Sunday, May 31, 2015

Over the Top -- Chapter VIII -- May 31, 2015

Arthur Guy Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the US Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees. He wrote a book, Over the Top, about his experiences during the war. With the 100th anniversary of the war, I thought it might be interesting to post his story. Empey later became a prolific pulp magazine author, a movie star and producer, and a playwright.

From "Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches" by Empey:
"Roll of Honor." The name given to the published casualty lists of the war. Tommy has no ambition for his name to appear on the "Roll of Honor" unless it comes under the heading "Slightly Wounded."
R.A. M. C. Royal Army Medical Corps. Tommy says it means "Rob All My Comrades."

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets
CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church
CHAPTER IV -- Into the Trench
CHAPTER V -- Mud, Rats and Shells

AFTER remaining in rest billets for eight days, we received the unwelcome tidings that the next morning we would "go in" to "take over." At six in the morning our march started and, after a long march down the dusty road, we again arrived at reserve billets.

I was No. 1 in the leading set of 4's. The man on my left was named "Pete Walling," a cheery sort of fellow. He laughed and joked all the way on the march, buoyed up my drooping spirits. I could not figure out anything attractive in again occupying the front line, but Pete did not seem to mind, said it was all in a lifetime. My left heel was blistered from the rubbing of my heavy marching boot. Pete noticed that I was limping and offered to carry my rifle, but by this time I had learned the ethics of the march in the British Army and courteously refused his offer.

We had gotten half-way through the communication trench, Pete in my immediate rear. He had his hand on my shoulder, as men in a communication trench have to keep in touch with each other. We had just climbed over a bashed-in part of the trench when in our rear a man tripped over a loose signal wire, and let out an oath. As usual, Pete rushed to his help. To reach the fallen man, he had to cross this bashed-in part. A bullet cracked in the air and I ducked. Then a moan from the rear. My heart stood still. I went back and Pete was lying on the ground; by the aid of my flashlight, I saw that he had his hand pressed to his right breast. The fingers were covered with blood. I flashed the light on his face, and in its glow a grayish-blue color was stealing over his countenance. Pete looked up at me and said: "Well, Yank, they've done me in. I can feel myself going West." His voice was getting fainter and I had to kneel down to get the words. Then he gave me a message to write home to his mother and his sweetheart, and I, like a great big boob, cried like a baby. I was losing my first friend of the trenches.

Word was passed to the rear for a stretcher. He died before it arrived. Two of us put the body on the stretcher and carried it to the nearest first-aid post, where the doctor took an official record of Pete's name, number, rank, and regiment from his identity disk, this to be used in the Casualty Lists and notification to his family.

We left Pete there, but it broke our hearts to do so. The doctor informed us that we could bury him the next morning. That afternoon, five of the boys of our section, myself included, went to the little ruined village in the rear and from the deserted gardens of the French chateaux gathered grass and flowers. From these we made a wreath.

While the boys were making this wreath, I sat under a shot-scarred apple tree and carved out the following verses on a little wooden shield which we nailed on Pete's cross.

True to his God; true to Britain,
Doing his duty to the last,
Just one more name to be written
On the Roll of Honor of heroes passed—

Passed to their God, enshrined in glory,
Entering life of eternal rest,
One more chapter in England's story
Of her sons doing their best.

Rest, you soldier, mate so true,
Never forgotten by us below;
Know that we are thinking of you,
Ere to our rest we are bidden to go.

Next morning the whole section went over to say good-bye to Pete, and laid him away to rest.

After each one had a look at the face of the dead, a Corporal of the R. A. M. C. sewed up the remains in a blanket. Then placing two heavy ropes across the stretcher (to be used in lowering the body into the grave), we lifted Pete onto the stretcher, and reverently covered him with a large Union Jack, the flag he had died for.

The Chaplain led the way, then came the officers of the section, followed by two of the men carrying a wreath. Immediately after came poor Pete on the flag-draped stretcher, carried by four soldiers. I was one of the four. Behind the stretcher, in column of fours, came the remainder of the section.

To get to the cemetery, we had to pass through the little shell-destroyed village, where troops were hurrying to and fro.

As the funeral procession passed, these troops came to the "attention," and smartly saluted the dead.

Poor Pete was receiving the only salute a Private is entitled to "somewhere in France."

Now and again a shell from the German lines would go whistling over the village to burst in our artillery lines in the rear.

When we reached the cemetery, we halted in front of an open grave, and laid the stretcher beside it. Forming a hollow square around the opening of the grave, the Chaplain read the burial service.

German machine-gun bullets were "cracking" in the air above us, but Pete didn't mind, and neither did we.

When the body was lowered into the grave, the flag having been removed, we clicked our heels together, and came to the salute.

I left before the grave was filled in. I could not bear to see the dirt thrown on the blanket-covered face of my comrade. On the Western Front there are no coffins, and you are lucky to get a blanket to protect you from the wet and the worms. Several of the section stayed and decorated the grave with white stones.

That night, in the light of a lonely candle in the machine-gunner's dugout of the front-line trench, I wrote two letters. One to Pete's mother, the other to his sweetheart. While doing this I cursed the Prussian war-god with all my heart, and I think that St. Peter noted same.

The machine gunners in the dugout were laughing and joking. To them, Pete was unknown. Pretty soon, in the warmth of their merriment, my blues disappeared. One soon forgets on the Western Front.

Next: CHAPTER IX -- Suicide Annex

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Winner of 500-Mile Automobile Race -- May 30, 2015

On 31-May-1915, Ralph DePalma won the 1915 Indianapolis 500, driving a Mercedes.  The photo is from the 01-June-1915 New York Tribune.  Dario Resta finished second in a Peugeot. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

News of the Week May 29, 1915 -- May 29, 2015

The 29-May-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Committee welcoming the Atlantic fleet at N. Y.   Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The Navy's Atlantic fleet visited New York to take part in a review before President Wilson.

"School children of Little Rock, Ark., celebrate May Day. Copyright 1915 by Pathe News." Schools used to celebrate May Day.  I don't hear about it nowadays. 

"Knight Templar's parade at San Francisco.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News." The Knights Templar are a Masonic organization.  They had a state commandery session in San Francisco. 

"One of the German captive balloons operating in Belgium.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Captive observation balloons were used for artillery spotting.  The fins helped the balloons remain stable. 

"Opening of racing season at Hewlett Park, L. I.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The racing season at Hewlett Park opened on 01-May-1915. 

"Atlantic fleet gathers in New York harbor to be reviewed by the President.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Two battleships preparing for the review. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Whitehall Containing Bloody Shirt and Signs of Blood -- May 27, 2015

The drawing is from the 29-January-1901 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad ferry Tiburon sailed on San Francisco Bay from 1894 to 1924. Whitehall boats were a popular type of rowboat used for commercial purposes.   The painter is the boat's bow line.  Click on the image for a larger view.

Whitehall Containing Bloody Shirt and Signs of Blood on the Gunwale Found Derelict by the Crew of the Ferry Steamer Tiburon Off the End of Alcatraz.

THERE Is another mystery on the water front. A Whitehall boat with the painter coiled up and containing a demijohn of whisky and part of a bloody shirt, and with blood stains on the thwarts and other signs of. a struggle, was picked up by the ferry steamer Tiburon yesterday. Captain White of the ferry, steamer has no theory to advance about the abandoned boat, but whoever can prove ownership can have her on application at the Tiburon ferry.
The Tiburon left here on her usual morning run yesterday, and when just north of Alcatraz the derelict Whitehall was sighted. Captain White at once stopped the ferry steamer and ordered one of the lifeboats cleared away.

"There was plenty of whisky and considerable blood in the boat," said the captain yesterday. "There was a piece of a bloody shirt lying in the bottom of the Whitehall which looked to have been torn from somebody's back in a row. We took the boat in tow and she is now at Tiburon awaiting an owner. We do not know who owns her, but I think some of the boys along the water front will report a boat missing to-day. It looks to me as though somebody had gone out fishing and left the boat insecurely fastened. She then drifted away. The blood may be fish blood, but there were no fish in the boat.  If there was a row then the rest of the story is yet to be told."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day, 2015 -- May 25, 2015

On Memorial Day it is fitting and proper to remember the men and women who gave their lives, who continue to give their lives, to give us the country we deserve.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. -- Joseph Campbell

I took this photo on 14-December-2007 at the National Cemetery in the Presidio. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

News of the Week May 22, 1915 -- May 22, 2015

The 22-May-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"The liner 'Lusitania' leaving New York on her last voyage.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial." On 01-May-1915, Cunard liner RMS Lusitania sailed for Britain.  The German embassy in Washington DC placed an ad warning that the ship was liable to be sunk:
On 07-May-1915, U-20 torpedoed and sank Lusitania near the coast of Ireland:

"King Victor of Italy reviews his troops in the city of Rome.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News." Italy was neutral until 23-May-1915, when it declared war on Austria-Hungary.  Victor Emmanuel III is looking at a troop of Bersaglieri, who wear feathers in their hats and jog rather than march. 

"Heavy guns being loaded in Paris for shipment to the front.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News." I don't know what gun that is.  Since they call it heavy, I assume it is bigger than a 75. 

"Chancellor von Bethmann-Holweg and Prince Wilhelm honor Bismarck at Berlin.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial." Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg was the German Chancellor.  I think he is in uniform.  I don't see Wilhelm the Crown Prince and his son Wilhelm was too young to be one of these men. 

"U. S. torpedo boat destroyer "Tucker" is launched at Quincy, Massachusetts.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial." USS Tucker (DD-57) was a destroyer which served the Navy and the Coast Guard until 1936. 

"A naval and military parade at Norfolk, Virginia.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News." Naval Station Norfolk is a key part of the economy of the area. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

1924 Hispano-Suiza Model HBC Tulipwood Torpedo -- May 21, 2015

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.  Here is another view of the 1924 Hispano-Suiza Model HBC, which has a torpedo body built by Nieuport, the airplane manufacturer for André Dubonnet, of the aperitif-making family.   He wanted an extra-light body suitable for racing or travel, so the frame of the body is covered with strips of thin tulipwood.  (051/dsc_0103)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Señorita Rio -- May 19, 2015

The cover of Fight Comics number 47, from December, 1946, featured a cover drawn by Lily Renee, one of the rare female comic book artists in the early industry.  Her character, Señorita Rio, was beautiful and fun.  Fiction House comics were famous for having lovely women on the covers.  Notice that, in a reversal of usual practice, the man is in peril and the woman is defending him. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Two Fairs for One Fare -- May 17, 2015

Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 9, 1915
With expositions in both San Francisco and San Diego dedicated to the newly opened Panama Canal, and with tourism to Europe cut off, railroads like the Santa Fe tried hard to get people to take the train.  I like the "Two Fairs for One Fare" slogan.  I'm not sure why they claimed to be the "Only Line to Both Expositions."  Southern Pacific went to both. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

B. B. King RIP -- May 16, 2015

B. B. King, often called "The King of the Blues", has passed on.  He had a powerful way of playing the guitar. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

News of the Week May 15, 1915 -- May 15, 2015

The 15-May-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"English and Belgian prisoners of war interned in Holland.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly." Holland stayed neutral during World War One.  Perhaps these prisoners escaped from German captivity to Holland.  Holland would have interned them until the end of the war. 

"Fire sweeps Boston factory causing much damage.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  I have not been able to identify this fire. 

"Vincent Astor's safety first hydroaeroplane.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Vincent Astor flew the unique Burgess-Dunne airplane, which had swept wings and no tail. 

"A scene of desolation on main road to Paris, near Revigney, France.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Revigny is a small town in eastern France. 

"New York City police department holds its annual parade.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  The parade was held in late April on Fifth Avenue. 

"Turkish forces take up positions along the Dardanelles.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  This was early in the Gallipoli campaign. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Film Preservation Blogathon IV -- May 13, 2015

Over at my movie blog, The Big V Riot Squad (, I am participating in the The Film Preservation Blogathon IV, hosted by Ferdy on Films ( -- Wednesday, Thursday), This Island Rod ( -- Friday, Saturday) and Wonders in the Dark ( Sunday).  The theme this time is science fiction, and the organizers hope to raise $10,000 to restore and stream a 1918 one-reel comedy, "Cupid in Quarantine."   

My post is about a science fiction western, The Miracle Rider, a Mascot serial starring Tom Mix:
Idol of Every Boy in the World

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day, 2015 -- May 10, 2015

I'm grateful for my mother and my wife and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. All excellent mothers.

I took the photo at Good Shepherd School in Pacifica on 05-October-2008, during the school's 40th anniversary celebration.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

National Train Day 2015 -- May 9, 2015

Happy National Train Day, everyone.  I took this photo of Dayton, Sutro and Carson Valley locomotive 1, the Joe Douglass, a narrow gauge Porter 0-4-2T, built in 1882.   I took the photos when we visited the Nevada State Railroad Museum in 2011. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

News of the Week May 8, 1915 -- May 8, 2015

The 08-May-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"Ex-President Roosevelt on the witness stand at Syracuse, New York.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Newspaper publisher William Barnes, Jr sued Theodore Roosevelt for libel after Roosevelt called him "a political boss of the most obnoxious type."  Roosevelt eventually won.   

"Opening of masters tournament at Manhattan Chess Club.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  The Manhattan Chess Club started in 1877 and went out of business in 2002.  This tournament started on 19-April-1915.  The top prize was $250.  Cuban Master José Raúl Capablanca won first prize, winning 13 games and drawing 2. 

"American peace conference delegates sail for The Hague.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The Women's Peace Congress met in The Hague, hoping to find a path to a negociated solution the Great War. 

"Serbian Red Cross officials greet Sir Thomas Lipton's party at Belgrade.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  British yachtsman Sir Thomas Lipton, founder of the tea company, tried to win the America's Cup five times between 1899 and 1930, always with a boat named Shamrock.  He never won, but he was widely respected for his sportsmanship. He did much work for the Red Cross during the war.    Notice that the magazine has started using "Serbian" rather than "Servian." 

"Australian troops near the Egyptian pyramids.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Troops from Australia and New Zealand did much of the fighting in Egypt and the Middle East.

"Russian steamer destroyed by Turks at Sebastapol, Russia.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Turkish ships, often led by Yavuz, the former German ship SMS Goeben, and commanded by a German officer, attacked Sevastopol on several occasions. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Great Liner Lusitania Torpedoed and Sent to Bottom By Germans -- May 7, 2015

Ogden Standard, 07-May-1915

After a year of war, Germany was not in a good position.  The British had established a fairly tight blockade of imports, and the army had failed to take Paris and had settled into static positions on the Western Front.  In order to disrupt vital shipping to Britain, Germany had decided to adopt a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.  U-Boats would no longer warn civilian vessels before sinking them.  On 07-May-1915, U-20 torpedoed and sank RMS Lusitania near the coast of Ireland.  A number of Americans died and this nearly drove the country into the war on the side of the Allies, Britain, France and Russia.  Germany promised to stop unrestricted submarine warfare and America stayed out until they resumed it again. 

Lusitania carried 1,962 passengers.  1,191 died.  128 of the dead were Americans. 

Great Liner Lusitania Torpedoed and Sent to Bottom By Germans
Nineteen Hundred People On Board The Big Ship When The Fatal Blow Is Struck

London. May 7, 7.35 p. m -- No information as to the fate of the passengers and crew of the Lusitania was available in London up to 7:30 o'clock this evening. The Cunard offices in London were besieged by inquiries, among them many Americans having relatives or friends aboard the Cunard liner.

Washington, May 7. --  Ambassador Page at London cabled :
"Lusitania torpedoed and sunk within 30 minutes. No news of passengers yet."

Queenstown, May 7. -- News received here from the steamer at 3:25 p. m. said that, before sinking, her lifeboats were over her sides.

New York, May 7. -- The New York office of the Cunard line announced this afternoon that the Lusitania had been sunk.

Confirmation of the report was received in a dispatch dated Queenstown. 4.59 p. m. today and reading as follows:
"Old Head, Kinsale, about twenty boats all sorts, belonging to Lusitania, are in the vicinity where sunk. About fifteen boats are making for the spot to rescue."

The cablegram was preceded by the following message:
"Liverpool. May 7. Lands End wireless reports distress calls made by Lusitania, as follows 'Come at once.  Big list. Position ten miles west Kinsale.' A third cable dispatch read as follows: 'Queenstown, May 7. All available craft in harbor dispatched to assist '"

Kinsale is a seaport of Ireland, 13 miles southwest of Cork. It lies near the entrance of St. Georges channel, between Ireland and England, through which trans-Atlantic vessels pass on their way to Liverpool.

London, May 7. -- The Lusitania sank at 2:33 this afternoon. The passengers on board the Lusitania are believed to be safe.

Queenstown, May 7, 2 25 p. m. -- Immediately the news of the torpedoeing of the Lusitania was received here, the admiral in command of the naval station dispatched to the scene all assistance available. The tugs Warrior, Stormick and Julia together with five trawlers and the local life boat in tow of a tug were hurried to sea.

Queenstown, May 7. p. m. -- The Admiralty officers here have no news concerning the safety of the passengers and the crew of the Lusitania. 

Liverpool, May 7, 5 40 p m. -- The Evening Express was officially informed this evening by officials of the Cunard Steamship company that the Lusitania had been torpedoed and that she sank this afternoon.

New York. May 7. -- The Dow and Jones company ticker service, in a report from London. declares the Lusitania was beached and passengers and crew, according to Lloyds, were saved.

London. May 7, 5 50 p m -- The manager of the Cunard company has informed the Liverpool Evening Express that he received this afternoon the following message from the wireless station at Old Head, off Kinsale:
"The Lusitania was sunk by a submarine at 2:33 o'clock this afternoon, eight miles south by west (off this point)."

London, .May 7, 5 55 p. m -- A dispatch from Liverpool to the Exchange Telegraph company says it is not known how many of the Lusitania's passengers were saved

London. May 7 6:52 p m. -- Official announcement was made this evening that the Lusitania had remained afloat at least twenty minutes after being torpedoed and that "twenty boats were on the spot at the time."

Queenstown. May 7 -- According to a report received here, the first wireless S. O. S. call was sent by the Lusitania at 2:15. This read "Wanting assistance; listing badly "

London. May 7, 7:54 p. m. -- The Echo has been Informed that a message to the Cunard line reads as follows:
"The Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk at 2:33 this afternoon off Kinsale. There is no word of her passengers or crew, who number over 1900."

Queenstown. May 7. -- The Lusitania was seen from the signal station at Kinsale to be in difficulties at 2: 12 p. m. At 2:33 p. m. she had completely disappeared. This indicates that the liner was afloat nineteen minutes after what was the beginning of her trouble.

New York. May 7 -- Late this afternoon the Cunard made public the following dispatch from Liverpool:
"Following received by admiralty:
"Gailley Head 4:25 p. m. -- Several boats, apparently survivors, south east nine miles. Greek steamer proceeding to assist."

New York. May 7. -- Cork newspapers report, according to a Liverpool dispatch received by the Cunard line late today that 300 passengers have been landed at Clonakilty

New York. May 7, -- There were 188 American passengers on board the Lusitania, according to a compilation made late today at the Cunard offices. The British numbered 956 and other nationalities made up he remainder of the 1253 passengers aboard. 

Washington Official Circles Greatly Disturbed Over Lusitania Affair.

Washington, May 7 -- News of the torpedoeing of the Lusitania struck official Washington like a bomb.  While disposed to await full details before expressing opinions, all administration officials realized the incident was probably the most serious Washington has faced since the beginning of the war

Officials did not believe there would be complications, however, unless American lives were lost.
A few days ago American officials heard privately from personal sources that Germany intended to destroy the Lusitania at the first opportunity to terrorize British shipping and restrict ocean commerce with the allies.  It was taken for granted by officials here that if there existed a plan in the German admiralty to torpedo the Lusitania, every precaution had been suggested to the German government to insure the safety of the passengers. Should any Americans lose their lives, the case would he covered, officials thought, by the warning to Germany that she would be held in that event by the United States "to a strict accountability."

Washington. May 7 -- President Wilson was Informed of the sinking of the Lusitania and White House officials showed keen anxiety to learn whether any American lives were lost No comment was made. 

New York. .May 7. -- The Cunard liner Lusitania, one of the fastest ships afloat, was torpedoed and sunk this afternoon off the coast of Ireland, ten miles b south of Kinsale. 

She had aboard 1,253 passengers.  She sailed from this port last Saturday, May 1, and carried, in addition to her own large passenger list. 163 passengers transferred to her from the Anchor liner Cameronia.

The news of her sinking was announced by the local office of the Cunard line and was based on cable
advices received from the home office of the company in Liverpool. Three dispatches, received in the order named, were made public by the line, and read as follows:
"We received from the Lands End wireless station news of repeated distress calls made by the Lusitania asking for assistance at once. Big list.  Position ten miles south of Kinsale.  Subsequently received telegram from Queenstown that all available craft in the harbor had been dispatched to assist."

The second message to the local office read .
"Queenstown 4 59 p m. -- About twenty boats of all sorts belonging to our line are in vicinity where Lusitania sunk. About fifteen other boats are making for spot to render assistance."

The third cablegram was dated Liverpool and read:
"Following received by admiralty:
Galley Head. 4 26 p m. Several boats, apparently survivors southeast nine miles. Greek steamship proceeding to assist."

Dispatches received here from London Liverpool and Queenstown confirmed the news. One of the messages said it was believed that all the big liner's passengers had been saved.  No definite news as to the fate of the passengers had been received by the Cunard line early this afternoon.

The Cunard line announced that it would make public as fast as received all dispatches on the sinking of the Lusitania. including those relating to the fate of the passengers.

The stock market was stunned by the news.  A torrent of selling orders poured in from every section of the country.  A period of intense excitement followed. 

Prices in war specialties broke fifteen to thirty points within an hour.  Stable issues slumped five to ten points.

Late today the Cunard officials received a dispatch from Queenstown stating that a large steamer and many smaller vessels and boats were in the vicinity rendering assistance. Then follows :

"Large steamer just arrived in vicinity. Apparently rendering assistance. Tugs. patrols, etc , now on the spot taking boats in tow. Motor fishing boats with two Lusitania boats bearing by for Kinsale."

This information came from Old Head, Queenstown.

The news struck official Washington like a bomb Administration officials, it was said, realized that the incident was probably the most serious faced by the government since the beginning of the war. President Wilson was informed of the sinking of I the liner and White House officials, while refraining from commenting, were keenly anxious to learn if any American lives had been lost.

Big Liner Went Down Almost Immediately After Being Torpedoed.

New York May 7. -- According to a London dispatch put out by the Dow Jones ticker late today, the Cunard Steamship company in London issued an official statement there tonight, declaring that the Lusitnnia had been torpedoed without warning and sank almost immediately

Germans Had Declared They Would Sink the Ocean Greyhound.

New York, May 7. -- When the Lusitania sailed she had 1310 passengers.  Some nervousness had been caused because of the publication in the morning papers of Saturday of an advertisement warning intending travelers that a state of war existed between Germany and Great Britain and
her allies, that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that in accordance with notice given by the German government. vessels flying the flag of Great Britain are liable to destruction in those waters and that travelers sailing in the war zone on ships of Great Britain or her allies, do so at their own risk. This advertisement was signed "Imperial German embassy."

This warning apparently did not cause many cancellations, for the ship sailed with a very full passenger list.  Just before the steamer's departure, a number of the passengers received telegrams at the pier, signed by names unknown to them, and presumed to be fictitious, advising them not to sail as the liner was to be torpedoed by submarines. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt was one of the passengers who received the message.

Vanderbilt commented on the advertisement appearing in the morning papers, characterizing it as silly performance and below the dignity of a foreign diplomat of any country. 

Alexander Campbell, general manager for John Dewar and sons. London, who also sailed, referred to the advertisement as "tommy rot."

Other passengers on the Lusitania included Elbert Hubbard, publisher of the Philistine. D. A. Thomas the wealthy Welsh coal operator and his daughter Lady Mackworth, the English suffragette. All these persons took occasion to say that they saw nothing to worry about in the advertisement.

Charles P. Sumner, general agent of the Cunard line, said when the Lusitania sailed that the trip was not attended by any risk whatever, as the liner had a speed of twenty-five and a half knots and was provided with unusual water-tight bulk-heads. 

In commenting on the report of the torpedoing of the Lusitania today, marine men pointed out that in their opinion the Lusitania could not he sunk by a single torpedo. 

Charles T. Bowring, head of the firm of Bowring Brothers and president of the St Georges society was one of the passengers.

New York May 7 -- It was the steamer Lusitania whose flying of the American flag in the month of February on her way from Queenstown to Liverpool, in order to protect her against possible attack by a German submarine, caused considerable astonishment on both sides of the ocean and resulted in the issuance of a statement by the British foreign office justifying the use of a neutral flag under circumstances as these.

The Lusitania was one of the largest transatlantic liners, as well as one of the speediest. She was built
in Glasgow in 1906. She was 785 feet long, 88 feet beam and 60 feet deep.  Her gross tonnage was 32,500 and her net tonnage 9,145. She was owned by the Cunard Steamship company, limited, of Liverpool. Her captain was W. T. Turner.

The presence of German submarines oft the southern coast of Ireland and along the line of travel the
Lusitania would follow in going to Liverpool, was made known in a dispatch from Glasgow last night which recited that the British steamer Cherbury had been torpedoed in the Atlantic ocean off the Irish coast. This was on April 29 Two other vessels were sent to the bottom more recently, the Centurion and the Candidate.  Just where these ships were attacked has not been made known, but their destinations led to the belief that one or more German submersibles have been operating in the lines of trans-Atlantic travel.  It might be that they were waiting for the Lusitania, and in the meantime attacked such other vessels as came within their range. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Orson Welles 100 -- May 6, 2015

Broadcasting, July 15, 1937

Happy 100th birthday to Orson Welles, star of stage, movies, magic, wine commercials and radio.  I wrote a little bit about his movies on my other blog:

This story describes his first job writing and directing for the radio, an adaption of Les Miserables for Mutual.  The "New Drama Technique" was narration. 

Broadcasting, January 15, 1938
Welles played The Shadow in 1937 and 1938.  This article describes it expanding to the Pacific Coast Done Lee network, which was affiliated with Mutual.  It was on a sustaining (unsponsored) basis because sponsor Blue Coal didn't sell its products on the West Coast. 

Broadcasting, June 1, 1938
Welles produced many of his stage successes under the aegis of the Mercury Theater.  When he got a regular radio show on CBS, he called it The Mercury Theater of the Air

Broadcasting, August 15, 1938
By August, CBS was touting Wells as a major drama player/director/writer.  For a short time, the show was called First Person Singular

Broadcasting, September 15, 1938
Welles participated in a course at Columbia University with several other major radio stars. 

Broadcasting, September 15, 1938

CBS carried the show on into the fall and winter. 

Broadcasting, November 15, 1938

That fall, on 30-October-1938, Welles produced an adaption of The War of the Worlds by HG Wells.  The first half of the show was presented as a news broadcast.  Stories vary, but some people took it seriously.  I did not include the continuation of the article, but it is worth looking up. 

Broadcasting, November 15, 1938
In part because of The War of the Worlds, the show gained a sponsor and became Campbell's Playhouse

Broadcasting, November 15, 1938
The fake news broadcast raised some issues. 

Broadcasting, December 15, 1938
The FCC decided not to do anything about The War of the Worlds.

I received a cassette recorder when I was 11 or 12 and used it to record my own radio shows.  One of my first productions was an imitation of "The War of the Worlds," which I had heard on Gene Nelson's old radio show on KSFO.  My father patiently served as the announcer. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Happy Cinco de Mayo, 2015 -- May 5, 2015

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín led the Mexican army which defeated the French invaders at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. "The national arms have been covered with glory" General Zaragoza wrote in a letter to President Benito Juárez. Some people credit this defeat with preventing French interference in the US Civil War.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

News of the Week May 1, 1915 -- May 2, 2015

The 01-May-1915 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"The vessel which rammed the British transport near New Orleans.  Copyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  On 30-March-1915, the United Fruit Company liner Heredia rammed liner Parisian near the mouth of the Mississippi, then swerved off and sank steamer Weems.  This is the same photo we saw for a report from Pathe News:

"Villa troops at Brownsville, Texas, show how they attacked Carranza forces.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  After José Venustiano Carranza Garza overthrew the dictotor Victoriano Huerta in 1914, he faced opposition from Pancho Villa (left), commander of the División del Norte and Emiliano Zapata, commander of the Ejército Libertador del Sur. 

"funeral of Curtis Guild, former governor of Massachusetts, at Boston.  Copyright 1915 by Pathe News."  Curtis Guild, Jr, newspaper publisher, Spanish-American War veteran and friend of Theodore Roosevelt, had served as governor from 1906-1909. 

"Elevated trains leap tracks and tie up traffic in New York.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  I have not been able to find anything about this accident. 

"Kronprinz Wilhelm slips into American port and interns.  Copyright 1915 Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  On 11-April-1915, German commerce raider SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm slipped into Newport News and was interned.  She later served as the USS Von Steuben. 

"Germans patrolling coast of Belgium with motor boats.  opyright 1915 by Universal Animated Weekly."  The British had plans to launch an amphibious invasion of the Belgian coast.