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 'World War I Archives', 'WWI Militaria', 'Tank of First World War'.

WWI ammunition frozen in time for nearly a century has been found as glacier melts in northern Italy
First World War ammunition frozen in time for nearly a century has been discovered in northern Italy. More than 200 pieces of the ammunition were revealed at an altitude of 3,200 metres by a melting glacier on the Ago de Nardis peak in Trentino. The 85-100mm caliber explosives weighed between 7-10 kilos and explosives experts have been to the site to safely dispose of the weaponry. The once-perennial glacier began partially melted during a recent heat wave, allowing the Finance Police Alpine rescue unit to catch sight of the brownish metal points emerging from the ice.
(dailymail.co.uk)

When Thailand went to war in Europe during First World War
Everyone knows about the involvement of Great Britain and France with other assorted European allies against the Central Powers of Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. But few know that Thailand was also part of the Great War in Europe. The King, Rama VI, King Vajiravudh, was convinced that participation would be "an excellent opportunity for us to gain equality with other nations." Thailand had suffered from the colonial actions of France that resulted in the loss of control of Laos and Cambodia, and also had a dispute with Britain that resulted in Thailand ceding 4 provinces to Malaysia. Additionally, Thailand was forced to accept the imposition of unequal treaties with England, France and the US that gave citizens from those countries extraordinary rights within Thailand.
(americanexpatchiangmai.com)

Historian studies the forgotten First World War battlefields of Tsavo, Kenya, Africa
Few people apart from history buffs know that East Africa was one of the WW1 battlefields where the British fought the Germans. The past 3 decades historian James Willson has explored the area where the fighting focused: the Taveta Enclave in Tsavo West.
(theeastafrican.co.ke)

China's First World War effort - 140,000 Chinese who served on the Western Front
The First World War pulled in people from around the world, including 140,000 Chinese workers who served on the Western Front. "The Toiling for War" exhibition at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres details the Chinese involvement in the Great War. The Chinese laborers buried the dead, dug trenches, worked in munitions factories and cleaned up the shells, grenades and bullets after the November 11, 1918 armistice. 100,000 served in the British Chinese Labor Corps 1917-1919 - each received a medal for his service. 40,000 served with the French forces. The British and French records reveal 2,000 lost their lives.
(voanews.com)

Outrage in Australia after producers cast a Caucasian man in the role of a Chinese-Australian war hero
There has been an angry reaction in Australia after TV producers cast a Caucasian man in the role of a Chinese-Australian war hero. Billy Sing - a sniper - was a hero of the Gallipoli campaign in the Great War, but a TV drama has him cast as a white man. Producers have been accused of re-writing Australian military history. Billy Sing - known as the "Gallipoli assassin" - became a hero of the Australian forces during World War One by killing over 200 enemy troops. The producers say they could not find a 60-year-old Chinese actor to play Billy Sing's father, so both parts will be played by white actors.
(bbc.co.uk)

Chinese on the Western Front
Chinese men on the Western Front? How did this happen, and why? 1914-1918, the governments of France and Britain used their diplomatic influence to hire thousands of Chinese labourers - and then shipped them to Europe to help the Allied war effort against the imperial Germany. Thousands died by enemy fire, a few were executed by their employers. On the 20th April, this almost forgotten First World War story will be the subject of a talk by Gordon Mar, who has researched his subject in Australia and Canada, and talked to relatives of some of the people involved.
(cumberland-courier)

The Unknown Ally: Bulgaria in WWI -exhibition at the Museum of Military History in Vienna
"Unknown ally" is a special exhibition which runs until February 2010 at the Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) in Vienna. The exhibit explores the role of Bulgaria, and its mostly unknown alliance with the Central Powers Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. The Exhibition has assembled numerous military uniforms, militaria, weapons and insignias by the new Bulgarian army during the conflict, as well as documents and photographs bearing witness to the situation on the front. Maps of the campaign, battle plans, extracts of treaties, posters and articles are among the other documents on show.
(cafebabel.com)

A More Unbending Battle: The Harlem Hellfighter's Struggle for Freedom in WWI and Equality at Home
Harry Truman's Executive Order 9981 (equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed forces) it was the start of integrating the U.S. military's white ranks with African Americans. Prior to the order (1948) African Americans had to serve in all-black units commanded by whites, doing lesser jobs. Peter N. Nelson explores this painful chapter of America's military history in his analysis of the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, the first African American Regiment to fight in WWI. Composed of men from all walks of life in Harlem, the regiment (the 15th New York National Guard Regiment) was assigned to the French Army to reduce tension in the U.S. military.
(mysanantonio.com)

Arthur Roberts: The life and times of one of Scotland`s first black soldiers
A unique WWI diary by one of the first black soldiers in a Scottish regiment has been discovered. The diary, by Private Arthur William Roberts (the King's Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) and Royal Scottish Fusiliers, May 1917 - March 1918) describes avoiding Jerry's shrapnel; surviving gas attacks and the mud; going over the top; the boredom of life in the trenches. "We want him to be remembered as Arthur Roberts, not as a black soldier, but it was unusual to have a black soldier in the regiment then. There were black regiments fighting in the WWI and they were subject to quite a lot of ... prejudice. But he is the only one ... in the KOSB," explained Ian Martin, of the KOSB Museum.
(sundayherald.com)

Photographs, rescued from dump, reveal black British Tommy at the Somme
At first sight, there may seem to be nothing unusual about this photo, saved from a rubbish skip in France. Look, though, at the British soldier on the left. He is black: a very rare example of an image of a black "Tommy" from World War I. The picture is one of nearly 400 snaps of British soldiers on the eve of, and during, the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The photographs, all preserved on glass plates, lay forgotten in the attic of a barn 10 miles behind the Somme battlefields for 90 years. When the barn changed owners in 2007, they were tossed away. Passers-by collected a few and eventually the historical value of the plates was recognized.
(independent.co.uk)

Impact of World War I 1914-1918 on Sikh soldiers and their letters
World War I was horrific and Sikhs contributed by giving their lives in thousands. In Europe, the Sikhs fought in Belgium-Flanders at Ypres twice and in France at La Bassee, Neuve Chapelle, Auber's Ridge, Festubert, Loos, Givenchy and Somme. --- "The battle is being carried on very bitterly. In the Lahore Division only 300 men are left. Some are dead, some wounded. The division is finished. Think of it - in taking 50 yards of German trench, 50,000 men are killed. When we attack they direct a terrific fire on us," wrote Bakhshis Singh.
(emgonline.co.uk)

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)

World War I exhibit examines role of Asian, African troops
Over a million soldiers from Europe's African and Asian colonies answered the call to arms, yet they were forgotten afterwards, and promises of freedom were not carried out. The betrayal laid the bases of the independence movements that ended the colonial empires. "Man, Culture and War," an exhibit at Brussels' BELvue Museum, sets the record straight: the colonial troops accounted for 100,000 of the nearly 4 million killed on that front. "Asian and African units played an immensely important role on the Allied side..., but very quickly after the war their contribution was reduced to a footnote in history," said Piet Chielens, head of the In Flanders Fields Museum.
(usatoday.com)

The White War by Mark Thompson - The First World War Italian front
Poorly equipped Italian troops struggled through the snows of the southern Alps into the Austrian guns as if they were attempting mass suicide. "In gestures of mercy unique to this front" Austrian machine-gunners ceased fire, and adviced the Italians to go back. But in General Luigi Cadorna, Italy had a commander who was not moved by slaughter. He restored the Roman custom of randomly killing men from units "deemed to have shown a lack of pluck and dash". Like Stalin, he had machine guns behind his own lines to encourage the stragglers. Italy entered the First World War as it did the Second: It waited to see which side seemd to win and joined it to share the spoils.
(thefirstpost.co.uk)

World War I: The African Front by Edward Paice - Excerpt
In August 1914 Anglo-German entente in Africa ... evaporated overnight. The first British shots of the Great War were fired ... by a regimental sergeant-major of the West African Frontier Force in German Togoland, as Britain moved to neutralise the threat to shipping lanes posed by ... Germany's African colonies. Undisputed control of African waters was rapidly secured, but in addition to eliminating Germany's ability to deploy commerce raiders against Allied shipping Britain's strategy called for action against German troops on African soil, and as the Schutztruppe, the German colonial defence force, had no intention of surrendering without a fight.
(wsj.com)

Tip & Run: The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa
"Tip & Run: The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa" by Edward Paice Phoenix challenges our focus on Europe as the main theatre of the First World War. The first British shots of the Great War were fired "by a regimental sergeant-major of the West African Frontier Force in Togoland, as Britain moved to neutralise the threat to shipping lanes posed by ... Germany`s African colonies." The war as fought in Africa has been the theme of such fiction as William Boyd`s An Ice-Cream War. But Paice is the first historian to devote the subject full attention with colossal research.
(timesonline)

They Came to Fight: African Americans and the Great World War   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Members of the UMKC community gathered to recall and honor local and national contributions of African Americans during "the war to end all wars." The exhibition "They Came to Fight: African Americans and the Great World War" was put together by assistant professor of history Pellom McDaniels III. The exhibition covers both local Kansas City and national contributions of African Americans. Local historians Joelouis Mattox and Delbert White spoke with great respect to the memory of Private Wayne Miner - the last American soldier to die in World War I. He died a brave death by volunteering for a dangerous mission when no one else would.
(unews.com)

The Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919: The Forgotten Revolution
On March 21st, 1919, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed. 133 days later, this chapter in the history of the Hungarian working class was brought to a close with the entry of the White Rumanian army into Budapest. Had the Hungarian proletariat succeeded, the isolation of the Russian Workers' Republic would have been brought to an end. Had the Hungarian workers' state managed to consolidate itself for just a few months longer, the flames of revolution would have engulfed Vienna and Berlin, where the working class was in a state of revolutionary ferment. The triumph of the German revolution would have changed the whole course of history.
(libcom)

Choctaw Code Talkers to be Honored by TX Military Forces
The Texas Military Forces will honor the Choctaw "code talkers" of World War I during events on Camp Mabry Sept. 16. Less well known than the Navaho code talkers in World War II, The Choctaws pioneered the U.S. military's use of a Native American language to baffle enemy code-breakers. Lt. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez, Adjutant General of Texas, will present 18 Lone Star Medals of Valor to the families of the Choctaw code talkers Sept. 16. During WWI, Choctaw Soldiers were organized into Company E of the 142nd Infantry Division, part of the Texas National Guard's 36th Infantry Division.
(kten)

East African - One of the fiercest, and most ignored, WWI theatres   (Article no longer available from the original source)
"Seventeen letters to Tatham: A WW1 surgeon in East Africa" captures aspects of the World War I in East Africa which had been ignored by war historians. Ann Crichton-Harris - a granddaughter of a surgeon Dr Edward Temple Harris who served in the WW1 British army - has reconstructed the events that unfolded in the war. Dr Harris was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his contribution to the war effort, particularly during the first battle of Tanga Nov 1-5, 1914. Fascinated by some of the details in his letters, she embarked on a mission of recreating the WWI events in German East Africa that her grandfather had witnessed.
(allafrica)

Honoured at last: Aboriginal war heroes
A rare ceremony to honour Aboriginal war veterans was held in Sydney, reviving memories of how shabbily they were treated after fighting for their country. 500 Aborigines volunteered for WW1: a large number, given the black population of 80,000. Up to 5,000 joined up for WW2. They included 4 brothers who fought in both world wars: and who were from a family recognised as having a service record unrivalled throughout the Commonwealth. The Aboriginal contribution to Australian military history is still not fully acknowledged. On Anzac Day indigenous veterans staged their own march through Redfern in protest at being ignored by veterans' groups.
(independent.co.uk)

Cyprus Party Calls on EU to Recognise Pontic Greek Genocide
The Democratic Rally of Cyprus party (DISY) called on the EU and the international community to recognise the Pontian Greek Genocide of 1916-1923. "Historic events such as these must always remain in our memory." May 19, is Pontic Greek Genocide Day - term used to refer to the fate of Pontic Greeks during and in the aftermath of WWI. The term is used to refer to the massacres and death marches of Pontian Greek populations in the southeastern Black Sea provinces of the Ottoman Enpire. Greece and the Republic of Cyprus recognise it as a genocide. The US states of South Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois also recognise the events.
(aina)

Australia's Aboriginals demand Anzac day equality
Australians marked their national holiday in memory of fallen soldiers as Aboriginal veterans broke with tradition to hold a rival service and demand equality for "coloured" warriors. But as medal-wearing veterans turned out for parades in cities, 300 Aboriginal veterans staged a separate "Coloured Diggers March" in Sydney. "Over there in the heat of the battle we were one, we were brothers. When a lot of our men came back from the war, they came back under the white Australia policy and they did not get the benefits of land grants or war pensions. It`s those kinds of issues that are stored in our hearts." About 500 Aboriginals fought in WW1.
(nzherald.co.nz)

Black troops aboard ill-fated vessel in 1917 honoured   (Article no longer available from the original source)
It took less time for the SS Mendi to sink during World War 1 in 1917 than it took to hold a memorial service for the 607 black troops on board the Mendi. The year 1917 marked South Africa‘s worst marine disaster. While sailing through fog on Feb 21, 1917, the troopship SS Mendi collided with the liner SS Darro in the English Channel. The Mendi sank in 20 minutes. Of the 802 members of the South African Native Labour Contingent, more than 600 drowned. The bravery showed under the Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dhyoba has been remembered through the years. The Darro, which despite the fog and not emitting warning signals, had been sailing at maximum speed.
(theherald)

The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa
For the commander of the German army in east Africa, Major-General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the armistice of Nov 11 1918 did not come as a surprise. It did not come as anything at all, since von Lettow-Vorbeck, who unlike pretty well any other commander had succeeded in getting through that bloodbath undefeated, didn't believe the news. If the war was over then the result would have been favourable to Germany, he reasoned. When told by one Hector Croad, that the Kaiser had fled to Holland and Germany was a republic, the "Hindenburg of Africa" dismissed these as clearly outlandish propositions.
(guardian)

Documentary Halfmoon Files: Voices of WW1 Indian soldiers
Somewhere in the archives of Berlin Humboldt University lie stacked sound recordings of Indian soldiers, who died lusting for a glimpse of their villages. Taken POWs in World War I by German troops and detained at the Halfmoon Camp at Wunsdorf, these soldiers could never come back. But 90 years after the voices of 3 Indian soldiers are back to search for their roots. Helping the ghost voices find a body is filmmaker Philip Scheffner, who has embarked upon a historic documentary titled `The Halfmoon Files`. The film is trying to find more about soldiers who served in the Indian Army during WWI and were detained at the Halfmoon Camp.
(-tribuneindia)

Bulgarian participation in World War One
It has been argued that the Bulgarian participation in the war on Oct 1 1915 after a year of weighing the pros and cons of either side was a continuation of the Balkan Wars and a hope to remain left alone by the great powers. The plan of PM Vasil Radoslavov was to make an alliance that would involve as little fighting and would yield as much land as possible. Catching the Entente by surprise, Bulgarian forces pushed the Serbs out of Macedonia and occupied part of Greek Macedonia by mid-1916. 500 000 allied troops from other fronts landed at Thessaloniki and halted the advance.
(sofiaecho)

The sacrifice of Sikh soldiers during the world war 1
Sikhs will gather in the Belgian town of Ypres on Nov 11, which marks the 88th anniversary of the end of the World War I, to commemorate the sacrifice of Sikh soldiers during the war. Around 80,000 Sikh troops fought in Belgium and France during World War 1. More than a quarter of these soldiers became casualties. In 1914 a platoon of Sikhs died fighting to the last man.
(yuku.com)

South Africans in WW1 -- Battle of the Delville Wood   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Delville Wood Battle was fought by South Africans. 90 years ago the South African brigade was called to capture Delville Wood in France. Thousands lost their lives in a fierce two-day battle in the woods dubbed by South African soldiers as the "Devil's Woods". "There were heavy casualties on the South African side, out of 3 153, only 705 South African soldiers came out of the woods. And out of that 705, 604 further were wounded … only 143 really came out unharmed out of the woods."
(sabcnews)

Muslim dead of First World War -- Battle of Verdun
President Chirac has marked 90 years since the Battle of Verdun by unveiling a monument to Muslims who fell in the key WWI battle. The memorial is the first to Muslims who died in 300 days of clashes over the strategically located French town and in other World War I battles. France erected monuments in the 1930s to Jewish and Christian soldiers among the 300,000 who died at Verdun in 1916. Until now they have been honoured only by a small pillar dedicated to Africans who fought in the French army, and 592 graves in section of a war cemetery in the town of Douaumont near the battlefields.
(bbc)

Neutrality of the Netherlands during 1914-1918 First World War
The challenges of a small country trying to protect itself from war are examined in a book by Dr Maartje Abbenhuis. The Art of Staying Neutral: The Netherlands in the First World War, 1914-1918, is the first in-depth study in English into the maintenance of neutrality by the Netherlands during World War I. "Despite their neutrality, the war had a big impact on the Dutch people, especially those living near the German or Belgian borders. They experienced the presence of troops, the constant threat of spies and smugglers, and barbed wire and electric fences which killed hundreds of people."
(auckland.ac.nz)

South African involvement in WW1 battles in East Africa   (Article no longer available from the original source)
This year marks the 90th anniversary of South African involvement in WW1 in East Africa. It is hard to imagine the world of a century ago where Tanzania was German East Africa colony and Kenya was British East Africa. When war broke out in Europe in 1914, these two colonies found themselves at war. Neither the white settlers in either colony, nor the black people had any reason to attack one another. But at that time, loyalty to King or Kaiser was the only option. Black and white soldiers were shipped across the seas from India, Europe and from all over Africa. On the German side they were led by Von Lettow Vorbeck and on the Allied side by Jan Smuts.
(thestar)

Czechoslovak legions formed in Russia, Italy and France   (Article no longer available from the original source)
More than 100 graves and a mass grave with remains of Czechoslovak legionaires will be accessible to the public at the military cemetery in Vladivostok. Czechoslovak legions were formed in Russia, Italy and France during World War I. Their members were Czechs and Slovaks who were taken prisoner by the Allies or deserted the Austro-Hungarian forces. They became entangled in the civil war in Russia against their will. It is estimated that up to 50,000 Czechs and Slovaks passed through Russia in the years 1918-20. More than 4000 soldiers have never returned.
(praguemonitor)

Sacred land of Ulster's brave
The government has given the Somme Association a grant to buy Thiepval Wood in France. The site is where members of the 36th Ulster Division fought during the Battle of the Somme. So why does this land mean so much to people from Northern Ireland? Thiepval Wood is sacred land and when you walk into this small forest you quickly get a sense of what life was like in 1916. This was home to the 36th Ulster Division and in eight decades it has remained largely untouched. Grenades, unexploded shells and bodies lie buried, hidden away. The trenches are visible - dozens of them criss-cross the forest floor.
(bbc)


See also

'World War I Archives'

'WWI Militaria'

'Tank of First World War'.