Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Month: September 2016 (page 3 of 5)

Kansans of the Great War Era: The Last Kansas Doughboy

Inevitably someone asks, who was the last soldier?  Overall the answer is Frank Buckles, a Missourian transplanted to West Virginia, who passed away in 2011 and the age of 110.

A Kansan did give the Missourian a run for his money.  Albert F. “Jud” Wagner was born September 5, 1899 in Lincoln County.  At the age of 17 he joined the United States Marine Corps, and was shipped to France in October 1918 with the 2nd Army Division, 6th Marine Regiment.  He saw most of his service as part of the Army of Occupation. ...read more

Home Front: Eagles Quilt

No, this has nothing to do with the 1970s band.  But if it gives you a peaceful easy feeling, that’s fine.

Elizabeth Marthaler Stauf was a Swiss immigrant to the United States in the late 1870s.  She came first to Hiawatha and then to Marysville, where she spent the rest of her life. ...read more

Tanks for the Memories

At 0520 British Summer Time on the morning of 15 September 1916, a new epoch in the history of warfare began, as forty-nine “machine gun destroyers” belonging to a battalion of the British Army’s Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) left their assembly areas opposite Courcelette, Martinpuich, and Flers. Or so the story has gone ever since, and doubtless will during the current centennial. Granting that mechanized warfare had to start somewhere, any useful assessment must include proportions, and if we include those proportions — especially the number of tanks involved and the degree of success achieved, the birth of what my former instructors at the Armor School called “The Combat Arm of Decision” does not look all that auspicious. Indeed, what we commonly see as a precursor of Guderian’s Sichelschnitt, Rybalko’s Kutuzov, Patton’s breakout, Sharon’s Gazelle and Schwarzkopf’s Desert Storm provides us with textbook examples of how not to prepare and execute any military operation let alone how not to employ armor. In the tank’s Great War baptism of fire, 16 of the 49 did not make it from the assembly area to their attack positions, becoming lost, ditched, or having thrown a track before joining the battle that they had been expected to decide. Of the 33 that crossed the line of departure, 17 either ditched or suffered mechanical failure before making contact, 6 were knocked out or damaged by enemy fire without reaching their objectives, 1 ran low on fuel in no man’s land and returned to British lines, and 1 got so lost that it wandered into another division’s sector. Rumbling forward at three and a half miles per hour, the remaining eight suppressed enough Bavarian infantry during the advance to make an impression; one tank caused enough panic among defenders of a strongpointed factory to aid in a significant haul of prisoners and another shot up an enemy battery. While the maximum gain of two miles with a haul of 400 prisoners came as a welcome tactical success to the division commanders involved, it was no more a strategically significant breakthrough than the bloodbath of 1 July had been. ...read more

Aviators: Donald Hudson

Lieutenant Donald Hudson was born in Topeka on December 21, 1895.  He served with the 27th Aero Squadron from November 1917 until the end of the war.  He was able to claim six victories, one more than was needed to be an ace.  He also received the Distinguished Service Cross. ...read more

Home Front: The Return of Paul Knoblauch

Among communities conflicted by the Great War, those whose families included relatively recent German immigrants were particularly affected.  Anti-German sentiment weighed heavily against them at times, even if they were steadfastly loyal to their new country.

Consider Paul C. Knoblauch, who was born at or near Colwich on March 15, 1892.  His parents had immigrated from Germany nearly twenty years before his birth, but because they were surrounded  by other immigrants, they kept speaking and observing the German language and customs.  Paul himself could speak German fluently. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era: Joe Price

Joe Price was a native Kansan who enlisted in the Navy at Kansas City, Missouri, on July 26, 1918.  He was born at Effingham on October 3, 1897, and he found himself not being assigned to a ship in the Atlantic fleet, but the Pacific.

Not that this wasn’t important.  He was assigned to the U.S.S. Vicksburg, which patrolled the west coast for the threat of German submarines.  There was concern that after the Zimmermann telegram, Germany might continue to try to make an alliance with Mexico.  The Vicksburg had its moment a few months before Price joined its crew. ...read more

Aviators: James Andrew Healy

Lieutenant James Andrew Healy was born at Fort Leavenworth on March 20, 1895.  That suggests a military family, and indeed, his father, Colonel Daniel Healy, was with Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders when he was killed at San Juan Hill.

James joined the Army Air Service in July 1917, and when deployed he was assigned to the 147th Aero Squadron.  With five victories he qualified as an ace, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He remained in the service after the war and retired at the rank of Major in 1936.  He returned to service in World War II and attained the rank of Colonel. ...read more

Monuments and Memorials: A Tribute to the Runners

Runners were those soldiers who were used to carry messages back and forth in the front lines.  As that might suggest, it was a very deadly job.

One might be surprised to learn that there is a tribute to these men in the Topeka Cemetery.

Private First Class Henry Murphy Walsh was one of these runners.  There is a little confusion about his birth; the monument indicates he was born February 7, 1893, although his draft registration says 1894.  The same registration puts his birthplace as Carthage, Missouri, but the 1910 Federal census says Kansas.  At the time of the registration, he was living in Glenns Ferry, Idaho. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era: Donald C. Thompson

Donald C. Thompson found being a photographer exciting work, and one gets the sense that he thoroughly enjoyed the deception he often used to film the scenes he wanted.  He was an American in Europe before the entry of the United States, and he came amazingly close to the action. ...read more

Event–Herbert Hoover: The Great Humanitarian

The follow-up to the Belgian Relief Flour post is to turn your eyes once again toward Kansas City, should you happen to be there on the evening of September 20th.  Hoover biographer George Nash of Harvard University will be at the National World War I Museum and Memorial that evening to talk about Hoover’s relief efforts during and after World War I.  The event is co-sponsored by the Museum  and the National Archives Branch of Kansas City–which, by the way, is another great research source in this area. ...read more

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