Category: wwi

A ruined chateau at Hollebeke, near Ypres, sho…

A ruined chateau at Hollebeke, near Ypres, showing a trench leading to shelters in a cellar, November 1916.

A German signal station on Mont de l’Hospice j…

A German signal station on Mont de l’Hospice just outside Locre, one and a half miles west of Kemmel Hill, April 1918.

US Adopts “Work or Fight” Policy

An anti-loafing notice from Texas.

May 23 1918, Washington–The ire of the American public was not directed only at the Germans, but at Americans perceived to be “slackers” (draft dodgers) or “loafers” (those not engaged in “productive” work).  Maryland enacted a strict “anti-loafing” law in August 1917, and the federal government followed its example on May 23, when the War Department issued a “Work or Fight” order; as of July 1, those of draft age engaged in unproductive industries, or found “loafing around a poolroom,” would be liable to be called up for military service even if they had previously been exempted for other reasons.  The categories of unproductive industries included restaurant staff, doormen & elevator operators, the entire entertainment industry (excluding actors), servants, and store clerks.  Exemptions could be provided for night shift workers if it were found that the only replacements available for their jobs would be women.  Notably not exempted were baseball players; the 1918 season would ultimately be cut short by several weeks as a result.

More importantly, the “Work or Fight” order had clear racial implications.  One circuit court clerk in Maryland estimated that 90% of those who ran afoul of the “anti-loafing” laws were black.  Throughout the south, states eagerly enforced the “Work or Fight” rule to supplement existing Jim Crow vagrancy laws.  Throughout the country, many of the occupations specifically targeted by the rule were predominantly black.  And since, with limited exceptions, black soldiers were not allowed to fight, the Work or Fight rule essentially amounted to a forced labor program for black men. In some cases, however (particularly among hotel waitstaff), young white men were replaced with black men outside of draft age.

Today in 1917: Massive Italian Attack on the Karst

Today in 1916: British Capture Capital of Darfur
Today in 1915: Italy Declares War on Austria

Baroness Elsie de T’Serclaes (aka Elsie Knocke…

Baroness Elsie de T’Serclaes (aka Elsie Knocker) and her colleague, Mairi Chisholm in a Belgian reserve trench near Nieuport, 1917.

A signals section of the 13th Battalion, Dur…

A signals section of the 13th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry awaiting news of the progress of the unit’s attack towards Veldhoek on 20 September 1917.

German soldiers on look-out duty in an armoure…

German soldiers on look-out duty in an armoured sentry post,  c1917.

May 23 1918 “British soldier extinguishi…

May 23 1918 “British soldier extinguishing the fire at a cartridge dump at Saigneville” https://t.co/icZn1dgIIN https://t.co/5yGvwk3G9U http://twitter.com/ThisDayInWWI/status/999043700767379456

May 23 1918 “Destruction caused by the f…

May 23 1918 “Destruction caused by the fire at a cartridge dump at Saigneville” https://t.co/fiwZl0RBf7 https://t.co/uwKhWpazL5 http://twitter.com/ThisDayInWWI/status/999043504738217984

May 23 1918 “Destruction caused by the f…

May 23 1918 “Destruction caused by the fire at a cartridge dump at Saigneville” https://t.co/rENuiGrgXN https://t.co/ilxOIzkc7O http://twitter.com/ThisDayInWWI/status/999043099945979904

May 23 1918 “French Nieuport aeroplane, …

May 23 1918 “French Nieuport aeroplane, serial number N10591, ready for flight at the HQ Camp at Issoudun” https://t.co/aW6RQoykhU https://t.co/bGF5BRc6uh http://twitter.com/ThisDayInWWI/status/999042882840416256