Over fifty years ago, when I was training at the U.S. Army Engineer center, we actually had a section of training, as I recall known as “Field Forts”, where we were exposed to the principles of constructing trenches and dugouts, as if the army was going to fight another war like the Western Front, which at the time was fifty years (and three subsequent wars) in the past. This isn’t as surprising as it sounds, though; in Basic Training we were instructed in the “art” of bayonet fighting, even though the little bayonet for the M-16 rifle was mostly good for opening C-Ration cans.
In the spring of last year John Singer Sargent’s iconic work was displayed at the National World War 1 Museum in Kansas City.
The famous photograph shown above, also from the Imperial War Museum Collection, may have inspired Sargent. The image was taken at an Advance Dressing Station near Béthune, France on April 10th, 1918.The gassed soldiers are from the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, a territorial force formation, which single-handedly stopped a German advance towards the vital rail center at Hazebrouck. The 55th had been paired with the Portuguese 2nd Division, which quickly broke into a full rout, leaving the ‘terriers’ alone in the line for over three days. Although the combat was intense, they didn’t yield.
It’s good to see there are still some museums in Kansas that are recognizing the Great War, even as the Centennial winds down. The Butler County Historical Society in El Dorado recently opened an exhibit with the above title. The Butler County Times Gazette ran a few photographs from the opening:
A couple of things that may be of interest to the World War I people. As usual, all times are Central, and all can be watched any time at the C-SPAN website.
–Reel America “Uncle Sam Watching the Mexican Border”–1916. Airs at 12:23 a.m. early Friday morning, August 9. Second airing is at 6:27 a.m the same morning.
The National World War One Museum and Memorial in Kansas City has just opened this on-line exhibit. You can access it here.
Better late than never to report this. The Lyon County Historical Society in Emporia has had a World War I exhibit since last November, and it’s scheduled to close this summer.
For more information, see the article: http://www.emporiagazette.com/area_news/article_479597c8-a0d1-55c9-b5ef-899e15361d47.html
While passing through St. Louis recently I stopped at the recently reopened Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The Memorial was opened in 1938 as a tribute to those from St. Louis who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War.
In 2015 the Missouri Historical Society assumed control of the operations of the Memorial and immediately began a revitalization of it. This past November 3rd, the Memorial reopened to the public.
Echoes of the Great War – American Experiences of World War I is an outstanding exhibit at the Library of Congress. It has been running since April 4th, 2017 and is closing on Monday. However, you can visit it online.
Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I
“Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I” showcases WWI overseas military photography from the immense photographic holdings of the National Archives. The exhibition includes photographs from the fronts, behind the lines, the consequences of the war and how it was remembered. This exhibit will be on display in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery Nov 9, 2018 – Jan 6, 2019.
Organized in three sections, “Over There: Americans Abroad in World War I” documents America’s role on the battle front during the Great War. After the U.S. entered WWI in April 1917, millions of American men joined or were drafted into the armed services. Approximately 2 million served in Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces.
Behind the Lines
Of the millions of Americans who enlisted or were drafted, 60 percent served in noncombat support roles. These photographs show the complexities of transporting and maintaining an army in an industrial era and hint at some of the rapid changes in technology, medicine, armaments and even social relations within the military.
“A French and American raiding party of the 168th Infantry going ‘over the top’ with sacks of hand grenades,” March 17, 1918, Badonviller, France, by Sgt 1st Class Charles White
National Archives, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer