Women in a World Designed for Men: A WWI librarian and a Naval Academy plebe confront injustice

By Peggy Burch
via the Chapter 16 web site 

In The War Librarian, Nashville-based writer Addison Armstrong confronts urgent contemporary cultural conflicts — misogyny, racism, and book banning — by taking a detailed dive into two moments in history. Armstrong’s primary characters are women fighting the harassment and injustice they faced 50 and 100 years ago, but their fictional struggles and outrage feel fresh and current.

THE WAR LIBRARIAN cover 200x300As in Armstrong’s first novel, The Light of Luna Park, The War Librarian switches between two narrators, seemingly unrelated women living in separate times and places whose tales gradually converge. The title character is Emmaline Balakin, who travels to France during World War I to provide books to wounded U.S. soldiers. The parallel narrator is Kathleen Carre, who enters the Naval Academy in 1976, the first year women were accepted at Annapolis.

After arriving in France in 1918, Emmaline is dropped into a field hospital for 2,000 men during the crucial last weeks of the war, and like everyone on the scene, she observes the men’s gruesome injuries, dodges bombs, and sleeps with a helmet on her face and a gas mask by her side.

As Armstrong notes, volunteer librarians in World War I were a vital resource. Before Emmaline begins pushing her wheelchair loaded with books — Dickens, Twain, Treasure Island, The Call of the Wild — through the wards, where patients have “nothing to do for days but count the swirls of grain in the wood,” she is already a heroine: “[T]he patient nearest the door sat bolt upright when I entered. A harsh cough burst from his throat, but he was smiling. ‘The librarian is here!’ His announcement was met with whoops and cheers.”

But on a visit to the American Library in Paris, idealistic Emma is shocked to see a list of books the U.S government has prohibited, including titles on pacifism and the hardships of war: “Was it disloyal for me to think, as more and more men died each day and were carted to the morgue across from my bedroom, that peace was exactly what we needed?” She has already confronted the segregation of Black and white patients at the hospital by starting a book club, and now she’s staring down the hard place where freedom of speech meets military opposition.

Meanwhile, Naval Academy student Kathleen is discovering in 1976 that she was naïve to believe she was joining a supportive community of noble-minded students. She finds that some of her fellow midshipmen resent the women in their midst enough to engage in sabotage. And reporting harassment and dirty tricks may be interpreted as weakness or dismissed as hazing. As Kathleen’s grandmother had warned when her acceptance to the academy arrived: “’It’s hard to be a woman in a world designed for men.’ I laughed at this. ‘Nana, we both do that every day.’ She didn’t smile back.”

 

Moore driving his ambulancePaul Handy Moore driving his ambulance in WWI. Throughout his time of service, Moore took many photographs which have now been enlarged and included in book, “Brancordier” along with the journal entries. 

Tallahassee doctor publishes book of father's World War I photos 

via the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper (FL) web site

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri — Over 200 remarkable pictures taken by a young American soldier during World War I are featured in a new book published by Tallahassee surgeon Dr. Charles E. Moore.

Dr. Moore presented the first copy of the book to the Missouri State Historical Society in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on July 28, 2022.

Moore’s father, the late Paul Handy Moore, a native of Charleston, Missouri, and later a resident of Tallahassee, volunteered in 1917 for service with the French army and documented his experiences as an ambulance driver on the battlefields of France in a photo album created more than a century ago.

Those pictures, along with comments the elder Moore made in a daily journal in 1917-18 and an excerpt from his autobiography are all included in the book, which is titled “Brancordier, Section 646” – the name of his military unit.

“Brancordier” is the French word for stretcher-bearer.

At age 19, soon after graduating from Culver Military Academy in Indiana, Moore volunteered to join the French Army, hoping to become a pilot. When he arrived in France in the summer of 1917 aboard a French steamship, the air corps assignment did not materialize; and he was assigned as an ambulance driver.

Throughout his time of service, Moore took many photographs with an amateur camera and kept a daily journal. The tiny pictures in his carefully annotated photo album have now been enlarged and included in “Brancordier” along with the journal entries.

According to Art Wallhausen, associate to the president (emeritus) of Southeast Missouri State University, this combination of words and photos provides an unusually complete picture of what a young American soldier saw and experienced as he picked up wounded soldiers from the trenches and brought them to temporary hospitals behind the lines while dodging shells and shrapnel.

 

These were the mercy dogs of World War I 

By Blake Stilwell
via the We Are The Mighty web site  

Man’s best friend has also been man’s battle buddy for as long as dogs have been domesticated. The mechanical, industrialized slaughter in the trenches of World War I didn’t change that one bit. All the belligerents let slip the dogs of war, some 30,000 in all. Mercy dogs were used to hunt rats, guard posts as sentries, scout ahead and even comfort the dying.

Mercy Dogs leave no man behindMercy Dogs leave no man behind.The last were the mercy dogs of the Great War.

Our canine companions can do much more than just fight alongside us in times of war. Modern-day uses of dogs include bomb-sniffing and locating the bodies of the fallen. World War I saw some uses of dogs unique to that war, especially in terms of hunting the rats that spread disease and ate corpses in the trenches. Dogs were used in scouting parties; their unique senses, especially smell, allowed them to detect the presence of enemy troops long before their human counterparts. When on guard duty, sentry dogs alerted their handlers to even the most silent of a human presence. But the dogs of mercy were truly the most unique among them.

Mercy dogs, also called casualty dogs, were first trained by the Germanic armies of the 19th Century, but their popularity only grew. The sanitatshunde were trained to find the wounded and dying anywhere on the battlefield. Sometimes they carried medical supplies to help the wounded care for themselves until they could find care from a doctor or medic. If the soldier was too far gone for medical care, the dog would stay with him as he died, to ensure he wasn’t alone.

The most common kind of dog on the battlefields were German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers, both of German origin. This was mostly due to their intelligence, endurance, and ability to be trained for even the most dangerous tasks. For the mercy dog, the most popular and able breed was the Boxer. Boxers are not only able to do what other breeds could but they were also fiercely loyal and on top of comforting the wounded and dying, they would also guard and defend them until the end.

 

John_Schmitt_gang.jpgJohn Schmitt in his World War I uniform is the "face" of the Doughboy Foundation's Daily Taps, with his photo frequently use in promotional roles. But when he is not playing Taps at the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, John is a trumpet player and assistant live sound engineer for the Air National Guard Band of the Northeast.

Daily Taps at the National WWI Memorial in Washington, DC

“Sounding Taps is Meaningful to Me First and Foremost Because it is Important to Veterans and their Families” 

By Kathy Abbott
Staf Writer 

This month, National WWI Memorial Daily Taps bugler John Schmitt shares the story of his life-long commitment to honor Veterans and their families by sounding Taps. He is also known by his peers as one of the greatest trumpet players of his generation.

Says John, 

"I'm from Northeast Ohio originally. I moved to Baltimore to live with my wife about twenty years ago.

“I don't recall the first time I sounded Taps, but I think it was in high school at a Memorial Day event. A few years later I sounded Taps at my grandpa's funeral.

“I met Jari Villanueva (Director of Taps for Veterans, and Daily Taps at the WWI Memorial, DC) after moving to Baltimore, and applied to the State of Maryland to be a bugler with the Maryland National Guard Honor Guard. We are one of the few states, if not the only, that has a small contingent of live buglers available for military funeral honors. I currently sound Taps almost every day.

“I am a trumpet player and assistant live sound engineer for the Air National Guard Band of the Northeast. One of five Air National Guard bands, our area of responsibility extends from Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia Northeast through Maine.

“Both of my grandfathers and one grandmother all served in WWII, three uncles have also served since then.

“Sounding Taps is meaningful to me first and foremost because it is important to the veterans and their families. Music is a powerful thing. It can bring forth memories and feelings in a very unique way that are difficult to reach otherwise. When I speak with people at an event or a funeral, they often mention being transported to another time they heard Taps.

“Sounding Taps is a unique experience. It's not a difficult call technically speaking. I would say an average trumpet player with a few years of playing experience could get through it somewhat easily. What makes it difficult is the situation. “Everyone knows what it should sound like. No one else is playing. The call carries a great deal of meaning to a great many people. The key for me is to remain connected enough emotionally to provide a meaningful performance while being disconnected just enough to facilitate a technically good performance. It can be a difficult balance to find.

 

 Mobile Museum gangAfter weathering many cancellations and shutdowns due to the disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic, the WWI Mobile Museum is back in action and on the road again, bringing artifacts that tell the story of America and World War I to senior centers, schools, and other facilities nationwide.

World War I Mobile Museum back on road with new name, same educational mission

By Keith Arden Colley
Curator, "Awakening the Mind mobile museum, WWI Remembered" 

Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site 

Well folks, we are finally back on the road after a very long 2 1/2 years being shut down due to the pandemic. It was unfortunate that we had to cancel/postpone 238 shows. But a couple of exciting things took place while we were down…

IMG 3530Click image to see larger version.First, We are proud to announce that we have received a very special recognition, via a Proclamation from Congress, which was read on the floor of Congress on November 11, 2021 honoring the museum and its efforts to share WWI history with our country in a unique setting, that being a completely Mobile Museum which is able to be set up on the premises so there are no limitations to who can see it.

We would also like to share that during the shutdown we rebranded the World War I mobile museum and we are now called “Awakening the Mind mobile museum, WWI Remembered”. The rebranding has opened new doors for opportunities to reach so many more and creating a new community that mixes our Veterans and our Seniors with our youth! I would like to add, the misconception that our youth has no intertest in history is just that, a misconception! The reception by the kids (and teachers) has been overwhelming. Not only that, we are being asked back to schools as the kids rotate through and graduate out.

With that said, We just got back from a 3 stop tour in Missouri where we were asked to bring the museum to the birthplace of the last living WWI soldier, Frank Buckles, in Bethany where we got to meet the proud family members of Frank Buckles and hear some amazing stories. Following that we were invited to General Pershing’s boyhood home and Museum in Laclede, Mo where we have been asked to be a part of the next Pershing Days.

We are preparing for another Midwest Tour in September and then a Texas Tour in late Fall. We’d love to invite everyone to check out our website and book a visit for the Museum where you live. We want everyone in our country to see this Mobile Museum and to have the opportunity to pay their respects to the Heroes of “The Great War”.

Hope to see you soon!


 

 

Wanda “Lynne” Dayton, 1939–2022

Editor's Note: Lynne Dayton was the wife of 52 years of World War I Centennial Commission Executive Director and Doughboy Foundation Chairman Daniel Dayton.  

Wanda “Lynne” Dayton was born 8/2/1939 in Rockwood, TN, and passed away 7/25/2022 at age 82 in Washington, DC.

Wanda Lynne DaytonWanda "Lynne" DaytonBeloved wife, devoted mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, she considered being a ‘Navy Wife’ serving alongside her husband deployed in Alaska and Japan to be a fine title, but she was in fact a determined trailblazer. In her early career she was a waitress at her mother’s restaurant, a proofreader, a real estate agent, and a test driver. Later she was a radio/TV station owner and executive. With her husband she built and operated WSUL in Monticello, NY, WOVU in Ocean View, MD, WPFL in Pensacola, FL, and WFLX-TV in Albany, GA. She was a TV senior executive in Jacksonville, FL, West Palm Beach, FL, and Birmingham, AL. She cared deeply about her employees and treated them with dignity and respect. She always dealt with people fairly and expected fairness in return. Her focus and determination made her a very successful business woman.

She was caring, warm, and welcoming. She always wanted the best for others, and she was always determined to fight for what was right. She knew her own mind and had a clarity of thought that was a blessing to others.

She loved hummingbirds, sunflowers, the smell of jasmine in the morning, the glint of reflected sunlight from the pond, Sealyham Terriers, and blueberry muffins. She fought every day to stay healthy for her family, and she fought valiantly until the last moment before going home to the Lord she loved.

She cared deeply for the people of Sullivan County, NY. In her honor, the Village of Monticello established a ‘Lynne Dayton Day’ on 9 December 1986 in recognition of her work promoting the revitalization of the Village.

Lynne is survived by her husband of 52 years, Daniel; two children: Sparrow and Connie; four grandchildren: Eleanor, Daniel, Hilary, and Jonathan; two great grandchildren: Calvin and Rose; and three cousins: Carolyn, Penny and Katie.

She was a staunch supporter of the establishment of the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Doughboy Foundation (www.doughboy.org) established to support the World War I Memorial.

A celebration of her life will be held at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery.


 

 

Treptow ceremonyDuring a Saturday ceremony honoring Martin A. Treptow, attendees listened to Treptow's story and saw the man honored with a 21-gun salute and the taps bugle call. 

104 years after his death, Bloomer soldier honored with Purple Heart

By Audrey Korte
via the Winona Daily News newspaper (MN) web site

BLOOMER, MN — On Saturday, a group of veterans, politicians, locals and descendants of Martin A. Treptow gathered at the American Legion in Bloomer to honor a serviceman who never made it home from World War I.

During the ceremony, attendees gave the pledge of allegiance, listened to the story of Treptow, and saw the man honored with a 21-gun salute and the taps bugle call.

The gathering was a long time coming. Treptow’s family has spent the last three years trying to secure their great-uncle a Purple Heart for his sacrifice.

The problem was that Treptow had no direct descendants. His great-nephews and great-nieces took up the charge to try and get Treptow the Purple Heart, but the fact that they weren’t his children or grandchildren proved to be a roadblock.

In a chance meeting between Treptow’s great-nephew who bears the same name — Martin Treptow — and State Rep. Jesse James, R-Altoona, the younger Treptow told James he’d been trying to get his relative the Purple Heart.

Together, they made it happen.

“This is the coolest thing that I’ve been able to do as a legislator,” James said. “They asked for help. That’s what we did.”

James said that he and his staff worked diligently to make sure the Purple Heart was awarded, and they were able to get it in just over a month.

“We helped with documentation and the application process,” he said.

James said this is meaningful for him as a veteran and a politician.

“We have to honor our veterans. When they give their life for what we have as American citizens,” James said. “To recognize someone 104 years later — you just can’t beat that.”

 

A firefighter runs towards the flames of a wildfire in Slovenia on July 22 2022A firefighter runs towards the flames of a wildfire in Slovenia on July 22 2022. A wildfire in Slovenia has set off many unexploded WW1-era ordnances, per reports. There have been more than 500 detonations of unexploded ordnances, according to local media. In one incident, a detonation sent shrapnel hurling toward firefighters. 

Wildfires are setting off hundreds of unexploded bombs on WWI battlefields, endangering firefighters 

By Joshua Zitser
via the Business Insider web site 

The summer's unusually hot temperatures have led to several wildfires across Europe and, according to Vice World News, they are setting off unexploded World War 1 bombs in the process.

A wildfire in the southwest Kras region of Slovenia, which officials told The Washington Post was the biggest since the country's independence in 1991, has destroyed more than 8,000 acres of farmland.

It's also led to the explosion of countless WWI-era bombs, which had laid dormant for more than 100 years, per reports.

Darko Zonjič, the commander of Slovenia's explosive ordnance disposal unit, told Slovenian media that they've stopped counting the number of detonations of these historic ordnances because there have been so many. Officials are now only taking note of explosions taking place near roads, Zonjič said.

It is estimated that, as of Thursday, there had been more than 500 detonations, according to local media.

The unexploded ordnances, mostly underground, explode when they overheat due to the extreme rising of temperatures as a result of the fires.

An incident on July 22 saw the heat from the raging fire set off an unexploded WWI-era bomb, launching shrapnel at nearby firefighters, per local media. Nobody was injured. 

"The EOD State Unit was successful in this, as there were no injuries or casualties among the firefighters," Boh said.

The unit has so far removed 821 pieces of explosive remnants of war, weighing 4,630 lbs, according to Boh.

The danger of the fire setting off further unexploded bombs remains an issue and people are warned against walking on the land near the wildfire, said Slovenia's defense minister Marjan Šarec, according to local media.

 

Meet the WWI American who invented the hard hat, a proud symbol of our nation's working class 

By Kerry J. Byrne
via the Fox News web site 

The hard hat is the team headgear of working-class America — the people who built the United States with their bare hands.

The people who still build it today.

Tip your safety cap to Edward W. Bullard (1893-1963), a U.S. Army veteran who crafted the world's most important piece of industrial protective equipment after returning from the carnage of World War I.

"Hard-hat workers are brave people doing important work," said Wells Bullard, CEO of E.D. Bullard Co. in Kentucky, a manufacturer of personal safety equipment. She's also a great-granddaughter of the hard-hat inventor.

"They are the people building our roads, bridges and infrastructure, moving our economy forward," she added. 

The effort requires a lot of hard hats. 

Some 33 million Americans, about 10 percent of the national population, work hard-hat jobs today, according to Cam Mackey, president and CEO of the International Safety Equipment Association. 

Edward Bullard helped found the nonprofit trade association in 1933.

The hard hat today is more than just an important piece of personal safety equipment. 

 

 Lenah S. Higbee A250 730x456

America250: Navy Veteran Lenah S. Higbee 

By Sarah Concepcion
via the VA | News web site 

Originally from Chatham in New Brunswick, Canada, Lenah S. Higbee came to the U.S. to study nursing. She completed training at the New York Postgraduate Hospital in 1889 and began working as a surgical nurse for a private practice. During this time, she met Marine Corps Lt. Col. John Henley Higbee. They married in 1899.

After her husband’s death in the spring of 1908, Higbee decided to volunteer for the newly formed Navy Nurse Corps program and traveled to a naval hospital in Washington, D.C. to take examinations. That October, Higbee became part of the “Sacred Twenty,” the first group of female nurses to serve in the Navy.

Based on her skill and experience, Higbee became a chief nurse during the spring of 1909. But the women of the Navy Corps also dealt with discrimination and doubts about their abilities. After five months of training, Higbee and two of her fellow nurses went to Naval Hospital Norfolk in Virginia. Though her supervisor was initially skeptical of the nurses, Higbee worked hard at Norfolk and earned the respect of her male peers.

When the first superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps resigned in 1911, Higbee took her place. She worked with the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington, D.C., but also sought to improve the conditions of her fellow nurses. As superintendent, she lobbied for better pay, military-provided living quarters and more opportunities for field work. When Europe entered World War I, Higbee appeared on numerous healthcare committees to prepare for the possibility of U.S. involvement.

“For two years prior to our actual entering into [WWI], warnings had been sounded and such tentative preparations as were possible had been made by those who were wise to the significance of war signs,” she later remembered.

It was Higbee who recommended that nurses join transport ships like USS Dolphin. When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, Higbee oversaw nurse teams deployed to the front lines in France and Belgium and hospitals in England, Scotland and Ireland. During the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic, Higbee continued to provide for and work alongside her fellow nurses to treat sick patients. She also oversaw the expansion of the Navy Nurse Corps. The corps grew to over 1,300 nurses by November 1918 and included hospital corpsmen in the Marine Corps.

By the end of World War I, over 1,300 Navy nurses had served in hospitals in the U.S., the United Kingdom and France. According to a 2020 news article, a contemporary paper wrote in June 1918 that “‘The most needed woman’ is the war nurse…In reality, the war nurse is a soldier, fighting pain, disease and death with weapons of science and skill. […] She goes prepared to share the risks and fortune of war, ready to make any sacrifice.” In November 1920, Higbee received a Navy Cross for her work. She was the first female living recipient to receive the medal. Her citation reads: “For distinguished service in the line of her profession and unusual and conspicuous devotion to duty as Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps.”

 

 Jefferson Davis headstoneMembers of the Centreville American Legion Riders are pictured Sunday morning, July 24, during their annual recognition of the late county resident U.S. Army Private Jefferson Davis who died during WWI fighting for freedom on the battlefields of France. Since the Centreville Legion was founded in the 1940s, “Jeff Davis Post 18”, was named for him, honoring his memory, as he gave all in service to his nation. From left: Barry DeMaris, Bob Lewis, Bob Pyfer, Kevin Morgan, John White, and Gene Whitaker.

QA's Jeff Davis recalled as hero for sacrifice made to his country in WWI 

By Doug Bishop 
via the Bay Times newspaper (MD) web site

CENTREVILLE — Founded in the 1940s, American Legion Post 18 was named for a local Queen Anne’s County hero, county born and raised Jefferson Davis of Church Hill, who was the first county resident to sacrifice his life while fighting for freedom, supporting the Allies during World War I. Davis died July 24, 1918, during the Second Battle of the Marne (France), July 15 — August 6. This past Sunday marked the 104th anniversary of his death.

Post 18’s 1st Vice Commander Ken Huddleston, who serves as well as American Legion Riders Director, and is also an American War historian, said, “That battle was a major turning point in fighting on the Western Front in 1918, not long after the Americans arrived in Europe. American divisions along the Marne and Champagne played a decisive role in halting the last German drive. The Allies then went on the offensive. On July 18, the French Army, which included multiple American divisions, initiated a series of offenses that eventually pushed the Germans back from the Marne. This indicates that Post 18’s namesake (Pvt. Jeff Davis) was in the middle of ground zero of the First World War, where the tide was changed. He paid the ultimate price for liberty 104-years ago.”

Huddleston also quoted famed WWII General George S. Patton, Jr. who said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”

Thousands of “doughboys” as they were nicknamed, were killed in the horrors of trench warfare in the Aisne-Marne region. Many of Davis’ comrades are buried in the nearby Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. His body was transported home to be buried in his native county and state.

Over the years, numerous local residents, many who have moved here from other places, have been confused by the name “Jeff Davis Post 18.” The confusion comes from the former President of the Confederate States of America, during the Civil War (1861-1865), bearing the same name. However, Jefferson Davis of Queen Anne’s County is of no relation to the former Confederate president. It’s easy to see why some confusion takes place, because of the same names, however, totally different circumstances, times and places from American history.

Amid the confusion, residents and local Legion members have been angered over the assumption that the Legion would bear the name of a man whose name is associated with racist overtones.

Knowing the history of the Legion’s namesake, members were quick to refute those ignorant assumptions, stating “nothing could be further from the truth.” Members of Jeff Davis Post 18, only wish to educate, and bring justified honor to the local hero.

 

American World War I In the Service of the Nation Artwork symbolizing a typical World War I service document. Writer Daniel Larison asserts that "Scholars like Hal Brands twist the history to make their own hardline and confrontational positions attractive and idealistic." 

Promoting WWI as a ‘great war’ for liberalism is perverse, and dangerous 

By Daniel Larison
via the Responsible Statecraft web site 

WWI has traditionally been seen as a cautionary tale of what comes from arms racing, national rivalries, and “great power competition.” It has loomed large as an example of the futility and stupidity of war as it destroyed the relatively stable order of the previous hundred years and left almost 20 million people dead and tens of millions more injured.

Portrayed by contemporary and later propagandists as a struggle between democracy and autocracy, the Great War was mainly a struggle between colonial empires that the status quo powers barely won at staggering cost. This is the war whose “real lessons” Hal Brands wants to teach us in a recent Bloomberg essay in order to promote a new round of great power rivalry with Russia and China today.

One of the “real lessons” that Brands imparts is hard to take seriously. He writes: “The resulting conflagration was not a pointless slugfest. It was part of a longer-running clash between liberalism and illiberalism.” The war was not only fought entirely by colonial empires, including the United States, but the wartime measures taken to fight the war introduced extensive authoritarian political and economic controls that trampled on liberal principles. This would include wartime nationalization policies and crackdowns on freedom of speech and press — like the arrest of anti-war figures like U.S. presidential candidate and activist Eugene Debs in 1918.

If the war involved a “clash between liberalism and illiberalism,” the clash was taking place inside each belligerent state and in each one illiberalism triumphed. If the war was part of “the contest between liberalism and its enemies,” as Brands says, this was the part where liberalism lost.

Brands needs to make WWI into a clear-cut ideological struggle to use it as a precedent for the ideological struggle he imagines the U.S. to be engaged in now. It is not surprising that people on both sides of a conflict try to present theirs as fighting for important ideals, but that doesn’t mean that the competing propaganda claims were the real stakes of the war. The Allies could say that they were fighting for the rights of small nations, but they had no compunctions about trampling on those rights when it was expedient. The advocates for self-determination at the end of the war had no intention of applying that principle to the nations subject to the rule of Allied empires.

The correct lesson from the war is quite different: WWI was the result of competing aggressive nationalisms and imperialisms that served to bring ruin to almost all of the nations and empires involved, and we run the risk of falling into the same trap by whipping up hostility towards other major powers now. Whether one wants to describe it as an “amoral clash of empires” or not, it was undoubtedly a colossally stupid and unnecessary clash of empires.

Brands is on firmer ground when he says that WWI was not accidental, but then very few people would still maintain that it was. Here he seems to be arguing with a consensus from long ago that no one continues to accept. What the history of the crisis leading up to the war does show, however, is that boxing in rivals can encourage them to lash out aggressively and that giving allies blank checks can encourage reckless behavior that leads to a general war.

The example of Russia is perhaps most telling of all: their government chose to intervene in a conflict when it didn’t have to, and it ended up destroying them. Brands claims that “World War I resulted less from a failure of de-escalation than a failure of deterrence,” which oddly minimizes the role that the Franco-Russian alliance had in encouraging the German government to go on the offensive.

 

761cfc9e 635b 4b61 9f7c 69b4b6c39cbeCommissioner Monique Seefried, Ph.D. of the United States World War I Centennial Commission (center) speaks with American and French military personnel after to he ceremonies on July 23, 2022 honoring the sacrifices of the U.S. Rainbow Division during the fighting at Croix Rouge Farm in 1918. 

Sacrifices of the U.S. 42nd (Rainbow) Division in WWI honored at commemoration of the 104th anniversary of the Battle of the Ourcq River  

By Monique Seefried, Ph.D.
Commissioner, United States World War One Centennial Commission

On July 23, 2022, the cities of Fère-en-Tardenois and Seringes-et Nesles honored the sacrifices of the U.S. 42nd (Rainbow) Division in WWI and commemorated the 104th anniversary of the battle of the Ourcq river (July 25 – August 3, 1918).

Late in the afternoon of July 26, 1918, two Rainbow Division regiments, the 167th Alabama and 168th Iowa, MacArthur‘s “cotton growers and corn pickers”, attacked under heavy machine gun and artillery fire the heavily fortified farmhouse of Croix Rouge Farm, south of the Ourcq river. As the Germans retreated to positions north of the river, the Rainbow Division formed a 3000 yards front just south of the Ourcq. After crossing the river on July 28 and, during six days of hand-to-hand combat, the 42nd Division liberated Meurcy Farm (still standing today by the Oise-Aisne American cemetery) as well as Seringes-et-Nesles and Fère-en-Tardenois.

On the battle site of Croix Rouge Farm stands a powerful memorial to the Rainbow Division by the British sculptor, James Butler (1931-2022), a member of the Royal Academy who passed away this year. Each year, a ceremony takes places there to commemorate the anniversary of the battle.

Among distinguished guests attending the ceremony this year were the sous-préfet of Soissons, Joël Dubreuil, the two senators of the Aisne, Antoine Lefevre and Pierre-Jean Verzelen, the member of the House of Representatives for the circumscription, Jocelyn Dessigny as well at the US Defense attaché to France, Colonel Allen Pepper, WWICC commissioner, Monique Seefried, Ph.D., and ABMC superintendent Bert Caloud. Mayors of the cities of the Tardenois were also present and the ceremony was hosted by the mayors of Fère-en-Tardenois, Jean-Paul Roseleux, and Seringes-et-Nesles, Didier Fernandez.  Moving speeches were pronounced and a plaque was installed to remember the sculptor, James Butler.

More photos of the ceremonies are below.