Author: 100 years ago, the war Waldo saw

                                        “And y…

you know, Maggie – a wooden is not hereditary”

1919, American soldier returning home from the war, with a prothetic leg –  “You And Our Maimed Soldiers” – The Red Cross Magazine, Volume 14

Dear Dad

American Lieutenant Thompson was an executive assistant to
the chief of the AGRS. His job became an intensely personal one when he sought out the body of his own brother,
Joseph. Thompson related to his father how his brother’s remains were
retrieved and described the personal effects that were found with him:

Dear Dad;

I intended to write mother, but I can’t tell
her as much as I can you. When you read this, you can explain to her
everything that you wish.

I have just taken Joe from his grave in the woods to a lot
in the national American Cemetery at Romagne, France. I had to supervise the
work myself. I made a personal inspection of the body, which I’d rather die than do, but which had to
be done. I’m going to be very plain in telling you, and know it might hurt, but
I know you will wish to know. I am awful glad that it was I
that could do it, and not any of you, as it would have drove any of you insane.

I found in his clothes: your last letter to
him, a pocket knife, fountain pen, his diary, testament, Book of Psalms, another
book with annotations of all mail received and sent, some small pictures he had
received from home, about 10 Francs in money, two watches, a few German coins, and German postcards.

His diary is very interesting, and his Psalm
book is wonderful, and shows that he died with a clean soul. .

The poor kid prayed for peace and God gave it to him, Dad. How thankful I am that God gave it instantly. He was prepared to die, and did not
suffer. I am happy over the thoughts of it, but God only knows how I miss him.
I loved him so much. Dad, these things are worth
the world to you. I shall preserve them carefully; although they are in
pretty bad shape, owing to the dampness of the ground and body. 

Joe now rests in the Romagne Cemetery, with 35,000
others. It is a beautiful place and our national Monument in France. I pray that
you will let his body lie there in peace. I know he would wish it.

As I stay over here longer, and see how well our cemeteries here will be taken care of, I am more convinced
that our Joe should remain here. I have had one experience of moving his body, and it was so hard that I wish now that
you all would allow it to remain here as a part of our country’s great monument
to the world war.

I know Ma will be pleased to have this stuff. To see his own writing will be more to her than his body. Please let it now Rest in Peace.

I feel now that I
have accomplished everything possible.

Write soon, Dad, and love to all.

Your Son, Art.’

May 1919, France – the entire letter here: Grace Under
Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War
(scroll up to the
beginning of the letter )

                 “There are two means of refug…

                 “There are two means of refuge from the misery of
life — music and cats.”

German-born philosopher
Albert Schweitzer – Photo: WW1 Austrian soldier and his kitty chilling in a trench @ Pike Grey 1914-1918

                      “Do you have a camouflag…

                      “Do you have a camouflage
bathing suit? It’s the summer’s Newest Fad!”


”Even the bathing costume has been reborn by the war, and camouflage is the
order of the day.”


Photo: June 15, 1919, dazzle-style swimwear – The New York Tribune

Les ModesRevue mensuelle illustrée, 1919, Gallica


                                                                  Testing the wind

100 years ago today, two debonnaire British aviators, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, made the first
non-stop transatlantic flight
, from Newfoundland to Ireland. Their friend, Margaret
Carter, captured on camera the pilots and field crew’s intimates moments before
this history-making flight.

See the awesome article and photos “In 1919, Margaret Carter had a camera and
access to history-making pilots Alcock and Brown”

Photo: June 1919, Testing the wind in St John’s Newfoundland, photo by
Margaret Carter – CBC


                                                                  Mending the flag

Before WW1, the US Navy ordered each and every American battleship to have
within its arsenal at least one sewing machine and one sailor, sufficiently proficient in the “art of tailoring”:

‘REPAIR OF FLAGS – Although ships carry spare sets of flags, Signalman or third class petty officers may be assigned to
repair bunting. If a bunting space is available, it will contain a sewing machine, bunting, thread, tapes, and tabling material. If a bunting repair space is not available,
repairs may be done by using a sewing machine located in the deck spaces.’

U.S. Navy SignalmanPopular
Mechanics, Volume 14

WW1, sailor/tailor mending the flag on the deck – Ministère de la Culture, France


                                                                    Bone Dry

‘The Prohibition Law went into effect in
June 1919, just in time to greet the million and more American soldiers who
were returning from the War in France and who had acquired abroad a taste for
wines and spirits only to find their own beloved native land had gone bone dry. But
not for long. Within days after
the Prohibition Law had gone into effect, the illegal traffic in drinks was
underway and in a big way, never to be checked until Repeal in 1933′

Decanter Magazine

Illustration: a “changed” Lady
Liberty, and a prohibitionist welcome a returning soldier – Stars and Stripes, June 1919 – The
A.E.F. in Cartoon By Wally – The National WW1 Museum and Memorial

Note: The Wartime
Prohibition Act took effect June 30, 1919, with July 1, 1919 becoming known as
the “Thirsty-First”.

‘Wednesday, June 11 1919 – I used to kick abou…

‘Wednesday, June 11 1919 – I used
to kick about the rain – but thats gone – so I’ll have to complain of the heat
and it sure does get hot in this country. Worse than Missouri in August – We
were ordered  to this place [near Verdun]
to dig up bodies – at the rate we are getting this job done we will be over
here until about 1925. I’d like to get home to see everyone but there is no chance
– absolutely none – we can get away before July.’

Source: James
Robert Davis, M.D., Medical Corps,  816th
Pioneer Infantry Division – Missouri Over

‘It was a very gruesome task, and many of these people who worked for the graves registration
service had no sense of smell or taste – From the film footage I’ve seen, on
the procedure of disinterment and the processing of remains, it seemed that
they all became an automatism and were just doing a job. They had to set their
emotions aside. How could one cope if you were emotionally involved with every
remain that you would have to process?’

Chester and
Gertrude at War: Evansville WW I soldier honored century later –  Courier &

Video showing WW1 US Contractors
and army personnel removing the American dead from battlefield graves and moving
them to larger national cemeteries, or on ships for repatriation to the United
States: Burying the
Dead – From the Civil War to WW1

WARNING: The videos published on these pages contain
graphic content and may be upsetting
to some people.



“waiting, waiting, waiting”


“Why we’re here:
we’re here because we can’t
get home. The ocean is too wide, If it was narrow as the
Rhine, We’d swim to the other side. So we’re waiting, waiting waiting
until the ocean’s dry, then we’ll hike back to God’s country to Mother and
mince pie.”

June 1919, American
soldiers in France & Germany, waiting to go home – The Amaroc News: The Daily Newspaper of the
American Forces in Germany
  – Photo: spring 1919, American soldiers
in Brest, France, waiting to sail home –Tom Caulley

“Small groups would come back from their Sunda…

“Small groups would come back from their Sunday
stroll laughing and singing. All
was peace and serenity.”

June 1919, postwar France – La Revue hebdomadaire, Volume 6 – Photo: June 1919, sur un chemin
de campagne, by André Kertész. Hungarian-born photographer, Kertész settled in France after WW1, and
became one of Europe’s leading photographic artists. – Ministère de la Culture, France