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August 21, 1986     The Ponchatoula Times
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August 21, 1986

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THE GREAT WAR An original history Cop9,,.B.v,c..,McM.ho..,986 THE PONCHATOULA TIMES, AUGUST 21, 1986 1914-1918 By Bernard Vincent McMah l he French, having endured a bloodbath at Verdun, the British under Haig were itching to participate in one of their own. He got his wish at the Somme. Fourteen divisions (British) on one side of the Somme River, five French divisions on the other side. The British army consisted of green rookies seasoned by future generals Bernard Montgomery (Monty) and Archibald Wavell, and sweetened by such herbs as the poets Robert Graves, ("I have a rendevous with death at some disputed barricade"), Siegfried Sassoon, John Masefield, Edmund Blunden and Mark Plowman. A barrage of 1,508,652 allied artillery rounds were fired with no appreciable effect on German wire and trenches. On July 1, 1916 at 7:28 a.m. wave after wave of French and English went over the top into "No Man's Land" while General Haig was noting in his diary, "reports...are most satisfactory, our troops had everywhere crossed the enemy's front trenches. The opposite was ue. The attack was a catastrophe. The German artillery were mowing down Allied troops with zeroed in machine gun fire which piled up corpses in heaps. At the end of this bloody day 60,000 soldiers, the flower of English youth, were slaughtered. That bulldog character so prized by Winston Churchill made Haig continue the battle and no one in London, not even the king, forced Haig to stop. The battle raged on until November 1918. Britain recorded 607,784 casualties. Churchill is credited with the development of the army tank (designed, it was said, to carry water in the Middle East desert). Haig grabbed the first 42 with their untrained crews and threw them into battle. They were a sensational success. If he had waited for a sufficient number to arrive they would have broken the German lines. The Kaiser removed Falkenhayn and appointed Field Marshal Hindenberg with Ludendorf as his quartermaster general. Foch and Joeffry were relieved of command and qeneral Nivelle (Anllo French) made commander-in-chief of the Western front. Prime Minister Asquith ("the lights are going out all over Europe.") resigned after his son was killed at the Somme and the controversial Welsh Celtic David Lloyd was made Prime Minister. The two executioners Joffre and Haig were appointed field marshals by their respective governments. In June 1916 the Russians marched into the slaughter pens, within two months the German casualties were over 600,000 and the Russian's over a million on the Eastern front. 1916 was the bloodiest year of the war, all historians agree, but what did it avail? Nothing. .. One of the most flamboyant characters parading on the world war stage was a man named Grigori Novikh who preferred his nickname "Rasputin". which means "Dirty Dog." He started his career as a horse thief, village drunk and womanizer (caviler rusticano). Next he claimed he was a holy healer, although never taking holy orders. He let his hair and beard grow and stopped bathing. He walked barefoot to Petrograd where he penetrated the royal court. His hypnotic eyes lead to the seduction of the court ladies, most of whose husbands were at the front. The crown prince had Queen Victoria's curse, hemophilia (a hereditary tendency to uncontrolled bleeding). And his frightened mother the German (Russian hating) czarina came under Rasputin's sway. In short, he became the royal court witch doctor plus being bagman for the corrupt couriers who, to get high office, bribed him. His assassination was right out of "The Arabian Nights." Two avengers, Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dimltri Pavlovich took it upon themselves in revenge for what he did to their class, particularly their womenfolk. They invited the dirty dog to dinner. They filled him with huge quantities of vodka mixed with cyanide. He drank on and on to no effect. Discouraged they emptied a pistol into his head. He still lived so they carted him out to the frozen Neva River, chopped a hole in the ice and dumped his carcass into it. The soldiers they posted said for two days he was still kicking, on the third day they fished his body out. Now rioting broke out, the Russian Revolution was on. In Zurich, Switzerland sat one Vladimir lllich Ulyanov who changed his name to Nikolai Lenin, a Russian jew. He hated the czar, capitalism and the Orthodox Christian Church all with equal fervor. The German General staff knowing his radicalism chartered a railroad car with dining facilities, placed Lenin and his conspirators aboard and shipped them off to Petrograd. On arriving one of the comrades later remarked, "We found the Russian Revolution in the streets and picked it up. The RuSsian people referred to it as the Jewish revolution. The lunatic Kaiser (or really the German high command) came up with a plan January 31, 1917 - unrestricted submarine war, orderna that from February 1. 1917, sea traffic will be lalted using every available weapon and without further notice American passenger ships may sail once a week under prescribed conditions The German foreign secretary Zimmermann sent a wireless inter- cepted by British intelligence to the Mexican government which (I) proposed a military alliance in a military pact to attack the U.S. (2) financial aid to Mexico (3) if successful, to return the states of New Mexico and Arizona. The dummies had forced the U.S. into war with Germany. "The worst German blunder in the war was the quarrel with America, it was best a reckless miscalculation; at its worst, it was an Inconceivable folly." Lloyd George. "It seems to me a horde of madmen are governing us." Max Weber, March 1916 on the U-boat question. A crucial decision to push the United States into the war was the financial situation of France and Britain. Great Britain after three years had borrowed in one form and another $17 billion, 875 million. The national debt before the war was only three billion five hundred million. This debt in 1917-18 had reached 28 billion, plus 700 million, the Wall Street House of Morgan had advanced to the Allies. The U.S. Treasury had contributed twenty nine million with a restriction this was to pay for war goods purchased in the United States. Earl Arthur James Balfour, English Secretary for Foreign Affairs was so alarmed at his country's financial plight that he cabled Colonel House, intimate of President Woodrow Wilson: "We seem on the verge of a financial disaster which would be worse than defeat in the field. If we cannot keep up exchange neither we nor our allies can pay our dollar debts. We would be driven off the gold basis and purchases from the U.S.A. would immediately cease and the Allies credit shattered." The U.S. Treasury despite stiff congressional opposition continued to loan the Allies five hundred million a month. With the rapid development of the submarine under the water plus the airplane in the air there developed visual reconnaissance using bombers and pursuit planes. The war planes pilots first used rifles and pistols. Later light machine guns were added to the Pusher planes. In May 1915, the Germans produced a new and faster Forker warplane equipped with an interruptor gear which enabled the machine gun to fire through the orbit of the revolving propellers without risk of hitting the blades, creating havoc among the Allies and gaining air supremacy for the Germans. General Foch early in the war after watching French army aerial maneuvers came up with this classic comment, "That is good sport but for the army the airplane is useless." The Allies attacked in squadrons. The Germans counterattacked by developing "flying circuses" the most famous of which was the Red Baron, Von Richthofen, whose red painted plane was seen by infantrymen up and down the lines. Finally formation flying was organized and the boys in the trenches who used to cheer on individual combatants were now being strafed by dozens of planes flying in formation. Lord (of the press) Northcliff developed a propaganda office that portrayed the German people as barbarians. This backfired in World War 11 in America where people had read the memoirs of bragging English propaganda of those who worked under Northcliff, with the result the American people would not believe Hitler's atrocities were real. George Clemenceau had been born in the Vendee, that home of lost causes in 1841. A physician, he had lived in the United States for some years after the American Civil War. In the 1870s he had negotiated. Despite the interest and research expended upon it, the romance of George Clemenceau and Mary Blummer remained as perhaps such matters have a right to remain, private and obscure. They apparently first became acquainted in Stan- ford, Conn. where after 1867 Clemenceau gave lessons in French and equations. She was one of his pupils, and their engagement was announced in 1868, but Clemenceau, a violent anti-cleric like his father, refused to accept a religious ceremony, and other differences, perhaps which are unchronicled, dissolved the engagement and Clemenceau re, turrud to France. A correspondence continued, however the disagreements were final harmonized and Clemenceau once more emharbpd for America. I-4l marrtage rv Bh,,'nrrler, a civil crmony, took J For those who need year round health care... Our nursing home may be the perfect answer. Belle Maison 's Health Care Professionals are dedicated to giving nursing care in a home-like environment where residents can maintain their independence and dignity. Belle Maison provides a full range of medical, nursing and social programs. Belle Maison cares about you and your loved ones. It is this caring that has made Belle Maison one of the most respected health care centers in Louisiana. Belle Maison Nursing Home Adjacent to Seventh Ward General Hospital Hammond 542-0110 Medicaid Certified place at the New York City Hall June 23, 1869 and he sailed for France bride a few days later. Clemenceau was 27, his bride 19. There first abode ancestral home in Vendee, but after a few months they moved to Paris Clemenceau opened a practice as a doctor of medicine. to them, Madelaine, Theresa, and Michelle. Madame Clemenceau spending part of her time with her husband, soon immersed in the political melee of the capital, and part with her law. Growing differences of temperament divided them and after seven separation was arranged. They were never reunited. "The failure of his marriage intensified the minanthropic elements of his exiled him from the softening and circumscribing domesticity and left employ all of his phenomenal energy in politics and journalism. Had his proved happier and the details of family life commanded a larger attention and time, he might never have evolved into "The Tiger," that and predatory recalcitrant of French politics who formed so few friendships, trusted so few collaborators and justified his sobriquet preference for fighting alone." "Clemenceau," "There can be no doubt that American aid in money and material at of 1917 contributed even more decisively than Clemenceau's reforms revival of French morale. While the United States was still neutral the government had borrowed some $700,000,000 from American banks Morgan). In the twenty months that followed, from April, 1917 to 1918 the United States Treasury quintupled this sum, $2,985,000,000 at a lower rate of interest." Without means of dollars, Andre Tarieu (French Minister of Finance) later admitted, "The would have been beaten before the end of 1917." Ludendorff had sprung his new surprise with a crashing offensive Rheims and Sossons, the French segment known as the Chenin des road constructed for the ladies of court traveling from Versailles). initial breakthrough on May 27, 1918. The German forces had rolled southward until, on May 30, they reached the Marne. By June 1 they were forty miles of Paris: and their long ranged cannon (big Bertha) the city. They had trusted Clemenceau too blindly. Now, even the censorship could not conceal the unpalatable truth, the French forces Chemin des Dames, like the British Fifth Army, had been unprepared. For the French command a final and humiliating insult to French pridt provided by the fact that the American intelligence service had offensive as early as May 15, and had sent repeated warnings to French quarters where they were regarded as the presumptuous product of an army, they had been almost disregarded. As a brilliant journalist Clemenceau had founded the paper L' Aurore Dawn), and it was in this that Emile Zola, French Jew, published the J' Accuse (I Accuse) letter on the Dryfus case in 1898. In French Political life Clemenceau was called "The Tiger", or Ministries" -- and that was what those who liked him called him. From 1909 he was premier of France. He vividly remembered 1870 and humiliating defeat by Prussia, and his most consistent attitude was things German. With his laments for Alsace-Lorraine, and his growing might of Germany must be destroyed, he played Cato the Third Republic. French political journalism has never been known for restraint and as 1916 ended, Clemenceau's vituperation rose to -the war must be won, and nothing and no one else mattered." CONTINUED School is open Please drive sa End of the Summer Special For Sale ,!i ,k ,, 115 Evinrude, 16 ft. Bay Liner Excellent Conditio00 Boat Motor g Trailer $2,300 please Call 386-4046