Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Category: Monuments & Memorials (page 1 of 10)

Memorials to the Missing – Villers Bretennoux

In 1917 the cessation of warfare between Germany and Russia presented General Erich Ludendorff and the German General Staff with a fleeting opportunity. They had several million soldiers and several thousand artillery pieces in the east that could be deployed in climactic offensives on the Western Front before the American army was present in significant numbers. Intelligence believed that the British were spent from their Passchendaele offensive, noting that the best British units, the ANZACs and the Canadians, had both taken heavy casualties. And although it seems that the Germans had never learned the extent of the French Army’s mutinies, it was clear that they weren’t in the mood to mount attacks. ...read more

Remembering Native Americans in WW1 – the Muskogee Doughboy

Country and Western singer Merle Haggard’s (1937-2016) signature hit was “I’m Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee” (1969) , which contains the line “We still wave Old Glory  down at the Courthouse”. Three miles away there’s a Visquesney Doughboy dedicated to the service of Native Americans in WW1. Read more in this  story of interest . ...read more

Kansans in the Great War – Nelson Edwards

Nelson E. Edwards (1887-1954) was born at Point Pleasant, WV, the second of the nine children of Jake and Margaret Edwards. Before Nelson’s first birthday the parents decided to homestead near Plevna, KS, which today is a community of 97 persons located in Reno County, about thirty miles west of Hutchinson. Although they started out in a sod-roofed dugout, their wheat crops were successful and eventually they had a large home with outbuildings. Jake Edwards served as a County Commissioner and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1914 and 1916, but this was all after Nelson had left in 1908 to study photography.
By 1910 he was learning from a photographer in New Jersey who was associated with Thomas Edison, in 1911 Nelson was experimenting with aerial photography and in 1912 he went to work for William R. Hearst’s International News Service in New York. A biographer has described Nelson as “a tall, muscular man with prominent cheekbones, a hawk nose, lighthouse eyes peering out at the world from under heavy eyebrows, and thick, dark hair which photographed jet black”, and also “stocky [and] … quite large”. ...read more

Memorials to the Missing? Reprise

It’s been two years  since my original article about the memorials to the missing, beginning with the Lone Pine Commonwealth War (CWGC) Memorial at Gallipoli.  In that piece I defined what is meant by ‘Missing’ in WW1. Since then I’ve posted over thirty articles about a variety of the WW1 ‘Memorials to the Missing’, so I thought it might be time to re-rerun the explanation of the concept of ‘Missing’ for the newcomers. As you read you’ll learn that the CWGC has 127 Memorials to the Missing and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) has just 13. Spoiler alert: I don’t plan to report on every one of the CWGC sites, just the largest and most interesting, with at least one from every theater of conflict. ...read more

Memorials to the Missing – East Africa

In August 1914 Lt. Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (1870-1964) had been the commander of German forces in East Africa (now part of Tanzania) since April. His career had begun with great promise, appointed to the General Staff when a mere Lieutenant, but in 1904 he was sent to S.W. Africa (now Namibia) to deal with an insurrection and he must have gotten the reputation of being a good man in Africa, since in 1913 he was ordered to Cameroon and then to his post at Dar es Salaam. ...read more

Locomotives and Locomotive Carriers

From the outset it was apparent that the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) would have to build its own logistical network in France; up to 25,000 tons of material would be arriving every day, and by war’s end over eight million tons had been shipped to the AEF. Port facilities had to be built or improved at Brest, St. Nazaire, Nantes, Bordeaux, Rouen, Rochefort, La Pallice, Bayonne, Le Havre and Marseilles. It was also clear that the French rail system wouldn’t be able to move the AEF and its logistical tail around the country. Among other things, they were very short of locomotives. The necessary solution was to bring American railroad equipment to France. ...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. ...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

Memorials to the Missing – Royal Navy Sites

In 1924 Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future King George VI) dedicated three identical Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) memorials to the missing commemorating the personnel of the Royal Navy who were either buried or lost at sea in WW1. These are located at the important naval cities of Plymouth and Portsmouth, and at the Chatham Docks in Kent, all in the U.K. ...read more


In a previous post we wrote about the Topeka aviator Philip Billard, who lost his life in an airplane crash in France in 1918. Billard had been a member of the Topeka Rotary Club, which commissioned a small statue in Billard’s honor in 1921.  The artist was Robert Merrell Gage of Topeka, an artist of some renown. The result was “Flight,” which shows the outstretched arms of an aviator.  It is in the collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, but not currently on exhibit.  Click here to learn more about this work of art. ...read more

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