I'll be checking in on this thread now and then and hope I can answer any questions you may have.
Naval technology progressed by leaps and bounds in the years before World War I. The British Royal Navy’s battleship HMS Dreadnought set a design standard in 1906: large, heavily armored, turbine-driven, with a main battery of large-caliber guns all the same size. All large battleships in the following years were referred to as “dreadnoughts.” Countries that wanted a modern navy had to build and launch these massive ships as the backbone of the fleet. The 7th and 8th ships in the United States efforts in this new sea-based arms race were the USS Wyoming and the USS Arkansas. The editors of Scientific American seemed well-pleased with the design:
“The ‘Wyoming,’ the flagship of Admiral Fletcher, of 26,000 tons, completed in 1912, carries, like her sister the ‘Arkansas,’ twelve 50-caliber 12-inch guns in six two-gun turrets and twenty-one 5-inch. These are, to our thinking, the most shapely dreadnoughts afloat , the long straight sheer of the main deck giving them an appearance of length greater than they actually possess.”
As pleased as the editors were with this ship, they had a stark warning about the U.S. Navy overall:
“But the proper point of view ... is to judge [the U.S. Navy] in comparison with the fleets of other nations, and particularly of those which are now engaged in the great European conflict. If this be done, we shall have the alarming fact brought home to our minds that, in point of strength, our Navy is to be considered as in the third class and utterly unable to engage with any hope of success the fleets of the two principal naval powers engaged in the present war, namely, those of Great Britain and Germany.”
In the naval arms race, dreadnoughts were the gold standard, but their quantity and modernity were vitally important. Great Britain was reckoned to have 38 dreadnoughts and Germany had 20 afloat:
“The United States has eight only, or, if we stretch the point to include the comparatively small and slow ‘Michigan’ and ‘South Carolina’ we have ten. It is our patriotic duty to draw attention to these facts.”
Even before the Wyoming and Arkansas were launched, other ships were being designed and built that were stronger, faster, better armoured and armed. The American dreadnoughts were by no means obsolete, but by the outbreak of World War I in Europe two years after they were launched, the most modern dreadnoughts were armed with 14-inch guns that fired a much larger shell (70 percent heavier).
The Wyoming spent World War I patrolling the North Sea and was converted to a gunnery training ship by World War II. The ship was scrapped in 1947. The Arkansas also spent World War I patrolling. In World War II the 12-inch guns were used extensively for shore bombardment in operations in Normandy and later the Pacific. The ship was sunk during the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946 and still rests on the seabed.
Our full archive of the war, called Scientific American Chronicles: World War I, has many articles from 1914–1918 on battleships, naval weapons and warfare. It is available for pXXXXXXe at www.ScientificAmerican.com/wwi
thanks, Scientific America, Pellulo
As commemorations mark the final year of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, attention will soon turn to remembering the centennial of America's involvement in World War I. Dwarfed by World War II's cinematic muscle and self-aggrandizing monikers such as "The Greatest Generation," and outmuscled by the loitering immediacy of Vietnam, not as many folks know without Googling it the years World War I lasted. (Hint: 1914 to 1918.)
Most of the details we perfunctorily learned by rote in schoolbooks: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by a Serbian national, which led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia. Loyalties and treaties bound countries. Sides needed choosing. The U.S. held neutral until German submarine warfare threatened American commercial shipping. Such renderings are informal and tidy.
Lord Acton once said, "History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul."
And We Were Young, the animated documentary of Montana artist and filmmaker Andy Smetanka, illuminates the experiences of American doughboys in WWI. His film - itself a piece of art made on paper, derived from archival journals and letters - gives voice to the voiceless, a concern, a nucleus, a throat, and a resonance to the long lost sacrifices and adventures from the past.
The power of history - and documentary - is that it includes everyone. Smetanka's script may have been derived from the artifacts of life, but it had also undergone the alchemy of creation, and the final product steers facts through invention until they emerge as something other, real, and true.
"There are no more living links to World War I left," said Smetanka. "The Greatest Generation's adoration of World War II veterans coincided when many of them were still alive. I believe my film is a living bridge and provides a better understanding of what they did. Funny, but even Steven Spielberg couldn't make a blockbuster out of World War I (War Horse). There is no beautiful, sleek, no-messing-around narrative like with World War II. To many of us, World War I is something that exists from a long time ago, in black and white footage. We joined late. It was on a completely different continent. It didn't have the high-concept of a Pearl Harbor. World War I had lots of centenary events and the world got caught up in it."
The Central Powers of that world consisted of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey). The Allied Powers sucked up Belgium, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia and the United States. There were 8,528,831 total military deaths for all countries involved.
Nearly four million, seven-hundred and thirty-thousand U.S. troops served in World War I. More than 116,000 of which were killed in battle (53,402) and non-battle (63,114). Approximately 204,000 U.S. soldiers were wounded.
History, despite its tugging anguish, cannot be unlived, but if faced with honesty, need not be tainted or diminished. World War I was no Walt Whitman poem, marking the first use of poison gas by Germany. The Battle of Verdun, the war's longest battle (February 21-July 1916), witnessed almost a million casualties.
"September and October of 1918, you have the single bloodiest battle in history," said Smetanka. "In six weeks, there are 24 or 25,000 Americans killed in this region of France. Mothers got telegrams informing them of the deaths. Think of all the mothers and all the widows of the men killed and how distressingly large that is. It is really hard to believe what the effect was then, and would be today, when you hear numbers like that."
World War I continues to influence contemporary social and political climates.
"World War I really set the stage for everything that happened for the rest of the century," said Lora Vogt, Curator of Education at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. "We share (Andy's) sentiment and support people who choose to tell the story of World War I, because it's very important."
Smetanka told that story using silhouette paper cutouts, animated by hand in stop motion with a Super 8 camera, cleverly absorbing a modern audience with long forgotten techniques.
"I believe the images are more impressive when you understand the material culture of World War I," said Vogt. "It is easy for us at the museum to recognize, say, a German soldier or a Belgium soldier, and it's clear that the filmmaker did a great deal of research and has astute attention to detail. From an educator's perspective, the animated film seems like a new way to engage oral history and to let the individuals speak for themselves."
Vogt pointed out that not a single soldier referenced the sinking of the Lusitania in the film. She said the causes of America's entry into World War One are sometimes misconceived. That involvement was brought about partially by open submarine attacks by German U-boats on passenger and merchant ships as war raged in Europe, which resulted in the loss of several American lives. Also contributing to American entry was a German attempt to tempt Mexico into a fight with the United States that was uncovered before it could gain footing.
"There was a lot of propaganda that Germans were bayoneting babies," said Vogt. "There is not a lot of historical evidence to support that. We heard of German atrocities that have little support as true events, and the film looks beyond the propaganda. When you examine the Lusitania, most Americans have the widely held belief that the sinking of the Lusitania caused the war, but you contrast that with the words of someone in the film, who does not even know about it when they joined the war."
"There were no high-minded political ideas behind the men's entry," said Smetanka. "There was no lofty high-minded talk about why they were going. The men of that time were plain-spoken, not given to keeping or sharing diaries. There is a lot of florid after the fact writing. It was interesting to reconstruct a rationale for their sacrifice. And many times, the men didn't have any good reason beside adventure or to chase Germans across the field and cut notches in their rifles. That's all why I think it's a great educational tool to those who think the war is old news or boring."
Jonathan Casey, museum archivist at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, said he was impressed by the depth of reality Smetanka transferred into the project.
"One is watching silhouettes," said Casey, "but the look of the people and environments are represented accurately, meaning uniforms, equipment, weapons, trenches--the overall look of things--and the drama of the action, whether a battle scene or a heated discussion, or a male and female relationship, comes through in a realistic way."
"As far as authenticity, you can never make everybody happy, but I sure tried," said Smetanka, who funded the project through Kickstarter and gathered facts and data from replica uniform manufacturers, museum curators, and historians.
People are ensnared in history and history is ensnared in them. Manifestations of that trap are predictable material and standard depictions, explanations that don't seem very interested in the world beyond commercial or convenient appeal.
"So many World War I documentaries begin and end the same way. As far as WWI movies, there aren't that many good ones or great ones. A lot of the dramatic recreations use every cliché you know. Follow these clichés: American detachment consisting of a farm boy and a guy with a Bronx accent."
Smetanka doesn't like categories, he doesn't like boxes. Not surprisingly, it's a bit difficult to think of anything to compare the film to, because of the singular relationship of its subject matter and his implementation.
"There are no talking heads," said Smetanka. "There is no typical documentary narration of dates and places. No stock footage. I wanted to replace the very typical war documentary."
Missoula filmmaker Andy Smetanka's silhouette stop-motion animated documentary recounts the experiences of American doughboys in World War I.
Smetanka had three years to dwell on and carry out his project. Three years of cutting silhouettes from 30 pounds of paper. Six months into shooting, he felt he had finally captured something meaningful, arriving at a moment when his intellect and artistry matched his motivations.
"I felt like I had the general World War I sort of mood," said Smetanka. "I felt like I had good things bad things, beauty, drunkenness, whatever there is to the human experience. I wanted the mood to be equally unpunishing, brutal, with an unflinching intensity, all made on paper. I didn't want it to be half of an experience for anybody. I still don't."
Patchiness and indifference are the excuses good art - and good artists - never accept.
"I take all of the credit and all of the blame," said Smetanka. "I did my best. I have no regrets just kind of dropping out of life for three years to do it. It was a wonderful freedom." Thanks, Pellulo
While there is a World War I memorial on the National Mall, it is not a national memorial.
As part of America's commemoration of the centennial of World War I, the United States Congress has authorized an enhanced and expanded World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. The creation of a national World War I Memorial in the nation's capital is a daunting but exciting challenge. Sited at Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Memorial will honor the 4.7 million Americans who served in the war, including the 116,516 who died, and will be a fitting addition to the national memorials to the three other great wars of the 20th century, located nearby on the National Mall. At the same time, the Memorial – located on "America's Main Street," one block from the White House – will be at the confluence of vehicular and pedestrian circulation patterns, as well as commercial and institutional activities, and will continue to serve as a commemorative space, as the front door to adjacent uses, and as a park.
Congress has authorized the World War I Centennial Commission to enhance the existing Pershing memorial by constructing on Pershing Park "appropriate sculptural and other commemorative elements, including landscaping." The objective of this design competition is to transform Pershing Park from a park that happens to contain a memorial to a site that is primarily a national World War I memorial, within a revitalized urban park setting with a distinct sense of place that complements the memorial purpose while attracting visitors, workers, and residents of the District of Columbia.
The memorial should honor and commemorate the service of American forces in World War I with sufficient scale and gravity that the memorial takes its place within the larger network of memorials and monuments situated on and around the National Mall. At the same time, designers should forge functional and perceptual linkages to the pathways, streets, and civic spaces and architectural landmarks around the site. Design and landscape elements should contribute to the park composition and strengthen the park's relationship to the larger urban context, while complementing, and not detracting from, the meaning of the commemorative elements (whether new or pre-existing) within the site.
Pershing Park is the site for a national World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. It is a 1.8 acre parcel bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue NW on the Pershing Park overheadnorth, 15th Street NW on the west, E Street NW on the south and 14th Street NW on the east.
In its current configuration, Pershing Park is an urban open space that contains commemorative elements as a secondary feature. While the memorial to General Pershing is a contributing element within the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site, the memorial function of Pershing Park as presently designed is diminished because the Pershing commemorative elements, including a 12-foot bronze statue of General Pershing and adjacent granite walls inscribed with maps and text, are located in a small corner of the site; are not well-integrated into the rest of the park; and do not focus on the service and sacrifice of American servicemen and women in the war.
Pershing Park was designed by noted landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg and Partners. The park was constructed by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation as part of the improvements to Pennsylvania Avenue. Opened to the public in 1981, the park was subsequently assigned to the National Park Service to administer and maintain.
Battle Of Megiddo
In World War I, the Allied fight against the Ottomans had been a bloody back and forth for much of the war. It was mostly British and Anzac troops fighting in disease-infested wet areas. The most famous fight was the Gallipoli campaign, which did not go well for the Allied Powers. But as the war reached its end, the Brits began to achieve some decisive victories.
In 1918, the Battle of Megiddo was one of the most decisive victories of the campaign, and it involved some clever tactics concocted by Lieutenant-General Sir Edmund Allenby. He wanted to attack the Ottoman front lines at the Plain of Sharon near the coast. It was ideal territory for that glorious cavalry charge that the Brits had wanted for the entire war.
To achieve maximum success, the Brits began to divert Ottoman attention away from the real location of the attack. British forces built an entire fake camp deep in the interior of Palestine, complete with dummy horses and increased patrols of real men. They also made sure to light giant fires at night to fool the Ottomans. It worked, and the Brits successfully defeated the Ottomans on the coast rather than on the Jordanian border
A Fiasco that Forged a Legend
Presented by, John Torode, TV presenter
Imagine spending eight months in a trench dug under some cliffs. You are at constant risk from sniper fire. You're suffering from dysentery spread by flies hopping from decomposing bodies to your food. In the evenings you weigh up the benefits of a proper wash and the risk of losing a limb to an artillery shell.
This was what faced the men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) at Gallipoli in 1915, their first ever campaign.
Ten thousand of them died on this Turkish peninsula during World War One for no material gain. Yet it is remembered and even celebrated on 25 April each year in Australia and New Zealand. This is because the battles produced something else – the legend of the Anzac soldier.
The Gallipoli peninsula is in modern-day Turkey but in 1915 it was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were fighting alongside Germany. Britain and its allies wanted to knock them out of the war. The plan was to land forces at Gallipoli, move inland and take the capital Constantinople (now Istanbul). The plan did not work.
For King & Country
At the outbreak of World War One Australia and New Zealand were both fledgling countries.
Australia had only become an independent nation 13 years earlier in 1901, while New Zealand was granted effective independence from Britain in 1907.
The white population still saw itself as part of the British Empire and there was no question it would fight for the mother country. A fifth of those who flocked to the signup stations in 1914 had actually been born in Britain.
However, war also fanned the flames of nationalism. Ordinary men, or 'diggers', had the chance to 'do their country proud', and by joining the global conflict, Australia and New Zealand would establish themselves on the international stage.
Of course many young men were inspired to join up out of a simple sense of adventure and a desire to see the action. They had no concept of the horrors that lay ahead... no one had.
The Birth of the Anzac Spirit
As dawn broke on 25 April, 1915, the first Anzacs waded ashore at Gallipoli. It was the start of an eight-month ordeal that would test them to the limits.
Making the Myth
As the battle-weary survivors returned from Gallipoli, everyone from poets to politicians, painters to journalists tried to make sense of the slaughter and sacrifice.
Today there are no surviving Gallipoli veterans. Yet their actions 100 years ago inspire tens of thousands of Australians to visit the Turkish peninsula every year.
Daniel MacMorris and the Panthéon de la Guerre
Dec. 15, 2015 - March 27, 2016, Memory Hall
At 402 feet in circumference and 45 feet in height, the Panthéon de la Guerre was not only the most ambitious artistic undertaking during World War I, but upon completion in 1918, it was the largest painting in the world.
Forgotten after exhibitions in Europe and the United States, when artist Daniel MacMorris (1893-1981) learned from a 1953 Life magazine article that the Panthéon was in the U. S., he saw a golden opportunity. MacMorris, who was in charge of decorating the Liberty Memorial, knew the panorama intimately. He had seen it in Paris as a doughboy and had studied it closely in the 1920s as a student of the Panthéon artist Gorguet. MacMorris thought the Panthéon would be perfect for the one remaining wall in Memory Hall without a mural.
After acquiring the painting, MacMorris photographed it in detail. He cut out the figures in the photos and used these like movable puzzle pieces to work out how best to reduce and reconfigure the composition – an effort he compared to “whittling down a novel to Reader’s Digest condensation.” After deciding whom to include and where to place them, he took scissors to the canvas. He cut out selected figures, flags, and other passages and added these to either side of the original American section.
MacMorris repainted many figures and other elements for reasons of scale or composition, and he painted over the many seams to make the painting look like a single, unified work. He added four people to the American section (by painting their faces over existing figures): Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, Bernard Baruch, and Colonel Edwin House (who had been painted out of the panorama in 1927). At the far left side he painted in the two principal artists of the original composition. Finally, MacMorris invented a Woodrow Wilson-like quotation – he could not find a Wilson quote that he thought was appropriate and would fit – and placed it across the top of the painting. After more than two years of work, the newly reconfigured, American-focused Panthéon was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1959.
What happened to the unused portions of the original? By far most of what MacMorris did not use he threw away. He sent several larger, excised passages back to William Haussner, the Baltimore restaurateur and art collector who donated the Panthéon to the Liberty Memorial. Haussner displayed many of these in his eponymous restaurant until it closed in 1999, after which they were sold at auction. MacMorris doled out other pieces to the art students who helped him reconfigure the painting. Still others he gave to influential Kansas Citians, some of whom have since donated the fragments back to the Museum.
MacMorris did keep several small fragments in the National World War I Museum and Memorial’s archives, many of which have not been seen in public since the Panthéon was last exhibited in its entirety in 1940 and are showcased in the exhibition.
https://theworldwar.org/explore/exhibit ... ng-history
Private Frederick James Davies wrote letters to his mother from the front line
A World War One soldier's account of sharing "cigs, jam and corn beef" with Germans during the Christmas truce has been revealed in a collection of letters.
Frederick James Davies, of Lampeter, Ceredigion, described meeting enemy soldiers across No Man's Land on 25 December 1914.
The details were in a letter written to his mother from the front line.
He said they had a "good chat with the Germans on Xmas day".
Soldiers serving in northern France left their trenches along some parts of the Western Front on the first Christmas Day of the conflict to meet the enemy and exchange gifts.
Some are famously said to have played football. 'Shook hands'
Mr Davies, a private in the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, described the brief armistice in correspondence among the collection found by his granddaughter, Jane Oliver.
"They (the German soldiers) were only 50 yards (45m) away from us in the trenches. They came out and we went to meet them," he wrote.
"We shook hands with them. We gave them cigs, jam and corn beef.
"They also gave us cigars but they didn't have much food. I think they are hard up for it. They were fed up with the war."
The truce saw soldiers along the Western Front put down their guns at Christmas for the day
In the same letter, he described how they had come out of trenches for a few days of rest, commenting that it was nice to sleep away from the wet, although they were still sleeping in their clothes.
"I am happy through it all. It's no use being otherwise," he said.
Mr Davies, who was born in 1886 and joined the army in 1908, also sent home pressed flowers to his mother.
He left the army in 1915 after a trench caved in on him, shattering his spine and leaving him unable to work properly.
He married in 1919 and had three children.
His youngest daughter, Audrey Trenchard, now 86, said he never spoke about his war experiences before his death, aged 61, and "it was so interesting" to read the letters.
"We were so thrilled that Jane had managed to find them and keep them," she said.
"I didn't know about it, being the youngest I hadn't heard any of this. It's wonderful for me to find out about it."
Mrs Trenchard said her father's letters were an "important" reminder "that the Germans weren't all bad".
"They were family men, like ours were," she added.
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