Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

WW1 Mobile Museum

Officially known as ‘Awakening the Mind Museum: WW1 Remembered’, this travelling exhibit was created and is operated by Keith A. Colley. Based in Texas, the museum began in 2015 and had a busy tour schedule until Covid grounded them. In 2019 they visited twenty three locations, sixteen of which were in Texas, but also in NY, MO, KS, MI and MA. Last fall they returned to exhibiting at Frisco, TX. You can learn more about the museum by clicking here for the website or click here for the Facebook page. ...read more

No Rationing in WW1

Unlike the situation in WW2, the U.S. government never imposed the mandatory rationing of anything during WW1. Restraint was voluntary; citizens were urged to have ‘meatless’ days (‘eat fish-they feed themselves’), eat more potatoes and less bread (‘save a loaf a week’). Conservation of animal fats was particularly important because they contained glycerol, a precursor substance to Cordite and TNT. Click here to learn more about this topic and how other countries had a different approach ...read more

Final Burial of American WW1 Dead

In 1919 the French government refused to allow the American dead to be repatriated. Among their concerns was competition for the labor that would be required when there were millions of French dead that needed to be re-buried properly – the Americans could afford to pay higher wages for this work. Eventually though, in 1922 the French government relaxed the ban. The American Battle Monuments Commission then polled the next of kin wherever possible and 59% of them opted to have their loved one returned to the U.S. for local re-burial.  Most of these remains were transported down the Meuse Canal on barges for dispatch by ship from the port of Antwerp. You can read the whole story by clicking here. ...read more

World War One Tech

The U.S. Army’s standard issue, the M-1903 Springfield rifle, received a few technical innovations during World War I. Of course, there was the addition of optical sights, or scopes. The most unusual adaptation was the Pederson Device, a mechanism that replaced the bolt on a slightly modified 03 rifle called the Mark 1, thereby converting it into a semiautomatic weapon firing a .30 cal. pistol-length cartridge from a detachable 40-round box type magazine. In theory it would dramatically increase short-range firepower for trench fighting and assaults. Soldiers could use their weapon normally until close combat loomed, then with a simple switch of the bolt, they had a semi- automatic rifle that fired 15 rounds per minute. Although the device was invented by John Pedersen, an employee at Remington Arms, before the U.S. entered WW1 none were ever issued to the soldiers. Before the contract was cancelled about 65,000 of the devices were made, along with 1.6 million of the magazines and over 1 million of the Mark 1 rifles. These wound up being stored in depots until 1931, when the Army was seeking a replacement for the M-1903, the Pedersen rifles were destroyed so as to keep them from falling into the hands of criminals. Most of them were burned, although the devices stored at San Antonio, Texas, reportedly were broken up and scattered in freshly poured sidewalks to reinforce the concrete. A few survive in private collections and museums, some of them bearing scorch marks. Pedersen also designed bolts for the M-1917 Enfield rifles and the Moisin-Nagants held back from Russia, but neither of these made it into production. Later he designed a semi-automatic rifle called the T1E3 which lost the competition to the Garand rifle in 1932. ...read more

Torty the Tortoise

A Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca) which is at least 106 years old was found during WW1 in Thessaloniki, having been run over by a French gun carriage. Nursed back to health, the reptile was smuggled to New Zealand by NZEF stretcher bearer Stewart Little and has remained in the care of the Little family ever since. These tortoises have been known to live for 200 years. You can read more about this by clicking here. ...read more

Alternative US Army Helmets

Even after the US adopted the British Brodie Helmet Dr. Bashford Dean (1867-1928), an Ichthyologist and the Curator of on medieval armor at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, convinced the army to commission him as a major to head up a program to produce alternative designs. He even wrote a book about the subject titled Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Warfare, which was published by Yale University Press in 1929. In all, there were 15 patterns designed, some were produced in quantities as big as 2,000 while others were one-offs at best. Dean got Henry Ford interested and he arranged for his factories to produce four different helmets. One was even evaluated in France in 1918. You can read all about this (and see remarkable photographs) by clicking here. ...read more

Echoes of the Great War

Recently there has been a rash of wildfires in the Adriatic region due to a ‘Heat Dome’ forming over Europe. On the Karst Plateau in Slovenia, the scene of eleven battles between Italy and Austria-Hungary in 1915-17, unexploded munitions are popping off all over the place, adding a significant hazard to the job of the firefighters. You can read about this by clicking here. ...read more

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