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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Latest hand-picked First World War news. See also: See also 'Archives: WWI Ancestry research', 'Red Baron', 'Medals', 'Militaria - Memorabilia', 'WWI Tours'.

George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I (book review)
Queen Victoria's plan to marry as many of her descendants as possible into the ruling families of Europe resulted in her progeny sitting on the thrones of 10 nations. With this network of rulers related to the woman who was called the "Grandmama of Europe," surely then peace would prevail. But, little more than a dozen years after Victoria's 1901 funeral, cousin was pitted against cousin in global combat. In "George, Nicholas and Wilhelm" biographer Miranda Carter focuses on the nexus among the heads of state in three of the major Great War combatants, Britain, Russia and Germany.
(latimes.com)

The Madman and the Butcher: The Sensational Wars of Sam Hughes and General Arthur Currie by Tim Cook
Militia minister Sir Sam Hughes traveled across Canada as he essentially single-handedly built the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) that saw action in the First World War. General Sir Arthur Currie led the CEF to its great victories in 1917 and 1918. Their linked stories are worth telling, especially since Hughes hated Currie.
(theglobeandmail.com)

Douglas Haig and the First World War by J. P. Harris [book review]
He is the most debated military leader in British history, called a butcher who sent hundreds of thousands of men over the top to their deaths. Now a biography adds more damning indictment on Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig: Late in the last year of World War 1 he was pushing for a peace that would have left Germany as the winner of the war. Dr J. P. Harris claims Haig was not quite the monster of popular myth but nor was he, as some studies have suggested, a clear-sighted leader who should take the credit for Britain's victory. Instead he was a poor battlefield commander who "didn't have the sort of intellect that could penetrate the fog of war".
(timesonline.co.uk)

Biography profiles heroic WWI German general Baron Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein [book review]
"The Desert Baron: Friedrich: A Warrior for All Seasons" - by Conrad Crease - explores one of the most decorated German First World War generals, Baron Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein. The Desert Baron outlines his many feats, like leading 20,000 men for over 150 miles through the Sinai Desert in an attack on the Suez Canal, and leading the Turks in the Battle of Romani. The book also describes his work to save the Armenians from Turkish genocide, the Georgians from both the invading Turks and the Bolsheviks of the Russian Revolution. Kressenstein - who won 21 decorations by 9 kingdoms and countries - also smashed Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.
(mmdnewswire.com)

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the butcher of the Somme, greatly underestimated
Even if Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig and his army commanders may never escape criticism for their errors of 1916 and 1917, they do deserve credit for the victory in 1918. It was a product of a steep learning curve, that raised British and Dominion divisions to the tactical and technical forefront of the Allied armies on the Western Front. It could be seen in the reorganization of infantry platoons and in small unit tactics, using new infantry weapons; in the greater use of wireless, motor machinegun units and of aircraft in the ground-attack role. And tanks were used in co-operation with the infantry, an in mass for the initial shock action.
(timesonline.co.uk)

The mighty Warrior: One of military history's last cavalry charges
General Jack Seely and his horse Warrior lad one of the last great cavalry charges in military history - at Moreuil Wood, on the banks of the Avre river. Victory would secure the river bank and help halt the German Spring Offensive of 1918. Behind Warrior were the 1,000 horses of the Canadian Cavalry. In the 10 days since the German breakthrough against the 5th Army, they had trekked a 120 mile to get round the spearhead of the German advance. Legend has it that General Jack Seely later recommended Warrior for the Victoria Cross medal with the simple citation: "He went everywhere I went."
(telegraph)

Warsaw 1920: Lenin's Failed Conquest of Europe by Adam Zamoyski
The Soviet invasion of Poland in 1920 as a prelude to conquest of Europe is so little discussed by historians that Adam Zamoyski refuses to call it the Polish-Soviet War. Coming so soon after World War I, it has been neglected by everyone except the Poles, and Zamoyski admits that "the events of 1920 seem not only irrelevant, but quaint". Lenin wanted to conquer Poland to create a revolution in Germany; And even more: he wrote to Stalin advising an attack through Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, to provoke revolution in Italy. Stalin replied that "it would be a sin" not to try.
(telegraph)

The Good Soldier: a Biography of Douglas Haig by Gary Mead
When Field-Marshal Earl Haig died in 1928 at least 1 million people observed the funeral procession pass through the streets of London. It must be presumed that many were old soldiers of the Great War come to give a last salute to their chief. Yet within a few years, Douglas Haig was no longer considered as the architect of victory in the most terrible war the British Army had ever fought. He was remembered as a "butcher", "a donkey", "a dunderhead". This change of mind owed much to Lloyd George's War Memoirs, but more to revulsion at the horror of war and the awful cost of Haig's battles. Gary Mead, in his balanced biography of Haig, calls him "enigmatic."
(telegraph)

Ownership of WWI general John J. Pershing`s recordings disputed
Who owns the voice of General John J. Pershing? You can hear the WW1 general's address to Americans from the battlefields of France at the Library of Congress. You can also hear it at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial - and there's one person who has a problem with that. Edward Golterman says he holds the rights to the Pershing speech and at least 3 other recordings that he says the Liberty Memorial is using without permission. His grandfather, Guy Golterman, produced the recordings as part of The Nation`s Forum - project.
(hnn.us)

Queen Victoria's grandsons marched the world to World War I
It was Queen Victoria's grandsons who marched the world to the Great War. The scandals and rivalries of these ruling families "were played out in public, on the dangerous stage of international politics," writes Catrine Clay in "King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War". And what glorious dysfunction it was that surrounded the "Trade Union of Kings" - British King George V, Russian Czar Nicholas II, and German Kaiser Wilhelm II. Today, only Czar Nicholas, leader of the Romanov clan, is much remembered on this side of the pond. To many, Kaiser Wilhelm is just some vague 19th-century German in a pointy helmet, and King George - which one was he?
(csmonitor)

WW1 Tank Commander who rumbled into military history   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The new-fangled "land-ship" was nicknamed "Creme de Menthe" and its commander Arthur Inglis, of the Gloucestershire Regiment, helped change the course of military history. He was the first man to lead tanks into battle and his heroic efforts during the Battle of the Somme earned him the Distinguished Service Order medal, that now comes up for sale. His lead tank C5 was whipped with German machine gun bullets and lost a wheel at the historic face-off at Flers-Courcelette on the Western Front on Sept 15, 1916. But Inglis destroyed the enemy garrison and machine gun nest before returning with "a thoroughly disoriented" captured German general.
(thisisgloucestershire)

General John Monash - Australian military commander of World War I   (Article no longer available from the original source)
FormerR British PM Anthony Eden wrote that there was no greater soldier in WWI than Australia's John Monash, who held the first Anzac Day memorial service in 1916, one year after the beginning of the Gallipoli campaign, a dreadful military disaster. John Monash was a most unlikely army general, yet he was arguably Australia's greatest general. Field marshal Bernard Montgomery said of Monash that if British general Douglas Haig had been relieved of his command and Monash appointed commander over the British and Allied forces on the Western Front in WWI, then the war would have ended a year earlier.
(theaustralian)

Arthur Currie - Commanded in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in WW1   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The general Arthur Currie, who commanded troops in the Canadian Corps` Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War 1, began his military career as a part-time soldier in the artillery militia unit now known as the 5th(BC) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. He commanded the unit 1909-1913. When his tour of command ended, he was asked to raise a kilted infantry unit. Currie then became the first commanding officer of the 50th Gordon Highlanders, which became the 16th Canadian Scottish in the First World War. Prior to WW1, Currie ran into some trouble after defrauding his regiment of money. One account suggests he did it to buy new uniforms...
(oakbaynews)

President`s struggle revealed: Woodrow Wilson amid world events
While U.S. troops were fighting in the First World War in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson underwent treatment in a hushed episode that foreshadowed worse health troubles to come. The White House doctor Cary T. Grayson later recounted the incident to his wife in one of a slew of newly public documents that show how far Wilson`s innermost circle went to conceal his frail condition amid major world events. Wilson collapsed Oct. 2 and went into seclusion for the remainder of his presidency. The Treaty of Versailles, which he had championed, was rejected by the Senate.
(woodrowwilson)

U.S. General Smedley Butler on Cover-up of Forces Behind War
That war is a racket has been told by many, but rarely by the highly decorated U.S. General - Smedley Butler (two Medals of Honor) wrote the book War is a Racket in 1935. The World War cost the U.S. $52 billion. The normal yearly profits of a business are 6-12%. But for the war-time profits the sky is the limit. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it. Of course, it isn't put that crudely. It is dressed into patriotism and love of country, but the profits skyrocket and are safely pocketed. The average pre-war earnings of the du Ponts 1910-1914 were $6 million a year. Now let's look at their average yearly profit 1914-1918. $58 million a year profit.
(wanttoknow)

Disaster of the Somme led to Haig's order to shoot more officers
Shot at Dawn group paints a grim backdrop to Edwin Dyett's death. "Nearly 350 British and Commonwealth soldiers were executed by firing squad during the First World War. Only 3 officers suffered a similar fate. The case of Edwin Dyett cries out for justice. In October 1916, in the aftermath of the disastrous Somme offensive Field Marshall Haig ordered that more officers be shot for cowardice, rather than be sent home for recuperation. This evidence, only recently discovered, demonstrates his misguided preoccupation with extreme measures to suppress fear and panic among the officer class.
(icnetwork)

Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing's demise was premature
In the WWI era, no American military figure was better known than Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. So it was no surprise that reporters gathered like vultures when word got out in 1938 that Pershing was dying. Pershing had accomplished the near impossible, whipping an ill-prepared American military into an effective, 2 million-member fighting machine in World War I and then leading it to victory as its field commander. He had been appointed chief of staff in 1921 and retired three years later as "General of the Armies." Thereafter, he resisted the temptation to get into politics.
(tucsoncitizen)

Son defends Field Marshal Haig's role at Battle of Somme
Field Marshal Douglas Haig's role in the World War I battle has made him a controversial military figure. Haig was a hero at the end of the war but subsequently branded by some historians as a "butcher". His son George Alexander Eugene Douglas Haig has spoken out to "set the record straight". He will not take any part in events to mark the battle of the Somme. "I found the criticism really rather difficult and sad as his leadership was paramount to winning the war. It was a very close-run thing and because of trench warfare and the weapons available, frontal assaults were the only way so casualties were inevitable."
(bbc)

The Warlords: Paul von Hindenburg and Erich von Ludendorff
Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich von Ludendorff personified the fortunes of WW1 Germany. They were the authors of the victory at Tannenberg in August 1914, when German forces on the eastern front shattered the invading Russian armies and drove a salient into Russian Poland. But they were also deeply involved in the disasters that forced Germany to its knees in the autumn of 1918. They were warlords in the most literal sense. By the closing months of 1917 they were the most powerful men in Germany. The military apparatus they ruled held the German Empire in an iron grip. Not even the Kaiser himself could challenge their pre-eminence.
(telegraph)

British Generals frequently went close to the battle zone
Public perceptions of that war are still dominated by futile frontal attacks against machine guns in the mud of Flanders, of brave front-line troops who were sacrificed because of the ill-conceived plans of incompetent staff officers. The myth of the uncaring general - safely dining in his chateau while the front-line troops died - has proved durable. What is much less widely known is that 78 British and Dominion officers of the rank of Brigadier General and above died on active service in the WWI while a further 146 were wounded. These figures alone show that British Generals frequently went close enough to the battle zone to place themselves in considerable danger.
(bbc)


See also

'Archives: WWI Ancestry research'

'Red Baron'

'Medals'

'Militaria - Memorabilia'

'WWI Tours'.