It’s March 1918. The nation whose mobilization against Austria-Hungary and Germany propelled Europe into the World War in 1914 is now the first nation out of the war. Rid of the Tsar and under a new Bolshevik government, Russia signs without negotiating or even reading the humiliating Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Then, recognizing the geographical vulnerability of Petrograd, the Bolsheviks move their capital to Moscow. Germany, now free to concentrate on the Western Front, mounts a major offensive in France. The long-range “Paris Gun” begins raining destruction on the French capital. British Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill, in France when the German offensive begins, returns to Whitehall and joins a War Cabinet meeting, then returns to France and tours the front with Premier Clemenceau. As their armies are driven back, the Allies give Marshal Foch the responsibility of coordinating military operations on the Western Front. Great Britain and France appeal to the United States to speed movement of American troops to Europe and to use them to reinforce Allied units already in the field rather than wait for independent American units to be formed. Great Britain encourages Japan to send troops to Vladivostok to safeguard Allied war supplies and secure the eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Daylight Saving Time begins in the United States. Bernard Baruch is made Chairman of the War Industries Board with broad powers to govern production, purchase and delivery of war supplies. A virulent strain of influenza breaks out at Fort Riley, Kansas.
The first young Roosevelt to serve was Ethel Roosevelt Derby (1891-1977), who had trained as a nurse. She married Dr. Richard Derby, a surgeon, in 1913. In 1915 both of the Derbys went to France as a part of the Red Cross Mission of Mercy. Both were assigned to the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris, where they remained until 1917, when they returned to the U.S. because Ethel was pregnant. Although her nursing career was over, Ethel was very active with the Red Cross, eventually earning a sixty year service pin.
Antony Fokker may have been a genius. Certainly he believed that he was. Here’s an article about what today’s computer-aided design thinks. It has often been said that it was a wonder that these airplanes could fly at all.
In August 1914 Lt. Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (1870-1964) had been the commander of German forces in East Africa (now part of Tanzania) since April. His career had begun with great promise, appointed to the General Staff when a mere Lieutenant, but in 1904 he was sent to S.W. Africa (now Namibia) to deal with an insurrection and he must have gotten the reputation of being a good man in Africa, since in 1913 he was ordered to Cameroon and then to his post at Dar es Salaam.
Here’s a link to an excellent article written for high school students by the National Council for Social Studies.
100 years ago in Kansas, March 30 – April 7, 1918:
March 30, 1918
Japanese entry into WW1 began with the Anglo Japanese Alliance of 1902. Although the cornerstone of this agreement, and its primary purpose, was mutual recognition of interests of the parties in China, an obscure provision was the promise of support if either signatory became involved in war with more than one Power. This clause was triggered when the British declared war on Austria-Hungary on August 12th, 1914, having previously declared war on Germany on August 4th. Accordingly, Japan declared war on both on August 23rd.
From the outset it was apparent that the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) would have to build its own logistical network in France; up to 25,000 tons of material would be arriving every day, and by war’s end over eight million tons had been shipped to the AEF. Port facilities had to be built or improved at Brest, St. Nazaire, Nantes, Bordeaux, Rouen, Rochefort, La Pallice, Bayonne, Le Havre and Marseilles. It was also clear that the French rail system wouldn’t be able to move the AEF and its logistical tail around the country. Among other things, they were very short of locomotives. The necessary solution was to bring American railroad equipment to France.
The National Park Service is ‘over here’, while the American Battle Monuments Commission is ‘over there’. Nevertheless, the Park Service has a WW1 web site, which you can access here.
I would like to say that this post is about the classic 1925 silent film about World War I. As the old joke goes, I would really like to say it. But it’s not.
Let me just say before I possibly dive in to where angels fear to tread, I am trying to avoid politically charged comments. If the reader feels I’ve failed to do this, the blame falls squarely on my shoulders and no one else.