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WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday November 1, 2017 - Episode #44

The German Submarine Drives The WWI Strategy In The Atlantic The German Submarine Drives The WWI Strategy In The Atlantic

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  • The US naval war of 1917 | @01:10
  • The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay with Steve Bunker & Carrie Villar | @07:35
  • Living in NYC? Did a “Slacker” live in your apartment 100 years ago? | @14:55
  • The Balfour Declaration - Promise of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine with Mike Shuster | @17:15
  • The worldwide history of Veterans Day | @22:05
  • Ceremonial Groundbreaking for America’s WWI Memorial in Washington DC | @24:10
  • Veterans Day Events | @24:30
  • Speaking WWI… “Scrounge” | @28:00
  • 100C/100M in Riverside IL with Joseph Baar Topinka | @29:30
  • International Report - Notre Dame Projection spectacular and documentary premiere | @36:20
  • Falling back to Daylight Standard Time - Blame the Kaiser | @37:35
  • The Buzz in Social Media | @39:35


View the PDF transcript


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

Today is November 1st, 2017 and our guests this week are:

  • Steve Bunker of the Friends of Mallows Bay and Carrie Villar curator for the Ghosts of Mallows Bay exhibit at Woodrow Wilson House
  • Mike Shuster from the great war project blog,   
  • And Joseph Baar Topinka, Post Commander at American Legion Post 0488 in Riverside, Illinois.


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.


World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week


Today, we are looking at the war on the water.

The Atlantic Ocean was a major factor in the war 100 years ago. It wasn’t just a military battleground but an important strategic pivot.

Ships and mastery of the seas had been key factors in national strength for centuries. Fleets and armadas the stuff of legends...

but the conflict on the seas during WW1 is unique and comes down to a life and death struggle between the need to move goods, materiel and men versus the threat of small, stealthy and deadly raiders - the U-boats of WWI.

Like a small virus that can fell giants - the German U-boats are not just a threat to ships on the seas, but a deadly noose closing to choke the life out of nations.

So Let’s jump into our wayback machine and head back to 1917 to see how all this lays out and plays out.



We’ve gone back in time 100 years and we are looking back across the waters of the year of 1917.

In just the first four months of 1917, U-boat raids reduce the British grain supply to just six weeks by sinking 1,365 ships. The Kaiser’s Navy believes that by using unrestricted submarine warfare on all shipping, it can blockade England into surrender whether the U.S. intervenes in the war or not.

They are killing transports faster that replacements can be built and they know they are hurting the brits - a lot!

England imperial economy is hugely dependent on imports of food and raw materials,  and at the current rate of sinking it’s supply lines, it is quite possible the England and then the allies might lose the war…

not to the millions of poor souls slugging it out in the trenches - but to an effective fleet of just a few hundred submarines... each typically only 214 feet long, carrying 35 men, 12 torpedoes, mines and capable of traveling underwater for two hours at a stretch.

As America enters the war in April of 1917, the US Navy strategy is not focused on this threat at all.

It's strategic focus is on building a POWER navy headed by giant battle cruisers and dreadnaughts…

The Naval Act of 1916 authorizes the building of ten battleships and six battle cruisers -- 32 thousand and 42 thousand ton behemoths sporting massive 16" guns, supported by scores of cruisers, destroyers and new submarines. This is a big iron --- power strategy -- based on what is known as Capital Ships - ready to fight in the atlantic, caribbean and Pacific  - perhaps all at once… a prophetic vision for a quarter century later.

But the real challenge and the task for the US navy just entering the war is protecting shipping lanes from the deadly stings of little raiders just under the surface. It’s an issue we need to address - not just for Brittain - but as our only way to move millions of men, equipment and supplies across the Atlantic in order to join the fight!


This is made very clear to Rear Admiral William Sims. he’s the president of the Naval War College and goes to Britain on the eve of America’s entry into the war to meet with the British Admiralty about strategy.

In point of fact, the ship he travels to England on, the American Line's New York, is damaged by a submarine-laid mine as it approaches Liverpool.

The Admiralty, pleads its case and makes clear that is is implementing a convoy system - something the US naval command does not believe in.

This strategy requires lots of smaller ships -- primarily destroyers - to work as escorts. The British campaign for the US to refocus it’s shipbuilding on ships suited to that task of convoying.

Sims, who is subsequently named commander of U.S. naval forces in European waters, becomes an early convert for convoys.

On 14 April, just days after America enters the war - he cables Washington with his recommendations that the maximum number of American destroyers be made available immediately.

He argues that the timely arrival of even a small number of escorts at this critical moment can have an immediate and strategically important impact on the war --  right now!! --- given the fact that it’s gonna take some time for the US to mobilize enough military land resources to have any other actual impact.

There is pushback on this from Admiral William Benson -- Chief of Naval Operations and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels who argue for putting more emphasis on armed merchant ships sailing independently, with navy patrolled sea lanes.

However, Sims advocacy and additional diplomatic admiralty visits to Washington succeeds in getting twenty-eight American destroyers escorting convoys by the end of june and thirty five by end August 1917, rather than the Navy simply conducting patrols as had been the original plan.  

Well, it turns out that the convoy system works - and works well - The positive results bring the Americans around - especially admiral Benson who reportedly "goes to the mat," with the American naval building priorities This ties into what we told you about in Episode 28,

On Friday July 18th, 1917- President Wilson announced in the Official Bulletin that:

Because of their varied contracts for shipbuilding, the yards can not carry out our program without the help of the Government; it has, therefore, been decided that the shipbuilding industry of the Nation shall be federalized.

The administration appointed United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation is put in charge.

Three days later - on the 21st. July 1917, Secretary Daniels orders construction of new battleships to cease. Priority is to be given to destroyers and other anti-submarine craft. He authorized construction of what would eventually total 266 destroyers.








Mallows Bay

A huge push for ship building in the US - with many built so fast and a maybe a little shoddy  -- that over 200 of them - having served their purpose - were scuttled and sunk right after the war -- which leads us to our next story… We are going to slide into the present for just a moment to talk about The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay -   a small bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in Charles County, Maryland.

It’s considered the "largest shipwreck graveyard in the Western Hemisphere… and now being advocated for and being considered by NOAA to become one of the most interesting national marine sanctuary in the united states.

With us here in 2017 are Steve Bunker from the Friends of Mallows Bay, and Carrie Villar, who served as interim director of Woodrow Wilson House in washington DC a national trust for historic preservation historic site and carrie is also the curator for the Ghosts of Mallows Bay exhibit,.

Welcome to both of you….

[exchange greetings]


[Steve, can you tell us a bit about how, why and who sunk all those ships in Mallows Bay?]


[I understand that the bay was salvaged for steel and other metals - tell us about that?]


[Since I’ve learned about it - Mallows Bay is on my list of places I want to see.. What is the visitor experience like?]


[The Woodrow Wilson house just opened an exhibit on this - and with us is Carrie Villar the curator for the exhibit - Carrie, how and why did the Woodrow Wilson House get involved? ]


[Carrie - Can you tell us a bit  about the opening?]


Thank you both for coming on the show!

That was Steve Bunker from the Friends of Mallow bay, and Carrie Villar, the curator of the Ghosts of Mallows Bay exhibit at Woodrow Wilson House.

Links: http://www.woodrowwilsonhouse.org/event/exhibit-opening-ghost-fleet



Whipping back to 100 years ago this week --- Boy are we breaking format today  - but --- we found one more quick story that we just HAVE to slip in…



Dateline October 29th, 1917

The Headline of the NY times reads:

Names of New Yorkers Who Have Failed to Respond to the Draft Call

1490 of draft age ignore summons - men classed as deserters - reward of $50 for each!!

WOW -- This article put out by Roger B Wood, director of the draft in New York City lists the names AND ADDRESSES of nearly 1500 young men - known at the time as SLACKERS (our Speaking WWI word from our early August episode #32)

They are naming names - they are giving addresses - and they are offering rewards - and god help any one of those young men with a German sounding last name.

But the reason we HAD to slip in the story - and give you the link to the article is because - when Katherine Akey - our line producer - who found the article looked through the list - well - let me have her tell you herself

[Katherine tells us how she found an old apartment address in NYC that SHE lived in and challenges listeners who have done stints in NYC to check out their old addresses to see if they are SLACKER refuges!!! - fun Sam Berry, on St Mark’s Place]

This very important link is in the podcast notes...



Great War Project

The war that changed the world is connected to the roots of many of our modern conflicts and here to tell us one of the stories is Mike shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War project blog. Hi Mike!


[Mike Shuster]

Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.




The Great War Channel

For weekly informative videos about WW1 from the European perspective, we recommend the Great War Channel on Youtube -

This week - two new episodes focus on Caporetto which we introduced to you last week :

  • FIrst == The Battle of La Malmaison [mal-may-zon] -- Breakthrough at Caporetto
  • Next - On the Battlefield of Caporetto -- Exploring the Kovorat -- a report from the team’s trip to Italy  
  • And finally  - Strategic Bombing on the Western Front


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.


Veterans Day History Worldwide

As we continue our countdown to veterans day, let’s take a moment to look back at its origins and the variations of it around the world.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day”, first celebrated on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of fighting during World War I.

It became a national holiday in 1938 and in 1954 President EIsenhower officially changed the name to Veterans day incorporate the ideas beyond WWI.

Memorial Day - that you probably think of it as the start of the summer season - focuses on veterans who paid the ultimate price, while Veterans Day - with its roots as a salute to our doughboys -  is a tribute to any American veterans—living or dead. It is our national salute to service.

Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday.

Each country honors its veterans, and the armistice of WW1, in a slightly different way. France expelled an invader from its territory, and the tenor of commemoration there reflects that.

Even the symbol of remembrance differs from place to place. The red poppy of flanders fields is common in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Canada and America -- The French use the blue cornflower, whic – like the poppy – continued to grow in land devastated by war.

No matter how our commemorations may differ, citizens from all across the globe will take pause on or around November 11th to remember the sacrifice of men and women in who serve their nations in the military.


As we countdown to Veterans Day 2018, here are some things for you to participate in.


Ceremonial Groundbreaking for America’s WWI Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington DC

Start on November 9, at 11am eastern with the ceremonial groundbreaking for the National World War One memorial at Pershing Park in Washington DC. We will be streaming it on Facebook live. We are on facebook @ww-the number 1- centennial…  or follow the link in the podcast notes.

LINK: http://Facebook.com/ww1Centennial


Next be sure to tag all your related posts and photos on social media using the hashtag #countdowntoveteransday.


Link: https://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp



We suggest you visit the U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at WW1CC.org/events to look for Veterans Day events near you.

Many WWI related organizations have posted events in the national register.

We have picked a few of them to tell you about...



In the Big Apple, the famous New York City Veterans Day Parade is the largest Veterans Day event in the nation. The Parade takes place every November 11, rain or shine with activities commencing at 10am.  Over 300 units and tens of thousands of marchers assemble near Madison Square Park, including veterans of all eras, military units, civic & youth groups, businesses, and high school bands from across America.


Also in New York, on Thursday evening the 9th of November the annual Flanders Remembers Concert will present Distortion, a Hymn to Liberty on at the Kaufman Music Center in New York.  Commissioned by the Government of Flanders, the piece commemorates the Centennial of World War I, and the concert will benefit the United War Veterans Council.


Washington DC area

Also on November 11th, Arlington National Cemetery will host its annual commemorations on Veterans Day. A prelude concert will begin in the Memorial Amphitheater at 10:30 a.m followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11 a.m.

Commemoration ceremonies are being held all over the country! Not just in major metros. For example...

Wilberforce Ohio

In Wilberforce Ohio, the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center is holding a Veterans Day Commemoration Event where award winning history teacher and Ohio World War I Committee member Paul LaRue will present a program that examine Ohio's African American World War I soldiers, their service and their sacrifice.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Minnesota History Center is hosting a lecture on November 11th where you can learn about the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division, a National Guard division from Minnesota, that went “over there” in WW1.

Louisville, Kentucky

In Louisville, Kentucky, a special WWI commemorative display will be set up with pictures and WWI military artifacts organized In conjunction with the annual Veterans Day program.

Rutherford NJ

And finally, The Rutherford NJ World War I Centennial Committee will hold a centennial remembrance program at the base of their WWI memorial column, which was a recent awardee in our 100 Cities/100 Memorials program. There will be remarks by the Mayor and dignitaries and a reading of the names of Rutherford's dead as well as a ceremonial 20' x 30' flag folding with taps followed by a special exhibition on many Rutherford veterans of the war including one of a kind personal artifacts. Two films will also be shown, "The Lost Battalion" and "Dear Home-Letters from WWI"


So check the events register at ww1cc.org/events - and if your Veterans Day event is NOT posted in the register - click the big red button and submit it to get it into the national archival register of Veterans Day commemorations that happened during the centennial of the war that changed the world!

We have LOTS of links in the podcast notes!

Links: http://uwvc.org/vetsday2017/parade-details/








Speaking WW1

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

Looking for things you needed was a near daily activity at the front; men hunted for supplies and for food, especially when units moved into new territory where the locals may have left goodies behind, or when their unit was cut off from a supply line.

So a new word for hunting around and scavenging for something grew in popularity during WW1, the word is Scrounge!

The war threw together a lot of cultures and classes who found themselves on common footing - equalized by the rigors of war - and as a result they traded ideas, ways and words!

We’ve introduced words and phrases in this segment that made their way into English language or slang from French, Romany, Urdu and German.

Srounge is a slang word that comes from a Northern British origin. It’s possibly an alteration of scrunge ("to search stealthily, rummage, pilfer") or  scringe ("to pry about"); or perhaps related to scrouge, to ("push, jostle").  

Whatever its initial origin, Scrounging something up -- made its way into common use in the war that changed the world.

See the podcast notes to learn more!

link: https://www.amazon.com/Tommy-Doughboy-Fritz-Soldier-Slang/dp/1445637839/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508848013&sr=8-1&keywords=tommy+doughboy+fritz



100 Cities/100 Memorials


Gold Star Memorial at Guthrie Park in Riverside, IL

Moving to our 100 Cities / 100 Memorials segment about the $200,000 matching grant challenge to rescue and focus on our local WWI memorials.

This week we are profiling the Gold Star Memorial at Guthrie Park in Riverside, IL -- with us tell us about the project is Joseph Baar Topinka, Post Commander at American Legion Post 488 in Riverside, Illinois.


Welcome, Joseph!

[exchange greetings]


[Joseph, tell us a bit about the Gold Star Memorial at Guthrie Park-- what is its history?]


[You are one of the first 50 awardees for the program - how has this affected your community]


[What kinds of restorative work are you planning to do on the memorial? And how did the American Legion get involved?]


[do you have plans for a rededication?]


[exchange thanks]


That was Joseph Baar Topinka, Post Commander, American Legion Post 488 in Riverside, Illinois.

We are going to continue to profile 100 Cities / 100 Memorials projects - not only awardees but also teams that are continuing on to round #2 which is now open for submissions.


So as we talked about last week - this memorial day weekend - if you want to do something for the doughboys -it’s easy - take a walk!  - Look around your town and find your local WWI memorial.

I promise it’s there - or was.. Look near the your county or city court house, check your parks, if they are old - or even just have an old flagpole - look around your local school buildings, find your American Legion or the VFW post, or check markers of your local cemetery.

When you DO find your WWI memorial, and if it needs some TLC, please go to WW1CC.org/100Memorials and see how you can start the ball rolling to get that memorial and the doughboys it honors some support. Have a great veterans day - and do wear sunscreen!


You can follow the link in the podcast notes.

Link: www.ww1cc.org/100memorials


International Report

Films at French Embassy/Notre Dame Projection Installation

In our International report this week, we head to Paris and the beautiful, iconic Notre Dame.  From November 7th to 11th, Notre Dame will be lit up by projections all over the building. The exhibit, called Dame De Coeur, is a tribute to the thousands of allied soldiers who fought and gave their lives for freedom. The piece is being done by director Bruno Seillier, who is very experienced at monumental projection mapping installations.

Each night before the light show, the new film “The American in Paris: The True Story of the American Hospital of Paris in WWI” will be screened. The film tells the story of the American Hospital in Paris, from its start as a 24-bed facility for the expatriate community of Paris in 1910, to its dramatic expansion to a more than 2000 beds during the first world war.

The projection show and film are expected to be seen by over 60,000 people, but there is a chance to see the film stateside: The Cultural Service French Embassy in Washington, DC is screening the film on November 6th, and tickets are still available. Follow the link in the podcast notes for details about both of these events.




Daylight Savings Special

A special reminder this week to prepare yourself for Daylight Savings, Actually - it’s backward from what you think - we are just about to head into DAYLIGHT STANDARD time. But in any case - when you wake up Monday groggy and annoyed at the seemingly random one-hour shift we tolerate every year, we have someone for you to blame: the Kaiser!

Although some say it was Benjamin Franklin who first proposed the idea --- The Germans were among the first to institute Daylight Savings, and they did so in 1916, two years into World War One. The concept was meant to be a temporary measure during the war, a way of conserving energy and providing more usable hours of daylight by getting up later into the morning and going to bed earlier in the evening.

The British, French and many others quickly followed suit, and Daylight Savings remained a staple of wartime life. Most countries dropped it after World War I, and it wasn’t until the next World War that Daylight Savings Time made its return in most of Europe, and America too.

Read more about the war time application of daylight savings at the link in the podcast notes.  

Link: http://online.wsj.com/ww1/daylight-saving-time



Articles and Posts

North Carolina Scholar

As we move into our Articles and Posts -- this week at ww1cc.org/news there is an article courtesy of  the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the story of one North Carolinian who served in the war, but never fired a shot.

Instead, Wilmington native Charles Jastrow Mendelsohn served as a cryptographer during the war period —someone who specializes in encrypting and decrypting sensitive information—.

The entirety of his year-long military term was spent stateside at posts in Washington D.C. and New York City where Mendelsohn led at team tasked with decrypting intercepted German diplomatic correspondence. Read more about how a professor of ancient languages at the City College of New York helped the U.S. read the enemy's mail during WWI by following the link in the notes.


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, what are your picks out of the great stories from social media this week?

Hi Theo!


Motorcycle Club

We have two really great articles to share today. We’ll start with a heartwarming story from Fort Wayne Indiana, which we shared on Facebook recently. Last Sunday, 75 trees were escorted by motorcade through Fort Wayne Saturday morning before being planted at Memorial Park.

Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club organized the effort and were joined by police, fire and military personnel along the route. Memorial Park had, according to the article, fallen into a bit of disrepair, and the group was worried it would be repurposed. Eventually, 125 new trees will be planted in Memorial park, each dedicated to a soldier who gave their life in WW1.

Warrior Breed Motorcycle club president Gary Perkey said, “A hundred years ago there was a committee, I’m sure, discussing Memorial Park and what they were going to do to memorialize these WWI vets and here were are 100 years later doing the exact same thing, having the same discussions and planting these trees one again.” It’s a great story about local remembrance of WW1 and how moving and impactful it can be. An official dedication is planned for this November 11th, so if you’re in the Fort Wayne area check the link in the podcast notes to learn more.



Ships Ships Ships

Finally this week, we’re going to go back to the top of the show with an amazing collection of photos from the Atlantic all about the war at sea during WW1.

The Atlantic published a series of ten collections of photos back in 2014, at the very beginning of the centennial of the war and they are absolutely wonderful. The War at Sea series includes images of u-boats cresting over waves in the Atlantic, disabled ships in the Dardanelles being blown up, mines being dragged ashore in Heligoland, a delicate looking Curtiss AB-2 being catapulted off the deck of a warship, ship cats and lots of images of dazzle camouflage. There’s even a Paget Process image from Jaffa, Israel; a super early color photograph; though it’s mostly pinks and greens and looks a bit surreal, the Paget Process photos are super beautiful. Check out these incredible images at the link in the podcast notes.

And that’s it this week for the Buzz!



And that all our stories for you this week on WW1 Centennial News - Now before you flick off your play button - remember - for those of you who listen to end - we always leave you with a special goody or two!

So in closing - we want to thank our guests:

  • Steve Bunker and Carrie Villar telling us the story of the Ghosts of Mallows Bay
  • Mike Shuster and his report of action in the Middle East
  • Joseph Baar Topinka from the 100 Cities/100 Memorials project in Riverside, Illinois
  • Katherine Akey the Commission’s social media director and also the line producer for the show.


Thanks to Eric Marr for his contributions to this episode - Eric has joined our editorial team as a researcher and writer.

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.

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, and on Amazon Echo or other Alexa enabled devices. Just say: Alexa: Play W W One Centennial News Podcast.

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

Thank you for joining us. And don’t forget

to share the stories

you are hearing here today with someone

about the war that changed the world!




Don’t forget - we want you to scrounge around your town to find your local WWI memorials.

And thank a vet for their service this Veterans day week!

So long!


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