Tag Archives | World War I
The slowly-melting glaciers of the Italian Alps are yielding up a gruesome find: The once-frozen corpses of World War I soldiers.
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The bodies, when they came, were often mummified. The two soldiers interred last September were blond, blue-eyed Austrians aged 17 and 18 years old, who died on the Presena glacier and were buried by their comrades, top-to-toe, in a crevasse. Both had bulletholes in their skulls. One still had a spoon tucked into his puttees — common practice among soldiers who travelled from trench to trench and ate out of communal pots. When Franco Nicolis of the Archaeological Heritage Office in the provincial capital, Trento, saw them, he says, his first thought was for their mothers. ‘They feel contemporary. They come out of the ice just as they went in,’ he says. In all likelihood the soldiers’ mothers never discovered their sons’ fate.
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In the spring of 1920, at the beginning of a growing fascination with spiritualism brought on by the death of his son and brother in WWI, Arthur Conan Doyle took up the case of the Cottingley Fairies. Mary Losure explores how the creator of Sherlock Holmes became convinced that the ‘fairy photographs’ taken by two girls from Yorkshire were real
In the winter of 1920, readers of the popular British magazine the Strand found a curious headline on the cover of their Christmas issues. “FAIRIES PHOTOGRAPHED,” it said. “AN EPOCH-MAKING EVENT DESCRIBED BY A. CONAN DOYLE.” The Strand’s readership was well acquainted with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; most of his wildly popular Sherlock Holmes stories had appeared for the first time in its pages. The great man’s claim that fairies –real fairies – had been photographed in the north of England by two young girls was greeted with wonder, but unfortunately for Conan Doyle, most of it was of the “what can he be thinking?” variety.
Growing up I was always reminded of the Armenian genocide, of my ancestral history. It was so normal to hear the elders talk about it that it didn’t really faze me, not until I wrote a research paper on it in university. That’s when it hit me, and it was devastating.
It became real when I read documented accounts of what had happened and saw photos of the atrocities. It became real when I came across a historical novel detailing parts of what had transpired. The deportations, the concentration camps, the death marches, the massacres; it all became real when I realized that it wasn’t just stories my elders were sharing; it was what they lived through. It was their life story.
I was confused at first. I couldn’t grasp it. I was wounded. Grief, anger, and frustration took over. I couldn’t focus on anything else for quite some time.… Read the rest
If you can possibly stand another Christmas-related story today, then you might enjoy reading a detailed account of the famous “Christmas Truce” of 1914. It wasn’t formal or widespread, but in isolated areas on the front, men from both sides emerged for their trenches, exchanged meager gifts and even played soccer. (Yes, my European friends, I know it’s “football” – but perhaps we can have a truce of our own?) It’s a bittersweet story: What better reminder of the absurdity of war than enemies briefly united in brotherhood by sport, custom and hospitality? Sadly, the peace wasn’t to last – and in many cases it was squelched from the very beginning by officers eager to continue the war. I can’t read the phrase “return of good old sniping” without my stomach churning…
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Of course, not every man on either side was thrilled by the Christmas Truce, and official opposition squelched at least one proposed Anglo-German soccer match.
In case you missed this one, brings a whole new light to “Bond, James Bond” … Note the name of the person of charge of this operation in the article below. Via the Telegraph:
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A diary entry belonging to a senior member of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) has revealed that during the First World War it was discovered that the bodily fluid could act as an effective invisible ink.
In June 1915, Walter Kirke, deputy head of military intelligence at GHQ France, wrote in his diary that Mansfield Cumming, the first chief (or C) of the SIS was “making enquiries for invisible inks at the London University”.
In October he noted that he “heard from C that the best invisible ink is semen”, which did not react to the main methods of detection. Furthermore it had the advantage of being readily available.
A member of staff close to “C”, Frank Stagg, said that he would never forget his bosses’ delight when the Deputy Chief Censor said one day that one of his staff had found out that “semen would not react to iodine vapour”.