In November 1916 the American presidential campaign draws to a close with speeches by President Woodrow Wilson and former President Theodore Roosevelt at Cooper Union, by Wilson and his Republican challenger Charles Evans Hughes at Madison Square Garden (still in those days on Madison Square), and by President Wilson at his New Jersey estate Shadow Lawn. After the election the outcome is unclear for days, but eventually is decided in favor of Wilson when the final tally in California narrowly goes his way. Jeanette Rankin, a Republican, becomes the first woman elected to the United States Congress, but the Democrats retain control of both houses. Meanwhile the World War continues in France, on the Isonzo River, in the Balkans and in Salonika. Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary dies in Vienna at the age of eighty-six. Germany proclaims a new Kingdom of Poland. The British and the French fight the last battles of the Somme offensive and at Verdun. The Federal Reserve Board warns its member banks not to buy unsecured British notes.
Trench Mouth is a disease of sudden onset, with necrosis of the gingival papilla and ulcers seen around the gingival tissues of the mouth. It is extremely painful with fetid breath. It is so painful that it becomes difficult to eat. The gum tissue is swollen, red and bleeds easily. The disease in called Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis. The disease represents a group of various normal oral bacteria that becomes overgrown with a significant quantity of anaerobic bacteria, Spirochetes and Fusobacteria. Historically it was believed to be contagious, even though it is not.
Trench Fever is caused by a Gm positive bacterial rod, Bartonella quintana. It was considered non life threatening. Today this is rarely fatal unless there is no treatment of the disease or endocarditis is a factor.
Trench Fever during WW1 was considered a significant disease by the military, and affected over 1,000,000 soldiers. The disease is transmitted by a bite from the human body louse, but the disease causing organism was the bacteria located in the feces of the human body louse. The body louse bites the human. This bite offers the bacteria located in the louse fecal material an opening into the tissue thus infecting that person. Later another louse bites the infected human and then it can transmit the infection to another human host.
Life in the trenches was not a happy place. The total environment around the trenches was a combination of several problems all of which easily aided the progression to disease.
Consider some of the more signifiant problems: cold moisture/water within the confines of the trenches, dead and wounded bodies of soldiers as well as dead horses (8,000,000 horses were killed in WW1), control of waste including food and human excrement, and stress both physical and mental. Soldiers lived in close proximity without adequate water for maintaining cleanliness. I personally can’t imagine worrying about coughing around someone or worrying about hand cleanliness when I am worrying about staying alive.
This coming weekend CSPAN3 will broadcast two of the talks delivered at the recent symposium at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. If you were unable to attend or wish to hear the talks again, this is your opportunity.
First up is Paul Jankowski’s talk, “The Myths of Verdun,” which will air Saturday afternoon, December 3rd at 1:00 p.m. CT. It will be rebroadcast Sunday morning, December 4th at 5:00 a.m. CT. Jankowski is the Raymond Ginger Professor of History at Brandeis University.
After the declaration of war in 1918, individuals who were not native born were required to complete a “Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy” before a registration officer, photographed with signature over photograph, and finger printed. The questions as answered on the forms provide a telling story of the times and much about the individuals in our community, Tonganoxie, KS, who filed such forms.
We do try to let you know of possible programs that may be available to your organization, and there are some speakers willing to talk!
Ron Michael, the Director of the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, has a talk on Chapman native Henry Varnum Poor. This talk was available through the Kansas Humanities Council’s Speakers’ Bureau; if you are interested, please contact Ron directly, and not KHC. The description of the talk:
Twenty-two year old Clark Bruster of Waverly, New York, arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas on June 21, 1917, for training with the 20th Cavalry. Construction was just beginning on Camp Funston, one of 16 divisional cantonment training camps constructed during World War I. It was named for the famous Major General Frederick Funston, of Iola, Kansas, who died unexpectedly right before the U.S. entered the war.
Something for the holiday season, something light and cheerful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sh-J4GSPgAM
Also note the 2009 exhibit at the National World War I Museum and Memorial: https://www.theworldwar.org/explore/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/snoopy
The folk singer John McCutcheon recently performed at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. You may be familiar with his song, “Christmas in the Trenches,” which is about the Christmas Truce in 1914. If you aren’t familiar with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJi41RWaTCs