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WW1 Centennial News for January 19, 2018 - Episode #55

Diving suit of the periodThis is a typical diving suit of the period. A variation of this deep sea diving suit called the Mark V was used from 1916 all the way until 1984

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  • Government shuts down US Industries, shocking nation | @01:40
  • America Emerges: Military Stories From WWI - Dr. Edward Lengel | @11:25
  • Wilson’s 14 points examined - Mike Shuster | @17:05
  • US Mint releases commemorative coins and service collector sets | @22:40
  • A Century In The Making - Sabin Howard Part 2 | @24:50
  • Speaking WWI - Conk Out! | @30:55
  • Eagle Scout Memorial Project - Benjamin Woodard | @32:15
  • The Sunken Gold - Joseph A. Williams | @37:25
  • Erik Burro’s “Legacy of Remembrance” photo exhibit | @44:30
  • The messenger birds of WW1 | @45:25
  • Centennial of WW1 in Social Media - Katherine Akey | @46:30


Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - episode #55 - 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 January 19th, 2018 and we have a great show for you this week including:

  • Dr. Ed Lengel, joining us for our new weekly history segment: America Emerges - Military stories from WWI
  • Mike Shuster, from the great war project blog looking deeper into Wilson’s 14 Points
  • Sculptor Sabin Howard in our “A century in the Making” segment talking about integrating high tech 3D resources with a traditional master sculptors hands, eyes and clay
  • Eagle Scout Benjamin Woodard (Wood-dard) shares his WW1 eagle scout project ...
  • Author Joseph A. Williams introduces us to the fascinating story behind his new book, The Sunken Gold
  • And Katherine Akey, with some great selections from the centennial of WWI in social media

All that and more --- this week -- on WW1 Centennial News -- which is brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the Starr foundation. I’m Theo Mayer - the Chief Technologist for the Commission and your host. Welcome to the show.




Our theme this week is one that many of you will be able to relate to in a very direct way….. nasty, freezing, snowy, cold weather --- and its dramatic effect on the war effort.

According the the National Weather Service - when the ball dropped in times square this past new year’s eve - it was the most frigid new years in exactly 100 years - and back in 1918 that frigid weather carried on through January.

Let me set this up…

In our episode #50 that we produced in Mid December, we were joined by Dr. Sean Adams - a historian expert on coal in america. He told us that there was plenty of coal production in the US, but there was a big problem with delivering it where it was needed because of the intense demand by the war effort on the national railroad systems.

This week, 100 years ago it all comes to a head with freezing temperatures, blizzards, and an already overburdened rail system breaking down.

The wartime government, driven by the Energy Administration choose this moment to step in   - and as they were wont to do 100 years ago - they step in with a pretty heavy foot - to the protest of a lot of very unhappy citizens, industries and communities.

There is a lot to unpack here as as we jump into our wayback machine to look at 100 years ago this week - in the war that changed the world!



World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week

It’s the second week of January, 1918. Just last month, in December, the Government took over and nationalized the railroads and put them under the direction of Treasury Secretary McAdoo.  It has become quickly obvious that there is a big problem with a lack of available railroad cars in the Midwest and West - the cars are were all bunched up in the east coast ports.  McAdoo’s new US Railroad Administration is working to alleviate this problem, by dedicating a week - starting January 14th to re-organizing the rail cars from where they are to where they are needed… but the plan freezes up thanks to minus 10 to minus 20 degree fahrenheit temperatures across the midwest accompanied by nasty blizzards. Everything grinds to a halt…



DATELINE: Sunday January 13, 1918
A Headline in the NY Times proclaims:

And the story reads:

Federal Agents of the fuel administration in NY have received full authority to employ every facility at their command to move coal from the New Jersey Terminal to Manhattan. Officials here tonight were told that there would be 262,000 tons available tomorrow but that only 20,000 tons would be moved because of the unusual weather conditions


The next day - the challenges continue on the eastern seaboard

DATELINE: Monday, January 14, 1918
A Headline in the NY Times reads:

And the story includes:

Reeve Schley, New York County Fuel Administrator was asked why they feared an acute coal crisis in the next few days - He replied that he does not doubt the reports of 465,000 tons available at New Jersey’s Tidewater, but that only 20-30 thousand tons were being brought into the city a day - which is only 1/2 enough - but ice in the harbor and many tugs damaged by the ice floes are preventing more.


The same day another articles sets the stage for the following week’s bombshell:



The story reads:

Coal for domestic use and vital public utilities in New York Districts shall receive preference. Foodstuffs shall come second and coal for bunkering of the overseas fleet third.

This drastic action will make necessary the temporary suspension of many of the industries of New York not directly essential to the war program and that some of the other industries might have to operate only part time.

In other words, the government is setting a priority: coal for personal heating, food for the people and coal for the ships waiting to head to europe while it is willing to shut down a major portion of New York's industries, This will put 10s of thousands out of work as employers shut down their factories and facilities.

This is a precursor for Thursday’s big announcement that takes these ideas onto a national scale to a shocked nation!



Dateline: Thursday - January 17, 1918
From the Official Bulletin - the government’s War Gazette - published by George Creel for the Wilson Administration:

The story leads with:

The order of the United States Fuel Administrator directs the curtailment In

consumption of fuel by certain businesses starting Tomorrow and For Five Consecutive Days

and Thereafter on Every Monday Beginning January. 28th.

In other words, the government has stepped in, and is telling the majority of US industries - except those they specifically exempt - that US Industry is shutting down for 5 days and then every Monday coming up.

This is a lightning bolt through the heart of the nation.



The front page of the NY Times reads:


The next day newspapers from all around the country react…. Here are some examples:

Utica, NY: This is a staggering blow. By stopping the mills and factories here, it throws thousands of people out of employment. It takes thousands of dollars away from working people who have never needed it more than this winter.

Baltimore, Maryland: No such extreme measure as this was ever dreamt of by the American People

Chicago, Illinois: At a word of command from Washington - the greatest industrial sections of the nation stand idle.. A catastrophe to be faced bravely!

St. Louis, Missouri: Fuel Administrator Garfield's drastic order is a confession of incompetency and also an indication of lack of courage and ability to deal with the coal situation

Hartford, Connecticut: The news seems almost incredible - if it had come from Germany's Kaiser William it would be more easily understood!

Wheeling, West Virginia: The administration's coal measure is the most drastic industrial order issued in the history of the nation and is without precedent, but it is justified by the prevailing conditions

Boston, Massachusetts: We had hoped we should not have to resort to such extreme measures, but hesitate to characterize them as unwise or unnecessary!

And from Charleston SC: The Coal Conservation Order issued from Washington will put the patriotism of the American People and especially of American Business to a very stern test.

The next day President Wilson chimes in:


DATELINE: Saturday January 19, 1918
In the Official Bulletin the headline reads:
President Upholds Fuel Curtailment Order,
Declaring It Was Absolutely Necessary
to Relieve Railroad Traffic Congestion

President Wilson issues the following statement

I was, of course, consulted by Mr. Garfield before the fuel order was issued, and fully agreed with him that it is necessary, much as I regret the necessity. This war calls for many sacrifices,

and sacrifices of the sort called for by this order are infinitely less than

sacrifices of life which might otherwise be involved.

It is absolutely necessary to get the ships away, it is absolutely necessary to relieve the congestion at the ports and upon the railways, it is absolutely

necessary to move great quantities of food, and it is absolutely nec-

essary that our people should be warmed in their homes if nowhere


Halfway measures would not have accomplished the desired


I have every confidence that the result of action of this sort will justify

it and that the people of the country will loyally and patriotically

respond to necessities of this kind as they have to every other sacrifice

involved in the war.

We are upon a war footing, and I am confident

that the people of the United States are willing to observe the same

sort of discipline that might be involved in the actual conflict itself.

President Woodrow Wilson




Full Text of Gardner’s Testimony before the Senate: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9B04E6D7133FE433A2575BC1A9679C946996D6CF

Articles leading up to:







Press from around the country condemning the order/aftermath: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9F0DE2D8133FE433A25754C1A9679C946996D6CF








America Emerges: Military Stories from WW1

Those are some pretty dramatic events on the homefront driven by the need to get men and equipment to increasingly desperate allies in Europe. America needs to get into the fight - pronto!

To cover that side of the story we are launching a new segment called:

America Emerges: Military Stories from WWI --- with Military Historian, author and storyteller, Dr. Edward Lengel.

Ed - welcome to WW1 Centennial News!

[Exchange greeting]


So Ed this week you are bringing us a story from NY city’s 77th Division.. It’s a great story about fighting - but not the Kaiser - this is about World Champion Boxer Benny Leonard - Who was he and what is the story?




Ed.. What are you going to tell us about next week?


Ed Lengel is an American military historian, author, and our new segment host for America Emerges: Military Stories from WWI.

There are links in the podcast notes to Ed’s post about Benny Leonard and his website as an author.







Great War Project

Joining us now is Mike Shuster - former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War Project Blog. Mike is going to expand on President Wilson’s 14 points. You know Mike, we run around living our lives in the world without thinking a lot about how it got to be what it is - But when you read Wilson’s 14 points - it really feels like you are seeing the blueprint and the foundation for the modern world order…. He really helped define a new world - didn’t he!?


Yes he did, Theo  and the headline for my post this week is: A BLUE PRINT FOR POST-WAR PEACE - Wilson’s Fourteen Points Excite the World.

The American President an Instant Hero


Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.





The Great War Channel

As many of you know, we have this commemoration partner over on YouTube called “The Great War Channel” They launched the channel way back in 2014 around the centennial of the war breaking out in Europe.

We are always promoting them, and the other day someone asked me why - I thought it was a good question - first of all they do a great job! Their stories are clean, short, well researched and really accessible.

Also, being over in Europe, they come at the subject from a really great broad perspective - and have continued to do so for the past 4 years. If you haven’t  checked them out - you should. Their new episodes this week, include:

Of course… Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points. It’s a really worthy subject!!

And - POWs in Japan

And finally - Life on the Isonzo Front

To see their videos about WWI 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 with WW1 Centennial News NOW -


this section is not about history, but rather - it explores what is happening NOW to commemorate the centennial of the War that changed the world!

Commission News/Coin

In commission news this week: We have an awesome numismatic opportunity for you!!! WHAAA!? Whadhee say!?

According to Merriam Webster, Numismatics is “ the study or act of collecting of coins, paper money, and medals.” Numismatic coins are essentially rare or valuable coins that have an external value above and beyond the base value of the precious metal they are made out of.

And this week - by an act of congress -  The U.S. Mint released  a new 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar - that honors the 4.7 million American men and women who served in uniform and the 116,516 who lost their lives in the war that changed the world.

But they went even further and created limited edition coin and service medal collectors sets - one each for the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Service and the Coast Guard - These limited edition special service sets are only available for a short time - Its a once-in-a-lifetimer collectors opportunity.

Now personally - I’ve ordered two of the Commemorative coin and Air Service sets showing this beautiful engraving of a SPAD XIII biplane. I bought the second set for my 2 year old grandson --- because around 12 years from now, he is going to wonder about these coins and medals his grand dad bought him back in 2018 - and my son can tell him all about his GREAT GREAT Grandfather who flew bi-planes that looked like that - over in europe during WWI.

These awesome combo sets are only available for 1 month! So grab your piece of history right now by going to ww1cc.org/coin /C O I N or by following the link in the podcast notes.

Best of all - by law, part of the proceeds from the sale of each coin go to the memorial - so with every coin or set you buy, you are helping build America’s WWI Memorial in Washington DC.

Don’t wait - orders yours today at ww1cc.org/coin - and thank you!



A century in the making - America’s WW1 Memorial in Washington DC

Speaking of the memorial - it’s time for our new segment - A century in the making - America’s WWI Memorial in Washington DC.

Last week we introduced you to the segment --- and Sabin Howard told you how he met Richard Taylor from New Zealand’s WETA workshop. This week we learn how he is blending his traditional sculpting techniques with WETA’s high tech 3D tools to create the 9 foot maquette of the memorial sculpture:

[Sabin Howard Interview]

We are going to continue to bring you an insider’s view with stories about the epic undertaking to create America’s WWI memorial in our nation’s capital. Learn more at ww1cc.org/memorial

Link: www.ww1cc.org/memorial


Speaking WW1

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

This week’s word in an onomatopoeia - Again with the long words!? Yea….

An onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the sound something makes - like buzz or Meow or boom….

So After a large meal, or maybe at the end of a long, hard week at work -- don’t you just love to crash on the couch and conk out?

Well -  people aren’t the only things that can conk out -- World War One airplane engines did too - and the word describes the sound the engines made when then flooded out, or seized up  - Conk - Conk - Conk -

Having a machine “conk out” midair was unfortunately - not uncommon.

The term first appears around 1911 in British Motorcycling Magazines, describing the problems early motorcyclists faced going uphill; Specific advice given in the magazine is to “give a bit more throttle ...when the engine starts to "conk, conk, conk,”

The phrase made its way into common use during WWI, and soon was applied to exhausted individuals as well.

Conk Out - this week’s speaking WWI phrase -

See the podcast notes to learn more!

link: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/100097/what-is-the-origin-of-the-word-conk


Remembering Veterans

Interview with Eagle Scout Benjamin Wood-dard

In our Remembering Veterans section  -- This week we’re joined by an amazing young man…. Benjamin Wood-dard, an Eagle Scout from Boy Scout Troop 62, in Huntington, West Virginia.

Benjamin is here to tell us about his Eagle Scout project, which involved researching and commemorating local WW1 veterans.

Welcome, Benjamin!


[Benjamin - what made you decided to make commemorating local WW1 veterans your Eagle Scout project?]

[What do you think is the most important thing you learned from doing this project?]

[Any advice to other scouts if they want to do a WWI project?]

You're a great guy! Thanks so much for telling us your story!


Benjamin Wood-dard is an Eagle Scout from Troop 62, Huntington, West Virginia. Learn more about this project and the men whose service Benjamin has helped commemorate ---  by visiting the links in the podcast notes.





Spotlight in the Media

Sunken Gold

This week in our Spotlight on the Media -- we’re joined by library administrator, archivist, historian and author Joseph A. Williams. He is here to tell us about his new book, The Sunken Gold: A Story of World War One Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History.

Welcome, Joe!

[Joe-- can you start by giving us a brief set up to the story - told in your book? ]

[How did you come by the story?]

[It really sounds like a great movie-- It’s got sunken treasure, enemies, covert expeditions, obsession-- if it were to be made into a film, who would you cast as Lieutenant Commander Damant?]

Thank you so much for joining us!


Joseph Williams, archivist, historian and author of several books including The Sunken Gold. He will be speaking at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC on Tuesday, January 23rd, but if you can’t catch him there we’ve included links to the event and his book in the podcast notes.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sunken-Gold-Espionage-Greatest-Treasure/dp/1613737580



Articles and Posts

Doughboy statue sparks NJ historian's mission to photograph WWI monuments

In articles and posts-- from our rapidly growing website at ww1cc.org -this week, there is an article about a photography project inspired by a WW1 Memorial.

For years, Erik Burro would pass the statue of a WWI U.S. soldier on his commute just a few blocks from his city home and office --- but he paid it little attention to it. In 2016 - the centennial of WWI made him stop and take a closer look at the statue depicting a Doughboy, and the memorial hall behind it.

This led Erik on a mission to find and photograph other World War I monuments, first in South Jersey and then statewide, a quest that has resulted in traveling photography exhibits of major WWI monuments in the state. Read more about Erik Burro and his  "Legacy of Remembrance" at the link in the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/3957-doughboy-statue-sparks-historian-s-mission-to-photograph-wwi-monuments.html

Unsung heroes of World War I: how carrier pigeons saved American lives

Also in Articles and posts this week, a story shared from the National Archives “Pieces of History” blog about some of the unsung heroes of World War 1: messenger birds.

The carrier pigeons of both the Allied and Central Powers assisted their respective commanders with an accuracy and clarity unmatched by technology. The National Archives has a vast collection of messages that these feathered fighters delivered for American soldiers. Using these messages and the history of the carrier pigeon in battle, we can look at what hardship these fearless fowls endured and how their actions saved American lives.

One of the most impressive things about the war records of the carrier pigeons was how widely the birds were used. Their service as battlefield messengers is their most known use, and the pigeons found homes in every branch of service. Read more about these essential feathered flying communicators by following the link in the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/3959-unsung-heroes-of-world-war-i-the-carrier-pigeons.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 do you have for us this week?

Short Film: The Hun

We picked up on a short-film that was shared by The Great War channel on Facebook. The film comes from Tyler Mendelson, a young filmmaker and Marine Corps veteran. The twelve minute short tells the story of a young American soldier who has just become his company’s new message runner as a German attack is imminent. You can watch the short by following the link in the podcast notes.


Tanks tanks tanks

Last week in our Speaking WW1 segment we looked at the origin of the word “tank”. We happened to find, and share, a cool webpage on Facebook last week that lays out weird and interesting tank designs from Leonardo Da Vinci to the modern day. Among our favorites are the pre-wwi “Tsar”-- a rolling turret with wheels five times the size of a man; the “rolling ball tank”; and the submarine land dreadnought, an aircraft carrier sized ship, covered with cannons, rolling over land. Check them out at the link in the notes.


Coin Drop Game

Last for the week-- the US Mint released a special game for kids in coordination with the release of the WW1 Commemorative Silver Dollar. It’s called Peter The Eagles Coin Drop and the premise is simple: you fly a plane, piloted by an Eagle, and maneuver to drop “liberty loans” onto trenches, field hospitals and banks. But watch out-- seagulls appear and can block your drop, or run into your plane! Follow the link in the notes to play-- or to share with your kids.



And that’s it this week for the Buzz!



So Thank you all for listening to another episode of WW1 Centennial News.

We want to thank our guests...

  • Ed Lengel, military historian, Author and storyteller
  • Mike Shuster from the Great War Project Blog
  • Master sculptor Sabin Howard
  • Eagle Scout Benjamin Wood-dard
  • Author Joseph A. Williams
  • Katherine Akey, the shows line producer and the commission's social media director…

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 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.

We want to thank commission’s founding sponsor the Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the Starr foundation 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!



Numismatics, onomatopoeia - You know….  long words just make me want to conk out!  


So long!


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