World War I

Photo of the Day

?Vampire of Cinkota?

Be careful next time you answer a romance Ad!

In 1932, an excited New York City detective named Henry Oswald said he was certain he had spotted one of the world’s most wanted men strolling out of the subway at Times Square. Oswald tried to follow, but the man quickly vanished into the crowd.

The detective was certain it was Bela Kiss, Hungary?s prince of love ?em and bleed ?em.

At that time, Kiss had been eluding justice for more than 15 years. He had killed at least 30 women and one man, preying on lonely women looking for love in the want ads.

Lovelorn men and women have always been an easy target for serial killers. Kiss had a singular technique for ridding himself of all those inconvenient corpses. He pickled them.

In 1914, Kiss, then 37, marched off to fight in World War I. He left his home ? a cottage he rented for more than 15 years in Cinkota, near Budapest ? in the care of an elderly housekeeper. Then he disappeared into the chaos that was Europe in those years.

He had lived in the town since around 1900, but no one knew much about him. Tall, blond, and handsome, Kiss had a prosperous tinsmith business and was known as a bon vivant who loved to throw parties. Cinkota?s most eligible bachelor or so many ladies thought.

His first attempt at wedded bliss had ended in disaster a year after the 1912 wedding. His wife, Marie, was 15 years younger than her husband. Her eye strayed to a suitor closer to her age, a handsome artist, Paul Bikari.

The pair disappeared shortly after the start of their affair. Kiss told anyone who asked that his wife and her paramour had run off to America to start a new life. Shortly after his wife?s disappearance, Kiss, as with many bachelors of his era, was known to have begun frequenting various brothels. Though unlike certain other serial killers, he did not target prostitutes in his murderous endeavours.

Read more »

Photo of the Day

Unmistakably an old-school cavalryman, Lucian K. Truscott Jr.?here in France in 1944, ?led troops in Sicily, Italy, and France with aggressive confidence and a relentless will to win. (George Silk/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.)

The General who Apologised to the Dead Soldiers

Lucian King?Truscott, Jr., was born January 9, 1895, in?Chatfield, Texas. He enlisted in the Army upon America’s entry into World War I. He was selected for officer training and was commissioned in the cavalry in 1917. He served in a variety of cavalry assignments during the interwar period and served as an instructor at both the Cavalry School and the Command and General Staff School.

Early in World War II, he joined Lord Mountbatten’s combined staff where he developed the Ranger units for special operations. His experience began with learning Commando tactics and then training American officers and men in commando operations.? He led his Rangers in combat at?Dieppe?and in Morocco and then began his ascent through the various levels of major combat command…?Truscott?was a reliable, aggressive, and successful leader.

Read more »

Photo of the Day

Mansfield Smith-Cumming

That Time M16 Agents used Semen As Invisible Ink

C WAS THE original M, the first head of the Secret Service and the prototype of James Bond’s boss. The initial, standing for Cumming (not Chief) and always written in green ink, was the mark of an eccentric character. In fact, Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming, who founded what became MI6 in 1909 and ran it until his death in 1923, was the stuff of which fictional spymasters are made.

He carried a swordstick, wore a gold-rimmed monocle and possessed a “chin like the cut-water of a battleship”. He had an “eye for the ladies” and took children for rides in his personal tank. He enjoyed gadgets, codes, practical jokes and tall tales. Cumming was so pleased to discover that semen made a good invisible ink that his agents adopted the motto: “Every man his own stylo”.

The gloriously named Captain Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming would become the first head of England’s Secret Service in the late 1800s, but his own life as a spy, as he freely admitted, was pretty inglorious and he was much better suited to coordinating other people than being out on the field himself.

There are three separate incidents in which Smith-Cumming created serious issues while trying to commit espionage.

On one occasion he was caught in a consulate trying to get some letters that were being used for blackmail, and professed himself astonished because the people questioning him were disrespectful “even though he’d taken off his hat.” On another, he tried to have a conversation with a German spy despite speaking no German, spent most of it consulting a phrase-book in a panicky fashion, and only afterwards realised that they both spoke French.

My favourite, though, is the fact that he and a fellow spy once tried to book a quiet room with a source, but mistook a brothel for a hotel. The madam, faced with two men wanting a private room who said they were not interested in having a woman sent to them because they were waiting for another man, assumed they were dangerous homosexuals about to take part in a highly illegal act, threw them out and called the police.

He would go on to be a highly reputable intelligence head; he’d test the mettle of new recruits by stabbing himself in the (wooden) leg with a knife and seeing if they winced.

Read more »

Photo of the Day

On April 19, 1919, Leslie Irvin, made the world?s first free fall parachute descent using a rip cord, rather than using a canister or tether line attached to the aircraft to pull open the parachute.

On April 19, 1919, Leslie Irvin, made the world?s first free fall parachute descent using a rip cord, rather than using a canister or tether line attached to the aircraft to pull open the parachute.

The?Caterpillar Club

“Life depends on a silken thread”

” It remains a club without a charter, without membership fees, without meetings. Yet it is the most exclusive in aviation, for there is only one way to join. It is a way that appeals to few…….! “

The?Caterpillar Club?is an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute?to bail out of a disabled aircraft. After authentication by the parachute maker, applicants receive a membership certificate and a distinctive lapel pin. The nationality of the person saving their life by parachute and ownership of the aircraft are not factors in determining qualification for membership; anybody who has saved their life by using a parachute after bailing out of a disabled aircraft is eligible. The requirement that the aircraft is disabled naturally excludes parachuting enthusiasts in the normal course of a recreational jump, or those involved in military training jumps.

In 1922, Leslie Leroy Irvin founded the Caterpillar Club. Membership is only open to those whose life has been saved by an Irvin designed or manufactured parachute. The Caterpillar name was chosen for the pure silk from which parachutes (at that time) were made, and also because a caterpillar lowers itself to earth by the silken thread it spins. The Club slogan is “Life depends on a silken thread.” After acceptance into the Caterpillar Club, members receive a certificate of membership, and a Caterpillar pin with the member’s name and rank.

Read more »

Photo of the Day




The Briefcase

When a Wayland history teacher stumbled onto the papers of a deceased West Roxbury war veteran, he assigned his students to write the mystery man?s biography. What they found was Boston?s version of Forrest Gump.

Kevin Delaney had seen the old, gray briefcase in the Wayland High School history department?s storage room before. The case, one of those sturdy plastic Samsonite types from the ?70s, had been around so long, neither Delaney nor any of his colleagues knew how it had arrived there.

It was the spring of 2011, and Wayland High was preparing to relocate to a newly constructed facility. It fell to Delaney, Wayland?s history chair, to decide which of his department?s materials would make the move. And so he unfastened the lid and began to page through the yellowing papers contained inside.

?I had actually seen it before and given it a peek, and I knew there was something intriguing. But I?d never dumped the contents out and given it a scrub down,? Delaney remembers. ?So I put them on the table, started to pore through them, and didn?t take long to figure out that they were all linked.?

Inside were the assorted papers?letters, military records, photos?left behind by a man named Martin W. Joyce, a long-since deceased West Roxbury resident who began his military career as an infantryman in World War I and ended it as commanding officer of the liberated Dachau concentration camp.?Delaney could have contacted a university or a librarian and handed the trove of primary sources over to a researcher skilled in sorting through this kind of thing. Instead, he applied for a grant, and asked an archivist to come teach his students how to handle fragile historical materials. Then, for the next two years, he and his 11th grade American history students read through the documents, organized and?uploaded them to the web, and wrote the biography of a man whom history nearly forgot, but who nonetheless witnessed a great deal of it.

Read more »

Photo of the Day

1917 18,000 officers and men form the Statue of Liberty at Camp Dodge in Iowa. IMAGE: MOLE & THOMAS/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1917.?18,000 officers and men form the Statue of Liberty at Camp Dodge in Iowa. IMAGE: MOLE & THOMAS/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Living Photographs

Photographs Created By Assembling Sailors and Soldiers

On a stifling July day in 1918, 18,000 officers and soldiers posed as Lady Liberty on the parade [drill] grounds at Camp Dodge. According to a July 3, 1986, story in the Fort Dodge Messenger, many men fainted ? they were dressed in woollen uniforms ? as the temperature neared 105?F. The photo, taken from the top of a specially constructed tower by a Chicago photography studio, Mole & Thomas, was intended to help promote the sale of war bonds but was never used.

Born in England in 1889, photographer Arthur Mole became famous for his patriotic work as a naturalized American. But his work was far from traditional.

Accompanied by his partner, John Thomas, Mole visited military bases around the country during World War I.?There, he placed his 11×14-inch view camera atop an 80-foot tower and ordered thousands of officers, soldiers, reservists and nurses into colossal compositions.

Each photograph took at least a week of planning to visualize and map out. Mole would trace the outline of each composition on the ground glass of his camera, then use a megaphone and hand signals to direct assistants on the ground.

It took several more hours of wrangling thousands of participants into place before the shutter could be clicked.

In 1917, as the United States were entering World War I, Arthur Mole (1889-1983) created a new type of iconography, which proved useful to the promotion of American nationalism. With the help of his colleague, John D. Thomas, he created sprawling photographic compositions of American society?s symbols and emblems, by assembling and positioning thousands of men into the chosen shapes along the ground. The compositions included the American flag in the shape of a shield, the emblem of the Marines, the Statue of Liberty, and a profile portrait of Woodrow Wilson, among others.

Without the aid of any pixel-generating computer software, the itinerant?photographer?Mole, used his 11 x 14-inch view camera to stage a series of extraordinary mass photographic spectacles that choreographed living bodies into symbolic formations of religious and national community. In these mass ornaments, thousands of military troops and other groups were arranged artfully to form American patriotic symbols, emblems, and military insignia visible from a bird?s eye perspective. During World War I, these military formations came to serve as rallying points to support American involvement in the war and to ward off isolationist tendencies.

Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Conroy and Stubby?s formal portrait.Sergeant Stubby and J. Robert Conroy, March 1919. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History.

Conroy and Stubby?s formal portrait.Sergeant Stubby and J. Robert Conroy, March 1919. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History.

The Drool Sergeant of World War I

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? -?Mark Twain

?Sergeant Stubby, the ?Hero Dog of WWI,? once caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants and held him until American soldiers came. He also served in 17 battles, saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks, and helped locate wounded soldiers.

On April 6th 1917 the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany officially entering a conflict that over the course of three years would become World War I or ?The Great War?. In the following months all men between the ages of 21 and 30 that were eligible for military service were traveling to various locations including Yale University who was lending their athletic fields to the training effort beginning in July 1917.

One of the soldiers training at Yale, 25-year old J. Robert Conroy of the 102nd?Infantry Regiment 26th??Yankee Division?, quickly caught the eye of one campus resident in particular, a small brown and white dog with stub for a tail.

No one is entirely sure when the pup first arrived on the grounds of Yale but he definitely made a good impression in a short amount of time while visiting students and getting some friendly scraps to eat. Even though he was no stranger to everyone on campus, it was Conroy that he attached himself too and he gave his new friend the name ?Stubby?.

The furry little guy became an instant companion but after a short amount of time he also became a training partner. While the men practiced their drills Stubby marched alongside them memorizing the various commands. He also learned the bugle calls that set the daily schedule and, in a move that further endeared him to everyone, Stubby learned to stand on his hind legs and raise his right paw in a salute that he would not break until answered. He trained, slept, ate, and relaxed with the men and before long Stubby was considered not just a friendly pup, but a fellow soldier.

As the days moved on and the situation overseas intensified the atmosphere at Yale became markedly more serious as the men began to accept that they were moving closer and closer to facing actual combat. Letters written by Conroy jokingly talk about his telling Stubby he would not be allowed to move on with him but that the dog simply “could not understand that?. When the men marched to a railway depot and boarded a train for Newport News in Virginia, Stubby was still by Conroy?s side and no one stopped their four-legged friend from boarding the train with them.

Read more »

Aussie government capitulate over Lone Pine fiasco

The Aussie government have been forced into an embarrassing back down over their reluctance to continue with ceremonies at Lone Pine.

Outrage over a federal government decision to pull the pin on the Anzac Day Lone Pine service at Gallipoli has sparked a backdown.

A wreath-laying ceremony at Lone Pine will take place on the afternoon before Anzac Day this year.

Incoming Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan announced the compromise on Sunday and says a formal service commemorating the Battle of Lone Pine will also be held in August.

“Holding the service on the appropriate anniversary gives it proper recognition and ensures the wider public has a greater understanding and acknowledgement of the importance of this battle,” Mr Tehan said in a statement. ? Read more »

Photo Of The Day

J. M. Barrie, the boys' foster father.

J. M. Barrie, the boys’ foster father.

The Lost Ones

The Real Boys of Neverland

Few works of literature have idealized childhood so profoundly as Peter Pan. But the Llewelyn Davies brothers who inspired?J.M.?Barrie to create the world of Neverland would grow up to become ?Lost Boys? of a more tragic sort, beset by misfortune and?unhappiness.

J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was born on the 9th of May, 1860, in the family home at Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland. His father, David, was a weaver. His mother, Margaret Ogilvy, was later the subject of one of her son’s books.

When Barrie was six, his brother David died very unexpectedly. The shock of the loss so affected Barrie’s mother that, for the remainder of her life, she never got over his death.

Sometimes Jamie would wear his brother’s clothes and, on entering his mother’s darkened bedroom, would pretend to be the lost son. Later, when Barrie became a writer, the theme of death, and the concept of ghosts, would populate his stories.

In the summer of 1901, the four small Llewelyn Davies brothers?George, John, Peter and Michael?hadn?t any idea of what they were getting themselves into. Darting around Black Lake, in the Surrey region of England, they were playing at castaways, taking turns at walking the plank, substituting wooden dowels for swords. Their idyll was not just a theory. The country around them was still one in which children as young as nine worked in factories, but the Llewelyn boys were protected by their reverie.

Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Photo taken from the IOC archives. Wyndham Halswelle in the final of the 400 metre race at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. Halswelle ran the race alone, in the only walkover in Olympic history. American John Carpenter was disqualified, and fellow Americans John Baxter Taylor and William Robbins refused to run in protest.

Photo taken from the IOC archives.
Wyndham Halswelle in the final of the 400 metre race at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.?Halswelle ran the race alone, in the only walkover in Olympic history. American John Carpenter was disqualified, and fellow Americans John Baxter Taylor and William Robbins refused to run in protest.

Wyndham Halswelle

Athlete and Soldier?

London-born Wyndham Halswelle was a competitor in one of the most amazing (and surreal!) Olympic events ? the 400m final of the 1908 Olympics. In this event, Halswelle won the gold medal in a race that had no other runners.

The reason for the occurrence of this most strangest of races, was the total absence of uniform rules that then existed. For prior to the rules in the Olympics being standardised, many of the countries had different sets of sporting laws (and behaviour!). The result, predictably enough, was that some of the events were chaotic.

It maybe?one of the most remarkable stories, as well as one of the most tragic in the history of Scottish sport, which the winner of Scotland’s first Olympic track gold won in highly controversial and dramatic circumstances.

Read more »