Historic Gallipoli Campaign Warship Restored in UK

The newly restored HMS M 33 displayed at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, England.

The newly restored HMS M 33 displayed at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, England.

The shallow-draft monitor HMS M 33 was opened to the public at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, England, on August 6, 2015.  The vessel, which took part in WW1 operations at Gallipoli, Salonika, and later in north Russia, recently underwent a £2.5M restoration to her 1915 configuration and can now be explored by visitors to the museum who can experience special audio-visual enhancements interpreting the vessel’s role in the campaign.

Equipped with 6-inch deck guns, the monitor M 33 was designed for close-in shore bombardment of enemy positions.  The formal opening ceremony at the Royal Navy Museum took place on the 100th anniversary of the start of the August offensive in Gallipoli, and was attended by descendants of the Gallipoli campaign.

The monitor HMS M 33 seen in the Aegean Sea during WW1.

The monitor HMS M 33 seen in the Aegean Sea during WW1.

HMS M 33 is one of a handful of WW1 historic naval vessels around the world today which include the light cruiser HMS CAROLINE in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the protected cruiser USS OLYMPIA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the battleship USS TEXAS in Corpus Christi, Texas.


New Account of America’s First WW1 Offensive: FIRST OVER THERE – THE ATTACK ON CANTIGNY

cantigny matt davenport

Former soldier and now author Matthew J. Davenport’s new account of the first sustained American offensive of the First World War – the Battle of Cantigny – provides a fresh look at this May 1918 battle in France.  FIRST OVER THERE – THE ATTACK ON CANTIGNY (MacMillan 2015), makes use of carefully researched primary source materials to weave together an account of how the men of the US 1st Infantry Division went “over the top” to take and hold the frontline village of Cantigny.  From the publisher: “At first light on Tuesday, May 28th, 1918, waves of American riflemen from the U.S. Army’s 1st Division climbed from their trenches, charged across the shell-scarred French dirt of no-man’s-land, and captured the hilltop village of Cantigny from the grip of the German Army. Those who survived the enemy machine-gun fire and hand-to-hand fighting held on for the next two days and nights in shallow foxholes under the sting of mustard gas and crushing steel of artillery fire.”

With the village of Cantigny falling to the Imperial German 18th Army during Ludendorff’s spring 1918 offensive, newly arrived American troops were placed in the sector opposite the village in April 1918.  The following month, the US 1st Infantry Division was tasked with capturing and holding Cantigny in what would be the first American offensive operation of the war.  After weeks of enduring German shelling and poison gas attacks, the Doughboys of “The Big Red One” moved forward from their trenches to take and hold the ruins of the village despite numerous strong counterattacks in the succeeding days.  Though a local operation which cost the AEF some 1,600 casualties, the Battle of Cantigny demonstrated the emerging prowess of Pershing’s Doughboys.

Davenport’s new book introduces the reader to many all-but-forgotten Americans who took part in the battle and deftly sets the stage for the coming centennial of American participation in “The War to End All Wars.”

Matthew Davenport is a US Army veteran who now practices law in North Carolina.  For more details on this exciting new book, visit the author’s website here.

Australian War Memorial Launches Gallipoli Traveling Exhibition

The Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

The Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

A remarkable series of photographs taken by a noted surgeon who served with the ANZAC Corps at Gallipoli in 1915 will be among the key features of a new exhibition that will travel throughout Australia this summer and fall.  “A Camera at Gallipoli” will feature 39 photographic images taken by Sir Charles Ryan in the Dardanelles during 1915 providing “a real insight into the dry forbidding landscape, exhausted troops in trenches, squalid dugouts, the horrendous task of burying the dead,” according to War Memorial Director Dr. Brendan Nelson.

The exhibition will be displayed in multiple formats – both framed images traveling to some 30 locations around Australia, as well as a digital version that will be accessible to the public in another 70 locations.

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 saw the first major participation by troops from Australia and New Zealand in the First World War, and did much to shape national identity in the context of the war.  In addition to ANZAC soldiers, British, Indian, and French troops participated in the abortive campaign, the objective of which was to gain access to Constantinople with the hope of forcing the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

For more information on the Australian War Memorial’s traveling exhibition “A Camera at Gallipoli”, see The Daily Mail story here.




For English-speaking students of the First World War, personal accounts depicting the French perspective are comparatively few.  Though published in France in 1978, the new English translation of The World War 1 Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker 1914-1918 by Edward M. Strauss represents a major achievement in the field of World War 1 French literature in the English speaking world.

From the publisher, Yale University Press:

“Along with millions of other Frenchmen, Louis Barthas, a thirty-five-year-old barrelmaker from a small wine-growing town, was conscripted to fight the Germans in the opening days of World War I. Corporal Barthas spent the next four years in near-ceaseless combat, wherever the French army fought its fiercest battles: Artois, Flanders, Champagne, Verdun, the Somme, the Argonne. Barthas’ riveting wartime narrative, first published in France in 1978, presents the vivid, immediate experiences of a frontline soldier.

This excellent new translation brings Barthas’ wartime writings to English-language readers for the first time. His notebooks and letters represent the quintessential memoir of a “poilu,” or “hairy one,” as the untidy, unshaven French infantryman of the fighting trenches was familiarly known. Upon Barthas’ return home in 1919, he painstakingly transcribed his day-to-day writings into nineteen notebooks, preserving not only his own story but also the larger story of the unnumbered soldiers who never returned. Recounting bloody battles and endless exhaustion, the deaths of comrades, the infuriating incompetence and tyranny of his own officers, Barthas also describes spontaneous acts of camaraderie between French poilus and their German foes in trenches just a few paces apart. An eloquent witness and keen observer, Barthas takes his readers directly into the heart of the Great War. ”

For more information, visit the Yale University Press web page here.

New Biography of American Ace Eddie Rickenbacker Released

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, leading American Ace of World War 1, seated in a Nieuport 28 figher.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, leading American Ace of World War 1, seated in a Nieuport 28 figher.

America’s highest-scoring flying ace of World War 1, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, was a household celebrity to Americans of the First World War era.  A pioneer race car driver, Rickenbacker went on to fame with the American Air Service’s 94th Aero Squadron in 1918, and was ultimately credited with shooting down 27 German planes in the last months of the First World War.  Following the Armistice, he went on to become an airline executive, and even survived an epic period adrift at sea during World War II.  Author John F. Ross takes a fresh look at this American hero from the last century.

From publisher St. Martin’s Press:

“At the turn of the twentieth century two new technologies—the car and airplane—took the nation’s imagination by storm as they burst, like comets, into American life. The brave souls that leaped into these dangerous contraptions and pushed them to unexplored extremes became new American heroes: the race car driver and the flying ace.

“No individual did more to create and intensify these raw new roles than the tall, gangly Eddie Rickenbacker, who defied death over and over with such courage and pluck that a generation of Americans came to know his face better than the president’s. The son of poor, German-speaking Swiss immigrants in Columbus, Ohio, Rickenbacker overcame the specter of his father’s violent death, a debilitating handicap, and, later, accusations of being a German spy, to become the American military ace of aces in World War I and a Medal of Honor recipient. He and his high-spirited, all-too-short-lived pilot comrades, created a new kind of aviation warfare, as they pushed their machines to the edge of destruction—and often over it—without parachutes, radios, or radar.

Enduring Courage is the electrifying story of the beginning of America’s love affair with speed—and how one man above all the rest showed a nation the way forward. No simple daredevil, he was an innovator on the racetrack, a skilled aerial dualist and squadron commander, and founder of Eastern Air Lines. Decades after his heroics against the Red Baron’s Flying Circus, he again showed a war-weary nation what it took to survive against nearly insurmountable odds when he and seven others endured a harrowing three-week ordeal adrift without food or water in the Pacific during World War II.”

For more information on this new WW1 title, visit the publisher’s website here.


Publishers Face Challenge in WW1 Literature Says WALL STREET JOURNAL

Original cover for Hemingway's classic novel A FAREWELL TO ARMS

Original cover for Hemingway’s classic novel A FAREWELL TO ARMS

According to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, over the past 53 years some 12,500 books on World War I topics have been published in America, compared to more than 43,000 on World War II over the same period.  On the whole Americans, have been far less interested in the First World War, perhaps due to an inability to place the American experience “Over There” in its proper context.

With the coming of the centenary of World War I, however, US  publishers are looking to capitalize on renewed interest in the war as they release and market new titles, both non-fiction and fiction, as well as re-release some of the classics.  Whether in marketing or in format, publishing houses are looking to present new works which tap in to trends among modern readers.

Harlem Hellfighters

Among the new releases will be THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS, a graphic novel from Broadway Books based on the  15th New York Infantry by Max Brooks, author of THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE and WORLD WAR Z.  Earlier this year, Harper Collins timed the release of the historical novel SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE to coincide with the American start of the latest season of the popular television drama “Downton Abbey.”

Among the classics to be re-released are Eric Maria Remarque’s ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, along with Hemingway’s A FAREWELL TO ARMS.

For more information on the trends in World War 1 books to be released in the coming years, see THE WALL STREET JOURNAL story here.



“Behind Enemy Lines: Over 100 Photographs of Germans Fighting World War I”

German troops writing letters home at a field post office behind the lines.

German troops writing letters home at a field post office behind the lines.

The website anorak.co.uk has created an intriguing photo essay focusing on Germany in World War I – both the view “from the trenches” as well as that of the home front.  “Behind Enemy Lines: Over 100 Photographs of Germans Fighting World War I” concentrates on the human side of the war.  “The Kaiser and his family emerge rather badly from these stylised pictures. They are pampered and powdered, a milk-fed coterie of toffs”, says the article. “The soldiers are a blur. Each one had a life. Thinking about each life and how that person came to be in the mud and blood of the Western and Eastern fronts is too much to comprehend. Some wanted war. Most didn’t.”

To view the essay, CLICK HERE.


NPR’s “All Things Considered” Examines The Assassination in Sarajevo – “How Bad Directions (And A Sandwich) Started World War I”



The National Public Radio (NPR) feature “All Things Considered” talks with Christopher Clark, author of THE SLEEPWALKERS about the course of events in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.  The first in a series of segments being billed as “A counterfactual history of World War I”, NPR asks the question “What if World War I never happened?”

To hear the story by podcast, visit here.

National World War 1 Museum to Host Production of R.C. Sherriff’s JOURNEY’S END

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in KansasCity

For six evenings each week, and as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons from February 20 to March 2, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial will host a production of the acclaimed World War I stage play Journey’s End.  Written by Englishmen R.C. Sheriff, based on his own experiences on the Western Front, the play is set within a front-line dugout in March 1918 as British soldiers await what would be the last great German offensive of “The War to End All Wars.”  First performed in 1928, Journey’s End won international praise and has since come to be regarded as a classic.

Born in Middlesex, England, in 1896, Sherriff left a job as an office clerk in 1914 and eventually became a captain in the 9th Battalion the East Surrey Regiment.  He served in France from 1915-18, was severely wounded at Passchendaele in 1917, and was awarded the Military Cross.  He later went on to become a successful screen writer known for films such as Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939) and The Dam Busters (1955)

Journey’s End underwent a critically acclaimed revival in London in 2004.  The 2014 production at the National World War I Museum is a collaborative effort between the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the Kansas City Actors Theatre.

For more information on the production, visit the National World War I Museum’s website here.


BBC Drama “37 Days” To Explore the Outbreak of WW1

Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand who's assassination on June 28, 1914 sparked the outbreak of the First World War.

Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand who’s assassination on June 28, 1914 sparked the outbreak of the First World War.

The BBC has announced that it will produce a 3-part drama that will challenge long-held conventions regarding the outbreak of the First World War.

Featuring actors Sinead Cusack, Tim Pigott-Smith, Iain McDiarmid, Kenneth Cranham, and Bill Patterson, the BBC2 production will “overturn orthodox assumptions about the war’s inevitability”.  The 3-part series will seek to portray the course of events from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand on July 28, 1914 through the declaration of war between Britain and Germany on August 4 through the eyes of some of the principals.

For more information, see the BBC announcement here.