Category: great war

Troops of the 246th Wurttemberg Reserve Infa…

Troops of the 246th Wurttemberg Reserve Infantry Regiment emerging from their dugouts upon receiving the alarm signal. Albert, May 1918.

German stormtrooper training around Sedan, 1…

German stormtrooper training around Sedan, 1917.

The pilot and observer of a British R.E.8 recc…

The pilot and observer of a British R.E.8 recce plane look over a map with their CO before takeoff.

May 21, 1918 – American Yacht Fights Off U-Boa…

May 21, 1918 – American Yacht Fights Off U-Boat

Pictured – USS Christabel, who proudly bears a white star on her smokestack as credit for one submarine defeated.

A little ship became an unlikely hero on May 21 1918 when the armed yacht USS Christabel drove off a German submarine attacking an Allied convoy. The former civilian yacht served as the rear guard for a slow British steamer convoy sailing through Quiberon Bay, in the heart of U-boat hunting territory when Lieutenant Commander M.B. McCord spotted an oil slick in the water, a sign that a German sub was prowling around.

McCord’s fast ship sailed over and dropped depth charges, which exploded but seemed to hit nothing. Two hours later, a lookout spotted a periscope rising from the water. This time McCord’s depth charges struck home when a “very violent” explosion rose up through the water. The German submarine was mortally wounded but managed to reach Spain, where the crew were interned. One American sailor named Daniel Sullivan earned the Medal of Honor for jumping on a depth charge which accidentally fell on deck and securing it before it could detonate.

German signallers manning a heliograph in a …

German signallers manning a heliograph in a trench, c1917.

A British soldier killed during the Battle of …

A British soldier killed during the Battle of the Somme, 1916.

An Austro-Hungarian sentry in a snow-covered…

An Austro-Hungarian sentry in a snow-covered trench on the Torzburg Pass (Bran Castle), winter 1916-1917.

Turkish troops manning an advanced firing tr…

Turkish troops manning an advanced firing trench somewhere in Palestine, c1916.

Mairi Chisholm and Elsie Knocker with a grou…

Mairi Chisholm and Elsie Knocker with a group of Belgian troops in their trenches near Pervyse, 1917.

May 20, 1918 – Germany Sends Aid to Russian Wh…

May 20, 1918 – Germany Sends Aid to Russian White Forces

Pictured – Soldiers of the Volunteer Army in South Russia in 1918.

The Russian Civil War is a baffling topic for historians. Although in collective memory it is often seen simplistically as a battle between monarchist Whites and communist Reds, in reality it was an anarchic conflict with many factions that constantly switched sides. One example: the White movement was a loose confederation of governments, armies, and warlords who all wanted to topple the Bolsheviks. Rather than re-instating the Tsar the initial reason for many of the White armies to form was rejection of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and a continued desire to fight the Germans.

Meanwhile the Germans had encouraged Lenin’s revolution from afar and then made peace with the Bolsheviks. By May 1918, however, socialist revolution looking likely to spread through Russia and into the Central Powers’ empires. Suddenly the Bolsheviks became more potential threat than ally. At the same time, the Allies considered whether the Bolsheviks might make more useful allies against Germany than the scattered and poorly-organized Whites. In May Germany send thousands of rifles and fifteen million roubles to the Volunteer Army, a warband of officers and Cossacks in South Russia. Before the sides of the Russian Civil War had even taken shape they are already being mixed up.