I found the book to be more about scientists and inventors behind the Great War frontlines than the subtitle: “The Spies, Scientists, and Code BreakerI found the book to be more about scientists and inventors behind the Great War frontlines than the subtitle: “The Spies, Scientists, and Code Breakers of World War I”. Furthermore much of the British author’s book pertained to British secret warriors. Still, for someone who enjoys WWI research I appreciated the information. ...more
Brig. Gen. William Harllee USMC was an “Old Breed” career Marine. The biography written by his son John, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, gives tBrig. Gen. William Harllee USMC was an “Old Breed” career Marine. The biography written by his son John, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, gives tribute to his father’s legacy. William “Bo” Harllee born June 13, 1877 followed his southern heritage with deep roots of military service charting his own successful career as a true pioneer.
Early on his gifted intellect became his weakness as he often had idle time on his hands to live life on the edge and question rules and regulations. His goal to become a military officer was derailed several times. The colorful character expelled from the Citadel, attended UNC Chapel Hill and then headed to West Point. In his era Harllee commanded his own presence and at 6’ 197 lbs. he became a guard on the football team. Although he placed 2nd in his class during first exams he eventually was expelled from the academy on accumulated demerits.
He studied and took a Marine Corps officer entrance exam placing 1st in his class prompting Harllee to officially became a commissioned 2nd lieutenant on February 17, 1900. In the following years Harllee would be noted with many additional accolades.
Harllee had many interests and following U.S. Army General Leonard Wood, he became the 2nd member of the armed services to become a member (associate) of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The National Rifle Association held annual national rifle competition open to the general public and official organizations. Harllee’s strong belief was that members of military should be trained to shoot accurately and compete at the highest level for honors. The top Marine Corps rifle classification is “expert” followed by “sharpshooter” and “marksman”. Using his analytical approach Harllee became the 1st expert shooter in Marine Corps history. He was then designated to construct rifle ranges for training facilities and become the head instructor. In 1910 Harllee became director of the NRA and in following year’s first vice president.
When America entered World War I on April 6, 1917 Harllee and a U.S. Navy captain walked past the White House. Harllee had a sense that the sentries guarding President Wilson could not shoot properly. Upon interrogation it was revealed that they had in fact never fired a rifle. As one sentry explained “The corporal, he loads ‘em for us every morning when we go on duty. But he locks ‘em, and he orders us not to fool with the lock”. To his credit Harllee personally trained over 500,000 individuals including Marines, U.S. Army personnel and civilians designated for WWI duty. Only Marines ranked “marksman” or higher were sent to France. The year following Armistice, Leatherneck Magazine” stated: “It is generally admitted that to Colonel Harllee more than any other individual is due the wonderful marksmanship which made the Marines famous on the battlefields of France”.
As a Marine he served honorably routing guerrillas in the Philippines, Santa Domingo and other islands. Yet Harllee was a true pacifist at heart often believing the cause was not in the best interest of America or related to our national defense.
Following WWI Major General Lejeune chose to form an educational military school at Quantico. On December 20, 1919 the future Marine Corps Institute was formed with Smedley Butler as Chief of Staff of Vocational Training and Harllee as Assistant Chief of Staff. An interesting side note is that there was no course in philosophy. Butler, who received the Medal of Honor twice, was like Harllee a pacifist and years later authored the antiwar classic “War is a Racket”.
Following retirement Harllee was free to openly share his viewpoints. As a democrat he chose to run in 1936 for the U.S. Senate seat from South Carolina against democrat incumbent Senator James Byrnes. Although a democrat Harllee was totally at odds with President Roosevelt’s New Deal, as he felt the program severely added to America’s national debt. His tough stance did not achieve victory.
Harllee is buried in Arlington National Cemetery not far from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I wish I had come across this book as a reference while I was writing my own biography of Major George W. Hamilton a known “Giant of the Corps”. As an expert rifleman in NRA matches Hamilton’s career intertwined with Harllee on several occasions. This biography published in 1984 by the NRA could have profited if it had listed an index. ...more
First, I list a bit of background. I come across World War I literature through various means and avenues. My interest is just as much with WWI as itFirst, I list a bit of background. I come across World War I literature through various means and avenues. My interest is just as much with WWI as it is with the era of American society, my grandparent’s generation. At times I locate books through intense research, while on other occasions a book just simply surfaces. It was by this latter means that I stumbled upon “Zigzagging” by Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson.
Years ago a friend and former neighbor served on the Board of Trustees for the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts, known for the oldest car collection in America. http://larzanderson.org/ I was intrigued as to how Larz and his wife Isabel acquired such wealth to build the historic museum. Both came from affluent families and in fact Isabel, born 1876, inherited 17 million dollars at age 5 making her apparently the wealthiest woman in America.
Isabel Anderson was also an author and in the prime of her life at age of 41 she gave back to society by volunteering for active overseas Red Cross duty during the First World War. Her book “Zigzagging”, published in 1918, is a full memoir of her days assisting others. I found her writing style true to her heart as noted by the first sentence of her Preface: “Few people read prefaces nowadays , I know, but I am old fashioned and one of the few who like to know in a word what I am to expect in a book.”
During her tour duty service (fall 1917 – May 1918) she witnessed the ravage and horrors of war. Due to her status she briefly served in an operating room alongside the Queen of Belgium and dined with General Pershing, but most of all she preformed the traditional assistance as a war nurse with basic pride. Wearing her nurse uniform Anderson followed the roads around barbwire trenches towards the sound of guns with simple baggage and a gas mask slung over her shoulder. German planes were constantly flying over her canteen or hospital ward followed by antiaircraft fire and throughout it all she was compassionate attending the severely wounded. From a 6 bed medical building 2 miles from the front lines to a 500 bed hospital further back her atmosphere was full of morphine and the smell of ether followed by many amputations. Anderson mentioned, as I recorded in my own in my own book that the Red Cross handed out cigarettes to the soldiers. How times have changed.
Anderson was far removed from her comfortable lifestyle in Massachusetts, but her strength was every bit her inner sole. Her Great War memoir is a quick read hidden gem from the past and a testament to how a vicious war touches all levels of society. All profits from her book went to the Red Cross. ...more