Category: 1917

French Chasseurs alpins on patrol.

French Chasseurs alpins on patrol.

“Did you enjoy the Kaiser’s birthday?” German …

“Did you enjoy the Kaiser’s birthday?” German officers in Italy, January 27, 1918.

“Buy a Liberty Bond lest I perish.” American p…

Buy a Liberty Bond lest I perish.” American propaganda, 1917.

The wreck of the German mine-laying submarine …

The wreck of the German mine-laying submarine UC-61. Stranded ashore near Boulougne, a troop of Belgian cavalry captured the crew!

January 7, 1917 – American Supreme Court Uphol…

January 7, 1917 – American Supreme Court Upholds Conscription

Picked – President Wilson picks the draft number.

Like Great Britain, the United States had a small volunteer army when it entered World War One, and an ingrained dislike of conscript armies. The last time a draft had been employed in America, during the Civil War, it caused riots and discontent. Many citizens claimed that had moved to America specifically to avoid such European tyranny.

But when the US joined the First World War in 1917, the President Wilson felt the only way to raise an army was through conscription. The government dissuaded volunteer-minded Americans (like Teddy Roosevelt) from signing up, recommending rather that men wait to be drafted and put where they were needed. Nevertheless, many Americans resisted the draft, particularly in the countryside. The most significant challenge came in court, where opponents argued that conscription infringed American civil liberties. On January 7, 1918, the Supreme Court presented its ruling in support of the Selective Service, stating unanimously that Congress had the power to conscript and equip an army during wartime.

Royal Artillery gunners retire to their billet…

Royal Artillery gunners retire to their billets in an overturned water-tower. Bapaume, January 5, 1917.

The men of the Imperial Camel Corps. From left…

The men of the Imperial Camel Corps. From left: Australian, British, New Zealander, Indian.

British troops put on a pantomime of Cinderell…

British troops put on a pantomime of Cinderella at Bapaume. Sport and theater were very popular diversions behind the lines, but the women’s parts usually had to played by men.

January 4, 1918 – Famed Explorer Frederick Sel…

January 4, 1918 – Famed Explorer Frederick Selous Killed in East Africa

Pictured – Selous was the archetypal Victorian explorer, a great hunter and sportsman, and the inspiration for literary figures like Allan Quartermain.

In a minor skirmish on January 4, 1918 in East Africa, a German sniper shot and killed Frederick Selous as he crept through the bush. Selous was an eminent Victorian, a great figure of the period of European exploration in Africa. First going to South Africa at age 19 in 1872, he began a lifelong career in the bush, wandering through the continent, particularity in the land that would become Rhodesia, and today Zimbabwe.

A good friend of the like-minded American Teddy Roosevelt, Selous was in his mid-60s when the First World War broke out, but volunteered in a battalion of similar men, the 25th Frontiersmen, soon nicknamed the “Old and Bold.” After his death in January 1918, the enemy commander, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, sent a personal apology to the British. His old friend Teddy eulogized him as the ideal Victorian man:

“He led a singularly adventurous and fascinating life, with just the
right alternations between the wilderness and civilization. He helped
spread the borders of his people’s land. He added much to the sum of
human knowledge and interest. He closed his life exactly as such a life
ought to be closed, by dying in battle for his country while rendering
her valiant and effective service. Who could wish a better life or a
better death, or desire to leave a more honourable heritage to his
family and his nation?”

“An Artful Stratagem.” A Western Mail cartoon …

“An Artful Stratagem.” A Western Mail cartoon detects cynicism in Germany’s peace approach to Russia, January 3, 1917.