Saturday, June 19, 2021

ANECDOTES: WW1

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Some WW1 anecdotes and incidences:
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Henry Allingham at age 110 in 2006

Henry William Allingham (6 June 1896 – 18 July 2009) was:
  • an Englishman who is the longest-lived man ever recorded from the United Kingdom’
  • a First World War veteran;
  • for one month, the verified oldest living man in the world;
  • the second-oldest military veteran ever; and
  • at the time of his death, the 12th-verified oldest man of all time.
Additionally, he was:
  • the oldest-ever surviving member of any of the British Armed Forces;one of the oldest surviving veterans of the First World War;
  • the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland;
  • the last-surviving member of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), and
  • the last-surviving founding member of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

In 2001, he became the face of the First World War veterans' association, and made frequent public appearances to ensure that awareness of the sacrifices of the First World War was not lost to modern generations.

Henry Allingham, the oldest Briton in history, credited his longevity to “cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women – and a good sense of humour.” He died at the age of 113.

Allingham in RNAS uniform at age 20 in 1916

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During WWI, Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of 48 sheep on the White House lawn to save money on groundskeepers. The sheep also earned $52,823 for the Red Cross through the auction of their wool.

In addition, tours and receptions at the White House ceased, and all packages were thoroughly inspected before going into the house. The rationing program was observed. President and Mrs. Wilson had "wheatless Mondays" and "meatless Tuesdays." Some days they rode in a carriage instead of an automobile to save fuel. Compared to the Spanish American War, most of the war planning activities occurred in the Executive Offices Building west of the White House.

Pictured next to the West Wing is a mound of wool from President Woodrow Wilson’s sheep.

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SM U-28 was a U-boat that served in the First World War. It conducted 5 patrols, sinking 40 ships totalling 90,126 tons.

U-28's final patrol began on 19 August 1917, when it departed from Emden for the Arctic Ocean. On 2 September, at 11:55 am, it encountered the armed English steamer Olive Branch, 85 nautical miles (157 km; 98 mi) north-by-northeast of North Cape, Norway. U-28 scored a torpedo hit, and closed in to finish the steamer with gunfire. The shells detonated Olive Branch's cargo of munitions, which it had been carrying from England to Arkhangelsk, Russia, and the subsequent explosion so badly damaged the U-boat that it sank along with the steamer. All 39 of its crew were lost; some were seen swimming, but were not picked up by Olive Branch's lifeboats.

An alternative description of the event states that when the ammunition detonated, a truck carried as deck cargo was blown into the air and fell from a great height on the U-boat, sinking it.

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During WWI, a Hungarian soldier named Paul Kern was shot in the frontal lobe, making him unable to fall asleep. He lived for years afterwards, and no one knows how.

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Alvin Cullum York was the most decorated American man to have served in World War One. His achievements are too many to list here but the event for which he is best known was for leading an attack which resulted in 160 German soldiers being killed or captured. He also took control of over 30 German machine guns. As a result of his actions he was promoted to Sergeant, as well as receiving awards on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as a reward of farmland he was awarded both the Congressional Medal of Honour and the French Croix de Guerre, which firmly marked his name in the history books. Gary Cooper portrayed him in the 1940 film Sergeant York. York used the fee he was paid for the film to fund a Bible college.

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The Pals battalions of World War I were specially constituted battalions of the British Army comprising men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and colleagues, rather than being arbitrarily allocated to battalions.

The practice of drawing recruits from a particular region or group meant that, when a "Pals battalion" suffered heavy casualties, the impact on individual towns, villages, neighbourhoods, and communities back in Britain could be immediate and devastating. As an example, The Sheffield City Battalion (12th York and Lancaster Regiment) had lost 495 dead and wounded in one day on the Somme and was brought back to strength by October only by drafts from diverse areas.

Though it increased enlistment rolls, the fact that it devastated whole regions of the UK whenever a battalion experienced heavy casualties meant that by WWII the idea was abandoned.

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