Massive Rail Networks Made World War I Possible
World War I couldn`t have happened without Europe`s railroads. Trains were the key to operational success and were the only way to supply the large armies spread out from Belgium to Switzerland. As Germany hardened its plans for war, the general staff sent out orders along the chain of command for the initial phase of its invasion of Luxembourg — take the railroads. At the eleventh hour, Kaiser Wilhelm II postponed the war, but the message didn`t reach one squad of German soldiers who drove into the sleepy town of Troisvierges on the evening of Aug. 1. Germany had invaded Luxembourg 12 hours early.
British enlisted Indian children during World War I, new book reveals
Britain`s WWI army included Indian children as young as 10-years-old fighting against the Germans on the western front, according to a new book on the role of Indian soldiers in the Great War. The youngsters were shipped over to France from the far reaches of the British Empire to carry out support roles, but were so close to the front line that many were wounded and admitted to hospital, according to ‘For King and Another Country: Indian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914-18`. The account by writer and historian Shrabani Basu is based on official papers at the National Archives and British Library.
Half of Brits admit to knowing NOTHING about the First World War
Britain is preparing to honour those who sacrificed everything at Sunday's Remembrance Day tributes, but many appear to have forgotten the significance of the day. A third of those surveyed had no idea that the centenary of the 'Great War' was marked last year, while almost half of people openly admitted to knowing nothing about the conflict, which claimed 17 million lives.
10 Largely Forgotten First World War Facts
In these centennial years of the First World war, lets look back at some of the more unknown facts about WW1. Were the Generals leading the troops all incompetent fools and is media manipulation really something new? We will take a look at that and more!
The only German ever to escape from a British POW camp
The policeman didn't give a second glance to two men trudging down a country lane just before dawn on a damp May morning in 1915. A few hours later, the police officer would have cause to reconsider. Two German officers had escaped from Donington Hall, the Leicestershire country house which served as a POW camp. One would soon be recaptured. The other would become the only German PoW to escape from Britain during two world wars. His was an astonishing tale of derring-do which would end in tragedy, thousands of miles from the lanes along which he began his escape. Gunther Plüschow was born in Munich in 1886. He joined the German marines as a cadet and on the outbreak of war in August, 1914, found himself on the Chinese peninsula colony of Tsingtao.
10 big myths about World War One debunked
Much of what we think we know about the 1914-18 conflict is wrong, writes historian Dan Snow. (1) It was the bloodiest war in history to that point. Fifty years before WW1 broke out, southern China was torn apart by an even bloodier conflict. Conservative estimates of the dead in the 14-year Taiping rebellion start at between 20 million and 30 million. Around 17 million soldiers and civilians were killed during WW1. (3) Men lived in the trenches for years on end.
Sex and the Somme: The officially sanctioned brothels on the front line laid bare for the first time
When Corporal Jack Wood was given a few hours of leave from waging war on the Western Front, he probably never imagined that he was about to shed yet more of his innocence. He had only recently arrived in France, but already had witnessed the travesty of friendly fire and been exposed to enemy shelling. Yet, as he strolled through the streets of a nearby town, there was another shock awaiting him: a brothel. Wood wrote in his diary of how "we had heard of the renowned Red Lamp with a big No 3 on it, but never thought of the reality of the thing. There was a great crowd of fellows, four or five deep and about 30 yards in length, waiting just like a crowd waiting for a football cup tie in Blighty. It was half an hour before opening time, so we had to see the opening ceremony."
WW1 3D maps used by Field Marshall Earl Haig unveiled at war museum
Historic 3D maps used to plan some of the bloodiest battles on the WWI Western Front gone on display for the first time. Experts at the Defence Geographic Centre at Feltham, London, have spent 10 years putting the maps together after they were found. They were used by Field Marshall the Earl Haig and feature their original markings showing the German trenches. The 120 maps - made from layers of card and kept at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst - cover the battlefields of the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele. Although 1,000 sets were made, the museum thinks this is one of the last sets in existence.
Replica of a 1917 Ford Model T Ambulance for sale
During the First World War, Ford, like the majority of American automakers, converted some of its production facilities into wartime vehicle plants. The Model T had proven to be very sturdy and made it a perfect candidate for active duty. In total, Ford churned out 39,000 military vehicles for the U.S. Armed Services, 5745 of which were ambulances. It's unknown how many of these Model T Ambulances survived the war, but this isn't one of them. It is however, an accurate replica of the WWI vehicles, built on a correct 1917 Model T chassis - and equipped with all the appropriate military equipment.
World War I finally "ends" as Germany pays the last bill caused by the reparations demanded in Versailles Treaty
Oct. 3, 2010 marked the closing of the final chapter of the First World War with the end of reparations payments 92 years after the country's defeat. The German government paid the last instalment of interest on foreign bonds it issued in 1924 and 1930 to raise cash to pay the huge reparations demanded by the victorious Allies. The reparations bankrupted Germany in the 1920s and the Nazi party used the resulting public resentment against the Versailles Treaty to seize power. At first the sum was 269 billion gold marks - 96,000 tons of gold - before being cut down to 112 billion gold marks by 1929.
Scale model of Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel was a legendary aircraft. 5490 were made, and having been issued to No.4 and No.70 squadrons in 1917 the aircraft appeared on the Western front in July 1917. Despite some peculiar and dangerous flying characteristics, she was a great fighting machine in the hands of a skilled pilot and by November 1918 had claimed the end of at least 3,000 enemy aircraft, more than any other type. World War I aircraft are a satisfying way of approaching the scale modelling hobby. They fly slower than the WW2 fighters and don't suffer the complication of retracting undercarriage installations, or flaps.
The march of the miniature heroes: Auction of toy soldiers
Nothing evokes childhood memories as vividly as its toys. Over half a century ago, I spent hours with my nose pressed against the windows of toy shops, staring at ranks of little soldiers on the shelves. Pocket money never seemed to go far, to build the army I wanted. Today, those same lead figures, long disappeared from playrooms, have become collector items. At Bonhams auction house in Knightsbridge, memories flooded back, as I saw a collection of toy soldiers come under the hammer: Lot 24 Royal Artillery at the halt... Lot 36 Band of the Royal Marine Light Infantry... Lot 242 the Seaforth Highlanders... Lot 285 the Bengal Lancers.
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.
Dazzled by camouflage exhibition - Camouflage in the First World War
Camouflage usually means blending into the background. But as an exhibition at the Rhode Island School of Design shows, camouflage can also be "dazzling." As visitors to "Bedazzled" learn, dazzle is "a disruptive type of camouflage used during WWI to camouflage ships against German U-boats." The exhibit presents 455 plans and 20 photos of dazzled ships as well as information about the history of camouflage. After the U.S. military began using disorientation technique, more boats survived combat, and the colourful ships were a "great morale booster." By WWII air warfare and radar had become prevalent enough that dazzle wasn't as effective anymore.
History of buttons a lesson in fashion
"During WWI buttons were so important to British officers that one could be requisitioned and delivered to the front lines in just 8 hours. During the war, the British spent a half-million dollars a year on paste to polish the officers' buttons," said Colleen Miller, owner of Button, Button, Canada's only button shop. Miller ran her button shop for 13 years in Gastown, but was forced to close due to rising rents. She's now looking for a new location to set up shop, but in the meantime is giving a lecture on the history of buttons Jan. 25 at Hycroft Mansion. At one point her collection reached one million buttons, with several antique ones.
Pistol which started WWI part of "In Memoriam: Remembering The Great War" -exhibition
An exhibition marking the 90th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War One opens at the Imperial War Museum. "In Memoriam: Remembering The Great War" focuses on 90 stories from the King to ordinary Londoners, escaping soldiers, women in munitions factories and conscientious objectors. Over 250 exhibits include a pistol and bomb used in the plot to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand; the watch and King's shilling given to young men enlisting; Zeppelin wreckage; and the diary of a nurse on the Russian front. They will be shown with huge amount of photos and films, including 1916 documentary "The Battle Of The Somme".
Exhibition: WWI "Great Escape" plot to get away from Holzminden camp
Decades before the escape of 76 Allied POWs from the Stalag Luft III camp in Nazi Germany (the basis for film The Great Escape) 29 officers escaped from the Germans in a similar feat. The "In Memoriam" exhibition will tell the story of 60 British and Australian POWs who attempted to break out of the "inescapable" Holzminden camp in 1918. "Everybody's heard of The Great Escape, but it will surprise visitors to see that similar escape attempts took place in the First World War," said historian Terry Charman. Holzminden held 550 officers and 100 orderlies, and there were 17 escape attempts in the first month alone - every single one failed.
First World War ship's log shows it dumped munitions off Surf City
The log of a WWI-era military ship records how it dumped weapons off the shores of the East Coast. In February 1919, the USS Elinor traveled the coast from Baltimore to New York, dumping excess weapons as it moved toward its final destination of Brooklyn, N.Y. According to a 2007 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. military dumped weapons in the ocean from the end of the First World War through 1970. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that of the over 1,100 munitions detected on the beaches in Surf City after a beach-replenishment project, none was a chemical weapon.
Poland didn't even exist, but they formed Polish army during the First World War (Article no longer available from the original source)
The small group of graves is different from the others in St. Vincent de Paul cemetery. Surrounded by a small iron fence, the 25 graves bear the emblem of a white eagle, the symbol of a free Poland. In these graves are some of the bravest men in Poland's history, says Henry Radecki. They were newly emigrated Polish-Americans when they travelled from the U.S. to Niagara-on-the-Lake to train for an independent Polish army. Poland didn't even exist at the time, having been occupied for 123 years by other countries. 20,000 trainees went through Niagara-on-the-Lake 1917-1919, outnumbering the town's residents.
Restored First World War barracks hut will open to the public in UK
A newly-restored World War I barracks hut will open to the public – over 90 years after it was constructed. The Cannock Chase Great War Hut is one of the few remaining WWI barracks huts left in the UK. The opening ceremony will be the culmination of several years of hard work by local enthusiasts to bring the historical landmark back to life. A group of 40 historical re-enactors will show visitors how the hut would have been used. History buffs will be able to see the past with displays of infantry and cavalry, and period vehicles on show.
The famous Zeebrugge raid of 1918
The Zeebrugge Raid was a secret attack that took place on April 23, in 1918. The mission aimed to disarm a German submarine base, letting ships to reach UK and relieve a nation low on food supplies. One of the men who died in the raid was Able Seaman Eduardo Tolra. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve at the start of WWI and fought at Antwerp in 1914 and in the Gallipoli campaign. "The Royal Marines were told to apply for the Zeebrugge mission, but we think men in the Navy who took part were volunteers," said historian Paul Kendall, who has written "Zeebrugge Raid 1918: The Finest Feat of Arms."
American WWI Soldier's message in a bottle surfaces
A message in a bottle, which has drifted on the waves of time for 90 years, has been discovered by French archaeologists at Messein - by accident. The bottle contained a letter sent to an American soldier fighting in World War 1 from his "Aunt Pete" in Oklahoma City. The letter gives a jaunty, racist account of life in the US Midwest in July 1918. The letter seems to have reached Sergeant Morres Vickers Liepman, of D Battery, 130th Field Artillery, who was serving with the 35th Division of the American expeditionary force. Sgt Liepman, who survived the war, placed the letter in the bottle and buried it - maybe to preserve it during a German bombardment.
Swingers make love, not war, at Vimy Ridge WW1 Memorial
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France has become a meeting place for those looking for kinky sex. A couple appeared at the court in Arras on charges of sexual exhibitionism at the First World War memorial. A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister said the Canadian govt hopes court will send a message that "inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated." La Voix du Nord noted the inconsideration of people indulging in acts on sacred grounds. "In the minds of Canadians, the historical site of Vimy nearly marks the birth of their country. If we dare sully the memory of those soldiers who died during WWI, it's the whole country that we sully."
7 Hearts players died after the entire squad enlisted
Hearts players wore a commemorative strip in honour of the club's war dead at game against Aberdeen. Seven Hearts players died following the entire first team squad's decision to enlist for the Great War in 1914 - the first British club to do so. "At that time in November 1914 many people believed that the team was the best ever to wear maroon."
Children of the Great War 1914-1918
The First World War saw the biggest loss of fathers in modern British history - and those that did return carried the mental and physical scars. When war began in 1914 over 2million men volunteered to serve King and country. Fathers enlisted alongside young, single men in a wave of patriotic fervour, resulting over 500,000 children lost their father in WWI. But what of the children haunted by the heroism of dads they barely knew? "She told me my father was dead and I would have to be the man of the house. I thought 'mum, I'm only 5 years old'. But I had to stand up and be counted - and I did." said Donald Overall.
World War I tunnel 'messages' exhibition
A photographer David Gepp hopes to solve the mysteries behind messages left in a railway tunnel by soldiers before they went to fight in WWI. He is to exhibit pictures of the graffiti scrawled by recruits at Berwyn, Denbighshire, in the hope their families will come forward. One message, written by a soldier who died in the war, is believed to read: "I want this baby." Some locals have known of the existence of the messages, but their history has never been publicly examined. "...a great number were written by the young men of the town heading off to WWI. It became a real obsession trying to discover who they were and what fate befell them in the trenches."
Thelma Bonnett used live artillery shell as a doorstop for 20 years
For decades the 7-inch-long shell had been a memento, polished and given pride of place on the mantlepiece. World War 1 relic also served as a toy and for the past 20 years as a front doorstop. At any time during those years it could have exploded. The German squat shell was live, packed with its original payload and with its firing mechanism primed, experts said. It was only when a neighbour saw the shell outside her door that the danger became clear and the Royal Navy bomb disposal experts summoned.
Postcard from World War 1 trenches delivered 90 years late
A postcard sent 90 years ago from a soldier fighting in France to his girlfriend in Colerne has turned up in a Chippenham postal office. The card, sent by Walter Butler as he fought in the trenches of the First World War, was found by Post Office sorting staff. How the postcard turned up so long after it was sent is still a mystery. Butler's daughter Joyce Holbert said: "The soldiers couldn't send much back to their families when they were fighting, so all the card would have told my mother was that he was okay and had his signature on it, but that was about it. This is obviously one that she never got."
WW1 poet's last post of hope from a tiny cellar - Wilfred Owen
After 4 years of trench warfare, only a few days of fighting were left. The Germans were falling back, although putting up a stiff rearguard defence, and the Allies were in hot pursuit. Poet Wilfred Owen describes the scene in the crammed cellar as his unit cavort around. There he wrote to his mother. Four days later, Owen was killed as he and his men came under machinegun fire trying to cross the Sambre-Oise canal. His mother opened the War Office telegram informing her of his death on Nov 11 - just as bells were ringing out to celebrate the Armistice. The cellar is set to open, providing a meeting point of the poetry of war.
Oral Histories of the First World War - Veterans 1914-1918
Library and Archives Canada, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the CBC, launched a web exhibition featuring recorded interviews of vets who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. Oral Histories of WWI is divided into 7 sections: Second Ypres, Vimy Ridge, War in the Air, The Somme, Trench Warfare, Passchendaele and Perspectives on War. Each section is made up of 1-on-1 interviews from In Flanders Fields, a CBC radio broadcast that ran from Nov. 11, 1964 to March 7, 1965. The broadcast, divided into a 17 part-series and 350 hours long, was put together by the CBC.
The First World War in Africa - Military Operations in the Colonies
Covering events in the German colonies of Togoland, the Cameroons, South-West Africa, and East Africa, The First World War in Africa was a chapter of the monumental 1200 page To Arms, the first volume of a planned trilogy on WWI. In it Hew Strachan describes military operations in their broader context, rarely delving into the details of battles. Medicine and logistics were critical: most casualties were the result of diseases, while even company-sized units required the support of porters in enormous numbers. Tens of thousands were employed as soldiers, but hundreds of thousands or even millions as porters.
The Somme and Tolkien -- Wilfred Owen and World War I
The first day of the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest in the whole history of the British Army. One of those who survived that first assault was the young JRR Tolkien. We might expect those months of unremitting horror in the trenches of the Somme to have fed into, and coloured, the ferocious battles and scenes of slaughter in Tolkien's three-part Lord of the Rings. The poet Wilfred Owen was killed in the final week of WW1. His poems offered searing testimony to the way this new kind of war ended any possibility of romanticising personal sacrifice, or elevating the individual in combat to the status of hero.
Gravediggers find huge WW1 bomb
Two gravediggers feared death when their shovel hit a 2ft-long unexploded bomb. They thought at first it was a stone and kept on digging. It wasn't until they teased the bomb out of the soil they discovered it was a Howitzer artillery shell. The pair called police and the army bomb squad was drafted in. Howitzers were used to bombard enemy trenches and communications lines during the two world wars.
Poppies are a vivid symbol of the terrible bloodshed of war
US Veterans Day is called Remembrance Day in England where they also use the name, "Poppy Day." Artificial poppies were made and sold by the Royal British Legion to raise funds for the support of vets of all military conflicts. The poppy appeared in profusion in the battlefields of Northern France during the First World War. It's bright red color provided a vivid symbol of the terrible bloodshed on the Western Front. On 3 May 1915, Dr. John McCrae, serving with the Canadian Army Corps in Ypres, wrote a poem titled, "In Flanders Fields," which opens with the lines, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow -- Between the crosses, row on row, -- That mark our place."