Sacred Sunday: Paul’s Shipwreck on Malta

 A Crash Course Historical Perspective of Acts 27 & 28

Shipwreck at Malta.jpg

Paul is shipwrecked on Malta, woodcutting by Gustave Dore. (1832-1883)

Tracing the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, he was arrested in Judea, tried, and then transported as a prisoner to Rome. From the standpoint of historical evidence, the account found in the book of Acts recording Saint Paul’s voyage and shipwreck is supported by a wealth of detail. History provides us with a striking meteorological and nautical confirmation of the biblical record.

Acts 27.12 – 28.1

Luke records that the ship drifted for fourteen days in the gale and then shipwrecked on the island of Malta, halfway across the Mediterranean. This account of a fourteen day gale, followed by a shipwreck on a remote island, reads like a tall tale.

However, the meteorological and nautical evidence demonstrates, and in rather spectacular fashion, that these events must have occurred just as Luke records them.

The most important piece of evidence is the exact compass bearing of the gale. This bearing can be established by means of three separate calculations.

Paul Malta map.jpg

First, Luke states that Euraquilo struck shortly after they left Fair Havens. In other words, the ship must have been less than halfway to their intended destination at Phoenix. They must have been somewhere between Cape Matala and a point seventeen miles W.N.W. of the Cape when the gale struck.

Second, there is the relation of the island of Clauda (or Cauda) to this start point. Cape Matala is on a bearing of east 7 degrees north from the eastern edge of Clauda, while the halfway point to Phoenix is east 40 degrees north.

For the ship to get behind ClaudaEuraquilo must have been blowing from a point somewhere between these two bearings. The point midway between these two figures is east 25 degrees north (or E.N.E. 1/4 N.). This cannot be more than a point and a half off the actual direction of the wind.

malta shores.jpg

Shores of Malta

Third, Luke states that when they got behind Clauda, the sailors were afraid that they would be blown onto the Syrtis sandbanks of north Africa. However, for them to have been blown onto those banks from ClaudaEuraquilo would have had to have been blowing from a point somewhere between east 18 degrees north and east 37 degrees north.

The point midway between these figures is east 27 degrees north. This figure is only 1/4 point off the mean figure of the previous calculation. These three calculations establish that the direction from which the wind was blowing could not have been more than a point off the designation E.N.E. 1/2 N.

This brings us to a another dramatic piece of evidence. As the ship drifted west from Clauda, it would have been pointed due north. We know this because it could not have been pointed directly into the wind without capsizing.

In other words, it had to have been pointed north, just off the direction from which the wind was coming. Using this information, we can calculate with some precision both the direction and rate of the ship’s drift to the west.

Ancient records reveal that Egyptian grain ships were the largest vessels of the time, being about the size of an early nineteenth century sailing vessel. This size is implicitly confirmed by Luke’s statement that there were 276 people on board.

Since their ship was pointed due north, while the wind was from the northeast, we can roughly calculate the direction of ship’s lateral – or sideways – drift.

malta shore.jpg

Shores of Malta

The azimuth, or direction, of the ship’s drift from Clauda would have been approximately west eight degrees north. The island of Malta is not directly west of Clauda. Instead, Malta’s bearing from Clauda is exactly west eight degrees north.

This brings us to yet another piece of evidence. Luke states that it took them fourteen days to drift to Malta. The distance from Clauda to the easternmost point of Malta is 476.6 miles. To calculate the westward rate of drift of their ship, it is necessary to know two things: the size of the ship and the force of the gale.

We know the approximate size of the ship and it is possible to establish the mean intensity of the gale. We can then calculate an average rate of drift for Paul’s vessel. This calculation reveals an average westward drift of one and one half miles per hour. Thus it would take Paul’s ship about thirteen days to drift to Malta. Luke records that it took them fourteen days.

This nautical and meteorological evidence provides us with an astonishing confirmation of the historical accuracy of Luke’s narrative.
ShipwreckMaltaPaul.jpg

Italy, Lazio, Rome, St. Paul’s outside the Walls. Whole artwork view. Saint Paul and the castaways warming up around a bonfire after they landed on the isle of Malta. 

In a related story dated September 2019, researchers claim to have identified an anchor from St. Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta.

“The ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf,” according to the Acts of the Apostles. “Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.”

 

Acts also notes that four anchors were dropped from the ship and subsequently cut loose, enabling the ship to run aground.

The Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (BASE) Institute believes that it has identified evidence of the shipwreck, which occurred around 60 A.D.

In a post on the organization’s website, BASE says that four ancient anchors were recovered by local divers, adding that only one of the anchors has been preserved. “The fourth anchor was preserved as part of a deceased diver’s legacy to his widow,” BASE writes. The organization, which is led by Bob Cornuke, also believes that the shipwreck happened in St. Thomas Bay on Malta’s southern coast, as opposed to in what is now known as St. Paul’s Bay in the north of the island.

Crash

Thursday Reader: Discoveries – Black Plague Skeletons in London, Alexander the Great-Era Treasure in Israel

Recent discoveries of more skeletons and ancient treasure come on the heels of what may describe 2015 as the Year of Archaeology.

These two adult skulls were among thousands uncovered at the Bedlam burial ground, which was used during the Great Plague in 1665. The remains will be removed over the next week by a team of archaeologists. Credit: PA

These two adult skulls were among thousands uncovered at the Bedlam burial ground, which was used during the Great Plague in 1665. The remains will be removed over the next week by a team of archaeologists.
Credit: PA

Archaeologists began excavating 3,000 skeletons from Bedlam Hospital cemetery disturbed by London builders. The skeletons of a mother and her child buried side-by-side are among those which are to be excavated from an ancient burial ground after being disturbed during construction for London’s Crossrail.

Other skeletons at the burial site include that of a mother and her two children (above). Most of the remains are unidentified since the site did not keep its own burial records when it was used between 1569 and 1738. Credit: Reuters

Other skeletons at the burial site include that of a mother and her two children (above). Most of the remains are unidentified since the site did not keep its own burial records when it was used between 1569 and 1738.
Credit: Reuters

Skeletons of a mother and child (this and following image) are among those which are to be excavated from the Bedlam burial ground, which is the site for the new Liverpool Street station that will serve London's Crossrail network Credit: Reuters & PA

Skeletons of a mother and child (this and following image) are among those which are to be excavated from the Bedlam burial ground, which is the site for the new Liverpool Street station that will serve London’s Crossrail network
Credit: Reuters & EPA

london2

Archaeologists have started excavating 3,000 skeletons from Bedlam burial ground, which is at the site of the new Liverpool Street station that will serve the cross-London rail network.

Used from 1569 until at least 1738, including during the Great Plague in 1665, the burial site – also known as Bethlehem and the New Churchyard – was opened after graveyards around London started to overflow.

A team of 60 archaeologists will work in shifts, six days a week, to excavate the skeletons and gather any other remains at the burial site. The skeletons (pictured above) will then be reburied on consecrated ground. Credit: PA

A team of 60 archaeologists will work in shifts, six days a week, to excavate the skeletons and gather any other remains at the burial site. The skeletons (pictured above) will then be reburied on consecrated ground.
Credit: PA

Archaeologists have started excavating 3,000 skeletons (pictured) from the ancient Bedlam burial ground. Credit: PA

Archaeologists have started excavating 3,000 skeletons (pictured) from the ancient Bedlam burial ground.
Credit: PA

It was situated in close proximity to Bethlem Royal Hospital – the first dedicated psychiatric institution in Europe – and was used to bury London’s poor and religious non-conformists as well as inmates from the asylum.

The site, which was uncovered by Crossrail workers who are in the process of building a new ticket hall above the burial ground, is thought to contain the remains of a former lord mayor of London, a notorious criminal and political activists.

The skeletons will be excavated over the next four weeks by a team of 60 archaeologists who will work in shifts, six days a week.

Bones and skeletal remains could be seen at the Bedlam burial site today as workers began excavating them. Credit: Reuters

Bones and skeletal remains could be seen at the Bedlam burial site today as workers began excavating them.
Credit: Reuters

Archaeologists at the new Livepool Street station (pictured) are expected to finish on site in September. Credit: PA

Archaeologists at the new Livepool Street station (pictured) are expected to finish on site in September.
Credit: PA

The remains were uncovered during Crossrail construction work, which is set to be completed by 2019. Credit: Reuters

The remains were uncovered during Crossrail construction work, which is set to be completed by 2019.
Credit: Reuters

They will carefully remove the remains and record evidence for what may prove to be, in archaeological terms, London’s most valuable 16th and 17th Century cemetery site.

After the excavation, the workers will then dig through medieval marsh deposits and Roman remains including a road that runs under the site, which has already yielded several interesting Roman artifacts such as horseshoes and cremation urns. The skeletons will then be reburied on consecrated ground.

Archaeologists are expected to finish on site in September, after which construction will proceed on a new eastern ticket hall by contractor Laing O’Rourke.

“This excavation presents a unique opportunity to understand the lives and deaths of 16th and 17th century Londoners. The Bedlam burial ground spans a fascinating phase of London’s history, including the transition from the Tudor-period city into cosmopolitan early-modern London. This is probably the first time a sample of this size from this time period has been available for archaeologists to study in London. Bedlam was used by a hugely diverse population from right across the social spectrum and from different areas of the city.

– Jay Carver, Crossrail lead archaeologist

The archaeological excavations at Liverpool Street are being undertaken by Museum of London Archaeology on behalf of Crossrail. Scientific analysis of the remains will help provide new insights into the lives and deaths of early modern Londoners.

Bedlam burial ground was established in 1569 to help parishes cope with overcrowding during outbreaks of the plague and other epidemics.  As well as being used to bury those who were struck down with disease, it also became the site for those who passed away at the nearby Bethlem Royal Hospital – which is thought to have been the world’s first mental asylum.

Preliminary excavations at the Liverpool Street station site have already uncovered more than 400 skeletons. Credit: PA

Preliminary excavations at the Liverpool Street station site have already uncovered more than 400 skeletons.
Credit: PA

However, with mental patients showing no physical symptoms of illness, determining which of the remains belonged to those treated at the hospital will be near impossible for experts.

Earlier this year, Crossrail-led research identified the names and backgrounds of more than 5,000 people buried at the site. Names include Sir Ambrose Nicholas, who was lord mayor of London in 1575, and Dr John Lamb (also known as Lam or Lambe), an astrologer and adviser to the First Duke of Buckingham.

Lamb was said to have been stoned to death by an angry mob outside a theatre in 1628 following allegations of rape and black magic. Others identified in the research, carried out by 16 invited volunteers, include victims of riots by ‘Fanatiques’, noted in the diaries of Samuel Pepys in January 1661.

To date, Crossrail has found more than 10,000 artefacts spanning many years of London’s past across more than 40 construction sites. It is the UK’s largest archaeology project. Preliminary excavations at the Liverpool Street site in 2013 and 2014 have already uncovered more than 400 skeletons and numerous artifacts.

Bedlam – Synonym for Chaos

Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247 and was the first dedicated psychiatric institution in Europe.

Bethlem Royal Hospital was founded in 1247 and was the first dedicated psychiatric institution in Europe.

The Bedlam burial ground, also known as the New Churchyard, was situated near the notorious Bethlem Royal Hospital which opened during London’s response to the plague crisis in the 16th Century.

The burial site was the first in London which was not associated with a parish church and it did not keep its own burial records. Instead, the City’s parish churches recorded which of their parishioners were buried at Bedlam in their own records.

The graveyard, built on Bethlem Hospital’s vegetable patch in the 1560s after churchyards around the city started to overflow, was used to bury London’s poor and religious non-conformists as well as inmates from the asylum.

Bethlem Royal Hospital, which quickly became pronounced ‘Bedlam’ by Londoners, was founded in 1247 and was the first dedicated psychiatric institution in Europe. It was founded by Goffredo de Prefetti, who had been elected Bishop of Bethlehem, and was originally located just outside the London city wall, on the site of what is now Liverpool Street station.

By 1403, the majority of its patients suffered mental health issues. Others suffered from epilepsy, learning disabilities and dementia. Due to the hospital’s reputation as the principle treatment center for the insane, a bastardized version of its name – ‘Bedlam’ – came to signify madness and chaos more generally.

Although it is sometimes thought to have treated its patients cruelly, most were free to walk around the grounds. Inside the single-storey building that housed 12 cells, a kitchen, staff accommodation and an exercise yard, inmates were manacled and chained – and treated as a tourist attraction by Londoners who paid a penny to stare at them.

Patients, usually poor, were given treatments including restraint, dousing with water, beatings and isolation. Conditions inside Bedlam were depicted by William Hogarth in his 18th century drawings A Rake’s Progress, charting the decline of a merchant’s son from wealthy heir to asylum inmate, via debtor’s jail.

In 1674, the hospital’s governors decided that the institution should move a few hundred metres to the west to Moorfields, with the area’s open space thought to be healthier than its original premises.

Bethlem moved again in 1815, to St George’s Fields in Southwark, which is now the site of the Imperial War Museum. A final move came in 1930 when the hospital relocated to the suburb of Bromley. It is now run by the NHS and is considered to be a leading psychiatric hospital.

*     *     *     *     *

Treasures From the Era of Alexander the Great

Included in the 2,300-year-old cache were two coins of Alexander of Macedon, three rings, four bracelets, two decorated earrings, three other earrings and a small stone weight. Credit: CLARA AMIT/ THE ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

Included in the 2,300-year-old cache were two coins of Alexander of Macedon, three rings, four bracelets, two decorated earrings, three other earrings and a small stone weight.
Credit: CLARA AMIT/ THE ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

A rare cache of jewelry and silver coins, minted during the reign of Alexander the Great, has been discovered in a stalactite filled cave in northern Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday.

The 2,300-year-old treasure was found by three members of the Israeli Caving Club who wriggled through a narrow passage at the entrance of the stalactite cave and wandered inside for several hours.

The 2,300-year-old treasure was found by three members of the Israeli Caving Club who wriggled through a narrow passage at the entrance of the stalactite cave and wandered inside for several hours. Skeletons Shed Light on Ancient Earthquake in Israel. Credit: SHMUEL MAGAL/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

The 2,300-year-old treasure was found by three members of the Israeli Caving Club who wriggled through a narrow passage at the entrance of the stalactite cave and wandered inside for several hours. Credit: SHMUEL MAGAL/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

Stashed inside a niche, one of the spelunkers, Hen Zakai, spotted two ancient silver coins. On one side of the coins was an image of Alexander the Great, while the other side portrayed an arm raised Zeus sitting on his throne.

The archaeologsts believe the coins had been minted in the late fourth century B.C. at beginning of the Hellenistic Period during the reign of Alexander the Great.

Alongside the coins, the spelunkers found the remains of a cloth pouch with three rings, four bracelets, two decorated earrings, three other earrings, probably made of silver, a small stone weight, and a clay oil lamp. Dating from the Hellenistic period, the lamp contained some agate stones that were part of a string of beads.

“The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander,” the IAA said in a statement.

Stashed inside a niche, one of the spelunkers first spotted two ancient silver coins. On one side of the coins was an image of Alexander the Great, while the other side portrayed Zeus sitting on his throne. The archaeologists believe the coins had been minted in the late fourth century BC at beginning of the Hellenistic Period during the reign of Alexander the Great. Credit: SHMUEL MAGAL/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

Stashed inside a niche, one of the spelunkers first spotted two ancient silver coins.
On one side of the coins was an image of Alexander the Great, while the other side portrayed Zeus sitting on his throne.
The archaeologists believe the coins had been minted in the late fourth century BC at beginning of the Hellenistic Period during the reign of Alexander the Great.
Credit: SHMUEL MAGAL/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

At that time, the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander the Great’s successors who fought for the control of the king’s empire after his death in 323 B.C.

“Presumably the cache was hidden in the hope of better days, but today we know that whoever buried the treasure never returned to collect it,” the IAA said.

As archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority this week-end entered the cave, they discovered evidence of human habitation that occurred there over extended periods, from the Chalcolithic period 6,000 years ago to the Hellenistic period approximately 2,300 years ago.

Numerous pottery vessels were discovered in the cave and some even merged with the limestone sediments.

“The finds in the cave will allow the researchers –- archaeologists and geologists alike –- to accurately date both the archaeological finds and the process of stalactite development,” the IAA said.

The treasure trove, which promises to shed light on the lives of ordinary people in Israel during the late 4th century BC, follows another significant finding. Last month amateur scuba divers stumbled across a trove of nearly 2,000 gold coins that sat on the bottom of the Roman-era port of Caesareafor about 1,000 years.

“After the gold treasure from Caesarea, this is the second time in the past month that citizens have reported significant archeological finds and we welcome this important trend,” Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the Israel Antiquities Authority, said.

“Thanks to these citizens’ awareness, researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority will be able to expand the existing archaeological knowledge about the development of society and culture in the Land of Israel in antiquity,” he added.

On the Web:

Sunday Reader: Tomb of Celtic Prince Uncovered in France

Saturday Reader: The Oldest Known Human Fossil Discovered

Friday Reader: Richard III and the Mystery Woman

Thursday Reader: Ancient Skeletons in Paris and a Rare Roman Tombstone in England

#WarriorWednesday

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1951 : Two F-9F Panther's dump fuel alongside the USS Princeton CV-37 off the Korean coast It was safer and easier to land without the excess fuel - a criteria called "Maximum Landing Weight"

1951 : Two F-9F Panther’s dump fuel alongside the USS Princeton CV-37 off the Korean coast
It was safer and easier to land without the excess fuel – a criteria called “Maximum Landing Weight”

An Irish Guards machine-gun team in 1914 during the beginning of World War 1. Not a single one of these men pictured here survived the war.

An Irish Guards machine-gun team in 1914 during the beginning of World War 1.
Not a single one of these men pictured here survived the war.

Jan 1944 : Portrait of 28 year old Soviet Army tank commander Captain M. S. Smirnov during the Battle of the Korsun After suffering a direct hit by an enemy shell, killing several crewmates, Smirnov was still able to crush three enemy anti-tank guns and kill over 20 German combatants. Cpt. Smirnov would be killed six months later in Latvia during the Battle of Daugavpils on 29 July 1944.

Jan 1944 : Portrait of 28 year old Soviet Army tank commander Captain M. S. Smirnov during the Battle of the Korsun
After suffering a direct hit by an enemy shell, killing several crewmates, Smirnov was still able to crush three enemy anti-tank guns and kill over 20 German combatants.
Cpt. Smirnov would be killed six months later in Latvia during the Battle of Daugavpils on 29 July 1944.

1918 : A wounded AIF soldier receives an affectionate welcome home kiss after WWI, Sydney, Australia

1918 : A wounded AIF soldier receives an affectionate welcome home kiss after WWI, Sydney, Australia

Juana Galán was known for beating Napoleon’s troops out of her village during the Battle of Valdepeñas in June, 1808. There weren’t enough men to defend the village from invading French.  Juana, 21, immediately rallied all of the women in the village. When the French troops marched in, the women dumped boiling oil on top of them. One version has it that she smashed in the heads of the soldiers with her cast-iron stew-pan. The French never returned.

Juana Galán was known for beating Napoleon’s troops out of her village during the Battle of Valdepeñas in June, 1808. There weren’t enough men to defend the village from invading French.
Juana, 21, immediately rallied all of the women in the village. When the French troops marched in, the women dumped boiling oil on top of them. One version has it that she smashed in the heads of the soldiers with her cast-iron stew-pan. The French never returned.

Boston Corbett, the mad hatter.. Thomas P. "Boston" Corbett (1832 – presumed dead 1894) was an American Union Army soldier who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Corbett was born in London, England. His family emigrated to New York City in 1840. He became a hatter in Troy, New York. It has been suggested that the fumes of mercury used in the hatter's trade caused Corbett's later mental problems. Corbett married, but his wife died in childbirth. Following her death, he moved to Boston, and continued working as a hatter. He was confronted by a street preacher one night and his message persuaded him to join the Methodist Episcopal Church, which he did, subsequently changing his name to Boston, the name of the city where he was converted. In an attempt to imitate Jesus, he began to wear his hair very long. On July 16, 1858, in order to avoid the temptation of prostitutes, Corbett castrated himself with a pair of scissors. He then ate a meal and went to a prayer meeting before he sought medical treatment. In April 1861, early in the American Civil War, Corbett enlisted as a private in Company I of the New York Militia.Then on April 24, 1865, he was sent to apprehend John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, who was still at large.  Two days later the regiment surrounded Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, in a tobacco barn on the Virginia farm of Richard Garrett. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused to give himself up. The barn was set on fire in an attempt to force him out into the open, but Booth remained inside. Corbett was positioned near a large crack in the barn wall. Corbett claimed in an 1878 interview that he saw Booth aim his carbine. At that point, Corbett shot Booth with his Colt revolver despite Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton's orders that Booth should be taken alive. Eyewitness Lieutenant Edward Doherty, the officer in charge of the soldiers who captured Booth and Herold, stated that "the bullet struck Booth in the back of the head, about an inch below the spot where his shot had entered the head of Mr. Lincoln." Booth's spinal cord was severed, and he died two hours later. Corbett was immediately arrested for violation of his orders, but Stanton later had the charges dropped. Stanton remarked, "The rebel is dead. The patriot lives." Corbett received his share of the reward money, amounting to $1,653.84 (equivalent to $25,000 in 2014). In his official statement, Corbett claimed he shot Booth because he thought Lincoln's assassin was preparing to use his weapons. This was contradicted by the other witnesses. When asked later why he did it, Corbett answered that "Providence directed me". After his discharge from the army in August 1865, Corbett went back to work as a hatter, first in Boston, later in Connecticut, and by 1870 in New Jersey. His life was marked by increasingly erratic behavior. In 1875, he threatened several men with a pistol at a soldiers' reunion in Caldwell, Ohio. In 1878, he moved to Concordia, Kansas. In 1887, because of his fame as Booth's killer, Corbett was appointed assistant doorkeeper of the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka. One day he overheard a conversation in which the legislature's opening prayer was mocked. He jumped to his feet and brandished a revolver. No one was hurt, but Corbett was arrested and sent to the Topeka Asylum for the Insane. On May 26, 1888, he escaped from the asylum. He went to Neodesha, Kansas, and stayed briefly with Richard Thatcher, whom he had met when they were both prisoners of war. When he left, he told Thatcher he was going to Mexico. His "madness" may have been the result of exposure to mercury. Rather than going to Mexico, Corbett is believed to have settled in a cabin he built in the forests near Hinckley, in Pine County in eastern Minnesota. He is believed to have died in the Great Hinckley Fire of September 1, 1894. Although there is no proof, the name "Thomas Corbett" does appear on the list of dead and missing.

Boston Corbett, the mad hatter..
Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett (1832 – presumed dead 1894) was an American Union Army soldier who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
Corbett was born in London, England. His family emigrated to New York City in 1840. He became a hatter in Troy, New York. It has been suggested that the fumes of mercury used in the hatter’s trade caused Corbett’s later mental problems.
Corbett married, but his wife died in childbirth. Following her death, he moved to Boston, and continued working as a hatter. He was confronted by a street preacher one night and his message persuaded him to join the Methodist Episcopal Church, which he did, subsequently changing his name to Boston, the name of the city where he was converted. In an attempt to imitate Jesus, he began to wear his hair very long. On July 16, 1858, in order to avoid the temptation of prostitutes, Corbett castrated himself with a pair of scissors. He then ate a meal and went to a prayer meeting before he sought medical treatment.
In April 1861, early in the American Civil War, Corbett enlisted as a private in Company I of the New York Militia.Then on April 24, 1865, he was sent to apprehend John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, who was still at large.
Two days later the regiment surrounded Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, in a tobacco barn on the Virginia farm of Richard Garrett. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused to give himself up. The barn was set on fire in an attempt to force him out into the open, but Booth remained inside. Corbett was positioned near a large crack in the barn wall. Corbett claimed in an 1878 interview that he saw Booth aim his carbine. At that point, Corbett shot Booth with his Colt revolver despite Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton’s orders that Booth should be taken alive. Eyewitness Lieutenant Edward Doherty, the officer in charge of the soldiers who captured Booth and Herold, stated that “the bullet struck Booth in the back of the head, about an inch below the spot where his shot had entered the head of Mr. Lincoln.” Booth’s spinal cord was severed, and he died two hours later.
Corbett was immediately arrested for violation of his orders, but Stanton later had the charges dropped. Stanton remarked, “The rebel is dead. The patriot lives.” Corbett received his share of the reward money, amounting to $1,653.84 (equivalent to $25,000 in 2014).
In his official statement, Corbett claimed he shot Booth because he thought Lincoln’s assassin was preparing to use his weapons. This was contradicted by the other witnesses. When asked later why he did it, Corbett answered that “Providence directed me”.
After his discharge from the army in August 1865, Corbett went back to work as a hatter, first in Boston, later in Connecticut, and by 1870 in New Jersey. His life was marked by increasingly erratic behavior. In 1875, he threatened several men with a pistol at a soldiers’ reunion in Caldwell, Ohio. In 1878, he moved to Concordia, Kansas.
In 1887, because of his fame as Booth’s killer, Corbett was appointed assistant doorkeeper of the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka. One day he overheard a conversation in which the legislature’s opening prayer was mocked. He jumped to his feet and brandished a revolver. No one was hurt, but Corbett was arrested and sent to the Topeka Asylum for the Insane. On May 26, 1888, he escaped from the asylum. He went to Neodesha, Kansas, and stayed briefly with Richard Thatcher, whom he had met when they were both prisoners of war. When he left, he told Thatcher he was going to Mexico. His “madness” may have been the result of exposure to mercury.
Rather than going to Mexico, Corbett is believed to have settled in a cabin he built in the forests near Hinckley, in Pine County in eastern Minnesota. He is believed to have died in the Great Hinckley Fire of September 1, 1894. Although there is no proof, the name “Thomas Corbett” does appear on the list of dead and missing.

1940: A Canadian soldier searches for mines during an exercise in England.

1940: A Canadian soldier searches for mines during an exercise in England.

Oct 1944 : The commander of a Soviet infantry battalion, Major Romanenko (seated, center), tells Serbian civilians about the military affairs of a very young scout, 13 year old Corporal Vitya Zhavoronok (left), Vojvodina, Yugoslavia (Serbia) In 1941 Vitya joined a partisan unit. In 1943 he voluntarily entered one of the Red Army units. For participation in the battles with fascists he was awarded the Order of the Red Star.

Oct 1944 : The commander of a Soviet infantry battalion, Major Romanenko (seated, center), tells Serbian civilians about the military affairs of a very young scout, 13 year old Corporal Vitya Zhavoronok (left), Vojvodina, Yugoslavia (Serbia)
In 1941 Vitya joined a partisan unit. In 1943 he voluntarily entered one of the Red Army units. For participation in the battles with fascists he was awarded the Order of the Red Star.

1955 : West Berlin policemen and East German Volkspolizei face each other across the border after a young girl managed to cross the border into West Berlin

1955 : West Berlin policemen and East German Volkspolizei face each other across the border after a young girl managed to cross the border into West Berlin

The only known photograph of a black Union soldier with his family, c. 1863-65.

The only known photograph of a black Union soldier with his family, c. 1863-65.

June 1945 : Brazilian soldiers of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (Força Expedicionária Brasileira, or, FEB) return home aboard the Pedro II following the Allied victory of the Italian Campaign.  The FEB was an expeditionary force of about 25,700 men and women arranged by the Brazilian Army and Air Force to fight alongside the Allied forces in the Mediterranean Theater of the war. Brazil was the only Allied independent South American nation to send troops to fight in the war. The BEF fought in Italy from September 1944 to May 1945

June 1945 : Brazilian soldiers of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (Força Expedicionária Brasileira, or, FEB) return home aboard the Pedro II following the Allied victory of the Italian Campaign.
The FEB was an expeditionary force of about 25,700 men and women arranged by the Brazilian Army and Air Force to fight alongside the Allied forces in the Mediterranean Theater of the war.
Brazil was the only Allied independent South American nation to send troops to fight in the war. The BEF fought in Italy from September 1944 to May 1945

Walter Ernest O'Neil Yeo (20 October 1890 – 1960) was a sailor during World War I, and is thought to be the first person to benefit from advanced plastic surgery, namely a skin flap. Yeo was wounded on 31 May 1916, during the Battle of Jutland, while manning the guns aboard the battleship HMS Warspite. He sustained terrible facial injuries, including the loss of upper and lower eyelids. Walter went through several procedures, which were considered a great success in the pioneering field of what will come to be known as 'plastic surgery'.  Walter married Ada Edwards in 1914 in Plymouth, Devon. They had two daughters: Lilian Evelyn Yeo, born 21 October 1914 in Plymouth, and Doreen Y. Yeo, born in 1919. Walter Yeo died in his birth town, Plymouth, where he had spent the majority of his life, in 1960.

Walter Ernest O’Neil Yeo (20 October 1890 – 1960) was a sailor during World War I, and is thought to be the first person to benefit from advanced plastic surgery, namely a skin flap.
Yeo was wounded on 31 May 1916, during the Battle of Jutland, while manning the guns aboard the battleship HMS Warspite. He sustained terrible facial injuries, including the loss of upper and lower eyelids.
Walter went through several procedures, which were considered a great success in the pioneering field of what will come to be known as ‘plastic surgery’.
Walter married Ada Edwards in 1914 in Plymouth, Devon. They had two daughters: Lilian Evelyn Yeo, born 21 October 1914 in Plymouth, and Doreen Y. Yeo, born in 1919. Walter Yeo died in his birth town, Plymouth, where he had spent the majority of his life, in 1960.

June 1944 : Canadian soldiers storming Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer, France

June 1944 : Canadian soldiers storming Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer, France

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#MilitaryMonday: Allied POW Monopoly and Other Images

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“Monopoly” board games helped thousands of Allied POWs escape German camps.

Germany allowed the Red Cross to send care packages to POWs(not Russians/Polish) and among the items that could to be sent were board games. Special Monopoly boxes were created that contained items to help the prisoners escape:

– German, French, and Italian money currency was hidden within the Monopoly money.

– A metal file, hidden within the board.

– A small compass hidden in a play piece

– Silk maps of the prison and it’s location hidden inside the hotel pieces.

Military Monday Images:

Jimmy Stewart and his father Alexander Stewart in front of the family hardware store in September 1945. Jimmy was expected to continue his father's business, which had been in the family for three generations. Jimmy however had other plans.  Despite his movie career, he remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, retiring as a Brigadier General.

Jimmy Stewart and his father Alexander Stewart in front of the family hardware store in September 1945. Jimmy was expected to continue his father’s business, which had been in the family for three generations. Jimmy however had other plans.
Despite his movie career, he remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, retiring as a Brigadier General.

July 1944 : Odette Billy teaches correct French pronunciation to T/5 Mel. White Harlan, Iowa (left) and M.P. Pvt. William Barrs, Rt5, (Dublin), in Isigny, France

July 1944 : Odette Billy teaches correct French pronunciation to T/5 Mel. White Harlan, Iowa (left) and M.P. Pvt. William Barrs, Rt5, (Dublin), in Isigny, France

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July 1943 : British soldiers are warmly greeted by Italian children during the Allied Invasion of Sicily, Province of Syracuse, Italy.

Dec 1944 : American soldiers watch a B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber take off from the now Allied controlled island of Saipan in the Pacific. Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

Dec 1944 : American soldiers watch a B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber take off from the now Allied controlled island of Saipan in the Pacific. Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

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USS Long Island (ACV-1) underway with a mixed cargo of planes and stores, 25 May 1943. Planes include F4F’s, SBD’s and TBF’s. National Archives photograph, 80-G-83216.

1917 : A very young member of the Irish Guards, pictured at Waterford Barracks with the regiment's mascot, an Irish Wolfhound named Leitrim Boy.  Leitrim Boy was born on Tuesday, 12 November 1907, and was 9 years old when this photo was taken.

1917 : A very young member of the Irish Guards, pictured at Waterford Barracks with the regiment’s mascot, an Irish Wolfhound named Leitrim Boy.
Leitrim Boy was born on Tuesday, 12 November 1907, and was 9 years old when this photo was taken.

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July 1944 : Royal Air Force, 2nd Tactical Air Force Wing Commander J E Johnson, leader of No. 144 (Canadian) Wing RAF, rests on the the wing of his Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX with his Labrador retriever Sally, between sorties at B2/Bazenville, Normandy

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July 1944: A French woman prays for lost loved ones in a church following the Battle of Cherbourg, Lower Normandy, France. The Battle of Cherbourg was part of the larger Battle of Normandy and was fought immediately after the successful Allied landings.

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Oct 1944 : An American Dive Bomber Curtiss Helldiver from 7-th bombardment Squadron after a crash landing on the USS Hancock

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French partisans celebrate taking of Marseille with ‘V’ for Victory Sign.” Note the American soldiers are celebrating with the US flag hanging from the bridge. U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

An armed French partisan emotionally embraces 2nd Lt Jack Willis of Kingston, Iowa, whom he found uninjured after he shot at the officer mistaking an advance Yank armored spearhead for retreating Germans.  U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

An armed French partisan emotionally embraces 2nd Lt Jack Willis of Kingston, Iowa, whom he found uninjured after he shot at the officer mistaking an advance Yank armored spearhead for retreating Germans.
U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

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August 1945 : A young Filipino Resistance fighter poses with a flag of the United States Army Forces in the Far East following the routing of Japanese occupying forces from her province, Central Luzon, Philippines. Tarlac was recaptured piece by piece by combined Filipino and American troops together with the recognized Filipino guerrilla fighters against the Japanese Imperial forces.

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1973 : Operation Homecoming; the return of 591 prisoners of war held by North Vietnam back to American soil.

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Aug 8, 1944, France. Grave of American pilot, w/rounds from a 50cal machine gun of his P-47 Thunderbolt

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Lyudmila Mikhailivna Pavlichenko was the most successful & feared woman sniper of World War Two.

After moving to Kiev with her family at the age of 14, she became a metal grinder at the Kiev Arsenal factory. When Nazi Germany invaded Russia during Operation Barbarossa in 1941 the 24 year old Pavlichenko was studying history at the Kiev University, she was one of the first volunteers at the recruiting office and she requested service in the infantry.

The recruitment officer looked bewilderingly at her, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was quite a beautiful young woman with stylish clothes and a trendy hairstyle, she told the recruiter that she wished to join an active infantry unit and to carry a rifle. The recruiter apparently gave her a warm hearted look and smiled saying that perhaps she should join the field nurse unit instead. Pavlichenko became one of 2,000 female snipers in the Red Army, as Russia utilized women in warfare with almost the same manner as they did men, this is something that never happened in the west and is unfamiliar to westerners.

Pavlichenko officially confirmed German kills amounted to a total of 309, this amazing figure also included 36 German snipers…one of whom had himself notched over 500 Soviet kills after she retrieved his detailed log book after killing him. She also killed many high ranking German Officers, everyone who she shot and killed knew nothing about it, as their deaths were so fast.

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June 1945: German SS guards, exhausted from their forced labour clearing the bodies of the dead, are allowed a brief rest by British soldiers but are forced to take it by lying face down in one of the empty mass graves. Bergen-Belsen, Nnorthern Germany

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Dick Winters and Easy Company (Band of Brothers) at the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s residence.

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April 1945 Members of the Royal Australian Air Force squadron of Beaufighters, Scotland.

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October 1941 : A fond farewell for this little boy from a guardsman who is returning to duty after leave, London station. The little boy seems to have forgotten his trousers in the excitement of the moment.

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1944 : A British nurse assisting a wounded Allied Soldier and a Stug III Tank laying on the side after heavy bombing, France.

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1941 : Filipino women of the first Women Guerrilla corps practicing at a rifle range in Manila, Philippines.

1943 : Róża Maria Goździewska (nickname the "little nurse") - outside the field hospital of the Koszta Company, wearing a Polish emblem and red cross armband during Warsaw Uprising, Poland Roza was 8 years old at the time of the uprising and lived to tell the tale. She died in France in 1989, at the age of 53.

1943 : Róża Maria Goździewska (nickname the “little nurse”) – outside the field hospital of the Koszta Company, wearing a Polish emblem and red cross armband during Warsaw Uprising, Poland
Roza was 8 years old at the time of the uprising and lived to tell the tale. She died in France in 1989, at the age of 53.

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Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk fighters of the American Volunteer Group during World War II.

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Result of the American bombardment of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, on June 13, 1945.

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Sunday Reader: Realistically Colorized Historical Photos

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A new artistic trend has broken out around the world which changes our perception of history dramatically. Colorizing historic photographs from the late 1800′s and early 1900′s changes their appearance from something historic and different, into a scene from today.

The colorful image of Albert Einstein sitting beside the water gives us an entire new perspective on the genius. He goes from a brilliant historic relic, into a living brilliance of our era. The colorized photograph of Audrey Hepburn transforms our thoughts of beauty. Her photo goes from an intriguing historic photo to one of a sexy starlet of today. Historic events move forward decades, or even a full century, by the addition of color carefully planned and applied by artists like Jordan Lloyd, Dana Keller, and Sanna Dullaway.

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London, 1945 (Photo credit: valdigtmycketfarg)

Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels scowls at a Jewish photographer, 1933

Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels scowls at a Jewish photographer, 1933

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Hindenburg Disaster, 1937

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Anne Frank, 1942 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, 1880 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Abraham Lincoln, 1865 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Louisville, Kentucky, 1937 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Washington D. C., 1921 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Baltimore Slums, 1938 (Colorized by Jordan J Lloyd)

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Baltimore Slums, 1938 (Colorized by Jordan J Lloyd)

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View from the Capitol in Nashville, 1864 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Japanese Archers, circa 1860 (Colorized by Jordan J Lloyd)

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British Troops Board Their Train for the Front, 1939

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Unemployed Lumber Worker and His Wife, circa 1939

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

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Theodore Roosevelt (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Elizabeth Taylor, 1956

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Charlie Chaplin, 1916

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Nicola Tesla

Operation: Crossroads Atomic Detonation (Thank you Steven Vaught, Western Michigan University) (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

Operation: Crossroads Atomic Detonation (Thank you Steven Vaught, Western Michigan University) (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Big Jay McNeely, Olympic Auditorium, 1953

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Mark Twain, circa 1900

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Walt Whitman, 1887 (Photo credit: Dana Keller)

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Kissing the War Goodbye, 1945 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation, 1963 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Old Gold Country store, 1939 (Colorized by Jordan J Lloyd)

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Charles Darwin, 1874 (Photo credit: Sanna Dullaway)

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Saturday Reader: Anne Frank’s Final Diary Entry

Anne_Frank

I’ve always loved her optimism, in the face of all evil. She’s always inspired me: Not only for that but because she. Never. Gave. Up…

Seventy years ago, Anne Frank made her final diary entry from her hiding place in Amsterdam on Aug. 1, 1944.

Anne lived in the Secret Annex at 263 Prinsengracht with her family for two years during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, documenting her life faithfully in her diary during that time. In her last entry, Anne was introspective and wondered about how people would perceive her.

“I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously,” she wrote.

“I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the ‘lighthearted’ Anne is used to it and can put up with it: the ‘deeper’ Anne is too weak.”

Three days later on Aug. 4, the SS, working on a tip from an informer who has never been identified, raided the hiding place. All eight people in hiding were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany from typhus in March 1945.

Her father, Otto, was the only person from the hiding place to survive. He returned to Amsterdam and recovered Anne’s diary, which he published for the first time in the Netherlands on June 25, 1947.

Since then, Anne’s diary has inspired films and stage performances. The diary has been translated into at least 67 languages and more than 30 million copies have been sold, according to the Anne Frank Center USA.

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#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)

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02 September 1945 – Victory Over Japan Day and 02 September 1939 – Germany Invades Poland

 Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on board USS Missouri (BB-63) while Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, U.S. Army, watches from the opposite side of the table.

Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on board USS Missouri (BB-63) while Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, U.S. Army, watches from the opposite side of the table.

On this day, 1945, Japan formally surrendered in ceremonies aboard the USS Missouri.

On the Web: How much do you know about the Pacific Theater? Take the War in the Pacific quiz from the Military Channel http://bit.ly/16oMtrg

Doolittle’s Raiders:  http://bit.ly/17zc5hS

Germany over Poland

Also on this date in 1939: Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the West while the Luftwaffe bombed Polish airfields. These actions would set off a chain of events that would plunge the world into the largest conflict ever.

On the Web: Watch more from Edge of War: Poland Stands Alone  http://bit.ly/170PonH

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