The Mark I helmet, a design by Latvian-born British inventor John L. Brodie (b. Leopold Janno Braude), was the standard steel helmet used by the British Empire troops in WW1, as well as by the American and Portuguese forces. It protected soldiers’ heads from shrapnel bullets, shell fragments, and other flying debris on the battlefield. Brodie’s design using hardened manganese steel (the type A) entered service in the fall of 1915. It was criticized widely. The improved Mark I version entered service in May 1916 and was used by a number of armies up through the 1960s.
In February 1918 the Bolsheviks, now in control in Russia, decide to pull out of the war at any cost rather than risk losing their revolution. Germany exploits Russian weakness by increasing its demands and sending its armies forward until Russia capitulates. In the United States, the President replies to statements made by leaders of the Central Powers in response to his “Fourteen Points,” and adds four more. The British Parliament debates and defeats a pacifist’s proposed response to the speech from the throne. President Wilson, facing a domestic challenge, opposes a Senate proposal to create a War Cabinet to direct the war effort, but supports his own proposal to give himself more power to do so. The workless Monday rule is suspended after less than a month. SS Tuscania, a British troop ship carrying American soldiers to Europe, is attacked by a U-boat and sunk off the coast of Ireland.
In the early months of WW1 all of the combatants were wearing headgear better suited for parade grounds rather than in artillery barrages. French soldiers wore a cloth cap, called the képi, which was actually a ‘Franco-cized’ spelling of the German word kappe.
Just about every Doughboy who went to France aspired to return home with two things: a Pickelhaube and a Luger. There was no wonder why. Both items were very distinctly German and so had become iconic in newspaper and magazine cartoons as well as propaganda posters, such as the famous ‘Destroy This Mad Brute’, originally released by the British but also used in 1917 by the U.S. Army. Also, there seemed to be an endless flow of photographs of the Kaiser wearing a Pickelhaube – he was so fond of his uniforms.
At the National World War I Museum and Memorial (if you happen to be in the Kansas City area):
Sunday, March 18, 2 P.M.
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
Join the Kansas City Actors Theatre for a one-time staged reading of “Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme” by Frank McGuiness. This riveting, lyrical play by the author of “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me” follows a group of Irish Protestant volunteers and their journey during World War I. Sponsored by the Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund. FREE RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 816.361.5228 | J.C. Nichols Auditorium Lobby
My apologies if anyone reading this finds it useful to know of World War I movies coming up on Turner Classic Movies for being late. You haven’t missed much, and there are still movies yet to air this month. I think most have been mentioned before. TCM is in their annual 31 Days of Oscar, meaning all movies have won an Oscar for some aspect of film.
The coming Presidents Day weekend does not offer a lot of World War I viewing on the C-SPAN networks. In fact, just one program, shown three times on Monday, February 19th, and the wee hours of Tuesday, February 20th.
World War I & Legacy of President Woodrow Wilson airs at 1:35 p.m. Central on Monday afternoon, and repeats at 8:55 p.m. that evening, and again at 3:10 a.m Tuesday morning.
A previous article has discussed the approximately 40,000 American who served with the Canadians in WW1, and another has featured an American in the Foreign Legion. There were also a few Americans who served in the British army.
One of these was 2nd Lieut. Henry Augustus “Harry” Butters, RFA (1892 – 1916), who was killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. You can read his full story here.
“We found a fine haul of wounded and brought them in, but it was not where I heard this fellow calling so I had another shot for it and came across a splendid specimen of humanity trying to wiggle into a trench with a big wound in his thigh: he was about 14 stone weight [196 pounds] and I could not lift him on my back, but I managed to get him into an old trench and told him to lie quiet while I got a stretcher. Then another man about 30 yards out sang out ‘Don’t forget me cobber’. I went in and got four volunteers with stretchers and we got both men in safely.” — Sgt. Simon Fraser, 57th Bn. AIF