Archive for the ‘Military / War’ Category

China Chief Problem in Maintaining World Peace

This 1920 article named China as the country most threatening world peace. As the Chinese-originated COVID-19 disease shuts down life and economies across the globe, that prophecy appears prescient.

Indeed, President Trump has increasingly and controversially taken to calling it “the Chinese virus.” However, many medical experts including the World Health Organization have called on him to stop:

But aside from the coronavirus, is China otherwise the country most threatening world peace today? That’s hard to say — depending on who you ask, that ignominious title probably goes to North Korea, Russia, or Iran. China is likely up there, but probably not #1 in most experts’ minds.

Or maybe the country most threatening world peace is actually America? A 2017 Pew research poll found that globally, 35% of respondents thought America’s power and influence was a major threat, compared to 31% who said the same of Russia and China.

This 1920 article about China was written by Theodore E. Burton, a Republican former U.S. senator from Ohio. (He would later return to the position again for less than a year in 1928-29.) Burton suggested that China had massive potential, but that its poor economy and lack of national unity at the time would hamper it.

The result of all these conditions is that the Chinese are a people, not a nation, an aggregation of families and clans, so distinct in their aspirations and interests as to create almost insuperable obstacles to unity and political organization. With most of them life is a constant struggle for daily bread, and in that struggle the obligations of each day are primarily to relatives and neighbors. Thus loyalty is not to any Government, but to family and friends.

Since then, China’s economy has skyrocketed thanks to its partial embrace of free-market principles, and its national unity has also soared ever since the Chinese Communist Party’s takeover in 1949.

Burton quoted former Secretary of State John Hay about China: “Whoever understands this mighty empire, socially, politically, economically, and religiously, has the key to the world’s politics for the next three centuries.”

Yes and no. China has absolutely surged as a global power, now claiming the world’s largest population and second-largest economy. But the country that truly became the “key to the world’s politics” between 1920 and 2020 was less China and more the U.S., which a century ago was certainly a major player but arguably not yet the global superpower, as it would become in earnest post-WWII and especially post-Cold War.

 

China Chief Problem in Maintaining World Peace: Country Is Backward Politically Because Its Gaze Is Backward, and Its Enormous Natural Riches Are a Temptation to Stronger Powers (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 21, 1920

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Written by Jesse

March 19th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

The Next War

In 1920, Harvard government professor Albert Bushnell Hart accurately predicted Germany and Italy might launch another world war. His prediction that it may occur within five years was a bit pessimistic — it actually took 19.

When you turn to Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the patient has taken not ether but hasheesh [sic], and is either submerged in dreams or raving with terror and fury. Germany undoubtedly wants peace for the present, but, as a vigorous and intellectual German has recently written: “We Germans in general remain sound and complete; so much the world will certainly experience in the future.” Nobody can believe that the German people have been made a peace-loving nation by their defeat.

He was right about Germany, which later became one of the three main Axis powers in World War II, along with Japan and Italy. Speaking of which, Hart was also concerned about Italy too.

The cry which went through the world in 1917 was that civilization was dying unless the Western powers could band together “to make democracy safe” and, much more directly, to make safe their capitals, ports, factories, mines, and fields. For this, 2,000,000 American soldiers crossed the sea, and by their actual fighting and their presence turned the balance. And who can fail to see that democracy is still at least unsatisfied, even in the democratic countries of Great Britain, France, and Italy? Public opinion in those countries is still a boiling pot; nobody can say with any confidence what party or what political group will be in power and make the decisions in those three countries five years hence. And all those countries are in a dangerous, and some in a desperate, financial situation.

So what do to if international tensions boiled over into a worldwide conflict again? Hart’s answer reflected a perceived inevitability:

What would we do in those circumstances? What could we do, but what was done in 1917? Declare war and trust in Providence!

He was right… for better or for worse.

The Next War: Demoralized but Bellicose World May Come to It in Five Years, Unless the League and Universal Training Are Adopted as Protection (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 8, 1920

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Written by Jesse

February 6th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Carillon Tower Planned as a Victory Memorial

In 1920, a tower of bells to honor America’s WWI victory — one bell provided by each U.S. state — was planned for Washington, D.C. The structure was never built.

Further to enhance the proposed carillon with a peculiar memorial significance, bills have been introduced in Congress to grant the use of 200,000 pounds of brass shell cases, or other brass or copper salvaged from the battlefields of France, to be used in the making of the bells. War metals from each of the allies will also be sought for the bells.

Although several of these bell towers — called “carillons” — were built to honor WWI globally, including several in the U.S., none were built in the Washington, D.C. area.

The nation’s most prominent WWI carillon today is probablythe 240-foot structure in Richmond, Virginia. Although not a carillon because it contains no bells, the 217-foot Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri is also a prominent memorial to the war.

The primary carillon in the Washington, D.C. area today is the Netherlands Carillon to honor WWII, erected in 1954 just outside Arlington National Cemetery.

Construction on the long-awaited WWI memorial in the nation’s capital only began last month: December 2019.

 

Carillon Tower Planned as a Victory Memorial: Music of Bells, One Provided by Each State and Territory, Would Sound Over Washington as Daily Reminders of America’s Part in the World War (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 1, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 28th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Art,Military / War

If the Treaty is Rejected — What Then?

Although WWI fighting ended November 1918, the Treaty of Versailles to formally end the war was registered in late October 1919. Requiring territorial changes and reparations, enough U.S. senators opposed it to prevent 2/3 passage by Congress.

Here, two U.S. senators debated the pros and cons of the treaty: Nebraska Democrat Gilbert Hitchcock in favor and Idaho Republican William Borah against.

Sen. Hitchcock, in favor:

This treaty… was secured from Germany at the cannon’s mouth. They all represent concessions which Germany would not willingly grant.

We have withdrawn our armies from Europe except a few thousand men, and have practically completed demobilization. We are through fighting, and Germany knows it. If we fail to hold her to the bargain made at Versailles when the armies were in the field and when Germany was helpless, we will be compelled to negotiate as equals and lose a large part of all that was granted in the settlement.

Sen. Borah, against:

If the treaty is rejected, the United States will be relieved at once of all obligations, legal or moral, to take part in European affairs, and we will as a people be enabled to take up at once and devote our entire time and attention to the solution of impending domestic problems.

Whatever we should see fit or think proper to do in the way of friendly assistance, advice, or support for other peoples anywhere, we should be able to do of our own volition and in our own way, relieved entirely of the embarrassment of carrying forward the plans and schemes of other nations.

Two Senate votes were taken on November 19, 1919, exactly a month after this article’s publication. One vote rejected the treaty 41-51, the other vote later in the day rejected the treaty 39-55.

However, enough other nations signed the treaty that it went into effect regardless. This is similar to other international agreements during the Trump administration, such as the Paris climate accords, which remain in effect with almost every nation besides the U.S. still party to its provisions.

Also, clearly 1919 was an era when referring to “Hitchcock” by last name alone — as this article does — meant the Nebraska senator Gilbert, not the film director Alfred.

If the Treaty is Rejected — What Then?: The Question Answered by Hitchcock and Borah (PDF)

Published: October 19, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 16th, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Our Twenty-one Generals of Forty Years and Under

In World War I, 21 men were promoted to General at age 40 or younger. The youngest was John N. Hodges, at 34.

Another was Douglas MacArthur at 38, who would go on to far greater acclaim in World War II as General of the Army and leader of U.S. forces in Japan.

How many generals are 40 or younger today? That appears surprisingly difficult to find out.

The lowest such level is a one-star general, also known as a brigadier general. There are currently more than 400 brigadier generals, and I was unable to find a definitive list of even their names, let alone their ages as well. Searching for things like ‘youngest brigadier general’ didn’t turn up any answers, either. The main results for such searches were primarily about Galusha Pennypacker, the youngest brigadier general ever, who reached that rank at age 20 during the Civil War.

If anybody has an answer, please reply in the comments.

Our Twenty-one Generals of Forty Years and Under: Youthful Brigadiers to Whom the Great War Brought Rapid Promotion in Different Branches of the Army (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 24, 1919

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Written by Jesse

August 22nd, 2019 at 11:19 am

Posted in Military / War

Skyrockets and Flares as Aids to Our Fighters

While telephone and radio had become widespread by WWI, different colored fireworks were also used to send coded messages.

While the telephone was extensively employed for communication purposes, absolute reliance was not placed on it, and the troops were profusely equipped with numerous methods of night signaling. The code was changed from day to day, and great attention was paid to drilling the men in the use of pyrotechnic signals. The chief advantage lay in the rapidity of sending and receiving. There was no carrying of messages: there was no ambiguity of language, and there was no “listening in” on the part of the enemy.

An example in battle: signaling to your troops an imminent gas attack using green fireworks.

For instance, on some special night, green might be the signal for gas. When the advanced positions detected gas, a green light was shot up from the Véry pistol, this signal was relayed from the trenches with V.B. cartridges, and eventually a rocket ascended high into the heavens, expelling at the height of its trajectory a little green light suspended from a paper parachute. More detailed information eventually found its way over the telephone communication. A similar signal the next night might call for the barrage.

Hey, if it works, it works. The newest tech isn’t always the best way to communicate.

Skyrockets and Flares as Aids to Our Fighters: Uncle Sam Had to Learn How to Make Fireworks When He Got Into the War, Because Telephones and Wireless Were Inadequate for Communication at the Front (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 17, 1919

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Written by Jesse

August 16th, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Military / War

If We Should Enter Mexico, How Big an Army?

After June 1919’s Battle of Ciudad Juárez, the second-biggest battle of the 1910s Mexican Border War conflict, was America’s military too depleted following WWI’s recent end?

Foremost is the question whether Congress, in cutting off 175,000 men from the number asked for by the War Department, has reduced the force for the remainder of the fiscal year to a desirable point. This situation, however, as indicated by inquiry at Washington, is not bothering military men; they think that even with the army pared down, as it will be after Oct. 1, there will be an ample force to cope with whatever condition may arise in regard to Mexico.

Turns out the Battle of Ciudad Juárez was the last battle of the Mexican Border War. (A series of military conflicts along the U.S.-Mexico border from 1910 to 1919, it was not technically an official war.)

 

If We Should Enter Mexico, How Big an Army?: Estimates at Washington Range from 50,000 to 200,000, Dependent on the Political Situation Across the Border — Prolonged Guerrilla Warfare Possible (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 27, 1919

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Written by Jesse

July 25th, 2019 at 11:01 am

Posted in Military / War

All of Them Looking for a Man’s Job

After returning from WWI, many men who had previously been on the less stereotypically masculine end of the spectrum wanted more of a “man’s job” in employment.

Most of the men who come back from the war want to do something of more consequence than the work they did before. Having had a hand in the biggest job ever cut out for humankind, they are inclined to look down on the usual workaday task. It isn’t necessarily that they want to make more money. They just want to do something that seems to them of more importance to the world.

An example was told of a man who was formerly a professional dancer, but upon returning from the war desired something else:

This toe dancer… said he wanted his brains and his hands to helpout his toes earn a living. The $30,000 contract made no difference. [Or about $454 thousand in 2019’s dollars.]

“I’ve lived too long in the open,” he said, “to go back into the theatre. I’ve been out under the sun and stars. No more of the white lights for me. I don’t want to be paid $2,000 a month for twirling my body on my toes. If I’m going to do any twirling from now on, I’ll do it with my hands and the muscles of my back. I want a man’s job, in God’s world.”

He got his man’s job.

These are anecdotal, making hard data hard — if not impossible — to come by. But has this become far less common of a turnaround in the modern post-draft military, where (perhaps) the less stereotypically “masculine” men are less likely to enlist in the armed forces in the first places?

All of Them Looking for a Man’s Job: That’s What the Soldiers Seek, but Their Notions Vary – -A Toe Dancer Scorned $30,000 a Year and Turned Farmer, and a Shoe Salesman Went in for Exporting (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 20, 1919

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Written by Jesse

July 19th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Can the United States Get 500,000 Volunteers?

In the months after WWI ended, could the military still recruit the same number of volunteers they had during wartime?

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker argued yes: “He has stated not only that such an army [of 500,000 men] could be raised by voluntary enlistment in peace time, but that to raise it would be no more difficult than to enlist an army of 100,000 men.”

Oregon Senator George Chamberlain, at the time a member of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department, argued no: “So eminent an authority as Senator Chamberlain of Oregon, on the other hand, holds that since the war is over voluntary enlistments in large numbers are a thing of the past?”

Who ended up being proved correct? It’s surprisingly difficult to get exact figures when searching for terms like ‘number of military volunteers by year,’ but it appears Chamberlain’s pessimism was right.

There were about 300,000 volunteer enlistments during WWI. By 1939, also a time of peace — and with a U.S. population millions larger than in 1919 — there were only 334,473 total military members.

The military isn’t meeting its own volunteer levels in the present day, either. The Army set a goal of 80,000 new recruits last year, but they only got about 70,000.

Can the United States Get 500,000 Volunteers?: An Affirmative Answer Is Indicated by the Way Recruits Have Responded to the New Idea of Service to the Man as Well as to the Country (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 6, 1919

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Written by Jesse

July 3rd, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Why They Entered Annapolis

The new boys at the U.S. Naval Academy were surveyed in 1919 about why they had joined, and their answers varied considerably. Five favorites:

  • “I came here mainly to beat out a friend at West Point.”
  • “Life here must be one continual round of hops, entertainments, fights, escapades, and every other wildly romantic thing not to be found in Iowa.”
  • “I saw many naval officers at Charleston. They attended all the balls there and made great hits with the ladies.”
  • “Father’s last words were, ‘Don’t let James lead any other life than that of a naval officer.'”
  • “I had tried several other things without success, and so I thought I would try this.”

Why They Entered Annapolis: One “Thirsted for Power,” Another Wanted to Dance and “Make a Hit With the Ladies,” But Eagerness for Education and Patriotism Were Not Lacking Why They Entered Annapolis (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 22, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 20th, 2019 at 11:06 am

Investigating the War

A century ago, House committees were heavily investigating the executive branch, while the president’s own party (in the House minority) accused the committees of partisan warfare. Sound familiar?

None of the investigations, the Republican leader said, would be inquisitorial, but they would be undertaken and conducted only so far as the interests of the country demanded. Democratic leaders scoff at such assertions. Visibly they are disturbed at the prospect… because the Republicans, being in charge, can guide the investigations and explode whatever is collected at the right psychological times from a political standpoint.

“What they are going to do,” said one Democrat, “is to keep these investigations boiling along, or some of them, clear into the Presidential campaign, and release their stuff at the time when the voters are beginning to think of the coming Presidential election. And they are not only going to tear everything wide open; they are going to pull up the flooring besides.”

Investigating the War: Chairman Graham of House of Representatives’ Special Committee Outlines Scope of Inquiry Into Expenditures (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 15, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 13th, 2019 at 10:54 am

What the Army Did to Them

Many WWI soldiers returned home as changed men. Women, while grateful for the military victory, were often dismayed at what had become of the men they sent away, calling it “the lowering of the quality of young American manhood.”

What emerged from the talk of which these samples have been reported was that at least half the women present were aware — or thought they were aware — of the lowering of the quality of young American manhood — or perhaps of a dulling of its fineness — growing out of military service, whether at home or abroad.

If this was the price paid for becoming heroes — and none of the women failed in proper pride that way, none was a pacifist, none was tainted with any sort of pro-Germanism, all had their own man or men in the service and were glad of it — if this was the price their country and their womenfolk had paid for seeing a patriotic duty bravely done — then it was a heavy price to pay.

This specific example of one man was provided, as emblematic of the larger problem.

A youth well born and bred, and one whose home-made manners, she said, had been a model of what such manners should be. She had met him again after he came back from overseas, and he had said things to her that she had never in her life before had said to her in polite society. Army life had done that to him, she insisted with some vehemence.

Considering that Donald Trump avoided the Vietnam War because of his supposed bone spurs, imagine how vile his demeanor and language would be if he’d gone.

What the Army Did to Them: The Present State of Young Men in America Is Discussed With Mixed Emotions by Some of Their Women Folk Army (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 8, 1919

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Written by Jesse

June 7th, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Life,Military / War

If Germany Doesn’t Sign — Starvation

Germany surrendered November 1918, ending WWI in practice, as all countries agreed to cease hostilities while peace terms were negotiated. But the peacce terms weren’t finalized until June 1919. That month, the world asked: would Germany sign?

This article from the time described just how horrendous it would be for Germany if they didn’t sign the Treaty of Versailles, with the operative word in the headline being “starvation.” As it happened, Germany would indeed sign the treaty mere weeks later.

However, Hitler disobeyed more and more elements of the treaty, until he declared it null and void entirely in 1935. Some historians have suggested that a more lenient treaty would have rendered Germany a more prosperous and able nation post-WWI, potentially preventing the rise of a strongman leader like Hitler — and maybe avoiding WWII entirely.

If Germany Doesn’t Sign — Starvation: Allies Are Ready to Enforce a Blockade More Rigorous Than Ever Before, Should Enemy Balk at Peace Terms — Suggestion of Marching to Berlin Overruled (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 8, 1919

 

Germany made their final WWI-related reparation payment in 2010!

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2023140,00.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11442892

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Written by Jesse

June 6th, 2019 at 9:47 am

Our Super-Poison Gas

Prior to the atomic bomb’s invention, it was described as “the most terrible instrument of manslaughter ever conceived… a drop on the hand would cause intolerable agony and death after a few hours.”

At the time it was called methyl, now referred to as Lewsite. It was first synthesized in 1904, but production ramped up in 1918 for WWI. Luckily, it was never deployed in that conflict — saved by the bell:

The signing of the armistice spared the enemy any first-hand acquaintance with the terrors of methyl. Major Gen. W.K. Sibert, in command of the Chemical Warfare Service, had directed that 3,000 tons of it, in shell and drums, be in readiness on the battlefield March 1, 1919. Ten tons a day were being produced in an eleven-acre plant near Cleveland, Ohio, and the plant was two months ahead of its schedule when Foch crossed No Man’s Land to offer terms to a beaten foe. It is estimated that ten tons of methyl is one ton more than enough to depopulate Manhattan Island; and so it is not difficult to guess what would have happened had Hindenburg and his cohorts persisted until Spring.

1997’s Chemical Weapons Convention banned the production or stockpiling of Lewisite. In 2012, the U.S. destroyed its final remnants of its Lewisite stockpile. At least 98% of the stockpiles have been destroyed globally.

Our Super-Poison Gas: First Story of Compound 72 Times Deadlier Than “Mustard,” Manufactured Secretly by the Thousands of Tons (PDF)

Published: Sunday, April 20, 1919

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Written by Jesse

April 18th, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Military / War

Sport Recrudescence on Heels of Army Training

World War I, though horrendous, brought a silver lining: young men who had become physically fit during military service now had unprecedented interest levels in exercise and sports.

Maybe a World War III would solve America’s current obesity crisis?

Athletic activity during the coming season should set a new mark in American sports. Army life has aroused a new interest for out-of-door games. Youths whose diversion in the past has been nothing more vigorous than billiards have learned in military service to exercise, and they like it. After that strenuous training the American boy is going to get out and do something himself.

After a year of soldiering a young man who lives at 110th Street now walks back and forth to Forty-second Street every day to business. Hiking has become a habit with him. Unless he walks five or six miles a day he doesn’t feel fit. This is the spirit which is likely to bring about a great revival of sports during the Spring and Summer. Golf and tennis are the sports which probably will command the greatest interest among amateurs. Championships have been restores and new events have been instituted.

“Recrudescence,” if you were wondering, means “a new outbreak after a period of abatement or inactivity,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Sport Recrudescence on Heels of Army Training: Returning Soldiers, Often Physically Fit for First Time in Their Lives, Show Active Interest in Golf, Tennis, Baseball, and Other Exercise

Published: Sunday, March 2, 1919

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Written by Jesse

February 28th, 2019 at 11:47 am

Winged Warfare and the League of Nations

100 years ago this week, the the League of Nations was agreed to at the Paris Peace Conference. Formally launching a year later in January 1920, the League was tasked with setting laws and norms for the increasingly international post-WWI world order.

In 1919, former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Charles Warren discussed all the intricacies and nuances in deciding questions related to airplanes alone, a technology that had advanced by leaps and bounds during WWI:

Suppose that the nations shall agree to forbid attack by submarine on merchant ships; is such a rule to apply to attack by airplane? How can an airplane identify a merchant ship? How can it exercise the right of search? How can it provide for safety of passengers and crew? How is a sea blockade to be enforced against airplanes? What effect is the case and speed with which air attacks can be launched to have on the rules as to initiation and declaration of war? What actual protection can neutral territory have against aerial passage?

How is the law as to the bombardment of cities to be framed with reference to air attacks? Is a city containing munition works, barracks, camps, &c., or surrounded by forts, to be immune from such attacks? If not, what are to be the restrictions on the scope of such attacks? If such a city is to be immune, what is to be its right to refuse to surrender on demand of the attacking air force? Are the laws as to sea transportation of contraband by neutrals to apply to neutral airplanes transporting contraband in the air over land? What are the rights of enemy airplanes flying over the sea coast territorial waters of neutrals? These are only a few of the questions to be considered.

Thorny questions, all. But perhaps the real question, Warren surmised, was what would the war have looked like if the technology at its end had been available at its beginning?

Suppose that in August 1914, Germany had suddenly launched a fleet of 1,000 airplanes instead of an army of 1,000,000 men; what might have been the result to Paris, to the coast towns, to London? Suppose that France and Russia had possessed similar airplane forces, what might have been the result to the Rhine towns and Berlin? The attack could have been made in a few hours, instead of a few weeks. It could have been made on the English and French fleets, or upon the German fleet, as well as upon the land forces and the cities.

Is it not possible that the result of such initial attacks might have gone far toward settling the war before actual extensive movement of troops could be begun? Is it not possible that the speedy, tremendous destruction, the burning of cities, and the killing and gassing of civilians might give an initial impulse to one side or the other which no amount of subsequent victories on land or sea could repair?

The U.S. never actually officially joined the League of Nations, despite President Woodrow Wilson wanting to, because Congress was unable to muster the 2/3 approval necessary.

The League itself lasted until 1946, when it disbanded after proving unable to prevent the rise of the Axis Powers in World War II.

Winged Warfare and the League of Nations: World Federation Necessary to Enforce Regulations for Air Fleets, Neutral and Belligerent, in Time of War — “Freedom of the Seas” Involved (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 26, 1919

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Written by Jesse

January 26th, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Stars and Stripes on Many English Homes

During WWI, millions of British people actually met Americans for the first time as they were stationed overseas. The result was America and England became as close as they’d ever been:

One of the incidentals of the war is the fact that great masses of American troops pass through England or are temporarily stationed there. Thus the towns and villages and countryside places have had two great experiences, reacting on each other, the first being the inspiring and exhilarating knowledge that America had come into the war with her vast forces on behalf of civilization; the second, personal contact with the American soldiers, with all the homely knowledge of them that is bound to arise from a friendly curiosity.

This even culminated in England celebrating America’s Independence Day — a day that set in motion the process of England losing one of their most important territorial holdings a century and a half before.

The English are not demonstrative. There is little or no ringing of bells or waving of flags to signal various battle successes. There has been an instinctive avoidance of arrogance or jubilation at public meetings. But nevertheless on one occasion this year, namely, on July 4, the British people let themselves go.

A distinguished French journalist recently arrived in this country, who has spent some years in London, tells me he has seen no enthusiasm during the war comparable with that he witnesses in London on that day. “At the meeting in Central Hall there were fervid scenes which deeply impressed all foreigners who know how the Britishers have to be intensely stirred before they demonstrate at all. No one could have been in the streets or at that meeting without realizing how the heart of Britain was moved.”

Stars and Stripes on Many English Homes: What the “American Invasion of Britain” Has Done in the Way of Making the Two Nations Friendlier than Ever Before (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 25, 1918

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Written by Jesse

August 26th, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Military / War

Danger in Optimism

An August 1918 article said it was completely unrealistic for WWI to be won by the end of the year. The war would end on November 11, less than three months later.

An example was given of a Midwest manufacturer who believe the war would be over by spring 1919, about 6-9 months after this article.

He held this idea so strongly that it had begun to affect his plans for the near future; instead of seeing a greater effort ahead, he saw a lessening effort, and, of course, those with whom he came in contact, especially his employees, were similarly affected, to a greater or less degree. The man was ardently loyal; little had he realized, in optimistically spreading an idea that was without logical foundation, that he was following a course which would have received the enthusiastic approval of German propagandists.

Why was that considered so unrealistic? Because the official projections of how many soldiers it would take to win the war kept rising considerably higher.

Our popular estimate that it would require 1,000,000 men to defeat the Germans, in addition to what the French and English had, was all wrong. Later we calculated that 3,000,000 would be required. Now the plans, in a clearer conception of the reality of the situation, have risen to an army of 5,000,000, and it may be necessary to go higher. It is evident that only the foolish optimist now arrives at an overestimation of the damage inflicted on the enemy by the present allied success and infers that anything like a vital blow has been dealt to the Germans, or is to be dealt in the immediate future.

A little cynicism is a good thing, but it’s possible for the pendulum to swing too far in the opposite direction and become too cynical.

 

Danger in Optimism: Senator New Reflects Opinion of Official Washington in Deploring Prophecies that War Will End Soon (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 18, 1918

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Written by Jesse

August 18th, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Q.M.C. — Unfailing Provider of the Soldier’s Food

How were soldiers fed during WWI? By the Q.M.C., which stood for “Quartermaster [Corporal] Department of the United States Army.”

They tried to keep the costs relatively low:

The cost of the standard menu amounts to from 41 to 43 cents per day per man, varying according to the location of the camp and market price of the food.

Adjusted for inflation, that would be between $6.84 and $7.17 per man, daily.

It also worked:

The best evidence that he is well fed is the fact that the average gain of weight of the American boy since entering the service has been twelve pounds, and this despite the fact that they have been doing such strenuous labor.

This sample menu was given for a weekend and weekday in the army:

SUNDAY

Breakfast: cantaloupes (one-half each), oatmeal, sugar, milk, fried pork sausage, hot biscuits, coffee

Dinner: fresh vegetable soup, diced bread toasted, veal in a creole, boiled rice, string beans (fresh), lettuce salad, ice cream, cake, bread, ice water.

Supper: potato salad, bread, jam, iced tea.

WEEK DAY

Breakfast: corn flakes, sugar, milk, beef stew, boiled potatoes, toast, bread, coffee.

Dinner: boiled beef with dumplings, spinach, young beets, pickles, apple and peach pie, iced tea, bread.

Supper: spinach, young beets, pickles, hot Parker House rolls, iced tea.

Sounds like some great meals! Except for the whole “huge risk of dying or getting bombed at any moment” part.

 

Q.M.C. — Unfailing Provider of the Soldier’s Food: Not One Wearer of Uncle Sam’s Uniform Has Gone Hungry, Thanks to the Commissary Machine That Toils Day and Night (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 28, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 25th, 2018 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Food,Military / War

Insignia, Not Black Gowns, as War Mourning

Women in America had long worn all black to represent widowhood as a result of a husband dying in war. This 1918 article even noted that “There are now women who have been in black ever since the civil war.”

But that began to change during WWI. Women began wearing a three-inch black band sleeve on their arm, instead of dressing fully in black.

Explained Anna Howard Shaw, chair of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenense:

The men are going over in the spirit of battling for the freedom of the world, cheerfully, with defiance of the enemy in their hearts. Once ‘over there,’ they do not murmur or repine, even in face of death itself. We women should lift our lives to the same plane, in appreciation of the exaltation of the service rendered by the men for the protection of ourselves and our homes. Instead of giving away to depression, it is our duty to display the same courage and spirit that they do. If they can die nobly, we must show that we can live nobly.

We should look on the insignia, therefore, not as a badge of mourning, but as a mark of recognition of exalted service, as a sign of what it has been their privilege to give to their country — a badge of honor. The wearing of the insignia will express far better than mourning the sacrifice that has been made, that the loss is a matter of glory rather than one of prostrating grief and depression.

 

Insignia, Not Black Gowns, as War Mourning: Women of America Asked to Forego Gloomy Evidences of Grief — Black Band on Sleeve to be a Badge of Honor for the Bereaved (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 7, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 7th, 2018 at 1:57 pm