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WWI ended 45 years before I was born


Randomguy
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As a kid of about 12, I remember reading a newspaper story of the last (or one of the last) remaining civil war veterans that was still alive.  He had been a drummer boy in the Confederate Army and at the time of the article, he was well over 100 years old.  At that time, around 1960, the Civil War had ended only 95 years before.  

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I was born 44 years after WWI. My grandpa was a Navy veteran of the war. He died in 1978 when I was 16. I never heard him speak of the war. He would talk more of his bronc busting days. He eventually had his leg broken when a horse slammed him into the corral fence. After that he delivered mail for the postal service in eastern Wyoming. He was once stuck 3 days in the prairie in a half-track Model T. He was suffering from hypothermia and frostbite when he was found. I regret not getting to know him better, but he passed before I was mature enough to appreciate him. 

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I read a couple histories on WW1 and found it fascinating.  The American Civil War (1861-5) and the Franco-Prussian War (1869-70) were the last major "romantic" plus modern wars where information was mostly gathered by horse cavalry and troops mostly marched great distances on foot.

But even in the Civil War, Longstreet's Corps or Lee's Army of Northern Virginia were transported by train to defend Atlanta. They debarked, went right into action, and turned back union troops the the Battle of Chicamauga.  And more soldiers were killed in that war and the Franco-Prussian war by artillery than by rifles.

So, the First World War was the first truly modern war, where tanks were invented and the recently invented airplane began to make its mark. But mechanized vehicles had not achieved the strength to destroy the trench system, which was effectively used in the American Civil War, mostly by the South: Lee's soldiers called him "The King of Spades" for his habit of digging trenches.  Trenches were also used very effectively by Grant during the siege of Vicksburg.  In WW1, trenches had become so scientifically developed as a method of defense that the two sides were basically locked into the same positions for years, each side launching hopeless attacks like the Germans at Verdun and the British at the Somme where, on July 16, 1916, they suffered 57.470 casualties including 19,240 fatalities.  In comparison, the greatest one-day American casualties of all time were suffered at the Battle of Antietam, in Sept. 1862, where the Union had about 12,000 and the Rebels 11,000 killed and wounded.  In the end, Germany lost because it could not afford to continue the war - it's soldiers were holding foreign soil on all fronts.  That's why the post-War German government wasn't popular with Germans, many believing they sold out the German people and the ridiculous requirements of the Treaty of Versailles, ending WW1, helped bring Hitler to power in Germany.

WW1 was the great last-gasp of the Age of the Battleships. There was a great Naval Battle at Jutland, at the mouth of the Baltic Sea - the last major battle in history decided by battleships - where British battleships won and bottled up the German Navy and commerce in the Baltic Sea. U-boats existed by then but weren't as able as those of WW2.  It wasn't until May, 1941, when the German Battleship Bismarck was disabled by planes from British Aircraft Carriers (NOT the Johnny Horton's song's, "the British guns were aimed and the shells were coming fast" - they couldn't get close enough until the planes did their jobs because of the Bismarck's superior artillery range) that the Age of the Battleships was over.  The next big naval battle, Midway, was decided by Aircraft Carriers as was those to follow.

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25 minutes ago, onbike1939 said:

When I was a little boy during the war, every Armistice Day a man came up the hill to our lonely line of houses and stood on a little mound, where he then blew the Last Post on a bugle. For years I was convinced that this was to celebrate my birthday. 

Your parents were overjoyed to have you on the 11th.

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