Wednesday, 29 August 2012

WWI stories

While studying WWI we learned about two stories of American tenacity and bravery.  While doing our travels we made it a point to visit to these two sites.

First we heard the amazing story of Sgt A. York

I encourage you to read this amazing story in the link above.  However a brief synopsis of the story:  this young man killed approx 25 (depends on the story) German officers and soldiers and captured over 130 during a firefight in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign.  He was a national hero but had a hard time with the guilt of killing and spent his life trying to do good with his life by helping War veterans.  There was a movie made about this man's remarkable life  in the 1930's and it won several awards.  I am trying to locate this movie so the family can watch it.

We were told an American Boy Scout help to put this trail together for his Eagle Scout project.  There are several markers to give details of Sgt York amazing accomplishments in the area where he fought and captured German soldiers
 The story of the Lost Battlion 

We found the marker where the battle took place.  Over 600 Americans were caught behind enemy lines and less than 200 emerge after 5 days of intense fighting.

The Battalion was trapped on the lower ground while the Germans where on the upper ridge (across the street) shooting at the men. 

A bit further along the road was this monument saluting the brave men who survived.

the men who earned the Medal of Honor awards.  The top officer was Major Whittlesey and after the war  he suffered from survivors guilt over the men he lost.  He committed suicide several years after the war.

There is a movie based on this group of men, that my husband and I watch but I did not show it to the children.  I will when they are a bit older.
My daughter, Princess was so taken with this story when we returned home the next day she drew this poster, without any prompting from me:).  The bird represents the carrier pigeon "Cher Ami" sent by the Lost Battalion to rest of the army letting them know the lost Battalion position and to halt the bombing that was being done on their positions.  Cher Ami was shot through the breast, lost an eye and had one leg hanging by a single tendon but was successfully able to deliver the message and save the Battalion.  She was honored with several medals and served as a mascot for the army.  She can be found in the Smithsonian museum

I am sure there are many more stories from both sides of this war, but unfortunately the stories are being over shadowed by the stories of WWII.  Our family have been honored to have visited both sites and I felt great sadness that the WWI sites are less visited.  While Normandy has busloads of visitors, the Meuse Argonne and other locations  are very quiet with few visitors.  There are so many stories that are being forgotten and that is such a shame!

Lastly I wanted to show you a German war cemetery what we stopped at to pay respect to.  This cemetery and others that we past along the way were very simple.  The graves stones are either made of wood with a metal plaque with the soldiers name on it or in this cemetery the grave markers were made of metal.

Very simple and the small memorial in the center was damaged and needed work.  We were very surprise to see that there were up to 4 names on the crosses.  Two names in front and sometimes two names on back.

On the right side of this cross is an unknown German soldier.  My children without prompting found a wild flower and laid it down at this marker, which is what they do at other cemeteries.

There were so many Jewish German soldiers who fought bravely during the First War and were honored with German medals, only to later be persecuted by the Nazi 's during the second world war.

I was a little bit saddened to see that this cemetery had not been as well maintained as all the other countries cemeteries we have visited on this trip.  While Germany gets the blame for much of WWI, from what I have learned and read there was enough blame to go around, and these soldiers deserve to be remembered for their service as much as the other soldiers.


  1. I think Germany gets extra blame, just because they were so clearly responsible for WWII. It makes it easy to blame them. Also, the cemetery may be neglected partially just because so many Germans want so desperately to reassure themselves and the war that Germany is not about Nazi-ism. It is extra sad that so many soldiers manage to survive a war, but then go on to kill themselves after. It is a complex problem to this very day.

  2. I would like to feature these posts on my next WWI history post. Can I use on of these pictures in my spotlight section? Thank you for pointing these out to me.