Saturday, July 26, 2014
Japanese report: No evidence of Agent Orange in barrels on Okinawa
- Agent Orange ingredients found at Okinawa military dumpsite
- Expert: Chemicals found on Okinawa likely not Agent Orange
- Traces of toxic herbicides used by US found in Okinawa
- Air Force: Kadena school area near where tainted drums found 'completely safe'
- Finds raise toxic chemical suspicions at ex-Kadena site
- Agent Orange Ingredients Found At Okinawa Military Dumpsite
- As evidence of Agent Orange in Okinawa stacks up, U.S. sticks with blanket denial
- Excavation of Japanese Dump Reveals Agent Orange
- 13 more barrels dug up near Kadena schools
- US denials anger sick veterans
IMAGE: STUDIO PORTRAIT, PROBABLY OF STAFF SERGEANT MAJOR GABRIEL ALBERT MORGAN, INSTRUCTIONAL STAFF, CMF, OF BENDIGO, VICTORIA WITH DOG (COURTESY AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL/ THE COMMONS)
One hundred years after it began, the history of World War One is as relevant as ever. From the existence of the Free State of Bottleneck to the presence of female fighter pilots, RN brings you 25 facts you might not know about the Great War.
The Contested Beginning
• After his motorcade was bombed on the day of his assassination, Archduke Franz Ferdinand suggested visiting the victims in hospital. Some in his car were concerned about the potential danger, but Oskar Potiorek, a member of Ferdinand's staff, is said to have shrugged it off, replying: 'Do you think Sarajevo is full of assassins?'
• In August 1914, Andorra declared war on Germany. With no standing army and no navy, it wasn’t exactly an overwhelming force. At the time, the military of Andorra consisted of 10 part-time solders wielding ceremonial blank cartridges.
• French leaders, who feared the new tactic of aerial bombardment, built a fake Paris north of the real city from wood and electric lanterns in order to confuse German pilots.
Lions and Donkeys
• WWI was the first filmed war, and saw the emergence of film as a tool for propaganda. Kaiser Wilhelm II personally appeared in more than 60 shorts and documentaries.
• A feature film of the Battle of the Somme which mixed documentary and staged footage was produced in early July 1916 and released in August to critical acclaim. Its theatrical run ended in October, while the battle continued for more than a month after the film closed.
• As a result of the war Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia declared independence or came into their current day existence.
• For some belligerents, the war was very long indeed. Andorra, which was one of the earliest states to declare war in 1914, was also one of the last to declare it over. With their demands left out of the Treaty of Versailles process, Andorra remained in a state of war with Germany until the start of World War II, some 25 years later.
• In 1964, the West German government decided to backpay its Askari soldiers, African troops who had fought in WWI as part of colonial forces. Some 50 years on from the start of the war, hardly any Askari had any proof of service, and were instead made to perform the manual of arms (a series of weapon and formation manoeuvres) in German as a test to prove they had served. Not a single one failed.
IMAGE: ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND AND HIS WIFE SOPHIE SHORTLY BEFORE THEY WERE ASSASSINATED IN SARAJEVO. (KARL TRÖSTL, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The Enemy Within
• One of the earliest casualties of WWI was the German language in America. In 1914, German was the second most widely spoken language in the US, and was taught in schools and used by some newspapers. At the height of the war, German street names were changed and German books burnt.
• The House of Windsor (the UK royal family) used to be the house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until anti-German sentiment during the war forced King George V to change his family’s name.
The View from Berlin
• Germany and Austria-Hungary were the first countries in the world to introduce daylight saving time, which they called sommerzeit and used to conserve coal during wartime. The practice quickly caught on in other nations.
•The unofficial national anthem of the German Empire until 1918, 'Heil dir im Siegerkranz', had the same tune as the British national anthem, 'God Save The Queen'.
• POWs in Germany were sent to neutral Switzerland or Holland during the latter years of the war if they were ill or had problems with their nerves after prolonged imprisonment. By the end of the war, 40,000 British and Commonwealth troops were interned in Holland alone. Once there, they could pay to stay in hotels and officers were allowed to have their wives join them.
• When he served in WWI, Adolf Hitler, like most Germans with facial hair, was sporting a full Kaiser moustache—twiddly points and all. Hitler was ordered to trim his existing facial hair down to the more iconic toothbrush to better fit his gasmask.
The Pen and the Sword
• Louis Raemaeker was a Dutch painter and cartoonist whose anti-Kaiser works so angered the German government that a reward of 12,000 guilders was given for his capture (dead or alive). He was put on trial for ‘endangering Dutch neutrality’—what a crime.
• Hugh Lofting, a member of the Irish Guards, often complained that any news from the front he could send back to his family was either ‘too dull or too horrible’ for them to hear. Instead, he wrote his children imaginative tales of a doctor who could speak to animals. These later formed the basis of the Dr Doolittle stories.
• Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to enlist at the age of 55, stating: ‘I am 55 but I am very strong and hardy, and can make my voice audible at great distances, which is useful at drill.’
• WWI wasn’t a grand time to be a journalist; the British War Office banned independent press reporting, as it was seen to help the enemy. They even threatened the death penalty for journalists unwise enough to try.
• By 1916, British and Commonwealth troops were no longer allowed to have cameras in France.
Other Voices, Other Battles
• Women were flying planes before and during the Great War. Some taught fighter pilots, while a handful of Russian women and one Belgian actually flew combat missions.
• French aviatrix Marie Marvingt, also known as the ‘La fiancée du danger’, was the first woman in the world to fly combat missions. A world-class athlete who won multiple prizes in skiing, cycling, fencing, shooting and luge, she initially disguised herself as a man and joined the infantry. Once outed as woman, she was removed from the front and volunteered with the air force, flying bombing routes over Germany. When she died in 1963 she was the most decorated woman in the history of France.
• In the US, Katherine and Marjorie Stinson trained over 100 Canadian cadet pilots at their San Antonio flying school. At the time, Katherine, who had been called ‘the flying schoolgirl’, was 24, while Marjorie was 18.
IMAGE: AVIATION PIONEER AND PILOT TRAINER KATHERINE STINSON POSES IN FRONT OF AN AEROPLANE IN 1915. (THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, FLICKR.COM)
• The Free State of Bottleneck, or Freistaat Flaschenhals, was a quasi-state that existed briefly after WWI due to a measurement error. When French and American forces were drawing up their zones of control in occupied Rhineland, the two zones didn’t quite touch, and thus Bottleneck was born. Home to some 17,000 people, it had its own passports, stamps and currency. There was no land or sea access to the state and though a train network ran through the capital, Lorch, trains weren’t permitted to stop, so most of the state’s income was derived from smuggling.
• Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, were developed in WWI. The Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, devised as a kind of ‘aerial torpedo’, first flew on March 6, 1918.
• The United States only got involved in the war after British cryptographers decoded a telegram from the German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmerman encouraging Mexico to invade the US. The British, seeing a chance to play their advantage, held on to the telegram for over a month before showing it to the US ambassador in London. The revelation of the telegram, along with Germany’s bullish submarine tactics in the Atlantic, led to the US joining the Entente forces. The US entry was not a political coup for President Woodrow Wilson, who had just been elected on the slogan ‘he kept us out of war.’
(Reuters) - As far as Joan Barkley Wells is concerned, there isn't much reason for calling World War One a forgotten war.
Her late father, World War One veteran John Lewis Barkley, received the Medal of Honor - America's highest military award - for valor. It is on display along with his portrait at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.
Congress selected Kansas City in 2004 as the venue for the official national museum for the war on a site already occupied by the 217-foot tall (66 meters) Liberty Memorial war monument, completed in 1926 on a bluff above the city skyline.
The 100th anniversary this summer of the start of the war is bringing more attention to the museum and the war itself, which Wells feels is overshadowed by World War Two despite the earlier war's lasting significance.
"They are still arguing in some countries about the same things they were arguing about 100 years ago," said Wells, who is 75.
Some empires crumbled, others rose and boundaries were reshaped in the Middle East and the Balkans by the war that ensnared 36 countries, setting up a century of territorial conflicts and establishing the United States as a global power.
The war gave independence to Poland and several Russian territories. It left a defeatedGermany humiliated, sowing the seeds for the rise of the Nazis that fueled World War Two.
"We live with the impact of 'The Great War' every day," said Matthew Naylor, president and chief executive of the museum. "There are political issues that are front and center of our experience right now, particularly in the Middle East."
The war was declared on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The United States entered officially in April 1917, declaring war on Germany.
Nine million soldiers died, including 116,000 Americans. Millions more civilians also died.
Barkley, a Missouri farmer and sharpshooter, received the Medal of Honor for single-handedly stopping a German attack on a crippled tank in France using a captured German machine gun.
"I fired my last round of ammunition from the machine gun but kept my automatic pistol for hand to hand fighting (and) plunged out of the tank with a sudden dash," Barkley wrote in a letter home displayed at the museum. "I had three bullet marks on my clothes and a burnt legging string."
Barkley returned to Missouri to farm and in 1930 wrote a memoir about his experiences entitled "No Hard Feelings," republished in 2012 as "Scarlet Fields."
The museum tells stories of heroism, heartbreak and the brutal reality of trench warfare in Europe using one of the world's largest collection of artifacts.
Wells and her generation may have the closest personal connection to the war because their fathers participated, but about half of the visitors are aged 25 to 45, Naylor said.
More than 150,000 people visited the museum last year and attendance is up 37 percent since June 2013 as the war's centenary approaches.
Ted Iliff, a museum tour guide, said he felt compelled to volunteer because one of his grandfathers fought for Germany and the other for the United States during the war.
Iliff said he was very young when his American grandfather died but his German grandfather, who lived through two world wars, had some advice for the younger generation.
"He said, 'Do whatever you can to never let that happen again,'" Iliff said.