Tag Archives: WWI

Our Connection to Seicheprey

Over the course of our school year, our class has had a deep connection with the town of Seicheprey in France. We first learned about Seicheprey through our research about Sergeant Stubby, the war dog of the 102nd US Infantry. After learning about Stubby’s heroic tales and service, we developed a curiosity to learn more about this significant battle for Connecticut history. Due to this battle being significantly historic for the Connecticut veterans specifically, the importance of this battle gradually faded in memory and history when the Connecticut veterans passed away in the 20th century. Our class discovered several interesting facts and stories from the Battle of Seicheprey, such as one of our Suffield veterans at the battle serving as a cook. When we learned of the details when the German storm troopers overwhelmed the trenches, we were shocked to learn that the cooks responded by picking up their knives and fighting off the Germans with hand-to-hand combat. Along with these facts we found new events that were happening in the town of Seicheprey today. We took the liberty to spread our findings across the social networks of our class blog and twitter. Our posts were immediately recognized by many WWI historians and eventually by Stéphanie Trouillard, a French journalist studying the history of WWI.

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More details on our academic network: https://twitter.com/Stbslam/status/957705999690936322

We reached out to Stephanie to find out if the town of Seicheprey was doing a commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Seicheprey. She took the initiative to reach out to the town hall of Seicheprey and received a response from Gérard Andre, the Mayor of Seicheprey. From this information we discovered that Seicheprey was honoring this historic battle on April 21st, 2018 and intend to make a fountain with several representatives from Connecticut in order to honor the 102nd division and Sergeant Stubby. After this interaction from Stéphanie, we were able to continue communications with the Mayor and other citizens from Seicheprey as well as students from the nearby school of architecture. While we were not able to attend the commemoration, these architecture students shared their local history project with us. Then we shared slides from our presentation with them. It was great to get positive feedback from students doing the same type of work that we were doing here.

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An interactive exhibit from the commemoration

Pauline, a student from Seicheprey reached out to us and gave us a very detailed overview of what the town presented and the different activities that were going on in the town to commemorate this battle. These connections to Seicheprey have been the foundation of our class and we are extremely thankful to everyone who has helped spread the story of this forgotten battle.

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An invitation to the commemoration of April 21st.

 

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A World War I Identification Tag

 

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Thomas Cuff’s 1918 Historical Dog Tag

Last January, my language skills class researched soldiers from Killingly, Connecticut, who fought in World War I. My soldier was Thomas Cuff who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on June 29, 1890. According to his June 5, 1917 draft registration card, Thomas was of medium height and build with black hair and grey eyes. He reveals that he had a broken wrist that was not set correctly and states that he had no prior military experience. Single at the time, he lived on Water Street and was employed as a teamster by a man named Leonard Morrison in Danielson, CT.

With the rank of private, Thomas Cuff was a motor machinist with the 36th Machine Gun Battalion. He enlisted on July 25, 1918 and was honorably discharged six months later on January 17, 1919. Thomas survived the war but sadly died on October 18, 1949 at 59 years old.  He is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Dayville, CT.

In the Killingly Historical Society’s museum, I found Thomas Cuff’s actual military identification tag, a discovery that led me to learn more about “dog tags.” I learned that early identification records were not very organized, but the soldiers wanted people to know who they were if they passed away. “During the American Civil War from 1861–1865, some soldiers pinned paper notes with their names and home addresses to the backs of their coats. Other soldiers stenciled identification on their knapsacks or scratched it in the soft lead backing of their army belt buckle.”  Although modern tags contain vital information such as blood type, Thomas Cuff’s WWI tag was a small circular disc with two punched holes and only his name and USA stamped on it. In 2015, the U.S. Army changed the “dog tag” for the first time in 40 years by removing the soldier’s social security number and replacing it with a random identification number. The change was to help guard against identity threat.

Sources:

https://www.armydogtags.com/dog-tag-history/

https://www.ancestry.com/

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.” Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 20 September 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1509. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/results?count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3AThomas~%20%2Bsurname%3ACuff~%20%2Bgender%3AM&collection_id=1968530

http://www.civilwar.com/

https://www.cnn.com/2015/12/10/politics/army-dog-tag-changes/index.html

Photo Credit:

  1. Levesque, by permission of the Killingly Historical Society

Connecticut’s First WWI Female Veteran

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Image of Beatrice Savard in a special ceremony from the Hartford Courant

Beatrice P. Savard or maiden name Bourneuf was born on March 11, 1891, in Haverhill, MA and was a Signal Corps Telephone Operator in WWI. In the departure papers that we observed, Beatrice was shown as a supervisor in the Signal Corps and residing in New London, CT. Beatrice and a select group of other women were also a special Signal Corps operator in France during WWI. Sixty-two years after the war on May 29, 1980, Beatrice was given a victory pin, honorable discharge papers, and officially became Connecticut’s first female veteran from WWI in a special ceremony. “They told us within a year or two after it was signed [the armistice] we would be getting discharges,” Beatrice said, “It finally happened. It was a great affair.” Beatrice died two years later on June 11, 1982, in Waterford, CT. 

By:  Chase M  & Rory Tettemer

Adellard Barbeau, WWI Prisoner of War

 

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International Red Cross (IRC) Notecard showing Adellard’s POW camps

Although all men between the ages of 21 and 31 were required to register for the draft, not all of them were selected to join the army. I’m going to tell you the story of Adellard Barbeau, who was one of the first men to leave the small town of Danielson in Killingly in northeast Connecticut for the French front in World War I.

Adellard was born on August 24th, 1890, in Brooklyn, Connecticut, which is just a five minutes drive away from Killingly. He registered for the draft on June 5th, 1917, at the age of 27. According to his draft registration card, he worked for the Quinebaug Company, a textile manufacturer, as a cotton weaver. He had black eyes, black hair, and was of medium height. He was single at this time and declared that he didn’t have any physical injuries nor any prior military experience.

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IRC Notecard stamped “Released”

My class went to the Killingly Historical Society in Danielson, Connecticut, to find out more about the soldiers we are researching and to explore primary sources that are not available on the internet. At the library, I discovered a transcribed first-hand account of interviews with Adellard about his experiences during World War I. I was surprised to uncover that he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war!

Right before his capture, Adellard was in a “dugout” with some officers and telephone operators. The Germans “started their barrage which was terrific, our officers sent up flare after flare, calling on our artillery for a counter barrage, but there was no response from our guns… In about a minute hand grenades began to burst in the doorway and we knew the attacking forces were upon us.”

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Adellard’s IRC Notecard

The Germans were “holding our men in desperate fighting when someone happened to look around and there, behind us” were many Germans. “At this stage of the fight a rifle bullet caught me in the left shoulder and I fell. Falling I grasped out blindly for something to save me from sinking in the three feet of water in the bottom of the trench and my hand happed [sic] to catch the telephone wire that ran along that section….I was clinging to that wire in desperation then I heard a harsh ‘RAUS.’ I didn’t know what it meant then, but I well learned in the months that followed. I was a prisoner of the Germans, and was being ordered to get up and get out… Another ‘RAUS’ and I was moving forward under German guard down the American trenches that had fallen into their hands.”

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German logbook of prisoners in Camp Limburg a/Lahn

The story of Adellard Barbeau is very exciting, especially the part when they fought harder than ever even though they were about to be captured. It was also my pleasure to meet Adellard’s step-grandson in the Killingly Historical Society and to have a chance to interview him about the story of his step-grandpa. I also researched on the internet for more information about Adellard and found records on him from the Germans when he was imprisoned at Camps Limburg and Giessen. (See above the July 1918 German logbook of American prisoners at POW Camp Limburg a/Lahn in Germany. Adellard is listed on the first line.)  There also are notecards from the International Red Cross from the time when he was a prisoner of war that record that Adellard “disparu 4.20.18.” I felt relief when I saw the Red Cross card with “Released” stamped on it. It was a very good experience doing this research project, and I hope you all enjoy this story.

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Prisoners at POW Camp Giessen in Germany

Sources:

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZFK-8G6 : 13 March 2018), Adellard Barbeau, 1917-1918; citing Windham County no 16, Connecticut, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,570,495. https://www.familysearch.org/search/search/record/results?count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3Aadellard~%20%2Bsurname%3Abarbeau~

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Search/#/2/2/48/0/American%20(USA)/Military/barbeau

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/List/5454741/890/225/

Barbeau, Adellard. “ Recollections of WWI Soldier.” Killingly Historical Journal. Fall 2017. Volume 23. Pages 50-51.

Personal Interview with Douglas Flannery, January 31, 2018.

 

Photo Credits:

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Search/#/2/2/48/0/American%20(USA)/Military/barbeau

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/List/5454741/890/143/

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/giessen-1917-telling-the-story-of-five-irish-pows-1.2125962

Clear or Yellow Lenses?

The American military soldiers in World War I carried upwards of a hundred pounds of gear and ammunition. As a part of their equipment, they were issued a canteen for water, a Browning machine gun, and a gas mask. Their rifles weighed in at about nine pounds, and the weight has not really changed since. It seems that the military created these infantrymen to become pack mules.  Nicandro Mazzarella, from Danielson, CT, was one of these infantrymen in World War I. From his draft registration card, we learn that he was of a medium height with brown hair and black eyes. When we think of the American military, we might assume that everyone is a United States citizen, but Nicandro lists himself as being a citizen of Italy. However, he had declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen. After coming to the States, he became a weaver and a farmer in Windham County in the town of Killingly.  

To find out more about Nicandro Mazzarella, my class traveled to the Killingly Historical Society, which has a small museum. Imagine my surprise to discover a World War I bayonet, gas mask, canteen, and helmet that belonged to my soldier, Nicandro Mazzarella. I wondered how that gas mask could  provide any protection for the soldier.

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Nicandro Mazzarella’s WWI gas mask at the Killingly Historical Society Museum

In my research about gas masks, I learned from Doran Cart, senior curator at the National World War I Museum in St. Louis, that if the lenses of the gas mask have a yellow or orange tint they have seen combat. I also learned that all soldiers were issued a shaving kit which allowed them to stay clean-shaven, which made it easier for soldiers to fit their gas masks snugly over their faces.

Gas masks were necessary in World War I because of the German’s use of poison gases such as mustard and hydrogen. For decades after WWI, gas masks were rarely used.  However, with the current threats of terrorism around the world, gas masks now are useful, practical, and popular again.

Sources:

“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.” Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 20 September 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1509. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/results?count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3ANicandro~%20%2Bsurname%3AMazzarella~%20%2Bgender%3AM&collection_id=1968530

http://olive-drab.com/od_soldiers_gear_gasmask.php

https://www.c-span.org/video/?425800-1/100th-anniversary-us-entry-world- 

Photo Credit:

Author by permission of the Killingly HIstorical Society

How Can We Teach Other CT Learners About Sgt. Stubby?​

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Movie poster for the movie of Sgt. Stubby

Sergeant Stubby was the official mascot of the 102nd Regiment. Stubby was a dog that “served” for 18 months and was involved in or around 17 different battles in Europe. Some of the things that he did were detect mustard gas and comfort wounded soldiers. He was also able to detect incoming artillery fire because he could hear the whine of the incoming shells before the soldiers. Stubby was originally found on Yale’s campus in the summer of 1917, where the 102nd regiment happened to be training.

The 102nd regiment is one of the most famous of the United States from WWI. Many of the members were from Connecticut as the regiment was New England based. They were involved in the first action that the United States was a part of in WWI, which took place in Seicheprey.

As we learned more and more about this great dog, we were thinking about how we could teach other CT learners about this magnificiant story of Stubby in the war. Stubby did so much in the war, yet many do not know about him. To help share his story we found out that there is a movie about this wonderful dog called “Sgt. Stubby.” It is an animation showing how Stubby got into the war and the things he did to help his fellow soilders during the war. This movie is great for all ages and you should go see it while it is still in theaters!

Learn more at http://www.stubbymovie.com.

The New Role of Intelligence Agencies

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Ewald Wever is shown in the 1920 Census

The Bureau of Investigations, later known as the FBI, was a critical tool for the United States in counterintelligence during World War I, especially after the Espionage Act of 1917. This act was used to stop interference with the military, preventing insubordination in the military, and preventing support of the enemies of the United States during the war. Any person who conveyed information that was intended to interfere with the U.S. war effort or promoting the success of enemies was subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. In one famous case, Eugene Debs made a speech criticizing the Espionage Act and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. These acts were stopped around the country by the Bureau of Investigations and one occurrence even happened right here in Suffield. In a declassified report from the Bureau of Investigations, the investigating officers detail this occurrence in Suffield. A fairly successful tobacco farmer of West Suffield, CT, Ewald Wever, discouraged many people in his tobacco warehouse not to buy the second Liberty Loans. He told the people that they would just lose their money because soon the Germans would be ruling over the United States. There were at least two people, who before talking to Mr. Wever, wanted to buy the Liberty Loans, but after talking to Mr. Wever, they decided against doing so because of the way that he talked about them. When Mr. Wever was later asked to buy some Liberty Loans, his response was that he had no money. This was obviously not true since it was well known to everyone around he was a quite wealthy man. Our research so far shows that Mr. Wever had a tendency to be pro-German as he was born in Germany before becoming a United States citizen. Once while in Springfield, MA, Mr. Wever refused to stand for the National Anthem until a fellow resident forced him to stand. Mr. Wever’s actions caught the attention of the FBI thanks to a tip from Charles Bissell, who has a strong connection to the Suffield School. The FBI followed up with Mr. Wever and their desired action is unknown.

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Hartford Courant article talking about a strike at Mr. Wever’s tobacco warehouse. Article date: February 21, 1917

Based on 1920 Census, Mr. Wever lived in West Suffield, CT, was from Germany and was sixty-two years old. According to an article in the Hartford Courant, the tobacco warehouse that Mr. Wever managed was called the “Kaiser & Boasberg plantation,” which consisted of two warehouses, one where the women sort the shade-grown tobacco and the other where the men sort the Havana seed leaf. He lived with his wife and one of his sons and one of his daughters. The family also had a maid who lived with them, which shows that they were financially strong. While doing research on Mr. Wever through Ancestry.com, it was revealed that he had a total of four children with his wife. We continue to research the family of Mr. Wever and are looking to see if there are any direct relatives of him. We will also look into if Mr. Wever and Mr. Bissell were economic rivals, which may have prompted Mr. Bissell to report Mr. Wever. It was known that Mr. Bissell made money in tobacco, therefore this could give him a reason to report Mr. Wever. As we continue to look into new leads, look into acts of espionage in your own town.

Sources:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fbi-founded

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-congress-passes-espionage-act

https://search.proquest.com/docview/556434153?accountid=46995