After Armistice: Continuing Archival Research on World War I

Posted on Wed, November 7, 2018

Throughout the centenary of World War I, the National Air and Space Museum Archives has featured stories from its many collections:

Even though we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Armistice on November 11, 2018, the effects of World War I can be felt to this day.  In the Archives, there are still so many stories left to tell.  Many of our World War I collections are now digitized (some in their entirety) and you can continue to explore these stories on your own.

Arthur Raymond Brooks

With help from the Smithsonian Transcription Center, Arthur Raymond Brooks’ World War I diary is now fully transcribed.

Three men with a biplane

One-half left rear view, close-up, of Spad XIII "Smith IV", 22nd Aero Squadron (22AS), in France during World War I; pilot Lt. Arthur Raymond "Ray" Brooks poses at center, beside the aircraft; ground crewman at top is identified as "Sgt Paul" while "Cpl Holtz" stands behind the aircraft at right.  Handwritten note at top reads (in part): "My 4th plane - Now in Smithsonian Institute [sic], Wash. D.C."

An ace credited with shooting down six enemy aircraft, on July 31, 1918, Brooks retells the story of his first on July 29.  “And I got one of these red tailed devils after all, even though it hasn't been officially confirmed to day [sic].”  The diary skips from September 14, 1918, to a night at the opera in March 1919, so unfortunately, this particular document does not have Brooks’ thoughts on Armistice.

Albert and Willy Stupe

The Stupe brothers were born in Coburg, Germany. Albert, who was said to have been a pilot, was killed in action on July 31, 1917. Willy spent some of his military service as a paymaster and is said to have served in a motorcycle unit. In 1921, Willy immigrated to the United States.

We can only assume it was Willy who created the scrapbook in our collection, tracing the brothers’ history from their early years through the war. One of the last pages of the scrapbook is dated November 30, 1918, depicting the staff of Bomber Squadron 3 at their discharge. Stupe provides his thoughts on the war—in German.

Scrapbook Page with Photo of German Soldiers and German Writing

Page 57 of the Albert and Willy Stupe World War I Photograph Album.  At center - small group photo of the staff of Bomber Squadron 3 at discharge November 30, 1918. Includes: 2nd Lt. Geuth- adjutant observer, 2nd Lt. Ratke- Pilot, Capt. Brandenburg,'Magdeburg Sternaller 2', 2nd Lt Stoelw.  Also, Willy Stupe's thoughts on the war.

Glenn Edward Heveran, Sr.

Glenn Edward Heveran, Sr. became a corporal in the 14th Balloon Photo Section, First Army, and was sent to France in August of 1918. When he returned home in 1919, he prepared a scrapbook.

One of the images is a photograph of Bethelainville, France, taken on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.  The peaceful picture of a village about 15 kilometers west of Verdun belies the heavy fighting in the region and serves as a contrast to the image of emplaced, fixed mortars below.

Aerial view of city (top); embedded mortars (bottom)

Page from Glenn Edward Heveran, Sr. 14th Balloon Photo Section Scrapbook.  Photograph of Bethelainville, France, Armistice Day, November 11, 1918 (top).  Embedded mortars (bottom).

James Rogers McConnell

Unfortunately, James Rogers McConnell did not live to see Armistice, much less the United States’ entrance into World War I in April 1917.  After war broke out in Europe, McConnell arrived in France to enlist with the American Ambulance Corps. McConnell withdrew from the Ambulance Corps and entered the aviation training program, becoming one of the first members of the Lafayette Escadrille. McConnell first flight was on May 13, 1916, in which he flew a Nieuport biplane. McConnell was shot down and killed on March 19, 1917 above the Somme Battlefields.

Scrapbook page, portrait on left Nieuport airplane on right

Page from James Rogers McConnell World War I Scrapbook.  James Rogers McConnell posed beside his Nieuport 17 (left).  Nieuport 17 in flight (right).

Three photographs of a crater and a grave

Page from James Rogers McConnell World War I Scrapbook.  Soldiers look at the site of the crater caused by the crash of James Rogers McConnell's aircraft (top).   The memorial set up at McConnell's gravesite (bottom two). 

8th Aviation Instruction Center (Foggia, Italy) Photo Album

The 8th Aviation Instruction Center, located in Foggia, Italy, provided flight training to American cadets during 1917-1918. Most of the Center's graduates transferred to the Western Front to fly with the American Expeditionary Forces. However, about 75 remained in Italy under the command of Captain Fiorello LaGuardia, and were attached to Italian bomber squadrons, marking the first combat bomber operations by members of the US Army Air Service. The Archives holds an album containing snapshots tracking an unknown cadet's journey from New York City to the 8th Aviation Instruction Center in Foggia, Italy.

Top Three Photographs from a Ship's Deck, Bottom four photographs of soldiers

Page from 8th Aviation Instruction Center (Foggia, Italy) Scrapbook.  “The Boys.”  The top three photos depict transit on a ship.  The bottom photos depict soldiers (left to right): George A. Beach, killed January 20, 1918; Donald B. Harris; Henry M. Hoyt, Jr.; and name is illegible. 

In addition to these digitized collections, you can find a selection of photographs in the Smithsonian's online catalogs.  For our many other World War I collections, you may need to schedule an appointment to visit the National Air and Space Museum Archives to view in person.

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