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tv   American Artifacts U.S. in World War I  CSPAN  November 8, 2018 10:46pm-11:12pm EST

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>> this sunday, veterans day, american history tvs marks the 100th anniversary of the end of world war i starting at 7:30 am eastern alive with your calls on washington journal. during the discussion, author of the myth of the great war and michael casing, author of war against war, the american fight for peace, 1914 to 1918, and at 11 am, live from arlington national cemetery. watch live coverage on c-span three american history tvu can find programming on world war i
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and the centennial all day long. >> each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums and historic sites around the country. the united states entered world war i a century ago on april 6, 1917. next, we tour the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city.
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the collection is the most comprehensive collection of world war i and the world. we deal with all nations involved in the war. not just centric to the country we are located. in the museum you see about 10 % of the collection at any one time. the rest is research, preferences, loans to other institutions and to make sure that we have an encyclopedic collection of the war. we are teaching the history, we want to cover everything from a- z. when i am standing here is in front of a wall that depicts the insignia warm by the expeditionary forces in world
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war i and these were used to identify the units and also to create a feeling of belonging to a particular unit. the visitors a fascinating with the insignia but they were not really worn until after the war. anytime you see insignia on a uniform from the war on the american uniforms, they are post 1918 but these are developed by the units and by the american expeditionary forces to represent the great variety of americans the served in the war. about 4,800,000 americans were in uniform by the end of the war in june 1919. >> to illustrate the variety of insignia worn on the american uniforms has moved over to the 1917 u.s. service codes worn by
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the majority of the soldiers in the army during the war. one of the insignias that i'm standing by is the standing buffalo. this was very important and this was one by the african- american soldiers of the 92nd division there were two african- american divisions in they were. 92nd and 93rd and both were segregated from the rest of the army. most of the soldiers enlisted, were african-americans and most of the officers were caucasian even though they fought alongside the compatriots in the war and fought along with the french during the war, they were segregated and were not treated very well throughout the course of the war. as we progress through the museum into the rest of the
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american section, we are going to look at a special exhibition dealing with american women service in the war and showing some of their uniforms they were and a lot of people don't realize that american women were in uniform during world war i and we will take a look at those. i have in front of exhibition that shows many of the uniforms in the collection from american women services during the war. one in particular is a recent acquisition to the museum. this is from a woman in the u.s. telephone operators and these were women who volunteer for service with the court to operate the telephone exchanges in france and in other places and women were especially wanted for this duty because in the states, most of the operators were women and a lot
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of the young women who were asked to volunteer for this service, they also spoke french. the communication between the french and the american units, even though they served and they were in the army, they did not receive veterans status until 1977. that was one of the black eyes of american activity during world war i. these women served their country honorably but were not accorded full veterans status until 1977. we are looking at uniforms and we are going to look at two uniforms that were warmed by the same individual for two countries at war during world war i. one of the interesting things about world war i is that sometimes the lines were
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blurred about allegiances and who really supported which countries during the war. two uniforms that we have in the world war i memorial really exemplifies this clearly. there was a soldier from the german controlled part of denmark called christian nick eliasson. when the war -- were started because of where he lived, he was forced to the german army and he served in the german army until his brother was killed on the eastern front. he got on a train in full uniform and went back to denmark and disappeared. his family hid the uniform and his rifle and all of his equipment and in 1917 before the united states entered the war, he went to live with his
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brother who was in connecticut at the time and he got on the last ship out of denmark heading for the united states before the united story -- states entered they were and he was working in connecticut. he was in the selective service act of the united states and was drafted in the united states service and his uniform as a united states soldier is shown next to the german uniform. he basically ended up near the same place in france that he was is a german -- german soldier two years before and the incredible feeling that he was there serving and he deserted and went to the united states and went back as united states soldier to serve with the american expeditionary sources -- forces during the war. to have both of the uniforms survive and to become part of the collection isn't interested -- is a pretty interesting
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thing to happen.>> african- americans that served and they were were in the 92nd and 90 third judge 93rd and we will take a look at their equipment pick >> from the first unit was a 369 regiment known as the health fighters or the fighting rattlesnakes. you can see the shoulders sleeves insignia of the fighting rattlesnakes. they came from the 15th new york national guard and when the u.s. troops were federalized, it became part of the 93rd division. when they got to france, they were in dire need of support and they lent out two of the regiments of the 93rd division and fighting along the river and they established their reputation as incredible fighters.
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one man, henry johnson was the first african-american to receive any metal on the american side during the war. also they were one of the most highly decorated units in the war. another aspect of the history was the band leader. he created a band out of musicians of the 369th and they were really credited with bringing jazz to the people of france. they also had an incredible feeling for how music would affect the soldiers in entertaining than -- them.>> the commander was general john j pershing. he did command african-american troops. step over and look at the
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headquarters flag which flew over his headquarters in france. general john j pershing was actually from missouri. not far from the national world war i memorial and this was his headquarters flag and in 1918, the society of wesley college awarded him a special honor of making him an honorary member of the society. this was very important because his wife, frankie was a member of that society and she and his three daughters died in a fire at the presidio in san francisco three years before you. he had not gotten over morning the license -- life of his wife and daughters. he was so touched that he sent them this flag so they would
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have that as a remembrance of frankie and a few years ago one of the trustees of wellesley college got it donated from the college to the museum and it has held a place of pride ever since. one of the tools that general john pershing had at his disposal was one of the first tanks developed during the war. tanks were used on a limited basis in 1960 but by 1917 they came into their own and the french two-man tank behind these is called the ft 17 for its production year. one of the main battle tanks used for the americans during the latter years of the war, especially in 1918. it is interesting when you
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think about the people that came out of the war and became part of the society after world war i. the tank commander of the american tank force developed it, his name was george f patton became very famous for the next war followed but there was a fellow training american troops in pennsylvania and the operation of tanks and his name was dwight eisenhower. captain eisenhower was involved in the use of tanks during world war i. the 37 millimeter gun on the tank was used in a tacking fortifications and machine gun tanks picked they had a machine gun and they had the actual 37 millimeter gun in the museum. this tank is one of three known french ft 17 tanks known to
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exist that were battled and damaged. it was hit and luckily for us to have it here, it was a shrapnel shell that hit the tank and not high explosive tank we don't know what happened to the crew but we know that three of the men that worked on the tank trying to prepare it was from kansas city. you can find the names on the inside of the drivers patches on the tank. the ft 17 tank played an important role in one of the most famous heroes of world war i. we are going to look.. one of the hundred 20 americans awarded the medal of honor for their actions and world war i john lewis berkeley was in the third division of the american expeditionary forces on october
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8 of 1918, he was acting as an observer and he realized that there was a whole regiment that was given to around him if he did not refill himself and he basically came up with a plan to protect his regiment. he climbed inside and took a machine gun and he knew how to repair it being a scout and he let the germans go by him and in the battle he killed at least 200, may 2 40 -- maybe 240 regiments -- soldiers and saved his regiment from being attacked from the rear. when he left he only had a couple of burns from bullets and when they went back after the pedal to look at the tank and to assess what he had done, they found over 4000 cartridges
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in the tank. for his action of that day, thinking of no one but his own men, he was awarded the medal of honor and after the war he became a celebrity. he was in new york with the publication of the book that he wrote about his time and world war i called no hard feelings. at the time he was approached by a very famous artist whose name was howard cantor -- howard christie. it was in the early 1930s. this is the portrait that was painted by christie of berkeley and his national guard uniform. also in the exhibition we have all of berkeley's metals including the medal of honor he was awarded for his actions. the other connection was that
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he was also a trustee of our museum in the 1960s. his daughter was also a trustee and she was the person who donated all of the material to the museum. one of the other incredible pieces of our collection as a model 1917 harley davidson motorcycle used by the army. we will take a look at that now. when the united states entered the war in april 1917, they needed ways to communicate among the different troops and so they went and purchased a lot of motorcycles. cycles were used for messengers, they were used for troops guarding intersections of roads and they were also used with sidecars to transport officers. we have and the national world war i museum and memorial a
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harley davidson with army colors and it is all original except for a few running parts. this has a history after the war but during the war it was used by american and british. after the war it was sold in surplus in england's inventory. the transportation into the early 1950s. from their, it went to another fellow who kept it and it came to the united states to a collector and then we acquired it from the collector in 2006 and it became part of the exhibition here. to really see a harley davidson with the same appearance as it was in 1917, that was an incredible thing.
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the next thing we will see on exhibition is another vehicle used by the united states during the war and it was a model 1918 ford ambulance. before the united states entered the war on april 6 1917, americans had been volunteering both to serve in humanitarian efforts and to help the war efforts. especially in the allied nations. american volunteers really went into action before america became a belligerent by driving ambulance for the french and british and by doing so, help save many soldiers lives. they often went over with donations of ambulances from american societies that wanted to support the volunteer efforts. the ambulance and the museum is a model 1918 ford model t and
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the volunteers who drove the early ambulances and until the united states got involved, they were primarily in the field service. the american field service was organized in the late 1914 and the ambulances started to pick up the wounded soldiers. the american field service is in existence today. it goes by the letters of aff and it is primarily involved with his rodents, exchange students coming from other countries. the next piece we are going to look at is a french 75 millimeter cannon. during the war the trip analogy for artillery pieces was guns. this was a gun that was used during the action and although it was a french cannon or gun,
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it was also used by americans during the war including a local captain from the kansas city area who became famous after the war. his name was harry truman. when the united states entered the war in 1917 the army was not prepared to fight in an international war. one of the things that they were lacking besides the number of men was artillery. world war i was a war of artillery. 60 % of the battlefield deaths was caused by artillery and the projectiles fired over the battlefield and when the americans went over to france, they primarily used french artillery pieces. the french 75 millimeter gun. it was advanced for its time pick an incredible recoil system. when the gun was fired, the
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barrel actually moved and the gun state in place. it did not have to be readjusted. when the americans started using these, they used these four guns and a battery. a battery was commanded by a captain. one of the batteries in the hundred 29 field artillery inference was the independence more -- missouri. harry f german. harry truman went on to become the president of the united states and he said what he learned during world war i helped him throughout the rest of his career. one of the interesting things about the 75 besides it being an incredible field piece was that in french it was pronounced 75 but the american soldiers during world war i used it in
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their style. it was called the softy can. the french 75 millimeter gun that we have at the museum was acquired as a gift from the people of france. in the 1980s, the french ambassador visited the museum and wondered whether the museum did not have a 75 was -- which of course was their symbol of the war and it was told that they had been looking for a long time for one and had not been able to and acquire one. they found the original 75 millimeter gun and had it restored and shipped to kansas city as a gift to the people of france. i have been a curator at the national world war i museum and memorial since 1990 pick i have developed an incredible passion for learning about the war and especially about the people in the war itself.
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none of them are left to tell us their stories anymore. we have to present to the public through the objects that they left, what the lives were life and how they were affected by the world war and what were the things that they would like have remembered about them pick the most important part of my job because it was humanity that was important. the other thing about the story of the museum that i have been proud of is that it is not glorified here. it is one of the most horrible undertakings that people can do to each other. for me being here at the time i have been a curator, it is to learn about the people and how they suffered and how they excelled in the cataclysm that we now call world war i .
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