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Nothing concentrates the military mind so much as the discovery that you have walked into an ambush.

-- Thomas Packenham

War Stories: World War I

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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World War I In the early hours of the morning of March 22nd, 1918, our own front-line troops retired through us. At the time we were occupying a shallow trench forming the support line before Marcoing, in the Cambrai salient, and a little later we also withdrew. Our first halt was on the slope of a hill. We could not see the attackers, but their artillery plastered the hillside with shrapnel, and we were not sorry to get orders to move again.
Note: by Private R. G. Bultitude, 1st Battalion Artists Rifles   9811 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I France 16th June 1917.
Dear Mother & Father,
Please forgive me for making such a wide gap since I last wrote for truly it has been impossible. Since my last letter of the 2nd, our division has been through the fire and is now resting, resting as victors and as men who have done their bit. I feel at a loss to give an account of myself and of events generally during the past two weeks, for such a poor pen as mine cannot compass the tremendous events the awe-inspiring sights and the terrible ordeals which we have seen and gone through.
Note: by Len Newton, Sapper, 3rd Division Signal Coy, A.I.F.  9414 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Front, Aug. 9, 1918
Dear Uncle Clem:
I know you must be waiting anxiously for a letter from me and wondering why I have not written before. Ever since July 15, the day of Clem's death, and the opening of the German offensive which we turned into defeat, we have been on the go night and day, and a good share of the time have been used as infantry.
Note: W.A. Thompson, Jr served with the Rainbow Division of Engineers in France.  8289 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I September 22, 1916 Dear Mrs. Evans:- I am writing to offer you my sympathy over the loss of your son. I was his Colonel for six months and I think he mentioned me in one of his letters to home. As you know, he became our Medical Officer in January and I had grown very fond of him. He was excellent company and always kept us amused with his wit. In fact, we all liked him. I was ill once or twice while he was with us and I cannot tell you how kind he was and how well he looked after me and made me feel comfortable. I would have written before but it was only today that I became acquainted with you address for I was invalided home sick on the 5th of August, a few days before your son was killed. As soon as I heard I wrote out to France for your address but as the battalion as been so much in action lately, no one had time to write. He came to see me off in the ambulance and his last promise to me was that he would come and see me at my home when next on leave, but alas that cannot be. My thoughts have often been with his people, so far away, and please convey my sincerest sympathy to all those he loved and by whom he was loved. Yours Sincerely EUSTACE HARRISON Denhall, Ness, Cheshire, England September 22, 1916
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World War I ON May 31st, 1916, the Grand Fleet and the High Sea Fleet fought the action which has become known as the Battle of Jutland. The despatch describing the battle, as published some weeks later, was not quite in its original form as written by me. After a conference held at the Admiralty, early in June, modifications were made : some of them because it was considered that certain passages might convey useful information to the enemy, and others because it was thought to be undesirable to draw attention to certain features of British design.
Note: by Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe  9341 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Before reaching Louvain we bivouacked near a large well-built village, and here we had the wettest and merriest evening in the whole campaign. Some of our battalion water-carriers discovered a wine-cellar in the village. On going into a cellar they noticed a stack of fagots, and guessed that they were put there with a purpose. The fagots were quickly cleared away, and behind them appeared a door.
Note: by Captain Henry Huebner  16019 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I I will endeavor to give you a fuller account of our experiences whilst landing. I dare say long ere this reaches you, you will have read all about it in the papers, but here is the part I saw and took part in. It was on Sunday, April 25th at 3 a.m., we disembarked from our transport ship, the "Galeka," our kit consisted of an extra change of clothing, 200 rounds of ammunition, as well as plenty of tobacco, the entire lot weighing just on 90 lbs., and with that weight we had to climb down over the side of the ship - per Jacob's ladder, which by the way, is made of rope, - into rowing boats, 50 men in each. We were towed by naval pinnaces as near as possible to the shore, being under very heavy fire made it a very difficult task.
Note: by Pte. H. J. Lynch writing from Victoria Hospital, Alexandria.  9455 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I

1st. May. To Arras for money.

2nd. to 4th. Sunday rides around the area. New officers have arrived, including Willie Haldane who played in the school rugger team with me.

Note: by Robert Lindsay Mackay, 11th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.  10731 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Friday, January 1 1915
Old Drill dispensed with in place of platoon drill, adopted by the Imperial Army. Mail arrives from Australia dated 4.11.1914. Troops presented with chocolates and cigarettes from the Aust. War Contingent, London.
Note: Sam Weingott, born 1892, died on active service 5th June 1915.   16228 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I We left Alexandria in Egypt on the 13th and passed through the Aegean Sea to arrive at the island of LEMNOS on the 16th. We spent several days in the Bay where numerous warships and troopships (French and British) were at anchor. I should guess there were 150 or more ships there including the QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Note: letter by 2/469 S.sgt Robert James Wait, New Zealand Artillery, 1NZEF  8357 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I In writing this, my object is to try and give some idea of my experiences in France and Belgium. Well, I land at Boulogne on February 2nd 1917. It was then bitter cold and snowing, and went on to St Martinís Camp for the night and then my first real experience of hardship commenced.
Note: by Charles H Rooke, 1/5 Border Regiment  15968 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I I really believe that I am after all a coward for I don't like patrolling...The battalion who alternates with us here have lost three officers (or rather two officers and an NCO) on this business in front of my trenches. Let me try to picture what it is like. I am asked to take out an 'officer's patrol' of seven men; duties - get out to the position of the German listening post (we know it), wait for their patrol and 'scupper' it; also discover what work is being done in their trenches.
Note: by Second Lieutenant H E Cooper, Royal Warwickshire Regiment   12136 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Dear Sir:
As I have a little time I thought I would write you a few lines to let the people at home know how I am getting along. I have been over in this country about five months and like it fine. We get plenty to eat these days but have hard time to eat it. Just think, I only weighed one hundred and forty-five pounds when I landed over here, and I was weighed the other day and weighed one hundred and seventy-two pounds.
Note: By August Weinhuff, U. S. S. Emetine, Oct. 13, 1918.  8286 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I The steamer appeared to be close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge, a small whistle in his mouth. I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward, and I saw, with surprise and a slight shudder, long rows of wooden partitions right along all decks, from which gleamed the shining black and brown backs of horses.
Note: by Adolf K.G.E. von Spiegel  9766 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I 6th May, 1916, signed the enlistment papers after having been previously rejected in 1915. 20th June, left Byron Bay by train to Lismore for the medical examination. This time, Dr Bignell passed me, without even examining me, because he could see that I was eager to enlist and men were badly needed.
Note: by Private Verdi George Schwinghammer  21689 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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This Day in History
1777: The Battle of Germantown is fought. Washington's ability to take the offensive so soon after his defeat at Brandywine, coupled with the subsequent American victory over the British general John Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York, on October 17, led France to form an alliance with the Americans.


1795: General Napoleon Bonaparte leads the rout of counter-revolutionaries in the streets of Paris, beginning his rise to power.

1861: The Union ship USS South Carolina captures two Confederate blockade runners outside of New Orleans, La.

1914: The first German Zeppelin raids London.

1916: The Germans driven out of Eaucourt.

1916: Allied forces reach Kenali.

1944: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower distributes to his combat units a report by the U.S. Surgeon General that reveals the hazards of prolonged exposure to combat. On the basis of this evaluation, as well as firsthand experience, American commanders judged that the average soldier could last about 200 days in combat before suffering serious psychiatric damage.

1952: Task Force 77 aircraft encounter MIG-15 aircraft for first time.

1964: President Johnson issues the order to reactivate North Vietnamese coastal raids by South Vietnamese boats as part of Oplan 34A. These raids had been suspended after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in early August.

1968: Cambodia admits that the Viet Cong use their country for sanctuary.