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Sunday, 7 April 2013


File:Hannover CL IIIa, Forest of Argonne, France, 1918 (restored).jpg

A German Hannover CL.IIIa (serial no. 3892/18) airplane brought down in the Forest of Argonne by American machine gunners between Montfaucon and Cierges, France, showing black crosses with white fimbriation: photo by Private J. E. Gibbon, U.S. Army, 4 October 1918; image restoration by Keraunoscopia, 15 March 2013 (U.S. National Archives)

The American machine gunners exchange a high-sign of martial triumph. They died
a century ago without ever knowing the fate of the fallen German aviators

whose charred remains became compost amid the general spill of
composted remains littering the grassy field beyond the decimated

tree stumps at the edge of the Forest of Argonne. In the end all things
are stirred together and identities blur as the winners of all conflicts mingle

with the losers.

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 102-00169A, Westfront, Abgeschossener englischer Flieger.jpg

A crowd of German soldiers gathered around the wreck of a British plane and the dead body of its pilot: photographer unknown, Western Front, 1917 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

An Apostle, from the Transfiguration: Matthias Grünewald, c. 1511, black chalk on brownish paper, heightened with white, 146 x 208 mm (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden)

I'll wait for you there: textured photo by Marie Wintzer, 28 December 2008

Sergeant Alvin C. York, 328th Infantry, who with aid of 17 men, captured 132 German prisoners; shows hill on which raid took place [8 October 1918]. Argonne Forest, near Cornay, France: photographer unknown, 7 February 1919 for Department of the Army, Office of the Chief Signal Officer (US National Archives)

 Germans in trenches in Argonne Forest: photographer unknown, for Bain News Service, between 1914 and c. 1915 (George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

Argonne Cemetery, Argonne Forest, France, 1919: panoramic photo by W. L. King, Millersberg, Ohio; by courtesy of Military Intelligence Division, General Staff, U.S. Army (Library of Congress)


Marie W said...

I visit your kitchen every day, quietly sitting at the table, being served great food, silently enjoying the conversation around me. I am too shy and self conscious to leave a comment among those outstanding chefs (OK, now I have to say poets, really). But today I really have to leave you a thank you note, Tom. What a present! This means an immense lot to me. Just... thank you..

Ed Baker said...

on November 16, 1918 a German plane just like the one in the first picture
flew over a Red Cross Field Hospital tent in the
Argonne (maybe this exact area and maybe this is the exact aireoplane that the pilot dropped one of those had-bombs on the tent in which
Charles Rubin "Ruby" Kramer ( my middle name "Charles" is after him

and killed everyone in the tent... including my Uncle Ruby

this happened about five days AFTER the Armistice was signed.

first time I am seeing the (or a similar) plane;

TC said...


La jetée de la séparation provides Grünewald's crawling Apostle a moment of peace and sanctuary amid the pageant of anguish, history, Transfiguration, and it's a relief to him that someone awaits him there. Thanks very much for lending him (and us) that.


Thinking these past nights about the exposure and vulnerability that made up the working conditions of those WWI flying aces, zooming unprotected through bullets and explosions and taking aim on equally exposed fellow humans in the rival aircraft, has convinced me once again that men are incorrigibly crazy animals.

Ed Baker said...

yeah ! these continuous wars are what keeps The World Economies from REALLY
going down the toilette !
Pardon my French"

think about munitions production and sales..

machinery produced to "wage" war
Medical "advances" and care of The Fallen Heroes

etc etc..

that is "hand bombs" NOT "had bombs"

the pilot would fly over low and release the clip and drop the bomb.. not exactly a hand grenade but similar something sort of like one of those bazooka missile ...

Everything that we do (world-wide)
is built on a solid plinth of war-fare all of the way down and into

The Battle of the Sexes !

et ceteras

Hazen said...

This datoid that I came across recently seems apt here, “amid the general spill of composted remains . . .” : The United States in all its 237 years of official existence has been at some kind of war during 216 of those years. The system is what the system does.

Lally said...

as always Tom, brilliantly done

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

For your information:
The 91st Division was activated in 1917, under Major General H. A. Greene, mainly by young men from Oregon and Washington. The division was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington State. My dad was in the 361 Infantry regiment, which entered into the battle zone in late 1918. In the ensuing carnage, the 91st Division lost 3,000 soldiers, eight field and 125 company officers during four days of battle before they regrouped. One of the lucky ones, Dad came back to the US, returned to Greece in 1959 and died on native soil at the age of 83 in 1973.

TC said...


Very affecting story that, with the particularly memorable (and consoling) outcome that he survived the slaughter and for that fact we have the heavens (or fate) to thank. For where would we have been without him -- or you?

Others of course were less fortunate, then. I thought you might be interested in the parallel tale of a Swedish immigrant drafted into the 361st Infantry Regiment, 91st Division, sent to Fort Lewis -- and thence to become one of 14,000 men lost in the killing fields of the Meuse/Argonne in 1918.

A Stolen Rose

One of my father's sisters married an Italian immigrant who had barely landed in this country before being shipped off to the slaughter in France. He was gassed during a German offensive. A year of hospitalization and incapacitation back in the States ensued. He used the time wisely, studied hard and earned himself a law degree. Another of the lucky ones.

(Hazen certainly has a point.)