WW1 Daybook

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The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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WW1 Daybook

Rehabilitation Plan for Blinded Soldiers

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 20, 2018


This letter was sent by to all the Division Directors of Civilian Relief for the American Red Cross. It concerns the American Red Cross' incredibly detailed plan for trying to help blinded soldiers, which would include giving them and their families training, helping them set up businesses such as raising poultry, book binding, and more. It closes by saying many soldiers who were blinded also received other wounds, such as burns, amputations, destructed jaws and so on, so it is important to provide for these men who "the nation owes a lasting duty."

 


May 20, 1918.
[...]
The War Council of the Red Cross has made an appropriation of $100,000 to supplement the plans of the Surgeon General's Office for the care and re-education of blinded soldiers. The specific purposes of the Red Cross appropriation are "to supply the organization and funds to promote the industrial care of the blinded soldiers after the completion of their re-education and discharge by the Army." [...] The objects and plan of a central bureau for the after care of blind soldiers were states as follows [...]
"First: To provide a home and transportation to the Blind Training center for the relative who will be responsible for the care of the blinded man when returned to his home. [...] Tenth: Many soldiers will be blinded and cripples and will have to be provided with homes. This both England and France have found essential. In explanation of this work, let it be understood that the organization desired is for the continuous, perpetual care of the blinded soldiers after their discharge from the Army. [...] In industrial blindness, ninety-eight per cent of the eye injuries are single, in war forty per cent are multiple. In other words we may expect a large number of blind men with amputations of arms, or legs, or both, facial burns, destruction of jaws, etc. To those particularly unfortunate individuals the nation owes a lasting duty. Patriotic fervor will provide for the present but only an invested capital will provide for the future. The Army will of course provide for the rehabilitation of the blind soldiers in its hospitals. One for this especial purpose is now receiving patients - General Hospital No. 7 in Baltimore, Maryland. It is also desirable that the blinded soldiers shall subsequent to their discharge be under the supervision of a competent agency whose duty it will be to see that the training given shall count for as much as possible in the life work of these unfortunate men".
Curtis E. Lakeman
Assistant to the Director-General

Citation: American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P781

Letter to POW Bernard Gallagher's Parents

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 19, 2018


Bernard Gallagher of Waseca, Minnesota, was a recent medical school graduate when he entered the service. In 1918 he was serving with the 61st Division of the British Expeditionary Force in France, when he was captured by German forces in March. Gallagher's Commanding Officer sent this letter to his parents, informing them he had been taken as a prisoner of war. Gallagher was taken because he stayed behind with wounded men who could not be moved when his battalion was forced to evacuate the town they were in, an act his commander regrets.

 


B.E.F.
18/5/18
Dear Sir:
As Commanding Officer of this Battalion I opened the letter from you inquiring about your son. [...] He was, as you know a medical officer in this Battalion. We were one of those holding part of the line which the Germans attacked in considerable strength on March 21st. Your son was with us until March 28th and on that day there was some rather heavy fighting in and near a place called Marcelcave- not very far from Amiens. We eventually had to evacuate the village. Your son had a good many wounded in his "aid post" and was unable to move them, as owning to the heavy shelling the ambulances were not able to get up. He remained with them and was, of course, taken prisoner after our troops had retired outside the village. That, briefly, is what happened. I was with the Battalion and had seen and spoken to him quite a short time before we had to leave the village, but he never said anything to me about staying and had he done so, I should certainly have told him not to. Later when I inquired where he was I was told that he had stayed behind to look after the wounded who could not be gotten away. I am very sorry that I did not see him because I think he would have come out. I understand he considered it was his duty to remain behind with his wounded. [...] I sincerely trust that he is well and that being a doctor he will not be kept long. They are usually returned after a time.
Yours sincerely,
A.B. Lawler
Lieut. Col.

Citation: Bernard Gallagher Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P487

Determined to Fly

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 18, 2018


This is the Gold Star Roll file of Lieutenant George Squires, who enlisted just after America declared war and volunteered for the Flying Service. Squires trained with the Royal Flying Corp., as no American schools had been established yet, and he was clearly determined to learn how to fly. He was killed on this date in a plane accident. Included is a photograph of Squires posing with one of the planes he flew during the war.
 

Citation: 
"Squires, George" Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.6F
 

Determined to Fly

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 18, 2018


This is the Gold Star Roll file of Lieutenant George Squires, who enlisted just after America declared war and volunteered for the Flying Service. Squires trained with the Royal Flying Corp., as no American schools had been established yet, and he was clearly determined to learn how to fly. He was killed on this date in a plane accident. Included is a photograph of Squires posing with one of the planes he flew during the war.
 

Citation: 
"Squires, George" Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.6F
 

"Italians Take Offensive on Asiago Line" and "British and Russ Blow Up 11 Submarines to Foil Foe in Baltic" - The Minneapolis Morning Tribune. May 17, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 17, 2018

The American Spirit

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 16, 2018


Gold Star Roll file of Private Melvin Lane, who was born in Evansville, Minnesota. He sent his mother this postcard depicting The American Spirit on this day in 1918 just before he arrived overseas. He tells his mother about his trip, saying he was lucky to have not gotten sea sick and that he expects to arrive in Europe either that night or the following morning. Lane was killed in action in France on July 26, 1917.
 


May 16-1918
Dear Mother:
Will drop you a few lines to let you know we are just about across the pond so I guess we will get there O.K. Had a fine trip I was luckey [sic] enuff [sic] not to get sea sick we shore [sic] had fine weather. It is a little cold and ruff [sic] but not very bad. We expect to land tonight or in the morning. I will write you again as soon as we land.
Your son,
Melvin L.

Citation: "Lane, Melvin L." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.4F

"Allies Reach Out For New Vantage Points" and "Believed Austria-Hungary to be Forced to Participate More Heavily in Offensive" - The Duluth Herald. May 15, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 15, 2018

Life Insurance and Suicide

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 14, 2018


This letter was from the American Red Cross' National Headquarters and sent to all of its Division Directors of Civilian Relief. It concerns the government insurance policy of enlisted men, which usually gave relatives payments in case of a man's death. The War Risk Insurance Bureau decided that in the case of suicide, if the man was insane when he committed suicide the insurance would still be paid but if he was sane it was not payable; highlighting the stigma against mental illness during this time. But, in October this rule would change so that families receive insurance benefits whatever the mental state of the person who committed suicide.

 


May 14, 1918.
[...] 1. This office has requested decision from the War Risk Bureau as to whether suicide by an enlisted man will affect the validity of his government insurance policy. [...] 'If the insured was insane when he committed the act, the insurance is payable. If, however, he was sane when he committed suicide, the insurance is not payable. The question whether or not the insured was sane or insane at the time of the act is a question of fact. Before an award of insurance is made, a sufficient showing of insanity to justify this Bureau in making such an award must be presented. A statement of finding of sanity or insanity made by the Army or Navy Department is not binding upon this Bureau, but such statement or finding may be accepted as evidence one way or the other. The sanity of every person is presumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary and insanity can not be presumed from the mere fact of suicide." [...]
 

Citation: American Red Cross, Northern Division, records, 1915-1921. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P781

Ready to Vacate at Any Moment

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 13, 2018


On this date Frances Mary Rogers left the United States for France, where she would drive supplies first for the American Fund for French Wounded and later the YMCA. Upon returning to the United States she would found the St. Paul unit of the the Women's Overseas Service League, an organization made of women who had served overseas during the First World War with the purpose of companionship and helping those who had been impacted by the war, particularly veterans. In this small biography of her from the League's papers she describes being ready to evacuate Paris, should the Germans break through, as well as dancing and visiting with the troops.

 


Had to work in Paris first in packing room. Then had interesting work carrying supplies to French Hospitals during bombing period and Big Bertha. Was there when we thought we must vacate Paris any moment and during the Chateau Thierry drive I had charge of the Vestiare at the Gare De L'Est when the French refugees came pouring in. Helped at ARC #2 during C.T. Drive. We had our bags packed and our machines in order expecting if the Germans should come into Paris to help the ARC vacate. Drove for ARC and visited the American boys in French hospitals. [...]

Citation: "Frances Mary Rogers." Women's Overseas Service League, St. Paul Unit, Records, 1919-1942. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. BH7/.W872

Mother's Day - A Man Never Outgrows His Mother

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | May 12, 2018


Maurice Masterson of Barnesville, Minnesota, sent this letter to his mother on Mother's Day, 1918, in which he describes how important she is to him. Masterson wrote numerous letters to his mother and father during his time in France. He was killed in action on November 1, ten days before the war ended.
 


On Active Service
With the
American Expeditionary Force
May 12, 1918
Dear Mother O' Mine,
There are a few times in a fellows life, just a few, when he thinks he's out grown mother. They don't last long and may seem trivial but I'll mention them anyway. The "first long pants" stage, the first sweetheart stage, and the days son graduates from High School. But the aforementioned trousers eventually need mending, the girl changes her mind (they are that way at fifteen), And the High School diploma is viewed in its proper proportions. Then dependable old mother has to be on the job and she always is. It's a way mothers have. And again there are times in a man's life when just about the biggest thing is a mother. In moments of adversity that come now and again in ordinary living it's the thot [sic] of mother that dries the gloom away and sets the world aright. But those are ordinary times. One thinks one knows what a mother means to him. Never until a supreme test comes does she stand out as the wonderful thing she really is. We sons of American mothers are passing thru [sic] such a test now. We're staking the biggest thing we have, our lives, for the finest things in life, honor, justice, brotherhood, the right of the free men to live as God ordained that they should live. [...] And so mother dear I'm thinking of you today, on Mother's Day. You mean more to me than ever before, just because I need you more, and not because you're any different. [...] Remember, whatever may happen, that I'm thinking of you every day, that every day is mothers day to me. Be brave I know you will, andthe thot [sic] that you are is going to carry ,me thru when nothing else could. I'm well, very well. I love you mother o'mine.
Maurice
Corp. M.E. Masterson
F Battery 151 F.A.

Citation: "Masterson, Maurice E." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.4F

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