Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

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Memorials to the Missing – The Menin Gate

The Menin Gate is located in the city of Ypres (Flemish: Ieper), West Flanders, Belgium. Although the city is in the predominantly Flemish part of Belgium, due to the British the French spelling and pronunciation are still prevalent today. During WW1 the city was the center of the Ypres Salient, that little corner of Belgium not occupied by Germany which was tenaciously defended, mostly by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Ypres became a special place to the British and today the city is clearly the most British place on the Continent. In future articles I’ll highlight some of the other important sites, monuments and markers in the area (I’ve already covered the Essex Farm Aid Station). ...read more

Taps at Pershing Park

Beginning on Memorial Day, every evening until Veteran’s Day “Taps” will be played at the flagpole by a lone bugler. You can read more about this by clicking here.

It is envisioned that this could become a regular, even permanent occurrence, sort of like the playing of the Last Post at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission site in Ypres, Belgium. You can read about the Last Post ceremony by clicking here. ...read more

Last Post Ceremony Continues

Awhile back when I posted about the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium I covered the Last Post Ceremony which has been held every evening beginning in 1927, except for when the Germans occupied Ypres from 1940-44. You can read that post by clicking here.

By agreement between the Belgian authorities, the Last Post Association and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the nightly ceremony is continuing, with one bugler and NO AUDIENCE. You can read about this by clicking here. ...read more

Memorials to the Missing – Neuve Chapelle

Khudadad Khan VC

On August 8th, 1914 two infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade of the Indian Army were ordered to prepare for overseas service, following a plan devised by then-Maj. Gen. Sir Douglas Haig in 1910. Units of this ‘Indian Expeditionary Force’ began arriving in France in September and at the end of October they were rushed up to stop a German advance during the First Battle of Ypres in Belgium. It was here  that Sepoy Khudadad Khan (1888 – 1971), of the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis, performed the act of gallantry for which he later received the Victoria Cross, becoming the first Indian-born soldier and the first Muslim to be so honored.

129th Baluchis in Belgium1914

The 3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) divisions of the Indian Corps fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the first year of the war. At Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 Indian soldiers made up half of the attacking force and despite taking very heavy casualties succeeded in capturing important sections of the German line. The Corps further distinguished itself at St. Julien in the Ypres Salient in April 1915, at Aubers Ridge and Festubert in May, and at Loos in September. In December all of the Corps except the cavalry was withdrawn and replaced by New Army divisions. The infantry went to the Middle East while the cavalry remained behind until the spring of 1918, when they were also sent to the Middle East. Starting in 1917, Indian labor companies performed important and sometimes dangerous logistical work in France, continuing well after the Armistice.

The Western Front was a grim place to be in 1915, but the Indian soldiers faced some additional hardships. The Indians were assigned stretches of front of the same length as British units, although a full-strength Indian battalion was about 200 soldiers smaller than a British one. The Indian soldiers arrived with inadequate clothing, particularly winter gear, and older obsolescent weaponry.

Indians with a 1905 Benet -Mercier Machine Gun

It was a constant challenge for supply to satisfy Indian dietary requirements. Indian units were short on British officers as all those on home leave in the fall of 1914 had been stripped off as cadre for the New Army. The British army wasn’t tolerant of religious, linguistic and ethnic distinctions, or of caste rules and vedic medicine.  Even in the field, Indian units had civilian ’followers’ who performed tasks for the soldiers according to an intricate scheme which made little sense to the British.

India sent more than 140,000 men to the Western Front – 90,000 soldiers and about 50,000 non-combatant laborers. They represented a diverse range of religious, linguistic, and ethnic groups. More than 8,550 died and about 50,000 were wounded. Indians missing on the Western Front are commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres (Ieper) and at the Neuve Chapelle  Memorial. Indian Army missing in the Salonika Campaign are honored at Monastir Road in Greece, those lost at Gallipoli on the Helles Memorial and all the missing from elsewhere are listed on the India Gate in Delhi.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Memorial to the Missing at Neuve Chapelle is located near the village in France of the same name, on the site of the battle of the same name, which was waged from March 10th to March 13th, 1915. The memorial commemorates 4,742 Indian soldiers and civilians who died on the Western Front and have no known grave.

There are some atypical aspects to this site:

  • The only soldiers commemorated are from the Indian Army,
  • It also commemorates Indian civilian followers and
  • No cemetery is attached, so there is no Cross of Sacrifice or Stone of Remembrance.

The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker KCIE FRIBA RA (1862 – 1946). He also designed the Tyne Cot and Loos Memorials and

his pedigree is detailed here ...read more

Memorials to the Missing – Arras

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Memorial to the Missing at Arras in France is adjacent to the CWGC Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery in the western part of the city, near the Citadel d’Arras.

Some of the 34,791 names on the Memorial to the Missing

From 1914 until 1917 Arras was a few miles behind the Front, within range of some German heavy artillery, and the site of several French and British casualty clearing hospitals.

The Memorial to the Missing is located in front of the cemetery and is a two-winged colonnade with interior galleries, upon whose walls are listed 34,791 names of British, South African and New Zealand soldiers lost in the region between March 1916 and April 1918. Between the two wings there is a semicircular non-vaulted colonnade which partially encloses a small plaza, within which stands an unusual ‘memorial within a memorial’, the Flying Services Memorial, which commemorates the 991 missing of the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force (from after March 1918) and the Royal Naval Air Service.  Among those listed here is Irish-born Maj. Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock VC, who was the leading British Flying Ace of the war (Billy Bishop was Canadian).

The Memorials dwarf the cemetery, which has 2,650 burials, including 30 French and Germans from WW1, and from WW2, seven Brits, one American and one nationality unknown.

This makes the cemetery unusual too as it has both WW2 and non-BEF WW1 burials.

Some of the 991 names on the Flying Services Memorial

The Memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the foremost British architect of the era. He also designed the Thiepval CWGC Memorial, the India Gate in Delhi and the Whitehall Cenotaph, among many WW1 sites.

The Flying Services Memorial was created by the noted sculptor Sir William Reid Dick, who also contributed the paramount lions on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres (which will be covered in a future article) as well as several monuments in the UK including the Kitchener Memorial Chapel in St. Paul’s, London. The memorial is an obelisk with name panels on the four sides, topped by a sculpted globe with streamers around it representing the broad reach of air power.

Reid Dick’s specialty was historical sculpture; he produced prominent statues of King George V and Franklin D. Roosevelt that stand today in London. Reid Dick was also a veteran of WW1, joining in 1914 at age 34 and serving for the rest of the war, first with an ambulance unit and later as a surveyor with the Royal Engineers.

Memorials to the Missing – Basra

Basra Memorial Panel

Basra Memorial Panel

During WW1 the British and their Indian Army were extensively engaged in today’s Iraq, which began with a strike in early 1915 to protect the Royal Navy’s principal source of fuel oil.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Basra Memorial to the Missing commemorates 40,626 members of the Imperial Forces who have no known grave and who were lost in the Middle East (excepting Gallipoli) and Africa from the beginning of hostilities through August 1921. Only the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme battlefield in France and the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium bear more names of the missing.

Designed by Edward Prioleau Warren, who otherwise designed mostly churches and residences in 17th century revival style (many of these in and around Oxford), the monument is in Roman style and was dedicated on March 27th, 1929 by Brig. Sir Gilbert F. Clayton, an old Middle Eastern hand who was the British High Commissioner to Iraq and had been the superior officer to T.E. Lawrence (a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia) during the war.

Taken from British Army helicopter in 2007

Taken from British Army helicopter in 2007

Until 1997 the Memorial was situated on the main quay of the former Royal Navy dockyard at Maqil, on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab, eight kilometers north of Basra, but in 1998 the Memorial was summarily removed by the Saddam Hussein government, a project that

involved a considerable cost in manpower, transportation and engineering, and completely re-erected at a site in the middle of nowhere 32 kilometers up the road from Basra to Nasiriyah, near the site of a battlefield during the 2003 war (remember PFC Jessica Lynch?).

Once there were four CWGC cemeteries in Iraq, and they fared better under Saddam than today. The one in Basra had 2,551 WW1 burials and 65 WW2 burials but it was completely levelled by the current local government. At Kut-al-Amarah there are 4,621 WW1 burials and this site is presently threatened with destruction. The Baghdad North Gate Cemetery is safe for now and has 4,160 named and 2,729 unknown WW1 burials, 296 WW2 burials, 127 non-British WW1 and WW2 burials and 41 non-military burials. The Khanaqin cemetery had to be abandoned in the 1960’s due to its remote location; it had 544 WW2 burials, 440 of which were non-British. These remains are now buried in a mass grave at North Gate. My WW1 travelling friend John Hambidge MBE has a family connection to North Gate: 27710 Pte. William H. Nicholls, 1st Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, died July 22nd, 1917. Like many British families, John and his wife Barbara could put together a tour just to visit sites commemorating members of their families.

Nicholls family ca. 191

The CWGC has not been allowed access to the Basra Memorial for several years, and there is concern that the site has been damaged, probably significantly. Is the Basra Memorial to the Missing destined to become missing?

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: October 1917

In October 1917 the Allied offensive in Flanders bogs down in mud and heavy rains near Passchendaele. The Austro-Hungarian Army, aided by German reinforcements, breaks through the Italian Army’s lines at Caporetto, sending the Italians into a headlong retreat. French Army forces commanded by General Petain attack German Army positions on the Chemin des Dames, forcing them to withdraw.

In Palestine, the British Army captures Beersheba. The first American troops arrive in the trenches. Great Britain declares an absolute embargo on shipments to the Northern Neutrals (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands) to prevent them from supplying Germany with food, ammunition and other war materiel. Reacting to sinkings of its merchant ships by German U-boats, Brazil declares war on Germany. Mata Hari is executed for espionage.

In the United States, the Trading with the Enemy Act gives the president broad powers to control trade with enemy countries in time of war. Using powers conferred by the new law, President Wilson appoints A. Mitchell Palmer to the post of Alien Property Custodian. Palmer promptly seizes money and property belonging to or owed to German subjects and uses the money to buy Liberty Bonds. Mayor Mitchel of New York City, having lost his party’s primary, is running as an Independent. The second Liberty Bond campaign is a success. The special session of Congress, called earlier this year to declare war against Germany, comes to an end.  Columbia University terminates two professors for suspected disloyalty, causing Charles A. Beard, a prominent political science professor, to resign from the faculty in protest.  The Chicago White Sox (including several future Black Sox) win the World Series, defeating the New York Giants four games to two.

Australian Soldiers at Passchendaele

The Anglo-French offensive in Flanders, dubbed the Third Battle of Ypres, has been under way since the end of July.  British Armies under the overall command of Field Marshal Haig continued the “bite and hold” tactic they employed last month at the Menin Road Ridge and Polygon Wood.  On October 4, under a steady rain that had begun the previous day, British armies under the command of Generals Gough and Plumer, mostly Australians and New Zealanders, moved forward about one thousand yards and dug in after occupying Broodseinde Ridge.  By then, the rain had become torrential, filling shell holes and turning the ground into an impassable swamp.  Both generals recommended halting the offensive, but they were overruled by Haig, who insisted that the attack continue with the objective of capturing Passchendaele Ridge.  The offensive continued as scheduled on October 9, but the weather and ground conditions caused the attack to bog down.  At month’s end, further attacks by Canadian troops have thus far failed to capture Passchendaele Ridge.

The French Offensive at La Malmaison

As the British and Canadians were fighting their way toward Passchendaele to the north, French troops under General Henri Petain, in a renewal of last spring’s offensive under General Nivelle, attacked German positions along the high ground of the Chemin des Dames and the fort of La Malmaison.  At the end of the month, the French had driven the Germans back to the north bank of the Ailette River and the Oise-Aisne Canal.

Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando

The two offensives launched on the Isonzo River earlier this year by Italian Commander-in-Chief General Luigi Cadorna resulted in over 280,000 Italian casualties but no appreciable gains.  Responding to the urgent appeal of Austrian Emperor Karl, Kaiser Wilhelm ordered that German reinforcements be sent to aid in an Austrian offensive.  On October 24, led by German divisions under the command of General Otto von Below, the combined armies attacked at Caporetto.  After a short but intense artillery bombardment, the leading units advanced rapidly, using poison gas effectively and bypassing Italian strong points.  By month’s end, the Italian Army was in full retreat and attempting to establish defensive positions along the Tagliamento River.  The defeat caused the fall of the government of Italian Prime Minister Paolo Boselli, who was replaced on October 30 by Minister of the Interior Vittorio Orlando.

General Allenby

The British have failed in two previous attempts to drive the Turks from Gaza, the most direct route from Cairo to Palestine.  General Edmund Allenby, the new commander of British Army forces who assumed command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in July, has had more success.  After a campaign of deception and a feint toward Gaza that convinced the Turks that Gaza was again the primary target, Allenby instead attacked the crossroads town of Beersheba, located on the southern edge of the Negev Desert.  The attack began the morning of October 31 and ended with a cavalry charge by the Australian Fourth Light Horse Brigade which forced the surrender of the last of the Turkish defenders.  With the British occupation of Beersheba, the Turkish position in Gaza has become untenable.

American Troops Ashore in France, June 1917

The first Americans have arrived in the trenches.  On October 21 American troops were assigned to French units in the Luneville sector, a relatively quiet part of the Western Front.  Two days later artillery fire inflicted the first American combat injuries; all the injured soldiers were treated and returned to duty.  A few days later the Americans captured their first prisoner, a  German orderly who had wandered into the American lines by mistake.

With the United States in the war and enforcing its own embargo (imposed in July) on exports to the northern neutrals (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands), Great Britain no longer has to worry about offending American interests by cutting off neutral trade.  On October 2, the London Gazette printed a royal proclamation imposing a sweeping embargo on all trade with the northern neutrals.  Under the new embargo, the exportation to those countries of all articles except printed matter and personal effects accompanied by their owners is prohibited.

President Bras Signing the Proclamation of War

The United States is not the only nation whose neutrality has been threatened by Germany’s resumption of submarine warfare against merchant shipping  Several Brazilian ships have been attacked with the loss of lives and valuable cargo. On October 26 the Brazilian legislature declared war on the Central Powers.  The vote was 149 to 1 in the Chamber of Deputies and unanimous in the Senate.  President Venceslau Bras signed the proclamation the same day.  Brazilian torpedo boat destroyers have been ordered to Bahia to take possession of the German gunboat Eber, which is interned there.

Mata Hari

Margarethe Zelle, the Dutch entertainer and courtesan who performed under the name Mata Hari, was arrested in Paris in February and charged with spying for the Germans.  At her trial in July, the French prosecutors accused her of revealing details of the Allies’ new weapon, the “tank,” causing the Germans to rush work on a special gas to be used against it.  The evidence indicated that she had traveled to the English town where the first “tanks” were being manufactured and that she was subsequently seen in Spain where she aroused suspicion by associating with a man suspected by the French Secret Service.  She was arrested in Paris after being seen there with a young British officer attached to the “tank” service.  She was convicted of espionage, and on October 15 she was taken by automobile from St. Lazaire Prison to the parade ground at Vincennes where she was executed by a firing squad.

Mitchell Palmer

The Trading with the Enemy Act, which became law on October 6, creates the post of Custodian of Enemy Property.  On October 22, former Pennsylvania Congressman A. Mitchell Palmer assumed the position and opened offices at 920 F Street, N.W.  He found waiting for him hundreds of letters from American corporations and others offering to turn over large amounts of money in the form of dividends from German-owned corporations in the United States as well as amounts due in settlement of estates and bills owed to German businesses.  In addition to money, Palmer will begin seizing metals and other materials owned by Germans that are useful for war purposes, including millions of bales of cotton.  The value of the money and property subject to confiscation is estimated at one billion dollars.  All proceeds will be used to buy Liberty Bonds.

Mayor Mitchel

New York City’s reform mayor, John Purroy Mitchel, was elected as a Republican in 1913.  Since then his popularity has diminished dramatically, and this year he narrowly lost the Republican primary to a relatively unknown former state senator.  He continues to believe, however, that his nonpartisan message of patriotism and reform will carry the day against Democrat John F. Hylan,  Tammany Hall’s candidate.  On October 1 Mitchel stood on the steps of City Hall and addressed a crowd that filled City Hall Park from Park Row to Broadway.  With him were former President Theodore Roosevelt, last year’s Republican presidential nominee Charles Evans Hughes, and numerous other dignitaries including former ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau and Oscar Straus, former candidate for governor and chairman of the Public Service Commission.  A letter of support from former President Taft was read.  Replying to speakers who offered him a “popular nomination” to run for reelection as an Independent, he accepted, promising “to make the fight one against Hearst, Hylan and the Hollenzollerns.”  In a tumultuous meeting on October 4 the New York Republican County Committee voted down a resolution to endorse William M. Bennett, the winner of the Republican primary. Republican leaders are lining up behind Mitchel’s Independent candidacy, but this may not be enough to defeat Tammany Hall.

Liberty Bond Poster

A second Liberty Loan drive began on October 1 with a goal of 10 million subscribers for a face value of $3 billion dollars worth of bonds.  Reflecting the increase in market interest rates since the first Liberty Bond issue in April at three and a half percent, the interest on this issue is four percent.  Holders of bonds purchased in the first drive are allowed to exchange them for the new bonds.  After a slow start, it appears that this issue, like the first one, will be oversubscribed.  An important element in the success of Liberty Loan drives has been the appeal to patriotism and the mobilization of public opinion through the Committee on Public Information.  On October 24, proclaimed “Liberty Day” by the President, volunteer women stationed at factory gates passed out seven million fliers.  The mail order houses of Montgomery Ward and Sears-Roebuck mailed fliers to farm women, and librarians inserted Liberty Loan reminder cards in public library books.

Vice President Marshall

The special session of Congress that convened on April 2 to hear President Wilson’s war message came to an end on October 6.  As required by Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution, Congress will convene in its regular session on the first Monday in December.  In the 188 days it was in session, in addition to declaring war on Germany, Congress enacted important war measures including compulsory military service and legislation authorizing billions of dollars in borrowing and expenditures, as well as.the Espionage Act, prohibiting interference with military operations and recruitment, and the Trading With the Enemy Act.  In the last few hours of its session the Senate confirmed the nominations of several senior military officers, including the promotions of  Major Generals John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, and Tasker H. Bliss, chief of the Army General Staff, to the rank of General, which they will hold for the duration of their present assignments.  Before adjournment both houses were read a message from President Wilson thanking the Congress for “the work of this remarkable session” which has “been done thoroughly” and “with the utmost dispatch possible in the circumstances or consistent with a full consideration of the exceedingly critical matters dealt with,” leaving “no doubt as to the spirit and determination of the country.”  Speaker Clark and Vice President Marshall then addressed the House and the Senate, respectively.  Known for his wit and his self-deprecating sense of humor, Marshall thanked the senators for “the patience and forbearance with which they have dealt at many times with my irascible conduct.”  Describing himself as a presiding officer who was “not one perhaps they wanted, but one that an ignorant electorate has thrust upon them,” he reminded the senators that “the unfortunate thing in public life is that those who know nothing are placed in the seats of the mighty.  The wise men remain at home, and discuss public questions on the ends of street cars and around barber shops.”

Senator LaFollette

A flood of telegrams and letters have poured into the Capitol in recent weeks demanding the expulsion of Senators Lafollette, Gronna, and Stone, all of whom opposed the declaration of war, on grounds of disloyalty.  The Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections asked Senator LaFollette to answer specific questions about statements he had made in an address in St. Paul, and he responded with a two-hour speech on the Senate floor as the session drew to a close.  He based his defense on the argument that he has a right to free speech, and told the Senate he will continue to oppose the war and call for the administration to state its war aims.  Three of his fellow senators attacked the speech, Senator Joseph T. Robinson (Dem., Ark.) telling him “you can’t run for president on a platform of disloyalty.”

Professor Beard

In a  meeting held October 1, the Board of Trustees of Columbia University expelled two professors from the faculty.  Professor James McKeen Cattell of the Department of Psychology and Assistant Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana were ousted on charges that they had disseminated doctrines tending to encourage a spirit of disloyalty to the United States Government.  Professor Cattell had written letters to members of Congress urging them to vote against sending drafted soldiers to Europe, and Professor Dana had joined and become active in the People’s Council despite a warning from Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler not to do so because it was engaged in weakening the government’s prosecution of the war.  The statement issued by the University stated that it was “the judgment of the university Faculties, in which the Trustees concurred, that both Professor Cattell and Professor Dana had done grave injury to the university by their public agitation against the conduct of the war.”  A week later, Professor Charles A. Beard, a distinguished and well-known professor of political science, resigned from the faculty in protest.  While repeating his often-expressed support for the war, he objected to the university’s control by “a small and active group of trustees who have no standing in the world of education, who are reactionary and visionless in politics, and narrow and mediaeval in religion.”  He states that in light of the trustees’ action he can “no longer do my humble part in sustaining public opinion in support of the just war on the German Empire or take a position of independence in the days of reconstruction that are to follow.”

Heine Zimmerman Leaping Over a Scoring Eddie Collins

The Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on October 15 to win the World Series four games to two.  The decisive inning was the fourth, which featured three unearned runs.  The game was scoreless when the inning began with Chicago second baseman Eddie Collins coming to the plate as the lead-off hitter.  He hit a grounder to third baseman Heine Zimmerman, whose errant throw to first bounced off the ground and out of the infield, allowing Collins to advance to second.  Left fielder Shoeless Joe Jackson then hit an easy fly ball to right fielder Dave Robertson, which Robertson dropped, putting Jackson on first and sending Collins to third.  The next batter, center fielder Happy Felsch, hit a ground ball to pitcher Rube Benton, who chased Collins back toward third, then tossed the ball to Zimmerman.  As he did so, Collins wheeled and sped toward home.  Giants catcher Bill Rariden moved up the third base line ready to begin a rundown, but Zimmerman, ignoring shouted advice from fans and teammates to “throw the ball!,” chased Collins all the way to the plate in an attempt to tag him from behind.  Collins won the race.  Felsch and Jackson advanced to second and third on the play, and the next batter, first baseman Chick Gandil, drove them in, giving the White Sox a 3-0 lead.  Giants second baseman Buck Herzog hit a two-run triple in the fifth, but that was all the New Yorkers could muster.  The White Sox went on to win the game 4-2.

October 1917 – Selected Sources and Recommended Reading

Contemporary Periodicals:
American Review of Reviews, November and December 1917
New York Times, October 1917

Books and Articles:
John Barrett, Latin America and the War
A. Scott Berg, Wilson
Britain at War Magazine, The Fourth Year of the Great War: 1917
Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis 1911-1918
John Milton Cooper, Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John Milton Cooper, Jr., The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt
John Dos Passos, Mr. Wilson’s War
David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914-1922
Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life
Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History
Martin Gilbert, A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume One: 1900-1933
Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill Volume IV: The Stricken World 1916-1922
Ann Hagedorn, Savage Peace, Hope and Fear in America, 1919
August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
Godfrey Hodgson, Woodrow Wilson’s Right Hand: The Life of Colonel Edward M. House
Roy Jenkins, Churchill: A Biography
John Keegan, The First World War
David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society
Ian Kershaw, To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949
Arthur S. Link, Wilson: Confusions and Crises, 1915-1916
Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917
Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra
G.J. Meyer, A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
G.J. Meyer, The World Remade: America in World War I
Michael S. Neiberg, The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America
Edward J. Renehan Jr., The Lion’s Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War
Jonathan Schneer, The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Richard Sutch, Liberty Bonds, April 1917-September 1918, Federal Reserve History, https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/liberty_bonds
Lee Thompson, Never Call Retreat: Theodore Roosevelt and the Great War
Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931
Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The West Point Atlas of War: World War I

The following is reprinted from the Centennial Countdown to the Great War blog published by Dennis Cross. Read the original post and access an archive of previous posts at: centennialcountdown.blogspot.com ...read more

100 Years Ago in Kansas

In the mid-1950s the Kansas State Historical Society published The Annals of Kansas, 1886-1925.  It appeared in two volumes, with the first published in 1954, the second two years later in 1956.

The Annals are an almost daily account of life in the State of Kansas. Most entries are only a sentence or two and deal with organizations meeting somewhere within the state, special events, crimes, and more.  For the World War I years, they provide snippets of life on the home front.

The following was compiled by Kansas WWI Committee Member and Kansas State Historical Society Museum Curator, Blair Tarr.

February 19, 1917

  • “Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston died at San Antonio, Tex.  He was born November 9, 1865, at New Carlisle, Ohio, and came to Allen county with his parents in 1867.  He lived in Iola for many years and attended the University of Kansas.  He became a botanist and worked as a special agent for the Department of Agriculture in 1891,  He took part in the Death Valley expedition of 1891, was later sent to Alaska where he paddled a canoe 1,500 miles down the Yukon river, and wrote a paper entitled, “Botany of Yakutat Bay, Alaska.”  Funston fought for 18 months with Cuban insurgents, 1896-1897, and rose from captain to lieutenant colonel.  When the Spanish-American War broke out he was made colonel of the Twentieth Kansas Regiment, which distinguished itself in the Philippine insurrection.  He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for action at the battle of Calumpit on April 27, 1899.  In 1901 Funston planned and carried out the capture of Aguinaldo, Philippine guerilla leader.  This won him the rank of brigadier general in the regular army.  He was stationed at San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906 and was given much credit for handling the emergency.  General Funston was in command of the U.S. force that was sent to hold the city of Vera Cruz during the United States intervention in Mexico.  Shortly before his death he was sent to Texas in charge of soldiers on the border.”

February 24, 1917

  • The Legislature and state officers held memorial services for General Funston.

March 10, 1917

March 14, 1917

When the Legislature adjourned four days later, this is what they had accomplished:

  • Required approval of the Public Utilities Commission to build bridges or dams across navigable streams or rivers.
  • Required approval of the State Board of Health for building vaults or mausoleums.
  • Provided for the adoption and regulation of the city manager form of government by cities wanting it.
  • Regulation of streetcar traffic.
  • Provided for condemnation and appropriation of land by oil and pipeline companies.
  • Authorized counties to levy taxes to pay for extermination of grasshoppers.
  • Prohibited the sale, giving away or advertisement of cigarettes or cigarette papers.
  • Provided for a Kansas Water Commission to investigate and control flood prevention, drainage, water power, and irrigation.
  • Set the minority age of both men and women at 21.
  • Created the office of State Fire Marshal.
  • Provided for the protection of game birds.
  • Authorized the State Board of Health to make regulations for control of diseases.
  • Made it unlawful for any person to have intoxicating liquor in his possession and prohibited the transportation of liquor, except for medicinal uses.
  • Provided for compensation for injures workmen.
  • Provided for an eight-hour day in lead and zinc mines.
  • Created a State Highway Commission and prescribed its duties.
  • Provided for distribution of federal funds for vocation education.
  • Established a State board of Administration to manage state institutions.
  • Established a State Industrial Farm for women.

March 27, 1917

  • Anna Folkland, fourth grade pupil at Wichita, was suspended from school for refusing to salute the flag.

March 28, 1917

  • The Deutscher Verein Assn., Atchison, disbanded “until the international situation is clarified.”

March 31, 1917

  • Governor Capper appealed to the people of Kansas to mobilize every possible source of food supply and, in addition, to observe the greatest economy in food consumption.  With the nation nearing war, Kansas faced a food shortage, and wheat prospects were poor.  The Governor urged a vegetable garden in every back yard, a potato patch in every vacant lot, and an extra half-acre of potatoes on every farm.

April 2, 1917

  • President Wilson asked Congress to declare that a state of war existed between the United States and Germany.
  • Telegraph offices in many Kansas cities and towns were deluged with messages against war, addressed to the President and congressmen.

April 3, 1917

  • Armed guards were placed around the pumping station of the Wichita Water Co. following advice from federal agents that German spies were in the city.  This was an example of the wave of spy-hunting which swept the country.
  • At KU, 150 girls enrolled in Red Cross training classes.

April 5, 1917

  • Missouri troops were guarding railroad bridges as far west as Manhattan on the Union Pacific and southwest to Hutchinson on the Santa Fe.

April 6, 1917

  • Congress formally declared that a state of war existed with Germany.
  • Loyalty day was observed by parades, pageants, and patriotic speeches.  Governor Capper spoke at Topeka; a fife and drum corps of Civil War veterans paraded at Dodge City; ten thousand children marched in a parade at Wichita, and at Neodesha employees of the Frisco railroad sent up a large flag attached to a kite.

April 7, 1917

  • The State Board of Agriculture urged immediate mobilization of 70,000 school boys, age 15 to 20 years, to get maximum food production in the state.

April 9, 1917

  • Food prices soared.  Sugar at Topeka went to $9.50 per 100 pounds and flour to $3.00.  Prices of lard, butter, eggs and soap advanced.  Potatoes went up 25 cents a bushel.
  • President Henry Jackson Waters, K.S.A.C. (Kansas State Agricultural College), said the country’s visible food supply would be gone before another harvest. He urged that grain used for liquors should be held back as feed for livestock.
  • Because of the national emergency the State Board of Administration urged state schools to hold simple, dignified commencement services.

April 11, 1917

  • The Kansas State Bankers Assn. met at Kansas City.  Members agreed to handle government war loans without interest.

April 12, 1917

  • Compulsory military training for every able-bodied male student at Washburn College was adopted by the faculty after a petition by 200 students asked that military training be made part of the college course.  Intercollegiate athletics were abolished.

April 13, 1917

  • Governor Capper began a nation-wide fight for prohibition during the war.  He wired President Wilson, urging the use of food materials in manufacturing liquor be prohibited.  He asked Governors of all states to take similar action.
  • Dr. Henry J. Waters, K.S.A.C. president, was named chairman of the State Council of Defense, composed of prominent Kansans appointed by the Governor.
  • The Blue Goose, a Bennington club and smokehouse where recruiting officers gathered, was dynamited by fanatics who believed Europe’s war was “not our business.”
  • Towns, schools, clubs, churches, lodges, and individuals adopted French orphans.  It cost $36.50 to support an orphan for a year.

April 16, 1917

  • Four thousand acres at seven state institutions were being put under cultivation in line with the governor’s “food drive.”
  • Washburn college offered three courses in Red Cross training.
  • The price of wheat went to $2.74 on the Topeka Board of Trade.

April 17, 1917

  • The State Council of Defense met at Topeka and declared war on extravagance, luxury, unused land, gophers, chinch bugs, Hessian flies, hog cholera, bad marketing facilities, market gambling and grasshoppers, and urged that a census be taken on resources and needs of every county.

April 18, 1917

  • Public school students who enlisted or who were recruited for food production or defense work would be given credit for a year’s work, the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced.

April 19, 1917

  • Many tractors in the state were equipped with headlights and operated on a 24-hour schedule as part of the increased food program.

April 20, 1917

  • Kansas became the first state to furnish its full quota of men to the U.S. Navy.

April 23, 1917

  • Governor Capper wired President Wilson asking that the federal government regulate the price of foodstuffs, seize the seed held by speculators and guarantee the farmers a minimum price for his products as well as fix a maximum price for the consumer.
  • The U.S. Marshal for Kansas was directed to order enemy aliens to turn in firearms and to arrest violators.

April 25, 1917

  • Corn went to $1.67 per bushel on the Topeka board of trade.

April 26, 1917

  • Governor Capper asked 300,000 school children to help the war effort by growing garden crops, raising chickens, feeding pigs and increasing dairy products.

May 1, 1917

  • J.P. Carey, division superintendent of the Union Pacific, was appointed military supervisor of Kansas railways.

May 12, 1917

  • Men at officers’ training camp, Fort Riley, drilled with brooms and mops.

May 15, 1917

  • K.U. offered special war-time correspondence courses to men in service camps and defense work.

May 19, 1917

  • Dr. H.A. Dykes, Lebanon, secretary of the State Board of Medical Registration and Examination, was seriously injured by a bomb received in the mail.

May 21, 1917

  • Enlistment of hundreds of men and the federal literacy law, which stopped immigration from Mexico, had caused a serious labor shortage affecting the railroads and the increased crop production program, the State Labor Commissioner announced.

May 22, 1917

  • The Thirteenth U.S. Cavalry, after four years’ service on the Mexican border, returned to Fort Riley.

May 25, 1917

  • An army medical school was established at Fort Riley.
  • William G. McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury, spoke at Topeka for the Liberty Loan drive.
  • The State School Fund Commission voted to buy $50,000 in Liberty bonds.

May 27, 1917

  • Heads of 18 colleges met at Topeka and unanimously endorsed compulsory military training.

May 31, 1917

  • One hundred tractors were plowing in Scott County in an effort to increase the wheat acreage one third.
  • Four Topekans were arrested by federal authorities, charged with being ringleaders in a plot to hinder draft registration. Two persons from Kansas City, one from Lawrence, and one from Olathe were also arrested.  (See Thom’s previous post:  https://www.kansasww1.org/the-topeka-anti-draft-conspiracy-the-arrests/ )

June 4, 1917

  • Joseph L. Bristow, editor of the Salina Journal and chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, refused to retract his charges of “grab and plunder” and said he would not keep quiet about excessive contract prices for munitions and cantonments.  Bristow had written in the Journal on May 26 that there were “hundreds of contractors, salesmen, manufacturers and railway officials . . .  out to get their share of the $7,000,000,000 authorized by Congress for financing the war.”  In answer to a statement that “this is no time to be knocking the government,” Bristow retorted:  “This is no time to be robbing the people.”  Later the Kansas City Star said of him:  “Bristow made life hard for those who believed public funds were legitimate plunder.”

June 5, 1917

  • Registration day for male citizens born between June 6, 1886, and June 5, 1896, inclusive, was marked by parades and patriotic speeches.

June 6, 1917

  • Frank A. Werner, editor of the Axtell Standard, was forced to apologize for alleged unpatriotic remarks and to kiss the American flag while the band played the Star Spangled Banner.

June 8, 1917

  • The Santa Fe bought $5,000,000 in Liberty bonds.

June 12, 1917

  • Kansas State institutions faced a serious food problem.  Appropriations did not cover rising food prices.  Potatoes were eliminated from the bill of fare.  All delicacies and many necessities had to go.

June 14, 1917

The Military Sisterhood of Kansas was chartered.  Its purpose was to aid families of service men and to send the men articles not considered necessities by the government.  (Note:  Papers of the organization can be found in the Archives of the Kansas Historical Society [ http://www.kshs.org/archives/40619 ] and some letters and papers can be found at the National World War I Museum and Memorial [

http://theworldwar.pastperfectonline.com/bysearchterm?keyword=National+Military+Sisterhood+of+America ...read more

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