When the United States Army Went to War Armed with French Weapons

France. What a silly place, am I right? They eat frogs, they're on their, like, millionth government since the Revolution, and they keep needing us 'Muricans to save them during world wars. Well, that is one way of viewing the Franco-American narrative, I suppose, if one were to overlook the incredibly vital French aid during the American …

Anatomy of a World War I Artillery Barrage

A lot has been said about the role of artillery in World War I, in both its intensity and ferocity. On the opening day of the Somme on July 1, 1916, British guns hurled 250,000 high explosive and shrapnel shells towards German positions. During the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, over 3,000 …

Walking a World War I Battlefield

I've been to a lot of battlefields: from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Most are neatly marked with "this thing happened here" or "Robert E. Lee's horse drank from a puddle here." I've even been to a few from the Soviet-Afghan War and Operation Enduring Freedom, although I saw …

Tolkien and Combat Stress: Writing as a Release

I’ve been mulling over this idea of going back and revisiting old favorites, both in literature and film. If you’re like me, you read a lot of books growing up and probably had your favorites that you revisited time and again. Same with movies, TV shows, and documentaries. As we’ve gotten older – and our …

“Of the Highest Order:” June 16, 1918

He bent low. His back ached. He could smell the earth below his face, the stinking, ever-present mud. Mercifully, free of gas. For now. The soft lip of the trench - or, what had been a trench before German artillery had blasted it to ever-living hell - was a dim reflection in the early morning …