Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Author: James Patton (page 1 of 22)

Kansans in the Great War – A Wildcat Never Forgets

Click here to view this tribute to the Kansas State students and alumni who died in the First World War.

WW1 Brochures Available from The U.S. Army

The U.S. Army Center of Military History has made available a series of seven brochures entitled ‘The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War I’. You can access these here and download the .pdf version of each

The Center is located at 102 4th Ave. Building 35, Ft. McNair, DC 20319-5060. Due to enhanced security in the area the Center is not open to the public at this time.  ...read more

Bosko the Doughboy

This cartoon short was produced in 1931. I wonder if the veterans thought it funny? You can watch it here.

WW1 Battlefield Archaeology Using LIDAR

A project is ongoing to search the battlefields around the Ypres Salient to detect WW1 archeological sites using LIDAR technology. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the term LIDAR?

 ‘Lidar (also called LIDARLiDAR, and LADAR) is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target. The name lidar, now used as an acronym of light detection and ranging (sometimes light imaging, detection, and ranging), was originally a portmanteau of light and radar.’ From Wikipedia. ...read more

Body Recovery

Not long after the Armistice the grim job of finding the fallen on the battle fields began. Shown above is a small part of a British Imperial War Graves Commission Body Density Map. The numbered map squares are 1000 yards on a side or about 207 acres. Each is divided into four smaller squares that are 500 yards on a side or about 52 acres. The blue penciled amounts are the number of bodies or distinct remains recovered in the 52 acre plot. Although supervised by British personnel, the actual recovery and reburial work was performed by the Chinese Labour Corps.

Map of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette

This particular map shows ground covered by the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (Sept. 15th to 23rd, 1916), which was a part of the Somme Offensive. At the time this engagement was considered a British victory, as the front was moved forward about 3,500 yards. This occasion marked the first use of tanks in history. Total casualties (killed, wounded and missing) for the British forces were 29,376; an exact number for German losses is unknown, but thought to be around half the British total.

Famous WW1 Dogfight Photos Were Faked

In the 1970’s a set of 34 photographs known as The Cockburn-Lange Collection and claimed to have been taken by a British pilot in actual WW1 combat were donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

In 1985, in an article in the enthusiast magazine Cross and Cockade,  the British Society of WW1 Aero Historians revealed that these photographs were faked by an American named Wesley D. Archer, who had served briefly in the Royal Air Force in 1918 and later embarked on a career in model-making. They even uncovered a photograph of Archer actually staging one of his fakes.

You can read the whole story here. The Smithsonian now informs anyone who requests permission to use any of these photographs that they aren’t real.


Shaping Our Sorrow

Largely through the efforts of British Maj. Gen. Sir Fabian Ware (1869 – 1949),  a Royal Charter created the Imperial War Graves Commission on May 21st, 1917.

In 1960 the name was changed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to reflect modern reality.

The CWGC has responsibility for remembering the sacrifice of over 1.7 million persons from its constituent nations who have died in military actions since 1914. Over the course of its history, the CWGC has constructed over 2,500 cemeteries and memorials that are now located in 153 nations, and it  also assumes responsibility for over 23,000 individual burials outside of CWGC cemeteries, mostly in community or church plots, including two in Kansas.

The CWGC is traditionally headed by a royal, currently Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who is a first cousin of the Queen. It is funded by voluntary contributions from the six nations representing the British Imperial Forces in WW1.  Although technically a part of one of the belligerent nations, Bangladesh, Ireland, Myanmar and Pakistan (ceased in 1956) don’t contribute. The contribution shares are based on the number of graves as a percentage of the total, and are United Kingdom 78.4%, Canada 10.1%, Australia 6.1%, New Zealand 2.1%, South Africa 2.1% and India 1.2%. The total budget for the CWGC is currently £66.5 million, of which £58.6 million is from the member governments and the rest comes mostly from private donations.

In the course of this blog we have visited 30 CWGC memorials, located on four continents. As a sort of capstone to four years of centennial events, the CWGC has a new website called Shaping Our Sorrow. You can visit this site here.

Coming Soon

They Shall Not Grow Old, Sir Peter Jackson’s stunning WW1 documentary featuring computer-refined film footage from WW1 is coming to the U.S., with special showings on Dec. 17th and Dec. 27th in selected theaters. Click here to find a theater near you and purchase advance tickets. This link is showing theaters near my home but you can enter another zip code to find other locations.

The U.S. Cavalry in WW1

The American cavalry was officially created by an Act of Congress in 1833, although at times prior to this there had been various irregular mounted formations in U.S. service. The American concept of cavalry differed from the European in that the American troopers were not trained or equipped for the same sorts of battle. By French of German standards they weren’t cavalry at all; they were mounted infantry (or rifles), intended to move about quickly on horseback but to engage the enemy dismounted.

In the latter part of the South African War (1899 – 1902), the British were pestered by the Afrikaner ‘Mounted Shooters’ who used American cavalry tactics, and the British responded by training their own units to fight in this way, including the Canadian and New Zealand Mounted Rifles and the Australian Light Horse.

In 1914 the U.S. Army (excluding National Guard) numbered 98,544 men, making up twenty regiments of infantry and seventeen of cavalry. Compared to the European powers, this was a very small force. Even the British, whose army was also small by comparison to their neighbors, had thirty-one regiments of cavalry. After 1914 the U.S. Army began to raise more cavalry regiments, not in anticipation of joining the European War but for Mexican Border service; in 1917 two of these nascent formations were converted to artillery and one to infantry.

When the U.S. declared war against Germany there were thirteen U.S. Cavalry regiments engaged in either guarding the Mexican border or chasing Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa around northern Mexico. Of the remaining four regiments, one was in the Philippines, one was in the Canal Zone, one was in Arizona keeping the peace in the Bisbee mines and one, the 2nd, was engaged in training two of the new regiments that were being raised by enlistment.

Although there were still some state cavalry units in 1917, during the reorganization of the National Guard these were all disbanded and their personnel transferred to other branches.

The planners of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) envisioned a limited role for their cavalry, having observed that most European units had been dismounted to serve as infantry. Accordingly, the AEF asked for only four cavalry regiments, and were allocated the 2nd, the 3rd, the 6th and the 15th.

When then-Maj. Gen. Pershing and his advance party arrived in France in June 1917, his personal detail included 31 troopers from the 2nd Cavalry, but the first whole regiment to arrive in France was the 3rd Cavalry, in November 1917. They were pulled away from the Mexican Border and assigned to operate three newly-created horse remount depots in France. The three squadrons were charged with the purchase of horses, mules and forage, the care, conditioning, and training of mounts before issue, the reconditioning of sick or injured animals and their subsequent re- issue.

K Troop 3rd  Cavalry was detached to serve as scouts, first in I Corps during the Aisne-Marne Offensive (18 July – 6 August 1918), and then served in III Corps on the Vesle Front (7-17 August), in the Oise-Aisne Offensive (18 August – 9 September), and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (14 September – 11 November).

The 6th Cavalry, recently released from Mexican service, arrived in France in March 1918 and was first assigned to remount depots and later to military police duty rounding up stragglers in the Meuse Argonne Offensive.

2nd Cavalry at St. Mihiel

The 2nd Cavalry was withdrawn from training and arrived in France in April 1918. They were also used to manage remount depots and as military police, but later Troops B, D, F, and H were formed into a provisional squadron, which served in the Aisne-Marne Offensive (18 July-6 August), and then in support of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Divisions at Soissons (18 – 22 July), before rejoining the regiment. Small detachments of the 2nd Cavalry then served in the Oise-Aisne Offensive (8 August-11 September).

In the Battle of Saint-Mihiel (12 – 16 September) Troops A, B, C, D, F, G, and H fought under the command of Lt. Col. O.P.M. Hazzard, and at Vieville Troop F staged the only horse-mounted charge by the AEF in the war.

With no rest, the 2nd Cavalry was moved to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (26 September-11 November). From 26 September-2 October, spearheading the assault on the left flank, the 2nd fought a six-day running battle starting in Vauquois and winding through the woods nearby. The 2nd was cited for “…accomplishing their tasks with fearlessness, courage, and disregard for danger and hardship”.

Later the 2nd served with the main effort of the advance between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. You can read more about the 2nd Cavalry here.

Lastly, the 15th Cavalry was also withdrawn from Mexican Border service and arrived in France in May 1918. However, the regiment was disbanded and the troopers were reassigned as infantry replacements.

You can read more about the 2nd Cavalry here. Elements of all of these regiments are serving on active duty today as either armored or air cavalry.

11/11 at the Washington Cathedral

Here is a link to the report on this event published by The American Legion.

The Pershing Park Memorial project is still bogged down in the approval process at the National Capital Planning Commission.

The U.S. WW1 Centennial Commission reports that it is still short about $20 million to fully fund this endeavor.

The new projected dedication date is 11/11/2021.

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