Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Pickelhaubes and Lugers

Just about every Doughboy who went to France aspired to return home with two things: a Pickelhaube and a Luger. There was no wonder why. Both items were very distinctly German and so had become iconic in newspaper and magazine cartoons as well as propaganda posters, such as the famous ‘Destroy This Mad Brute’, originally released by the British but also used in 1917 by the U.S. Army.  Also, there seemed to be an endless flow of photographs of the Kaiser wearing a Pickelhaube – he was so fond of his uniforms. ...read more

Kansas City Actors Theatre Reading

At the National World War I Museum and Memorial (if you happen to be in the Kansas City area):

Sunday, March 18, 2 P.M.

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme

Join the Kansas City Actors Theatre for a one-time staged reading of “Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme” by Frank McGuiness. This riveting, lyrical play by the author of “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me” follows a group of Irish Protestant volunteers and their journey during World War I. Sponsored by the Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund. FREE RSVP at matt@kcactors.org or by calling 816.361.5228 | J.C. Nichols Auditorium Lobby ...read more

Turner Classic Movies for February

My apologies if anyone reading this finds it useful to know of World War I movies coming up on Turner Classic Movies for being late.  You haven’t missed much, and there are still movies yet to air this month.  I think most have been mentioned before.  TCM is in their annual 31 Days of Oscar, meaning all movies have won an Oscar for some aspect of film. ...read more

C-SPAN3, February 19-20

The coming Presidents Day weekend does not offer a lot of World War I viewing on the C-SPAN networks.  In fact, just one program, shown three times on Monday, February 19th, and the wee hours of Tuesday, February 20th.

World War I & Legacy of President Woodrow Wilson airs at 1:35 p.m. Central on Monday afternoon, and repeats at 8:55 p.m. that evening, and again at 3:10 a.m Tuesday morning. ...read more

An American in the Royal Artillery

A previous article has discussed the approximately 40,000 American who served with the Canadians in WW1, and another has featured an American in the Foreign Legion. There were also a few Americans who served in the British army.

One of these was 2nd Lieut. Henry Augustus “Harry” Butters, RFA (1892 – 1916), who was killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. You can read his full story here. ...read more

Memorials to the Missing: VC Corner


“We found a fine haul of wounded and brought them in, but it was not where I heard this fellow calling so I had another shot for it and came across a splendid specimen of humanity trying to wiggle into a trench with a big wound in his thigh: he was about 14 stone weight [196 pounds] and I could not lift him on my back, but I managed to get him into an old trench and told him to lie quiet while I got a stretcher. Then another man about 30 yards out sang out ‘Don’t forget me cobber’. I went in and got four volunteers with stretchers and we got both men in safely.”  — Sgt. Simon Fraser, 57th Bn. AIF ...read more

Wilfred Owen on Shell Shock

Sometimes it takes a poet to fully describe reality. British 2nd Lt. Wilfred E.S. Owen MC (1893-1918), who was himself a victim of ‘shell shock’, wrote this poem while convalescing at a hospital at Craiglockhart in Scotland:

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,
Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ tongues wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain, — but what slow panic,
Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hand palms
Misery swelters. Surely we have perished
Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish? ...read more

The Red Baron’s JG 1 vs. the Black Squadron

Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen (1892 – 1918), familiarly known as “The Red Baron”, was an obscure cavalry lieutenant in 1914. With the advent of static warfare, his unit was broken up and he was assigned to a supply unit, duty that he found distasteful. He volunteered for aviation service in May 1915, serving as an observer until October, then went through flight training. He flew two-seaters until August 1916 when he finally became a true fighter pilot. He chanced to catch the eye of  Oswald Boelcke (1891 – 1916), known as “The Father of Air Fighting Tactics”, who selected von Richthofen for his elite “Jasta 2“ (short for Jagdstaffel 2). Von Richthofen later formed his own elite squadron, Jasta 11, which out-performed Jasta 2. In January 1917 he painted his Albatros D-III bright red, which led to his famous sobriquet. ...read more

A New Look at Quentin Roosevelt

Perhaps you may remember the 1980’s TV detective Thomas Magnum, who used to step out of character and say this voice-over at the change of a scene: “I know what you’re thinking”.

“Yet another (yawn) piece about Quentin Roosevelt”. Indeed, there have been quite a few – I’ve even written one myself, posted about two years ago in another venue. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: January 1918

It’s January 1918.  As a new year begins, President Wilson outlines his vision for a postwar world in an address to Congress.  His “Fourteen Points,” which follow Prime Minister Lloyd George’s statement of British war aims by only three days, are based on study and analysis conducted by a group of intellectuals called the “Inquiry,” a precursor of the Council on Foreign Relations.  The Bolsheviks walk away from the talks at Brest-Litovsk, but the reality of Russia’s military situation forces them to return.  Workers demanding an end to the war go on strike in Austria-Hungary and Germany.  The popularly elected Russian Constituent Assembly holds its first and only session before being shut down the next day by the Red Guards.  In the Mediterranean, the Ottoman Navy loses the two German cruisers it gained in the early days of the war.  In the United States, the government curtails manufacturing industries to conserve fuel.  The House of Representatives approves a woman suffrage amendment to the Constitution.  Americans enjoy music by Jerome Kern and George M. Cohan.

...read more

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