At the outbreak of World War I, Germany began collecting Pacific islands and adding them to their colonial possessions. Australian were anxious when Britain declared war on Germany, as the Germans were sitting on their doorstep. Luckily, the Pacific theater during World War I was largely bloodless, however, many Australians enlisted for overseas duty. As Ron Moran of the West Australian points out in his report on Australia’s role in World War I, the human cost to Australia was incredible. I had no idea the casualty rates for Australians during World War I was so high.
On November 11, 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent.
Europe was a bloody shambles. It was defined by a barbed-wire maze of trenches stretching across an artillery blitzed lunar landscape from the English Channel to the Swiss border.
In far away Australia, a pall of grief had settled over the cities and suburbs, down to the smallest rural hamlets, as families tried to come to terms with the scale of death and maiming visited on the doomed generation of 1914-18. When the Great War broke out Australia had a population of less than five million.
More than 416,000 enlisted. By 1918, some 61,000 had been killed and about 156,000 had been wounded, gassed, maimed, or driven insane on the battlefield. It was a casualty rate of more than 50 per cent.
The numbers killed and wounded in individual battles were appalling. At Pozieres the Australian Imperial Force suffered 23,000 casualties in six weeks.
At Fromelles, the Australian infantry suffered 5533 casualties in 24 hours.
To this day more than 23,361 Australian soldiers have no known grave.
Read the rest of the article at Australia’s role in Great War nightmare – The West Australian.
The First World War changed everything. That maybe a bold statement, but our world was vastly different following the bloodshed on the European battlefields from 1914 to 1918. Empires came crashing down and new nations were formed. After almost a century later, are we forgetting what we are suppose to remember? Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal writes about the necessity of remember the roots of Remembrance Day and how live as we know it today was changed forever.
They called it The War to End All Wars.
No misnomer could be more ironic — or more tragic.
The First World War, far from ending conflict, ushered in the bloody 20th century. It was the crucible and the cataclysm that launched the Russian Revolution, toppled the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires and led, inexorably, to the Second World War.
It upended social certainties and destroyed monarchies. It led to the rise of communism and fascism and the first global flu pandemic. It set the groundwork for a century of future conflict in the Balkans and the Middle East. It led also to votes for women, the spread of popular democracy, and to the emergence of Canada as a fully independent nation, not a British colonial possession.
It was, perhaps, the single event most critical to shaping the world and the society we share today.
The last veterans of that bloody, bloody slaughter are dead. Soon, the war which inspired our Remembrance Days services will have passed out of living memory altogether. Today, when we have only a few remaining Second World War veterans, our Nov. 11 services have become a chance to honour, not just our 20th century soldiers, but those who have served, and fought and died more recently, in places like Afghanistan or Bosnia or Somalia.
Read more of the story at Simons: ‘Never was there a war so pointless or so stupid’ or unimaginable.
Imagine being crammed into an underground cavern, while hearing the bombs explode all around you. As a way to pass the time until it was their turn to try to take Vimy Ridge, World War I soldiers waited in subterranean tunnels, known as souterraines, where they would carve their names, their loved ones names and pictures into the soft chalk walls. For some of these soldiers, this could have been the last form of communication they ever left. A British organization, The Durand Group has been investigating these soutterraines and found a large cavern with many carvings by Canadian soldiers. Richard Foot for the Vancouver Sun reports on the Durand Group’s findings and it’s importance to Canadian history.
Pte. Alfred McMillan died in August 1917, several months after the battle of Vimy Ridge. His remains were never found, so his name is now inscribed in the marble walls of the soaring Vimy memorial, along with 11,000 other Canadian soldiers of the First World War with no known grave.
Five months before he was killed, however, McMillan, an infantryman from Collingwood, Ont., carved his own name into another wall — an underground cavern in northern France, where he and hundreds of troops took shelter from mud and rain and shellfire in the winter before the famous Vimy offensive.
“Pte. A. McMillan. 15th Canadian Battalion . . . 12.3.17,” says the inscription that even includes McMillan’s service number: “27931.”
The carving is one of dozens left behind by Canadian troops in the dark cavern — or souterraine, as the French call it — a former underground barracks once bustling with soldiers, now lined with their words and chisellings, a rich repository of wartime memory that remains hidden, unheralded and largely unprotected by any official authority.
Read the rest of the article at French tunnel etchings a haunting reminder of Canada’s war veterans.
Photo by Hemmer
Check out the video of The Durand Group’s underground exploration
Rin Tin Tin was discovered in a bombed out kennel in Lorraine, France towards the end of the First World War by an American serviceman, Lee Duncan. Duncan brought Rin Tin Tin back to the US with him where by 1922 he started a film career. Susan Orlean’s new book goes beyond the dog and delves into the story behind all the people who revolve around the idea of Rin Tin Tin. Thomas J Walsh explains these details in his review of Orlean’s book for the Houston Chronicle.
Susan Orlean’s new book about a particular sliver of Americana is no biography of the most famous German shepherd in history.
Instead, Orlean’s curious narrative, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, is a meditation on the human stories within Rin Tin Tin’s orbit, a history of dogs in America, a rare look at Hollywood’s gritty early years, and, not least, a provocative treatise on mortality and immortality.
There’s the dog himself, of course, and the many heirs to his cinematic and TV thrones. There’s Duncan, a country boy whose love of the original Rin Tin Tin ensured that the dog, no matter how famous the man himself became, was always the star — even decades after the original’s 1932 death. (“He believed the dog was immortal,” is Orlean’s opening line.)
There’s Bert Leonard, a tragicomic figure who produced the 1950s TV show and resuscitated the Rin Tin Tin brand for millions of Baby Boomers (including the author), but who also held onto the story with the clenched jaws of a pit bull for the rest of his life, dragging himself to slow ruin in the process. And there’s Daphne Hereford, the Houston area native who inherited descendents of the original Rinty. Like Duncan and Leonard, she had her own dreams of keeping the dog’s legacy alive, only to reap a flurry of litigation and even homelessness.
Read the rest of the review at Review: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend | Bookish | a Chron.com blog.
American Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemmingway was present at a lot of historic events of the early 20th Century as a reporter. These adventures usually turn into some of the most famous novels of all time. Brent Budowsky of The Hill writes about Ernest Hemingway’s place in history.
Several years ago, C-SPAN aired a brilliant half-day of discussion about the role of Ernest Hemingway in American history. Hemingway was a reporter, war correspondent and one of America’s greatest writers, whose story offers profound insight at a time of epochal economic crisis, joblessness and poverty.
What makes Hemingway so relevant today is how he merged great literary works with personal heroism in world-shaking events, including World War I, the Spanish civil war and World War II.
Hemingway lived during the historical periods known as the American Century and the Greatest Generation. If our past is prologue, the solutions to our crises today are found in reviving the spirit of shared transcendent purpose and individual courage and action that Hemingway and others of his times embodied.
Hemingway was a hero during World War I, an ambulance driver decorated for valor, which seeded his epic novel A Farewell to Arms. He witnessed the battle between fascism and democracy of the Spanish civil war, which seeded his timeless novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. He was a war correspondent and combatant during World War II, participating in missions for the OSS and the liberation of Paris.