World War I Podcast Season Six
Arriving in Paris in 1919 for the Peace Conference, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made it clear that he believed Italy entered World War I in a Machiavellian spirit of “cold-blooded calculation.” Italy’s leaders disagreed – arguing that their participation in the war was about liberation and self-determination. Regardless of the argument, like most of the combatants, Italy’s decision to go to war lay somewhere between practical and opportunistic. A member of the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany when the war started, Italy renounced this alliance in 1915 and joined the Entente Powers on the battlefield. Italy emerged as one of the victors in November 1918, but it’s complicated road to war, devastating casualties on the Italian front, and the disappointments of the Treaty of Versailles would lead the Italian’s to label the victory the “mutilated victory.”
Prior to 1914, there was a theory that Great Britain would not survive a major European war if it lost access to food and supplies coming from North America. When World War I began, this concern initially faded away. The Royal Navy had quickly blockaded Germany and by January 1915, the Imperial German High Seas Fleet was bottled up in the North Sea. However, despite these successes, the trans-Atlantic supply line was still not safe. German U-boats remained free to prowl and soon became Germany’s primary weapon at sea. To combat this danger, the British resorted to a wide variety of U-boat traps. The Q-ship was one such effort. Relying on deception and clever camouflage, Q-ships were armed but designed to look like vulnerable merchant vessels in order to lure U-boats to attack. While not the most effective means of destroying the U-boat threat, Q-ships played an interesting role in the war. (10:49)
In this interview, Dr. Sanders Marble, Senior Historian of the U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, discusses how the U.S. Army worked with the medical community and the Red Cross to prepare for and confront the crisis of World War I. Faced with new clinical practices and diagnoses, U.S. Army medical professionals worked hard to orchestrate treatment of the wounded.
Dr. Edward Lengel, author of Never in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War's Lost Battalion, describes the exploits of American soldiers and Marines on the battlefields of 1918. (33:50)
William Walker, author of Betrayal at Little Gibraltar, explores the controversy that surrounds the 1918 fight for Montfaucon and argues that changes need to be made in terms of how that tragic battle is interpreted. (28:13)
Dr. Mitchell Yockelson, author of Forty-Seven Days, How Pershing's Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I, discusses the evolution of the A.E.F. as a fighting force and how American troops "came of age" during the Meuse-Argonne campaign. (35:23)
In the final years of World War I, a deadly influenza pandemic killed about 3% of the world's population. The pandemic effected both the Allied and Central Powers, as well as neutral nations. Due to wartime censorship, belligerent nations made no public acknowledgement of the crisis. For neutral nations like Spain however, the pandemic was widely reported because there was no censorship in place. Accordingly, the pandemic became associated with Spain.
In this interview, Dr. Marble Sanders, Senior Historian of the U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, discusses the origins and spread of Spanish Flu and why it was more than just a tragic coda to World War I. (16:49)
During World War I, the public was made aware of a condition known as shell shock that was affecting a significant number of soldiers. From 1915-1918, the diagnosis of shell shock evolved, as medical professionals attempted to determine if the condition was physical, psychological, or moral (i.e. cowardice). In this interview, Dr. Marble Sanders, Senior Historian of the U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, discusses shell shock and how doctors tried to diagnose, treat, and even prevent shell shock during World War I. (17:42)
Chemical weapons were one of the great horrors of the World War I battlefield. While different types of gases were used throughout the war, Mustard Gas was the most prominent and most effective chemical weapon in use by 1917. In this interview, Dr. Marble Sanders, Senior Historian of the U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History, provides an overview of Mustard Gas and discusses the U.S. Army’s efforts to counter this weapon. (18:59)
The Battle of Chateau Thierry (July 18, 1918) marked an important turning point in World War I. In this podcast, TRADOC Deputy Chief Historian Stephen C. McGeorge places the Battle of Chateau Thierry in the wider context of the war and discusses the cooperation between U.S. and French forces during the battle. (49:50)