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bamamick
03-27-2011, 11:39 AM
I just finished Paul Gross' movie about the Canadian involvement in this major battle of the First World War. It was sentimental and predictable, and like 'Gallipolli' and 'the Lighthorsemen' it had as one of the major characters an evil Brit who didn't mind in the least these young 'colonials' giving up their lives for the Empire. I also have copies of 'Joyeux Noel', 'My Boy Jack', 'a Very Long Engagement'. 'Behind the Lines' (I think this is called 'Resurrection' in the UK) and probably a couple of others that don't immediately come to mind. WWI is such an interesting thing to study and think about because in our day and age who in their right mind would volunteer to go fight in such numbers for 'God, king, and country'? I mean, what is the current size of the US military in active field troops? Something like .5%? From the statistics qouted something like 8% of all of Canada participated in WWI. That's a very high number in comparison to the population.

We in the US do not study WWI in the way that it seems some of our ex-colonial cousins do. I assume that has to do with the fact that we found our identity independent from Great Britain much earlier, and that for us WWI was just another step in establishing ourselves as a world power rather than taking a step towards further independence from the 'mother' country. Personally the period is fascinating. One of my favorite books is a little thing I found in a bragain bin called 'the Officer's Ward', about French officers who have suffered severe facial trauma during the war and how they go about putting together some sort of lives in spite of that.

Anyone here know of a 'modern' film that features US involvement in WWI? The only one I can think of is 'Legends of the Fall'. Anything else?

Taylor Tarvin
03-28-2011, 02:28 PM
We in the US do not study WWI in the way that it seems some of our ex-colonial cousins do.

I believe the reason for this is twofold. The first is our very late entrance into the war. Although we had over a million men in Europe by the time the war ended, and many units performed well in the campaigns we were involved in , it was insignificant to what the other allied nations contributed (i.e. lost).

We also didn't persue colonial ambibtions in the now defunct Ottoman empire like many of our allies did. These colonial aquisitions reshaped political debate, and realities with our allies that it didn't with us, at least not for several decades.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-28-2011, 04:38 PM
Hang on a minute there.

First, for all European nations the First World War was and remains the greatest catastrophe that they ever underwent. Of course we are fascinated by it. For the USA it was not a catatrophe; fewer Americans died and the USA started to play a major international role at Versailles.

Second, let us not forget that Saudi Arabia is at least as much a creation of the United States as it is of any European states.

Cuyahoga Chuck
03-28-2011, 05:07 PM
I have just spent many hours viewing numerous documentaries on WWI. This one, partially available on Youtube, is supposedly not otherwise available.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhbe7xVmC0U&feature=related
This one, about the battle for Vimy Ridge is also a fair look at the Canadian Army.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHj88WeLohk&feature=related
PBS showed an 8 hour WWI documentary called "The Great War" which may still be available. Very well done.
One thing that sticks with me after a steady diet of this stuff is it was all very gastly and the survivors were often as damaged as the dead. To think that the Germans jumped back into the fire after only a twenty year hiatus is also amazing.
I have anumber of flics about the war, both versions of "All's Quiet.....", "The Big Parade", "Wings" but the one most memorable is "Paths of Glory" (1957) directed by Stanley Kubrick.

WX
03-28-2011, 05:07 PM
US troops didn't go into serious action till 1918 even though they had started arriving in 1917. The awareness of just what impact WW1 had on Europe is going to be far greater in Europe than in the US. There are still many towns in France and Belgium where flowers are placed on graves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWc9EvjxAk4

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-28-2011, 05:13 PM
People of my generation in Europe knew, as children and as young adults, men who had been subalterns in WW1. The two dimensional representations of them in recent fiction are irritating.

WX
03-28-2011, 05:21 PM
A very good WW1 book is Somme Mud by Private E.P.F Lynch.
Here's a description.

Somme Mud tells of the devastating experiences of Edward Lynch, a young Australian private (18 when he enlisted) during the First World War when he served with the 45th battalion of the Australian Infantry Forces on the Western Front at the Somme, which saw the most bloody and costly fighting of the war. In just eight weeks, there were 23,000 Australian casualties.
The original edition of twenty chapters, was written in pencil in twenty school exercise books in 1921, probably to help exorcise the horrendous experiences Private Lynch had witnessed during his three years at war from mid-1916 until his repatriation home in mid-1919. Lynch had been wounded three times, once seriously and spent over six months in hospital in England.
Published here for the first time, and to the great excitement of historians at the War Memorial Somme Mud is a precious find, a discovered treasure that vividly captures the magnitude of war through the day-to-day experiences of an ordinary infantryman. From his first day setting sail for France as the band played 'Boys of the Dardanelles' and the crowd proudly waved their fresh-faced boys off, to the harsh reality of the trenches of France and its pale-faced weary men, Lynch captures the essence and contradictions of war.
Somme Mud is Australia's version of All Quiet on the Western Front. Told with dignity, candour and surprising wit, it is a testament to the power of the human spirit, a moving true story of humanity and friendship. It will cause a sensation when it is published.
Released: 2008
ISBN / Catalogue Number: 9781741668940

Peter Malcolm Jardine
03-28-2011, 08:18 PM
It's fair to mention that America wasn't in the WWII for a while either.

WX
03-28-2011, 08:32 PM
It's fair to mention that America wasn't in the WWII for a while either.
They didn't leave it quite so late for the 2nd one and made up for it with interest:D

SMARTINSEN
03-28-2011, 08:42 PM
The Guns of August and the prequel, The Proud Tower by Anne Tuchman are a good insight into the genesis of WWI. Like WWII may be considered the final act of WWI, the unfinished business of the continental wars of the middle 1800s set the stage for August 1914.

Sorry, I cannot recommend anything on film.

Lew Barrett
03-28-2011, 08:59 PM
The Guns of August and the prequel, The Proud Tower by Anne Tuchman are a good insight into the genesis of WWI. Like WWII may be considered the final act of WWI, the unfinished business of the continental wars of the middle 1800s set the stage for August 1914.

Sorry, I cannot recommend anything on film.

I quite agree with you except that it was Barbara Tuchman who wrote "The Guns of August." She is a methodical historian, with a wide range of interests not always the easiest to read. Was Ann was her hot younger sister? :)

I'd guess a definitive American movie about the Great War has not been made probably because the trauma was very largely European. I have always fancied "Paths of Glory" but it is not an American topic. Mick, have you watched any of the History Channel offerings? They are all British, and they are all quite well done. The series using original footage is quite moving. I think it is simply called "World War I." But it is not a "movie."

If we are recommending WWI books, I'd add August 1914 by Solzhenitsyn about the early actions on the Eastern Front.

I find it hard to wrap my head around the horrors of trench warfare, especially during the sharp, prolonged engagements that ground the armies into mud. The prolonged hopelessness of those places seems unendurable.

The Bigfella
03-28-2011, 09:36 PM
I think there's little doubt that the over-exploitation of the colonial troops by the Brits has had a lasting impact. Read Les Carlyon's "The Great War" to gain an understanding of that exploitation.

The first Battle of Passchendaele (Oct 12) didn't involve the Canadians, incidentally. There were 5 British, 2 Australian and 1 New Zealand brigades involved and wiki notes "more than 2,700 New Zealand casualties, of which 45 officers and 800 men were either dead or lying mortally wounded between the lines. In terms of lives lost in a day, this remains the blackest day in New Zealand’s recorded history." Adolf Hitler was gassed here on Oct 13th, unfortunately, not well enough.

The second Battle of Passchendaele (Oct 26-Nov 10) had the Canadian Corps relieving the ANZACs (II Corps) on the left, with the I ANZAC Corps remaining on the right.


Re American involvement in WW1... their first offensive actions were in a much smaller battle, but what in many senses was the most important battle of WW1 (given subsequent events) - the Battle of Hamel on July 4 1918. Again, from wiki:



The Battle of Hamel (4 July 1918) was a successful attack launched by the Australian Corps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Corps) of the Australian Imperial Force (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Imperial_Force_(1st)) and several American units against German (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany) positions in and around the town of Hamel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamel,_Nord) in northern France (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France) during World War I (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I). The battle was planned and commanded by Lieutenant General John Monash (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Monash) (later knighted (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight)). Many of the tactics used were illustrative of the departure from the largely unsuccessful tactics of earlier years and the development of modern military tactics such as the use of combined arms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combined_arms), which had previously been implemented in the Battle of Cambrai (1917) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cambrai_(1917)). The battle was a success, with all objectives being achieved only 3 mins over the planned battle time of 90 minutes. In previous battles, using conventional tactics, the fighting could have lasted for weeks or months with much higher casualty rates. For example, a similar defensive position had resisted capture for two months in the Battle of the Somme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Somme). The battle was notable because it was the first time in the war that American troops participated in an offensive action and it was the first time that American troops served under non-American command. Four American companies participated with Australian troops under Australian command (although three of the companies were recalled before the battle).[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hamel#cite_note-1) There were 1062 Australian casualties (including 800 dead), as well as 176 American casualties (almost 100 dead), while there were probably 2000 Germans killed and 1,600 captured, along with the loss of much of their equipment.


The tactics used in the Battle of Hamel became the basis of Blitzkreig, used to brutal effect by the Germans in WW2.

JayInOz
03-28-2011, 10:23 PM
Several members of my family fought in the first world war. The stories told by those who survived of the carnage under British command were bloody horrendous. My grandfather said it was like reverse culling livestock- they took the absolute strongest and best and mowed 'em down. My Dad will be 85 in a few days, and he still gets emotional talking about it. JayInOz

bamamick
03-29-2011, 06:43 AM
Some good discussion here from differing points of view. I appreciate the input.

In Paul Gross' movie one of the main characters is someone who never appears on film: the father of two other characters who was born in Germany and immigrated to western Canada. He goes back to Germany and volunteers, is killed during Vimy Ridge, and leaves his daughter and son not only having to fend for themselves financially while dealing with a ton of emotional baggage, but being ostracized and persecuted by their community. I have always hear that one of the reasons for President Wilson's reluctance to join into the fight was that there were so many German-speaking Americans in this country that he did not know what would happen if the US did throw in with the Allies. Financially the US could not afford to break away from Britain and France, but the entire midwestern US was settled by people of German and Scandinavian descent (in large part), and that made things a little dodgy. I think that Wilson felt like there had to be concrete justification or we would sit it out, and perhaps the sinking of the 'Lusitania' was that justification?

My grandfather Nolan Lake was a solider in the Great War in France. He was with the US cavalry in Mexico and on the border there and served in France. I have photos of he and his trusty mule. One of things that I was always told about that war is that the French insisted that if we (Americans) were going to serve over there that we must do it under their command, which not only violated our Constitution, but tore at the pride of every American that volunteered to go fight. The feeling here was that whatever victory there would eventually be would be a French victory and not because the Allies stepped in to assist them. I have read many books about the Great War, but it never fails to surprise me, the things that went on.

One last thing, I have an old book around here somewhere called the Great War in Africa, which focuses mainly on the struggle in east Africa between the South Africans and the Germans and their askari allies commanded by Paul Von Lettow-Vorbeck (sic?). Absolutely fascinating stuff. The Germans had planned German East Afrika as a model colony and had all sorts of factories and labs there, manufacturing all sorts of 'ersatz' goods well before the War began. Von Lettow never lost a battle, though he did yield the field, and when the war was over in Europe he had to be ordered to cease fire on the South Africans and their native allies. A fascinating man.

Ah well. It's been nice talking with you guys. I am off to the airport for a flight to Germany. Be gone two weeks.

Mickey Lake

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-29-2011, 06:49 AM
The histories that I have read put the French and British attitude to US forces a little differently; France and Britain wanted US troops in the front line but were concerned about the length of time that would be needed to bring the US Army, which for most practical purposes was a volunteer citizen army like Kitchener's Army, up to the level of training required for the Western Front. They therefore wanted US units to be integrated with their own forces.

Pershing insisted on the US Army fighting as a unit; he accelerated the training as much as possible and got US troops into the line in quantity by the summer of 1918.

It's a bit of a forgotten issue; we need to look back and remind ourselves of what a tiny, but professional, force, the US Army was before WW1.

bamamick
03-29-2011, 07:31 AM
Oh, I agree with you A C-B. And that's kind of along the lines of what I have read, but maybe my stuff is coming from a bit of a more political angle from an American point of view.

When the Spanish-American War broke out there was a good reason why the American army had to depend so heavily on non-professional volunteers. Most of our army was spread out in places like California and Texas along the borders with Mexico (with whom we had had a war only 50 years earlier) or out on the frontier. We had a small but effective navy and we had Marines, but we did not have much of an army.

Mickey Lake

Taylor Tarvin
03-29-2011, 07:31 AM
Andrew, I didn't mean to give the impression that we weren't involved in the middle east until the later 20th century, we just didn't get involved as soon as Britain and France. If the cause of current problems were as simple as the third post would indicate the solution would be simple.

Mickey, We didn't get involved until late in the war because of our isolationist policies and public attitude. Wilson was reelected running as an ani-intervention president. If you were to ask most americans why we became involved in WWI you would probably get a slackjawed blank stare. Some would reply that it was the sinking of the Lusitania which is partially correct. The Lusitania was sunk in 1915, two years before our entrance in the war. There was such an international outcry after the sinking that Germany recinded thier unrestricted warfare policy. When Germany announced it would resume thier unrestricted U-boat policy in early 1917 Wilson used the rally cry of the Lusitania to nudge the american public towards intervention. When Germany realized that America might become involved they started negotiations with Mexico to declare war on the US if we declared war on Germany. That probably sealed the deal as far as Wilson was concerned

The Bigfella
03-29-2011, 07:39 AM
Yes... that issue of green troops coming into a different style of war is what was behind the US troops fighting under Monash at Hamel. Pershing ordered it not happen I believe, and some units were withdrawn. Monash wanted to ensure they went in with experienced troops. Some did. Pershing's policy resulted in a lot of unecessary deaths... not that that was an unusual thing in a war that killed 37 million people.

Flying Orca
03-29-2011, 09:42 AM
Some novels that delve into the Great War with varying degrees of success include Mark Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War (one of my favourite novels, but not for its WWI content), Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road (highly recommended), and the vastly underappreciated Martin Booth's Islands of Silence, which I defy anyone to read without tears.

Kevin G
03-29-2011, 12:39 PM
Jay in Oz:
I misunderstand your last post, about your g'pa. If he is just 85, he would have been born 1925, long past WW1. This certainly did not make WW2 any more pleasant. My brother-in law served in Korea, and when he come back, he never was the same, quiet and reserved after that. It doesn't seem that any of them are any fun. What is the purpose?

keving

Kevin G
03-29-2011, 12:43 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGVmOS9yM6M&feature=related

Keving

stevebaby
03-29-2011, 01:21 PM
Yes... that issue of green troops coming into a different style of war is what was behind the US troops fighting under Monash at Hamel. Pershing ordered it not happen I believe, and some units were withdrawn. Monash wanted to ensure they went in with experienced troops. Some did. Pershing's policy resulted in a lot of unecessary deaths... not that that was an unusual thing in a war that killed 37 million people.In the closing days of the war,when it became obvious that the war would soon be over,there were a number of attacks ordered by American officers. The cynical have claimed that this was so those officers could receive medals with which to enhance their post-war careers. Being later to join the conflict than their Allied counterparts in the British and French armies,the Americans felt deprived of the opportunity to demonstrate their bravery,and sent their own troops into battle to make up the difference.
Hard to believe,I know.

ishmael
03-29-2011, 02:01 PM
A very fine novel about how WWI affected the social fabric of Europe is "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks. While it contains some wrenching portrayals of the battlefield, its focus is also on those who survived and their relationships. A superbly written book! Love, horror, fear, redemption, all wrapped in very readable prose.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-29-2011, 02:04 PM
On Steve's point, a recent BBC programme on the last morning of the War - the hours leading up to the agreed cease fire at 11.00 am on the 11th November 1918 - illustrated that point very clearly - the only people who were pressing forward attacks were American, and they had the highest casualties. One unit was ordered into attack by its commanding officer because he had heard that it was possible to get a hot bath in the town they were facing.

On a more cheerful note, I liked the account of the German machine gunner who, at 11.00 precisely, stopped firing, stood up, waved and bowed to his opponents!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-29-2011, 02:05 PM
A very fine novel about how WWI affected the social fabric of Europe is "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks. While it contains some wrenching portrayals of the battlefield, its focus is also on those who survived and their relationships. A superbly written book! Love, horror, fear, redemption, all wrapped in very readable prose.

Yes, that one gets a vote from me.

ccmanuals
03-29-2011, 02:14 PM
I just finished Paul Gross' movie about the Canadian involvement in this major battle of the First World War. It was sentimental and predictable, and like 'Gallipolli' and 'the Lighthorsemen' it had as one of the major characters an evil Brit who didn't mind in the least these young 'colonials' giving up their lives for the Empire. I also have copies of 'Joyeux Noel', 'My Boy Jack', 'a Very Long Engagement'. 'Behind the Lines' (I think this is called 'Resurrection' in the UK) and probably a couple of others that don't immediately come to mind. WWI is such an interesting thing to study and think about because in our day and age who in their right mind would volunteer to go fight in such numbers for 'God, king, and country'? I mean, what is the current size of the US military in active field troops? Something like .5%? From the statistics qouted something like 8% of all of Canada participated in WWI. That's a very high number in comparison to the population.

We in the US do not study WWI in the way that it seems some of our ex-colonial cousins do. I assume that has to do with the fact that we found our identity independent from Great Britain much earlier, and that for us WWI was just another step in establishing ourselves as a world power rather than taking a step towards further independence from the 'mother' country. Personally the period is fascinating. One of my favorite books is a little thing I found in a bragain bin called 'the Officer's Ward', about French officers who have suffered severe facial trauma during the war and how they go about putting together some sort of lives in spite of that.

Anyone here know of a 'modern' film that features US involvement in WWI? The only one I can think of is 'Legends of the Fall'. Anything else?

The movie Fly Boys was actually pretty good. At least some great flying sequences.

http://images.moviepostershop.com//flyboys-movie-poster-2006-1010378580.jpg

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454824/

Watch the movie here on hulu:


http://www.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK//video/hulu/vi1041303321/

ishmael
03-29-2011, 02:45 PM
"On a more cheerful note, I liked the account of the German machine gunner who, at 11.00 precisely, stopped firing, stood up, waved and bowed to his opponents!"

On a similar note, I remember a story of a Christmas Armistice when troops on both sides came out of their trenches, shared their meager rations, sang songs, etc. "We are comrades, even though we are trying to kill each other." As if trying to kill each other had nothing to do with a recognition of the other's basic humanity.

Humans are a strange bunch.

wardd
03-29-2011, 02:47 PM
"On a more cheerful note, I liked the account of the German machine gunner who, at 11.00 precisely, stopped firing, stood up, waved and bowed to his opponents!"

On a similar note, I remember a story of a Christmas Armistice when troops on both sides came out of their trenches, shared their meager rations, sang songs, etc. "We are comrades, even though we are trying to kill each other." As if trying to kill each other had nothing to do with a recognition of the other's basic humanity.

Humans are a strange bunch.

that really ticked off the higher ups on both sides

WX
03-29-2011, 03:10 PM
Jay in Oz:
I misunderstand your last post, about your g'pa. If he is just 85, he would have been born 1925, long past WW1. This certainly did not make WW2 any more pleasant. My brother-in law served in Korea, and when he come back, he never was the same, quiet and reserved after that. It doesn't seem that any of them are any fun. What is the purpose?

keving

His Father is 85.

Kevin G
03-30-2011, 09:26 AM
Jay:

Mea culpa... I guess that's what I get for not reading carefully enough

Keving

Captain Intrepid
03-30-2011, 10:07 AM
On Steve's point, a recent BBC programme on the last morning of the War - the hours leading up to the agreed cease fire at 11.00 am on the 11th November 1918 - illustrated that point very clearly - the only people who were pressing forward attacks were American, and they had the highest casualties. One unit was ordered into attack by its commanding officer because he had heard that it was possible to get a hot bath in the town they were facing.

On a more cheerful note, I liked the account of the German machine gunner who, at 11.00 precisely, stopped firing, stood up, waved and bowed to his opponents!

I always choke up when I think about George Lawrence Price of the 28th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. Killed at 10:58, 2 minutes before the armistice came into effect. He exemplifies for me the sheer waste and uselessness of the conflict.

WX
03-30-2011, 04:11 PM
Both sides used up as much ammunition as possible right up to the minute to avoid having to carry it all back to the supply dumps.

varadero
03-31-2011, 01:28 AM
My Grandfather served both at the Somme and Galipoli, he ended his service in the 1960s with the Foriegn Service in the Sudan and Libya. He died blind at the age of 98, having seen queen Victorias funeral as a boy, to supersonic flight as an elderly man. As a boy he told me much of his life, and he had a lot to tell. He never talked of the Western Front. When I cleaned out may parent's house after their passing, I found a pack of letters he sent to my Grandmother, I also found his diarys. Comparing what he wrote home, with the equivilent dates in his diary, there was no comparison. One talked of food, birdsong, Spring time and Summer. The other speaks of anguish, foul stench, freinds disapearing yards from him only to find boots. I shook and cried, I still have not reopened the diarys in 10 years. His handwriting started off in typical Edwardian cursive caligraphy, and at the end was a blotted, erratic, and heavy handed, letters different sizes, scrawl. When I think of him I see a dignified tall man with a chest of medals, standing to attention at 90 in front of his wheel chair. Armistice day, Poppies, tears on his cheek.
God bless them all, on all sides.