Lauren Love is an intern working in Special Collections
July 28th marked the 100th year since the start of WWI. Selected items from the war years held at the UNCW Randall Library Special Collections will be highlighted in this blog post. For information about additional collections and books relating to WWI please browse the Special Collections and UNCW Archives website.
A banker in peace times, Harmon C. Rorison grew up in Wilmington and was a veteran of WWI, the Russian-Polish war, and WWII. This collection (MS 17) includes riveting correspondence sent home by Rorison while he was in the Kosciuszko Squadron fighting against the Bolshiviks. Below is a scanned image of a newspaper from the day WWI officially ended.
The Wilmington Dispatch Front Page - November 11, 1918
Compiled by Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and Grantland Rice this work includes a small amount of illustrations by Captain John Thomason. Taps is part of our rare book collection and is in excellent condition. The poems within are written by mothers, lovers, soldiers and fathers; they shed light on the emotional state of the various peoples touched by WWI.
Soldiers are citizens of death's gray land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.
No Man's Land
No Man's Land is an eerie sight
At early dawn in the pale gray light.
Never a house and never a hedge
In No Man's Land from edge to edge,
And never a living soul walks there
To taste the fresh of the morning air;-
Only some lumps of rotting clay,
That were friends or foemen yesterday.
What are the bounds of No Man's Land?
You can see them clearly on either hand,
A mount of rag-b ags gray in the sun,
Or a furrow of brown where the earthworks run
From the eastern hills to the western sea
Through field or forest o'er river and lea;
No man may pass them, but aim you well
And Death rides across on the bullet or shell
But No Man's Land is a goblin sight
When Patrols crawl over at dead o'night;
Boche or British, Belgian or French,
You dice with Death when you cross the trench.
When the "rapid," like fireflies in the dark,
Flits down the parapet spark by spark,
And you drop for cover to keep your head
With your face on the breast of the four months' dead.
The man who ranges in No Man's Land
Is dogged by the shadows on either hand
When the star-shell's flare, as it bursts o'erhead,
Scares the gray rats that feed on the dead,
And the bursting bomb or the bayonet-snatch
May answer the click of your safety-catch,
For the lone patrol, with the life in his hand,
Is hunting for blood in No Man's Land.
James H. Knight-Adkin
For any student or researcher interested in WWI, the correspondence of Sidney G. MacMillan are a worthy investigation. His letters detail the daily life of an American soldier during the last years of the war and are very detailed and beautifully written. Included in the collection are five postcards from France, two of which are shown below.
A story of fiction filled with the rhetoric of war and patriotism, this book was written by Henry Irving Dodge and published in 1918.
A collection of first hand accounts from African American soldiers during the war written in the vernacular of those telling the stories. Some of the accounts are humorous while others shed light on what the war years were like for some of America's non-white population.
- Dodge, Henry Irving. The Yellow Dog. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1918. Print.
- Harmon C. Rorison Private Papers, 1903-1976. Special Collections and Archives, Randall Library, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
- MacIntyre, William Irwin. Colored Soldiers. Macon: The J.W. Burke Company, 1923. Print.
- Roosevelt Jr., Theodore, and Grantland Rice. TAPS: Selected Poems of the Great War. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company Inc., 1932. Print.
- Sidney Gardner MacMillan Private Papers, 1918-1919. Special Collections and Archives, Randall Library, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.