#MilitaryMonday: World War One At 100

wwiheader

World War 1, also known as the First World War or the Great War and the War to End All Wars, was a world conflict lasting from 1914 to 1919, with the fighting lasting until 1918. The war was fought by the Allies on one side, and the Central Powers on the other. No previous conflict had mobilized so many soldiers or involved so many in the field of battle. By its end, the war had become the second bloodiest conflict in recorded history.

148th American Aero Squadron field. Making preparations for a daylight raid on German trenches and cities. The machines are lined up and the pilots and mechanics test their planes. Petite Sythe, France. (August 6, 1918)

148th American Aero Squadron field. Making preparations for a daylight raid on German trenches and cities. The machines are lined up and the pilots and mechanics test their planes. Petite Sythe, France. (August 6, 1918)

World War 1 became infamous for trench warfare, where troops were confined to trenches because of tight defenses. This was especially true of the Western Front. More than 10 million died on the battlefield, and nearly that many more on the home fronts because of food shortages, genocide, and ground combat. Among other notable events, the first large-scale bombing from the air was undertaken and some of the century’s first large-scale civilian massacres took place, as one of the aspects of modern efficient, non-chivalrous warfare.

Soldiers and mule wearing gas masks, 1916

Soldiers and mule wearing gas masks, 1916

The Start of World War I

The spark that started World War I was the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinandand his wife Sophie. The assassination occurred on June 28, 1914 while Ferdinand was visiting the city of Sarajevo in the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Although Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the nephew of Austria’s emperor and heir-apparent to the throne, was not very well liked by most, his assassination by a Serb nationalist was viewed as a great excuse to attack Austria-Hungary’s troublesome neighbor, Serbia.

However, instead of reacting quickly to the incident, Austria-Hungary made sure they had the backing of Germany, with whom they had a treaty, before they proceeded. This gave Serbia time to get the backing of Russia, with whom they had a treaty.

The calls for back-up didn’t end there. Russia also had a treaty with France and Britain.

This meant that by the time Austria-Hungary officially declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, an entire month after the assassination, much of Europe had already become entangled in the dispute.

At the start of the war, these were the major players (more countries joined the war later):

  • Allied Forces (a.k.a. the Allies): France, the United Kingdom, Russia
  • Central Powers: Germany and Austria-Hungary
Verdun 1916 The Battle of Verdun was fought from 21 February – 18 December 1916 during the First World War on the Western Front between the German and French armies, on hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France. The German Fifth Army attacked the defences of the Région Fortifiée de Verdun (RFV) and the Second Army on the right bank of the Meuse, intending to rapidly capture the Côtes de Meuse (Meuse Heights) from which Verdun could be overlooked and bombarded with observed artillery-fire.

Verdun 1916
The Battle of Verdun was fought from 21 February – 18 December 1916 during the First World War on the Western Front between the German and French armies, on hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France. The German Fifth Army attacked the defences of the Région Fortifiée de Verdun (RFV) and the Second Army on the right bank of the Meuse, intending to rapidly capture the Côtes de Meuse (Meuse Heights) from which Verdun could be overlooked and bombarded with observed artillery-fire.

Schlieffen Plan vs. Plan XVII

Germany didn’t want to fight both Russia in the east and France in the west, so they enacted their long-standing Schlieffen Plan. The Schlieffen Plan was created by Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, who was the chief of the German general staff from 1891 to 1905.

Schlieffen believed that it would take about six weeks for Russia to mobilize their troops and supplies. So, if Germany placed a nominal number of soldiers in the east, the majority of Germany’s soldiers and supplies could be used for a quick attack in the west.

Since Germany was facing this exact scenario of a two-front war at the beginning of World War I, Germany decided to enact the Schlieffen Plan. While Russia continued to mobilize, Germany decided to attack France by going through neutral Belgium. Since Britain had a treaty with Belgium, the attack on Belgium officially brought Britain into the war.

While Germany was enacting its Schlieffen Plan, the French enacted their own prepared plan, called Plan XVII. This plan was created in 1913 and called for quick mobilization in response to a German attack through Belgium.

Photograph of two unidentified World War I soldiers. Courtesy of Mrs. J.H. Alexander and Mrs. E.R. Dean. World War Roll of Honor, 1917-1920, Marion County Kansas.

Photograph of two unidentified World War I soldiers. Courtesy of Mrs. J.H. Alexander and Mrs. E.R. Dean. World War Roll of Honor, 1917-1920, Marion County Kansas.

As German troops moved south into France, French and British troops tried to stop them. At the end of the First Battle of the Marne, fought just north of Paris in September 1914, a stalemate was reached. The Germans, who had lost the battle, had made a hasty retreat and then dug in. The French, who couldn’t dislodge the Germans, then also dug in. Since neither side could force the other to move, each side’s trenches became increasingly elaborate. For the next four years, the troops would fight from these trenches.

A War of Attrition

From 1914 to 1917, soldiers on each side of the line fought from their trenches. They fired artillery onto the enemy’s position and lobbed grenades. However, each time military leaders ordered a full-fledged attack, the soldiers were forced to leave the “safety” of their trenches.

The only way to overtake the other side’s trench was for the soldiers to cross “No Man’s Land,” the area between the trenches, on foot. Out in the open, thousands of soldiers raced across this barren land in the hopes of reaching the other side. Often, most were hewn down by machine-gun fire and artillery before they even got close.

World War One Tank

World War One Tank

Because of the nature of trench warfare, millions of young men were slaughtered in the battles of World War I. The war quickly became one of attrition, which meant that with so many soldiers being killed daily, eventually the side with the most men would win the war.

By 1917, the Allies were starting to run low on young men.

U.S. Enters the War and Russia Gets Out

The Allies needed help and they were hoping that the United States, with its vast resources of men and materials, would join on their side. However, for years, the U.S. had clung to their idea of isolationism. Plus, the U.S. just didn’t want to be involved in a war that seemed so far away and that didn’t seem to affect them in any great way.

However, there were two major events that changed American public opinion about the war. The first occurred in 1915, when a German U-boat (submarine) sunk the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania. Considered by Americans to be a neutral ship that carried mostly passengers, Americans were furious when the Germans sank it, especially since 159 of the passengers were Americans.

(Picture from the National Archives and Records Administration.) Photostat of the Zimmermann Telegram as received by the German ambassador to Mexico (Jan. 19, 1917) In the midst of World War I, German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent an encoded message to the President of Mexico proposing a military alliance against the United States. In return for Mexican support in the war, Germany would help Mexico regain New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona from the United States. The British intercepted the secret message, deciphered it, and turned it over to the U.S. Government.

Photostat of the Zimmermann Telegram as received by the German ambassador to Mexico (Jan. 19, 1917) In the midst of World War I, German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent an encoded message to the President of Mexico proposing a military alliance against the United States. In return for Mexican support in the war, Germany would help Mexico regain New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona from the United States. The British intercepted the secret message, deciphered it, and turned it over to the U.S. Government. (Picture from the National Archives and Records Administration.)

The second was the Zimmermann Telegram. In early 1917, Germany sent Mexico a coded message promising portions of U.S. land in return for Mexico joining World War I against the United States. The message was intercepted by Britain, translated, and shown to the United States. This brought the war to U.S. soil, giving the U.S. a real reason to enter the war on the side of the Allies.

On April 6, 1917, the United States officially declared war on Germany.

As the United States was entering World War I, Russia was getting ready to get out.

In 1917, Russia became swept up in an internal revolution that removed the czar from power. The new communist government, wanting to focus on internal troubles, sought a way to remove Russia from World War I. Negotiating separately from the rest of the Allies, Russia signed the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty with Germany on March 3, 1918.

With the war in the east ended, Germany was able to divert those troops to the west in order to face the new American soldiers.

Armistice and the Versailles Treaty

A newspaper headlining the end of World War 1. The Treaty of Versailles was signed at 2 p.m. on June 28, 1919.

A newspaper headlining the end of World War 1. The Treaty of Versailles was signed at 2 p.m. on June 28, 1919.

The fighting in the west continued for another year. Millions more soldiers died, while little land was gained. However, the freshness of the American troops made a huge difference. While the European troops were tired from years of war, the Americans remained enthusiastic. Soon the Germans were retreating and the Allies were advancing. The end of the war was near.

Sergeant Alvin York, a backwoods Tennessean who became the most highly decorated soldier of World War I.

Sergeant Alvin York, a backwoods Tennessean who became the most highly decorated soldier of World War I.

At the end of 1918, an armistice was finally agreed upon. The fighting was to end on the 11th hour of 11th day of 11th month (i.e. 11 am on Nov. 11, 1918).

For the next several months, diplomats argued and compromised together in order to come up with the Versailles Treaty. The Versailles Treaty was the peace treaty that ended World War I; however, a number of its terms were so controversial that it also set the stage for World War II.

The carnage left behind by the end of World War I was staggering. By the end of the war, an estimated 10 million soldiers were killed. That averages to about 6,500 deaths a day, every day. Plus, millions of civilians were also killed. World War I is especially remembered for its slaughter for it was one of the bloodiest wars in history.

On the Web: 

World War I on Wikipedia

World War I – Battles, Facts, Videos & Pictures

A Multimedia History of World War One

Sgt. Alvin York (Sergeant York)

Crash

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Sacred Sunday: Mosaics in the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Italy (11th-13th centuries) Part 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA St Mark’s Basilica in Venice is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. In 828, Venetian merchants stole the relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from their original resting place in Alexandria, Egypt. They were initially housed in a temporary chapel within the Doge’s Palace, but a more substantial church was built to shelter the valuable relics in 829-32. The present basilica, which incorporates the earlier buildings, was completed around 1071. The interior is decorated with mosaics, dating mostly from the 12th century, that cover a total area of about 8,000 square meters on the vaults and cupolas. The mosaics depict events from the New Testament. The narthex, an architectural feature common to Byzantine churches, wraps around the west end of the basilica. It is also decorated with mosaics depicting stories from the Old Testament, dating mostly from the 13th century. The oldest mosaics, dating from the late 11th century, are on the are on the façade, on the main portal. As is usually the case with my blog, each individual photo can be clicked on for a closer look! This is Part 1 of Basilica di San Marco; Part 2 will continue next Sunday. Crash

Vaulting, nave and transept 12th century Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Vaulting, nave and transept
12th century
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Vaulting, nave and transept 12th century Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Vaulting, nave and transept
12th century
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The broad arch in the foreground (above photo) has mosaics of Scenes from the Passion of Christ, a work of great dramatic intensity and emotional power. Beyond can be glimpsed the dome of the Ascension and a pendentive with the Evangelist Matthew seated at his desk.

West (Pentecost) cupola 12th century Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

West (Pentecost) cupola
12th century
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The picture (above) represents part of the nave of the Basilica, showing clearly the rhythmic pattern that pervades the dome of Pentecost, with the twelve Apostles illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

Main apse (detail) c. 1100 Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Main apse (detail)
c. 1100
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Around 1100, only slightly later than the main portal, the main apse of San Marco was decorated with mosaics that have not wholly survived. All that remains from that early phase are the four figures of saints in the window level: Peter, Mark, Nicholas, and Hermagoras. Their importance as Venice’s patron saints is emphasized in the inscription above.

Clement Chapel mosaics (detail) c. 1150 Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Clement Chapel mosaics (detail)
c. 1150
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The presbytery in San Marco is flanked by the St Peter Chapel to the north and the St Clement Chapel to the south, for whose mosaic decor date around the mid-twelfth century is assumed. The titular saints are presented in the apses, and additional saints appear on the walls and in the vaults. The Clement Chapel also has an enthroned Pantocrator and scenes from the legend of Peter and Clement. The miracles of St Mark and his martyrdom and burial are pictured in the Peter Chapel, the translation of his relics from Alexandria by Venetian merchants in the Clement Chapel. The picture above shows one of the most charming and animated scenes in which St Mark prevents a shipwreck.

Crossing (Ascension) cupola 1175-1200 Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Crossing (Ascension) cupola
1175-1200
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The subject of the mosaics in the crossing cupola is the Ascension of Christ. Seated on a gold arc of light in front of a starry sky, Christ has raised his right hand in benediction as four graceful angels carry him aloft. In a radial arrangement around this central motif the Virgin, two flanking angels, and the twelve apostles point upward. Only Mary is shown in a frontal view, even the angels are given a twisting movement, and the apostles are considerably more animated. Sixteen animated allegories of Virtues and Beatitudes appear between the windows at the bottom of the cupola. The pictorial program of the crossing cupola continues in the pendentives with the evangelists and personifications of the rivers of paradise. There is an evident Byzantine influence in the work of the artist who guided the Venetian craftsmen in the decoration of this dome.

Ascension cupola (detail)
1175-1200
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

(Above photo) Seated on a gold arc of light in front of a starry sky, Christ has raised his right hand in benediction as four graceful angels carry him aloft. In a radial arrangement around this central motif the Virgin, two flanking angels, and the twelve apostles point upward.

East (choir) cupola 12th century Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

East (choir) cupola
12th century
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The central pictorial motif in the choir cupola is a half-figure of Christus Emmanuel (Messias, God with us) against a starry sky and framed by an aureole. The Virgin and thirteen prophets posed as orants radiate out from it. The texts displayed on inscription ribbons by the prophets herald the coming of the Saviour. The symbols of the evangelists appear in the four pendentives below. The mosaics in the cupola are variously dated from the early to the late twelfth century. The figure of Christus Emmanuel was restored in the fifteenth century.

North (John) cupola (detail) 1100-50  Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

North (John) cupola (detail)
1100-50
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The mosaics in the north cupola (John cupola – above photo) depicts scenes from the life of St John the Evangelist. They date from the first half of the twelfth century. The detail of the cupola represents the awakening of the two men killed by the poisoned drink intended for the apostles; St John in the pose of an orant; awakening of Drusiana.

South (Leonard) cupola 1100-20 Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

South (Leonard) cupola
1100-20
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The mosaics in the south cupola, or Leonard cupola (above), dating from the early twelfth century, present no scenic compositions but only a cross on the top and figures of Sts Leonard, Clement, Blasius, and Nicholas. (The female saints in the pendentives are of more recent date).

West (Pentecost) cupola 1100-50 Mosaic Basilica di San Marco, Venice

West (Pentecost) cupola
1100-50
Mosaic
Basilica di San Marco, Venice

The mosaics in the west cupola, or Pentecost cupola, were created before the middle of the twelfth century. Following Byzantine iconography, the Outpouring of the Holy Ghost is linked to the Hetoimasia. (Hetoimasia: prepared throne, Preparation of the Throne, ready throne or Throne of the Second Coming is the Christian version of the symbolic subject of the empty throne found in the art of the ancient world. In the Middle Byzantine period, from about 1000, it came to represent more specifically the throne prepared for the Second Coming of Christ, a meaning it has retained in Eastern Orthodox art to the present.) Rays leading outward from the throne – which is surrounded by a circle of light, and onto which the dove of the Holy Ghost has settled – turn into flames when they strike the heads of the enthroned apostles. Below the apostles, between the windows, are representations of the various peoples, dressed in differing costumes, who were astonished to hear the apostles speaking in their diverse languages. Angels look down from the pendentives, pointing to the event taking place above them. The figures in the bowl of the cupola are livelier than those in the earlier mosaics.

Crash’s Kitchen: Summer Cycling Cherry BBQ Drumsticks

BBQ drums

Cherries may seem like an unlikely ingredient to pair with drumsticks, but the cherry barbecue sauce brings out all of the chicken’s hidden sweet flavor in the most-perfect way.

Total Time: 2 hr 25 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive: 1 hr
Cook: 1 hr 10 min
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Level: Too Easy

Ingredients
3 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 chicken drumsticks (about 3 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup ketchup
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen pitted cherries, thawed
1/2 cup water
Olive oil, for greasing grates
Fresh cherries, for serving

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons chile powder, smoked paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Season the chicken drumsticks and carefully loosen the skin to season the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Meanwhile, add oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, and garlic, and saute until onion is soft and translucent. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, and tomato paste and toast for 1 minute. Add orange juice, lemon juice, ketchup, cherries, water, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Reserve 1 cup sauce for grilling and hold the rest for serving.

Preheat a grill to medium heat. Oil the grill grate with olive oil to keep the chicken from sticking.

Grill chicken, turning frequently, until cooked through and skin is crisp, about 25 minutes. Brush with reserved barbecue sauce and grill 5 minutes more.

Serve the chicken with fresh cherries and a side of sauce.

Bon(e) appétit

Crash

Something to Consider This 4th of July Weekend

Are They Kidding? We MUST Do Better

Heading into the 4th of July weekend – the freedoms that our ancestors and the Founding Fathers fought for, should be on our minds. That is one of the reasons I wanted to share this post — please share….

This is from Neils Politics Yahoo Group —

It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran or not.  Please read and forward this to all your e-mail buddies.  Let it go viral.

The 2014 United States elections will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested in this election. Get out and VOTE!

A movement has started in our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014…They are organizing themselves, but this can be done by all of us.

The President, the Commander in Chief…

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