Fix Bayonets! - First World War Podcast

Nicole Chicarelli, Mike Cunha, Cullen Burke

The story of World War One has been told from every point of view, from every angle, by countless historians, amateurs, authors, and soldiers, a thousand times over and a bit more than that. Brilliant scholars, popular podcasters, and authors ranging from Keegan to Hemingway have scoured the Great War for truth and answers. For decades they have been shining a light into every trench, wading through every muddy decision and its deadly results, collecting the millions of tales about life during the Great War. With each passing year, we move further from the events themselves. Time has marched to its eternal drum beat, inexorably erasing the collective memories of the horrors that followed that idyllic 1914 summer. Our show intends to share the story of the First World War in a way that is unlike any before – from three very important perspectives: bird’s eye, ground level, and perhaps most importantly… human. Each episode will cover an offensive, battle, engagement, skirmish, or dust-up by starting at the strategic level and broadly affixing its story within a proper macrocosmic context. Nicole will cover the key players, war-wide implications, and big-picture narrative as to where each event stands in the timeline of World War One. The second component zooms into the tactical aspect. Mike will tackle a particular aspect of the fighting and deliver details on how the engagement unfolded; this includes specifics on the combatant operations, what weapons were used, and more. Then in the final part of the episode, Cullen will provide a ground-level human account of the event in question. Famous warriors, iconic moments, soldiers’ personal experiences, and the odd or exciting stories warfare generates by the thousands. To forget the Great War would be to damn the countless thousands that died unknown and unaccounted. It is a great passion and pleasure for Nicole, Mike, and Cullen to “do their bit” and share the lessons and stories of the lives lived, lost, and long past. Though we aim to entertain and educate, we must always honor and never forget. Thank you for listening! -Fix Bayonets Crew read less

Whizz-Bang - The German Army Marches Through Brussels, 1914
Jan 14 2021
Whizz-Bang - The German Army Marches Through Brussels, 1914
Richard Harding Davis was an American newspaper reporter and witnessed the German army's march through the city. This excerpt is from Richard Harding Davis' account from his book, Richard Harding Davis: His Day (1933). It is slightly different than the one reported by the New York Tribune but the feeling is the same. We join his account as he sits at a boulevard cafe waiting for the German arrival:"The change came at ten in the morning. It was as though a wand had waved and from a fete-day on the Continent we had been wafted to London on a rainy Sunday. The boulevards fell suddenly empty. There was not a house that was not closely shuttered. Along the route by which we now knew the Germans were advancing, it was as though the plague stalked. That no one should fire from a window, that to the conquerors no one should offer insult, Burgomaster Max sent out as special constables men he trusted. Their badge of authority was a walking-stick and a piece of paper fluttering from a buttonhole. These, the police, and the servants and caretakers of the houses that lined the boulevards alone were visible.At eleven o'clock, unobserved but by this official audience, down the Boulevard Waterloo came the advance-guard of the German army. It consisted of three men, a captain and two privates on bicycles. Their rifles were slung across their shoulders, they rode unwarily, with as little concern as the members of a touring-club out for a holiday. Behind them so close upon each other that to cross from one sidewalk to the other was not possible, came the Uhlans [cavalry], infantry, and the guns. For two hours I watched them, and then, bored with the monotony of it, returned to the hotel. After an hour, from beneath my window, I still could hear them; another hour and another went by. They still were passing.Boredom gave way to wonder. The thing fascinated you, against your will, dragged you back to the sidewalk and held you there open-eyed. No longer was it regiments of men marching, but something uncanny, inhuman, a force of nature like a landslide, a tidal wave, or lava sweeping down a mountain. It was not of this earth, but mysterious, ghostlike. It carried all the mystery and menace of a fog rolling toward you across the sea. The German army moved into Brussels as smoothly and as compactly as an Empire State express. There were no halts, no open places, no stragglers. For the gray automobiles and the gray motorcycles bearing messengers one side of the street always was kept clear; and so compact was the column, so rigid the vigilance of the file-closers, that at the rate of forty miles an hour a car could race the length of the column and need not stop - for never did a single horse or man once swerve from its course.All through the night, like a tumult of a river when it races between the cliffs of a canyon, in my sleep I could hear the steady roar of the passing army. And when early in the morning I went to the window the chain of steel was still unbroken. It was like the torrent that swept down the Connemaugh Valley and destroyed Johnstown. This was a machine, endless, tireless, with the delicate organization of a watch and the brute power of a steam roller. And for three days and three nights through Brussels it roared and rumbled, a cataract of molten lead. The infantry marched singing, with their iron-shod boots beating out the time. They sang Fatherland, My Fatherland. Between each line of song they took three steps. At times 2000 men were singing together in absolute rhythm and beat. It was like blows from giant pile-drivers. When the melody gave way the silence was broken only by the stamp of iron-shod boots, and then again the song rose. When the singing ceased the bands played marches. They were followed by the rumble of the howitzers, the creaking of wheels and of chains clanking against the cobblestones, and the sharp, bell-like voices of the bugles.More Uhlans followed, the hoofs of their magnificent horses ringing like thousands of steel hammers breaking stones in a road; and after them the giant siege-guns rumbling, growling, the mitrailleuses [machine guns] with drag-chains ringing, the field-pieces with creaking axles, complaining brakes, the grinding of the steel-rimmed wheels against the stones echoing and re-echoing from the house front. When at night for an instant the machine halted, the silence awoke you, as at sea you wake when the screw stops.For three days and three nights the column of gray, with hundreds of thousands of bayonets and hundreds of thousands of lances, with gray transport wagons, gray ammunition carts, gray ambulances, gray cannon, like a river of steel, cut Brussels in two."
Battle of the Frontiers - North
Dec 7 2020
Battle of the Frontiers - North
In our monster-sized finale of Battle of the Frontiers, we cover the Northern section of the sprawling fight between the French/British/Belgian forces and the German juggernaut. Nicole gives you the strategic outlook for both sides and elegantly ties up all the loose strings. She is setting the stage for the war to come, the battle of trenches, gas, and horror that, at this point, is just around the corner. Mike dives into the nasty nitty-gritty on the battlefields of Haelen, Lorraine, and in the Ardennes. By pulling the narrative from a few of the significant battles that make up the Frontiers, Mike tells the tale of them all. Cullen wraps up the episode with Rossignol's account, 08/22/1914, and  French military history's bloodiest day.  Music - Unser Kaiserhaus by the U.S. Marine Corps BandWe  Lucky Few by Kosta T.Further ReadingDoughty, Robert A. Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2005.Foch, Ferdinand, and Thomas Bentley Mott. The Memoirs of Marshal Foch. Doubleday, Doran and Company, Incorporated, 1931.Keegan, John. “Battle of the Frontiers: Lorraine.” The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War I, Vol. 1, 1984, p. 145-151. ___________. “Battle of the Frontiers: The Sambre.” The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War I, Vol. 1, 1984, p. 155-163. Trouillard, Stéphanie. “August 22, 1914: The Bloodiest Day in French Military History.” France 24, France 24, 22 Aug. 2014, www.france24.com/en/20140822-august-22-1914-battle-frontiers-bloodiest-day-french-military-history. Unknown. Battle of the Frontiers of France, 20-24 August 1914, www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_frontiers_of_france.html. Unknown. “Les Pertes.” Vestiges.1914.1918.Free.fr, vestiges.1914.1918.free.fr/.Van den Hove, Peter. “Halen,12th of August, 1914. A Forgotten Battle in a Forgotten Landscape?” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317090646_Halen_12th_of_August_1914_A_forgotten_battle_in_a_forgotten_landscapeYoung, Peter. “Battle of the Frontiers: The Ardennes.” The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War I, Vol. 1, 1984, p. 151-155.
The Schlieffen Plan
Sep 28 2020
The Schlieffen Plan
The Schlieffen Plan (in all it's various iterations) was Germany's blueprint for a swift victory if and when she ever found herself in a two-front war against France and Russia. The man behind the plan, Count Alfred Von Schlieffen, understood a military maneuver like this would require precision, detail, and strict obedience to the timetables involved. Of course, even the most careful peacetime planning isn't foolproof when bullets begin to fly, gaps in logistics, and continuous tinkering by his successor would put Schlieffen's precious plan to the acid test in the Summer of 1914. Grant, R. G. World War I : The Definitive Visual History : From Sarajevo to Versailles. New York, Dk Publishing, 2018.Stein, Oliver: Schlieffen, Alfred, Graf von (Version 1.1), in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2017-02-21. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.10444/1.1.Westwell, Ian. The Illustrated History of World War One : An Authoritative Chronological Account of the Military and Political Events of World War One. Wigston, Leicestershire, Southwater, 2012.Westwell, Ian, and Donald Sommerville. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Wars I & II. London, Anness Publishing Ltd., 2019.Willmott, H. P. World War I. 345 Hudson St. New York, New York 10014, DK Publishing, 2009 Music - Russian River by Dan Henig
The July Crisis
Sep 26 2020
The July Crisis
The July Crisis of 1914 was the moment of decision, the moment that Bismark's intricate treaty and alliance system finally collapsed in the prelude to World War One.  The Crisis ignited after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (which we covered in episode one!). Tensions grew rapidly as Europe's nations sought retribution, issued ultimatums, made threats, or bolstered alliances.When it became clear that peaceful mediation was no longer an option… armies everywhere mobilized, millions of men marched to war in the sweltering summer sun, and the "War To End All Wars" had begun.  Grant, R. G. World War I : The Definitive Visual History : From Sarajevo to Versailles. New York, Dk Publishing, 2018.Keegan, John The First World WarMeyer, G. J. A World Undone : The Story of the Great WarMiller, Paul: Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este , in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz,Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.10217.Westwell, Ian. The Illustrated History of World War One : An Authoritative Chronological Account of the Military and Political Events of World War One. Wigston, Leicestershire, Southwater, 2012.Westwell, Ian, and Donald Sommerville. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Wars I & II. London, Anness Publishing Ltd., 2019.Willmott, H. P. World War I. 345 Hudson St. New York, New York 10014, DK Publishing, 2009 Music - Awaiting On Arrival by Blue Dot Sessions
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Sep 24 2020
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand: Archduke of Austria, heir to his ancient nation’s throne, and victim of a brutal assassination in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The murder of the would-be emperor and his wife is often cited as THE cause of the Great War. But the truth is a bit more complicated than that…The European continent had been simmering with unrest for years by 1914. And as the heads of state for the world's mightiest empires grew ever more distrustful of each other, the delicate web-like balance of world power was ready to unravel. With the fatefully fatal pulling of a trigger, a Serbian teen named Princep queued the music for War to take center stage in Europe once again (and not for the last time!).Grant, R. G. World War I : The Definitive Visual History : From Sarajevo to Versailles. New York, Dk Publishing, 2018.Keegan, John The First World WarMeyer, G. J. A World Undone : The Story of the Great WarMiller, Paul: Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este , in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz,Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.10217.Westwell, Ian. The Illustrated History of World War One : An Authoritative Chronological Account of the Military and Political Events of World War One. Wigston, Leicestershire, Southwater, 2012.Westwell, Ian, and Donald Sommerville. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Wars I & II. London, Anness Publishing Ltd., 2019.Willmott, H. P. World War I. 345 Hudson St. New York, New York 10014, DK Publishing, 2009 Music - John McCormack - Somewhere A Voice Is Calling (1914) and Unicorn Head - Keys to the Apocalypse