World War I Podcast Season Five

Produced by the MacArthur Memorial to commemorate the centennial of World War I (1914-1918), the World War I History Podcast explores the history of the war from a variety of perspectives.

From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, to the Zimmerman Telegram, the Red Baron, trench warfare, the Christmas Truce and Lawrence of Arabia, this podcast series will answer some of the major questions of the war. 

What were the causes? Who were the major players? How did this war redraw the political and social map of the world? And most importantly, why does this war still matter?

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact Amanda Williams.

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The Champagne Defensive, July 1918

In July 1918, Germany embarked on its final offensive of the war.  This offensive called for a massive push across the old battlefields of the Champagne to the east and west of Reims in order to seize the rail center of Chalons sur Marne and cut off the French armies defending Paris and Verdun.  French General Henri Gouraud's IV Army was responsible for the Allied defense of Reims.  During this critical period, the 42nd "Rainbow" Division was under his command.  As Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division, Douglas MacArthur took part in this battle and was cited for bravery by General Gouraud and Major General Charles Menoher, commander of the 42nd Division. The Champagne Defensive would prove to be a critical moment in World War I – as well as a turning point in the life of Douglas MacArthur. (40:43)
42nd Rainbow
The Lafayette Escadrille

In August 1914, as decade-old diplomatic crises erupted into war on the European continent, a group of American citizens, in defiance of US President Woodrow Wilson’s declaration of neutrality, volunteered for French military service. Of those Americans who volunteered during neutrality, thirty-eight uniquely distinguished themselves not as ambulance drivers or Foreign Legionnaires, but as part of an all-American aero squadron flying for the French Air Service. Dubbed the Lafayette Escadrille, the formation of this all-American squadron in the French Air Service provided a foundation for a strategic alliance between the US and the Allied Powers, established a core of experienced pilots for the US Air Service upon its entry into the First World War, and developed a uniquely American flying culture and identity that continues to exist today. (24:37)
Lafayette Escadrille
The Jolly Roger and World War I

The Jolly Roger is the default symbol of pirates and piracy.  During World War I however, some British submarine crews began flying the Jolly Roger to indicate a successful patrol.  This was somewhat problematic because World War I was also a war of propaganda.  British propaganda was trying to convince the world that Germany was the predator and that the British were the guardians of civilization. British submarines flying the pirate flag risked upsetting this narrative.  Nevertheless, British submarines continued the practice.  More than a hundred years later, the tradition continues and has been adopted by navies around the world.  (13:18)

Sergeant York  

On October 8, 1918, during the Meuse Argonne Offensive, Alvin York led an attack on a German machine gun nest that neutralized more than 30 machine guns and killed at least 25 German soldiers.  His efforts also resulted in the capture of 132 enemy soldiers.  For these actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Months later, this was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.  The fact that he was a conscientious objector turned warrior made his story particularly compelling.  He became an overnight sensation in the United States - a virtual personification of the American ideal of the farmer turned soldier.  (23:26)
Alvin York
America Prepares for War

In April 2017, the MacArthur Memorial and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum hosted a World War I symposium.  Al Barnes, the Virginia National Guard Command Historian, gave a presentation entitled: "To Hell with the Kaiser: America Prepares for War."  This presentation focused on the formation and training of U.S. Army units during World War I.  (41:59)
To Hell With the Kaiser
A Frontiersman in France

In April 2017, the MacArthur Memorial and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum hosted a World War I symposium.  Jim Zobel, the archivist of the MacArthur Memorial, gave a presentation entitled: "A Frontiersman in France: Douglas MacArthur and the Rainbow Division in World War I." This presentation outlined MacArthur's relationship with General John J. Pershing and highlighted MacArthur's battlefield exploits.  (36:22)
The Origins of Naval Station Norfolk

In April 2017, the MacArthur Memorial and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum hosted a World War I symposium.  Joe Judge, curator of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, gave a presentation entitled: “For the Pressing Need of the Service: The Origins of Naval Station Norfolk.”  This presentation focused on the establishment of Naval Station Norfolk and explored the ways in which World War I transformed the infrastructure and economy of Southeastern Virginia.   (23:36)

Naval Station 100th
America's Foreign-Born Doughboys

In February 2017, we sat down with Al Barnes, the Virginia National Guard Command Historian and author of To Hell With the Kaiser, to discuss the many foreign-born doughboys that served in the U.S. Army during World War I.  Barnes explained how these men joined the army, as well as the path most took to citizenship. He also outlined the various countries they came from and discussed how the army integrated these soldiers and responded to issues of race and language.  (29:44)
WWI Uncle Sam