WWI Weekly: Real Life War Horse, Cornell University Goes to War, and Testament of Youth

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The real-life War Horse: Incredible story of stallion nicknamed ‘The Sikh’ who WALKED back to Britain from Russia after spending years delivering supplies to troops

The incredible story was unearthed by Chris Chatterton, the curator of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, last week.

He said: ‘I was reading a book about The Glosters and I came across a mention of The Sikh.

‘I did some more digging and it really is a remarkable story. She was viewed by many men in the Battalion as an Omen of good luck.

‘A statue to honour The Sikh would be great. We will certainly be doing something at the museum to commemorate her.’

The Sikh arrived at the front line with her devoted master Lieutenant A.C. Vicary, of the Gloucestershire Regiment Vicary, and the regiment’s Second Battalion in Ypres.

The Unley Museum provides an insight of life for those left behind in the inner-city Adelaide suburb during World War I through their vast collection of photographs.

The In War, At Home: Unley 1914- 1918 exhibition captures the feelings of local residents during the Great War, with fascinating insights into how those at home contributed to the war effort.

A feature of the display is the handwritten diary of Unley teenage school girl Dorothy Treloar.

“It’s really a heart warming sight to see that this is what her take [on the war] is,” Unley Museum curator Elizabeth Hartnell said.

“It’s an entire four years captured in about five or six lines.”

In her diary, Ms Treloar followed the plight of local men, Ernest and Lawrence Cutts, and their younger brother Rowland.

Cornell Rewind: A great school faces the Great War

Wilson signed the Congressional declaration of war April 6, 1917, and scarcely a week later about 575 Cornell male undergraduates registered for military service.

In fact, Cornellians already were participating in the war effort. In October 1914, Mary Merritt Crawford, Class of 1904, M.D. 1907, went to France to serve as a “house surgeon” in the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine. She was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Service de Santé [health service] of the French Army and decorated for surgical work under heavy bombardment.

Rick Steves: Museums that remember the cost of war

With major anniversaries for the First World War and the Second World War coming this year, I’ve been thinking back to my recent stay in the Rhineland. A monument below my hotel window remembering Germany’s war dead still had an unused panel. My hunch is that it’ll never be used; Germany, mighty today without the help of its military, has a profound distaste for wars. As so many nations have, it rose by the sword . . . and then fell by it.
All over Europe, there is little stomach for war. The motto of one military museum I visited in Vienna says it all: “War is something for museums.” And many European countries have followed this advice, creating fascinating exhibits about their military heritage.
For some, visiting military museums is the highlight of a European trip. For others, “military” plus “museum” equals “dull.” But you don’t need to know how a Jeep works to enjoy the ride. Even if you’re not a veteran or war buff, here are four national military museums worth visiting

Lieutenant was married after his death in World War One

It was after his death that what the Signet magazine described last August — in a series about Writers to the Signet who died in World War One — as the story of Mrs Rodger and the fatherless child unfolded. Seven days after Mathew’s death, a baby boy was born on October 30 1916 at 2.50pm in the Royal Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh, to whom the mother gave his father’s name, Mathew Freer Rodger. The Lieutenant had a girl friend who became his fiancée and the mother of his child, and after his death she petitioned the Court of Session in Edinburgh to be declared his wife. This is how the Scotsman of Wednesday December 19 1917 reported the case under the headline ‘An Officer’s Marriage’ . . . Evidence was led in an action in which Helen Esson or Rodger, Dryden Place, Roslin, Midlothian, asked the Court to declare that she was legally married to Matthew Freer Rodger, who was a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, and who was killed in action while serving as an officer in the Army.

Watch: 10 Minutes Of Clips From WWI Drama ‘Testament Of Youth’ With Alicia Vikander & Kit Harington

Arriving in U.K. cinemas is “Testament Of Youth.” If you’re near a theater screening the flick, we urge you to check it out, and if not, we’ve got ten minutes worth clips to show you what the World War I drama delivers.

Starring a stellar cast, including Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Taron Egerton, Emily Watson, Hayley Atwell, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson, and more, the film is adaptation of Vera Brittain’s memoir, chronicling her decision to hold off attending Oxford in order to participate in the war effort after he fiancé and brother head into battle. It’s a movie that, while not breaking any genre tropes, works very, very well, with our BFI London Film Festival review noting the pictures adds up “to a sort of mosaic of grief, loss and even anger at the absolute waste of an insane, inhuman conflict, and all without showing a single bullet fired.”

WWI Wednesday: When Books Went to War

Charles Buckles Falls, 1918, Books Wanted for Our Men

When the United States entered the war in 1917, the president of the American Library Association (ALA) appointed a War Service Committee, where there was a unanimous decision to supply library facilities in the camps of the American Expeditionary Forces. The Secretary of War appointed ten nationally known men and women to a Library War Council in order to raise funds for the construction and outfitting of these library facilities. The council managed to raise nearly $1.5 million in private subscriptions, and a subsequent campaign for books garnered the donation of over two hundred thousand volumes. In addition, the Carnegie Corporation made a grant of $10,000 for each of the thirty-two camp libraries. Many New York publishers added to the books donated and purchased, providing discounts of 45-50% off book prices, and major university presses also donated their publications. The following is the tale of how the books arrived in France.


The systematic work of the A.L.A. for the American Expeditionary Forces began in January, 1918, when a Dispatch Office was established at Hoboken for the purpose of assembling books and shipping them on transports. The books sent in this way were placed in Y.M.C.A. huts or distributed directly to the men themselves.

An arrangement was worked out by which the A.L.A. agreed to serve the “fit” through the Y.M.C.A. and the “unfit” through the Red Cross. General Pershing pronounced this scheme commendable and the service welcome, and requested from the government space for fifty tons of books per month — which meant more than a million volumes a year — on the transports. With a view to avoiding any duplication of effort, he expressed the desire “that there should not be any competition in supplying this matter to the troops, but that the work should be centralized in the American Library Association.”

The granting of this request and the provision by the Quartermaster Department of a warehouse for the reception of books from the transports, whence they might be distributed at will, made it possible to begin work on an extensive scale. The Fourth of July was suitably celebrated by the delivery of seventy-five books to each of the American hospital trains in France, and as rapidly as possible selected libraries were established in each of the base and camp hospitals for the use of the boys who had been sent down from the front line.

From that time on, books and magazines went everywhere. They were used in the front-line trenches by the man on duty and while waiting for the order to go over the top; in the reserve areas just back of the front; in huts and other places of shelter; in the training camps where the men recently arrived were being fitted for transfer to the front; in the disintegrating areas; especially in the rest camps in the few days of regular surcease from advance operations; at the bases where great establishments grew up at the point of debarkation, and at the more isolated places where the foresters and engineers were working. The aim was to furnish any books the men wanted, whether technical publications, reference works, or standard fiction, and to furnish them at the time when they were wanted. Records taken at random from the file at Headquarters show that at one of the main huts 492 books were used 972 times during the first ten days of the service, and the circulation was limited only by the fact that there were seldom any books on the shelves. Magazines were for trench usage, non-returnable.

In the zone of advance the unit of library service was the Division, no matter over how wide an area it might be spread or through how many villages it might extend. While the Y.M.C.A., the Knights of Columbus, and the Salvation Army aimed to get a hut in at least the chief villages, the A.L.A. found it more feasible to send its books to the divisional center, from which they could be properly distributed. When the Division moved, the books could be returned to the central warehouse of the organization through which they were being circulated, unless the area was being abandoned.

Permanent Headquarters were opened in Paris in April, 1918. In August larger quarters were secured at No. 10 Rue de l’Elysee, in a building leased from the proprietors by the Y.M.C.A., which uses the upper floors for its educational and allied departments, leaving the entire ground floor and basement at the disposal of the A.L.A. The basement is used for packing and stock-rooms, while the arrangement of the ground floor resembles that of the average small library, — entrance and charging desk in the center, reading-room on one side, reference-room on the other, and stack-room in the rear.

Here the administrative offices of the overseas service were established, in charge of Mr. Burton E. Stevenson, the novelist and librarian of Chillicothe, Ohio, and a central reference and circulating library of about ten thousand volumes was started. This library proved very popular with the men in the Paris district. On Sunday afternoons, especially, they crowded around the big open fires to read, or moved quietly about among the bookshelves, hunting for favorite volumes.

To further the overseas work additional dispatch offices were established in the United States, at Newport News, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Every available means of getting books to France was used. The Army tonnage provided for about one hundred thousand volumes monthly, twenty-five thousand volumes were sent over on American Red Cross tonnage, and the deck shipments on transports in charge of Y.M.C.A. secretaries added appreciably to the total.

A.L.A. Library War Service, St Denis Hospital, France

A.L.A. Library War Service, St Denis Hospital, France

The records show that up to February 1,1919, a total of one million eight hundred thousand volumes had been shipped to France, and that libraries had been established in six hundred and thirty-eight Y.M.C.A. centers, in forty Knights of Columbus centers, in forty-one Salvation Army centers, in twelve Y.W.C.A. centers, and in five Jewish Welfare Board centers, as well as with a number of miscellaneous welfare organizations, such as the Moose, the American Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Club, and the like.

Each section of the American Ambulance Service had been given a book collection; similar service had been extended to the Americans in the Polish army and the Mallet Reserve, and two hundred and sixty-four military organizations in the A.E.F. had been provided with libraries. By March, the number of books sent overseas had passed the two million mark.

Books were sent not only to France but also to the American troops in England, Italy, Archangel, and Vladivostock, and to American prisoners in Germany. At Aix-les-Bains, the recreation center for the Army, where there was boating, baseball, athletics, Lieutenant Europe’s famous band, and a theater, the A.L.A. had a well-rounded collection of books in the Y.M.C.A.’s casino, with a trained librarian in charge.

In order to provide for members of the A.E.F. on their voyage home, and also to forestall any necessity for draining out of France the books now there, all transports are equipped in American ports with adequate permanent libraries, to remain on board as long as the transport is in service.

Books in the War: The Romance of Library War Service by Theodore Wesley Koch

Welcome Back Mr. Selfridge! Everything About Series 3

This new series is the third instalment in the fascinating rise and fall of this colourful but troubled man and picks up in 1919 just after the end of World War I.

Returns to ITV January 25, 2015 and to PBS March 20, 2015

Full description of episode 1--be spoiled at your own discretion
1918 – HARRY and his family are gathered for the funeral of his beloved wife ROSE. As they say their tearful last goodbyes, a grief-stricken HARRY wonders how he will ever get by without her.

Nine months later. HARRY has a wedding to attend! HARRY’s eldest daughter, ROSALIE, is to marry renowned Russian aviator SERGE DE BOLOTOFF. At the church, a thronging crowd has gathered to see the arrival of the guests. At the forefront of the lavish event is Russian émigré PRINCESS MARIE, the extravagant and glamorous mother of the groom. As AGNES watches on from the pews she is surprised to find HENRI next to her, recently returned from War. She is overcome and they are delighted to be reunited. After a waiting through a long War, they want to be married as soon as possible.

Whilst CRABB worries about the financial implications of hosting the wedding, the reception gets into full swing on Selfridge’s Oxford Street Roof Terrace. But SERGE is drunk, flirting with female guests and pressurising HARRY to invest his aerodrome enterprise – which HARRY isn’t keen to do. HARRY is worried: is this marriage good for the Selfridge family?

Meanwhile, we learn that MISS MARDLE is on a special leave of absence from the store after a life-changing event. Head of Cosmetics KITTY EDWARDS and writer FRANK EDWARDS are now happily married, but are stuck KITTY’s younger sister, CONNIE, living with them. Trouble is afoot when HARRY’S nemesis LORD LOXLEY arrives back in town – probing MILES EDGERTON about HARRY’s latest fortunes, debts, credits and business interests…

VICTOR COLLEANO is now the proud owner of his own nightclub, Colleano’s, but the right punters aren’t coming in. To boot, VICTOR is paying 10% of his takings to INSPECTOR PURKISS in return for the police turning a blind eye to the sale of alcohol out of legal hours.

At the store, soldiers who’ve returned from war have found their jobs taken by women. Women and men are struggling to cooperate. MR GROVE thinks the women should be let go, but HARRY is insistent they are not; they remind him of ROSE. But GEORGE tells MR GROVE that he’s found it hard to settle since returning from France, and hands in his notice. GEORGE decides to go and work for his old mate VICTOR, where they can look out for each other.

Rumours of HARRY’s involvement in financing SERGE’s aerodrome have spurred LOXLEY into action. He whisks SERGE away on his wedding morning, introducing himself as a legitimate potential financier for his aerodrome project. Abandoned before her wedding breakfast, an upset ROSALIE comes to the store and tells HARRY, who decides to have them come live with him. He can keep an eye on things that way. PRINCESS MARIE tells Harry she will return to her own flat, but checks into an expensive hotel suite instead – charging it to HARRY. She’s homeless, and hiding it.

Newcomer NANCY WEBB comes to Selfridge’s and demands a meeting with HARRY. Armed with plans for a housing estate for former War servicemen, NANCY is planning to use the same piece of land in Acton SERGE has earmarked for his aerodrome. She implores HARRY not to buy this land; rumours of his interest are pushing the price up. She’s worried she’ll lose her backer, LORD MEADOWES – and leaves HARRY with food for thought. He remembers how ROSE had a similar housing project in Chicago…

HENRI and AGNES finally have their moment of happiness and are wed. But later, HENRI is shocked and shaken by the ghostly apparitions of fellow French soldiers lost in War. AGNES catches a distressed-looking HENRI, who insists nothing is the matter.

Later that night, HARRY finds ROSE’s discarded plans for homes in her studio. With NANCY WEBB’s words in his mind and ROSE’s plans in hand, he heads to the vast expanse of land in Acton where the idea for an entirely new project begins to form. If there’s anyone who can pull it off, it’s HARRY SELFRIDGE.

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