Monday, October 22, 2018

I Almost Started Another Blog for World War I

I must admit that I seriously considered starting a new blog for World War I, but didn't.

I even had a name picked out for it, "The War That Didn't End All Wars."  I first considered it on the centennial of its beginning in August 2014 and then again on the centennial of the United States' entry into the war in 1917.

But, I didn't start one.  I have way TOO MANY blogs as it is.  That would have been my eighth blog.

But, I have been writing a lot about World War I in this blog an will continue to do so.


World War I Coming To A Fast End 100 Years Ago

After nearly four years of the most horrific casualties ever in any previous war, maybe altogether, "The War To End All Wars,"  World War I was fast approaching an end now.  The arrival of American troops turned the tide.

There were just 20 days more before the Armistice went into effect on November 11, 1918.

Then, we had the Spanish Flu Pandemic.


DeKalb County, Illinois, Goes to World War I

From the August 1, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1918, 100 Years Ago.

"A large number in Ohio Grove attended the farewell party at Cortland in honor of four boys who will leave soon for different training camps.

"Roy Whitman, Lloyd Warber, Harry Selgren, and Fred Housewert are now with the colors."

I looked these names up in DeKalb County war casualties and none were listed.  So, that is good news.

The War Needs Young Men.  --Cooter

Saturday, October 20, 2018

WW I, October 18, 1918: Shoulder Patches for AEF

One hundred years ago today.

A "shoulder patch" is authorized for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).

Division also create patches.

I found a picture of every army and division insignia patch at the roadstothegreat war-ww1.blogspot site.

I wish I had known about this site earlier.  A good one and much better than my poor little effort.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

War Pigeons

From Wikipedia.

Homing pigeons have long played an important role in the military.  Due to their homing ability, speed and ability to fly at high altitudes they were often used a  war messengers.

Carrier pigeons of the Racing Homer breed are especially sought because of their superior abilities.

During both world wars, pigeons were used to carry messages.    When they landed, special wires in the coop would sound a bell or buzzer and a Signal Corps soldier would know a message had arrived.  He would go to the coop and remove the canister from the bird's foot and send the message by  telegraph, field phone or personal messenger to its destination.

The carrier pigeon's job was especially dangerous as enemy troops knew they were carrying an important message and they became major targets.

I have already written about Cher Ami and President Wilson.   Another famous World War I pigeon was the Mocker.


WW I Hero Pigeon, President Wilson-- Part 3: Both Sides Used Pigeons in WW I

After his death, Wilson was taxidermied and presented to the Smithsonian Institution before being transferred to the custody of the U.S. Army in 2008.  Today he is in the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

Carrier pigeons were used by both Allied and Central Powers armies during World War I.  They would fly back to their coops bringing important military information.

When they weren't in use. pigeons would be housed in mobile units, often converted  horse carriages or even double-decker buses.

Military carrier pigeons were also used in World War II.  In that war, 32 pigeons were awarded the United Kingdom's Dickin Medal for their heroism.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Another WW I Hero Pigeon, President Wilson-- Part 2

President Wilson was born in France and first assigned to the U.S. Army's newly-formed Tank Corps, delivering messages to tank battalions commanded by Col. George S. Patton in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel.

Soon afterwards, the pigeon was assigned to an infantry unit operating  near Grandpre during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918.

On the morning of October 5, his unit came under fire and Wilson was dispatched with a message that the unit needed artillery support.  During his 25-mile flight to headquarters, German soldiers spotted him and  began firing.  Wilson was hit several times, losing a leg and getting a wound in the chest, but he managed to deliver the message in a record 25 minutes.

He survived his wounds and was retired and sent to the U.S. Army Signal Corps Breeding and Training Center at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where he would live another eleven years.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Another WW I Hero Pigeon, President Wilson-- Part 1

From Oct. 5, 2018, ABC News "Meet the hero carrier pigeon that saved US troops during a WW I battle 100 years ago" Elizabeth McLaughlin.

There is a pigeon on a third floor Pentagon hallway outside the Army Chief of Staff's office.  It is right there with American Revolution bayonets, Civil War uniforms and replicas of Vietnam War helicopters.

And, it looks real because it has been taxidermied and it is missing a leg.

That pigeon's name is President Wilson and he is an unsung hero of World War I where he made a daring flight to save American troops 100 years ago today.

President Wilson was one of many  military carrier pigeons (see the entries on Cher Ami earlier this month)  used in the W.S. Army Signal Corps who delivered messages between commanders and the front lines during the war.  They were especially useful because the technologies of telegraph and telephones were still unreliable.


"Oh, Skinny, Run Like Ev'rything! Car of Watermelons!"

From the July 25, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1918, 100 Years Ago.

"Oh, Skinny, run like ev'rything!  Car of watermelons!    Such was the cry in the neighborhood of the North Western (railroad), while Corey & Evans men were unloading a big car of the kids' delight.

:"This is among  the first cars of such to be received here, and there was the usual aggregation of little folks hanging around the car, just hoping that one would slop from the hands of the men as they were loading the big truck.

Wonder If Any Watermelons Were Dropped?  --Cooter

Monday, October 15, 2018

Invasion of the Crickets on 1919 (Well, Maybe Crickets)

From the September 5, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Appearance of the hordes of crickets, although many believe they are not crickets,  in  the business area and residential sections of DeKalb earlier this week has caused considerable discussion.

"Although the majority believe that they are crickets many other opinions have been expressed.  Some think they are hemp flies and they have been called many other things, most of them bad.


Cher Ami the Pigeon and WW I Hero-- Part 4: Remembered

To American school children of the 1920s and 1930s, Cher Ami was as well-known as any human World War I heroes.

Cher Ami's body was later mounted by a taxidermist and enshrined at the Smithsonian Institution.  It is currently on display with the body of pitbull Sergeant Stubby in the National Museum of American History's  "Price of Freedom" exhibit.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cher Ami the Pigeon-- Part 3: American Hero and Awards

For this, Cher Ami became a hero of the 77th Division.  Army medics worked to save her life.  They were unable to save it so they carved a small wooden one.  When she had recovered enough to travel, the now one-legged bird was put on a boat back to the United States, with General John J. Pershing seeing her off.


 Cher Ami was given  the Croix de Guerre Medal by the French for delivering 12 messages at Verdun.

She died at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on June 13, 1919, of the wounds she received.

After that, she was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931.  She also received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers.

The man responsible for training and caring for her in the U.S. Signal Corps, Enoch Clifford Swain, was given an award for his service.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Cher Ami the Pigeon-- Part 2: Made It To Headquarters

Cher Ami was dispatched with a note written on onion paper, in a canister on her left leg which read:  "We are along the road parallel to 276.4.  Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly upon us.  For heavens sake stop it."

As Cher Ami tried to fly back home, the Germans saw her rising and  opened fire on her.  After several seconds she was shot down, but was able to rise again and take flight.  She arrived back at her loft at division headquarters 25 miles to the rear in just 25 minutes.  This helped save lives in the Lost Battalion.

She had been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye and had a leg hanging only by a tendon.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Lost Battalion's Cher Ami-- Part 1: A Very Famous Pigeon

Back on October 6, I mentioned this pigeon saving the men of the Lost Battalion at one point.

From Wikipedia.

Cher Ami is French for "dear friend" in the masculine. who had been donated by pigeon fanciers in Britain to the U.S. Army Signal Corps for use in France.  She is most famous for delivering a message from an encircled battalion despite receiving serious injuries during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918.

On Oct. 3, Major Whittlesey and his battalion (later known as "The Lost Battalion") were trapped and surrounded by German troops.  He sent runners out to alert Allies of his predicament, but every one of them was captured.  Then, he started calling for help via pigeons which he had along with him.

The first two pigeons were shot down and the third got through, but had the wrong coordinates of the battalion which caused the Allies to open a bombardment on them.

This is when Cher Ami flew her famous mission.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Maj. Charles Whittlesey & "Lost Battalion-- Part 3: Jumped Overboard?

Whittlesey's reply was "You go to hell, though he later denied it.  That night, a relief force made its way to the "Lost Battalion."  Of the original 554 troops, 107 had been killed,  63 were missing and 190 wounded.  Only  194 were able to walk out.

Major Whittlesey received a battlefield promotion to lieutenant-colonel and when he returned to the United States, was awarded a Medal of Honor on December 6, 1918.

The "Lost Battalion" was one of the most talked about events of the war and in 1919 the story was made into a movie.  Charles Whittlesey tried to return to his law practice but was in huge demand for speeches, parades and honorary degrees.  It began to wear on him.

In November 1921, he acted as a pallbearer at the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.  A few days later he booked passage on the SS Toloa from New York to Havana.  After dining with the captain on November 26, 1921, he left the smoking room at 11:15 p.m., saying he was retiring for the evening.  He was in seemingly good spirits according to the captain.

Charles Whittlesey was never seen again and presumed to have jumped overboard.  His body was never recovered.  In his cabin, many letters were found addressed to family and friends.  One even provided for his luggage that he brought with him.


Charles Whittlesey and the "Lost Battalion"-- Part 2: A Plea For A Surrender From the Germans

Charles Whittlesey commanded a battalion of troops numbering 554.  Supporting units on their flanks  failed to keep up and these men found themselves surrounded by Germans.  The following days were perilous for Whittlesey and his men, who were called the "Lost Battalion" by journalists.

Without food or water, they were assaulted time and again by the Germans.

On October 7, the German commander sent a message written in English by way of a blindfolded American they had captured.  It read:

"The suffering of your wounded men can be heard over here in the German lines, and we are appealing to your humane sentiments to stop.   A white flag shown by one of your men will tell us that you agree with these conditions.  Please treat Private Lowell  R. Hollingshead [the bearer]  as an honorable man.  He is quite a soldier.  We envy you.

The German commanding officer."


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Major Charles White Whittlesey, Cmdr. of the "Lost Batallion"-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Jan. 20, 1884--  Presumed dead Nov. 26, 1921.

United States Army officer and recipient of the Medal of Honor.  Led the "Lost Battalion" during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in World War I.

Born in Florence, Wisconsin.  Grew up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  Law degree from Harvard Law School.  Established a law firm.

One month after the U.S. entered World War I, he took leave from his partnership and entered the Army as a captain in the 308th Infantry Regiment.  Promoted to major by September 1917.

On the morning of October 2, 1918, his division, the 77th, ordered to move forward against heavily fortified German lines as part of the massive Meuse-Argonne Offensive.