By: Patrick Adcock, JD and W.S. Hoole Library Archival Technician
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the armistice between the Allied powers and Germany went into effect ending the combat operations of World War I. Thereafter, November 11 was designated as a day of remembrance to honor all of those who had served in WWI. After the end of World War II, Armistice Day in the United States became Veterans Day to celebrate all those who have and continue to serve in our nation’s armed forces.
One of the many University of Alabama graduates that served in our armed forces was Walter B. Jones. Jones was an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers in both World Wars. During World War I, he served in France. Jones also served in the Pacific theatre during the Second World War. The Special Collections library recently received a donation from the Jones family that included the military equipment and uniforms that Walter B. Jones used during both wars.
The items from World War I include a small French flag, a rare Imperial German saw back bayonet, and one of his uniforms. The small French flag is faded and very delicate, but it is a nice example of the type of flags that you see in the newsreels and photographs of the French citizens celebrating after the announcement of the armistice.
The bayonet was made by V.C. Schilling for the Imperial German army. This type of bayonet was generally used by machine gun crews because the saw back helped them clear brush while setting up their positions.
The uniform is a typical example of a World War I American uniform and it is in good condition for being over 90 years old. These items, along with the others in the collection, help to bring the history alive in ways that just looking at records cannot do.
Through this collection and many others in the Special Collections Library we can get an understanding of the sacrifice our veterans made to preserve our freedom and help liberate many nations around the world. On this day we would like to thank all of those who have served in our armed forces.
[Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more about Walter B. Jones, please visit the following sites: UA Museum to host Symposium and Exhibit on the Work and Life of Walter B. Jones, Walter B. Jones in the Encyclopedia of Alabama, and Walter B. Jones in Alabama Heritage. You might even want to apply for the the Walter B. Jones Memorial Scholarship!
If you are interested in viewing more World War I-era collections at the W.S. Hoole Library, please consider inquiring about the papers of Janie Mary Eppes, the Walker-Reese family, or Kenneth Allison Roberts. World War I-era photographs can be found in Hoole’s World War I collection or in the Wade Hall photographs collection. The J. Alfred Swatkins collection may also be of interest, as it consists of World War I-era sketchbooks.]