Mrs. Dawson’s  book was a thoughtful gift.

Mrs. Dawson’s Wartime Memories 

By Thomas Emme
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site 

It all started with a gift.

It was a thoughtful gift; the giver knew that I had an interest in the history of the Great War and it was a book full of World War 1 photography. It was over a hundred years old but in bad shape. The binding was broken and unravelling, and the cover almost fell off when I opened it. I took the book home and set it aside for a more careful look.  In the back of my mind, I thought if it wasn’t salvageable, I might be able to turn it into an art project.

Collier’s Photographic History of the European War

Collier’s Photographic History of the European War

Collier’s Magazine was a general interest magazine, founded in 1888 and published weekly until 1957. This “photographic history” was one in a series of five books published by Colliers between 1916 and 1919 to document the war. Before television or the internet, books like this defined what war looked like to the average person. This image is of the cover page from the first volume published in 1916 and the title refers to the “European War”. This was because the United States had not yet joined the war. Future editions included pictures of soldiers from the United States and the series was renamed to the photographic history of the “World War”.

 

the 1918 influenza pandemics impact on movie theaters 1050x700With World War I coming to end, 1918 should have been a good year for the movies. Then along came influenza. 

The 1918 Flu Pandemic’s Impact on Movie Theaters 

By Betsy Golden Kellem 
via the JSTOR Daily web site 

With more than $700 million in revenue, Spider-Man: No Way Home is having an uncharacteristically large cinematic moment in the post-COVID world. As of this past weekend (1/23/22), Deadline reported the movie hit #6 on the global all-time box office list and had made $1.69 billion, inspiring a Saturday Night Live sketch in which the show’s Joe Biden stand-in attributes the nationwide rise in coronavirus cases to the fact that every human in the country has seen Spider-Man.

Jokes aside, Spider-Man is the first movie in a long while to suggest a return to pre-pandemic box office figures and theater attendance. Movies have been hard hit by two years of pandemic pressures, resulting in hybrid releases, “theater at home” streaming arrangements, and the closure of many theaters. After the influenza pandemic of 1918-19, which similarly hit the movies hard, the film industry responded with massive structural change and a booming return to filmgoing. Will our current environment and its aftermath spur the same sort of change?

The year 1918 should have been a good year for the movies. War films and newsreels had kept theaters humming (film was considered an “essential industry” in World War I America), and as the war was coming to an end, there was every reason to expect a busy fall season in the amusement industry. But, after its initial discovery among military service members in the spring, and a mild first wave of infection, influenza took hold on the east coast in September 1918. Extending westward in the sort of six- to eight-week surges that have become all too familiar to us today, the pandemic roared across the United States and caused nearly two hundred thousand deaths in the month of October alone.

If attendance didn’t go down on its own as the flu raged through a given community, venue closures would eventually keep people out of the movies. According to film scholar Richard Koszarski, “Health officials would eventually order the closing of movie theaters along with other places of amusement, as well as schools, churches and (more rarely) stores.”

In October 1918, the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry decided to “abandon production as far as possible, stop the release of all new feature subjects and confine exchange activities to the immediate circulation of serials and news weeklies.” The shutdown was necessary from an economic perspective as much as a public health one: the American movie industry was a chain of relationships between the studios who made films, the exhibitors who showed them, and the ticket-buying public, and the pandemic affected them all materially. If studios weren’t making movies at the usual rate, and there wasn’t anyone to pay to rent the print, much less buy a ticket, the industry was left hard up.

 

Doughboy Family Memories Etched in Architectural Art

By Benjamin S. Dunham
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site

My first Brewer purchase was only a copy of a Brewer. I didn’t know it was a copy when I saw it in an antique booth in New Bedford. I signaled to my wife and asked, “Doesn’t this look like one of the cathedrals done by the brother of your great grandmother’s second husband?”

Rheims Cathedral 1914 West Front 1914“The West Front of Rheims Cathedral,” an etching by James Alphege Brewer published in December 1914. Inexpensive copies were hung in the parlors of American families in support of the Allied effort.The distant relative was the British artist James Alphege Brewer (1881-1946), and some years later, a family downsizing brought a few of his etchings into our home. After that, during a two-year stretch, I bought just about every Brewer etching that came on the market.

In the process of collecting Brewer etchings, I learned a lot about the artist and his family, and I discovered that the print I found in New Bedford was a copy of his first version of the west front of Rheims Cathedral, published in December 1914. It was this etching that made Brewer’s fame as a young artist, especially in the United States, but at first I didn’t understand its significance in regard to the Doughboys of WWI.

German advance through Belgium August 1914German advance through Belgium, August 1914As my collection increased, however, I began to see a relationship between the subjects and publication dates of Brewer’s etchings and the battles of World War I. The etchings he did in 1914, 1915, and 1916 included threatened and damaged historic buildings in Brussels, Antwerp, Namur, Dinant, Huy, Louvain, and Malines, all of which are identified on a map showing the course of the German attack.

When I compared these magnificent edifices to the photographs of the ruins that resulted from the wartime damage, I realized that Brewer’s wartime etchings showed the buildings as they once were, not as they appeared after the attacks. The images must have been captured in some way before the war began.

Brewer could have seen newspaper articles in 1913 about the course of a possible invasion of Belgium. For instance, in September 1913, after the Belgians had finished their summer war games, the Paris correspondent for The Times reported that the French grumbled about the defensive exercises near Dinant and Namur. This, the French thought, was a course that was “considerably to the north of that which a German army would follow if it violated Belgian neutrality.” But only a year later, that was exactly where the Germans attacked.

Reading reports like this in 1913, Brewer might have been able to envision a series of etchings showing scenes from the heart of Belgium. As Barbara Tuchman pointed out in The Guns of August, the Schlieffen Plan (even with Moltke’s adjustments) was based on a German advance through the whole of Belgium. Schlieffen said, “Let the last man on the right brush the Channel with his sleeve.”

The impact of Brewer’s etchings in America was almost immediate. A March 1915 ad for Closson’s art gallery in the Cincinnati Enquirer was headlined “Etchings from Warring Europe,” and the text continued, “We have just received about a dozen new subjects by Mr. Brewer, some of which were sketched in cities mentioned in the war despatches of recent months.” More would follow throughout the war. As a group, these etchings—which were, in essence, anti-war or, at the very least, nostalgic for an earlier era of peace—argue for their inclusion in surveys of important and influential political art.

  

Group closer to finding remains of WWI soldier from McKean County

By Marcie Schellhammer
via The Bradford Era newspaper (PA) web site

BRADFORD, Pa. — Kane-area native James L. Uber has been missing in action since Oct. 8, 1918, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France in World War I.

However, since his dog tag made its way to the Pennsylvania National Guard Museum in 2019, a group of volunteers have a pretty good idea of where the young corporal is buried.

James UberJames UberRobert Laplander and Mike Cunha of Doughboy M.I.A. have done the research, combed volumes of historical records, maps and photos, and even visited France, walking the ground of that deadly battle of more than a century ago.

A death statement uncovered through research read that Uber was struck in the temple about 11 a.m. Oct. 8, 1918, by a “(machine gun) bullet. He lived about 15 minutes and was on his way to dressing station when he died. His body was taken care of and buried by a detail from Co. B, 112th Inf.”

Laplander explained information from World War I is hard to track down. A massive fire in 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center destroyed much of the information.

“They didn’t throw anything away,” he said, adding that officials have been trying to rebuild the records ever since. “There is no list of what was salvaged and what was not.”

Uber’s file is thought to be among the lost. Laplander has a copy of his “grave location blank,” which is filled out by whoever oversees the burial of the lost soldier. Uber’s didn’t give the grave’s specific location.

When someone died in battle, they were buried in “private cemeteries,” of which about 1,700 were identified by the end of the war. The soldier’s dog tags were separated, one stayed with the body and one went on a makeshift grave marker.

It is Uber’s grave marker tag that Laplander believes was found and returned to the U.S.

The remains of most soldiers were retrieved and taken home. However, many of the burial spots were lost to time.

“There was still heavy fighting in that area for a few days after (Uber) was killed,” Laplander said. The marker was likely separated from the grave.

Because Uber’s remains were not located, he did not have a casualty record. So researchers looked for files of others who were killed in the same location during that battle “to give us more clues of what happened to those guys.”

 

Edith Rose Tench, only Fredericksburg area woman who actively served in WWI

via the National Park Service Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park web site

Edith Rose TenchEdith Rose TenchAlthough the vast majority of the graves in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery are soldiers from the Civil War, there are a handful of veterans of later wars within the cemetery walls. One of the most unique graves belongs to Edith Rose Tench. Tench served as a Yeoman, 3rd Class, in the United States Naval Reserve Force (USNRF).

Edith was born in 1890. She lived with her parents and four siblings on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg until she married Samuel B. Tench of Petersburg in 1917.

When World War I began, Edith joined the USNRF, which was created in 1916 to meet a shortage in clerical personnel. The enlistment of women began the following year, just before the United States entered the war. It was the first large-scale employment of women by the Navy.

By the time the war ended, more than 11,000 women had served in the USNRF.

Women of the USNRF were popularly referred to as “Yeomanettes” (a name they detested) though their official designations was Yeoman (F). In a similar linguistic turn, anti-suffragists of the same period used the "-ette" suffix to describe suffragists, intending to belittle their cause.

Yeoman (F) performed a variety of tasks, including clerical duties, designing camouflage for battleships, and acting as translators, draftsmen, fingerprint experts, and recruiting agents. After World War I, the Navy released all Yeoman (F) from active duty. With the exception of nurses, women would not serve as uniformed personnel in the Navy again until 1942.

Although a few went overseas, most Yeoman (F) were assigned to duty in the continental United States. Such was the case with Edith, who served at the Norfolk Navy Shipyard. She is likely the only woman local to the Fredericksburg area who actively served in the military in World War I. After World War I, the Navy released the Yeoman (F) from active duty. With the exception of nurses, women would not serve as uniformed personnel in the Navy again until 1942.

 

 023 Grimsley Halyburton four otherPOWS 1917 NARA 1280Pvt. Clyde Grimsley & Sgt. Halyburton with four other U.S. soldiers, photographed after capture in 1917, prior to transport to German prison camps. Image courtesy of the National Archives & Records Administration.

Halyburton and Grimsley - Story of U.S.'s first POWs in WWI 

By Nalia Warmack, National Cemetery Administration history intern
via the United States Departments of Veterans Affairs History Office

On the night of November 2, 1917, Company F of the 16th Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division, held off a night raid from German forces at Bathlémont, France, and sustained the first of many combat casualties of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I (1917-1918). Among these casualties were Sergeant Edgar M. Halyburton and Private Clyde Grimsley, who were captured by the Germans and became some of the first American prisoners of the war (POW) in the conflict.[1]

Sgt. Halyburton of Stoney Point, NC, enlisted in the U.S Army in 1909 and served in Mexico during the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa (1916-1917). He was deployed to France shortly after the United States entered into the war. When captured on the night of November 2, Halyburton and other captured Americans were eventually taken to Tuchel Prison Camp in West Prussia where they encountered harrowing conditions. Faced with lack of food and clothing, they were forced into heavy labor; tasked with harvesting lumber and carting wood miles to camp through the winter. Halyburton quickly sought to improve camp conditions for himself and fellow prisoners. He began sending postcards to the Red Cross asking for parcels (which included food) to be sent to the camp so that those imprisoned could be sustained throughout the winter.[2] Four months later, Red Cross parcels were finally received.

After seven months, Halyburton was transferred from Tuchel to Rastatt Prison Camp (Baden, Germany) where he remained until the armistice. At Rastatt, he made it his mission to establish a sense of order in the camp and eliminate German propaganda from influencing the morale and loyalty of American prisoners. His 500 fellow American prisoners elected him as their camp commander to attain this mission.[3] Halyburton established a firm camp structure that assured each man a job and handpicked an intelligence staff to monitor the effectiveness of German propaganda on POWs.[4] Recognized as head of American prisoners by the Germans running the camp, Halyburton was officially recognized as the leader of all present and incoming Americans in the camp.[5] For his leadership during while imprisoned, Halyburton was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal – one of the first enlisted men to receive the honor.[6]

Pvt. Clyde Irving Grimsley, an accomplished cornetist, enlisted in 1917 as a commissioned band leader. Eager to fight, he requested a transfer to the infantry with the hopes of joining the action in France.[7] Originally from Stockton, KS, Grimsley was captured with Halyburton and was taken to Tuchel Prison Camp after spending 30 days confined at Metz (in German occupied France).[8] After being at Tuchel for three months, Grimsley contracted tonsilitis and bronchitis and was admitted to the camp hospital.[9] After a five week recovery he took on the role of orderly, assisting two American doctors in the camp.[10] 

 

 Stinson 3 165 WW 429P 1281 1280Katherine Stinson in Boston preparing to fly Red Cross contributions to Washington, DC; photo dated 1917. Image from the National Archives.

Remembering Katherine Stinson Otero 

By Richard Hulver, Ph.D., Historian, National Cemetery Administration
via the via the United States Departments of Veterans Affairs History Office

Buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery is an aviation pioneer, flight instructor, skilled mechanic, Postal Service airmail pilot, World War I Red Cross worker, and accomplished architect. While a national celebrity and household name in the 1910s and 1920s, this trailblazer’s only legacy is inscribed on the back of husband Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Antonio Otero Jr.’s headstone, simply - “his wife.”

Katherine Stinson was born February 14, 1891, in Alabama, the first of four children. When her parents amicably separated, the children were raised by their entrepreneurial and progressive single mother. Katherine excelled in music during high school in Mississippi and desired to train as a concert pianist in Europe. The burgeoning world of aviation opened by the Wright brothers’ historic 1903 flight presented a means to achieve this goal. She went to Chicago in late 1912 and became popular aviator Max Lillie’s first female student. Within two months she earned the nation’s 148th pilot’s license, the fourth female to do so.[2]

Stinson quickly monetized her new skill. She and her mother incorporated the Stinson Aviation Company to make and sell aircraft. She joined the premier “Flying Circus” and performed across North America as a stunt pilot. “The Flying Schoolgirl” became the feature attraction, and she was the first woman to loop-the-loop and skywrite at night. Other entertainment feats included racing the Indianapolis 500 winner in her plane and dropping suffragist literature on crowds in simulated bombing runs. She also achieved major aviation accomplishments in distance and endurance flying, making non-stop trips from San Diego to San Francisco and then from Chicago to New York. Throughout 1917, she toured as a distinguished guest in Japan and China, the first woman to fly in those countries. By the start of World War I, her reputation had grown to the point that she earned thousands of dollars for one afternoon of flying.[3]

A meteoric rise did not diminish Stinson’s pragmatism and modesty. She viewed herself as an “ordinary girl, no more courageous, clever or self-reliant than the average American woman.”[4] Flying was a field open to women and a means to make money—it was work. Furthermore, she felt this work was more suited to women because of their “patience, attention to detail and caution, and intuition.”[5] She designed and built her own planes and motors, maintained them, and did not leave things up to luck.[6] As a result, she suffered none of the serious accidents that killed many of her counterparts. She was economically independent and made aviation a family business, training her siblings to become accomplished pilots. By 1915, Katherine’s earnings financed the Stinson Flying School and Stinson Airport in San Antonio, Texas.

Patriotism outweighed her desire to perform, however. When the U.S. Army launched the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916, Stinson volunteered as a pilot. She “was turned down, but had the satisfaction of knowing that most of the pilots who did go were men she had taught to fly at her school” near the border.[7] When America entered World War I she again, unsuccessfully, attempted to fly for her country. She used her celebrity to contribute to the war effort at home and circumvent a wartime restriction on civilian flying. She briefly flew as the only female for the U.S. Air Mail Service and made publicity flights to raise money for the American Red Cross. The most notable was a trip from Buffalo, NY, to Washington, DC, with stops in between, where she delivered a $2 million check to Treasury Secretary William McAdoo.[8]

 

From World War I to now: Helping Veterans One Action at a Time 

By Rhonda Underhill
Special to the Doughboy Foubdation web site 

WWI DisabledToday’s veterans have many benefits that their predecessors didn’t. When you look, especially, at World War I veterans, who bore the brunt of a society concerned over what they deemed excessive benefits given to Civil War veterans, today’s vets are doing much better. But, it’s not enough.

Let's look at a few different ways that you can help the veterans in your community 100 years after World War I.

Veteran Benefits

Unlike the millions of drafted veterans of World War I, many new military enlistees today go into service with benefits in mind. The most coveted may be the military’s education programs, including the G.I. Bill. Veterans may also qualify for low-cost medical care, job training, counseling, and loans earmarked for former service members. And, in 2022, the majority of disabled veterans will see a disability cost-of-living adjustment of 5.9%, according to Benefits.com.

However, many veterans struggle with a lack of access to these benefits, along with PTSD, sexual trauma, and higher than average unemployment. Homelessness and suicide are also common. But, with help from a community that cares, the veterans in your life can receive the assistance they need and the respect they deserve.

How To Help

There are many ways to help veterans, from offering a simple token of appreciation to launching full-scale fundraising campaigns that provide financial assistance to low-income vets. Other ideas include:

Learn about their needs. Often, we don’t help because we don’t know what’s needed. Consider learning what you can about World War I, Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm, and other veterans in your community. This could include looking at the history of the wars, what they’ve been through, and how they were treated upon return home.

 

Rosemarie Chandler as Grace Banker in the Phoenix Theatre Companys production of The Hello GirlsRosemarie Chandler as Grace Banker in the Phoenix Theatre Companys production of The Hello Girls 

New musical honors military exploits of women in WWI 

By Bridgette M. Redman
via The Glendale Star newspaper (AZ) web site

After spending her childhood on Luke Air Force Base, Rosemarie Chandler finds it fitting that she’s playing one of the first women in combat during World War I in “The Hello Girls” by the Phoenix Theatre Company.

“The Hello Girls,” which runs through Jan. 30, stars Chandler as Grace Banker, a switchboard operator in charge of a corps of women who went overseas during World War I.

The daughter of two military parents, Chandler lived on Luke AFB in the mid-1990s at the age of 4.

She recalled her parents attending a charity ball and leaving her older brother in charge. Instead of listening to him, she locked herself and her best friend’s neighbor in her dad’s military closet filled with freshly pressed and dry-cleaned suits.

“I started doing makeup and got makeup all over his flight suits and dress suits,” Chandler said. “My mom came home, and she was furious.”

Her younger brother is now stationed at Luke Air Force Base. During visits, she hears stories from female lieutenants.

“It’s definitely been hugely impactful to understand that part of my mom and also what it is like to be a woman in general in the military today,” Chandler said. “They’ve come so far and made great strides, but I think there are still ways we can become even more inclusive.”

Her mother was a protocol officer in the Navy for Adm. William Crowe and traveled around the world with him. It was also how her parents met.

“They held the same rank,” Chandler said. “I love that part of their story. The first time he walked into the office, my mom was doing paperwork. She didn’t even look up. She just handed him his paperwork and said, ‘Here you go, Mr. Chandler.’ My dad was smitten right away and went about pursuing her.”

Uncharted waters

The women in “The Hello Girls” had a more challenging route, as there were no women in the military. The musical is a modern retelling of a critical part of history in the struggle for women’s rights.

The women were part of the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit, typically known as “The Hello Girls.” They were bilingual telephone operators who helped turn the tide in World War I and fought to make their way to the front lines. After the war, they spent decades fighting for equality and recognition.

The story jumped out at Cara Reichel, the show’s director and co-writer.

“As someone who makes musicals, I’m always on the lookout for stories and ideas,” Reichel said. “I kind of have a mental Rolodex of things. I remember clearly when I first encountered their story — a very brief mention of them in a larger documentary on the history of women in the military. The name was ‘Unsung Heroes,’ and I thought maybe someone should sing about these women.” 

 

Battle Of Argonne Forest: America’s Deadliest Battle

By Tony Cao
via the Rebellion Research web site 

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a critical Allied forces operation of World War I, during the Hundred Days Offensive. Furthermore, it lasted for a bloody 47 days, starting on September 26th of 1918 and ending on November 11th by armistice. The majority of the offensive took place in France, northwest of Verdun.

302nd Eng. repairing road over trench and 92nd Div. (colored) machine gunners going into action, Argonne Forest, France.302nd Eng. repairing road over trench and 92nd Div. (colored) machine gunners going into action, Argonne Forest, France.A combination of American, French, and Siamese troops made up the Allied force in this operation, opposed by the Germans. American and French men totaled up to 1.2 million, complemented by around 850 troops from Siam. The allies also brought 380 tanks, 840 planes, and 2,780 artillery pieces with them. 

The Germans were heavily outnumbered. With only around a half a million soldiers and an inferior amount of heavy equipment. The Americans were led by senior officer John J. Pershing, the French by generals Henri Gouraud and Henri Berthelot, and the Germans by Wilhelm of Prussia, general Max von Gallwitz, and Albrecht, Duke of Württemberg. 

It is important to note that many of the American troops were greatly inexperienced going into this offensive and that a global outbreak of influenza, dubbed the ‘Spanish flu’, was ravaging the world’s population, including the soldiers. At Argonne, undertrained American Doughboys learned how to conduct mobile warfare through bloody experience.

The Battle

The offensive was split over three phases:

On September 26th the first phase began, and both sides expended large amounts of ammunition on each other.

At first, American troops were unable to gain any ground, and determined German counter attacks were able to make some significant headway west.

French forces adjacent to the Americans were fighting on more open terrain and so moved forward a couple of miles. The second phase began on October 4th. Furthermore, a combination of several American frontal assaults were able to break the fortified German defensive line. 

It was at the Battle of Montfaucon where the U. S. troops first penetrated the German defenses. However, these attacks proved to be extremely costly, and poor leadership meant there were few strategic advances for the Americans. Nearing the end of the month Americans had cleared 10 miles of the Argonne forest.

While French troops had gained 20 miles to the north.

The third phase began on October 31st, with the Americans having advanced 15 miles into the Argonne forest and the French 30 miles reaching the River Aisne. Americans defeated German defenses at Buzancy and subsequently the French crossed the river, storming and capturing Le Chesne in the Battle of Chesne.

During the last days of the Meuse-Argonne. The American divisions finally learned up-to-date tactics. And their final attack on November 1 is a triumph of military tactics.

 

american soldiers ww1 741x549A group of American soldiers wave from the deck of a ship transporting them to the fighting in France, during World War I, 1917.

Common WW1 Myths That Have Been Debunked By Experts 

By Madeline Hiltz
via the War History Online web site 

Perhaps no other war in history has attracted as much scrutiny as the First World War. With attention comes myths, misinformation, and controversies that have the potential to persist for long periods. These myths could be potentially damaging to the soldiers and civilians who experienced the War, as well as those who have been involved in other military conflicts throughout history. Here are some of the most well-known myths surrounding the First World War that experts and historians have debunked.

 The machine gun wasn’t responsible for the most deaths

Some people believe that the machine gun was responsible for the majority of the deaths in the First World War. The reason for this misconception is most likely because the machine gun is the weapon commonly associated with the War in popular memory, especially when we imagine troops “going over the top,” armed with machine guna, running into no-man’s land.

Although this is a powerful image, artillery weapons were actually responsible for causing the biggest number of deaths during the War. Small arms were responsible for the second largest number of casualties in the First World War. On the Western Front between 1915 and 1918, artillery was responsible for seven out of ten British casualties. These statistics were similar for the French army when it came to cause of death.

Soldiers didn’t live in the trenches for years

The First World War saw a new kind of fighting – trench warfare. The living conditions in the trenches were awful- men were crammed together, and the trenches often were filled with water, mud, and rats. However, most soldiers only spent anaverage of four days at a time in a front-line trench. Soldiers would often lose their morale if they spent too much time in the trenches.

The British Army specifically rotated their men constantly in and out of the trenches. Between battles, a unit would spend only around 10 days in a month in the trench system. It was not unusual for soldiers to be out of the trench line for a month at a time.

 

Family Research and Service Projects Lead to Better Understanding of Doughboy Heroes 

By Ann Silverthorn
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site 

On November 13, 2021, I met my great uncle who died in France during World War I. To be more exact, I met the young man who personified my uncle in a local play called A Doughboy’s Story. Witnessing the living, breathing characterization of the young man who had previously been just a story to me was incredibly moving.

IMG_2837.jpgAnn Silverthorn (right) and Rob Gatesman, who portrayed her grand uncle Russell Silverthorn in a play produced by American Legion Post 494 in Girard, Pennsylvania.The project was originally planned as the 2019 program for the 100th anniversary celebration of American Legion Post 494 in Girard, Pennsylvania, but the pandemic caused a two-year delay. Instead, A Doughboy’s Story debuted at the post’s Veterans Day dinner in November 2021, and I was there.

My interest in World War I reaches back to a decade ago, when I started to research our family history. My father shared a piece of paper with me containing an image of Russell Worth Silverthorn, my grandfather’s brother. To the right of the image on the landscape-oriented page was a report from a “Mr. Scott” detailing Russell’s last hours in a hand-grenade torn French wine cellar.

PFC John Harding Scott, Jr., a medic from Bradford, PA, wrote that he and his partner had been captured by the Germans in Fismette, France. They convinced their captors to let them locate and treat the American soldiers who had been highly outnumbered by the Germans in the battle now known as the Tragedy at Fismette.

Scott wrote that he came upon an old wine cellar, or the remains of one, and found 24-year-old Russell Silverthorn, the only Doughboy among at least a dozen, who appeared to be alive. The soldiers had taken refuge underground and tried to defend their position in vain against the Germans, who tossed grenades through the opening. The medic bandaged my great uncle the best he could, but it was clear that the hole in his chest was fatal. Scott wrote that Russell had died like a man and that the men in the cellar had fought to the finish.

I was horrified at the monsters who had so coldly killed my great uncle, but not long after, I learned of another great uncle who died at age 19 in World War I. That revelation made me rethink the concept of enemy.

Many years ago, in her thick German accent, my late grandmother Catherine told me that her fiancé was killed in the war, but I don’t remember a mention of her brother. She did tell my Uncle Dan, who wrote a manuscript about Catherine’s early life in Germany, including details about her brother who had died in World War I.

Josef Wäschle Josef Wäschle Josef Wäschle was killed by a French sniper’s bullet as he stood watch in an observation tower near Rheims. As Catherine’s mother watched her husband walking up the street after fetching a telegram, she said, “Joe’s dead.” She said she could tell by the way her husband walked.

Reading further how my great-grandmother wailed, I felt empathy for her and for my great uncle. I was sad about the horrors of war and how each of my uncles just wanted to stay alive. Just who was the enemy?

I wrote an impassioned piece for my blog about the concept of enemy. The regent of my Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter, Mary Jane Koenig, thought I’d be interested in the committee she was organizing to honor Erie County, Pennsylvania’s involvement in World War I for the upcoming centennial in 2018. This involvement led me on a rewarding journey.

The Erie County World War One Centennial Committee raised money for a memorial that lists the names of the Erie County soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War I. We consulted a book published in the 1920s that listed the names of 154 fallen soldiers from our area. Several members of the committee, including myself, researched the names, qualifying them for the memorial. Through our work, we discovered even more names, and the list grew to nearly 200.

 

                                Apart from new tyres and a replica cab and body this Liberty is remarkably original and a very good runner.

Liberating Belgium: Driving a 1918 Liberty B truck back to the Western Front under its own power. What could possibly go wrong?

By Tim Gosling
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site 

“We are taking a couple of trucks over to Belgium for the Armistice commemorations, would you like to come?” asked my good friend Ian Morgan. He briefly explained the plan, that his 1918 Liberty B truck and 1913 Model T Ford would be trailered to the Pond Farm museum just outside Ypres where they could be stored and we would sleep in a nearby barn for three nights. Travelling out on the Saturday we would come back on the Tuesday which would give us a couple of days to visit the battlefield and attend the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. The museum was having an open weekend and the trucks would make an interesting addition to their display.

The Pond Farm museum is a remarkable private collection set up by Stijn Butaye comprising exhibits that he has dug up on the family farm. The collection includes shells, grenades, bullets, tools, personal equipment, parts of a MK IV tank and every imaginable kind of detritus that was left on the battlefield all of which he has displayed in one of the barns. Also currently residing at Pond Farm is the replica MK IV tank Damon II which was built by the Poelcapelle 1917 Association and which occasionally makes appearances at public events.

Unfortunately a small problem occurred when the transporter was unable to take the Liberty all the way to Belgium so it would have to be unloaded at the channel tunnel and then drive under its own power from Calais to Ypres. This was a distance of just over 60 miles. Not an insurmountable problem but one which did not fill me with much enthusiasm if we were to lose the light.

                               The Liberty does look a little incongruous on such a modern train, but the channel tunnel is a lot quicker and easier than taking a ferry.

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