WWI Dispatch August 2020

A newsletter from the World War One Centennial Commission.


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August 2020

Doughboys Ship to UK in 2020 webinar

“Doughboys Leave New Jersey for UK – in 2020!” Webinar Friday, September 11

In 1917 and 1918, America sent many Doughboys “Over There” from our shores in New Jersey, headed for the UK and the nation’s entry into World War I. In September 2020, the first 11 figures of the 48-figure bronze sculpture “A Soldier’s Journey” being created for the National World War I Memorial are getting ready to ship out for the foundry in the UK, where, like the raw Doughboys of 100 years ago were turned into an incredible fighting force, the clay sculpted figures will be cast into enduring metal.

Before this first contingent ships out, you have a last and unique opportunity to view the entire 48-figure ensemble, assembled in the Englewood, NJ studio where they are being created by sculptor Sabin Howard, during our “The Doughboys Leave New Jersey for the UK – in 2020!” webinar on Friday, September 11, 1:00 p.m. EDT.

This webinar is the last chance to see all 48 figures assembled at full scale in one place until the completed bronze sculpture is installed at the national WWI Memorial in Washington, DC several years from now.

Mitch Yockelson

We will open the webinar with an update on the Memorial construction, and reveal when the fences are coming down for public access to the National WWI Memorial. Next, historian and author Dr. Mitchell Yockelson (left) will give us some insight into what was happening in New Jersey 100 years ago as the newly minted soldiers and raw recruits prepared to embark for the war zone and combat.

Sabin Howard mug

Then Master Sculptor Sabin Howard (right)  will walk us through the 48 clay figures, in different stages of completion, which are being created for eventual casting into bronze.  You’ll get a close look at the intricate details of the sculpting from the artist himself, and a deep understanding of the creative process.

And apropos our theme, we are closing with the short documentary “How WWI Changed America: Going To War”.

Click here to register for this unique webinar.  Advance registration is required, so sign up now!


Updates to WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer” App published in August

App updated Aug 2020

A new release was published in late August that was the result of extensive user testing done the previous month. Release 1.2 iOS &1.4 Android feature a new “Getting Started” explainer video at the top of the app. Post-update testing resulted in all testers successfully using the app within a couple of minutes of starting it – a dramatic improvement.

Many other usability features have been updated to make the WWI Memorial Virtual Explorer not just easier to get going on, but also easier to use and enjoy. Testing and refining continues.  Click here or the image at left to download the latest version.


Countown: 100 Days to Bells of Peace 2020 logo

Update on “Bells of Peace” National bell tolling in remembrance of those who served and sacrificed in World War I

The Countdown to Bells of Peace is continuing on our social media platforms FacebookTwitter and Instagram, headed for November 11, 2020, when everyone is invited to toll the “Bells of Peace” in honor of all those who served and sacrificed in World War I.

Everyone who wants to participate but does not have a bell to toll, the Doughboy Foundation has committed to updating the Bells of Peace App for 2020. For those who are not familiar with it, the App allows users to select from 7 different bell sounds that will toll at 11am local time on November 11th. Since that is Veterans Day, the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month is the time to remember our Doughboys. With the Bells of Peace App open on their phones, organizations, individuals and groups can toll the bells together, 21 times, 5 seconds apart.

Unlike years past, the 2020 update of the Bells of Peace App will focus on allowing users as groups or individuals to test their tolling in advance to be sure the moment comes off without a hitch. Additionally, we are creating a social media aggregation inside the app so that anyone participating can share theirs as a group (even if all participants are remote) by posting to the #BellsOfPeace hashtag.

You can download the limited 2019 version NOW to play with the bell sounds because the same app will update to the 2020 version in October. Got to your phone’s App store and search for Bells of Peace.


Change coming for segregated Loudoun County, VA World War I memorial

Loudoun County plaque

The bronze plaque on the Loudoun County World War I Memorial has stood in the heart of Leesburg for nearly 100 years. Located on the county courthouse grounds, the plaque lists the names of the 30 service members from Loudoun who died during war. Segregated by two engraved lines, on top are the names of 27 white service members; below are three Black men who equally gave their lives for America.

The dividing line may soon be gone.

Click here to read more about efforts to change the plaque in time for the 100th anniversary of the memorial’s installation.


World War I chemical munitions cleanup finally ‘complete’ in Washington, DC

Cleanup in DC complete

The decades-long effort to clean up a World War I chemical munitions hazardous site in Washington, DC (reported on here previously) located just southwest of the American University campus, is now complete, according to the project’s manager. Click here to read more about what it took to finally render “the mother of all toxic dumps” safe again.


Flying tribute planned for Wichita, KS World War I Medal of Honor aviator

Bleckley mug

The Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation is on a mission to ensure a piece of history flies the skies of Wichita all to honor 2nd Lt. Erwin Bleckley, one of eight to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the “Lost Battalion” episode, and one of the only four members of the U.S. Army’s Air Service to be awarded Medals of Honor in WWI. Click here to read more about the effort to put the aircraft that Bleckley flew to back into air worthy status.


Ludovicus Maria Matheus Van Iersel: An Immigrant Hero of World War I

Ludovicus Maria Matheus Van Iersel

During the First World War, thousands of foreign-born citizens and immigrants joined the United States military as the nation tried to meet the massive manpower requirements of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Of these immigrant combatants, 13 received the Medal of Honor for their wartime valor. One of these men, Ludovicus Matheus Van Iersel, volunteered to serve again in the Second World War — in the U.S. Marine Corps!.  Click here to read the fascinating story of this American fighting man from the Netherlands, and his service in two wars.


100 Years Ago: Dedication of the World War I Memorial in Scranton, PA

Scranton snip

The Lackawanna Historical Society’s History Bytes publication, Janice M. Gavern, Deputy Commander, Woman Veterans Issues, for the 15th District American Legion, Department of Pennsylvania, tells the story of the creation of the World War I Memorial in the Scranton, PA’s Nay Aug Park. Click here to read the entire story of how citizens determined that the sacrifice of the 242 men and six women from Scranton who gave their lives in World War I would be remembered.


World War I changed American attitudes about women’s suffrage

Suffrage sign

While American women had been fighting for the right to vote for decades prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, it was not until World War I that their cause for political independence regained momentum, argues legal scholar Pamela S. Karlan. Interviewed on the Futurity web site, Karlan discusses what the 19th Amendment accomplished and the challenges that persist today. Click here to read the entire interview.


World War I Austerity Couldn’t Stop the Fashion Show – “a patriotic duty”

Lucile - or Lady Duff Gordone

Modern shoppers can frame almost any purchase in moral terms. Think of all those people getting takeout to support local restaurants during the pandemic. As theater historian Marlis Schweitzer explains, one foremother of this attitude was British fashion designer Lucile, or Lady Duff Gordon. She promoted luxury consumption as a patriotic duty in the face of government-backed austerity campaigns during the First World War in New York. Click here to learn more,including Lucile’s insistence that “it was the duty of every wife, sweetheart and mother to spend as much on dress as they could possibly afford in order to make the best of themselves for the sake of the men in the trenches.”


A pandemic, never-maskers, and open-air meetings: Welcome to 1918

Mask or jail

As America and the world continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons from World War I and the Spanish Flu Pandemic continue to resonate. Writing in the Edmonds Beacon newspaper in Washington state, Betty Lou Gaen recalls how the disease had killed over 5,000 of the state’s residents by 1918. Adrija Roychowdhury writes in The Indian Express newspaper of “Lessons from the 1918 Spanish flu: When mask laws triggered protests in the United States.” On the the history.com web site, Becky Little explores “‘Mask Slackers’ and ‘Deadly’ Spit: The 1918 Flu Campaigns to Shame People Into Following New Rules.” TEN magazine, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, carries an article about how “During the deadly flu pandemic, Fed drove vital funding for World War I” in 1918. But if you have already heard enough comparisons between the COVID-19 and Spanish Flu pandemics, try this: “Another WWI throwback: Trench Fever Spread by Lice Found in Denver.”

Stay healthy out there!


Doughboy MIA for August 2020

DOughboy MIA Generic image

A man is only missing if he is forgotten.

Our Doughboy MIA this month is Private Homer A. Armstrong, of Philomath, Oregon.

Homer Alexander Armstrong was born January 18th, 1892 in the town of Paddock, in Gage County Nebraska to Irene and John E. Armstrong. Homer was one of three sons; himself, and younger brothers Clarence and John Jr. There had also been two girls born – one before Homer (Minnie, in 1888) and one just before Clarence (Louisa, in 1893) but both died in infancy.  John Senior himself died in 1899 shortly before John Junior was born, and in 1904 Clarence died at age 9. In about 1910 Homer went to live with his mother’s sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Alex J. Brown. Then, when Irene died in 1915, John Jr. joined them and they all moved to Philomath, Oregon.

Shortly before the declaration of war, Homer made the decision to enlist in the Oregon National Guard and was assigned to Company K of the 3rd Oregon Infantry, based in Corvallis. When the 3rd Oregon Infantry Regiment was federalized, they became the Headquarters Company of the 162nd Infantry Regiment/41st Division. After receiving training, Homer left with the 41st for France on December 12th, 1917.

In France the 41st Division was redesignated the 1st Depot Division and immediately began feeding its infantry units piecemeal into combat units to fill battle casualties. Homer was sent to the 32nd Division as a replacement sometime after May 1918, being assigned to Company D of the 127th Infantry. In late July the 32nd moved into the Chateau Thierry sector to relieve the 3rd Division, which had seen heavy combat over the previous three months.

On the night of July 29th, the 127th Infantry moved into the front lines under a terrible artillery barrage. At 1430 hours on July 30th, 1918 the 127th went over the top and followed a rolling barrage into the Bois des Grimpettes. They pushed through the woods until they were stopped by machine gun fire from the right flank. On this flank, from positions in the Bois de Cierges, the Germans continued to oppose every effort to advance, but the 127th gained the edge of those woods and established themselves there. During the night the Germans launched a counter attack from the Bois de Meuniere and a bayonet melee raged for hours in the dark, tangled woods, until the attacking force was finally routed.

On the morning of July 31st, the regiment was again in action, pushing their attack through the Bois de Meuniere and into the village of Cierges and beyond. North of the village they were held up by a withering hail of machine gun fire from Bellevue Farm, which the Germans had organized into a very strong center of resistance and which the U.S. artillery had failed to smother.

It was there, north of Cierges during heavy fighting that afternoon that Homer Armstrong was killed by machine gun fire. His comrades buried him in a hasty battlefield grave that day, the position of which was reported to Graves Registration Service. Nevertheless, when GRS officials went looking for the grave after the war, it could not be located. Homer remains missing to this day, and is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau, France.

Postscript:

At the beginning of 2020, Doughboy MIA was contacted by Mr. Eric Niemann, the Mayor of Philomath, Oregon. The city council wished to honor Homer among the veterans from their town, but they were finding little information and asked if we could help. Slowed by Covid but undeterred, the Doughboy MIA team went to work and chronicled Homer’s story in a full report and sent it to Mayor Niemann. The result was that a city resolution was passed proclaiming July 31st ‘Homer Armstrong Day’ in Philomath. Thus it was that, 102 years after his death, Homer was again remembered, and will be every year from now on; to be forgotten no more.

And a man is only missing if he is forgotten.

This is a beautiful example of your donations at work. Because of your donations the research materials needed to investigate and chronicle Homer’s story were available to us. Thank you! You made a difference with us. And if you haven’t donated and would like to in order to be part of our work, hop on over to our website at www.ww1cc.org/mia and make your tax-deducible donation today.


Official WWI Centennial Merchandise

Mug

White Ceramic
WWI Centennial
Mug

Featuring the iconic Doughboy silhouette flanked by barbed wire so prevalent during WWI, you can enjoy your favorite beverage in this 15-ounce ceramic mug and honor the sacrifices made by American soldiers, sailors, and Marines in World War I.

Proceeds from the sale of this item will help build the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC.

A Certificate of Authenticity as Official Merchandise of the United States World War One Centennial is included.

This and many other items are available as Official Merchandise of the United States World War One Centennial.


Memorial Camera

You can keep track of progress at the new National World War I Memorial through construction site time lapse video, or a live video feed from the site. Click here to take a look, and also find out how you can help finish this national tribute to the 4.7 million Americans who served, and the 116,516 who did not come home from World War I.

QR Code for Virtual Explorer App download

Click or scan the QR Code above to download the Virtual Explorer App for the National World War I Memorial, and explore what the Memorial will look like when work is completed.

App image 3


Education Thumb Drive image

Free Self-Contained WWI History Web Site on YOUR computer

Sources, lessons, activities, videos, podcasts, images

We have packaged all the content we created for “How WWI Changed America” into a format that is essentially a web site on a drive. Download the content onto any drive (USB, external, or as a folder on your computer), and all the content is accessible in a web site type format even without an internet connection. Click here to learn more, and download this amazing educational resource for home or classroom use.


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Lewis Lawrence Lacey

A Story of Service from the Stories of Service section of ww1cc.org

Lewis Lawrence Lacey

Submitted by: Laura Lacey Caldwell {Daughter}

Lewis Lawrence Lacey born around 1895. Lewis Lacey served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1917 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service

Military Biography

Corporal Lewis Lacey served in France during the Great War as a proud member of the 42nd Division of the American Expeditionary Forces.

The eldest son of Dr. Lewis and Forney (Beaumont) Lacey, he was born in San Antonio, Texas, on March 27, 1895, and raised in Austin, Texas, where his father established his medical practice on Congress Avenue, a stone’s throw from the Texas state capitol building.

Lewis Lacey, like his three younger brothers, was educated in the Austin public schools and later attended the University of Texas in that city. During his youth, when the stifling heat of summer blanketed Austin, Lewis and his brothers would spend their school vacation camping, swimming, fishing and hunting at nearby Lake Austin. Those early camping experiences undoubtedly helped prepare him for the primitive living conditions in the hastily constructed military training camps both in the United States and in France, where sometimes his only shelter was the pup tent he carried in his backpack.

On May 25, 1917, just one week after Congress passed the Selective Service Act, but before the first draft, Lewis, aged twenty-two years, enlisted in the Texas National Guard in Austin. He listed his occupation as “actor”, a career he had begun in high school and continued on stage in local Austin theaters. On July 5, 1917, he was conscripted to Camp Mabry, near Austin. From there he was transferred from to Camp Bowie, outside Ft. Worth, Texas, and assigned to Truck Company #2, 117th Supply Train, 42nd Division. While there he began his “Dearest Mother” correspondence, which he continued faithfully throughout the war.

Read Lewis Lawrence Lacey’s entire Story of Service here.

Submit your family’s Story of Service here.


Honor the Stories of Service of ALL Who Served.

Do Your Bit to Help Build the new National World War I Memorial.

Memorial Fundraising Thermometer 08282020


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