Tag Archives: Great War

The Great War Week by Week

I just found out about this very interesting project – The Great War on YouTube. Their plan is to do at least one episode a week all the way through to November 2018, covering the Great War in “real time”, as well as extra episodes for background material and answering questions from viewers.

Each episode is short (five-ten minutes) and focuses on either the week it’s covering or a specific topic.

I’ve got their chronological playlist running (see the first set of links on their Youtube homepage) and it’s good solid stuff, starting with a great attempt to explain the insanely tangled mess that lead to the start of the war. I’ll be subscribing and following this one with interest, especially if they manage to keep running through the entire four-and-a-half run of the war. The host is historian Indiana Neidel (excellent pulpy name, too) who is an interesting and engaging host.

My favourite factoid so far: Franz Ferdinand’s funeral was only 15 minutes long, as very few of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy liked the guy very much…

The Atlantic on WW1

The Atlantic magazine is running a ten-part World War One in Photos series with some very interesting images I’ve not seen before. They’re doing a post every Sunday for ten weeks.

The most recent post, WW1 in Photos: Technology has some great photos of obvious interest to wargamers, although the whole series so far is very high quality and has a great selection of photos.

As usual, avoid the comments, there’s far too much stupidity and pointless arguing…

Links of Interest, 8th Feb 2013

First “Links of Interest” miscellaneous post for 2013, so it’s a long one!

The fantastic blog Wargaming with Silver Whistle is, like I was recently, also making fields. His are spectacular, and might inspire me to re-visit the subject again in the near future! He’s got fields and allotments, large wheatfields, and finally some haystacks, all lavishly illustrated.

TutoFig.com is a multilingual European website that aggregates links to all sorts of tutorials – figure painting, sculpting, terrain, and all sorts of other stuff. Lots of high-quality links there, and I’m flattered they linked to my hot-glue fields tutorial, which is how I discovered them in turn.

Staying with the scenery theme, The DM’s Craft Youtube channel has lots of short terrain videos, focusing on the quick-and-cheap (but effective!) end of terrain making, and especially the many, many uses to which one can put a hot glue gun!

Moving on to the Russian Civil War and World War One, the Photo Palace blog, WW1 & RCW Photos Found is a post about an amazing collection of photos by an American who was working with the YMCA in both France and Russia during World War One, and who then escaped the Russian Revolution via Siberia and China – and he took photos the whole way, as well as buying photo postcards and such as he travelled. There’s only a few photos from the collection up online right now, which is unfortunate, but they’re really neat, atmospheric photos! The same blog also has French WW1 Photos Found Still in Camera, but again, too few of the actual photos posted online so far!

The US Army’s famous West Point Military Academy has, unsurprisingly, a first-rate History Department, who have put online their Atlas of Military History. There’s no maps of the Russian Civil War, despite American forces being involved both in Northern Russian and Siberia as part of Allied Intervention forces, but there are great clear maps of World War One on the Western Front, as well as maps for nearly every other war the Yanks have been involved in.

Looking for information on Russian armoured cars I found PDF archives of the “Armoured Car Journal” from the early/mid 1990s, with several interesting World War One articles, although nothing specifically on the Russian Civil War.

Finally, if you’re doing up artwork, cards or other handouts for gaming, another source of nice textures and background images is always useful, so here’s some Free (CC-BY Licensed) textures collected on Flickr – hat tip to Sidney Roundwood for the link.

Book Review: Trench by Stephen Bull

Trench: A History of Trench Warfare on the Western Front by Stephen Bull. This is a joint publication by Osprey Publishing and the Imperial War Museum, so in addition to being well written it’s lavishly illustrated, with period photographs on every page (the Imperial War Museum being famous for it’s photograph archives), map reproductions, and Osprey’s well known illustrations where needed as well.

trench_cover
The cover of Trench.
Trench is a big coffee-table style book, full colour throughout. The 270-some pages are broken up into ten chapters; the first few are a roughly chronological look at the evolution of trenches in the early part of WW1. The rest are focused on one particular aspect of trench warfare — gas, patrolling, sniping, tanks and armoured vehicles, new weaponry, trench and bunker construction, the evolution of tactics, and so on.

Stephen Bull is well known, and he does well in Trench, with a mix of his own writing, some excerpts from Osprey publications, and frequent bits of period writing, often letters or diary entries from actual front-line soldiers, including translations of French and German material. There are also frequent short articles inside the book focusing on a specific battle or engagement, with discussion of the strategic and tactical significance of this particular engagement and maps, photographs or period writing specific to that engagement.

If you’re interested in the Western Front at all, especially as a subject for wargamers, get yourself a copy of Trench. It’s an excellent mix of written and visual resources; the captions to the various photographs and other visuals are especially well done, instead of being just an afterthought.

Trench: A History of Trench Warfare on the Western Front by Stephen Bull, © 2010 Osprey Publication, in association with the Imperial War Museum.
The Shortest Possible Review: A good introduction to the Western Front of WW1, especially strong on photographs and other visuals

Incidentally, as I write this (Jan. 2013) the Imperial War Museum London is in the middle of a massive renovation/rebuilding effort, which will (among other things) give them a completely rebuilding World War One exhibit before the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 in 2014. They have a fascinating Transforming IWM London blog with lots of articles on what’s involved in renovating a large museum.

(I accidentally published this unedited and incomplete, 24hrs ahead of schedule! Sorry!)

WW1 Posters On BibliOdyssey

The often-fascinating website BibliOdyssey has just posted a glorious selection of World War One posters from the US, UK, France, Greece and elsewhere.

I’m hard-pressed to pick a favourite, but purely for graphical awesomeness and a slightly surreal message, it might be this American poster telling people to fund a hungry machine gun.

feed-me
Feed a machine-gun – the Great War equivalent of those “Feed a child” ads we see today, I guess?

BibliOdyssey is also over on Flickr, too.

All Over By Christmas

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Squamous Cthulhumas, or whatever other mid-winter holiday you celebrate!

Here’s a bit of family Christmas history to share. I might well have shown this off here on the the Warbard in the past, but I’m half-full of eggnog and can’t be arsed to search my own blog again on this Christmas Eve.

A relative’s World War One Princess Mary’s gift tin from Christmas 1914.

A South African relative was on the Western Front in France from Autumn 1914 onward, arriving as part of the first South African infantry contingent sent to France. These tins were the brainchild of the then-teenage Princess Mary, and sent out by the thousands to troops in France. James Elliot van der Reit was killed in action in April 1918, having survived nearly the whole of the Great War.

The tin must been returned to his family in South Africa, and was passed on to me a few years ago as part of the cleanup of my late grandmother’s house. You can see more notes and a larger version of the photo if you click on the photo and go to my Flickr account.

I was reminded of my tin (which usually lives tucked under my computer monitor) by a BBC News story about the tin boxes of gifts still sent to British troops; these Princess Mary tins were the first of what has become a standing tradition for the British military.

Further Great War Resources

Over a year ago, in July 2011, I wrote a long article called Great War Resources with links to the Internet Archive and other places you could find resources of interest to Great War/World War One wargaming.

Here’s a bit of a long-delayed followup, the result of an evening wandering the (virtual) aisles of the US Army’s Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) website. My original post mostly had material from the Internet Archives and just a bit from CARL, as I’d only just discovered that resource. CARL material is biased toward the last two years of the Great War, 1917 & 1918. Given that this is an American military library we’re using, it’s only natural it would have more material for the years when the Americans finally realized there was a war on and joined in. Also, there was a huge outpouring of studies and material from all the combatants as the war ground onward, and as I mentioned in my original article, on the Allied side lot of it was deliberately aimed at bringing the newly-arrived Americans up to speed as rapidly as possible in the harsh environment of the Western Front.

To get the best PDF files quickly from a individual CARL listing, use the pale blue “Download” button on the far right of the page, opposite the title. That’ll get you a PDF with a human-readable filename, which is useful. Using the red-and-white PDF symbol gets you the same file, but with a random alphanumeric filename, kind of hard to keep track of once it lands on your own hard drive!

The following links are a few from the CARL Obsolete Military Manuals collection I happen to have noticed that might be of interest.

One easy way to sort through the Obsolete Military Manuals material is to sort by date of original publication. I can’t find a way to save links to specific searches (they time out) but use the Advanced Search dropdown on the top bar (beside the search box) and then use the Search By Date function at the bottom of that dropdown. There’s a few random bits and pieces in the 1914-1916 range, then a positive explosion of material from early 1917 onward.

Found any treasures on CARL or elsewhere that I haven’t mentioned? Post them in the comments, please! (Note that comments are moderated, especially if they have multiple links in them, but I do check up on the moderation queue regularly!)

Dogs of War

No, not the Warhammer-universe mercenaries, but the real thing, in real-world wars. The Library of Congress’ excellent Flickr account, where they share all sorts of treasures from their huge photo archives, put this image up earlier this year:

British Ambulance Dog, WW1
"Getting bandages from kit of British Dog (LOC)" via the US Library of Congress on Flickr. Click to go to the original Flickr page to see larger images.

"The animal seeks for wounded men lost on the battle-field; he searches in holes, ruins, and excavations, and hunts over wooded places or coverts, where the wounded man might lie unnoticed by his comrades or the stretcher-bearer."

That lead to some Google searching and the discovery of several interesting articles about military dogs on the Western Front, primarily as ambulance dogs or messenger dogs. There’s another LoC image on Flickr that has some very good links in a comment just below it, a few of which I’ve reproduced here.

The fascinating Out of Battle blog has a pair of posts from 2008, one on messenger dogs and the other on ambulance and other uses of dogs, with some further links and resources. Over on the always-valuable Internet Archive there’s a 1920 book called British War Dogs, Their Training and Psychology, downloadable in the usual variety of formats, including PDF with the original illustrations and diagrams.

I’m not (yet!) into Western Front Great War gaming, but if you wanted a unique unit amongst your trenches, a dog and handler could be done quite easily with a spare infantry figure and a dog — quite a number of manufacturers make dogs in both 15mm & 28mm. From the look of the period photos, most of the dogs were collie or terrier types, not very large, which makes sense. The ambulance packs could be sculpted with a bit of milliput or greenstuff, and a messenger collar would be even easier to add.

Unleash the dogs of war!

Two New Books: Britmis & The Great War on the Western Front

My most recent order from Naval & Military Press showed up this week; just over three weeks enroute isn’t bad for surface shipping from the UK to western Canada.

This time I got Britmis: A Great Adventure of the War and The Great War on the Western Front: A Short History.

Britmis is an NMP republication of Major Phelps Hodges’ memoir of his participation in the British military mission to Siberia during the Russian Civil War and subsequent escape through the Gobi Desert to China when the Russian Civil War started going very badly. It has the gloriously Edwardian sub-sub-title “Being an account of Allied intervention in Siberia and of an escape across the Gobi to Peking”, and in addition to being interested in the Russian Civil War generally, I’m a sucker for any book with sub-sub-titles or chapter sub-titles that start with “Being an account…”, so I expect Britmis to be a fun read.

It’s a chunky little trade paperback, 365 pages or so and includes photographs taken by the author during his adventures. I read Beasts, Men and Gods in e-book a while ago, and Britmis looks to have a lot of the same flavour and interest!

The Great War on the Western Front by Paddy Griffith is one of the standard modern texts on the Great War, “revisionist” in the best sense as Griffith works away at the old myths that the Western Front was nothing but pointless slaughter and stupidity. I won’t be getting to this one for a while, but NMP had it on sale at an absurd discount (their regular price is pretty good too, mind you!) so I couldn’t pass up the chance to add this one to my library.

World War One Aviation Resources

Via (of all the random places) a MetaFilter discussion of WW1 flight sims, four zip files full of PDFs of public domain World War One flying books, about evenly split between period reference books and memoirs/biographies/autobiographies.

Handily, there’s a list of which titles are included in each zip file, so you could use that list, head over to the Internet Archive yourself, and pull individual titles of interest out for yourself.

Or grab the zip files, of course, and instantly have a pretty complete library of Great War aviation titles on your computer.