Tag Archives: France

Next year is a big centenary. It’s the 100th year of America getting dragged into the First World War.

2018-World-War-I-American-Veterans-Centennial-Silver-Dollar-DesignsSure, technically the war started in 1917. But gearing up for war took time, and though American soldiers arrived on the Western Front by June, combat didn’t start in earnest for the Americans until 1918. A series of silver coins is being released in commemoration.



“It was one of the few occasions on which the bayonet was decisively used.”

Douglas MacArthur wrote the following about July 26, 1918, the day one of my great grandmother’s brothers was dropped by German machine gun fire. He was hurried to a field hospital, the 165th, which was attached to the 165th regiment of Ohio, where he died days later.

“…the 167th Alabama assisted by the left flank of the 168th Iowa had stormed and captured the Croix Rouge Farm in a manner which for its gallantry I do not believe has been surpassed in military history. It was one of the few occasions on which the bayonet was decisively used.”


At one point, the world witnessed fifty thousand deaths a day in World War I, totaling seventeen million by its end.

“ . . . the Great War, as it was initially called, sucked up lives at rate of almost 50,000 a day at one point. The Germans committed atrocities against civilians in Belgium, and reduced the Cathedral of Arras to rubble. The soil of Northern France, pockmarked with war craters, is all one big burial ground for lost souls — the graveyards you see, 410 military cemeteries, and the graveyards you don’t see.

When the war ended, after 17 million deaths worldwide, a headline in Britain’s Daily Mirror proclaimed: ‘Democracy Triumphs Over the Last of the Autocrats.’”

My great-great uncle was one of those 17 million.


Iconic. Bravery. Friendship. Touching.

AF26108 Townsend

I have been looking through some imagery created by the talented artists of the AEF, the American Expeditionary Forces, during the nastiness that was the First World War, and I came across this one, a new favorite, of a soldier carrying his wounded buddy. A sketch by Harry Everett Townsend using charcoal on paper, it hangs in the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum.


‘Right Up My French Alley’

418916Mom and one of her cousins were writing on Facebook today. The cousin was eating something French.

“Mmmgood french food..right up my French alley..”

My mother added a bit about the family history, ending her comment with a smile emoticon. She probably knows more about emoticons than I do.

“You are so right! 1/8th French from great grandma Poteet!”

Their conversation prompted me to lookup the name on the Google, leading me to two men: one named Francis Poteet and the other named Jerry.

Francis was from England and was recorded as living in Maryland in 1667.

Jerry Poteet is more recent. He was a master of an eclectic and hybrid form of martial art fighting called Jeet Kune Do who learned from Bruce Lee.

The name Poteet is thought to be of French origin. The named is associated with early 18th century Maryland and later with North Carolina and South Carolina.

“If it is French, it is probably a Huguenot name. It may be an altered form of French Petit, or possibly of French Pottet, which is from a diminutive of pot ‘pot’, in any of several senses: a metonymic occupational name for a potter, a nickname for a market trader, or a nickname for a rotund individual.”


Ninety Seven Years Ago

Ninety seven years ago yesterday, my great grandmother’s younger brother Leslie died from wounds in France while serving on the Western Front during the First World War. He had been cut down by German machine gun fire four days before and taken to a makeshift field hospital, what had been what’s called a sanitary train, a place where the wounded and sick were tended by medics and nurses. Maybe I’ll get a chance to visit his resting place and the area of operations in France on the 100th anniversary in 2018.