We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


Johnson approved by SecDef for Medal of Honor
27 August 2014, 19:03
Filed under: WWI | Tags: ,

As I noted last May, Henry Lincoln Johnson was eventually awarded the DSC, posthumously, for his actions in WWI. Now, the Secretary of Defense has recommended that Johnson be awarded the Medal of Honor.

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Another monument violated

Northwest of Reims, when traveling along the Avenue du General de Gaulle, you pass through the small commune of Berry-au-Bac and reach one of France’s many rural traffic circles. At that circle is a grand monument “Aux Morts des Chars d’Assaut“, a memorial to the dead of the French armored forces in WWI. It’s located on the fields of the Second Battle of the Aisne (La bataille du Chemin des Dames or Seconde bataille de l’Aisne), where 118 of the 128 tanks used to assault the Chemin des Dames ridgeline were destroyed. After the atrocious losses in that battle, in which the French General Headquarters (GQG) expected about 10,000 casualties and suffered 134,000, the French Army suffered from wide-spread mutinies. This brought Marshal Petain to the head of the French Army and ended any significant French offensives until the Americans and better tanks could be fielded.

French television reported that the bas-relief (crossed cannons and a knight’s helmet), five brass plaques and some marble memorial markers have been stolen.

It’s a tragedy that the copper or marble has become valuable enough that unscrupulous people will desecrate memorials in order to put money in their pockets. No thought is given to the men for whom these memorials were placed, but only to the looters own selfish needs.



Henry Lincoln Johnson, DSC WWI

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Most decorated war dog of WWI

You know I love my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Henry, so I have a soft spot for all the military working dogs out there. On LinkedIn, Brian Melanson posted a link to an article on the Defense Media Network about Sergeant Stubby, a hero of World War I. Stubby wandered onto the parade field at Yale University as the 102nd Infantry Regiment was training, and marched right along with them. PVT J. Robert Conroy smuggled Stubby onto their troopship, the SS Minnesota (which might be this SS Minnesota). Though his commanding officer was initially upset, a salute by Stubby earned him an official role as mascot.

Stubby’s baptism of fire occurred in February 1918, shortly after the division was stationed in the Chemin des Dames sector in northern France. Within days after the troops took up position in the trenches, they were hit by a poison gas artillery barrage. Stubby survived, and from that point on was acutely sensitive to the deadly chemicals. Once, the area where Stubby’s company was deployed received a pre-dawn poison gas barrage. As soon as his nose scented the first whiff of poison gas, Stubby began raising the alarm, running back and forth through the trench, barking and nipping at the slumbering soldiers. The men awoke in time to don their mask (and fit Stubby with his), and fight off the German attack.

After the war, Stubby went to Georgetown with Conroy, becoming the Hoya’s mascot. He was honored in parades, awarded medals by Generals and greeted by Presidents, receiving the honors that veterans rightly deserve. Stubby passed away in 1926, having served his country and his comrades well.

SGT Stubby is on display at the Smithsonian in the Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit and is apparently honored at the National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City with a brick in the Walk of Honor. If you visit the Memorial and can send along a photo of his brick, I’d greatly appreciate it!



Dogtags Finding Their Way Home
13 January 2012, 13:35
Filed under: Veterans, WWI, WWII | Tags: , ,

Two stories of lost dogtags catching up with veterans popped into my email recently.

  • Private Kent Potter lost his dogtag in France during World War I. Determined Frenchmen made sure that it reached his family after they found it. Hat tip to Fred, from Easy Company, re-enacted.
  • Marine Richard Urie lost one of his two dogtags on Saipan during World War II. The wife of the man who found it works for the US Attorney’s Office there and one of the deputy marshals there has his own dogtags framed in his office. They were able to find the 86-year-old devil dog and return his lost dogtag to him. Hat tip to Paul Clifford in the Trigger Time airborne forums.


Weekend Wanderings Christmas 2010
26 December 2010, 11:30
Filed under: Books, Films, POWs, Weekend Wanderings, WWI, WWII | Tags:

A thought I’d see a lot of the posts this week concerning Christmas at war, but sadly not yet.

  • We start with a story from Time magazine about a British officer Lieutenant Michael Heming, who wished to learn to conduct after the war…
  • Lichanos posted an interesting bit on racism in War and Peace. Despite my interest in military history and time spent as an aspiring Sovietologist (back when that was political science and not history), I’ve never read Tolstoy. Maybe I can get it on Kindle after I finish The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After….
  • Sometimes, one person out-performs everyone else in an organization. One of the best cryptanalysts of the first half of the twentieth century worked for the Navy as a civilian and as a Yeoman Chief Petty Officer, was without peer among cryptanalysts and was credited with making breaks into most of the Japanese naval codes. It’s not surprising that you’d find that person buried in Arlington Cemetery, but it is surprising that she was known as “Miss Aggie”.
  • Today’s best Christmas present is The Best Picture Project, which is blogging about every Best Picture nominee from the Oscars. The review of Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion is intriguing enough that I recommend you try tracking it down (Netflix even has it on their ‘instant’ viewer). It’s about two French officers captured during World War I and sounds very interesting. Read that review for more information….
  • I found a woman who’s working on a WWII graphic novel and she has some great sketches. Make sure to check the comments on her About page, as there is an interesting rant on re-enacting authenticity.
  • More on the French resistance, this time on film AND made during the war. Sadly, it’s not available on Netflix.



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