World War I in the news
- Oldest U.S. WWI Vet Dies in Ohio at 109
- Kansas City’s WWI museum finally acquires a tank
- Salvaged from the depths... gun from a Belfast liner sunk in 1917
- 1918 War plane to be restored
- First World War tunnels to yield their secrets
- Backpacker finds rare WWI bomber
- Missing WWI sub may have been found
- Turkey's Armenian dilemma
- The new art of trench warfare
- World War I vet Albert Wagner dies at 107
- Villagers erect memorial to Scots who fell at Passchendaele
Oldest U.S. WWI Vet Dies in Ohio at 109
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) by JOHN SEEWER – Dec 21, 2007
J. Russell Coffey, the oldest known surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, has died. The retired teacher, one of only three U.S.
veterans from the "war to end all wars," was 109. Coffey died Thursday at the Briar Hill Health Campus in North Baltimore, where he had lived for the
past four or five years, said Gaye Boggs, nursing director at the nursing home. No cause of death has been determined, she said Friday. His health
began failing in October.
"We're sure going to miss him," Boggs said. "He was our most famous resident, that's for sure."
More than 4.7 million Americans joined the military from 1917-1918. Coffey never saw combat because he was still in basic training when the war
ended. The two remaining U.S. veterans are Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va.; and Harry Richard Landis, 108, of Sun City Center, Fla.,
according to the Veterans Affairs Department. In addition, John Babcock, 107, of Spokane, Wash., served in the Canadian army and is the last known
Canadian veteran of the war.
Interest in World War I survivors grew over the past year as their numbers dwindled. The last living links to the war, the U.S. veterans received
honors and did a flurry of interviews. In May, Buckles was a grand marshal of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., riding in the
back of a car. But Coffey once confided to his daughter, Betty Jo Larsen, that he wished people would remember his contributions rather than his
old age. "He told me 'even a prune can get old,'" she said last spring. She died in September. Coffey had enlisted in the Army while he was a
student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement. He was discharged a
month after the war ended. His two older brothers fought overseas, and he was disappointed at the time that the war ended before he shipped out.
But he told The Associated Press in April 2007: "I think I was good to get out of it". Born Sept. 1, 1898, Coffey played semipro baseball in Akron,
earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught in high school and college and raised a family. He delivered newspapers as a
youngster and would read the paper to immigrants, his daughter said. "That was the beginning of him being a teacher”, she said. Coffey returned to
Ohio State University after he left the Army and received two degrees there. He said he loved teaching. "I could see results," he said. "I could
He taught junior high and high school in Phelps, Ky., and Findlay. He then taught physical education at Bowling Green State University from 1948
until 1969. He had a remarkable memory and was independent, his daughter said. He drove his car until he was 104, and lived in his own home until
a year later. He was a swimmer and credited healthy eating and exercise for his longevity.
His wife, Bernice, whom he married in 1921, died in 1993. Larsen was their only child. Among the other World War I veterans who died this year
were Emiliano Mercado del Toro, 115, who ranked as world's oldest person for the last weeks of his life, and Charlotte Winters, 109, the last known American female veteran of the war.
Kansas City’s WWI museum finally acquires a tank
THE KANSAS CITY STAR by Matt Cambell, 3rd. November 2007
National World War I Museum officials paid $225,000 for this Renault FT-17 tank, which will be on exhibit by spring.
They must have looked like monsters lumbering through the smoky hell of no man’s land. The armored tank was a key innovation of World War I,
enabling Allied armies to escape the trenches and move their guns toward the enemy. But a tank has always been a glaring omission from the Liberty
Memorial’s otherwise comprehensive collection of World War I artifacts — until now.
Officials this week struck an agreement with a private dealer and collector in Missoula, Mont., to purchase a French-made Renault FT-17 that saw
battle on the Western Front in 1918, the final year of the war. Not only did it see battle, but it was put out of commission by German artillery
and has a huge hole in its left side to prove it. That was not good for the tank, but for the National World War I Museum, it is perfect.
“We’ve been waiting 85 years for this,” said Carl DiCapo, a trustee of the Liberty Memorial Association. “How can you have a World War I museum
without a tank? This is like the Nelson getting a Michelangelo.”
Another thing makes this a sweet deal. Scribbled inside the tank is the name Jonathon M. Ashwell. It turns out he was a U.S. Army soldier in a
mechanics regiment who did maintenance on the tank, and the unit roster lists his address as 1627 Washington St. in Kansas City.
“Doesn’t that freak you out?” asked Eli Paul, the museum director who traveled to Montana with curator Doran Cart to inspect the tank before buying.
Museum officials paid $225,000 for the tank, which will arrive in Kansas City by truck this month and be on exhibit by spring. Museum designers had
the foresight to reserve a spot for a tank.
“We wanted one badly,” said Paul. “We said any tank will do. Any part of any tank will do. This is better than I imagined.”
One reason is that this tank still has original painted camouflage markings and readable identification numbers. With luck, Cart will be able to
search French and American records from the war and find out more about this tank. What battles did it fight in? Was it assigned to a French or
American unit? Who were its crewmen, and were they killed by the German shell? Cart said the museum also will try to learn more about Ashwell, whose name is in the tank. The provenance for this tank goes back to just after the war when San Francisco newspaper publisher M.H. de Young acquired it in 1919 for a museum. It changed hands several times over the decades and ended up in Las Vegas, where military collector Hayes Otoupalik bought it about 20 years ago. It has been in his warehouse in Montana ever since.
“I’ve enjoyed every single minute of having this tank,” Otoupalik said.
The British were the first to use tanks, in 1916, but the French soon realized their potential and produced thousands of them by 1918. The Germans
were late to understand their value and built only 20.
Because they were behind, the Germans concentrated on disabling the enemy’s tanks. One way was to focus machine gun fire on the thin slits in the
armor that allowed the driver to see where he was going. But the most effective way was to fire a shell from a field gun into the side of a tank.
The front armor of an FT-17 was 16 mm thick, but the sides were just 8 mm. That is what happened to the tank acquired by the Liberty Memorial.
Inside it, Otoupalik found shrapnel of a 77 mm shell from a Krupp field gun. He also found fragments of the tank’s ball bearings and nuts and bolts
that were flung shotgun-like through the cramped interior by the impact. All of which will make for a powerful exhibit at the museum. Nine decades
of grime will be cleaned from the tank, but it will not be restored or prettied up. “I want people to understand this tank went through action,”
Cart said. “In the museum, we like to have pieces that tell a story. This piece has a story.”
About 30 feet away from where the tank will be is a real 77 mm German field gun in the collection. World War I tanks are not easy to come by.
Otoupalik said his research showed there were only about 36 French-made Renault FT-17s worldwide, and he said he thought this was the only one
that was “shell-torn.”
The memorial has purchased various items from the collector over the years, but he had refused to sell the tank, even though he had a second one
fully restored and even drivable. Then in September, a local donor said he would make a substantial gift toward the purchase of a tank for the
museum. Officials made Otoupalik an offer, and a few weeks later he made a counteroffer. After seeing the tank in person and being amazed, Cart
and Paul on Tuesday cut the deal. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, ended up giving $125,000 toward the purchase. Museum officials now
need to raise $175,000 to cover the remainder of the sale price, shipping costs and exhibit details. They will consult with museum designer Ralph
Appelbaum Associates to craft a display.
The museum will solicit donations from the public. For the Liberty Memorial, a tank has always been like the Holy Grail. Museum officials had a
line on the shell of one sitting in a park in Illinois, but that stalled. The French and Slovakian ambassadors to the United States said they
would help the memorial find one, as did retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey during a recent visit. What changed Otoupalik’s mind? “It’s hard to part with it,” he said. “But we don’t live forever, and that tank should have a proper home. This is the museum where I always felt this tank should go.” He will be invited down for the exhibit opening.
Salvaged from the depths... gun from a Belfast liner sunk in 1917
BELFAST TELEGRAPH by Fiona McIlwaine Biggins, 4th October 2007
An Ulster diver spoke last night of his delight and relief at leading the successful recovery of an historic gun from the wreck of a First World War
liner more than 40m under the water off the coast of Donegal.
Kevin McShane (49), originally from Lurgan, was the chief diver on The Laurentic salvage project. He described his joy and apprehension when he
first saw the 10.2 tonne gun finally reach the surface after 90 years below the sea.
"After all the hard work and preparation, we could hardly believe it when we saw the gun come out of the water. " And our delight quickly turned
to concern as we faced the task of towing it back the 14 miles from the lift site to the safety of Downings harbour. "But we were not to be beaten
this time - it was definitely third time lucky as we were able to bring the gun successfully in after nine hours and were greeted by hundreds of
local people who were waiting on the pier to welcome us."
The Laurentic salvage project aimed to retrieve one of eight guns from the Harland and Wolff-built sister ship of the Nomadic, which went down off
Malin Head in 1917 after hitting two German mines. The local dive enthusiast and a team of divers who managed to retrieve the artillery piece on
Sunday are now putting behind them two other failed attempts to lift the giant piece over the past three years.
Mr McShane went on to explain: "The recovery of the gun was only possible this time with the help of a £4,200, 15-tonne lift bag ... kindly paid
for by the Downings community and a compressor hose provided by Mark McKee in Belfast - after previous attempts using different methods proved
"It was lying under 40m of water at the mouth of Lough Swilly where there (are) strong currents and deep water. "But, thankfully, it is finally
safely ashore." However, the 6m long monster is now sitting at Mr McShane's home awaiting vital funds to be raised for its restoration. He added:
"We urgently need resources to restore it and have it mounted on display on the pier at Downings Bay by this time next year.
"So we hope the promises of funding assistance from various agencies will now come to fruition”. The divers also have one last trip to make back
down to the wreck to recover the stand for the gun to sit in at its final resting place. And they might even be lucky enough to come across the 25
gold bars - worth £4m today - that remain unrecovered from the wreck which sank en route to Nova Scotia carrying more than £5m worth of gold bullion
to pay for American munitions.
1918 War plane to be restored
LINCOLNSHIRE ECHO, 15th. September 2007
A Fighter aircraft built in Lincoln has been found in Poland and is now being restored. The single-seater Sopwith Camel F1 biplane, serial number
B7280, was made by Clayton & Shuttleworth during the First World War. It was being flown by Captain Herbert Patey when he was shot down behind
German lines in Belgium on the 5th. September 1918. Patey survived his crash-landing and was taken prisoner. The Germans then repaired his aircraft
and flew it until the end of the war when it was taken to Berlin and exhibited in an air museum.
It was moved to Poland for safekeeping when Berlin suffered heavy bombing during the Second World War and put into storage. Now it is at the
Narodowe Muzeum Lotnictwa in Krakow, where it is being restored.. Computer consultant Andy Kemp, who is a member of the First World War aviation
heritage charity Cross & Cockade, described the Sopwith Camel as a "bit feisty".
"There were about 5,500 made and if the official figures are to be believed, they scored about 1,290 victories," he said. "It was a very good
fighter aircraft but it was very tricky to fly and the truth is more people were killed in training than in actual warfare. ”I think B7280 has a
fascinating history behind it - from a Lincoln factory to a museum in Poland - and it will be great to see it fully restored. "The pilot, Captain
Patey, gained 11 victories and was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross). He was released by the Germans and returned home in December 1918
but died in the flu epidemic the following February." As reported in the Echo, transport enthusiast and author Stephen Pullen (40) has published
an A-Z of county firms which made cars, motorbikes and lorries entitled ‘The Motor Makers of Lincolnshire’. Mr Pullen said that without the aviation
industry there would have been no car industry in Lincoln. "When Ruston Proctor became Ruston & Hornsby after the war, it was left with loads of
skilled woodworkers and huge quantities of high-quality wood," said Mr Pullen, who lives in North Greetwell. "They had been told that the Government
would honour the contracts to make aircraft for six months after hostilities ended but essentially they were lied to. ”So they set about making
furniture for a while and then turned their attention to car making."
First World War tunnels to yield their secrets
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH by Jasper Copping, 26th August 2007
As battle raged across the fields of Flanders, British soldiers found brief respite from the horrors of the First World War in
"underground towns" far below the mud and gore. Now, more than 90 years after the armies left and the extraordinary networks of
tunnels were flooded, the task of finally revealing their secrets has begun.
The prize, archaeologists and historians believe, is an unprecedented insight into the lives of British troops on the Western Front.
They believe that, because of the absence of light and oxygen in the flooded tunnels, possessions, such as beds, weapons, helmets,
clothing and even newspapers, will have been preserved and will be found exactly as they were left in 1918.
After finding the entrances to dozens of miles of tunnels in the countryside near the Belgian town of Ypres, archaeologists and historians
last week began extensive surveying work. Robots will then be sent into the tunnels before, eventually, experts from Britain and Belgium
hope to pump out the water so that they can venture into the subterranean military towns. Situated in the middle of the front line between
the Germans and the Allied troops, the market town of Ypres was the scene of some of the worst carnage of the First World War. During four
years of fighting, the town was almost entirely destroyed and 500,000 soldiers and civilians died in an area of just over nine square miles.
According to the original trench maps, drawn up by British engineers, hospitals, mess rooms, chapels, kitchens, workshops, blacksmiths, as
well as rooms where exhausted soldiers could rest, were hewn from the soil, far beneath the water table. Dozens of "fighting tunnels",
offshoots which were burrowed under German trenches before being exploded, were also built. The rooms, connected by corridors measuring
6ft 6in high by 4ft wide, were fitted with water pumps but, when the troops left within weeks of the war ending, they were slowly submerged.
Remarkably, during 1917 and 1918, more people lived underground in the Ypres area than reside above ground in the town today. Peter Barton,
a British historian who has been advising the research team, said: "These were basically underground villages and in some of the cases, small
towns. "They haven't been seen since September 1918 when the British attacked and swept the Germans back over this land. Things will be exactly
as they were left. This is a unique opportunity. They will be perfectly preserved time capsules.
"The tunnels were left far, far in the rear [as the British soldiers advanced] and within weeks they would have been full of water. So when
the Belgians returned, all they would have seen was a little door in a trench full of water."
In recent years, the extensive wartime tunnelling has been the cause of mounting problems for the authorities in Flanders as the timber planks,
used to support the labyrinths, began to rot and cave in, causing subsidence.
Dr Tony Pollard, head of Glasgow University's Archaeological Research Division, said: "These are important archaeological sites but they are
beginning to subside and collapse. They are becoming a danger to buildings and people so we need to find out more about where they are and how
extensive they are."
Initially, experts are concentrating on three locations, and will use scanning equipment to find the main chambers. One network, near the
village of Hooge, once housed 1,000 soldiers, while a second, Vampire Dugout, near Zonnebeke, was briefly captured and occupied by the Germans
in their last-ditch Spring Offensive in 1918, before being retaken. The third, Hill 60, which housed up to 3,000 troops, is near Zwarteleen,
close to a railway line between Ypres and Menin. Although some artefacts may eventually be removed from tunnels and handed to the local authorities
and on to museums, those in charge of the project - the largest of its kind - intend to leave most in place.
Backpacker finds rare WWI bomber
Telegraph UK, by Stephanie Condron, April 20, 2007
A rare First World War bomber which was discovered in an elephant stable by a backpacker in India is to go on display at the Imperial War Museum today.
The two-seat bomber, the de Havilland DH 9, is the only one of its kind in Britain and has undergone a £500,000 restoration. And it might still be
gathering dust in the elephant house at a former maharajah’s palace in Rajasthan had the back-packer not rescued it for the nation.
Guy Black, the director of Aero Vintage, a specialist restoration company, described how he went to bring the plane home. “We went on a discreet holiday
to India and went to the fort and we asked about the wreckage,” he said. “They showed me to an elephant stable which was like a dog’s kennel but 100 times
bigger. “There among the saddles and other paraphernalia were piles of WWI wings and tails and other things. I could not believe my eyes.”
Angus Buchanan, of Retrotec, which helped with the rescue and restoration mission, said: “People asked why are you going to the trouble to take the thing
home, but it’s a prize to us.”
Some 2,000 DH9s were made but it is thought that there are just six left in the world. They were designed to carry out long-distance raids deep into
enemy territory. This one had been transferred to India as part of the Imperial Gift Scheme and subsequently to the State of Bikaner with at least two
other DH-9s. They first came to the attention of enthusiasts in the early 1970s when the Imperial Fort and Royal Palace of Bikaner opened to the public
as a museum and hotel. But attempts by western museums and collectors to acquire them were unsuccessful.
A rare World War I bomber that was discovered in a maharaja's elephant stable in India has been painstakingly restored on behalf of the UK's IWM.
By the time Mr Black arrived, the aircraft - made of wood, canvas and metal - was suffering termite and sun damage and the engines were missing. But
most of the craft’s flying surfaces were still covered in their original British military fabric.
It has taken two years to restore the plane and it is to go on show at the museum’s Duxford site, in Cambridgeshire. Mr Black said: “It has been a
challenging and remarkable venture and I am delighted that this incredible rare aircraft will be on display at Duxford.” “The Imperial War Museum does
not have a First World War bomber in its collection” said Richard Ashton, Director of Duxford, “so this aircraft is not just an important acquisition for
the IWM - it is a very significant addition to Britain’s national aircraft collections.”
Missing WWI sub may have been found
AAP, March 1, 2007
Australia’s first submarine, missing with all hands since the start of World War I, may have been found in Papua New Guinea waters.
Veterans Affairs Minister Bruce Billson said he was cautiously optimistic an object detected by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) survey ship HMAS Benalla
on the sea floor off the island of New Britain was the wreckage of AE1.
But he cautioned that it was early days.
"Further investigation using a remotely operated vehicle with imaging capabilities will be necessary to positively identify the object found by Benalla,"
he said in a statement.
"The RAN is looking at options to deploy a mine hunting vessel to the area when operational commitments permit to determine whether the object is in
fact a wreck."
The disappearance of AE1 with all 35 crewmen was Australia's first major loss of World War I.
Like the loss of HMAS Sydney in World War II, the sinking of AE1 in 1914 remains a complete mystery.
AE1's sister ship AE2 is far better known. This vessel managed to penetrate the Dardanelles during the Gallipoli campaign and was lost in the Sea of
Marmara on April 30, 1915. AE2's wreckage was located in 1998.
Australia purchased both vessels from Britain before World War I and they were commissioned into Australian service at Portsmouth on February 28, 1914.
Both were commanded by British officers with a mixture of British and Australian crew members.
Both set sail for Australia in March and arrived in Sydney on May 24, 1914.
On August 11, 1914 - five days after Australia declared war on Germany - AE1 was dispatched to support operations against German forces on New Britain,
then a German possession.
Patrolling off the east coast of the Duke Of York Islands on September 14, AE1 vanished without trace. A brief search revealed no sign of the vessel.
The search mounted this week by Benalla and HMAS Shepparton was aided by the work of retired navy commander John Foster who researched the loss of AE1
over the past 30 years.
His research suggested the vessel sank in a particular area, most likely from an accident rather than enemy action.
Mr Billson said the search was conducted over the last two days using a towed side scan sonar.
He said Benalla discovered what appeared to be a man-made object approximately 25-30 metres long and four metres high.
To protect the site pending a further survey, no further details of the location will be revealed.
Turkey's Armenian dilemma
BBC News, February 27, 2007
Turkey did not always deny the mass killing of Armenians. As the US House of Representatives prepares to vote on recognising the 1915 massacres as
genocide, journalist and historian Bruce Clark looks at how and why Turkish attitudes have changed over the past 90 years.
"The more foreign parliaments insist that our forebears committed crimes against humanity, the less likely anybody in Turkey is to face up to the
hardest moments in history."
That, roughly speaking, is the message being delivered by Turkey's hard-pressed intelligentsia as the legislators in one country after another vote for
resolutions which insist that the killing of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 amounted to genocide.
"Will the adoption [of a resolution] help to inform the Turkish public... on the great tragedy which befell the Ottoman Armenians?
"No, it can hardly be expected to... broaden the debate on the history of the Ottoman Empire's final period."
So writes Sahin Alpay, a liberal-minded Turkish academic, in a recent column in Zaman newspaper.
What such appeals reflect, of course, is an elementary fact of human psychology: the phenomenon of individual and collective defensiveness.
When people feel completely secure, and among friends, they can be very frank about misdeeds which they, or people close to them, have committed.
But hackles will go up again as soon as they become insecure, because they feel their accusers are acting in bad faith, or that accepting their
accusations will have bad consequences.
In recent years, liberal Turkish scholars have expressed the hope that membership, or even prospective membership of the European Union, will give the
country enough confidence to discuss the Armenian tragedy without threatening those who use the "g-word" with prosecution.
Sceptics may retort that in recent years, things have been moving in the opposite direction: the revised Turkish penal code and its preamble, adopted in
2005, make even more explicit the principle that people may be prosecuted if they "insult Turkishness" - a crime which, as the preamble makes clear,
includes the assertion that the Ottoman Armenians suffered genocide.
It is certainly true that Turkish defensiveness - the sort of defensiveness which can treat open discussion as verging on treachery - has been running
high since the 1960s when the Armenians round the world began lobbying for an explicit acceptance, by governments and parliaments, that their people
suffered genocide in 1915.
A campaign of violence launched by Armenian militants in the 1970s, who mainly attacked Turkish diplomatic targets and claimed over 50 lives, raised
hackles even higher.
All that raises a question: has there ever been a moment, since the events of 1915, when the Turkish authorities might, conceivably, have acknowledged
or even freely discussed the view that almost every Armenians regards as self-evident: the view that in addition to relocating the entire ethnic
Armenian population of eastern Anatolia, the "Committee of Union and Progress" (CUP) which wielded effective power in the Ottoman empire also gave
secret orders to make sure that as few as possible of the deportees survived the experience?
In fact, there was such a moment: the immediate aftermath of World War I.
At that time the Ottoman government was intact but dependent for its survival on the good graces of the victorious British Empire.
The sultan's regime was desperately trying to distance itself from the actions of the CUP, the "state within a state" which in 1915 had masterminded the
deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians - and is alleged to have given secret "extermination" orders at the same time.
During the early months of 1919, few people in Anatolia publicly doubted that Armenians had suffered atrocities that were egregious even by the
standards of a terrible war.
The sultan and his foreign minister were at pains to reassure the British of their determination to punish the perpetrators of these atrocities,
and they held four big and revealing trials whose proceedings were published in the government gazette.
In April 1919 a local governor, Mehmed Kemal, was found guilty and hanged for the mass killing of Armenians in the Ankara district.
But the climate shifted rapidly after May 1919, when Greek troops were authorised by the victorious Entente powers to occupy the Aegean port of
Izmir and, in another part of Anatolia, Mustafa Kemal - later known as Ataturk - began his campaign to make the Turks masters in their own land.
Turkish rage over the Greek landing lent fuel to the Kemalist cause, and discredited the Ottoman government.
With every passing month, the British government's leverage over the Ottoman authorities waned, and so did British enthusiasm for the conduct of war
In 1921, the British government made a pragmatic deal to release a group of Turkish prisoners it had been holding in Malta on suspicion (among other
things) of crimes against the Armenians.
They were freed in exchange for Britons being held by the Turks.
In Turkish lore, this release is held up as proof that no serious evidence against the captives existed.
What it certainly proves is that British zeal for investigating the past was waning, even as the Kemalist cause gained strength and the
British-influenced Ottoman regime faded into oblivion.
In any case, the officially cherished version of the Turkish state's beginnings now insists since the empire's British adversaries and occupiers were the
main promoters of war crimes trials, those trials themselves must have been worthless or malicious.
But in the midst of all this nationalist discourse, something rather important is often obscured, and there are just a few Turkish historians who dare
to point this out.
The atrocities against the Armenians were committed by an Ottoman government, albeit a shadowy sub-section of that government.
There is no logical reason why a new republican administration, established in October 1923 in an act of revolutionary defiance of Ottoman power, should
consider itself responsible for things done under the previous regime.
In fact, when the nationalist movement was founded in 1919, the climate of revulsion over the sufferings of the Armenians was so general that even the
neo-nationalists were keen to distinguish themselves from the CUP.
Some see significance in the fact that the nationalist movement chose to rally round an army officer, Mustafa Kemal, who had never been anywhere near
the places where the Armenians met their fate.
The very fact that the Turkish republic bears no formal responsibility for eliminating the Armenian presence in eastern Anatolia (for the simple
reason that the republic did not exist when the atrocities occurred) has given some Turkish historians a flicker of hope: one day, the leaders of the
republic will be able to face up to history's toughest questions about the Armenians, without feeling that to do so would undermine the very existence
of their state.
Fatma Muge Gocek, a Turkish-born sociologist who now works as professor in America, has said there are - or will be - three phases in her country's
attitude to the fate of the Armenians: a spirit of "investigation" in the final Ottoman years, a spirit of defensiveness under the Turkish republic,
and a new, post-nationalist attitude to history that will prevail if and when Turkey secures a places in Europe.
That makes perfect psychological sense, even if the immediate prospects for a move from phase two to phase three do not look very bright.
The new art of trench warfare
The Australian, February 21, 2007
Later generations are coming to appreciate the handiwork of bygone warrior artists, writes Antony Davies.
TRENCH art is a type of folk art improvised from discarded wartime equipment and found objects by soldiers in between military actions.
It is closely related to 18th and 19th century prisoner-of-war work, and scrimshaw items made by sailors since the 16th century.
Hardly collected since the 1950s, the category is attracting new buyers as the centenary of the start of the World War I approaches.
The same has happened in other fields around the time of a centenary or bicentenary, usually resulting in a market reappraisal, including the appearance
of new reference books, speciality auctions and higher prices.
Auction forums such as eBay now have large categories servicing trench art collectors, while important collections are emerging for future exhibitions in
general museums and galleries, as well as more obvious military memorial collections.
Soldiers have always made decorative objects in between fighting, but trench art relates particularly to brass-cased armaments. It appeared as a specific
collecting category around the time of the Spanish-America and Boer wars.
By World War I, trench art was popular with the unprecedented numbers of soldiers who found little else to occupy their minds during months of trench
In the same way that sailors in port sold their craftwork to collectors, soldiers bought and sold trench art with each other, and with civilians, as
opportunities arose to buy food or to send gifts home.
Most items of trench art were made from discarded shell cases. Soldiers collected the casings as souvenirs, and engraved the sides with inscriptions or
with depictions of the fight. Others were sculpted into decorative shapes. More skilled workmen such as engineers could extend the quality of their work
to include turning, casting and machining, although most work completed in the field remained simple.
Some soldiers produced trench art while recuperating from wounds, and others waited until the end of the conflict to create a memento away from the firing
The most common shell case was a 30cm long cylinder of high-quality brass with a turned, fixed brass cap at one end. Sizes varied between countries,
the French and Americans using 75mm barrels, the Germans 77mm and the British 18-pound guns and 105mm, 155mm and 210mm artillery pieces.
Naval shells were also used, both by sailors and by soldiers recovering them on land. The shape made an ideal base for reworking into a vase or small
container, and the most common items of trench art today are vases, tobacco jars, biscuit tins and trinket boxes.
Other popular subjects were models of artillery guns, tanks, aircraft, uniform items such as hats, and caricatures of enemy leaders. Moneyboxes, ashtrays,
paper weights, inkwells, coasters, schnapps beakers, bible boxes, cribbage boards, pillboxes and toys were all popular items. Some soldiers collected debris
from their own side, others favoured enemy shells as a memento of the experience.
After the war, as soldiers filtered home to find employment shortages and low wages, small industries emerged producing souvenirs using war surplus
The quality of post-war articles tends to be higher, as artists could access better equipment and more materials.
Small industries produced trench art souvenirs from 1918 to the mid-1920s, encouraged by communities and governments as a suitable activity to help
returned soldiers badly damaged by war recover and reintegrate into society.
Some of the skills used to create trench art were taught to injured soldiers to help them support themselves after the war. Collectors buying the output
ranged from families who had lost relatives to servicemen interested in particular military regiments or battles. In the years leading up to World War II,
much WWI trench art was collected for scrap metal, unwittingly making the more significant large early items very rare.
In Australia, one returned serviceman, A.J. Ogilvie, produced an ingenious range of mechanical car mascots using scrap brass for mounting on a car
Sold to patriotic Sydneysiders, the mascot range included a beautifully detailed biplane with a waggling tail and a propeller that would spin as the car
picked up speed.
Ogilvie's mascots were used by several prominent 1920s motorists, including the famous adventurer Francis Birtles, who mounted one on each of his
record-breaking cars in the 1920s and 1930s. The mascots were patented in Sydney in 1918 but are now extremely rare, valued at about $3000 each.
Specialised items such as car mascots fall at the high-value end of the trench art market, where most items can still be purchased for less than $500.
However, there are definite trends appearing in the US and Britain, where prices range up to nearly $10,000 for the best WWI items, such as model cars
In Australia, prices still rarely exceed a few thousand dollars, making this country a great place to buy in.
Of 295 trench art items available on eBay this week, about 25 per cent were located in Australia, with prices ranging from $10 to $1000.
The balance were in Britain and the US, where prices ranged from $35 to $8900.
Commercial firms looking for ways to re-establish their businesses after the war produced souvenirs that fall into the same collecting sphere, albeit
In England, ceramic factories such as Goss, Shelley, Grafton and Swan China all made small mementos in the shape of tanks, guns and bombs designed to
appeal to the patriotic spirit.
Commercially made items are hardly unique, but some are nonetheless very scarce today, as most of the small and inexpensive souvenirs were discarded a
decade or so after the war as people tried to forget.
Goss Great War collectables today range from about $100 to more than $2000 for rare models.
World War II trench art produced further variations on the military theme, but as warfare became increasingly fast-moving and mechanised the artistic
output of ordinary foot soldiers was more limited. Trenches were occupied for shorter periods and more artwork may have been produced in prison camps
than in the field.
Collectors appear to be more interested in WWI than WWII, probably because the earlier conflict nostalgically records a period distinctly removed from
the present day, whereas some 1940s themes are still uncomfortably familiar.
As mementos of war, trench art was originally collected by people directly affected. A century on, however, an enthusiastic market has grown
internationally for WWI material from the European battlefields, and while military personnel and museums would account for some of the buyers, most
collectors have no direct connection with either war or military.
Some trench art collectors also collect militaria, uniforms, medals, firearms and the like, but militaria is considered a separate field. Trench art
allows collectors to explore materials and objects brought directly from the battlefield without appearing to have a fascination for the more serious
aspects of war.
World War I vet Albert Wagner dies at 107
Associated Press SMITH CENTER, January 23, 2007
Albert F. "Jud" Wagner, who served with the Marines in World War I, has died at the age of 107.
Wagner died Saturday at Smith County Long Term Care, said his son J.S. Wagner, who is 84 and also a former Marine.
The elder Wagner was honored along with his family in November 2006 at a Veterans Day ceremony at the Statehouse.
At that time, according to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office and the Commission on Veterans Affairs, he was the only known World War I veteran living in
Kansas and the oldest former Marine in the nation.
He had also been honored in October 2006 when a 30-mile section of U.S. 36 through Smith County was designated as World War I Veterans Highway.
J.S. Wagner recalled his father as a strong man who liked farming and raising livestock in Smith County and talking to his four children about serving
his country in France and Germany. He enlisted at age 17 and served in the Marines in 1918 and 1919.
The war stories were "the reason I became a Marine. They take care of one another. They're a proud outfit," said J.S. Wagner, who fought in World War
II and in Korea. His younger brother, Robert Wagner, of Phoenix, was a Marine in mid- to late 1950s.
A Marine detachment from Wichita will provide a military graveside service for Jud Wagner following his funeral at 1:30 p.m Wednesday at the
Simmons-Olliff-Boeve Chapel in Smith Center.
Villagers erect memorial to Scots who fell at Passchendaele
IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent, January 22, 2007
The people of a small Flemish village plan to honour thousands of Scottish soldiers who found a last resting place in Flanders' fields 90 years ago this
summer at the height of one of the First World War's bloodiest battles.
The villagers of Zonnebeke hope to raise a Celtic Cross on the long ridge where the men of the 51st Highland and 9th and 15th Lowland divisions died
storming German trenches and strongpoints during the four-month offensive at Passchendaele.
The action was the third phase of the fight for the Ypres salient - pronounced "Wipers" by the men in the trenches - and was aimed at driving through
enemy lines to capture U-boat pens on the Belgian coast from which enemy submarines were wreaking havoc on allied shipping.
More than 300,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers and at least 260,000 Germans became casualties in the fighting.
The name of Passchendaele remains synonymous with terrible loss for generations of Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders whose forebears fell in the
The Flemish developed a close relationship with the tens of thousands of Scots who fought there and now want to honour their memory and the historic ties
between Scotland and that part of Flanders.
Ishbel McFarlane, the Edinburgh-based trade commissioner for Flanders, said: "The trading links between the two countries goes back to the Middle Ages and
there are also close cultural and political connections.
"The Flemish people plan to erect a memorial to Scotland's war dead from 1917 to demonstrate their empathy and goodwill towards the Scots."
A fundraising campaign has begun to raise money for the Celtic Cross and there are plans for a weekend of events to mark the occasion from August 25 to 27.
This will include the inauguration of the war memorial on the Frezenberg, the highest point above the battlefield, and a dawn service on what was the
British forward trenchline, accompanied by a Scottish piper playing a lament for the fallen.
Eight Scots won the Victoria Cross, the UK's highest gallantry award, between July 31 and the end of November in some of the bitterest combat seen in four
years on the Western Front.