First interest in WWI

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
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Terry Duncan
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First interest in WWI

Postby Terry Duncan » 17 Feb 2012 21:10

What was it that first interested people here in the subject of WWI? For myself it was a book in a school library when I was six, where I saw a picture of the SMS Rheinland displaying what seemed a large number of guns compared to any ship I had ever seen before. A few pages on was SMS Seydlitz and the story of her adventures at Jutland, and from then I always had a wider interest in naval warfare than my uncle's wartime service on Ark Royal and the Bismarck chase. I was wondering what it was that sparked other peoples interests in this subject as it appears to be something not really discussed here?

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby JamesL » 17 Feb 2012 22:16

As a kid, playing with my grandfather's helmet, shotgun, and bolo knife. Looking at his medals. The pictures of him and his buddies.

I've been fortunate enough to walk the battlefields in France where he fought, where he was gassed and wounded.

Bloody Yank didn't show enough smarts to duck when the Prussian Guards were shooting at him.

Edit: we recently found some photographs of my grandfather in the Spanish-American War!
Last edited by JamesL on 17 Feb 2012 23:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby Attrition » 17 Feb 2012 23:21

When I was six or seven my cousin gave me a box of books before he went to university (the first of my relatives to go). Some of them were Biggles books, 'nuff said....

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby favedave » 18 Feb 2012 05:46

In the 4th grade, my teacher read the prologue by Edward Stillman for S.L.A. Marshall's The American Heritage History of World War I.

"The dawn light came up behind Sarajevo's Begov Mosque, oulining the dark mass of dome, cypress trees, and minaret against the pale-green sky."

It was so exotic, like the Arabian Nights. I knew my grand father had served in the 1st Aero Squadron in World War One and he had told me great stories the summer before. But Stillman's beautifly descriptive prologue describing the assasination and the world at the dawn of the modern world just captured me completely in its spell.

I still have the book, and still turn to it as a quick insightful resource.

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby glenn239 » 18 Feb 2012 16:18

Jutland, Battle of.

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It's All Peter's Fault...

Postby Jon Clarke » 18 Feb 2012 16:44

Although I've always been interested in history, the focus on WWI, and in particular the origins of it, only came about because one day I chanced upon the WWI board at the old History Channel site and read through a number of the threads. There were certain views put forward (no prizes for guessing by whom!) which ran counter to my, at that time, limited knowledge of events. So I did a little research and then started, very tentatively, contributing and that was it, I was hooked. Three of four years later, the interest is still there although I don't contribute as much before mainly because the debate hasn't moved on that much and we seem to be continually going over the same old ground. Perhaps that's rather appropriate for a WWI forum! :)

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby favedave » 18 Feb 2012 18:03

Jon, in regards to "Its all Peter's fault." I concur he has given all of us a great deal of (often erroneous) information to think about. I was actually the first to encounter Peter on the old History Channel Boards at least ten years ago. His first post there stated that Apis was directed personally by Grey and Poincare in January of 1914 to assassinate Franz Ferdinand...

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby Gelle » 24 Feb 2012 18:43

For me it was growing up here in Flanders,passing the Menin gate every day and walking in the fields trying to find schrapnel and the occasional belt buckle and bayonet. And then the biggest boost was going with my father to a pub in Zillebeke not far from t'Hooghe where every third Sunday of the month there was a small militaria trade fare. And listening to the older visitors there talking about family in the war and discussing the objects on the tables. They made you get interest in WW1.
Concordia res parvae crescunt

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby Baltasar » 01 Mar 2012 00:34

I saw sabres of my grand-grandfathers on the wall back home, real WWI sabres.

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby Peedeel » 04 Mar 2012 11:11

At age ten, in School, one sun drenched summer day, our history teacher, Major Stiegel departed from the normal content of our history curriculum (the industrial revolution) to talk about the Great War. It was one of the most interesting lessons I’ve ever attended, and the Major’s knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject proved infectious.

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby jluetjen » 10 Mar 2012 18:12

WWII always held a stronger interest for me growing up, because there was vastly more information available on it, I had a WWII GI Joe, and my Dad served in it. I think that this is due to the "holy war" nature of that war, versus the decidedly ambiguous nature of the first world war. But WWII is a bit tapped out nowadays. It's only when I started researching some ancestors prior to WWII that I started to learn that WWI was not really the way it was portrayed in the few histories that I had seen to date. It wasn't just "Stalemate in the muddy trenches". And with the advent of the internet, it's become possible to research primary sources and discover what really happened.

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby Helmut0815 » 02 Jun 2012 23:11

I grew up in the outskirts of Münster/Westfalia. In our neibourhood there was a small road called "Am Pulverschuppen" (At the powder shed).
In WW1 an ordnance facility called Munitionsanstalt Mauritzheide was located there. Cartridges, shells and shrapnels were produced and extensive amounts of artillery shells, detonators and explosives were stored there. On the evening of December 21st 1915 due to carelessness and sloppiness a fire broke out in a barrack where black power was filled in bags. The female workers fled in panic and a few minutes later the entire ammo dump blew up in several devastating explosions. Exploding shells flew around, the surrounding area was littered with splinters and five workers got killed. It was the greatest explosion catastrophe in Münsters history.

Sixty years later the soil was still full of the remains of the catastrophe and when we were playing in the woods and digged holes we found rusty splinters, shrapnel bullets and gun powder bags. This was my first contact with WW1 material. Some years later in 1977 when I was 15 years old we visited Verdun during our familys holiday in France. The citadel, the ossuary and fort Vaux were impressive and disturbing experiences for me.


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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby Charles Lee Ray » 10 Jan 2013 11:32

My interest first started after I watched the Tales from the Crypt episode Yellow as a kid. It was set in the American trenches of the Western Front.

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Re: First interest in WWI

Postby mariandavid » 18 Mar 2013 05:02

My father - who served in the British Army in WW 2 (Middle East, desert and Italy) kept pointing out to me (then being an exceedingly arrogant undergraduate) that the WW 1 generals I despised (being a firm believer in Lions led by Donkeys and the rest of the then contemporary twaddle) were at least as competent as those he had served under and in most cases far more so.

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