First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I (1914-1918) articles - covering everything from the soldiers and generals to the trenches and militaria.

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World War II

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France - Western Front

Latest hand-picked First World War news. See also: See also 'World War I Tours', 'Trech Warfare', 'WW1 Memorials, Museums', 'Surviving WWI Veterans'.

French Tanks of World War I by Steven Zaloga and Tony Bryan (book review)
It is interesting to note, that in spite of deploying more tanks than any other country during the Great War, the French tank designs continue to be overshadowed by their British and German counterparts. "French Tanks of World War I" by Osprey Publishing is a 48-page step to fix this unbalanced state of affairs. Particularly noteworthy is Renault FT-17, a light tank which revolutionized tank design with its fully rotating turret and driver-front approach.
(mataka.org)

An entire French village evacuated for a week while bomb removal experts clear 30 tons of WW1 shells
1,652 German WWI mortar shells - most likely a German munitions depot - have been discovered in a small French village in the area between France and Germany. The village Coucy-lès-Eppes is located near the site of the Battle of Verdun.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Travelling to Verdun Cemetery - WW1 battlefields
Travel to Verdun knowing that you will be moved by the incredible loss of life that took place here during the First World War. The city of Verdun or Verdun's Memorial Museum are not the main attractions - it is the overpowering amount of headstones that draw visitors to this quiet area in France. Thousands of uniform headstones stand in symmetrical formation: Even in death the soldiers cannot escape the conformity forced upon them by commanding forces.
(examiner.com)

French wanted what America didn't - Black Conn. man fought in the Great War
Pvt. William Henry Washington could not serve under the American flag during World War I because of the color of his skin, but France was happy to have him. Phyllis Timm knew that her uncle was killed on the battlefield 90 years ago in France, on the armistice day. His name is engraved on the Meriden's WWI memorial. But Timm wasn't aware that her uncle served under the French flag because the Americans didn't want him. Instead of putting blacks in fighting units, U.S. Army sent them behind the front lines to unload cargo ships. The black soldiers were formed into the 92nd and 93rd Divisions, which turned 4 regiments over to the French for combat.
(telegram.com)

Northeastern France reflects the courage and sacrifice of World War I
Florence Lamousse, a guide leading a tour of the battlefields, visits the trenches often. It is not an easy task. "I have feelings of sadness. I feel closer and closer to the war. When I walk my dogs in the forest I find buttons, shrapnel, bullets." A visit to the trenches was a particularly poignant part of a recent tour of WWI sites in northeastern France. The trenches, reconstructed to their original state, are on the highway between Saint Mihiel to Nancy. Stop just before the village of Apremont by the sign "Bois Brule" for a visit, or get a map from one of the tourist offices in the area.
(stripes)

France may clear names of executed First World War mutineers
France may posthumously clear the names of hundreds of soldiers shot for refusing to obey orders to fight during WWI, told Jean-Marie Bockel, the minister in charge of veterans' affairs. "I am considering a way of rehabilitating, on a case by case basis, those shot as an example during the First World War." Hundreds of French soldiers were executed, many for refusing to continue to fight after a bloody and unsuccessful attack near the Chemin des Dames area in 1917. The mutinies, in which many regiments refused to move, brought up fears among French leaders that the army could collapse.
(reuters)

France's final WWI veteran Lazare Ponticelli dies - The last poilu
France's last surviving veteran of the First World War, Lazare Ponticelli, has died aged 110. Ponticelli, originally Italian, had lied about his age to join the French Foreign Legion in August 1914, aged 16. He initially refused an offer of a state funeral, but he later decided to accept "in the name of all those who died, men and women", during WWI. "Poilu" is the name given since Napoleonic times to French foot soldiers. There are only a handful of WWI veterans alive today, like British Henry Allingham and Austro-Hungarian artillery man Franz Kunstler.
(bbc)

France's oldest World War I veteran Louis de Cazenave passes away
Louis de Cazenave, who fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, has passed away at 110, leaving Lazare Ponticelli as the last "poilu", French WWI veteran. The second-last of the poilus (hairy ones: the name given since Napoleonic times to footsoldiers) joined up in 1916. In April 1917 he fought, with the Fifth Senegalese Rifles, in one of the most fatal French WW1 operations, at the Chemin des Dames, during the Second Battle of the Aisne. The Germans took chemin in 1914, and after 2 years of attrition warfare, the French commander-in-chief General Robert Nivelle, urged an attack against the well-dug Germans. The attack led to French mutinies, and left Cazenave a pacifist.
(bbc)

First World War veteran Lazare Ponticelli helps France remember
Born in Italy in 1897, Lazare Ponticelli joined the Foreign Legion in 1914, fighting in Picardy and at the Battle of Verdun before being drafted into the Italian army in 1915, where he served until the end of WW1. He and Louis de Cazenave are the only two surviving "poilus" ("unshaven ones") - the nickname given to France's front-line combat troops in the Great War. 8.4 million French soldiers served in the First World War and more than 1.3 million were killed.
(montrealgazette)

Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy And Operations in the Great War
The French army during the World War One has been marginalized by scholars. The British often view them as the 'unknown ally' and American scholars regard France as the older brother. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the Royal Navy are the standards against which German military is measured. Robert A. Doughty's book establishes France's legitimate position through a definitive account of the development and implementation of French strategy during WW1.
(publicbroadcasting)

The largest mutiny in modern military history
The battle is seared into French collective memory and has fascinated historians as the moment when man said "no" to the machine gun. The military story is horrific, if not unusual for WWI. On April 16, 1917, General Robert Nivelle sent 1.2 million men into a battle 130km northeast of Paris that would be go-for-broke gamble to end WW1. Underestimating the German advantage of entrenched hilltop positions, offensive was catastrophe. Soldiers mutinied. They did not retreat, but they refused to obey orders for further attack. Many officers had been killed, and replacements were green. Military records are confusing, but about 40,000 men in 130 regiments took part.
(iht)

French honor Americans who died during World War I siege
At Belleau Wood, France, where young Marines fought the enemy with rifles, bayonets and fists during World War I, Memorial Day lives up to its name. The French know; it was 88 years ago when the Marines came riding to their rescue, possibly saving their country. "Let us be worthy of their legacy," said French army chief of staff Gen. Thorette. The French, after 4 years of fighting, were down to their last licks until the Marines arrived for 3 weeks of slaughter that ended in victory on June 25, 1918. Marine Corps commandant Gen. Hagee noted how the Marines fought with little food or sleep, and how they died from artillery fire, machine-gun fire and poison gas.
(estripes)

Soldier's photos show everyday life of war   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Photographs from war often focus on death and dying -- young soldiers crying over fallen friends, bodies scattered on the battlefield. André Jeunet, a French soldier, carried in his pocket a Kodak Vest camera and instead focused on everyday life in the military. He snapped 205 black-and-white images, 47 of which are on display for the first time publicly at The Frazier International History Museum. "They give you an idea of what day-to-day life was like for soldiers." Jeunet served on both the Eastern and Western fronts, and the images are a mix of both.
(courier-journal)

France Discovers Two Living WWI Veterans
France has discovered that two more World War I veterans are still living, bringing to seven the number of French soldiers from the "war to end all wars" known to be alive. Marie-Georges Vingadassalon said she had no immediate details on the names, ages or circumstances of the two newly discovered veterans. But she confirmed their discovery means the office now knows of 7 surviving French veterans. French media reports identified the two "poilus" — as French veterans of the war are known — as Francois Jaffre, 104, and Rene Riffaud, 107.
(bbc)

Shipwreck of a nation - The Road to Verdun
Ian Ousby's The Road to Verdun: France, Nationalism and the First World War leads through France's stormy years of being struck by external disaster and torn apart by dissension. France's tenacious defence of Verdun saved the ship of state in 1916 and produced a national hero in the future Marshal Pétain, famous for his rallying cry "On les aura!": "We'll get them!" But what Pétain achieved then, at 60, he singularly failed to match when recalled to the helm in 1940, aged 84.
(guardian)


See also

'World War I Tours'

'Trech Warfare'

'WW1 Memorials, Museums'

'Surviving WWI Veterans'.