Letter carrier in New York City, New York, wearing mask for protection against influenza. 10/16/1918     

File Unit: Medical Department - Influenza Epidemic 1918, 1917 - 1918Series: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917 - 1918Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

The influenza epidemic of 1918 first emerged without warning in late spring of 1918, and was known as the “three-day fever.” Few deaths were reported and victims recovered after a few days. When the disease surfaced again that fall, it was far more severe. One fifth of the world’s population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.

Emperor Charles Issues Hasty Federal Reform Plan for Austria

The People’s Manifesto; the title states “To my faithful Austrian people!”

October 16 1918, Vienna–Like Germany, Austria had appealed for an armistice on the basis of the Fourteen Points.  This included “autonomous development” for Austria-Hungary’s subject peoples, and Emperor Charles wanted to make sure that this did not mean full independence for those peoples a complete breakup of his empire.  In an effort to get ahead of Wilson, who had not yet replied to the Austrian note, on October 16 Emperor Charles issued what its supporters would term the “People’s Manifesto,” calling for drastic reforms in the Austrian half of the empire.  Austria would be reorganized on a federal basis, with the German, Czech, Ukrainian, and Southern Slav portions establishing their own state governments.  Trieste would receive a special status. The Poles, who by this point were no longer loyal to the Habsburgs, would be permitted to join the independent Polish state to be formed out of conquered Russian territories.

In practice, the manifesto was a spectacular failure of judgment that only hasted the downfall of the empire.  The Czechs and Southern Slavs had already told the Emperor they would reject it.  Hungary, which wanted to maintain its control over its subject peoples in Slovakia, Transylvania, and Croatia, threatened to cut off food shipments to Austria if it were included, and even announced that it no longer considered itself bound by the 1867 Augsleich that formed Austria-Hungary.  Hungary’s exclusion from the manifesto meant that Croatia could not be fully included in the new South Slav state, nor Slovakia in the Czech one.  The manifesto thus only angered their leaders more, emboldened calls for independence, and exposed Emperor Charles’ weakness.

Today in 1917: Wilson Approves Text of Balfour Declaration
Today in 1916: First Birth Control Clinic Opens in US
Today in 1915: Britain Offers Cyprus to Greece
Today in 1914: Battle of the Yser Begins: Germans Attack Dixmude

Sources include: Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel.

Why Do People Put Locks On Bridges To Declare Their Love?

The first “love locks” bridge was not in Paris, which has the most famous example, but in Serbia! Specifically in a town called Vrnjačka Banja. Shortly before the World War I, a young man and woman fell in love in Vrnjačka Banja. They would meet every night at the Most Ljubavi bridge. But the man went into the military, and while abroad, he met and fell in love with someone else. The young woman died of heartbreak, or so the story goes. Superstitious local women began going to the bridge, writing the names of themselves and their lovers on padlocks, and locking them to the bridge, in the hope that it would bind their paramours to home.

The tradition was slowly forgotten after World War I. Until a Serbian poet, Desanka Maksimović, heard the story and wrote a poem about it. The tradition was revived but only in Vrnjačka Banja.

So how did love lock bridges become a worldwide phenomenon? It probably comes from a single Italian writer named Federico Moccia. He wrote a book, published in 2006, called I Want You. It featured a couple who put a love lock on a lamp post on Rome’s 2100-year-old Ponte Milvio bridge. The book took off, and a movie was made, and the rest as they say is history!


This nasty looking weapon is described in the original IWM accession register of 1917 as a ‘Casse Boche’ with the suggestion that it was used by the French in the 2nd Battle of Champagne in 1917. It is constructed from a naturally gnarled piece of wood, weighted with lead and fitted with iron spikes. It is too long to make an effective club if the leather hand grip is held. It may well be that it was intended primarily as an officer’s walking stick.

Holy shit.


“When I was a girl… I imagined that life was individual, one’s own affair; that the events happening in the world outside were important enough in their own way, but were personally quite irrelevant. Now, like the rest of my generation, I have had to learn again and again the terrible truth… that no life is really private, or isolated, or self-sufficient. People’s lives were entirely their own, perhaps ―and more justifiably― when the world seemed enormous, and all its comings and goings were slow and deliberate. But this is so no longer, and never will be again, since man’s inventions have eliminated so much of distance and time; for better, for worse, we are now each of us part of the surge and swell of great economic and political movements, and whatever we do, as individuals or as nations, deeply affects everyone else.”

Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth.


Originally a standard 2nd pattern S98/05 bayonet with sawback blade, the single-edged swell point blade has been curved right round to form a crude sickle or pruning hook.

The text on the accompanying plaque explains the history of the piece:
“…..And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks…..Isaiah. Chapter II, verse 4. This German bayonet, used in Palestine during the Great War, was beaten into a pruning hook by villagers near the banks of the river Jordan, and was found in use by the High Commissioner for Palestine near the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus Christ.”