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WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday September 6, 2017 - Episode #36

German occupying forces subjugated local citizens German occupying forces subjugated local citizens in many ways

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  • Life inside German Occupied Belgium |@ 03:15
  • Some memorable stories from the front - Mike Shuster |@ 13:3 0
  • Preview of Camp Doughboy - Governors Island, NY 9/16-9/17 |@ 19:00
  • Preview of Pershing Days - Laclede, MO, 9/15-9/17 with Alicyn Ehrich and Denzil Heaney |@ 20:15
  • $10,000 WWI academic competition |@ 24:55
  • Speaking WWI - Cooties! Yuk! |@ 26:00
  • 100C/100M with Jim Yocum on Santa Monica CA project |@ 27:15
  • CBS Radio ConnectingVets.com |@ 33:15
  • Phil Eaton - Coast Guard Winged Warrior of WW1 |@ 34:40
  • WWrite Blog on Champagne |@ 35:35

And more...

View the PDF transcript


Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - It’s about WW1 THEN - what was happening 100 years ago  - and it’s about WW1 NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.

Today is September 6th, 2017 and our guests this week are:

  • Mike Shuster from the great war project blog,   
  • Jim Yocum from the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project in Santa Monica, California
  • Alicyn Ehrich, Secretary of the Pershing Park Memorial Association, and Denzil Heaney, the administrator of the General Pershing Boyhood Home Site.

WW1 Centennial News is brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. I’m Theo Mayer - the Chief Technologist for the Commission and your host. Welcome to the show.

Before we get started today, we wanted to let you know that next week and the week following, we will be presenting a WW1 Centennial News 2-part Special -  “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace”.

Part 1 examines the great debate in America about getting into the war, and Part 2, which will publish the following week is about how events overtook the debate and brought us to a declaration of war.

But for today, we are in our regular format and ready to jump into episode #36.

World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week


We’ve gone back in time 100 years to explore the war that changed the world! It’s the first week of September 1917.

On the last day of August  New York Deputy Attorney General Roscoe Conkling certifies that New York City has fulfilled its quota of 38,572 soldiers for the draft.

This is notable because the last time there was a draft in New York - for the civil war - it ended in the deadly Draft Riots of 1863.  

The 1917 draft, however, goes smoothly - mostly!  

Turns out that one of the local boards is selling exemptions- which was permitted in the Civil War draft AND coincidentally  - one the flash points  for Draft Riots. In any case, in 1917 - it is seriously NOT OK.

The first draftees are scheduled to leave for training at Camp Upton (now the site of Brookhaven National Laboratory) on September 10th - the camp is so new that the first men to arrive are going to get to help finish building it.

The men trained at Camp Upton starting September 1917, will become the 77th Division, which will be the first division of draftees to arrive in France.

Link: http://today-in-wwi.tumblr.com/post/164847897103/new-york-city-fulfills-draft-quota


Moving to the headlines and stories from the Official Bulletin - America’s War Gazette published daily by the Committee on Public Information, the US government propaganda ministry headed by George Creel - this week we have pulled a variety of stories that mark what was happening this week 100 years ago.


The Official Bulletin

Dateline: September 9th, 1917


The following story provides some insight into life inside German occupied Belgium:

The story reads:

I had to leave the seaside place where I had lived since my childhood, because life became unbearable. It was slavery.

“The Germans announced, at the beginning of January last, that every man or woman from 15 to 60 would be compelled to work for them. They did not take everybody at once, but once you had begun to work for them, you were never left free again.

In order to avoid people escaping to an other parts of the country, they obliged us all to go to the command center, where our identity cards and passports were confiscated. As you can not walk a mile in the army zone without showing your papers we were practically prisoners.


“Every week an officer with two soldiers went from house to house requisitioning more laborers.

They had taken 300 already from my village when I left; I have no doubt that the whole village is forced to work by now.

The work was done either on the spot, where you had to repair and clean buildings, cut wood, and so on.,

or along the Dutch frontier, where we had to build trenches and concrete works,

or behind the German llnes in the region of Westende, where we were mainly employed in building roads and railway lines.

This was by far the worst place since we were frequently exposed to shell fire and to gas attacks. Having no masks we were obliged- to take shelter when a bell rang to warn us.

We were paid 1 mark per day, but as the food was very scarce we had practically to spend our wages to appease our hunger, so that, when we came back home for one day every three weeks, we had practically nothing left to bring back to our families.

“ It was no use trying to protest. It only meant more trouble and misery, prison and blows. One of my friends who struggled to escape was nearly killed by a bayonet thrust.

“Besides, the Germans are only too glad if you resist. They have made a rule to send any man or woman who gets more than three months’ imprisonment back to Germany . And none of those who have been deported have ever come back.

Six months ago one of my neighbors, a widow, who had to protect her daughter against a German officer, received four months for having shouted that all Germans were pigs.

She was sent to Germany and we have heard since that she is obliged to work in a labor camp and has no hope of returning. This is only one case among hundreds.

The German tribunals have provided many Belgian workers for the Fatherland


This next story is a lot lighter - and truly a story of the times. With the airplane providing the enemy with a level of unprecedented intel, a new military assignment surfaced as a key man role - that of “magician”  - Sort of….


Dateline: Sept 5th 1917

Headline: Ingenious men who can cast magic veil of invisibility over military works wanted for service with army in france

The story reads:

The first American Camouflage company is now being organized for service.

In official English, the camoufleure“ practices the art of military concealment,"

but a more literal translation of the French music-hall phrase,

for that is what it is, proves him to be a “ fakir.”

Now this has developed to a point where specialists in all manner of devices for concealing the whereabouts and designs of our troops from the eyes of the enemy are grouped together in military units.

Therefore, the Chief of Engineers in the War Department is looking for handy and ingenious men who are ready to fight one minute and practice their trade the next.

Wherever a machine is set up, or a trench is taken and reversed, or a battery of artillery goes into action, or a new road is opened. or a new bridge is built, or a sniper climbs an old building, or an officer creeps out into an advanced post to hear and to observe,

there...  must go the camouflage man to spread his best imitation of the magic veil of invisibility. There is in store for our camoufleurs, plenty of excitement and no end of opportunity to use their wits.

The article goes on to tell about some examples including pappier-Mache steel line counterfeits of dead horses serving as observing posts - or of a river-painted canvas pulled over a bridge by day - and used as a crossing by dead of night.

The article closes with:

Though this work has long been organized abroad, in this land it is only beginning, so wherever ingenious young men are longing for special entertainment in the way of fooling Germans, they should waste no time in getting in touch with the Chief of Engineers, War Department, Washington, D.C.

Our next story will be particularly interesting to our regular listeners - If you heard last week’s episode # 35, we profiled the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project in Muscle Shoals Alabama, where you heard all about the giant Ammonium Nitrate plants they built there. This week - 100 years ago, there is a story in the Official Bulletin that precedes what you learned last week.


Dateline: September 6, 1917




The story goes on to explain how the creation of the plants is a priority project for the government war effort, but the location is still secret.

But YOU know where they are going to put it!! You even know about the giant Hydro-electric plant they are going to build as a part of it!

Isn’t history fun...


Dateline: September 8, 1917

Headline: Red Cross to Communicate Messages About Persons in Central Powers’ Territory

The Red Cross plays an ever more important and diverse role in the complexity of this global crisis.

In this case, it is not nursing the wounded but helping acquaintances, families and loved ones torn apart and separated by the ravages of war.

The article goes on to read:

Individuals wishing to make inquiries concerning the welfare and whereabouts of friends or relatives in territory ‘belonging to or occupied by the central powers, may communicate with the Bureau of Communication, American Red Cross, Washington, D. C.

Proper inquiries and messages will be transmitted on a special form to the International Red Cross in Geneva. From Geneva, they will be forwarded to the individuals for whom they are intended.

Answers will be returned to the International Red Cross and by them will be

sent to Washington. The American Red Cross will then communicate the information received to writers of the original letters.

Two 2-cent stamps must be enclosed for postage. A similar method is being devised for the transmission of inquiries from the central powers to America.

This will also be handled by the Red Cross.

The articles concludes with a number of details and safeguards to assure that the communication network will not be used to send covert messages.

And our last story this week from the Official Bulletin harkens back to a story we told you in episode #26 about Chautauqua - The word "chautauqua" is Iroquois and means "two moccasins tied together" - At  the turn of the previous century the term was aptly used to signify a unique American “gathering” that brought entertainment and culture into far flung regional communities of the time, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day.  

Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is "the most American thing in America."


Dateline: September 8, 1917

Headline: Chautauqua entertainers to be sent to cantonments

TM Voice:

The war Department can't complete the theaters they had planned for the tens of thousands of men being sent to the training camps - RIGHT NOW! So instead - they are going to create an entertainment system using the traditional American Chautauqua!

The article goes on to explain:

Entertainment for the soldiers will Begin September 10.

In four days 10 tents, each with a seating capacity of over 3,000, will be moved to cantonments and programs will be given beginning Monday,

The week following, the entire 32 cantonments will be equipped with similar tent auditoriums  - in which programs will be given.

The new project involves the mobilization of a force of over 2,000 lyceum [LYCEEUM] and chautauqua~entertainers and the creation of tents with an aggregate seating capacity of more than 100,000 people in the short space of less than two weeks.

The economics affected by pursuing the chautauqua method of circuiting attractions makes it possible to give the best entertainment to soldier: at motion picture prices.

And those are some of the stories we selected from the nearly 100 stories published in this week’s issues of the Official Bulletin. You’ll find the official bulletin on the Commission’s website at ww1cc.org/bulletin where we are re-publishing this amazing resource on the centennial anniversary of each issue’s publication date.

So If this podcast just isn’t enough weekly WW1 history for you - dig in daily - Go to our website and read the full daily issues of the Official Bulletin at ww1cc.org/bulletin. I sometimes do… and it makes me feel a whole lot better about the chaos in our modern world by tapping into the even more chaotic world 100 years ago this week!


Great War Project

Next we are joined by Mike shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War Project blog.

Today Mike’s post highlights the beginning of American actions “over there” with a series of memorable incidents and stories including the sinking of submarine U-88 whose captain sank the Lusitania in 1915.

Welcome Mike!

[Mike Shuster]

Thank you Mike. That was Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog with an interesting collection of anecdotes from the front 100 years ago this week..


The Great War Channel

For videos about WW1, visit our friend at the Great War Channel on Youtube - They have well over 400 episodes about WW1 - covering the conflict since 2014 - and from a more European perspective.

This week’s new episodes include:

  • The Moscow State Conference
  • Another video is Battlefield 1 Historical Analysis - where Indy Nydel the shows host - takes the new game-additions and puts them into historical context.
  • And finally a new episode on Georges Guynemer (gee-nuh-may), the flying icon of France

Follow the link in the podcast notes or search for “the great war” on youtube.



World War One NOW


We have moved forward in time to the present…

Welcome to WW1 Centennial News NOW  - This part of the program is not about history but how the centennial of the War that changed the world is being commemorated today.

Activities and Events

[Sound Effect]

For our Activities and Events Section, we are going profile 2 events -  selected from the U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at WW1CC.org/events where are compiling and recording the WW1 Commemoration events from around the country- not just from major metros but also local events from the heart of the country- showing how the WW1 Centennial Commemoration is playing out everywhere.

Camp Doughboy

Our Major Metro pick of the week is Camp Doughboy, the Second Annual WWI History Weekend - this is an immersive, weekend-long, Living History experience on Governors Island in New York City happening on September 16th and 17th.

According to Kevin Fitzpatrick - Author and citizen historian who helped put the event together - it promises to be the largest WW1 themed event on the East Coast this year.

It all starts with a ferry ride to historic Fort Jay at Governors Island National Monument in New York Harbor. Entry to the event is free and open to the public. There will be more than fifty reenactors, vintage WWI-era vehicles, free talks by leading authorities of the Great War and much more. It is a family oriented event that is sure to create a memorable experience all about  the war that changed the world — and gave birth to modern America.

A link to register to participate is included in the podcast notes along with all the information you need to have a great time at Camp Doughboy.







Pershing Days

Interview with Alicyn and Denzil Pershing Days and Black Jack

Our Second event pick of the week is from Laclede Missouri.

We have with us today two guests to tell us about an upcoming annual event celebrating the life and service of General Pershing.

Alicyn Ehrich secretary of the Pershing Park Memorial Association, and Denzil Heaney, the administrator of the Gen. Pershing Boyhood Home site - which is part of the missouri state parks system.

They are here to tell us more about Pershing Days, an annual event in Laclede, Missouri, hometown of the General of the Armies, John J. Pershing. The event will be celebrated this year on Sept. 13th, the weekend closest to the general’s birthday. Additionally, this year, a new documentary, Black Jack, will be making its debut on Sunday, Sept. 17th following activities on the 15th & 16th.

Welcome, Alicyn, Denzil!

[exchange greetings]

[Alicyn, can you give our listeners an overview of what happens during Pershing Days? And how long has it been an annual tradition?]

[Denzil, can you tell us a bit about the film Black Jack? A lot of it was filmed in Laclede, right?]

Thank you Alicyn, Denzil!

That was Alicyn Ehrich and Denzil Heaney talking about Pershing Days in Laclede Missouri and the new Pershing Documentary - Black Jack.  Learn more by following the links in the podcast notes.








$10,000 Research Grant on WWI science and technology


This week in our Education section we’ve got something very special for the budding researchers in our audience - a shot at $10,000.

There is a new academic competition that was announced for scholars under the age of 30. In this competition you can apply to research and write a paper on a major aspect of how scientists and engineers in the United States were engaged in the World War I effort. You know, this was one of the most vervent times for technology, science, engineering and medicine - ever! And so the Richard Lounsbery Foundation has funded this academic competition.

Five scholars will be chosen and awarded $5,000 each to conduct their research. Additionally, the winner of the competition will be awarded a $10,000.00 prize. Proposals are due by November 30th, so spread the word! And check out the link in the podcast notes for how to participate in this program run by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Research Council.


Speaking WW1

And now for our feature --- “Speaking World War 1 --- Where we  explore today’s words & phrases that are rooted in the war  ---

This week the word is “Cooties”

You might remember the taunting chants of your classmates as a child, accusing you of having cooties. Or maybe cooties were the reason you gave for why you didn’t like girls - or boys - or whatever. Personally, as a kid my english was pretty bad and had no idea why everyone laughed at me when I asked for chocolate chip cooties. Just kidding.

The term cooties goes back to World War 1, when soldiers lived in horrific conditions that included being covered with lice. Indeed, using a lighter to burn lice and their eggs out of the seams of clothing was a daily pastime for many. As a nickname for body lice, cooties first appeared in trench slang in 1915. It’s apparently derived from the coot, a species of waterfowl known for being infested with lice and other parasites. I bet you did NOT know that!

Cooties-- you don’t want em… and this week’s word for Speaking WW1!

See the podcast notes if you really need to know more than that!

link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooties



100 Cities/100 Memorials


Jim Yocum - Santa Monica High School Auditorium

Next, we are going to profile another 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project. That is our $200,000 matching grant giveaway to rescue ailing WW1 memorials. Last week we profiled a project from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. This week, we head to Santa Monica, California.

Joining us is Jim Yocum, Past Commander of Squadron 283 of the Sons of the American Legion

Welcome, Jim!

[exchange greetings]

[Jim - a lot of our listeners know about the American Legion - but may not know about the Sons of the American Legion - would you please give us a quick heads up on that…]

[OK on to your project - you’re team is refurbishing a memorial plaque in Santa Monica, CA - tell us about the project?]

Thank you for the great work you and your Squadron are doing Jim!


That was Jim Yocum, Past Commander of Squadron 283 of the Sons of the American Legion.

We will continue to profile the submitting teams and their unique and amazing projects on the show over the coming months. Learn more about the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials program at ww1cc.org/100memorials or follow the link in the podcast notes.

Link: www.ww1cc.org/100memorials


Spotlight in the Media

Radio Interview

This week for our Spotlight in the Media section, we’d like to direct you to CBS Radio's ConnectingVets.com

On their September 5th “The Morning Briefing” they featured a segment on the WW1 Centennial

Chris Isleib, the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, and I joined host Eric Dehm for a great conversation about the WW1 Centennial, including upcoming events and this very podcast. Take a listen with the link in the podcast notes.



Articles and Posts

For our Articles and Posts segment - where we explore the World War One Centennial Commission’s rapidly growing website at ww1cc.org - now over 3,000 pages of articles, information and stories - our first highlight is a new article about an often overlooked part of our military-- the coast guard.

Phil Eaton - US Coast Guard

The Coast Guard and its aviators played a vital role in World War I.

In 1916, Congress authorized the Coast Guard to develop an aviation branch, including aircraft, air stations and pilots.

Historically, the Coast guard was originally with the Treasury Department - you know - to catch pirates and smugglers - For WW1, they get put under the U.S. Navy and today after 9/11 - they are part of Homeland security.

We invite you to read the story about a Commanding Officer of a Coast Guard Naval Air Station, Phil Eaton --- who led the first fight between the U.S. coast guard naval aviation and a German U-Boat menace in U.S. waters. Learn more about Phil and his other contributions as one of the Coast Guard first aviators --- by following the link in the podcast notes.



WWrite Blog

OK it’s time for an update for our WWRITE blog, which explores WWI’s Influence on contemporary writing and scholarship, this week's post is: “Champagne, "champagne," and World War I”

This article is for literature, history, and, yes, champagne lovers.

Motivation for weary WWI soldiers? Champagne.

In 1915, the French government voted to send "champagne," the bubbly, celebratory drink, as a morale booster to the troops. Meanwhile, Champagne, the French region and source of the world's most elegant wine symbolizing celebration and peace, amassed severe wounds as a strategic point on Western Front.

Don't miss this well-researched, insightful post written by journalist, Marsha Dubrow --- about the region, its signature drink --- and what happened to it during WWI

. À votre santé!

Link: www.ww1cc.org.wwrite



The Buzz - WW1 in Social Media Posts

That brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine - You have two articles to tell us about today - Take it away!

Camo Man

A great example of camouflage from The Great War Channel


The Lost Sketchbook

A new book about a young artist who served during WW1


Thank you Katherine.


And that is WW1 Centennial News for this week.

We want to thank our guests:

  • Mike Shuster from the great war project blog with an interesting series of anecdotes from 100 years ago this week.
  • Jim Yocum from the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project in Santa Monica, California
  • Alicyn Ehrich, and Denzil Heaney, giving us a taste of the annual Pershing Days and the upcoming Black Jack documentary
  • Katherine Akey the Commission’s social media director and also the line producer for the show.

And I am Theo Mayer - your host.


The US World War One Centennial Commission was created by Congress to honor, commemorate and educate about WW1.

Our programs are to--

inspire a national conversation and awareness about WW1; This program is a part of that….

We are bringing the lessons of the 100 years ago into today's classrooms;

We are helping to restore WW1 memorials in communities of all sizes across our country;

and of course we are building America’s National WW1 Memorial in Washington DC.

If you like the work we are doing, please support it with a tax deductible donation at ww1cc.org/donate - all lower case

Or if you are on your smart phone text  the word: WW1 to 41444. that's the letters ww the number 1 texted to 41444. Any amount is appreciated.


We want to thank commission’s founding sponsor the Pritzker Military Museum and Library for their support.

The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn  

on  iTunes and google play ww1 Centennial News.

Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.

Thanks for joining us. And don’t forget to share the stories you are hearing here with someone about the war that changed the world!




Did you know that Cooties were also known as "arithmetic bugs"

It true - because "they added to your troubles, subtracted from your pleasures, divided your attention, and multiplied like hell."

So long!


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