In December 1916 a new cabinet assumes power in Great Britain. Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, who has led the government since 1908, is replaced by David Lloyd George, and Arthur Balfour replaces Sir Edward Grey as Foreign Minister. Germany, in diplomatic notes and in a speech in the Reichstag by Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, offers to open negotiations with the Entente in a neutral country. A few days later President Wilson sends notes to the belligerent nations asking for their views regarding terms on which the war might be ended. Germany responds by repeating its offer to negotiate, but refuses to state its terms. The Allies have not yet replied to the American notes, but reject the German offer as a “sham.” On the Western Front, French forces at Verdun attack the besieging Germans and push them back to positions near the lines from which they began the siege in February. In the Balkans, German troops occupy Bucharest. Grigori Rasputin, the influential mystic and religious adviser to the Tsar’s family, is murdered in Petrograd. In Greece a civil war rages between the king and his government.
Another item my great-uncle typed is a poem simply entitled, “The Soldier.” At the bottom of the page is the notation, “By Miss Mary Farrell of Hazleton, Penna., now with the American Red Cross in France.”
One online source credits two soldiers as authors of the poem, a Corporal George Hyde and Private Scott Carpenter. The only problem is that the poem as seen at that source is shorter than my great-uncle’s transcribed copy, which follows:
A descendant of Harry Frank Hunt published a book of his letters in 1998, and Gene Smith of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote about the man and the book:
Long ago, far away and over there: Book chronicles Kansan in WWI
By GENE SMITH, The Capital-Journal
With the end of the contentious 20th century only 15 months away, World War I seems ancient history to most Americans.
Among the items my great-uncle copied was one that he apparently had time to type up. It is a poem called “The Worried Soldier” by the British-born American poet, Edgar A. Guest. This seems to have had wide distribution, not surprising since Guest had a newspaper column, “Just Folks.” It appeared in 1918.
Topeka – Kansas Museum of History – Museum After Hours
Join us for a special Museum After Hours program series, 6:30 p.m. Friday, January 13. The programs complement the Kansas Museum of History’s special exhibit, Captured: The Extraordinary Adventures of Colonel Hughes, and are held in recognition of the 100th anniversary of World War I. The Museum will be open until 6:30 p.m., admission is half price after 5 p.m. The Museum Store will also be open until 6:30 p.m.
Wesley Herbert Jamison was born July 20, 1889 at Topeka. His father was a lawyer, and Wesley followed him into the profession. He attended the University of Kansas Law School, passing the bar examinations in 1913. This is also what qualified him for officers’ training school, where he got his commission as a 2nd lieutenant. He served in the 351st Machine Gun Battalion of the 92nd Division.
Another from the “great-uncle” papers. A long poem entitled, “The Rookies’ Lament,” which appeared in the satire magazine, Judge, on December 22, 1917. It was written by Corporal Samuel Silverstein of the 38th Infantry, stationed at Newport News, Virginia.
Arthur Allen Hill was born on November 26, 1878 in Kansas — probably in Lawrence — to parents who had been born in Virginia, raising the question as to whether or not they had been slaves. A city directory indicates that Arthur was a gardener before the war, but one who was college educated. Census records indicate that fact, although there is no indication of where he attended college. This was enough to qualify him for the officers’ training school, where he was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant. He served in Company K of the 372nd Infantry, 93rd Division.
From time to time we try to post suggestions about how museums, libraries, and other organizations can take part in the World War I Centennial. By now regular readers know I often point to the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City–and I won’t stop doing that!
Of the Kansans who attended the officers training school at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Lee J. Hicks was the only one who would be commissioned a captain — all the others were 1st or 2nd lieutenants. Of 626 commissions given, only 104 were for captains.
Attending the training school required either being a college graduate or a non-commissioned officer. In Hicks case, he was a graduate of the now defunct Western University at Quindaro. From there he went to Tuskegee University, where he reportedly was the secretary to the brother of Booker T. Washington.