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WW1 Centennial News for January 26, 2018 - Episode #56

British soldier grin at their captured 1918 Mauser Tankgewehr anti-tank gunBritish soldier grin at captured 1918 Mauser Tankgewehr anti-tank gun

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  • 100 Years ago: About President Woodrow Wilson | @01:45
  • Special Guest: John Milton Cooper Jr. | @07:45
  • War in The Sky: Introducing General Billy Mitchell | @15:45
  • American Emerges: Baseball on the Polo Grounds - Dr. Edward Lengel | @16:40
  • European view of the war: Mike Shuster | @22:10
  • Special Commemorative Coin and Service Medallion Collector Sets | @27:05
  • A Century In The Making: Joe Weishaar | @28:25
  • Speaking WWI: Acronym flips RAMC and REPS | @34:25
  • Spotlight In The Media: Director Peter Jackson | @35:45
  • 100C/100M: The City of Nitro, West Virginia - Rich Hively and Mayor Dave Casebolt | @38:50
  • WW1 War Tech: Tankgewehr - David O’Neal | @44:45
  • The Buzz: Social Media - Katherine Akey | @51:05

View the PDF transcript


Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - episode #56 - 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 26th, 2018 and our guests for this week include:

  • John Milton Cooper Jr. giving deeper insight into President Woodrow Wilson
  • Dr. Ed Lengel, with our new segment: America Emerges - Military stories from WWI
  • Mike Shuster, from the great war project blog looking at growing discontent in Europe
  • Joe Weishaar in our “A century in the Making” - an Eagle Scout’s perspective
  • Rich Hively and Mayor Dave Casebolt from the WW1 memorial restoration effort in Nitro, West Virginia
  • David O’Neal and the restoration of a WW1 anti-tank gun
  • And Katherine Akey, with some 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.




Woodrow Wilson - an academic and learned man, president of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910 - a progressive Democrat seeking and winning the governorship of New Jersey - then running for and being elected to his first term as president of the United states in 1912 - two years before war broke out in Europe…

His progressive agenda and accomplishments in his first term are near legendary. His personal life is equally dynamic, losing his first wife to illness in 1914, and barely more than a year later - re-marrying while still in office.

By his second term campaign in 1916 - the war in Europe was in full swing, the Germans had sunk the Lusitania, and Wilson ran for office on a platforms of “America First” - and “He kept us out of the war”.

Within months of being sworn in to a second term, he leads the nation to war and into an unprecedented transformation, politically, legally, economically, socially and  Internationally.

Wilson takes broad powers and wields sledge hammer transformations, nationalizes industries, quashes freedoms, and when congress does not do his bidding, used executive orders to move the nation into the war effort.

Earlier this month 100 years ago, Wilson presents an agenda for a new international world order - instantly thrusting America into a new role as a world leader.

With that as an overview, let’s jump into our wayback machine and go back 100 years to the third week of January 1918 in the war that changed the world!

World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week


It is mid-january 1918.

With the Wilson administration ruling as much as governing - some seek to depose his power. Once such incident takes place this week.  


Dateline: January 20, 1918

A headline in the New York Times reads:

War Cabinet Bill Ready For Senate; To give control to council of three…

Backing Chamberlain’s Stand - Senate Military Committee Demands Reorganization of War work…

This is what is happening….

Oregon’s Democratic Senator George Earle Chamberlain, who serves on the Senate Military Affairs Committee,  makes a speech in New York and states:

“the military establishment of America has fallen down because of inefficiency in every bureau and department of the government of the United States... “

And he introduces a bill into the Senate that would retake the powers of the executive and the cabinet back into the legislative branch - specifically the Senate.

The White House and the Wilson Administration fires back...


Dateline: January 22, 1918

From the headline of the Official Bulletin  - The government’s war gazette published by George Creel at the order of the President.

President Wilson Answers Criticism by Senator Chamberlain Concerning Departmental Management of War - Claims he was not consulted on proposed legislation

And the story includes:

"When the President's attention was called to the speech made by Senator Chamberlain at a luncheon in New York on Saturday, he immediately inquired of Senator Chamberlain whether he had been correctly reported, and upon ascertaining from the Senator that he had been, the President felt it his duty to make the following statement:"

[WILSON] Senator Chamberlain's statement as to the present inaction and ineffectiveness of the Government is an astonishing and absolutely unjustifiable distortion of the truth.

As a matter of fact, the War Department has performed a task of unparallelled magnitude and difficulty with extraordinary promptness and efficiency.

There have been delays and disappointments and partial miscarriages of plans, all of which have been drawn into the foreground and exaggerated by the investigations which have been in progress since the Congress assembled-investigators --- these drew indispensable officials of the department constantly away from their work and officers from their commands and contributed a great deal to such delay and confusion as had inevitably arisen.

But, by comparison with what has been accomplished, these things, much as they were to be regretted, were Insignificant, and no mistake has been made which has been repeated.

President Wilson closes with:

My association and constant conference with the secretary of War have tought me to regard him as one of the ablest public officials I have ever known. It will soon be learned whether HE or his critics understand the business at hand.

To say, as Senator Chamberlain did, that there is inefficiency in every department and bureau of the Government is to show such ignorance of actual conditions as to make it impossible to attach any importance to his statement. I am bound to infer that the statement sprang out of opposition to the administration's whole policy rather than out of any serious intention to reform its practice.

John cooper interview

President Woodrow Wilson is truly one of the most remarkable leaders this nation has had. In order to help us get to know him better we have invited John Milton Cooper Jr, an American historian, author, educator, and Former Senior Scholar at the Wilson Center to speak with us today.

Welcome, John!


[Q1: John, Woodrow Wilson is considered one of the greatest American President ever - Was he? And why? ]

[Q2: setup

John.. Wilson seems like a bundles of contrasting ideas - He campaigns to keep America out of war - but then leads a declaration of war and fields on of the most intense war build ups and efforts in our history.

He wants America to fight for freedom and liberty as he nationalized industries, gags dissent and attacks freedom of speech.


Q: How do all these contrasting ideas reconcile?


[Q3: This is a man who had a huge effect on the nation and indeed on the world - what would you say his most remarkable achievement was as a President?]

[Q4: As we hear the ongoing story of WWI on this podcast, what else should be understand about Wilson to help us keep it all --- and him in context?]


John Milton Cooper Jr is an American historian, author, and educator. Links to his biography of President Wilson and to the Wilson Center are in the podcast notes.

Link: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/john-milton-cooper









War in the Sky

This week in War in the sky - we want to introduce you to General Billy Mitchell… a pretty extraordinary man.

As World War 1 broke out, Billy Mitchell recognized the importance of aviation.  So in 1916, he learned to fly on his own nickel.  Heading to Europe, On January 20, 1918, Mitchell, now a Colonel - was promoted to Chief of the Air Service of the First Army. Colonel Mitchell found himself in command of more than 1,500 British, French and American aircraft - the largest "air force" ever assembled.  

We will learn more about this leader and flyer over the coming months - a man who became the chief of air services this month 100 years ago in the war in the sky.

See the podcast notes to learn more.

Link: http://www.mitchellgallery.org/gen-mitchell/




America Emerges: Military Stories from WW1

Welcome to the second installment of our new series:

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

Hi Ed

[Exchange greeting]

Ed - Your story this weeks rolls us back to September 1917 when America celebrated National Draft Day - the draft not being the most popular new law of the land - In New York there was a baseball game. We look forward to hearing 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 baseball? and his website as an author.





Great War Project

Mike: Your story this week is about how the war is being considered in Europe as we roll into 1918. What is the headline?


Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.




The Great War Channel

For videos on WWI go see our friends at  “The Great War Channel” on Youtube.

This week’s new episodes include

Assassination attempt on Lenin

Central powers occupation of Italy

British Pistols of WW1

And finally - Road Trips 2018

Next month, we have invited the host of The Great Wall Channel, Indy Neidell to join us and talk about how hosting this youtube channel for the past 4+ years has affected him…

Meanwhile - 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: Collective Sets

In commission news:

As we mentioned last week, the US mint has released a special 2018 WWI commemorative silver dollar - but also -- they created WWI service medallions commemorating the five military branches that fought in WWI - The Army, the Navy, The Marine Corps, the brand new Air Corps - later to become the Airforce, and the Coast Guard.

These five special collector sets of Commemorative Silver Dollar and Service  medallions are being minted in very limited quantities and the only time in history - ever - that you will be able to buy them is between RIGHT NOW and February 20th, 2018… So you have less than a month to snag a piece of history with a collectors set - get one, get all five, but get them now. Go to WW1CC.org/coin that is / c o i n… or click on the link in the podcast notes.

If you are listening to this podcast, clearly you already have some interest or connection to the centennial of WWI - this is the remembrance of this centennial you will want to keep and pass on to the next generation.

But you have to do it NOW.



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

It’s time for our new 2018 segment: A century in the making - America’s WW1 Memorial in Washington DC.

As our regular listeners know, we are building a national WWI Memorial at Pershing Park in the nation’s capitol. It’s a big project. It’s complicated. It’s hard. It’s been a long time coming.

So in this segment we are bringing you along on an insider’s journey that explores this grand undertaking, the adventure, and the people behind it.

Joe Weishaar - is our brilliant young visionary, who won the international design competition for this memorial -- He is also an Eagle Scout… a designation that just predates WWI.

In fact, it turns out that the first Eagle Scout award was given to scout Arthur Rose Eldred in 1912. Now - Eldred actually goes on to join the Navy during WW1. He serves on convoys in the Atlantic and on a submarine chaser in the Mediterranean, surviving both a sinking ship and the Spanish Flu.

Last week, Joe spoke at the Boy Scout’s annual midwest regional fundraiser. As an Eagle Scout himself, Joe helps us continue to strengthen the connection between the Boy Scouts and WW1.

Welcome, Joe!


[Joe: when you spoke at the event last week - was it scouts, scout leadership or others? Who was the audience?]

[How were you and your story received?

[Joe: Do you think that your scouting experience influenced you or prepared you in entering and ultimately prevailing and winning the international design competition for the National WWI Memorial?]

[Do you think the scouts are aware of the connections of scouting and WWI?]

Something interesting came up this week in our research about WWI 100 years ago… Let me read you an excerpt from the January 21st, 1918 issue of the New York Times…

The headline reads:


Will Be Dispatch Bearers for Public Information Committee

And the story reads:

President Wilson has sent the following letter to Colin H. Livingstone, President of the Scout’s National Council:

My Dear Mr. Livingstone:

I desire to entrust the Boy Scouts of America with a new and important commission - to make them the government dispatch bearers in carrying to the homes of their community the pamphlets on the war prepared by the committee for Public Information. The excellent services performed by the Boy Scouts in the past encourages me to believe that this new task will be cheerfully and faithfully discharged.

Your sincerely,

President Woodrow Wilson


[Joe - any thoughts or comments on the story?]


Joe Weishaar is the winning designer of the international design competition for National WW1 Memorial in DC - The design lead for the project …. and an Eagle Scout!

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  ---

Soldiers in war treasure the personal effects they carry with them into battle-- photographs of loved ones, letters from home, trench art they spent hours creating, cigarettes, and souvenirs found on the battlefield. It’s their precious connection to the OTHER reality….

In the heat of battle, it’s easy to misplace or lose your trinkets, especially when a soldier is wounded and gets moved from the front by stretcher bearers and other men of the medical services.  

For the British in WWI, with typical english wrye humor - they renamed their Royal Army Medical Corps - the RAMC to -  Rob All My Comrades!

They gave a similar treatment to their mail services - the Royal Engineers Postal Services - the REPS - they got recast as postal pilferers with REPS - Rob Every Poor Soldier.

Trench humor...

Rob All My Comrades - and Rob Every Poor Soldier - recast acronyms from the trenches of WWI and this week’s speaking WWI phrases -

See the podcast notes to learn more!

link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nicknames_of_British_Army_regiments


Spotlight in the Media

For our Spotlight in The Media section we have an exciting story this week. England’s Imperial War Museum has teamed up with famed Director Peter Jackson and asked him how he would tell the story of WWI. The director of the Lord of The Rings trilogy took on the challenge and announced the new project this week.

Here is Peter Jackson speaking about telling the WWI story in a new and innovative way.

[Peter Jackson interview]

Follow the link in the podcast notes to see some sample footage of what Peter Jackson was talking about and to learn more about the project.





100 Cities/100 Memorials

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.

This week we are profiling the Living Memorial to WW1 in Nitro, West Virginia  -- This project is in the 2nd round of grant application now being reviewed.

With us tell us about their city and their WWI project is Rich Hively, president of the Nitro Historic Commission and Dave Casebolt, Mayor of the City of Nitro

Welcome gentlemen!


[Mayor Casebolt, why do you call the city of Nitro a “Living Memorial to WW1” and where does the name Nitro come from?]

[Rich, what are you proposing for the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials program?]

[It sounds like a fascinating place - If I come to the city of Nitro - what will my experience be? ]

[Thank you so much for being with us today!]


Rich Hively is president of Nitro Historic Commission and Dave Casebolt is Mayor of the city of Nitro, West Virginia. Learn more about the 100 Cities/100 Memorials project, and the Living WW1 Memorial in Nitro, by visiting the link at the podcast notes.

Link: www.ww1cc.org/100memorials




Link: www.ww1cc.org/100cities

WW1 War Tech

This week we starting another new segment for 2018, WW1 War Tech.

We so frequently come across technology from the war that is utterly fascinating, and we look forward to sharing some of these technological curiosities with you -- not just weapons but also medical, communications and other tech that sprang up at that time.

But today - it’s all about a “bigger than an elephant gun” shoulder fired german behemoth designed to … shoot tanks!

With us is David L. O’Neal, creator of the “WWI Preservation Collection”, who very recently finished restoring this 1918 Tankgewehr, or Tank Gun!

Welcome, David!


[To start, Before we get to this mean Mauser - how did you get into restoring WW1 era machines?]

[Tell us about the 1918 Mauser -- how did you come across the one that you restored, and what makes this a unique and special tech of the era?]

[On your website, you can see many images of the gun at every stage of repair and rebuild -- tell us about the process? Did you use any high tech to restore the WWI tech?]

[Audience appeal to the restoration]

[What happens to the Mauser now?]

[Last quick question - What is your next project? ]


David L. O’Neal is the creator of the WWI Preservation Collection. Learn more about the Collection, and view images from the Tankgewehr restoration, by following the link in the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.ww1history.com/parking-lot.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?

Hi Theo!

Atlas Obscura

Both of our stories this week take us down into the trenches. First, we’ll head over to Atlas Obscura to an article about a rare example of a well preserved World War One trench.  The trench is part of the British lines in Sanctuary Wood, also known as Hill 62. The Belgian Farmer who once owned the land returned to it after the war and chose to leave the trenches as he found them. Sanctuary Wood now operates as a memorial and museum. When you visit you can climb down into the ruins of the original trenches, and the museum includes many items the farmer found and collected over the years on the property: rifles encrusted with mud, German steel helmets riddled with bullet holes, and a collection of period stereoscope photographs of the battlefield. See images of the trenches, dugouts and shell holes by visiting the link in the podcast notes.


School Maneuvers

Lastly for the week, we’ll head to Kent, Ohio, where school children recently got a very hands-on lesson about WW1. Armed with homemade cardboard pistols, rifles and machine guns, (and a few snowballs here and there), ninth-grade students of Theodore Roosevelt High School waged a mock battle complete with generals barking orders and medics running over to attend to the “wounded”, dragging them away from the battle on sleds over the snow.

This exercise was a first for the school, involving 50 advanced world history students divided into French and German forces. Each student received a card with their role and tasks to execute during the simulation--and after. Generals who designed battle plans and fortifications would have to write condolence letters for lost troops. Soldiers would pen journals and medics would record their cases and actions, while journalists would assemble a newspaper account of the action and interviews. After the battle, the students enjoyed hot chocolate and genuine Army MREs -- meals-ready-to-eat. Read more about this unique project by following the link in the podcast notes. That’s it this week for the Buzz!



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

We also want to thank our guests...

  • John Milton Cooper Jr, author, educator and historian
  • Ed Lengel, military historian, author and storyteller
  • Mike Shuster curator for the Great War Project Blog
  • Joe Weishaar, architect and National WW1 Memorial designer
  • Rich Hively from the WW1 Living memorial in Nitro, West Virginia
  • David O’Neal, creator of the WWI Preservation Collection
  • 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!


REPS -  Royal Engineers Postal Service --- OR

Really Exceptions Podcast Stories!

I love acronyms!

So long!


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