Along the Western Front in 1915 soldiers began incurring a previously unknown infectious disease that was originally thought to be an enteric fever. No records were kept (except by the Americans in 1918), but it is thought that the number of allied soldiers thus affected was about 500,000. The soldiers themselves called this disease “Trench Fever”. It was debilitating but the vast majority of those afflicted recovered in a few weeks, and deaths were extremely rare. However, there sometimes were lingering effects, for example, the famous British fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien caught Trench Fever in October 1916 and was never returned to full duty. You can read more about Trench Fever by clicking here.
Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973), the eldest child of a prominent family in Missoula, Montana, was the first female in American history to be elected to federal office. Running as a Republican (which was then considered the ‘cleaner’ party in her state), she represented Montana in two non-consecutive Congressional terms, from 1917-19 and again from 1941-43. She was Progressive, a leading Suffragette, a supporter of worker’s rights and a devout Pacifist. However, she is particularly remembered for her votes against Declarations of War both on April 6th, 1917 and on December 8th, 1941. You can read more about her by clicking on this link.
Although not widely, known, there were a number of female reporters who were sent to the Western Front to write for American newspapers and, especially, women’s magazines. These reports began coming as the Germans invaded Belgium in August 1914. Some of these reporters were (in alphabetical order): Harriet Chalmers Adams, Mabel Potter Daggett, Rheta Childe Dorr, Eleanor Franklin Egan, Mary Boyle O’Reilly, Mary Roberts Rhinehart, Clara Savage, Maude Radford Warren and Edith Wharton.
ANZAC day has special meaning to Australians and New Zealanders. This can’t be explained solely by the casualty counts – Australia lost 8,709 and New Zealand 2,779 soldiers there, but later in the war these numbers were eclipsed on the Somme, at Messines Ridge and at Passchendaele. As Blair’s previous article postulates, Gallipoli was a nation-building experience for the ANZAC countries. Although the 2020 ANZAC Day was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, on the eve the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Chorus presented this live video performance of this quintessential Australian song.
The National WW1 Museum in Kansas City, MO will allow visitors starting next Tuesday, June 2nd. For details on the protocol to be followed please click here.
In recent years there have been several films made about animals in the First World War. Some examples are A Bear Named Winnie (2001), War Horse (2011) and Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero (2018). Sled Dog Soldiers (2012), which was produced for television in Canada and France, also belongs on this list.
During this pandemic isolation period many of us have found extra time on our hands. Recently I learned from the Western Front Association (WFA) of two worthwhile volunteer efforts that World War 1 researchers and students are working on. These are called Project Alias and Project Hometown.
Click on this link to read about the contributions of the Army Nursing Service in 1918-19.