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WW1 Centennial News for December 15, 2017 - Episode #50

Horse Heroes - 1.5 million American Equines serve in WWI. See the new web site at ww1cc.org/horsesHorse Heroes - 1.5 million American Equines serve in WWI.
See the new BrookeUSA web site at ww1cc.org/horses

The player below allows you to share and download the show from here as well. See buttons on the top right. Contact us if you have any questions.



  • The role of coal in WWI America - Dr. Sean Adams | @ 03:00
  • Coming Attractions - Preview of podcasts | @ 09:50
  • The Halifax Explosion - Mike Shuster | @ 11:10
  • Commissioner Zoe Dunning is sworn in | @ 16 :00
  • Gold Star Mothers special tour - Candy Martin | @ 16:55
  • Speaking WWI - "chatting" - A lousy deal | @ 23:50
  • New issue “Understanding The Great War” Education Newsletter | @ 25:00
  • 100C/100M - Portland, Maine - Brandon Mazer | @ 25:50
  • Sgt. Stubby new trailer | @ 30:40
  • Horse Heroes - BrookeUSA - Jo Ellen Hayden | @ 32:25
  • WWrite Blog - What if there had been no Balfour Declaration | @ 39:30
  • Buzz - Signal Corp & drip rifles - Katherine Akey | @ 40:15



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 December 15th, 2017. This is episode #50 and our guests this week include:

  • Dr. Sean Adams, on the role of coal in America during WW1
  • Mike Shuster with the story of the disastrous Halifax explosion  
  • Candy Martin from Gold Star Mothers telling us about an upcoming European tour
  • Brandon Mazer from the 100 Cities/100 Memorials project in Portland, Maine
  • Jo Ellen Hayden introducing our newest site at ww1cc.org, Horse Heroes from Brooke USA
  • And Katherine Akey, with the Buzz - The centennial commemoration in social media

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.



The Official Bulletin is the government daily War Gazette - which you can read yourself on our website like a daily paper at ww1cc.org/bulletin - with each issue being re-published on the centennial of its original publication date…. It is an awesome primary information resource for you nerds, history buffs and teachers… and of course for us at WW1 Centennial news!


Well ever since it started publishing in May, we have been seeing nearly daily and certainly weekly articles about COAL… Yes.. COAL.

The availability, the industry, the pricing, the mining, the transportation, the application… Coal keeps coming up in our editorial meetings.

Our instinct says that this is a strategically important WWI subject - like airplanes, suffrage, the draft and food - but as we attack the subject, we keep feeling that the articles we are reading don't really get down to the strategic issues about Coal in WWI.

We just keep seeing hints and snippets.. Like the related nationalization of the railroads and the effect on coal mining, or the nationalization of shipbuilding which leads to the decision to build a vast fleet of coal burning instead of oil burning merchant ships… and on and on…

What we need… we reasoned… is a coal historian! Well, it turns out the world is NOT full of coal historians!

But Katherine, bless her, has found Dr. Sean Adams who is joining us today - as soon as we jump into our wayback machine and roll back to the second week of December, 1917 to see how coal plays into the war that changed the world!




World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week




It's the second week of December 1917 - and it’s REALLY cold! This winter of 1917 is still considered one of the coldest on record for most of the Eastern seaboard and beyond.

A giant blizzard is whipping through the North East - and as you’ll learn later - it has some pretty harsh effects on the Halifax Harbor explosion.

One of the main sources for staying warm in this bitterly cold winter is….

Well - COAL! And it is being rationed.

We are being joined here in 1917 by Dr. Sean Adams, Professor of History and Chair at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Welcome Dr. Adams!


[exchange greetings]

Dr. Adams - as we mentioned in our setup - it seems like coal, it’s mining, transportation and use in this moment in American history is seen as a pretty strategically important issue…  what IS coal’s role in WW1 America?

[Dr. Adams talks - 5-8 minutes]

Dr. Sean Adams, Professor of History and Chair at the University of Florida in Gainesville. His most recent book is - Home Fires: How Americans Kept Warm in 19th Century America.


Coming Attractions

Before we move on with the show, we want to give you a little heads up on our episodes for the next few week.

Next week - for our Holiday Episode #51, we have a special treat for you. We are producing a 1917 vintage Holiday Mixtape! The entire episode is designed to provide you a wonderful “period holiday mood ambiance” - featuring the popular holiday music from 1917 and a special message from the 26th chief of Chaplains of the US Navy - Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben (delivered from today to all Americans in uniform in 1917!)

The following week is our New Year’s Episode #52, can you believe it!! 52 episodes in the can! - anyway - we will be replaying our favorite segments from 2017/1917 in a content collage that should be a lot of fun!

January 2018: Then we roll into January with our first episode of 2018 coming out around January 5th -

We are going to kick off the year by putting 1917 into perspective and taking a high level look forward into what to expect through 1918.


It is going to be a very dynamic year and we will be keeping you up to date on WW1 Centenial News Then - what was happening 100 years ago - and WW1 Centennial News NOW - what is happening today to commemorate the war the changed the world.



Great War Project

[Mike Shuster]

In Nova scotia two ships collide resulting in one of the largest man-made explosions in human history - devastating the city with damage and loss of life on a terrible scale. Her to tell us the story is Mike shuster former NPR correspondent and curator of the Great War Project blog.






The Great War Channel

The Great War Channel on Youtube have been producing videos about WW1 since 2014.. And from a more european perspective.

Here is Indy Nidel - the host of the Great War Channel.


Great War Recording of Indy:

Hi WW1 Centennial News Listeners - I’m Indy Neidell, host of the Great War Channel on Youtube. Fighting continues as 1917 comes to a close, marking the end of another year of mass devastation. Follow the action as we enter 1918, the fourth and final year of the war by subscribing to The Great War on Youtube and follow us on Facebook.

This week’s new episodes include:

  • Halifax Explosion and  Peace in the East
  • Father Victory - George Clemenceau
    And finally
  • The Road to Independence - Finland in WW1

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




World War One NOW

It is time to fast forward into the present to WW1 Centennial News NOW - this section is not about history, but rather - it explores what is happening to commemorate the centennial of the War that changed the world!


Commission News:

In commission news, yesterday  Commander Zoe Dunning, USN (Ret.) was sworn in as the newest member of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. The swearing in ceremony took place at the commission’s headquarter in Washington DC.


So how are these commissioners picked anyhow?

Well Commissioner Dunning for example, was nominated by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The law that established the commission provided that the twelve members of the Centennial Commission - who serve without pay - by the way - are nominated by the President of the United States, the members of the U.S. Senate, the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and by the nation's two largest veteran service organizations, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Thank you for taking on the challenge - and welcome Commissioner Dunning!



Remembering Veterans

This week in our Remembering Veterans segment -- Gold Star Mothers are women who have lost a child in the service to our nation. The  name comes from the WWI custom of families hanging a banner called a service flag in the windows of their homes. The service flag had a star for each family member serving with each member represented by a blue star, except those who had lost their lives in service - who are represented by a gold star.

More than a decade after the war ended, a unique and incredible event took place: Gold Star mothers and wives traveled across the Atlantic to visit the battlefields of Europe and the graves of their fallen family members.

Next summer, that journey will be retraced by a special cruise and tour, and here to tell us more about it is Candy Martin, the Immediate Past National President of American Gold Star Mothers --- who is herself a Gold Star Mother, having lost her son 1st Lieutenant Thomas Martin, US Army, on October 14, 2007 in Iraq and herself served 38 years in the Army.

Welcome, Candy




[Candy - First off, What is the mission of the American Gold Star Mothers organization?]


[So in the 1930’a there was the Gold Star Pilgrimage…  Who organized it and what was it?]


[Alright - so now you are organizing a centennial tour to revisit europe and retrace that journey.. Tell us about it please.]


[If I am interested in participating in the tour or learning more - what should I do?]


Candy Martin - a Gold Star mother, serving the organization and organizing the 2018 Gold Star Pilgrimages and Poppies Tour - learn more by following the links in the podcast notes.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/PilgrimagesAndPoppies/


African American Gold Star Mothers in WWI

There is also a poignant article about African American Gold Star mothers in the archives of our WWrite blog, titled “On a Boat Alone: African American Wives Post WWI”. Head to ww1cc.org/wwrite to read about the experience of African American families as they participated -- segregated -- in the Gold Star pilgrimages. The link is in the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/articles-posts/1699-on-a-boat-alone-african-american-wives-post-wwi.html

Speaking WW1

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

Getting on instant messenger, sending a text or simply meeting up with a friend at a coffee shop-- there are many ways to have a chat with a friend, a quick and light catch up conversation. But chatting with friends has its origins in a darker, and definitely less comfortable, place than you may think--

A chat in the trenches of WWI was another name for a louse,

These horrid and itchy pests filled your clothes and got all over you including into your hair ---

and chatting was the act of picking lice off yourself --- and in a very socially companionable - very monkey - ape -Jane Goodall reminiscent vision - helping to groom your companions.

This was a really important daily task that could fill hours of the day-- something soldier’s could do to pass the time as they helped comrades pick lice - was to engage in small talk -

Hence to the term chatting! - Who knew!!!

So today chatting live or online, chat rooms, and social chats continue with great vigor but -- with fewer lice.

See the podcast notes to learn more!

link: https://www.amazon.com/Tommy-Doughboy-Fritz-Soldier-Slang/dp/144563




In Education news - This week a new issue of Understanding the Great War newsletter came it. This is our official Education Resource newsletter, published every two months. Each issue focuses on a particular theme, providing educators and students with a robust selection of resources from a wide range of sources. Issue # 10 addresses “Political Consequences & Revolutions“

The issue includes articles about the Russian Revolution, the Arab Revolt, the French Mutinies of 1917 and the Easter RIsing in Ireland. The publication is put together by the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Follow the link in the podcast notes to subscribe to a great WW1 educational resource and to read past editions!

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/educate-home.html


100 Cities/100 Memorials


Portland, ME

Moving on to our 100 Cities / 100 Memorials segment

about the $200,000 matching grant challenge

to rescue and focus on our local WWI memorials.


As you listen to our guest tell us about the project, remember that we are taking grant applications for the second round of awards - the deadline to submit the applications is January 15, 2018 - go to ww1cc.org/100Memorials to learn all about it.’


This week we are profiling the Jacob Cousins Memorial Renovation Project in Portland, Maine -- One of the first 50 grant awardees.


With us tell us about the project is Brandon Mazer, the project coordinator for the Jacob Cousins Memorial Renovation Project and President of the Friends of the Eastern Promenade


Welcome Brandon!

[exchange greetings]


[Brandon in your grant application you list the memorial as - quote - The Jacob Cousins Memorial is a key WWI artifact in the history of the Jewish

community in southern Maine.. Which leads to the question - who is Jacob?]


[Brandon - can you tell us about the memorial and the restoration plans for it?]


[What has been your community and Veteran service organization involvement in the project?]


[Brandon - Are you planning a rededication this coming year?]


Thank you so much for taking on this project for your community - congratulations on being selected as a WW1 Centennial Memorial!


Brandon Mazer, the project coordinator for the Jacob Cousins Memorial Renovation Project and President of the Friends of the Eastern Promenade.


If YOU have a local WWI memorial project you want to submit for a grant - go to ww1cc.org/100 memorials or follow the link in the podcast notes to learn more about how to participate in this program!


Link: www.ww1cc.org/100memorials




Spotlight in the Media

Sgt Stubby

For our Spotlight in the Media segment this week,  we’re excited to announce the release of a new teaser trailer for the upcoming film SGT Stubby: An American Hero.

The animated film is based on the remarkable true story of the 26th "Yankee" Division's legendary mascot, SGT Stubby, a stray dog who became a hero of World War I. The film features the voices of actors Helena Bonham Carter, Gerard Depardieu, and Logan Lerman, among others.

The movie will be in theaters nationwide on April 13th 2018.  I’m really looking forward to it - it’s a great opportunity to tell a wonderful WWI story to our younger generation - but like all great animated films today - it promises to be a genuine treat for the grownups too!


Follow the link in the podcast notes to watch the trailer and to read an interview with the film's writer/producer, Richard Lanni on our website.




Articles and Posts

Horse Heroes web site by BrookeUSA

In articles and posts - this week we have launched a wonderful new web section all about HORSE HEROES! It is the new site from Brooke USA at ww1cc.org/horses - easy to remember -

With us to tell us more about it is Jo Ellen Hayden, Special Project Volunteer for BrookeUSA Horse Heroes

Welcome, Jo Ellen!




[Joe Ellen - we have had Brooke USA on the show earlier this year in episode #13, but could you quickly remind our listeners about the origins of Brooke USA? ]


[The new website at ww1cc.org/horses is one of the most in-dept publishing partner sites we have -- what kinds of content can people find there?]


[You have put untold hours into it - What surprised you the most as you were putting the site together?]

Jo Ellen Hayden is a Special Project Volunteer for BrookeUSA Horse Heroes, check out the new site about horses and mules in WWI at ww1cc.org/horses. We also put in a link to our previous interview with Brooke USA’s Cindy Rullman in the podcast notes.

Link: www.ww1cc.org/horses




US Army Nurse's WWI bracelet is returned

More from our Articles and posts segment - in our rapidly growing website at ww1cc.org - from the news section there is a story of a bracelet’s amazing journey over the last century.

The bracelet belonged to an Irish woman serving with the US Army Nurse Corps in France during World War I

It was recently returned to her relatives in Ireland. The bracelet was found fifteen years ago by an eight-year-old boy in a schoolyard in northeastern France.

Returning the bracelet led to a long, and ultimately successful search for the descendants of its original owner.

Click here to read more about the quest, whose story is so interesting that it  spawned a documentary film in France.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/3839-army-nurse-s-wwi-bracelet-returned-after-long-search.html


Wwrite Blog

This week In our WWRITE blog, which explores WWI’s Influence on contemporary writing and scholarship, this week’s posts reads “The Balfour Declaration: An Alternative History”

If you love “alternate history” contemplations - you’ll like this a lot…

What if there had been no Balfour Declaration? What would the alternative history look like? These are questions that writer, Simone Zelitch, author of the novel, Judenstaat, explores in this week's WWrite blog. Don't miss this fascinating glimpse at an alternate past and different future...

Read the post at ww1cc.org/WWRITE or follow the link in the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/articles-posts/3844-the-balfour-declaration-an-alternative-history.html


The Buzz - WW1 in Social Media Posts

And that brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine, what did you pick to tell us about this week?


Hi Theo!


Signal Corps Photographers

We had some great content come through our Twitter feed this week, which you can follow at the handle @ww1cc. I particularly enjoyed an image from the twitter account 100ans US en Haute Marne-- a photograph of some US Signal Corps photographers. Not only is their equipment very cool -- especially if youre a camera enthusiast-- but their service produced some of the most incredible images of the war.


During World War I the Signal Corps was responsible for communications.  However, the Signal Corps had other responsibilities during the war, such as army aviation (until May 1918) and photography.  The Photographic Section of the Signal Corps was established in June 1917, and it was responsible for the U.S. Army’s official ground and aerial photography of World War I.

You can view a collection of the Signal Corps’ ww1 photography, and the photo from twitter, by following the links in the podcast notes.





Aussie Rifles

Also from Twitter, an image of an interesting invention -- and a great example of necessity breeding innovation -- the drip rifle.

During the evacuation from Gallipoli, the Allied forces had to keep up the appearance of fully inhabited trenches, despite their numbers dwindling with each passing night as soldiers were evacuated under the cover of darkness. In order to keep up the ruse, ANZAC soldiers developed the drip rifle -- a rifle that would self-fire, thereby keeping the turks convinced that the abandoned trenches were still occupied.

In this particular image, two kerosene tins were placed one above the other, the top one full of water and the bottom one with the trigger string attached to it, empty. At the last minute, small holes would be punched in the upper tin; water would trickle into the lower one, and the rifle would fire as soon as the lower tin had become sufficiently heavy. Visit the links in the podcast notes to learn more about variations of drip rifles--and how they saved the allied retreat at Gallipoli.


And that’s it this week for the Buzz!





Thank you for joining us again for--  WW1 Centennial News for the second `week of December, 1917 and 2017

We want to thank our guests...

  • Dr. Sean Adams, Professor of History and Chair at the University of Florida in Gainesville
  • Mike Shuster from the Great War Project  
  • Candy Martin, Gold Star Mother and Immediate Past National President of American Gold Star Mothers
  • Brandon Mazer from the 100 Cities/100 Memorials project in Portland, Maine
  • Jo Ellen Hayden, Special Project Volunteer for BrookeUSA Horse Heroes
  • And Katherine Akey, the shows line producer…


Thanks to Eric Marr for his great help on our story research…

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; Your listening to this podcast is a part of that…. Thank you!

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.


This week’s featured web page is ww1cc.org/horses - discover the legacy of our horse heroes from WWI courtesy of Brooke USA.


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 about the war that changed the world!




Well - now we've done it! I was sitting there chatting with some of my friends who kept slapping my hand away and looking at me funny while I was trying to pick through their hair! - clearly they are not listeners.


So long!


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