenges my characters would face. It was an easy task to find the perfect fit: Julie Catherine Stimson.
The jacket copy nicely summarizes the story:
“Superintendent of Nurses Julia Stimson is asked to recruit sixty-five nurses to relieve those of the battle-worn British, months before American troops are ready to be deployed. She knows that the young nurses serving near the front lines of WWI would face a challenging situation, but nothing could have prepared her for the chaos that awaits when they arrive at British Base Hospital 12 in Rouen, France. The primitive conditions, a convoluted, ineffective system, and horrific battle wounds are enough to discourage the most hardened nurses, and Julia can do nothing but lead by example—even as the military doctors undermine Julia’s authority and make her question her very place in the hospital tents.
"When trainloads of soldiers stricken by a mysterious respiratory illness arrive one after the other, overwhelming the hospital’s limited resources, and threatening the health of her staff, Julia faces an unthinkable choice—to step outside the bounds of her profession and risk the career she has fought so hard for, or to watch the people she cares for most die in her arms. Based on a true story, THE WAR NURSE is a sweeping historical novel by international bestselling author Tracey Enerson Wood that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through WWI France.”
I was fortunate to be living in Europe while researching the story. I was able to tour battlefields in Belgium and France, and spent time in beautiful Rouen, Monet’s gardens, and other places that became settings in the book. I spoke to farmers, who even today must be careful when plowing their fields, as unexploded ordinance still abounds.
I visited many of the carefully tended military cemeteries that dot the landscape, and was the first family member to visit the final resting place of my great uncle in Meuse-Argonne. While there, I discovered the story of nurse Charlotte Cox, who then became a character in the book.
I learned much about the Spanish Flu pandemic, which has become very relevant in today’s world. I trekked through preserved tunnels and trenches, climbed aboard old ambulances and tanks. The huge Lochnagar mine crater in a Somme battlefield served as inspiration for an important scene in my book.
Another important takeaway was the genius of the American Red Cross in preparing stateside medical organizations to form deployable units. In this way, they had a group of professionals, who already knew each other and worked well together, so critical for quickly creating functional units overseas.
Physically being in the same space, seeing the rows upon rows of white marble crosses and stars, walking the very earth that soldiers died to protect, and seeing the reverence paid today for their sacrifices was an honor and privilege. I endeavored to combine that with my personal experience of the physical and emotional challenges of nursing to bring Julia Stimson and her nurses’ stories to life. I hope I succeeded.
UPDATED WWI MEMORIAL “VIRTUAL EXPLORER” APP
PUBLISHING AUGUST 15, 2021
IN TIME FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR
What it is:
The Doughboy Foundation is bringing the new National WWI Memorial from Washington, D.C. to schools, classrooms, dining rooms, dens, backyards, and driveways all over America with a new updated release of the award-winning Augmented Reality App called The WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer”.
The “Virtual Explorer” app brings a walk-around-inside-it digital 3D model of the National WWI Memorial to students at home or in school classrooms using iOS or Android smartphones and tablets, available in many K-12 schools.
Students, teachers, or any interested party can access the National WWI Memorial themselves, wherever they are, rather than needing to go to Washington, D.C. to experience and explore it. More than that, the WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer” App is filled with interactive and experiential WWI history, including:
The Timeline Tower: An interactive, 2-story tall 3D timeline featuring over 50 key events from WWI with images and short narratives organized up and down the tower in time order.
The Sinking of the Lusitania: A video game-style presentation of this crucial event that was instrumental in drawing America into the global WWI conflict.
Vehicles from WWI: Featuring interactive 3D models of breakthrough vehicles that came out of WWI including airplanes, tanks, motorized ambulances and even a 1917 Harley Davidson motorcycle.
How WWI Changed America: More than 50 micro-documentaries (each under 2 minutes) in 9 categories featuring leading WWI historians on social studies subjects such as the effect of WWI on Women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, citizenship, propaganda, and even the 1918 flu pandemic.
The Military History of WWI: A multi-part exploration of how America exploded from a low tier standing army of less than 130,000 to a global military powerhouse with 4.7 million men and women in uniform, and 2 million soldiers deployed overseas in just 18 months.
Stories of Service: The tools and means to create research projects about WWI veterans from the local community or families, which can be submitted INTO the App, resulting in an auto-narrated story and images that are shared nationally with everyone who uses the app.
The WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer” prototype was released as an experimental app last year and received a 2021 Communicator Award for “Best Use of Augmented Reality” from the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts. The innovative “Virtual Explorer” education technology (EduTech) initiative has received support and funding from Walmart, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
There is a companion app called the WWI Memorial “Visitor Guide”. It is very similar, to the “Virtual Explorer” but is designed for use when you are physically at the WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. The smaller app can be downloaded when at-site to ad the interactive and experiential WWI history as an overlay to a WWI Memorial visit.
The WWI Memorial Apps were produced by the Doughboy Foundation in partnership with two California based companies: TechApplication.com, LLC as creator/producer, and game studio Code Headquarters as the developer.
The Apps can be found by searching on “WWI Memorial” in either app store or by going to www.Doughboy.org/apps
Who is involved:
About the new National WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Legislation signed by President Obama in 2014 and expanded in 2015 designated Pershing Park, located 2 blocks east of the White House, as a National WWI Memorial. The legislation tasked the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission with creating the Memorial, starting with an international design competition in 2015, and design selection in 2016. The Memorial went through a three-year design refinement and collaboration with the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, the National Park Service, and others, resulting in the final design approval in 2019. Construction began in December of 2019 and continued through 2020 with all the upheavals of the period including the Pandemic. Completion of Phase 1 construction was marked by a national virtual event called “First Colors” and the Memorial opening to the public on April 16, 2021. The completion of Phase 2, with the installation of the 58’, 38-character bronze centerpiece sculpture and dedication of the completed Memorial, is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, 2024.
About the Doughboy Foundation
The Doughboy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the District of Columbia in 2013.
The Foundation’s mission is to Keep Faith with the American Doughboy with its programs of: The daily sounding of Taps at the National WWI Memorial; providing access to the Memorial via mobile apps; and organizing signature events to encourage remembrance and enhance learning about WWI.
The Doughboy Foundation has worked with the US WWI Centennial Commission since the Memorial's conception in 2014 to make the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC a reality, including taking the lead on raising the $50M for the project, as well as managing the various stages of competition, design, development, and construction.
About TechApplication.com, LLC
TechApp is a unique technology support service helping to navigate the implication, application, and integration of new technologies into mission, operation, workflow, and culture. Company founder Theo Mayer has been sitting as Chief Technologist for both the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission and the Doughboy Foundation since 2014, with his company providing a wide variety of technology infrastructure and services.
About Code Headquarter
Code Headquarters, established by founder Andranik Aslanyan, is a unique game studio based in Burbank, CA. The studio specializes in innovative projects built with the industry leading Epic Game System’s The Unreal Engine platform.
Code HQ used its video game developer expertise to realize the vision for the WWI Memorial Apps by integrating leading edge game technology with iOS and Android Augmented Reality capabilities.
The Battle of Bellicourt Tunnel – Tommies, Diggers, and Doughboys on the Hindenburg Line 1918
By Major Peter L. Belmonte, USAF (Retired)
via the ARGunners Magazine web site
Students of World War I are very familiar with the strategic situation of the Western Front in September 1918. With the goal of driving the Germans across the Hindenburg Line, cutting German army rail supply lines, and positioning the Allied armies for victory in 1919, Marshal Ferdinand Foch planned a series of grand offensives sequentially beginning on September 26 and roughly covering the area from the Meuse River to the Belgian coast. Dale Blair’s new book covers a crucial part of Foch’s attack plan involving British, Australian, and American troops in an assault on the Hindenburg Line in the area of the St. Quentin Canal.
Blair, a freelance Australian writer and historian, sets the stage by giving a brief overview of the strategic situation followed by a close look at the St. Quentin area and at the Anglo-American forces involved in the assault. The focus of the book is upon the Australian Corps commanded by Lieutenant General Sir John Monash and including the American 27th and 30th Divisions. Blair covers the attack chronologically and by divisional sector. Most of the book recounts action that took place on 29 and 30 September; this will give the reader an idea of the detail into which Blair delves to describe the advance.
In discussing the attack, including the disastrous attempt by the 27th Division to reach their jump-off line two days before “D-Day,” Blair gives us plenty of detail down to battalions, companies, and individuals. The main assault began on 29 September with the two American divisions’ objective being the “Green Line” past the Hindenburg Line. While some groups of men did indeed achieve that line, the Americans met with strong resistance and failed to achieve their objective. In subsequent chapters, Blair covers each day’s fighting as the Australians, with British support on their flanks, pushed through the Americans to finally reach the Green Line on 30 September.
It was thought at the time that the American lack of success was due to their failure to mop up behind their assault lines. Blair disagrees with this assessment and instead asserts that the Americans were held up by stiff resistance:
The reality was that the 27th Division had been repulsed all along its front but for a few groups that had pierced the line and plunged headlong into the Germans [in the Hindenburg Line]. [p. 89]
Thus the Germans encountered by the Australians following behind the Americans were not isolated pockets that the U.S. troops had failed to “mop up,” but were actually surviving troops of the front line along with reinforcements. The American troops certainly were aware of the necessity to mop up behind the assault line. The author attributes their failure to adequately do so to the difficult weather and ground conditions, the German principle of aggressive counterattacks, and the efficient use of German reserves. Blair also rebuts the notion that the Bellicourt Tunnel, through which the St. Quentin Canal flowed in the American sector, housed reserves that “popped up” behind advancing Americans and threatened their rear.
A Destiny of Undying Greatness: Kiffin Rockwell and the Boys Who Remembered Lafayette
By Mark M. Trapp
Special to the doughboy.org web site
Most Americans with a passing knowledge of history know of General Pershing’s July 4, 1917, march through Paris with the newly arrived American troops to the tomb of Lafayette where, on behalf of America, Pershing’s aide Colonel Charles Stanton uttered the famous words “Lafayette, we are here.” But too many are unaware of the actions and sacrifices of Kiffin Rockwell and other American boys dating back to the outset of the Great War more than two and a half years before Pershing’s arrival.
My own knowledge came about more by happenstance than anything else when, in the Fall of 1997, I began law school at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. On my first day, I took a walk around campus to familiarize myself with my new surroundings. Upon entering Lee Chapel, I came across a small plaque honoring a W&L alumnus by the name of “Kiffin Yates Rockwell” who, the plaque indicated, had been “killed in aerial combat” in France in September 1916. Because my wife was eight and a half months pregnant with our first child, baby names were at the front of our minds, and I believed I had just come across the coolest name ever. But what was the bearer of that name doing in France in 1916, in aerial combat, no less? Like many Americans, I knew next to nothing about World War One, but I knew that we had not entered the war until 1917.
During the next few years, I tried to learn more about this boy named Kiffin, and of how he came to be fighting and dying in France during the time that the United States was officially neutral and President Woodrow Wilson was campaigning for re-election using the slogan “he kept us out of war.” Through sporadic research over the years, I learned the basic outlines of a remarkable story: long before their own country entered the conflict that would redefine the world, a handful of young American men ignored President Wilson’s declared neutrality and risked their lives fighting on the side of France and, as they saw it, civilization itself.
Initially fighting in the trenches, many of these idealistic volunteers eventually took to the skies as part of the first generation of fighter pilots. A good number of these boys, many from some of the wealthiest and most privileged families in America, willingly sacrificed everything to repay what they saw as a debt owed by their nation based on the heroic actions and support of the Marquis de Lafayette and France when America was engaged in its struggle for independence from Britain. Kiffin Rockwell was one of these boys, and with his brother Paul in early August of 1914, he was likely the very first volunteer to leave America’s shores to defend France.
While many history buffs are familiar with the broad outlines of the story of the Lafayette Escadrille, as the all-American flying squadron fighting for France would eventually be called, I was amazed to learn of the noble sacrifices made by these boys who had everything to lose. But as a practicing attorney with young children and a very busy life, my interest in the story never advanced beyond a general desire to know more.
That all changed when, in 2014, my son was born on the exact 100-year anniversary of the day that Kiffin and Paul Rockwell enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in Paris. We named our little boy Kiffin and, my interest in the story rekindled, I began five years of research and writing that truly changed my life. Working at nights, on weekends, and during my daily commute to downtown Chicago where I still practice as an attorney, I began to uncover the details of the remarkable story of “the boys who remembered Lafayette,” as I began to think of them.
Biographies of 140 WWI veterans published in “Greene-Dreher in the Great War”
By Lyle T. Galloway
via the River Reporter newspaper (NY) web site
HONESDALE, PA — Bethel School may have closed decades ago, but there has been no shortage of learning there. Many tours, spelling bees, lectures and other special events have been conducted in the tiny building. On Sunday, July 11 Bethel School held an open house and a lecture.
About Bethel School
Bethel School was built in 1870. Despite some minor renovations to the stairs and other parts of the outside of the building, the interior looks relatively unchanged. A large blackboard is at the front of the room, a pull-down wall map from 1897 hangs above it, too fragile with age to be fully displayed. Rows of wooden desks are placed all over the room, topped with vintage books in all kinds of subjects from American History to Basic Arithmetic.
Before the school’s closure in 1951, it saw 31 different teachers, with Mary Agnes McCarthy being the last. She taught from 1946 to 1951.
For some, the small, central room was home to many happy memories. “I went to school here and enjoyed every minute of it... Across the road was an apple orchard, and if you felt like eating your lunch in the apple orchard, that’s what you did,” said Dorothy Kieff, former student at Bethel School and member of the Wayne County Historical Society.
She remembered wading in the nearby brook, playing marbles in the middle of the dirt road and playing “Haley Over” with the other children.
Kieff attended during the school’s final years. She recalled that there were 21 kids in her class. It comprised kids across different grade levels. Classes were called up in order to the front of the room to present their work. Afterward, the next group was called and others did individual work.
“If you were stuck on something, there was always an older kid to ask, or if you were one of the older kids, there was always a kid to help. I always said that was cooperative learning at its best,” said Kieff.
‘The army within the Army’
The old wooden desks were occupied with those eager to learn something new once again as local historian Bernadine Lennon presented a lecture entitled “The Army within the Army.” The lecture focused on the volunteers and other unsung heroes that kept the American armies fighting.
Lennon is part of the Greene-Dreher Historical Society. In 2016, the group wanted to take on a project related to WWI as America’s centennial anniversary of joining the war was approaching.
Lennon visited local cemeteries, taking note of gravesites with flags. The project grew from there. By the time research was completed in 2019, the biographies of 140 local WWI veterans were published in Lennon’s book “Greene-Dreher in the Great War.” Three more were discovered after the book’s publishing.
WWI soldier Farley Lafore Lock and his namesake VFW post
via the State Journal-Register newspaper (IL) web site
Springfield, IL’s Lafore Lock Post 755 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this month, is named after World War I U.S. Army Pvt. Farley Lafore Lock.
Lock died Oct. 18, 1918, of wounds he suffered from an artillery shell the day before in the Verdun sector of France. Born in 1896, Lafore was one of 10 children (eight of them boys) of Nelson and Gretta Lock.
Lock’s death was described in a letter written to his family in January 1919 by Russell Burleigh, Lock’s sergeant in the medical unit of the 133rd Regiment, 33rd Division.
“Twice in our army life I called for volunteers to go with me on perilous journeys under enemy shell fire and twice Lafore and Neal (full name not given) volunteered to go with me regardless of what our prospect was or our chance of return.
“It was during the trying times when the enemy was trying to stop the rush of American manhood throught the impregnable Argonne Forests that Lafore after going to the front line and assisting in establishing a first aid post, volunteered to return and bring the remainder of the men up after dark.
“He started on his perilous errand with the same smile and joking way that he always wore while doing his duty. He never finished his errand, but we all know and God knows it was not through any fault of his.
“A high explosive shell from the gun of the unseen enemy came within five feet of him and not hearing it he failed to drop on the ground and a piece of the shell cut the lower third of the thigh of his left limb nearly severing it, and also cut the right limb. …
(H)e was immediately put on an ambulance and rushed by special request to the field hospital and the last words we heard him say was, with a faint smile, “Well they got both my legs.” …
“The day after Lafore was injured, he succumbed to his injuries… . The shock from the shell, the pain from the injuries, the loss of blood all were too much for anyone to bear or sustain. …
“We were 68 days in the woods and strewn battlefields, no baths and very little water and unable to claim our lives from one moment to the next.
“Lafore was the only one in the corps to succumb to wounds although several more of the men received wounds.
“LaFore left us nothing to remember him by but his personality which will never leave us.