Sunday, November 8, 2009

World War I Soldiers

This picture shows World War I Soldiers. The picture was taken in 1917 at Camp Meade in Maryland. I do not know a whole lot about World War I. I have always been interested in the Civil War, so I have read a lot about that conflict, but have never done much study on the War to End all Wars.


  1. Something I would like to know more about is the messenger pigeons, including the fact that they were trying to train night flying pigeons. Read about it in an American Girl book, just enough to get me curious.
    We really do not get enough education about our history.

  2. Looking closer at the picture, it seems that they're handing out mail, maybe? I wonder if the men standing outside the group have already received their mail, or maybe they didn't get any or know that they aren't going to? What are the rolled up papers in the cubbies?

  3. We didn't kill a lot of Germans at
    Camp Meade. From the declaration of war in early April, 1917 until our first serious engagements on the ground in Europe around June, 1918, 14-15 months went by. But when we did get into the fight in France we were fresh while the Brits and French and Germans were pretty much just running on fumes by then. And we were effective. We could fight and did win battles, as was observed with despair by the Germans, notably Ludendorff who believed (and said to the Kaiser) American competence and our massively increasing numbers on the ground meant the jig was up for Germany. Jim Smith

  4. One other comment and then I'll shut up. There is an anecdote (maybe apocryphal) but part of Marine folklore and evocative of American cockiness in 1918 France.

    A Company of American Marines were at a position in some woods somewhere in France awaiting engagement with the Germans when, lo and behold, a French force appears heading away from the front toward our lines. The French officer suggests, tactfully, to the American Marine captain that the Germans are in greater numbers than expected and perhaps the Marines should retreat with the French to a more defensible position.

    The reaction of the US Marine captain?

    "Retreat?!?! Hell, we just got here!"

    Jim Smith

  5. Calling it the "War to End all Wars" was a bit short-sighted.

    Nonetheless, it was important to end aggressions of Germany and Japan.

  6. Brother Dave;

    Unless I'm mistaken Japan was on our side in that one...

    But if your referring to Japan and Germany in the context of WWII...

  7. Repercussions against Germany after World War I actually set the stage to put Hitler in power and hence, World War II.

  8. I had an uncle who died from the flu in an army camp in San Antonio TX.
    I think more people died (world wide)from the flu than the actual war battles.

  9. When I was in high school (back in the late 1960s and early '70s), World War I was just "skimmed over" in our history classes.

    World War II was studied in more much more detail.

    Of course, Vietnam was still going on - or close to the end.

    Oddly enough, the Korean War was hardly mentioned at all.

    I don't think my daughter spent too much time on World War I, either.

    So much as happened since then, it seems to have faded from history.

  10. When I was a kid ,I used to work for an old ww1 veteran. He didn't talk about it too much.
    One day he pulled his shirt off to show me the scares caused by mustard gas. It looked like he had been in a terrible fire.
    I had an uncle that was in ww1 but I don't remember ever hearing him talk about it very much. I guess he ignored my questions.

  11. I presume World War I is the topic this week. Thank you very much!

    This war is very much forgotten these days. I think there is only one surviving WW1 veteran left, Mr. Frank Buckles, age 106.

    Two of my Texan uncles were WW1 vets, and I was thinking of them a lot today as the local VFW passed out poppies. I had to explain to people what the poppies symbolized.

    Uncle Wilbur spent WW1 in Arizona shoeing mules.

    Uncle Marvin was assigned to a machine gun unit. Average life span for a machine gun unit upon reaching the front was 2 weeks. But, before he was sent to the front, they found out he had been a railroad engineer in civilian life. He was pulled out of the mg unit and spent WW1 in France teaching the French railroad engineers how to use Westinghouse air brakes. I wonder how he liked Gay Paree?

    I didn't know Uncle Wilbur well as he passed when I was little, but I miss Uncle Marvin's slow smile and the twinkle in his eyes.

    Now on my mother's side, mon oncle Martin was in the Belgian occupation forces in Germany after WW1 in the horse cavalry. Mama was born in 1918, so was little when he was doing his occupation thing. He brought her a little toy grocery store from Germany, and play money too. For something like 20 Belgian francs, he got stacks of German marks in denominations up to 100,000 marks. The Germany currency was not even worth the paper it was printed on. So yes, the treaties ending WW1 certainly were a setup for WW2.

  12. A couple of things jump out at me. The buckets used for cleaning rifles, they shoved the barrel right down in the water and drew it up into the bore with a cleaning rod and patch as they came back from the range. The soldier in the foreground of the crowd is wearing spurs, obviously this is still the era of the mounted soldier.

  13. The cubby holes look like they hold maps or charts. I think these men are getting orders and paperwork for training maneuvers. It does not look like mail at all.

  14. Marie those are great memories! thank you for sharing. My grandfather served in WW1 and I never even thought of asking him about it. Now my mother doesn't remember anything of what he said, and my uncle who would have remember has passed along as well. It is a forgotten war. I wonder what the Civil War vets thought about WW1?

  15. Here is a neat pigeon flying service:

  16. If anyone is interested in seeing THE definitive movie about returning servicemen and the problems they faced (and continue to face) readjusting to civilian life, I strongly suggest that you view THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES.

    Although this film was made in 1946 and deals with three servicemen returning home from WWII, the issues in the film are handled with such depth and sensitivity that they retain their relevance in any time frame, even today.

    The film stars Frederick March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Theresa Wright, and Harold Russell. I won’t give too much away, except to tell you that it deals with three servicemen who return home to the same mid-American town after the war. Collectively, they represent a cross-section of all returning servicemen; and each one has different problems - post traumatic stress, alcohol abuse, marital issues, unemployment, etc.

    Most poignant is the character of “Homer Parrish,” played by Harold Russell. In the film, Homer lost his hands in a shipboard explosion; and Russell (who was NOT an actor) was an actual veteran who had his hands and lower arms amputated in the War. His performance as the disabled veteran who struggles to find acceptance without pity from his family is overpowering.

    This film won 8 Academy Awards in 1947 and is on the AFI’s list of the greatest films of all time. I’m a big fan of films such as “The Deer Hunter” and “Coming Home,” but THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES blows everything else in this genre away.

    It’s well worth your time.


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