Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Remembering the Birds of The Great War...

While our collection focus is primarily on Western North Carolina and Appalachia, UNC Asheville's Special Collections also contains a number of collections of materials documenting World War I. Our student worker Cassie Crowe has been working on the Roland Sargent Collection, which includes several hundred copies of the rare Cross and Cockade Journal. Cassie became interested in the history of the journal and its various name changes, so we asked her to write a blog post about it.

Remembering the Birds of The Great War

By Cassie Crowe

In the fall of 1959 The Society of World War I Aero Historians was formed at the home of Hugh Wynne in California among several other WWI aviation enthusiasts. Their goal was to create a non-profit, scholarly society of enthusiasts and historians for the purpose of preserving the history of WWI military aviation from both sides of the battle lines and providing this information to anyone with a strong interest in the subject. In the spring of the following year, 1960, the first issue of Cross and Cockade Journal was published.

Cover of first issue - Vol. 1,  No. 1

 Members of the society were encouraged to form meetings and to seek out aviation survivors of the war, from known pilots to gunners to mechanics, in order to take down their stories that would otherwise go unknown. Stories on known and unknown service members alike were printed. The journal printed photos of the pilots and their planes in flight and on the ground, though not always in one piece, as well as technical diagrams of the planes and histories of their design and service in the war, complete with where they were stationed and their insignias and even their varying color schemes.

Members of Escadrille Lafayette and their mascots “Whiskey” the lion cub and “Soda” the dog, stationed at Chaudun, France in July 1917:
From C&C Journal Volume 2 Issue 1 pg 49

Technical diagram for the German seaplane Gotha UWD “Ursinus” 1916: From C&C Journal Volume 1 Issue 4 pg. 54-55

In the 1960's the society jumped the pond to England and formed the Great Britain branch which then started printing Cross & Cockade Great Britain in 1970, following the same goal and format as its American predecessor. In 1985, however, the U.S. society began to fold along with their U.S. journal, the last publication being in the summer 1985. As a result the British journal became Cross & Cockade International in 1986 and is still in production today under the same name. 

Left: Cover of C&C Journal Great Britain Vol. 2 No 1 (the earliest GB issue in collection)    Right: Cover of first C&C Journal International Vol. 17 No. 2
The U.S. branch did not stay down for long though. In 1985 Texas, George Williams, a member of Cross & Cockade editorial staff, came up with the idea to reform the branch into The League of WWI Aviation Historians and soon began printing the league’s current magazine, "Over the Front", with a similar format as its predecessor. It has become another well respected scholarly journal on the subject of WWI aviation. 

Left: Cover of the first issue of Over the Front published in 1986 showing German observer Hanns-Gerd Rabe, and his pilot and mechanic.
Right Top: The Pyramids of Giza taken during flight of German pilot Ltn. Schultheib and observer Obltn. Falke; From: OTF Vol 13 No 1 Inside front cover
Right Bottom: Doctored image of German plane flying over pyramids used for propaganda. From: OTF Vol 13 No 1 Inside front cover
The collection was donated by Roland Sargent who was a B-17 pilot in WWII. The collection also includes RAF/RNAS combat reports, flight logs, victory lists and communiques and aviation books collected by Sargent. The Roland Sargent Collection is available in Special Collections (at this link), and includes the Cross & Cockade and its associated publications.

Special thanks to Andy Kemp, Webmaster of, home of C&C Journal International for his information on the history of Cross and Cockade.
- Cassie Crowe
Interested in more materials related to World War I? Check out these collections:
  • Robert J. Godbey Collection - Godbey was a clerk for the American Expeditionary Force in France from 1918-19. He kept extensive diaries of his experiences. 
  • Otis J. Clontz Collection - Contains postcards, photographs, and memorabilia from WWI. 
  • Henry Martin Knauth Photograph Collection - A collection of two-hundred-eighty-four photographs taken by Henry Martin Knauth during his tour of duty in Europe in the First World War as a quartermaster for the American Army. 
  • Ernest and Magnolia Thompson McKissick Oral History - McKissick discusses his experiences in the army during WWI.  
  • Massie Collection of Jesse Morris Photographs - Documents the Oteen Hospital during WWI. 
  • Irwin Monk Papers - Monk served in the 30th Division (The "Old Hickory" Division) in WWI. Includes maps of the war front, journals, Signal Corps manuals, wartime correspondence, and extensive documentation of his activities with veterans groups after the war.  
  • Black Highlanders in World War I - a brief account of Asheville area African Americans who served in WWI
  • The Howard H. Peckham Collection - Contains over 100 first person accounts of individuals in WWI. These books are shelved in Special Collections.

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