Tag Archives | World War I

Popular Science’s Strange Reporting Of The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

via Popular Science:

This year marks the centennial of the start of World War I. To honor it, Popular Science is combing through our archives to bring you the best of our original war coverage–from the emergence of tanks, airplanes, and other military tech, to essays examining the relationship between war and eugenics. 

Just as the First World War was winding down, another disaster struck: The so-called “Spanish flu,” an influenza virus with unique mutations that made it unusually virulent and deadly. Anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of the world’s population contracted it. An estimated 50 million people died, including about one person out of every 160 in the U.S. War conditions hastened the disease’s spread, as troops moved around the world and the war effort left few healthcare workers to administer to civilians.

The pandemic left a lasting mark on societies and science, so we thought contemporary issues of Popular Science might have some interesting reporting on the phenomenon.

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We need more focus on the women poets of World War I

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Lisa Regan, University of Liverpool

Members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. PA/PA Archive

We’ve become very accustomed to connecting World War I with its soldier-poets. And the centenary celebrations in Britain have very rightly reminded us how important key figures such as Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Siegfried Sassoon were to their own generation and continue to be for future generations.

But for all that I was struck by actress Penelope Keith’s reading of Rose Macaulay’s poem, Many Sisters to Many Brothers at Westminster Abbey’s candle-lit vigil. It was refreshing – not least because Macaulay is an author often edged off the literary map. But despite this I was left wondering whether this particular poem was the right poem to choose.

Macaulay’s 1914 poem expresses women’s envy of men’s freedom to go to war (service being voluntary until conscription began in 1916).… Read the rest

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A Gallery of Propaganda on the Centennial of the “Great” War

3g03189u-1584 3g03350u-1587100 years ago this month, a war began that shattered all sorts of illusions in Western Civilization.   That "Great," quite rather than a superlative of "good," is connoted to imply anything but the mammoth scale of the event and its resulting painful, festering, living legacy. "The War to End All Wars," a title that naively suggested that the living memory of suffering and atrocity is the strongest safeguard against it...
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Melting Glaciers Revealing Frozen Corpses of World War I Soldiers

Pic: Museo della Grande Guerra, Peio (C)

Pic: Museo della Grande Guerra, Peio (C)

The slowly-melting glaciers of the Italian Alps are yielding up a gruesome find: The once-frozen corpses of World War I soldiers.

Via The Telegraph:

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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Sir Arthur and the Fairies

via The Public Domain Review 8970056301_fc37167f90_o

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.

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Sharing a Story from My Father: In Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

via chycho


I. Introduction

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

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The Real Story of the World War I ‘Christmas Truce’

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…

Via Smithsonian Magazine:

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.

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British Intelligence Used “Bodily Fluids” as Invisible Ink

James BondIn 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:

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”.

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