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World War One

               World War One Film Clips


''Playing the Game'' (The English Review, 1915)

Sporting terms used as a metaphors for war are very common and come naturally to those who tend to think about matters military on a regular basis; yet this article uses the expression, "playing the game" more as a character trait that was unique to the British. The author, Austin Harrison, writing in 1915 (the year of "grim determination") believed that the English have always "played the game" as a matter of course; they have always maintained "good form", and yet:

"Playing the game is only half the battle in war [and]...it will be the finest game we ever have played."

 

Sergeant York (Literary Digest, 1919)

Sergeant Alvin York (1887 - 1964) of the 328th Infantry Regiment, Eighty-Second Division, was one of the great heroes of the First World War. The attached four page article recalled those deeds as well as his glorious trip to New York City where he was luxuriated at the Waldorf Astoria and feted by the swells of Gotham.

Watch A Sergeant York Film Clip

 

The American Springfield '03 Rifle (U.S. Infantry Drill Manual, 1911)

A black and white diagram depicting the breach of the 1903 Springfield rifle, with all parts named. This rifle was the primary weapon for American troops during World War One and was in use by that army up until 1936. At the time of America's entry into the W.W. I, in April of 1917, there were roughly 843,239 Springfield '03 rifles issued; seeing that this was not nearly enough for such an adventure, the Springfield Armory manufactured 265,620 additional rifles. In some photographs from the war, American soldiers and Marines are pictured shouldering the British Enfield rifle, which had been modified to fit the ammunition of the Springfield '03. Subsequent modifications produced the Springfield 1903A3 and A4 which were issued to American snipers up until the earlier years of the Vietnam War.

Throughout the course of the war the U.S. Army was paying $19.50 for each rifle.

*Watch a Film Clip About the Springfield '03*

 

'Poilu' is not the Right Word! (New York Times, 1916)

The novelist, journalist, anti-Semite and French Academy member Maurice Barres (1862 - 1923) had some opinions regarding the word "Poilu" (the popular and affectionate slang term for the French front line soldier, which translates into English as "hairy guy"). In the following one page essay he presented a history of the word and continued with an explanation as to why it bugged him:

"It lacks dignity. To my taste it belittles those whom it is meant to laud and serve. A hero can hardly be expressed by this brazen-faced and slanderous epithet. And yet, since it has taken root in our battlefields now for more than a year, one hesitates to speak ill of this word, in which so many admirable acts are somehow visible. It is winning it's historic titles".

In the end, no one really cared what Maurice Barres had to say on this topic and the sobriquet "poilu" remained in place.

 

The British Aristocracy and the Great War (Vanity Fair, 1916)

The 1914 social register for London did not go to press until 1915, so great was the task of assessing the butcher's bill paid by that tribe. The letters written from camp and the front by those privileged young men all seemed to give thanks that their youth had been matched "with this hour" and that they might be able to show to one and all that they were worthy.

WW1 Prison Camp History

"...For not even in the Great Rebellion against Charles I did the nobility lose so many of its members as the list of casualties of the present war displays. In the first sixteen months of operations no less than eight hundred men of title were killed in action, or died of their wounds, and over a thousand more were serving with the land or sea forces."

This article speaks with some urgency as to the crises experienced by that titled class during the war years, as well as a doubtful future for the House of Lords.

A similar article can be read here...

Click here to read about the W.W. I efforts of Prince Edward, the future Duke of Windsor.

Click here to read another article about the old European order.

 

French Women on the Homefront (Vanity Fair, 1916)

Here are five quick sketches by the French artist Rabajoi depicting the women of France fulfilling their various obligations as "Mariannes", as sweethearts and as family members.

Suggested reading: French Women and the First World War: War Stories of the Home Front

 


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