6. Stories from World War I

  1. Story #1 – 100 Years Ago – World War I -American Meuse-Argonne Offensive 1918, Tanks commander George S. Patton – offensive saved by young captain.

Major American offensive in war. Patton’s tanks to break through German lines. 35th U. S. Infantry Division key part – 7,300 men would go down next few days, 1,126 killed. Highest loss rate any division in war. Within 2-3 miles of 129th was the Field Battery D commanded by a captain. Suddenly in offensive, 28th Division’s Artillery became “immobilized” for three days. Patton’s tanks forced stop as 100’s Germans rushed into gap. Captain of 129th ordered artillery stop them. High command had standing order not fire into neighbor divisions assigned territory. He did anyway stopping German onslaught. He faced serious charges violating orders. Days later American Supreme Commander John J. Pershing inspection visit. When told standing order forbidding divisions fire outside own areas, an aghast Pershing responded, “But surely you do not obey that order! I want meet officer had courage and decisiveness to do what should be done.” He was then introduced to young captain from Missouri, Captain Harry S. Truman.

                     Story #2 –  World War I – Christmas, 1914 – truce between enemies in trenches.                                   Christmas carols, exchanging gifts, soccer – Germans and Brits celebrate.

December 24, 1914, Christmas trees appeared tops German trenches. German’s better supplied than Brits so trees shipped in. Germans sang Christmas carols, soon Brits joined in. Dawn of Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged their trenches approaching Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in enemies’ native tongues. At first, Allied soldiers feared a trick, but seeing Germans unarmed they climbed out their trenches, shook hands with enemy soldiers. Exchanged presents cigarettes, chocolates and plum puddings, sang carols.. There were even documented cases of soldiers opposing sides playing good games of soccer.




Story #3 –  100 Years Ago – World War I – British women did their part to win the war.
The “Yellow Canary Girls” worked with chemicals that did great damage.

At lunchtime, women separated in cafeteria because everything touched turned yellow. They were called “Canary Girls” because of their bright yellow skin and green or ginger-colored hair. Britain’s women recruited ramp up production ammunition and paid less than half what men were paid. By end of war, 80% of weaponry used by British army made by women paying very dearly to “do their bit”. Performed heavy-duty and delicate tasks require more skill than brute force; handling detonators and explosives, machining shell cases etc. But women also worked with hazardous chemicals on daily basis without adequate protection, such as trinitrotoluene (TNT). Prolonged exposure to sulfuric acid caused depigmentation, turning skin yellow. Other strange symptoms included hair turning green or falling out altogether, chest pain, breast deformation, weakening of the immune system, vomiting, anemia, migraines and fertility problems. Many thousands of women gave birth to yellow children, several years later color fade