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WW1 Centennial News for February 16, 2018 - Episode #59

A cartoon from the Stars and Stripes newspaperA cartoon from the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

 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.


  • Wilson vs William | @ 01:25
  • Stars and stripes launches | @ 07:30
  • War in the sky - AirMail | @ 08:50
  • America Emerges - 32nd Red Arrow Division - Dr. Edward Lengel | @ 10:45
  • Great War Project - German Homefront - Mike Shuster | @ 15:40
  • Commission News - Service Medals NOW | @ 20:15
  • Remembering Veterans - 371st Regiment - Sonya Grantham | @ 22:05
  • Speaking WWI - Doughboy Dictionary | @ 29:50
  • International Report - Brazil in WWI - Matheus Lacerda | @ 31:35
  • WW1 War Tech - Synthetic Rubber | @ 38:15
  • Articles & Posts - Freddie Stowers and Pyjamas | @ 39:55
  • Valentine’s Special - letters, stories and music | @ 42:25
  • The Buzz - Katherine Akey | @ 47:30

View the PDF transcript


Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - episode #59 - 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 February 16th, 2018 and our guests for this week include:

  • Dr. Edward Lengel, with a story about the 32nd Red Arrow Division
  • Mike Shuster, from the great war project blog with the eroding situation on the German homefront
  • Sonya Hodges Grantham sharing the story of the 371st regiment and her recent cemetery restoration efforts
  • Matheus Lacerda with the history of Brazil in WW1
  • Katherine Akey, with some selections from the centennial of WWI in social media

All this and more -- on WW1 Centennial News -- a weekly podcast 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.



A few weeks ago, in Episode #56, we brought in Woodrow Wilson expert, John Milton Cooper Jr, an American historian, author, educator, and Former Senior Scholar at the Wilson Center. At the end of the interview I asked him what is the most important thing we should keep in mind about Wilson as we follow his actions:

[FOR LIVE AUDIENCE“Insert audio : clip” - “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?” answer about Wilson being a Phd, and one of history’s great political scientists - with ideas about how national politics work.]

So 100 years ago this week - one of the big stories on the domestic front is Wilson’s address to a joint session of congress further laying out the path to a negotiated peace.  

With that as a setup, let’s jump into our centennial time machine and slide  back 100 years to mid February 1918

in the war that changed the world!

World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week


From the pages of the “OFFICIAL BULLETIN”, the government’s daily war gazette, published by George Creel -- a great primary source for WWI -- which we re-publish EVERY DAY on the Commission’s web site at ww1cc.org/bulletin and that apparently a few hundred of you now read daily…


DATELINE: Monday February 11, 1918

Headline: President, in Address to Congress, Outlines the Basis
for General Peace, Asserts All Nations Now at War
Must Join in the Settlement of Every Issue Involved

The story opens with Wilson expanding on his 14 points by laying out 4 principles. He states:

The test of whether it is possible for governments to go any further in the comparison of views is simple and obvious. The principles to be applied are these:

FIRST, that each part of the final settlement must be based upon the essential justice of that particular case and upon such adjustments as are most likely to bring a peace that will be permanent;

SECOND, that peoples and Provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game, even the great game, now forever discredited, of the balance

of power;

but that

THIRD, every territorial settlement involved in this war must be made in the interest and for the benefit of the populations concerned, and not as a part of any mere adjustment or compromise of claims amongst rival States; and

FOURTH, that all well-defined national aspirations shall be accorded the utmost satisfaction that can be accorded them without introducing new or perpetuating old elements of discord and antagonism that would be likely in time to break the peace of Europe and consequently of the world.

-President Woodrow Wilson.

So what is going on here? Well, one interpretation is this:

For 3 ½ horrific years powerful imperial forces have been trying to enforce their will and their agenda on peoples and populations resulting in an economic and human slaughter accompanied by unprecedented carnage.

No one is laying out a foundation for resolution. Instead the mindset is in terms of conquest and annihilation.

Suddenly this guy - this leader - this political scientist - whose nation is not under direct threat of conquest or annihilation starts to lay out how all this might be resolved… what the path to resolution looks like… how a new world order might rise out of the ashes - not under one conqueror - but as a new community of nations.

This actually sounds pretty good to a lot of war weary participants - but to Kaiser Willam - not so much! As a contrasting story about Ukraine’s defeat at the hands of Germany illustrates:


Dateline: From Amsterdam, Monday February 11, 1918

Headline: Kaiser Declares that Germany will impose peace on All.

The story reads:

“Germany desires peace, but before it can be attained, her enemies must recognize that Germany has been victorious”

Kaiser William said in a dispatch - which continues with

“We ought to bring peace to the world. Such an end was achieved yesterday in a friendly manner with an enemy which, beaten by our armies, perceives no reason for fighting longer, extends a hand to us, and receives our hand. We clasp hands.

But he who will not accept peace, but on the contrary declines, must be forced to have peace.

We desire to live in friendship with neighboring peoples, but the victory of German Arms must first be recognized. Our troops under the great Hindenburg will continue to win it. Then peace will come.


This is a pretty poignant example of the contrasting positions and points-of-view

from two of the leaders

100 years ago this week in the war that changed the world!

We have a lot of links for you about this in the podcast notes.











Stars and Stripes launches

On a lighter note --  100 years ago, a new weekly publication found its way into the hands of Doughboys in France: The Stars and Stripes newspaper.

Although the classic periodical was originally produced by Union Soldiers in the Civil War, who found an abandoned printing press - they only ran 6 one-page issues at the time.

The publication was revived for World War 1, produced by an all-military staff and aimed directly at the doughboys of the American Expeditionary Force.

Stars and Stripes is filled with cartoons and articles by and for doughboys, making light of everything from living covered in lice in the trenches to struggling to communicate with their new French comrades.  Though all tactical information is redacted, the content’s humor, irreverence and fun is surely a pickup for the boys.  I have only seen a couples of issues but I have already become a fan. Besides - My mom worked for the Stars and Stripes in postwar Germany in the 50s.

You’ll get a taste a little later as we use an article from an early issue of the Stars and Stripes for our Speaking WWI section later in the podcast. Meanwhile, check the podcast notes to read some of the pages yourself. You WILL enjoy@!>



War in the Sky

100 years ago this week in the War in The Sky - a projected POST war vision using war tech is announced.

An article in the Official Bulletin contemplates the future application of the airplane!


Dateline: Wednesday February 13, 1918



Machines to Make One Round Trip a Day

Will Be Permanent if Practicability is Assured.


And the story reads:

Postmaster General Burleson flias called for bids for the construction of five airplanes to be used in the establishment of an aerial route for the delivery of first class mail.

The bids are to be opened at 2 o'clock on February 21. The contract Will be awarded to the bidder whose airplanes have stood satisfactory service tests --- in the War and Navy Departments; the airplanes and parts to be delivered not later than April 25, 1918.

The call for bids requires that the airplanes shall be complete, capable of carrying 300 pounds of mail a distance of not less than 200 miles without stop.

The intention is, as soon as the authority of Congress is received, to establish an aerial route to Philadelphia and New York, carrying 300 pounds of first-class mail, for which a special postage rate will be charged, not exceeding 25 cents per ounce or fraction thereof, and to maintain a permanent service on regular scheduled time.

And that is a new civilian infra structure vision launched 100 years ago this week - Because of the war in the sky.

Read the announcement for yourself on page 2 of the Wednesday February 13 issue of the Official Bulletin by following the link in the podcast notes or go to ww1cc.org/bulletin

Link: www.ww1cc.org/warinthesky



America Emerges: Military Stories from WW1

This week on: America Emerges: Military Stories from WWI… Dr. Edward lengel introduces us to the 32nd Red Arrow Division, made from the Michigan and Wisconsin National Guard.

[What’s the story Ed?]


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

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

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





Great War Project

Now on to the Great War project with Mike Shuster - former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War project Blog….

Mike: Even though our ground troops are still being organized in Europe - The US Navy has been operational in the war for nearly a year - including reinforcing the British blockade on Germany. What’s the effect in Germany Mike?


Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.




The Great War Channel

You met the host Indy Neidell and producer Florian Wittig from the great war Channel on Youtube in last week’s podcast -

Here are the channels new episodes for this week:

Austro-Hungarian House of Cards

Motor Torpedo Boats in World War 1

Strikes and Mutiny

And more.

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

In commission news - between right now and next tuesday, February 20th at noon easter is the ONLY TIME EVER --- IN HISTORY ---- that you will be able to order one of the collectible commemorative WWI service medal sets. We have talked about them before….

These are special US Mint created WWI commemorative silver medal for each of the military services that fought in WWI. There is one each for

the Army,

the Marines,

the Army Air corps

the Navy and

the US Coast Guard…


They are really beautiful and actual collectibles because -- after this single mint run, that’s it. That is how many will exist in the world… So order yours today -

Most important, and why we are promoting them, every commemorative WWI medal set you buy, helps build the National WWI Memorial in Washington DC. Every sale adds $10 to the memorial effort. So grab a valuable piece of history and at the same time honor all those who served in WWI!

The order site is at the US mint but we made it single step easy for you. Type ww1cc.org/coin into your browser and you’ll be there. That’s the letters ww -the number 1 - the letters C C DOT O R G forward slash and the word coin. Or - of course- follow the link in the podcast notes!

In fact… Pause the podcast. Right now. Go put in an order! We’ll be here later - but these special WWI commemorative service medal won’t.

Link: https://catalog.usmint.gov/coins/commemoratives/?cm_sp=TPL-_-wwi-intro-button-_-020118


Remembering Veterans

371st Cemetery Restoration with Sonya Grantham

This week in our Remembering Veterans section we are being joined by Sonya Hodges Grantham, a mother, grandmother, genealogist, author, citizen historian, and researcher, with a motto of "Get The Job Done and Get It Done Right". She is the Founder and President of the World War I - 371st Historical Society and the Restorer of Childs Cemetery in South Carolina.

Welcome, [Sonya]


[Sonya, your interest in restoring this particular cemetery stems from your own family history-- can you tell us the story?]

[The 371st is one of the less known black regiments of WW1, yet the regiment’s Corporal Freddie Stowers is one of only two African-American Congressional Medal of Honor awardees from WWI  -- can you tell us about the regiment?]


[Unkempt or abandoned cemeteries are all over the Southern countryside -- given your experience so far, what advice can you offer someone who may, like you did,  take on the conservation of an  abandoned cemetery?]

[You’ve taken on the Childs cemetery solo -- how did that go?]


Sonya Hodges Grantham, is a genealogist, author, citizen historian, and researcher -- the Founder and President of the World War I - 371st Historical Society and the sole Restorer of Childs Cemetery in South Carolina. Follow the links in the podcast notes to learn more about her  and her work restoring the Childs Cemetery.







Speaking WW1

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

Adjusting to life in the Army, and in Europe, was a huge change for many of the young men serving in the AEF - the American Expeditionary Force.

As we mentioned at the top of the show, starting this week 100 years ago, The Stars and Stripes newspaper offered sincere, if tongue-in-cheek, advice and stories to our boys. The February 15th, 1918 edition includes a cheat sheet of terms and phrases for the new army: the Doughboy’s Dictionary.


Items defined in this dictionary include:

  • Insurance Premium -- Something that puts about one-sixth of your pay where you will never be able to get at it.
  • Abri -- An underground shelter entirely populated by soldiers and cooties
  • Dugout --The most satisfactory life insurance policy sold in the less healthy portions of France.
  • Trench - Singular. A hole in the ground, without beginning and without end. entirely filled by water and very frequently the object of the enemy's attention.
  • Trenches - Plural. The things in which the people back home imagine we are all of the time.
  • Machine Gun -- An arrangement alleged to be an aide to do the work of fifteen men but requiring the work of thirty men to keep it in operation.
  • And Underwear -- The favorite ration of the goat, sheep-tick and flea.

The Doughboy’s Dictionary -- helping our boys with Speaking WWI 100 years ago - See the podcast notes to learn more!




International Report

Brazil in WWI

For our International report this week -- We have something special for you ---

Calling in from Brazil today, we are joined by Matheus Lacerda [Maatheus LaSERda], a Passionate hobby historian with a masters degree in International Relations.

Matheus recently published a book, about Epitacio Pessoa [Pess-oh-uh]...  who was the head of the Brazilian delegation at the Versaille Peace Conference in 1919, and who was later elected president of Brazil.

Welcome Matheus!


[Matheus, I think many listeners will be surprised to hear about Brazil’s involvement in the war. Can you give us an overview of Brazil’s WWI story?]


[Your book is about Epitacio Pessoa at the Versaille Peace Conference of 1919-- who is he, and what what role did he take at the conference?]

[Pessoa visited the United States once he became president elect of Brazil in 1919-- what was significant about this visit?]

[Matheus - We keep calling WWI “The War That Changed the World” - Did it change Brazil? And how? ]

[Thank you so much for calling in from Brazil to join us!]



Matheus de [JE] Medeiros Lacerda,author of the “Diplomacy of President Epitacio Pessoa”. Learn more about the book and Brazil in WW1 by visiting the links at the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.editoraappris.com.br/diplomacia-presidencial-de-epitacio-pessoa


WW1 War Tech

Synthetic Rubber

This week in WW1 War Tech -- we are going to talk about Synthetic Rubber!

The rise of motor vehicles was huge in WWI, the new transport helped get soldiers to the front, carried wounded to hospitals, and hauled supplies every which way. But the tires on these machines were made of rubber, something that came nearly exclusively from the British colonies of Ceylon and Malaya in South Asia.

AND rubber was one of many important materials that Germany found herself blockaded from by the British Navy -- Helped by the US Navy  of course, as Mike explained earlier---

Cut off from the world’s supply, the German tire industry supply of rubber was stretched thin, and the German Army faced a logistical problem.

The answer came from a german chemical company we now associate with aspirin - Bayer who came up with and started to mass produce methyl rubber, that was created from lime and coal.

24,000 tonnes of methyl rubber was produced during the War, but it was an inferior substitute for the real thing - didn’t work well in the cold and let to many tailbone bruises for the troops - It helped get Germany through the war but after the war - methyl rubber went the way of imperialism, and also was never considered seriously again.

Importantly, the work on these materials eventually led to more effective synthetic rubber substances, including those manufactured by American rubber companies in World War II when WE lost access to South Asia.

Read more about synthetic rubber during WW1 at the links in the podcast notes.

Links: https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/rubber




Articles and Posts

Corporal Stowers

In articles and posts-- from our rapidly growing website at ww1cc.org - and tying neatly into the story told by our guest Sonya Grantham --- this week, there is an article about Corporal Freddie Stowers, an African-American war hero who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in WW1.

Corporal Stowers was born in 1896 in Anderson County, South Carolina. Despite the discrimination he faced there, he made the decision to serve in the segregated 371st Infantry Regiment. He was serving as the squad leader in Company C of that regiment, in the 93rd Infantry Division, during an attack on Hill 188, in the Champagne-Marne Sector of France. He was killed in action that day, but the story of his exceptional bravery and leadership lived on, earning him the Medal of Honor posthumously. Read the entire inspiring story of Corporal Freddie Stowers at the link in the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/4028-corporal-freddie-stowers.html


Also in articles and posts this week, a story about how a new technological terror of the war inspired the world of fashion.

World War I introduced so many terrible new war machines and prominent  among those was, of course, the aircraft -- which could now reached beyond the battlefield and into the homeland - a genuine weapon of terror, bringing the war from the soldier to the citizen.

For Londoners, the threat began in January 1915, when the Germans sent Zeppelins loaded with bombs across the Channel. Eventually, they sent planes, too. In fact, the WWI air raids, often at night, accomplished very little tactically, but their true purpose was to upset peace, terrorize civilians and sink morale.

The threat of bombings in the middle of the night meant that Londoners had to be ready to evacuate their homes with little to no notice; and no proper british woman wanted to be caught out in the street during a raid in her nightgown!

So, new sleeping suits and pyjama with legs made their way into magazines, fashion and British bedrooms, ensuring a good night’s sleep and a practical, modest and stylish retreat in case of a nighttime raid.

Read more about how, just days after the first Zeppelin raid over England, British women were already dressing for bed to be prepared to “meet the midnight world at a minute’s notice” -- at the link in the podcast notes.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/4031-wwi-s-zeppelin-bombings-popularized-the-trend-of-pyjamas.html


Valentine’s Special

Love Letter

This week, special thoughts of love for valentines -

Often when we talk about the war, we focus on the more gruesome details-- the death, the mud, the gas, the lice, the devastation -- but everyday life continued throughout the war, despite all its horrors.

Husbands missed their wives, and girls missed their sweethearts. 2nd Lieutenant Francis Tracy wrote to his wife, full of longing and love and apologies for how hard his absence had been on her --

Tracy wrote this letter to his wife on September 20th 1918, only seven days before he died in battle. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery. The track is an excerpt from the youtube Series: The Letters - and  performed by Farhang Ghajar. The link is in the podcast notes.



Love Story

On our website at ww1cc.org, you can find the story of Rebecca and Charles Duffy, submitted by their daughter Lucy. Rebecca, who was a young French girl when the war broke out, met and fell in love with an American Soldier who was taking French lessons with her mother. The infatuation was immediate, with Charles proposing to Rebecca after just three weeks! Read their incredible story  by following the link in the podcast notes.


Missing American Love Letters from WWI

You know - when we were preparing this story ---- It seems like American Love letters from WWI have not been well archived or collected

Hint hint to our listeners - there is a great project and opportunity for you!!!  American Love Letters from WWI needs someone’s attention--- - Meanwhile In the UK media and web you will find hearts beating fondly - we have put a list of links for you to explore below.







Love Songs

And to wrap things up for Valentines - here are some audio clips from love songs of the times.


Im crazy over every girl in france


My sweetheart is somewhere in france



Other songs:







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!

Naturalization Webinar

Our friends at the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services History Office are hosting an online webinar about the history of WWI soldier naturalizations on February 22nd. During World War I, nearly one-fifth of the American armed forces were foreign-born. In fact, Congress passed laws to expedite military naturalizations, encouraging immigrant enlistments and to naturalize servicemen before they shipped out.

The webinar will provide an overview of the Immigration Service’s WWI soldier naturalization program, and explore some of the unique research challenges the records present. Make sure to tune in at the link in the podcast notes, as the webinar won’t be recorded! You can also go back to our Episode #41 to hear our interview with Allison S. Finkelstein and Zack Wilske from the USCIS History Office and Library.



That’s it this week for the Buzz!



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

We want to thank our guests...

  • Dr. Edward Lengel, Military historian and author
  • Mike Shuster, Curator of the great war project blog
  • Sonya Hodges Grantham, citizen historian and researcher
  • Matheus Lacerda, Brazilian author and citizen historian
  • Katherine Akey, the commission’s social media director and line producer for the podcast

Thanks also to our new intern John Morreale for his great research assistance.

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 as well as the Starr foundation for their support.

The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn  

on  iTunes and google play at 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!


Hey I saved one more entry from the Doughboy Dictionary for you.

Officer of the Day: A lieutenant troubled with sleeplessness and possessed of bad habit of coming around between midnight and dawn and asking embarrassing questions.

So long!


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