Category: ww1

Baroness Elsie T’Serclaes (nee Knocker) and …

Baroness Elsie T’Serclaes (nee Knocker) and Miss Mairi Chisholm, nurses and ambulance drivers dubbed “The Madonnas of Pervyse”

at the entrance to a dugout in the trenches on the Western Front, c1917.



This is how German lands will look if France reaches the Rhine.”  A beautifully painted propaganda poster by artist Egon Tschirch

Serbian officer observing from a Machine Gun…

Serbian officer observing from a Machine Gun position in a front line trench. Balkan Front, September, 1916.

French Chasseurs alpins on patrol.

French Chasseurs alpins on patrol.

“Our new colonel is a rookie from Belfort and …

“Our new colonel is a rookie from Belfort and
has never seen a single boche up-close. So we’re
in good hands with such a genius! He still thinks that he is at the caserne and
have us exercice from 11am to 4pm, just 5km from the boches! – He wants to
treat us like rookies, but the older folks will find a way to calm him down,
just as they’ve done with the previous colonel we had last year.”

1918, French soldiers talking about the inaptitude of their abusive superior(s), a prevalent problem in the French
Army at this time. Translated from the French  book “Les poilus ont la
parole: dans les tranchées : lettres du front, 1917-191
8″ –  Photo : february 25 1918, French soldiers in training… Bibliothèque
de documentation internationale contemporaine

Former Tsarist officers labor in Petrograd. In…

Former Tsarist officers labor in Petrograd. In February and March 1918, War Commissar Leon Trotsky called for imperial officers to help lead the new Red Army. 8,000 volunteered to escape unemployment and to to continue fighting the Germans. Later in the war, however, Trotsky was forced to conscript ex-imperial officers. Although officially “military experts,” many of the Red Army’s leaders were closer to hostages, as their families would be held accountable if officers failed or defected to the anti-Bolshevik Whites. This system proved effective and created stable, competent leadership for the Red Army.

Machine gunners of the 120th Rajputana Rifle…

Machine gunners of the 120th Rajputana Rifles, 18th Infantry Brigade, in a trench, Fort Shaiba, 12th April 1915

February 25, 1918 – Russian Army Demobilized, …

February 25, 1918 – Russian Army Demobilized, Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army Formed

Pictured – Are you among the volunteers?

Was the Bolshevik revolution to be stillborn? On February 23, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin convinced the Bolshevik Central Committee to accept peace with Germany. The terms were devastating: Russia lost all claims to the Baltic, Ukraine, and Finland, while the Germans would keep the land they had occupied since breaking the armistice. Germany also demanded the Russian Army be demobilized. The Bolsheviks only agreed to peace after a stormy session where Lenin threatened to resign if no conclusion was reached.

The peace was to be signed in March, but already its effects were clear. It put Petrograd almost in German hands; the Bolsheviks would have to leave for Moscow. Moreover, even if peace was made with the Germans, the soviet regime could obviously not be left defenseless in the face of its many enemies. With the Russian army gone now both officially and quite literally, scattered in every direction by the Central Powers’ invasion, a new army had to be formed.

That week the Bolsheviks began calling for volunteers for a new revolutionary army. 60,000 workers in Petrograd signed up to be a part of the Workers’ and Peasents’ Red Army. Trotsky appealed to former imperial officers to sign up as well. Over 8,000 did. Although few Russian officers sympathized with the October Revolution, most of them had been left unemployed, while they also desired to continue fighting against the Germans. Despite these initial recruiting successes, morale remained low. Thousands of men deserted quickly, leaving the Red Army with a strength of only 150,000 men by March. Worse, organization was hap-hazard. Many units elected their own officers, and the Bolsheviks had abolished the military’s rank structure. In battle against experienced German troops the nascent Red Army stood no chance.

Falkenhayn Departs From Ottoman Service

Otto Liman von Sanders (1855-1929), center, pictured with Oswald Boelcke, right, before his death in 1916, and another pilot.

February 25 1918, Damascus–Since his dismissal from overall command of German forces, Falkenhayn had been increasingly sidelined–first to Romania, and then to command the new joint Turko-German Yildirim Army Group in the Middle East.  The original plan for Yildirim had been to retake Baghdad, but this was eventually called off; Falkenhayn’s more ambitious plans for another attack across the Sinai were forestalled by Allenby’s own very successful offensive in Palestine in the fall of 1917.  As a result, Falkenhayn’s chief accomplishment of his Ottoman service was the loss of Jerusalem and most of the rest of Palestine.  On February 25, Falkenhayn was dismissed and replaced by Liman von Sanders, who had had overall command of the successful Turkish defense at Gallipoli.  Falkenhayn was sent to command the Tenth Army in Belarus, where he would command the German occupation of the area for the remainder of the war.

Ultimately, neither Falkenhayn nor Liman von Sanders were quite up to the task of defending against the British.  One of Liman von Sanders’ Turkish staff officers would write:

The policy of Falkenhayn was defense by maneuver; that of Liman defense by resistance in trenches.  Falkenhayn never fully realized how difficult maneuver was to troops short of transport on bad roads; Liman never realized that ground in Palestine had not the value it had at Gallipoli.

Sources include: Roger Ford, Eden to Armageddon

Today in 1917: U-Boat Sinks Laconia, Kills Two Americans

Today in 1916: Fort Douaumont Falls to Germans
Today in 1915: Enver Pasha Orders Disarming of Armenian Soldiers

Early 1918, the importance of aerial photograp…

Early 1918, the importance of aerial photography –’At the front officers in
bombing squadrons find that photography is one of the most important branches
of their work. In fact, next to bombing, it is their most important work.
Furthermore, commanders look more and more for
photographs to prove the value of bombing squadrons.

A squadron may go out, drop their bombs with excellent results,
and do a considerable amount of destruction, but if on returning they have no
photographic record of the destruction done, they can hardly be expected to
receive credit for what they did. Obviously, it is to the interest of the
pilots and observers concerned to perfect themselves in aerial photography.

Now, the camera is the best observer there can be. If handled
properly, it will bring back records of such detailed nature as no observer, no
matter how well trained, can; and furthermore the records will be accurate. The
human observer is bound to be affected by external conditions; he will be on
the lookout for enemy aircraft, and he will probably be, to say the least,
somewhat flustered by antiaircraft fire. Needless to say, he cannot be
expected to see the many details which the camera records.’

WW1 Air
service information circular
– Photo: February 22 1918 near Arras, a
seemingly satisfied Canadian aviator serving with
the Royal Flying Corps, examines an aerial photo. Gouvernement du Canada