Research and Partner Articles

100th Anniversary of the "TANK"

August 31, 2016

100 years ago, military tanks were developed separately and simultaneously by two allied nations: Great Britain and France. Both nations were looking for a way to break the deadlock of trench warfare. Great Britain was first to deploy the Mk.I Tank in combat on September 15th, 1916 during the battle of the Somme.

French tank development started a bit later, eventually creating the Renault FT-17 Light Tank. This tank entered service in the later part of WWI, but became known as the "World's First Modern Tank", while also becoming the first tank with a rotating turret.

The United States began production of a light tank using the design of the French Renault, but no U.S. built tank saw combat during WWI.  The development of these two tanks changed the world as we know it today - as the tank is still with us and is more powerful and useful than ever before.


Today the American Armoured Foundation Tank Museum is proud and honored to exhibit one of the first American built tanks.  Make sure to plan your visit to the museum to wish a Happy 100th Anniversary to our M1917 6-Ton Special WWI Tank.

     - N. Gasser, AAF Tank Museum, Danville VA

The Importance of a German Mortar, its Ties to the VA National Guard, and the End of WWI

July 09, 2016

The recovery of the WWI German Mortar on 7 July 2016 by Virginia National Guard soldiers assigned to the Combined Surface Maintenance Shops at Bellwood, Virginia is significant as we are now in the middle of the WWI Centennial ceremonies and celebrations. The Virginia National Guard recently celebrated the 100th Anniversary of its deployment to the Mexican border as part of the campaign against Pancho Villa and unveiled, in cooperation with the Virginia War Memorial, an exhibit describing that campaign. Somewhat ironically, today Virginia Guardsmen are training at Fort Bliss, Texas, in preparation for another deployment to Southwest Asia.

In April 2017 we will celebrate and honor the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into WWI. In August 2017 we will also recognize the birth and organization of the 29th Division at Camp McClellan. The Virginia National Guard served in the 29th Division in WWI and played an important role in the Meuse-Argonne campaign that brought the war to an end. Over 5,700 soldiers of the 29th Division were killed or wounded in the Meuse-Argonne fighting.

In gratitude for the US’s role in WWI, the Republic of France sent some of the captured German equipment to the US Government and the US Army to serve as permanent symbols of the shared victory. This 'minenwerfer' heavy mortar was one of the cannons that were presented to the US Army and the Virginia National Guard.  It was on display in front of the Petersburg National Guard Armory from the 1920s to the early 1960s.  When the Armory was partially demolished and the site turned over to a Petersburg business, the mortar was carried away and lost for many years.

Thanks to great cooperation between the law firm of White and McCarthy, the auction house of Tranzon Fox, The US Army Center of Military History, and the soldiers of the Virginia National Guard we were able to return this historic symbol to its rightful place of honor. After refurbishment the mortar will go on display at the Virginia National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters and will serve as a perpetual reminder of the sacrifices made by all Virginians in WWI.

     - A. F. Barnes, CW-4 (ret) VaARNG, VANG Command Historian

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Additional Research

"Virginia & The War to End all Wars" is a PowerPoint presentation based off of a lecture series originally taught by Brigadier General John W. Mountcastle at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, VA in 2009. Filled with excellent visuals and instruction on Virginia's role in WWI, this presentation is a great way to learn more about the Commonwealth's involvement in the conflict.


This presentation is courtesy of Brigadier General John W. Mountcastle, USA (Ret.), March 2017.

"American Casualties and Honored Dead in World War I" gives a listing of the American Casualties of WWI, broken down by battle, as well as comparisons to other countries statistics. The document also lists the American Honored Dead and the locations of the European cemeteries they are interred/memorialized in.


This article is courtesy of Brigadier General John W. Mountcastle, USA (Ret.), and the American Battle Monuments Commission, March 2017.

"Borrowing from the Enemy" reflects some of the incredible shipyard work done in Norfolk, Virginia during WWI. 


This article is courtesy of the National Defense Transportation Association Journal, March 2016.

"Virginia Women and the First World War" highlights some of the stories of women in World War I as recorded at the Library of Virginia in downtown Richmond.


This article is courtesy of the Library of Virginia, July 2002.

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