A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
I've written earlier in this blog on fabulosity in land battleships though not so much about the real thing.
For example, in "Movable Maginot: a Feast of Morbidly Techno-Gigantism", http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2012/12/moveable-maginot-a-feast-of-morbidly-techno-gigantism.html, as well as others:
[Also "moveable maginot" is a phrase that does not show up online, except for here.]
Moving away from the mega-behemoth of imagination, let's have a look at this loco-tank as it was contrived and constructed in 1916, with the photograph appearing in Popular Mechanics Magazine for November, 1916 (midway through WWI).
There is an image that I have in my head of a grey train car of WWI. There were trains that would pull into stations of large cities, trains with cars of wounded soldiers back from the front, with Red Cross designations on the car sides. Crowds would come to the station to see and cheer the wounded soldiers.
There were some trains that would pull a car at the very end of the line, a car with no cross. It was in these cars that the shell shocked soldiers would sometimes be brought back home.
"War neurosis" and "combat stress" was generally what was known as "shell shock" (not named until 1917 by Charles Myers), and what we'd more commonly referred to today as post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Shell shock was little understood during the war, and soldiers who manifested the behaviors associated with it were often accused of cowardice, and desertion, and in some cases faced disciplinary action that could end in jail or (in some cases) death. They certainly weren't necessarily treated as "wounded", and so it seems for the most part they were treated as separate cases.
Given what was known of shell shock the treatment to the modern eye can look severe, odd, and austere, and wrong--soldiers were subjected to electro-shock therapy, physical routines leading to exhaustion, solitary confinement, and simple incarceration. In other cases the condition would be recognized as a defense detriment and in order to alleviate it the soldiers would be sent back from the front for a few days' rest. The problem with shell shock though would continue to grow, and could be seen as a threat to a fighting force in general, and therefore some of the official responses to it left no doubt that succumbing to shell shock was a serious business, and that soldiers so afflicted would be treated differently from other wounded soldiers.2
By 1917 though Major Arthur Hurst devised a new method for treating the shell shocked soldier, with a major emphasis establishing the condition as caused by battle, and not a flight-not-fight syndrome. At the Seale-Hayne Hospital, in Devon, Hurst treated some 300 soldiers over the course of 15 months, from April 1918 to July 1919, and seemed to have caused some real improvement. That said, there were many detractors of his methods, and many more who questioned its effectiveness--to that end there seems to be no longitudinal data to support much of a claim for long-term success in Hurst's treatment.
He did however make a major contribution to the treatment of PTSD by attempting to deal with it medically, and also employing a large dose of occupational therapy in additiion to many other proactive responses to shell shock. In another interesting and pioneering move Austin made use of motion picture cameras to record the before/after effects of his treatments. This however has also come into question because some amount of the "before" images were dramatized1.
I found these videos of the Hurst treatments on youtube, and whether some of the "before treatment" footage was acted or not, the images are very jarring:
There are also a few samples of the magazine/newspaper produced at Seale-Hayner Hospital during this time, with contributions by the patients, some of which is reproduced below:
More photographs are available here: http://seale-hayne.com/?flagallery=seale-hayne-military-hospital
And more: http://www.seale-hayne.com/books/mag1st/#p=1 http://www.seale-hayne.com/books/magWW1/#p=2
The poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) described victims of shell shock in his 1917 poem "Survivors", written while Sassoon was himself being treated for the condition at the more-enlightened Craiglockhart medical facility in Edinburgh, and published in Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918):
NO doubt they’ll soon get well; the shock and strain Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk. Of course they’re ‘longing to go out again,’— These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk. They’ll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died,— Their dreams that drip with murder; and they’ll be proud Of glorious war that shatter’d all their pride... Men who went out to battle, grim and glad; Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad.
1. "From 1917 to 1918, Major Arthur Hurst filmed shell-shocked patients home from the war in France. Funded by the Medical Research Committee, and using Pathé cameramen, he recorded soldiers who suffered from intractable movement disorders as they underwent treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley and undertook programs of occupational therapy at Seale Hayne in Devon. " From: "War Neuroses and Arthur Hurst: A Pioneering Medical Film about the Treatment of Psychiatric Battle Casualties", by Edgar Jones, Journal of the History of Medicine, May 2011, http://jhmas.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/05/19/jhmas.jrr015,
2. "When evacuation to the base hospital is necessary, cases should be treated in a separate hospital or separate sections of a hospital, and not with the ordinary sick and wounded patients. Only in exceptional circumstances should cases be sent to the United Kingdom, as, for instance, men likely to be unfit for further service of any kind with the forces in the field. This policy should be widely known throughout the Force."--Report of the War Office Committee of Enquiry into "Shell-Shock", 1922.
See also a good entry "War Psychiatry", in WWI Online, http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/war_psychiatry
[Detail from the cover of a juvenile adventure story taking place in the trenches, 1918; source below.]
I'm accumulating some titles for trench warfare in WWI that are all available online. I was a little surprised to find as many as I did. Here it goes:
There are a number of useful diagrams, including the following (which reminds me in a vague way of Feynman diagrams):
Source for the two above images: Use of mines in trench warfare (from the French school of St. Cyr) Translated and edited at the Army war college. July, 1917. by United States. Army War College, Washington, D.C. Published 1917
Selections of WWI Trench-related Manuals--Full text:
Trench warfare, by Major Jas. A. Moss, U.S. Army; being a practical manual for the training and instruction of officers and men in trench warfare, based on the latest... by Moss, James A. 1872-1941. Published 1917 http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101042554194;view=thumb;seq=1
The caption for this photograph describes it as action at St. Quentin, though I can find no evidence as to what particular battle at St. Quentin it refers to, which means it can be from 1914 to 1918. The photograph was taken by the German photographic journalist Hermann Rex, and was published in Der Weltkrieg in seiner Rauhen Wirklichkeit...in 1926. I've written a little about Rex elsewhere on this blog, and how his work seems to have been subjected less to censorship of "difficult" images than many. Certainly his book is grittier than many I have seen, though I cannot identify his work as it was published during the war. (It is my impression, in general, that after having looked at all of the issues of Illustrated London News and Illusrirte Zeitung for 1914-1918, that the German illustrations/photos seem to have been less restrictive in displaying death and destruction.)
The image below made a very strong impression, stronger still as I looked more closely.
This postcard was provided to British servicemen during WWI for a brief, highly abbreviated, communication with folks at home. The writer could choose between being well, or being in the hospital (via illness or being wounded), or being sent "down to the base". There's a following bit about whether the soldier had received mail and what kind, and then a memory note, telling the receiver that they had "received no letter" from them "lately" or for a heartbreaking "long time".
There's room for a signature--the only writing not a circle--and then room for nothing else. (Another version of this postcard below has been utilized with the "writer" placing a line through the text that was not applicable. In this case the postcard was identified as being for use by British POWs.)
As the card states very explicitly, any other writing would lead to the card being destroyed.
It wasn't much, but for the recipient, it might have been enough. Pity those who received this card with only "for a long time" circled.
"The reverse of a field service postcard showing entries, such as 'I am quite well', to be deleted by the sender as appropriate." MH 34058" Source: Imperial War Museum http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/podcasts/voices-of-the-first-world-war/podcast-21-news-from-the-front
See also this post with another example of a WWI "form letter" : "An Extraordinary POW Postcard 1918" [http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2014/09/an-extraordinary-censorable-pow-postcard-1918.html]
There's just a particular nothingness here, like a piece of bad-earth life raft in an ocean of blown up mud, a general nastiness of ground, junk the land littered with sharp remnants of exploded trees, and these soldiers are in the middle of it in a scene extending to the horizon.
There were lots of smells in WWI, though most of the time the idea of it all is hard to convey. Not ere, though, because this is an olfactory image, a photograph of smell as much as anything else.
This ground reminds me of the mud I saw in Guguletu Township near Capetown--squalid, lifeless, smelling of some petroleum-something, unexpectedly unknown, unique.
I don't have a source for this photo, I'm sorry to say, though it is a scene of British soldiers. It could be the aftermath of a battle, or an advance over a previously-contested. I can't say which.
The soldiers in the foreground are probably in a bomb crater, and those in the near-background might might be in a trench, though that is uncertain. Outside of the orderliness of the soldiers, there's really nothing else but a chaos broken into little pieces.
There's also the grime of it all. In the detail--where we see a soldier grabbing a quick nap--we can see a rifle with a lot of damage to its stock, and another just beyond, with a cloth wrapped around the firing mechanism, an attempt to keep the rifle operational.
In the larger photo above you can see others attempting to keep their weapons clean and functioning--a trying and necessary undertaking in these circumstances.
This is an absolutely fantastic portrait of James Reese Europe (188-1919)--the "Martin Luther King of Music" according to Eubie Blake--showing him as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1917/18. Europe enlisted in the 15th National Guard Regiment, in Harlem, and arrived overseas on January 1, 1918, the conductor of a military orchestra. The 15th was eventually re-mobilized as the 369th, better know as "The Hell Fighters" and "The Harlem Hell Fighters", and which served with very high distinction.
I'm posting this because I like Europe, and this is just a hands-down get-out-of-my-way portrait of the man.
Here's a cover of one of Europe's pieces of sheet music:
And in keeping with the portrait above, a study from the music:
Also, here's a recording made by Europe and found at the Library of Congress National Jukebox: "The Castles in Europe", Europe's Society Orchestra, 1914http://www.loc.gov/item/jukebox.3728/
...with more streaming audio from the Library of Congress here: http://www.loc.gov/search/?in=&q=%22james+reese+europe%22&new=true
Lastly, and again from the L.C., here is the full text of the not-published Memoir of Lieutenant "Jim" Europe, by Noble Lee Sissle, completed in 1942. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/aaodyssey:@field(NUMBER+@band(musmisc+ody0717))
I found this interesting image in Illustrirte Zeitung, 18 July 1918, though I very nearly passed it by. I saw its neighbor photo of a machine gunner and his ammo and a quick pass over this photo made it look very similar, my mind filling in cartridges before my brain recognized that the ammunition was actually a pigeon.
[For other posts on WWI pigeons, enter that term in the google box at left]
This is an image of German aviator pigeons, I know, but I included this U.S.-based explanation of the general practice of using pigeons in aircraft as a means of communicating with the ground in pre-airborne radio communication days:
"U.S. Navy aviators maintained 12 pigeon stations in France with a total inventory of 1,508 pigeons when the war ended. Pigeons were carried in airplanes to rapidly return messages to these stations; and 829 birds flew in 10,995 wartime aircraft patrols. Airmen of the 230 patrols with messages entrusted to pigeons threw the message-carrying pigeon either up or down, depending on the type of aircraft, to keep the pigeon out of the propeller and away from airflow toward the aircraft wings and struts. Eleven of the thrown pigeons went missing in action, but the remaining 219 messages were delivered successfully."--Wiki quoting Adrian Van Wyen, Naval Aviation in World War I. 1969. Washington, D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations. p. 30.
Here's the contiguous photograph, the gunner looking as though he was reading for some abusive weather:
I found this interesting graphic in the Illustrirte Zeitung (Leipzig) showing the production of bombs in Germany for last half-year of WWI. The aviator seems happy enough, at least for the readers of the magazine, reassuring that something was goign on in the defense of the country, even though the writing was pretty much on the wall when this image appeared in late August, 1918, six weeks away from the end. It is a small graphical display--about 2.5x4 inches or so--and it is a congratulatory message on the massive amount of munitions that were produced from January-July 1918. This was one among many that just wasn't enough.
I found these schematics in the November 16, 1918 issue of Engineering, published just a few days after the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. No doubt the plans were made from a downed aircraft, and I suspect it was probably not published during the war. This was about the largest plane produced during WWI, and it was a beast. In any event, I've reproduced the plans below.
And a larger version of the above, just because it looks so cool:
[Source: Scientific American Supplement, August 31, 1918]
There's an unusual article in the August 31, 1918 issue of the Scientific American Supplement on the economics of recycling. This recycling, however, was goods of war, and with that, mostly regarding the re-use of artillery casings. Since there were millions and millions used, that is millions of pounds of brass, which means there were also millions of pounds of copper. Seeing that copper was so much in use in so many other areas, it was established to recover as many casings as possible.
[Source: Scientific American Supplement, August 31, 1918]
Recycling was important because as the article points out the expense of the war was limitless, while the economics of the countries involved were not--hence, the recycling. And as we can see int eh photos accompanying the article, the supply for recycling was mountainous. Curiously there was no mention of the women performing a bunch of these tasks even though they are prominently displayed in the photos--perhaps by this point in the war, fours years on and just a couple of months from ending--the role of women in reserve and the home front was already deeply established enough to let a particular mention of them go unmentioned.
[Source: Scientific American Supplement, August 31, 1918]
There's another interesting story on the use of "Archie" as a nickname in another military situation, here, in an earlier post, "George and Archie: Two Misty Names in Making Everything Into Nothing. Hiroshima, 1945."
This interesting graphic appears in the article "Airmen's Sensations in Battle" in Popular Mechanics, November 1916. It hows a cross-section, of sorts, of an air battle with antiaircraft involvement, and to my experience is of a very unusual design. The author writes of being chased by Fokkers and then met by "Archie" (British slang for antiaircraft guns) fire from below. Overall it is an effective design that heightens the sense of the story.
"Archie": "Nickname given to anti-aircraft fire during First World War. Said to derive from a British pilot who reacted to enemy anti-aircraft fire by shouting the line from a music hall song 'Archibald certainly not'. This caught on and was inevitably shortened to Archie."-- Phil Jobson Royal Artillery Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations Briefly put, the AA situation during WWI was, well, primitive--necessarily primitive, I mean. There was some improvisation against balloons earlier on but the first AA-downing of a military aircraft was evidently in 1912 in the Italo-Turkish War. In 1916, two years into the war, the development of firepower against aircraft (and the detection of them, which extended to acoustical devices for the greatest part) was still in its very earliest stages.
People were of two minds when it came to rat hunting at the Front in 1916, or so it would seem: rats seem to have been fair game in the trenches, given the tough conditions and close quarters; on the other hand, rats in the open, along the roads, were let to live by many who thought that killing in battle was enough, and that a respect for other life--even rats-- was an acknowledged necessity. In the scene below we see British soldiers going about the business of eradicating rats from the trenches--with bayonets. A terrier is let loose on one, while the soldier in the background displays his trophy above the fire line for the Germans across the killing fields to see, as no doubt the enemy had the same problem, and there was at least in this brief moment a common human contact.
[Source: the Illustrated London News, April 1, 1916.]
There are a number of posts on this blog that have no real category, though they are joined by one simple principle--they look "straight" onto something, like straight up, straight down, and straight through. It isn't necessarily obvious, but these points of view are really pretty scarce in the history of antique prints. (Since there is no category you can search "straight" int he Google search box at left for other poss.) In this case, above, we have the gunner's eye view of the working of a machine gun, a great image published by The Illustrated London News in 1916.
The machine gun type isn't stated but I figured that it must be a water-cooled Vickers .303--from this vantage point your face wouldn't be more than a foot from the sight; the curved bits at front are hand grips, and the "trigger" (an oval button that you press in to activate the gun) would be between those two curved elements and just below--I think that you could've seen the trigger if it was drawn in, though for whatever reason it is not there. In any event those hand grips are less than 9 inches apart, so you can tell now that the view of the machine gun is from very close proximity.
Here's an unexpected find: a video of shooting a Vickers (without sighting mechanism) at nearly this exact perspective, found on youtube:
This striking photo shows the shell casings for one day's worth of bombardment by the U.K., at a position somewhere in France, 1916. I reckon that there are 3,000 105mm shell casings in this photo, which for one day's work is a lot. Throughout the course of the war it has been estimated that there were about 1.75 billion artillery shells fired, which makes this pile about .0000001% of the total; another way of looking at this number is that it would take about 580,000 of these piles to equal the 1.75 billion figure. It is a vast number, and vast numbers are hard to understand in a daily language.