Saturday, February 6, 2016


Australia is accused of 'airbrushing' history as it bars British families from centenary commemoration of WWI battle where 1,000 UK soldiers died

Australia has been criticised for the banning families of fallen British soldiers from the First World War Battle of Fromelles centenary commemorations.

The Battle, which saw 1,000 UK soldiers lose their lives, involved British and Australian troops who attempted to divert the Germans from the main action at the Somme 50 miles away.

But it turned into a bloody massacre with more than 7,000 Allied casualties and it went down in history as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history.

Relatives of the British men had hoped to pay their respects at a special service to mark the 100th anniversary of the event later this year only to find they are not invited.

Excluded: Australia has been criticised for the banning families of fallen British soldiers from the First World War Battle of Fromelles (pictured) centenary commemorations

Excluded: Australia has been criticised for the banning families of fallen British soldiers from the First World War Battle of Fromelles (pictured) centenary commemorations

The Australian Department of Veterans' Affair are organising the event and are only allowing Australian passport holders and the French to attend.

More than 3,000 seats will be set up for Australian and French families and VIPS at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, which was built in 2009 after the bodies of 250 Allied soldiers were discovered in a war grave nearby.

But visitors from other countries, including Britain, will have to make do with viewing the ceremony on large TV screens in the town itself.

Relatives of British casualties at Fromelles are outraged they cannot attend the service at Pheasant Wood and have accused the Australians of 'airbrushing' the British role from the battle.

Michael Bemrose, whose grandfather Gunner Fred Bemrose was killed by a gunshot wound to the head in the battle, has visited Fromelles regularly to pay his respects to his ancestor.

Mr Bemrose, a 57-year-old electrical engineer, said: 'The British involvement at Fromelles could be considered as a minor event in the overall events of 1916, but it still resulted in the loss of over 1,000 British men in less than 24 hours.

'Every year there is a ceremony at Pheasant Wood and I have been to a couple of them. The first year the cemetery opened we had to apply for a pass and parking permit but that wasn't a problem.

Pte Harry Dibben who was killed at the battle of Fromelles in 1916

Gunner Fred Bemrose RFA Fred was killed at Fromelles on 20th July 1916
Fallen heroes: Pte Harry Dibben (left) and Gunner Fred Bemrose were killed in the Battle of Fromelles in 1916

'Being the centenary year of my grandfather's death we intended to go and pay our respects but the Australians have taken complete control of it.

'They have made a unilateral decision to bar the British by restricting access to Australian passport holders

'My family, and I suspect many other British families, feel totally insulted by the attitude of the Australian authorities.


The Battle of Fromelles went down in history as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history and it did a great deal to sour relations between senior army commanders from both countries.

But the subsequent years seemed to heal the rift between the two nations.

In 2009, archaeologists excavated several mass burial pits at Pheasant Wood near Fromelles.

The remains of 250 British and Australian soldiers were recovered from the mass burials made by the Germans.

And in 2010 the first bodies were buried at a new cemetery - Pheasant Wood in France.

Both British and Australian relatives attended a series of funeral services at the start of the year as the dead soldiers were reburied.

One final reburial took place as part of the cemetery's dedication, which was held on July 2010 to mark the 94th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles.

'It was a British run battle with the Australians. Men from both countries fought together and died together but now the Australians want to airbrush the British out of the battle.'

One of the 250 men whose remains were found at Pheasant Wood in 2009 was Private Harry Dibben from Buckland Newton, Dorset.

His great-nephew Richard Dibben, from Buckland Newton, Dorset, had also hoped to go the ceremony.

Mr Dibben, 61, said: 'I think it is grossly unfair.'

The ill-prepared attack at Fromelles was the Australian Army's first action on the Western Front and ended with more than 5,000 of its soldiers killed or wounded.

Outrage: The great nephew of Private Harry Dibben, Richard said the decision to ban British relatives was 'grossly unfair'

Outrage: The great nephew of Private Harry Dibben, Richard said the decision to ban British relatives was 'grossly unfair'

A miscommunication in the battle resulted in the Australians failing to withdraw when they should have. The Germans encircled them and inflicted heavy casualties.

The aftermath of the disastrous action led to tension between the British and the Australians.

The Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs has confirmed the Fromelles service will be for Australian and French citizens only, stating the UK government is organising numerous events at the Thiepval Memorial to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Jennifer Stephenson, of the DVA, said: 'Most governments have chosen to commemorate the centenary of the Somme Offensive with a single ceremony with managed attendance providing a priority for their citizens.

'Due to the small site at Fromelles the number of visitors in the seated area has to be limited.

'The ceremonial focus will be on the Australian role in the battle and on the Australian soldiers lost.

'A decision has been made by the Australian government to prioritise Australians and French in the seated area. This is not to diminish the role of other nations but simply a recognition of the Australian focus of the event we are organising.

'People from all nations are welcome to come to the town and view the ceremony from large screens in the location adjacent to the seated area.'

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Mephisto's final days: 3D modelling to reveal WWI secrets

Sent from my iPad

When were the terms ‘World War I’ and ‘World War II’ coined?

A World War I tank and infantry move forward at Grevilliers in August 1918. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

The term ‘world war’ may have appeared in print before the 20th century – the Oxford English Dictionary cites an early use from 1848 – but the war was the first conflict that seemed truly global.

In 1918, while chatting with an American historian, the controversial war correspondent Lieutenant-Colonel Charles à Court Repington realised the recently ended conflict needed a name befitting its scale.

He quickly discounted ‘The German War’ as he didn’t want to give the enemy nation the satisfaction of prominence, so settled on the ‘First World War’. It became the title of his wartime diaries published in 1920.

For most Brits, however, the term ‘The Great War’ was the standard sobriquet for many years.

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, America’s Time magazine immediately adopted ‘WW2’, a phrase copied by President Roosevelt and made official by the US government in 1945.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Greg Jenner. For more fascinating questions by Greg, and the rest of our panel, pick up a copy of History Revealed! Available in print and for digital devices.

Review of Alleged Patient Scheduling Issues at the VA Medical Center in Tampa, FL


Review of Alleged Patient Scheduling Issues at the VA Medical Center in Tampa, FL

You are subscribed to Oversight Reports for Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG). This information has recently been updated, and is now available.

02/03/2016 07:00 PM EST

OIG determined the merits of allegations received in December 2014 about the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital (JAHVH). OIG substantiated the allegation that JAHVH staff did not always cancel the VA appointment when a VCP appointment was made. OIG examined 56 records of veterans who completed a VCP appointment and found that for 12 of the veterans (21 percent), staff did not cancel the veterans’ corresponding VA appointment. This occurred because Non VA Care Coordination staff did not receive prompt notification from the contractor, Health Net, when a veteran scheduled a VCP appointment and no longer needed the VA appointment. OIG also substantiated that prior to May 2015, the Performance Improvement (PI) supervisor did not notify schedulers of errors identified during scheduling audits. The PI supervisor stated that the PI team corrected the errors and notifying schedulers was not his priority. In addition, the OIG substantiated that JAHVH did not add all eligible veterans to the VCL when their scheduled appointment was greater than 30 days from their preferred date, and that staff inappropriately removed veterans from the VCL. This occurred because JAHVH schedulers thought they were appropriately removing the veteran from the Electronic Wait List, when they were actually removing the veteran from the VCL. OIG recommended the Director of the JAHVH ensure the facility receives prompt notification of scheduled VCP appointments and determine if the contractor complies with the requirements. OIG also recommended the Director ensure appropriate staff receive scheduling audit results and PI staff verify correction of errors, and staff receive training regarding management of the VCL. The Director of the JAHVH concurred with the OIG’s report and recommendations. Based on actions already implemented, OIG considered four of the recommendations closed, and will follow up on the implementation of the one remaining recommendation.

Navy Installations Begin Enforcement of Real ID Act

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy installations worldwide will no longer authorize base access for individuals who do not have an approved U.S. government-issued credential or state driver's license that is compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005.

 Department of Defense Police Cpl. O.K. Harris checks personnel and visitor identification at the Washington Navy Yard.

Download High Resolution

120914-N-KV696-009 WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2012) Department of Defense Police Cpl. O.K. Harris checks personnel and visitor identification at the Washington Navy Yard. Effective July 1, 2013 NDW installations will no longer require vehicles to display Department of Defense (DOD) vehicle decals for base access. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller/Released)

Driver's licenses from Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and American Samoa are not compliant with the congressionally-mandated REAL ID Act of 2005 and therefore personnel seeking base access from these states will require a secondary form of identification.

Washington and Minnesota enhanced driver's licenses, however, which do meet the REAL ID Act requirements, will be accepted.

Navy installations will require visitors who present a driver's license from a non-compliant state or territory to provide an additional form of identification. Examples include a U.S. passport or passport card; employment authorization document (card); foreign passport with an I-551 stamp; federal, state or local government ID, Social Security card without restrictions; student ID with photo; original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued in the U.S., or a Native American Tribal document U.S. citizen identification card (Form I-179).

"Information about the Real ID Act has been shared with our installations and we are working with our security personnel to ensure awareness of base access changes," said Capt. Anthony Calandra, director of public safety for the Navy Installations Command. "We are implementing this process in accordance with the Department of Defense (DoD), which recently announced that all DoD installations would comply with the Act."

Installation commanding officers (COs) may waive DoD access control requirements for special situations, such as air shows or other public events. Visitors may also enter Navy installations under a "Trusted Traveler" procedure. This procedure allows a uniformed service member or Government employee with a valid Common Access Card (CAC), a military retiree (with a valid DoD identification credential), or an adult dependent of at least 16 years of age (with a valid DoD identification credential) to present their identification token for verification while simultaneously vouching for any vehicle occupants. A contractor who has been issued a CAC may, with the permission of the CO, be authorized as a Trusted Traveler. The number of people a Trusted Traveler is allowed to vouch for and/or sponsor at any one time is determined by the installation commander or designated representative.

Procedures for currently authorized identification cards for access onto Navy installations such as the DoD CAC, DoD uniformed services identification and privileges cards, federal personal identification verification cards or transportation workers' identification credentials will not change.

The REAL ID Act grew out of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Congress tightened up issuance processes and documentation needed to get a driver's license. Compliant cards must have specific security features to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication of the document. The licenses also must present data in a common, machine-readable format.

Additional REAL ID Act resources:
- Background and information:

- Questions and answers:

Navy Installations Command comprises more than 52,000 military and civilian employees across 70 installations under 11 regions worldwide supporting the fleet, fighter and family.

For more information about Navy shore installations, visit

For more news from Commander, Navy Installations Command, visit


Ongoing Government-wide Problems Mishandling Classified Material in this Week’s FRINFORMSUM 2/4/2016

Contractors responsible for running the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee grossly mishandled classified information for more than 20 years, throwing away documents concerning nuclear explosive materials and national defense secrets in an open landfill. A must-read reportby the Center for Public Integrity shows that not only were the classified documents routinely mishandled, “The company [Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, Y-12, LLC] had failed to appropriately label classified information, failed to protect and control classified information, and had so feebly assessed its own performance that it left national defense secrets susceptible to theft by adversaries for years.”

Despite the persistent problems, the National Nuclear Security Administration “gave Babcock & Wilcox a rating of ‘good’ on its annual performance review in a category including its control of classified information”, which earned the company an extra $10.6 million in bonuses for FY 2014. Moreover, when the mishandling was discovered, the NNSA opted not to fine the company $240,000 in penalties, believing it “had suffered enough” as a result of having additional bonus money withheld.

Energy Department investigators found “some of the [tossed] documents had never been reviewed by the staff responsible for making classification decisions. Those that had been reviewed were erratically categorized, according to NNSA’s notice of violation to Babcock & Wilcox. Some were marked at higher or lower classification levels than the information warranted. Others were designated classified when they held no sensitive information, according to the notice of violation.”

Petraeus won't be demoted and Broadwell not under active investigation. Photo: International Security Assistance Force.

Petraeus won’t be demoted and Broadwell not under active investigation. Photo: International Security Assistance Force.

The Pentagon told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it will not demote former CIA director General David Petraeus for giving his biographer, Paula Broadwell, eight binders of highly classified information and then lying to FBI investigators about his actions. While Petraeus avoided jail time, reports surfaced that the DOD was considering “downgrading Petraeus to a three-star general” after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information. The Pentagon told Senators, however, that “The Army completed its review of his case and recommended no additional action.” An Army spokeswoman also recently announced that Broadwell, who is still an active Army Reserve officer, is not under any active investigation.

The State Department, which was initially ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras to release all of Hillary Clinton’s emails in connection with a FOIA lawsuit brought by Vice News’s Jason Leopold by January 29, “overlooked more than 7,000 pages of messages in need of interagency review and now needs until the end of February to get those messages properly reviewed for release.” Contreras has ordered government lawyers to appear on February 9, the same day as the New Hampshire primary, to discuss the status of the department’s efforts. Leopold’s lawyers have argued “that State hasn’t adequately explained the foul-up and has failed to establish why the monthlong delay is needed.”

Hillary Clinton emails recently released to Judicial Watch in a separate FOIA lawsuit reveal the lengths to which the agency went to accommodate Clinton’s email arrangement – and how common the knowledge was at the State Department that Clinton had both a personal email and server. The Hill reports that “The State Department proposed creating a ‘stand-alone’ computer operating on a separate network for Hillary Clinton”, ostensibly –according to the emails– because Clinton didn’t know how to check a computer for email, only her BlackBerry. Days after Clinton’s tenure began, “department official Lewis Lukens offered to give her a computer that would be ‘connected to the internet (but not through our system) to enable her to check emails from her desk.’” State never set up a “stand-alone” computer for Clinton, but it further begs the question of whether she was given express permission to solely use a personal email and server. As Diplopundit notes, “What’s the difference between using a State Department system and a stand alone system for somebody who doesn’t know how to use a computer? But more tha[n] that, we want to understand why it was necessary to set up a stand alone system. Did previous secretaries of state have their own stand alone systems? Did they have their own private email servers?”

100 Years Ago Today: Britain passes law introducing conscription

Legislation imposing compulsory military service was passed by the British Parliament on January 27th 1916.

All single men aged 18-41 were liable for call-up under the Military Service Act, marking a break with long-standing tradition.

The measure provoked impassioned debate as it passed through parliament.

The Daily Telegraph noted 'an astonishingly high level of eloquence and argument' in the House of Commons.

Exemptions from the call-up could be claimed by men in essential wartime occupations, widowers with dependent children, ministers of religion and conscientious objectors*.

Cases were heard by a new system of Military Service Tribunals.

The legislation came into effect on March 2nd 1916, and was extended to married men later that year.

Britain, unlike the other great powers, entered the First World War in 1914 with a relatively small volunteer army of professional soldiers and reservists.

Hundreds of thousands of men responded to Lord Kitchener's 'Your Country Needs You' recruiting campaign in the opening months of the war.

But this, and other increasingly coercive measures aimed at encouraging enlistment, were felt to be insufficient as the conflict wore on and demands for manpower grew.

For more on conscientious objectors, and the centenary of establishing legal recognition of individual conscience, visit the Quakers in Britain website.

Also in Centenary News:

Conscientious objectors remembered online by IWM's 'Lives of the First World War'.

Source: Wikipedia/Daily Telegraph/various

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Deputy Editor


France prepares for Verdun Centenary - February 2016 -

France embarks on a year of commemorations in February 2016, marking the Centenary of the Battle of Verdun.

An official website,Verdun 2016, has been launched to guide visitors through the programme of cultural, educational and remembrance events paying tribute to all those who fell in the longest single battle of the First World War.

It also highlights major battlefield sites, among them the massive fortress of Douaumont, and the front line villages destroyed in the fighting, and never rebuilt.

Franco-German reconciliation will be a key theme for the commemorations.

Events coming up on February 21st will remember the opening day of the 1916 German offensive in the Meuse region of Northeastern France.

They include an historical reenactment in the Bois des Caures, recalling the stand of French troops, led by Lieutenant Colonel Emile Driant, who briefly held the initial German advance in woods north of Verdun.

Driant, a member of the French Parliament, had warned the high command against weakening Verdun's defences.

A mass will be held at Douaumont Ossuary, the towering memorial to 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers killed during 300 days of fighting.

The Verdun Memorial Museum reopens its doors to the public on February 22nd after a major redevelopment for the Centenary.

The expanded exhibition space has been completely rethought, says the museum, with the aim of offering visitors an 'immersive experience' while remaining faithful to the spirit of the Verdun veterans who founded the Memorial in the 1960s.

There will be translations in German and English.

The Centenary commemorations will continue throughout 2016, a reminder of the human cost of the prolonged struggle for Verdun 100 years ago.

Around 300,000 French and German soldiers were killed in a battle that lasted from February-December 1916.

President Hollande will lead France's national remembrance ceremony at Verdun on May 29th.

For more information, visit the Verdun 2016 and the Mémorial de Verdun websites.

Additional sources: French Government, Wikipedia

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team


ets dumped in trash can for years Thu Feb 4, 2016 2:55PM

The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has slammed a contractor food r compromising the country’s nuclear secrets by dumping loads of classified documents into unprotected trash cans.

The security blunder was first discovered in June 2014, when a worker at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee found highly sensitive documents inside a trash bag marked for disposal along with other junk materials, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday.

A more thorough inspection found 19 more documents in the bag that were either classified or contained sensitive details.

Further investigation by the NNSA revealed that nuclear secrets had been thrown away with lax security at the plant for more than 20 years.

The documents detailed how the department’s employees and contractors worked with nuclear explosive materials, such as highly enriched uranium, stored at the facility.

That bag and many others were awaiting burial in an open landfill where Y-12 workers routinely dump garbage that poses no risk on national security.

“(They) then decided not to search any additional containers because they were, given the prior results, presumed likely to contain additional classified information,” said the Energy Department’s enforcement in a preliminary notice of violation issued Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Frank Klotz, head of the NNSA, wrote a letter to the contractor named Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, citing the company for three violations, although it was replaced by another contractor in July 2014.

“Actual or high potential for adverse impact on the national security,” and “a significant lack of attention or carelessness” with the potential to harm national security were some of the mishaps outlined in the notice.

“Some workers indicated that this process for discarding work-related paper had always been in place (i.e., for over 20 years) until discovery of the security event,” the notice added.

Klotz initially threatened to fine the company nearly a quarter-million dollars. But after negotiations Klotz forgave the $240,000 in proposed fines, arguing that the company had suffered enough.

He noted in his letter that the NNSA withheld bonus money from Babcock & Wilcox in fiscal year 2014 for “numerous safeguards and security issues, including deficiencies in B&W Y-12’s information security program.”

Protection of nuclear secrets and materials kept at Y-12 has closely been investigated since July 28, 2012, when an 82-year-old nun and two other peace protesters penetrated the facility and drew graffiti on a storage vault full of weapons-grade nuclear materials.

Panama Canal Expansion Completion Delayed to End June

A aerial view of the new Cocoli Locks complex pictured in August 2015, shortly before a large crack appeared in one of the chambers. Photo: ACPBy Elida Moreno PANAMA CITY, Feb 3 (Reuters) – After more than a year-long delay, a new set of larger locks for the Panama Canal will be complete by the end of June, the waterway’s administrator said on Wednesday, after builders repaired cracks that had formed in the concrete walls. The consortium building a third, […]

The post Panama Canal Expansion Completion Delayed to End June appeared first on gCaptain.

Read in browser »

A Trumpet Retrieved From a World War II Shipwreck Could Still Hold Its Owner’s DNA

After almost 75 years, a broken trumpet that saw action aboard one of the United States’ most storied World War II vessels might lead researchers to its owner’s family. According to conservators at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), while the trumpet sat at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean near Indonesia for decades, the battered brass instrument might still contain traces of the unknown musician’s DNA, Michael E. Ruane reports for the Washington Post.

During World War II, the USS Houston was the pride of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet. Nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast,” the Houston was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite in the fleet, and saw significant action throughout the war. But on March 1, 1942, the Houston and another ship, the Australian HMAS Perth, were attacked off of Indonesia’s coast by a Japanese fleet in the middle of the night. Both ships sunk and nearly 700 sailors died, including many members of the ship’s naval band. Hundreds more were taken prisoner by the Japanese and would be held captive for the next three years.

For decades, the battered trumpet rested nearly 100 feet below the ocean’s surface in a pile of bullet casings hidden within the wreckage of the Houston, until an Australian diver exploring the ship noticed it during an expedition in 2013. He took the trumpet, but later, after realizing he had taken it illegally, he reached out to the NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch to apologize and return it, Ruane writes.

Since retrieving the trumpet, conservators at the NHHC have kept the battered instrument in a bath of deionized water in order to draw out corrosive salts that were oxidizing the trumpet. But while conservators have uncovered the trumpet’s serial number and traced it back to its manufacturer in Elkhart, Indiana, the NHHC is still hopeful that they might be able to identify who the trumpet's rightful owner was. When the Houston sank, there were four sailors who played trumpet for the ship’s 18-person band. One player was killed in the battle that sunk the ship, and although the other three survived as prisoners of war, they have since died. However, experts believe there is still a slim chance that they can identify which of the four musicians the trumpet belonged to, as the instrument could still hold remnants of DNA leftover from when its owner had last taken it apart for cleaning.

“It’s amazing the human story one artifact can relate,” Robert Neyland, director of the NHHC’s underwater branch told Matthew M. Burke for Stars and Stripes in 2014. “It’s more than a trumpet. It tells a story of an event, of the individuals, the heroism, the tragedy and the sense of endurance

Read more:
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter


Fireside February 5, 2016 by Jeff Bridgers - LOC

While Washington’s recent impactful snowfall prompted my fellow blogger Kristi to focus on outdoor fun and frolic in her post last week, my thoughts turned to indoor comforts of home and hearth. As the years go by, I am now content, even happy until the lights start to flicker, to watch the snow fall and blow and accumulate from inside through the living room picture window. The missing element in my snow observation station is a fireplace with a bed of glowing coals and a few sticks of firewood ablaze. I lit into the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog for fireside scenes to spark my imagination. A sampling of my findings follow:

People seated in wicker chairs in front to large stone fireplace, Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina.

Grove Park Inn Fireplace, Asheville, NC. Photo copyrighted by Herbert W. Pelton, 1913.

Photograph shows mezzo-soprano opera singer Margaret Matzenauer (Margarete Matzenauer or Margarethe Matzenaur) (1881-1963) seated by fireplace. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2015)

Matzenauer. Photograph by Bain News Service, undated.

On the left above, rocking-chaired guests a century ago have arrayed themselves around the huge stone fireplace in Asheville’s Grove Park Inn. Prior to seeing this photographic documentation, I’d not thought of fireside gatherings as a large group activity — outdoor bonfires and campfires, sure; but not indoors! On the right, mezzo-soprano Margaret Matzenauer evidently must be reading a compilation of glowing reviews of her operatic performances.

Below, nature writer and influential naturalist John Burroughs cat-naps, or “meditates” rather, beside the fireplace in his Hudson River Valley cabin Slabsides.

John Burroughs, full-length portrait, seated in rocking chair, facing left, in front of fireplace in log cabin with twig furniture.

Noon Meditations at Slabsides. Photo copyrighted by Kellogg & Innes, 1901.

Actress Maud Le Roy is pictured below in a pensive moment (or “playing” pensive perhaps?) in this 1915 copyright deposit photograph by the Gerhard Sisters of St. Louis.

Full lgth., seated, facing left; in front of fireplace.

Maud Le Roy. Photo copyrighted by Gerhard Sisters, March 17, 1915.

Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a series of radio broadcasts, called “Fireside Chats,” throughout his presidency, that afforded him the opportunity to speak directly to Americans. Spanning from the midst of the Great Depression through near the end of World War II, FDR employed the chats to speak less formally about policies and federal programs as well as to calm the fears and help bolster the citizenry during tumultuous years of economic travail and war. The intimacy of the lone president speaking from the White House was preserved through keeping the assembled radio and film crews, shown in the two photos below the seated President Roosevelt, “quiet on the set.”

FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] FIRESIDE CHAT

FDR Fireside Chat, The White House. Photograph by Harris & Ewing, September 6, 1936.

Photo probably taken for FDR's 1939 fireside chat on the invasion of Poland

Press with Radio Equipment at White House. Photograph by Harris & Ewing, 1938 or 1939.

Photo probably taken for FDR's 1939 fireside chat on the invasion of Poland.

Press with Film Equipment at White House. Photograph by Harris & Ewing, 1938 or 1939.

In closing, for readers who enjoy tests of their powers of observation and visual recall: How many fires are seen burning within the hearths pictured in the post? Might a more accurate title be “Sitting by the Fireplace”?

Learn More

  • View more than 600 fireplaces from grand to modest in southern houses within the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South. And, if fireplaces be your passion, revel in close to 4000 images in the Historic American Buildings Survey.
  • The Thesaurus of Graphic Materials (TGM) can be helpful if your focus is on architectural elements associated with fireplaces. Notice, for example, the TGM entry for the index term “Fireplaces” contains a list of “Related Terms” such as “Andirons,” “Chimneys,” and “Mantels.” In addition to navigating the hierarchy of terms, TGM includes links to pictures assigned the term during cataloging.
  • Enjoy Kristi’s post of last week, “Snow Fun: Sledding, Snowball Fights and More,” in case you missed it — or if you want to revisit it for one more sled run!

Friday, February 5, 2016

WWI memorial design team shares vision

WASHINGTON (DoD News, Feb. 2, 2016) -- Just a few years out of college, architect-in-training Joseph Weishaar said it is an incredible honor to have been selected to create a national World War I memorial in the nation's capital.

"To have such an opportunity so young is - it's indescribable," the 25-year-old said.

The United States World War One Centennial Commission announced last week it chose Weishaar and collaborating artist and veteran sculptor Sabin Howard as the winning design team for the project.

A 2013 graduate of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, Weishaar said it was the "best feeling ever to get that call" and to be notified of the selection. He said he is still trying to digest the magnitude of creating such a memorial, which is expected to last for generations and to have millions of visitors from all around the world.

"It's hard to fathom how long this will last and what it will mean to the country," Weishaar said.

The memorial is to be located in Pershing Park, near the White House. The design concept, "The Weight of Sacrifice," includes a raised sculpture honoring those who served, as well as a central lawn area and a wall of remembrance that features quotations and images of service members.

The concept includes the park's existing statue of World War I Army Gen. John J. Pershing, Weishaar said.


The memorial, which will serve as an urban park, is meant to inspire, uplift and help visitors understand the magnitude of the war and the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served, Howard said.

"This project is really fascinating to me, because it's making art that is public - it's a whole different arena," Howard said, adding that making something so enduring "gives you a great sense of purpose, and it drives the project forward."

Weishaar and Howard said they envision the memorial as a "space for freedom built upon the great weight of sacrifice" of the nearly 5 million Americans who served and the more than 116,000 who were killed during World War I.

The art is within reach of the visitor; there is no separation between the art realm and the real world in the design concept, Howard said.

"This memorial that we're doing has far greater context than just being something beautiful or a park," he added. "It really carries a message about potentiality and transformation and what can be in humanity."


The concept will go through an extensive design review from a number of agencies, including the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Park Service.

The World War One Centennial Commission, which received more than 350 entries in its open design competition, hopes to begin construction on Veterans Day 2017, with a possible dedication on Veterans Day 2018. The commission is looking to raise $30 million to $40 million for the memorial, according to commission officials.

Though there are no surviving veterans of the war, it still is important to have a national memorial in Washington for those who served and did so much for the nation, commission vice chairman Edwin Fountain said.

World War I began in July 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It ended with the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.

World War One | Boston Public Library | BiblioCommons

Life on board a warship in our much-reduced Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is known as the Senior Service because of its illustrious history; Francis Drake and all that. But the days when it ruled the waves have long gone. In 1945 it had almost 900 warships and a million men. By the time of the Falklands War it was down to 70 warships and 70,000 men. Now it is less than half that, with more admirals than there are fighting ships.

The arrival this year of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the much-heralded new aircraft carrier that has cost £6 billion (for 50-odd years of life), will draw unwelcome attention to the Navy’s significant manpower shortages. As one senior officer put it, the carrier will bring ‘new challenges, relearning old tricks perhaps, and some new — not least how to man it’. They put a brave face on things, as you would expect. But what is morale really like in the Royal Navy?

To find out, I joined HMS Bulwark on manoeuvres in the Mediterranean for a few days. I was given unprecedented access — I went up in a £100 million submarine-hunting Merlin helicopter, and out at night with Royal Marine commandos in one of the ship’s four giant assault landing craft. Most edifying of all, I got the chance to talk candidly with everyone from the stokers in the engine room to a visiting commodore over dinner in the captain’s cabin. I also found myself taking part in a ‘man overboard’ drill.

They still refer to a ‘man overboard’ even though 10 per cent of the crew are now women — including, incidentally, the ‘helmsman’ in the rescue boat. There was some resistance to the introduction of women to frontline duties back in 1990. But now no one notices. The wardrooms are unisex, and women do the jobs men do.

Doing the rounds of the ship is a DVD of Sailor, the 1970s BBC TV documentary set on HMS Ark Royal. Officers are amazed at scenes showing porn mags lying around the wardrooms. That wouldn’t happen today. They are intrigued that all the officers speak in public-school accents, which is no longer the case. But what surprises them most is how not much else has changed, especially in terms of the ‘Jack speak’ (as in Jolly Jack Tar). The paymaster is still ‘the pusser’, your bunk is still your ‘grot’ and even some now very un-PC terms survive, such as ‘-gollies’ (naval intelligence officers). They still toast the Queen sitting down, and the toast to Nelson on Trafalgar Day is still ‘The Immortal Memory’, followed by silence

But the captain told me other traditions are being lost to political correctness. The daily toast ‘To our wives and sweethearts; may they never meet’ has recently been replaced by ‘To our families’, which he thinks ‘lacks humour, somewhat’. He also rues the recent changing of traditional senior titles, such as ‘flag officers’ to ‘assistant chiefs of naval staff’, which he thinks has less gravitas and ‘tone’; something about which the Royal Navy has traditionally cared deeply.

In other areas, the language has changed with the times. When I sat in on briefings, I understood about 20 per cent of what was being said because the Navy speaks in acronyms. When the captain wanted to pass on congratulations to the company on the way they conducted themselves on shore, for example, he said: ‘BZs all round.’ It stands for Bravo Zulu and means ‘Well done’.

Another surprisingly modern departure from traditional Navy decorum and reserve (think Noël Coward in In Which We Serve) is the way the service is slightly obsessed with Twitter. It has two million followers, which is pretty impressive, but still.

Down in the engine room, I encountered some disaffection. None of the stokers on Bulwark are planning to leave, but elsewhere in the Navy they are disappearing in droves, partly because of the 2010 Strategic Defence Review. The RN agreed to far too many cuts, some 6,000 sailors, only to find they are now 3,000 to 4,000 men (and women) short. Turmoil in the Middle East and Russia’s aggression everywhere — Putin is no slouch at getting propaganda images of his warships firing cruise missiles at Syria on to the news — have since forced the government to take the threats to Britain’s national security more seriously.

Even so, after the defence review last November, the Royal Navy was underwhelmed by the allocation of a mere 450 extra sailors to make up the shortfall. They have been told they will have to find the rest by transferring sailors from other ships, which means longer deployments.

The RN will even have to recruit sailors from foreign navies to fill gaps in specialist engineering. And lately the Admiralty has been busy writing to former stokers now in Civvy Street, asking if they will consider returning. There haven’t been many takers, not least because they get paid so much more in civilian jobs, and life at sea is so hard. They sleep in cramped conditions, three bunks high, and rarely see daylight because there are no windows on the ship, apart from on the bridge. ‘If it’s steak for dinner it must be Saturday,’ one said to me. Another complained: ‘We’re in a lower pay-band than the stewards, and all they do is fluff up officers’ pillows.’ He added: ‘In the past the main incentive to do this job for 22 years was the pension, but now that has been cut to a quarter of what it was.’

Last summer, Bulwark was a familiar sight on TV as it rescued thousands of migrants from overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya. Though all the crew members I talked to found this humanitarian mission rewarding, the reality was less heartwarming than the news footage suggested. One officer told me that when they came on board, the first question some migrants asked was: ‘Where can I charge my iPhone?’ And the stench was terrible, with the dozen or so Portaloos in the hold unable to cope.

Parliament has soon to decide whether or not to build four replacement Trident submarines. The move has majority public support, but Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon oppose it, so the subject will be hotly debated. In the cabinet room at No. 10, meanwhile, there is now a model of the Queen Elizabeth, a daily reminder to the PM of what a useful asset he will soon have at his disposal, both as ‘hard power’ and ‘soft’. (Russian envoys can expect a few invitations to cocktails on board.)

So, with all this duality of purpose, is the Royal Navy’s identity crisis set to deepen? When I asked Captain Nick Cooke-Priest, shortly before we sailed into harbour at Malta, he dismissed the idea, ‘because one of our primary functions is to protect the seaways that underpin the nation’s economy, and that hasn’t changed.’ He did concede that ‘We do need to get some equilibrium back, after years of managed decline.’



The U.S. Navy’s surface force has been working hard over the past year to bring its idea of “distributed lethality” to fruition. Jim Holmes wrote about it here on WOTR last year at this time, and his overview hinted at some of the promise that more lethal surface forces could deliver, along with some cautions about how that promise might be realized.

What is distributed lethality? It is a concept that holds that a greater number of individual surface ships should see their lethality increased as efficiently and opportunistically as possible, and that these more lethal ships should be operated in novel force packages operating independently from the main body of the battle fleet. This dispersal of combat power requires an adversary to account for many more targets, therein diluting available weapons assignment against any one platform while also stressing the adversary’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). Simply put, a more lethal and distributed surface force gives an adversary a much more difficult operational problem with which to contend. A week or so after Holmes wrote his piece, a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) was launched from a U.S. Navy destroyer and flew for hundreds of miles before impacting a target barge. This demonstration was a huge step forward for distributed lethality, in that a tried and tested land attack weapon was modified and repurposed into a subsonic, anti-surface warfare (ASuW) weapon. In doing so, the surface Navy’s ability to target and destroy adversary surface ships increased from a maximum range of approximately 75 miles (on the 50 or so cruisers and destroyers equipped with the Harpoon missile) to nearly 1,000 miles from all active cruisers and destroyers (some 90 or so ships). While the Harpoon has a special canister launcher on ships so-equipped, many destroyers (all built since 2000) are not Harpoon-capable. However, all cruisers and destroyers have the Vertical Launch System (VLS), enabling them to fire the TLAM missile, meaning that all 90 of those ships would gain the capability of targeting and attacking adversary surface platforms to the maximum range of the missile.

Yesterday, another critically important capability was announced, this time by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter himself during a press availability after a ship visit on the San Diego waterfront. Carter revealed the heretofore highly classified fact that the long-range, supersonic “SM-6” missile designed to counter air, cruise missile and ballistic missile targets — also capable of being fired from the VLS-equipped cruisers and destroyers — has been modified so that it too can be fired against surface combatants.

What this means is that in the space of a year, the Navy’s surface force, which many (including me) had believed was becoming “outsticked” by adversary surface forces, has gone from 50 ships capable of firing missiles out to 75 miles, to 90 ships capable of firing a subsonic anti-ship missile to nearly a thousand miles, in addition to a devastating supersonic missile to ranges in excess of the Harpoon missile (the SM-6’s range remains classified). Add to this the Navy’s plan to “upgun” the Littoral Combat Ship with medium-range surface-to-surface missiles, and we see that the promise of distributed lethality — as evaluated by Jim Holmes right here at WOTR last year — is beginning to be realized.

So while the Navy will build fewer ships than it had hoped, significant resources are being devoted to increasing the lethality of the ones it already has or is building. Increasing surface force lethality increases the effectiveness or our nation’s most important conventional deterrence platforms. The modest investments necessary to do so equip the surface force to more effectively fight in high-end environments, but equally as important, they present adversaries with powerful incentives not to commit aggression in the first place.

I remain convinced that the nation needs both more ships (and submarines and aircraft) and more lethal ships, but the steps the Department of Defense is taking to bring about this considerable increase in combat power is laudable.

Faster, please.

Bryan McGrath is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group and Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower.


US Navy expands capabilities in 5th Fleet with new ship



MANAMA, Bahrain — The USNS Choctaw County is the first auxiliary expeditionary fast transport ship to be forward deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations, the Navy said Wednesday.

Formerly known as a joint high-speed vessel, the noncombatant ship, operated by a small civilian crew, can deliver cargo and personnel faster than previous platforms, 5th Fleet spokesman Lt. Ian McConnaughey said.

“The ship has the capability to embark a complement of military personnel and mission configurations for a wide range of missions, including counterillicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and noncombatant evacuation operations,” McConnaughey said.

The Choctaw County will operate under Commander, Task Force 53, which provides logistical support to the 5th Fleet area of operations, including underway replenishments by Military Sealift Command-operated ships.

“I’m thrilled to have Choctaw County in the 5th Fleet,” said Capt. Edwin D. Kaiser, commanding officer of Commander, Task Force 53. “The ship gives us tremendous capacity and operational flexibility.”

The 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility covers some 2.5 million square miles, including the conflict-prone Persian Gulf. Naval operations in the 5th Fleet aim to ensure the free movement of ships throughout the region, which includes the strait, through which about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply flows.

“The presence here in Bahrain is constant and here to stay,” McConnaughey said. “In the coming years you are going to see more new platforms coming to the area of operations. This is just a little taste of what’s to come.”

Twitter: @CChurchStripes


Naval Search Engine

Total Pageviews

Find-A-Grave Link

Search 62.2 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: