When I think of war and of the largest offensive in United States history, I don’t picture a battle in World War I. Nevertheless, I should. The Meuse–Argonne offensive, which was also called the Meuse River–Argonne Forest offensive, the Battles of the Meuse–Argonne, and the Meuse–Argonne campaign, depending on who you were, was a major part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire Western Front. The offensive ran for a total of 47 days, from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice of November 11, 1918, and it was the largest in United States military history, past or present.
The offensive involved 1.2 million American soldiers, and as battles go, it is the second deadliest in American history. During the course of the battle, there were over 350,000 casualties including 28,000 German lives, 26,277 American lives, and an unknown number of French lives. The losses involving the United States were compounded by the inexperience of many of the troops, the tactics used during the early phases of the operation, and in no small way…the widespread onset of the global influenza outbreak called the “Spanish flu.” The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, also known as the Great Influenza epidemic, was an exceptionally deadly global influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. The pandemic affected an estimated 500 million people, or approximately a third of the global population. It is estimated that 17 to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million people lost their lives, which probably increased the deaths during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
The Meuse–Argonne was the principal engagement of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I, and it was what finally brought the war to an end. It was the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I for the AEF. Nevertheless, by October 31, the Americans had advanced 9.3 miles and had cleared the Argonne Forest. The French advanced 19 miles to the left of the Americans, reaching the Aisne River. The American forces split into two armies at this point. General Liggett led the First Army and advanced to the Carignan-Sedan-Mezieres Railroad. Lieutenant General Robert L Bullard led the Second Army and was directed to move eastward toward Metz. The two United States armies faced portions of 31 German divisions during this phase. The American troops captured German defenses at Buzancy, allowing French troops to cross the Aisne River. There, they rushed forward, capturing Le Chesne, also known as the Battle of Chesne (French: Bataille du Chesne).
In the final days, the French forces conquered the immediate objective, Sedan and its critical railroad hub in a
battle known as the Advance to the Meuse (French: Poussée vers la Meuse), and on November 6, American forces captured surrounding hills. On November 11, news of the German armistice put a sudden end to the fighting. That was fortunate for the armies, but for my 1st cousin twice removed, William Henry Davis, it was six days too late. He lost his life on November 5, 1918, on the west bank of the Meuse during these battles. He was just 30 years old at the time.
With so much technology these days, the things that we used to do the old-fashioned way have begun to get lost in the annals of time. Some things, it seems to me would fall into the category of “good riddance,” while others fall into the category of “how sad.” I know that many people would disagree with me, but I have very little use for old-fashioned books. I know that is an odd one, but once you have read the book, how many people will go back and read it again…even the classics. Maybe a few people will, but with so many books to read, most will not. That is why e-books and audible books make perfect sense to me.
A physical calendar is another thing that seems unnecessary to me, although I do like the pictures many of them have. The thing is that writing your schedule on a physical calendar is only helpful if you are where the calendar is. You might suggest a daily planner, but that still requires you to look at it periodically, and let’s face it. Time flies, especially during the workday. If you forget to look at that calendar, you miss your appointment. The calendar on your phone, which as we all know is always with you, comes with a reminder that alerts you when it’s time to go to your appointment. Life is hectic, and I just don’t need the added stress of missing appointments, even now that I’m retired.
I have gone shopping with a paper list, and I’m sure you have too. I have also gone to the store and forgotten my list. Then I spent my who shopping experience trying to remember what was on my list. I’ll be honest I don’t always shop with a list of any kind, but when I really need to remember something, a list is essential. Once again, I go back to my phone, because there is a note app on my phone, and you can even get an app specifically for groceries. That’s where I put the really important things, because I always have my phone with me…don’t you? You do, because really…nobody has a landline anymore.
While my dear uncle, Bill Spencer always wanted to get a letter from his loved ones, and I can totally understand why, after looking at some of the letters from my dad to his mom, from my uncle to me, and from ancestors I never met to other ancestors I never met. The point is, as my uncle put it that you can actually see their handwriting. That is truly a precious thing to have. I suppose that if I have one “old-fashioned” thing that I could go both ways with letters would be that thing. Those handwritten letters are precious, but daily communication received quickly via text, messenger, or snap chat are very important to me too. When you have children who live far away, or as we all do, children who are very busy, those quick little messages are a great treasure. I think I will always treasure both.
We were watching the Denver Broncos in their huge (19-3) defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs. The game had really just gotten started (it had a 4:00pm start time) when the crash, that took the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, occurred in Paris at 12:23am (4:23pm Mountain Time). The news of the tragedy was aired shortly thereafter, and by 3:00am, Paris time, she was dead. That news was announced at 6:00am Paris time.
Diana was a distant cousin of mine…(specifically my 12th cousin 2 times removed), so the news held some significance to my family. There have been many questions concerning the crash that took Diana’s life, and while the powers that be say that they have all been answered, there are many people, including me, who still have questions. I’m sure that we will never have our questions fully answered, and I’m sure that is partly due to the fact that when it comes to Diana, we aren’t sure that the British Crown is telling us everything they know. The mere fact that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were divorced, and at that time, and to many people, his claim to the throne was in question, we naturally doubted the validity of the answers we were given. Nevertheless, no further answers will likely be forthcoming, so we will have to accept the answers we were given…or not accept them, as you please. After the divorce, Princess Diana became known as Diana, Princess of Wales, as a supposed concession by the crown.
Diana, affectionately known as “the People’s Princess,” was 36 years old at the time of her death. Her boyfriend, the Egyptian-born socialite Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the car, Henri Paul, died as well. The lone survivor of the crash was Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, who was seriously injured. The car left the Ritz Paris just after midnight, intending to go to Dodi’s apartment on the Rue Arsène Houssaye. As soon as they departed the hotel, a swarm of paparazzi on motorcycles began aggressively tailing their car. About three minutes later, the driver lost control and crashed into a pillar at the entrance of the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. It was later decided that because the driver had alcohol and prescription drugs in his system, the paparazzi held no fault in the matter. That is where I disagree. While the driver had alcohol and prescription drugs in his system, he would not have felt the need to speed through the streets if the paparazzi had left them alone. As a retired insurance agent, I know contributory negligence when I see it. Nevertheless, a “formal investigation” concluded the paparazzi did not cause the collision. Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul, the driver, were pronounced dead at the scene. Diana was taken to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital and officially declared dead at 6:00am. Diana’s former husband Prince Charles, as well as her sisters and other members of the Royal Family, arrived in Paris that morning. Diana’s body was then taken back to London.
Because Diana was one of the most popular public figures in the world, her death brought a massive outpouring of grief. Mourners began leaving bouquets of flowers at Kensington Palace immediately. The piles of flowers reached about 30 feet from the palace gate. As in her life, her death demanded the attention of the world. She was so loved, and many felt, so mistreated during her marriage. Following her funeral on September 6, 1997, an event that was watched by 2.5 billion people, she was laid to rest on an island at Althorp Estate, which is her childhood home, and is which is where her brother, Earl Charles Spencer lives to this day. The island is off limits, but the estate is open to the public during July and August each year.
Diana was survived by her two sons, Prince William, who was 15 at the time, and Prince Harry, who was 12. Today she has two daughters-in-law, Duchess Catherine and Duchess Meaghan, as well as five grandchildren, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis; as well as; Archie and Lillibet. Today marks 25 years since the passing of Princess Diana. Gone but not forgotten.
My dad’s mom, Anna Spencer was such a strong woman. My grandfather, Allen Spencer worked on the Great Northern Railway, and so Grandma was in charge of the kids, including her two rambunctious boys, my Uncle Bill and my dad, Allen. Now that doesn’t say that her two girls weren’t a handful too, but my Aunt Laura and my Aunt Ruth, likely caused her a little bit less trouble than her mischievous boys…especially when it came to their use of dynamite. Being farm boys, they used dynamite to remove tree stumps, for their wake-up call on Independence Day, as well as the occasional gatepost (which then had to be raised two inches before their mom came home from town). Nevertheless, Grandma was loved and respected by her children.
Grandma and the kids ran the farm, and that meant putting the hay up into stacks by hand, taking care of the animals and the garden. When they were working, Grandma was all business, but that didn’t mean the kids followed suit. My Aunt Ruth loved horses and dogs too, and goofing off for my Uncle Bill, so he could take a picture of her. Somehow, it once caught my grandma in the picture looking at her mischievous children, goofing off instead of working. Somehow, she was not very amused, but while Grandma didn’t think it was funny, the picture is one that always makes me laugh. I don’t know if my Aunt Ruth got in trouble for “shirking” her responsibilities or not, but I’ll bet she at least heard about it. Grandma was not really a pushover, after all. In those days, when it was time to work, the kids had better toe the line.
During the time when my grandma was raising kids, the country was going through the Great Depression years, and time were tough anyway, so the people also had to be tough. The men were often working somewhere also, and the women had to take on the role of both parents, and even businesswomen. My grandmother ran a hotel for a time, and my Aunt Laura, who was just ten years old when my Uncle Bill was born, was responsible for his day-to-day care. My Uncle Bill actually remembered that time fondly. He and his big sister were very close at that time. I’m sure it was not the ideal situation for my grandmother, who must have felt like she was missing out on the baby years, but she persevered, and the family did well. Grandma was a tough lady, because she had to be, and the family needed her to be. I’m very proud of the strong woman she was. Today, Grandma is in Heaven, but this is the 135th anniversary of that great lady’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.
My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s grandmother, Nettie Knox was a sweet woman. She really didn’t like drama, but rather preferred that life would flow along like a peaceful river. Grandma had a houseful of plants, including a Christmas Cactus that took up about a fourth of her small living room. I guess it was a good thing that it was just Grandma and Grandpa sitting in there most of the time. They lived on the same country property as Bob’s parents, so most of the visiting took place at the bigger family home of my in-laws. The living situation worked out very well. Grandpa had his tons of books, and he read them all at the same time…oddly enough. Grandma had her plants and her cooking.
Grandma and my oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen share a birthday. I know that there are people who wouldn’t like that, because they want their child to have their own day, but for Grandma and Corrie, it was just the opposite. They loved that they shared a birthday. It was their special bond. Their birthday parties were always together, and they always took together birthday pictures. They were birthday twins, and they loved it. Corrie had her birthday twin with her for the first 15 years of her life, and she considered it to be very sad when that first birthday without her birthday twin came along. It felt a little empty, and definitely sad.
Grandma Knox left us on July 29, 1990, almost 32 years ago now. That is such a strange thought, because it seems like just yesterday that she and “little” Corrie were posing for their special picture. Grandma has lived on for five years after Granda went to Heaven, and while she wanted to stay with us, she also wanted to go home to Heaven. She was tired, and she wanted to be with Grandpa, so on July 29, 1990, she went home. I know she and Grandpa are having a great time celebrating her day today. Grandma, your special little birthday twin still misses you every day. Today, Grandma would be 114 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Knox. We all love and miss you very much.
The United States Navy ship USS Knox (FF-1052) was named for Commodore Dudley Wright Knox, who was an officer in the United States Navy during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Born in Fort Walla Walla, Washington, on June 21, 1877, Knox was also a prominent naval historian. For many years he oversaw the Navy Department’s historical office, now called the Naval Historical Center. I can’t say for sure, nor exactly how, but I suspect that Dudley Wright Knox is somehow related to my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s Knox side of the family. That will be a subject I will need to explore further in the future.
Knox attended school in Washington DC and graduated from the United States Naval Academy on June 5, 1896. Following his graduation, he served in the Spanish-American War aboard the screw steamer Maple in Cuban waters. A screw steamer or screw steamship is an old term for a steamship or steamboat powered by a steam engine, using one or more propellers…also known as screws…to propel it through the water. These ships were nicknamed iron screw steam ship.
His was a long and distinguished career. During the Philippine-American War, Knox commanded the gunboat Albay, and during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, the gunboat Iris. He then commanded three of the Navy’s first destroyers…Shubrick, Wilkes, and Decatur. Following his attendance and graduation from the Naval War College in 1912–13, Knox became the aide to Captain William Sims, commanding the Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla. During the cruise of the “Great White Fleet,” he was sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt, as an ordnance officer on the battleship Nebraska (BB-14).
He took the lead in developing naval operational doctrine when he published an article of great influence in the US Naval Institute Proceedings in 1915. He was Fleet Ordnance Officer in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, serving in the Office of Naval Intelligence, and commanding the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. The job of a Fleet Ordnance Officers is to ensure that weapons systems, vehicles, and equipment are ready and available…and in perfect working order, at all times. These officers also manage the developing, testing, fielding, handling, storage, and disposal of munitions. In November 1917, Knox joined the staff of, by then, Admiral William Sims, Commander of US Naval Forces in European Waters. Knox earned the Navy Cross for “distinguished service” while serving as Aide in the Planning Section and later in the Historical Section. He was promoted to Captain on February 1, 1918. In March 1919, Knox returned to the United States. He served for a year on the faculty of the Naval War College, where he was a key figure on the Knox-King-Pye Board that examined professional military education. In 1920–21, he commanded the armored cruiser Brooklyn (ACR-3), then the protected cruiser Charleston (C-22) before resuming duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
Also in 1920, Knox first began his work as a naval publicist, serving as naval editor of the Army and Navy Journal until 1923. He then became the naval correspondent of the Baltimore Sun in 1924 – 1946, and naval correspondent of the New York Herald Tribune in 1929. While he was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on October 20, 1921, he actually and strangely continued on active duty, serving simultaneously as Officer in Charge, Office of Naval Records and Library, and as Curator for the Navy Department. Knox played a key role in creating the Naval Historical Foundation. Early in World War II, he was assigned additional duty as Deputy Director of Naval History.
In a career that spanned half of a century, Knox’s leadership inspired diligence, efficiency, and initiative while he guided, improved, and expanded the Navy’s archival and historical operations. Knox had personal connections to President Roosevelt, Fleet Admiral Ernest J King, and other senior leaders in the Navy Department. These relationships allowed him to play an instrumental role, albeit behind the scenes in the years leading up to and during World War II.
Knox published a number of writings and several books…including his first book “The Eclipse of American Sea Power” (1922) and “A History of the United States Navy” (1936). “A History of the United States Navy” is recognized as “the best one-volume history of the United States Navy in existence.” Through his personal connection with President Roosevelt, he was able to publish key, multi-volume collections of documents on naval operations in The Quasi-War with France in 1798–1800, the first Barbary war and the second Barbary War…stories that may not have been told, had he not taken the initiative.
November 2, 1945, found Knox promoted to Commodore, and awarded the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious conduct” while directing the correlation and preservation of accurate records of the US naval operations in World War II, thus protecting this vital information for posterity. Finally, on June 26, 1946, Knox was relieved of all active-duty work. He died in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 11, 1960. His cause of death is listed as unknown. He was 83 years old.
The years of slavery were awful for the African people who were sold into slavery by their own families or their countrymen. They were often stolen in the middle of the night, never to be in their homes again. Some of these slaves were young…some were even children. The terror must have been horrific. Nevertheless, it was what it was. Their life as they knew it was over. The journey to their new “home” was a hard one, and many people didn’t make it. That didn’t matter either, except in the revenue lost…they cared about that.
When the slaves arrived in the colonies, they didn’t have last names, or if they did, no one could really understand the last names. That didn’t matter to the slave sellers or the new master, because once sold, the slaves were given the last name of their masters, if they were given one at all. They were non-people. One must also understand that not all slaves were African. Many slaves came from Ireland too, but
I suppose it was easier to get away from their masters, because they were white too…not that they escaped, because where would they go. They were far away from their home too.
In those days, in Colonial America, slaves could win their freedom through lawsuits. I’m not sure what made them think they had a chance of winning their freedom. First of all, they had no money to get an attorney, and no attorney would have taken the case anyway. They had no way of proving their case, and what would their case have been? There was no code of conduct when it came to slaves. They could be beaten, raped, and even killed by their master. They could be overworked, under fed, and punished at will. There really was no case that could be made…as far as I can see anyway. As I said, there was a slim chance that a slave could bring a case, and even less chance that case. Nevertheless, even with that low chance of succeeding, winning in court meant that the slave was now a citizen. They were free, and no one could dispute that again…legally anyway. The problem now was that these slaves had no last name, and they needed a last name to be a citizen. I seriously doubt they wanted to keep their master’s name. So, to solve the problem, the slaves were given the surname…Freeman. In my genealogist’s mind, there is no greater was to lose the true line of a family than such a name change.
Most soldiers know that when you are trying to sneak up on your enemy, it’s probably best to leave the bagpipe playing at home. Nevertheless, John “Mad Jack” Churchill, who was one of the most colorful and unusual soldiers to fight in World War II, might find just about anything…you just never knew. The British-born “Mad Jack” Churchill had no known relation to Prime Minister Winston Spencer-Churchill, although I would not be surprised to find there was a relation. He was known for carrying a Scottish Claymore Sword into battle, and felt that any officer who didn’t have one while going into battle, was basically out of uniform. “Mad Jack”was also an avid archer and bagpipe player and brought both of these hobbies onto the battlefield.
Churchill volunteered for Great Britain’s first-ever commando unit in 1941, and he participated in covert operations in Italy and Norway. In one Norway operation, he played his bagpipes on the landing craft as they approached the shore, then picked up his sword and attacked. In 1944, “Mad Jack” was on assignment in Yugoslavia to assist with the communist partisans under Josip “Tito” Broz, and that was when his infamous bagpipe incident happened.
During a mission to attack a German position on the Island of Brac, “Mad Jack” and his men advanced under heavy fire. In the end, he was the only one left alive. After running out of bullets, and in typical “Mad Jack” style, he picked up his bagpipe and played “Will Ye No Come Back Again?,l.” It was an 18th-century song celebrating the Jacobite Prince Charles III’s escape from being captured by the British monarchy.
Unimpressed, the Germans knocked him out with an explosion and captured him, but they spared his life…not because of his bagpipe prowess, however, but because they thought he was related to Prime Minister Winston Spencer-Churchill. They thought that having a relative of the prime minister would provide them with sone leverage. Unfortunately for them, as far as anyone knew there was no connection. “Mad Jack” was placed in a prison camp, from which he escaped captivity twice before making it home.
Churchill married Rosamund Margaret Denny, the daughter of Sir Maurice Edward Denny and granddaughter of Sir Archibald Denny, on March 8, 1941. They had two children, Malcolm John Leslie Churchill, born 1942, and Rodney Alistair Gladstone Churchill, born 1947. He also had a grandson named James Also stair Gladstone Churchill. “Mad Jack” lived a long and happy life. Nevertheless, I seriously doubt if any part of it was as crazy as the time he spent in World War I. He passed away on March 8, 1996 at 89 years old, in the county of Surrey.
My uncle, Bill Spencer went home to be with the Lord on Christmas Day 2020. It isn’t the perfect day to lose a loved one, but I think it would be the perfect day to go home to Heaven. Instead of spending Christmas in a nursing home, alone because of Covid restrictions and sick with Covid, often not remembering most people, except maybe his kids, Uncle Bill got to spend Christmas with his parents, Anna and Allen Spencer, as well as his siblings, Laura Fredrick, Allen Spencer, and Ruth Wolfe…and most importantly, he got to spend Christmas with Jesus. How awesome is that!!
Uncle Bill and his little brother, my dad, Allen Spencer were very close growing up and into their later years too. Whenever they were together, you can bet the stories flew around the room. Their antics were crazy. When those two boys got together, all bets were off. They were farm kids, so they knew how to use dynamite to blow a tree stump out of a field…or to shorten a gate post by 3 or 4 inches or wake up the neighborhood at daybreak on July 4th.
They were intensely patriotic, and both were part of the war effort during World War II…Uncle Bill as a riveter on ships and planes, and my dad as an airplane assembler and later, flight engineer and top turret gunner on a B-17. Not being able to serve was a great disappointment to Uncle Bill, who really wanted to go along with his little brother to fight the war. Thankfully, both were alive at its end, and because they were, my cousins Pam Wendling, Bill Spencer, and Jim Spencer got to have a dad, and my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock and I got to exist.
Uncle Bill was the family historian. He loved looking into his ancestry, and because he did, we all got to know so much, or about our family that we ever would have otherwise. He was sometimes helped with his nephews, Gene and Dennis Fredrick, and grandnephews Tim and Shawn Fredrick. Uncle Bill was meticulous with the family history, striving relentlessly to get everything down on paper (no computer for Uncle Bill) and to get it correct. He was a champion of family truth, and we are the beneficiaries…as are many cousins around the country.
They have been back together for over a year in Heaven now, and I know that they and their sisters and parents are having the time of their lives. Nevertheless, we all miss them very much here on Earth, and look forward to seeing all of them again in Heaven. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 100th birthday. It was a life well lived, and we were blessed to have him. He almost made it, going home just a month short of his 99th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.
My niece, Dustie Masterson works as a shift manager at Walgreen’s in Casper, Wyoming, and in the time she has been there, she has become an indispensable asset to the store. You never know were you will find her when you walk in, because she seems to be everywhere at once, and the places she isn’t will be calling for her help before you know it. It’s not that the store is out of control, but rather that under Dustie’s leadership, it is a well-oiled machine. She seems to be everywhere at once, because Dustie is a mover and a shaker. A mover and a shaker is defined as “a powerful person who initiates events and influences people” and that is much like what Dustie is. She stays busy, helps out where needed, and keeps things running smoothly, but she also inspires the people she works with to excel in their jobs too.
Dustie is just as much an inspiration in her home. She inspires her kids to do well in school and her husband, Rob Masterson to do well in his job too. Being managers is something they share, although at different places. I think that the leadership qualities that Dustie and Rob have are already showing up in their children. Some things are inherited too, and these kids will do well in life.
Dustie is a great leader, but that is not all that Dustie is about. Dustie has a great sense of humor, and she likes being very silly, especially with her kids. She shows them that they don’t have to spend their whole life working feverishly, or being serious as the contemplate their lives, or even hidden away with their noses in a book. Of course, those things are necessary at the proper times, but there is also a time to be…silly, and to laugh about their silliness. Life can sometimes get far too serious, and like the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.” Dustie loves the Bible, and I love that she does, and that she knows there is a time to laugh. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!