Daily Archives: March 6, 2009

Documentary tells story of Model T in WWI

A new historical documentary “Model T’s to War,” which I briefly assisted with, premiered last night on the public television station WGBY channel 57.

The film, produced by Edward and Libby Klekowski and Elizabeth Wilda, narrates the history of Model T ambulances and their American drivers in World War I France.

Klekowski, a retired University of Massachusetts biology professor, and his wife, Libby, were visiting their daughter in Belgium near the Argonne forest when they were inspired by this story. Klekowski said in a WGBY interview that people could take tours in the Argonne’s battlefield just like people would go on tours of historic places like Old Deerfield in Massachusetts.

The Argonne forest, terrain now overgrown and still littered with unexploded weaponry, was a major battlefield during WWI, which the three producers traveled to and filmed. About exploring the fields, Klekowski said, “You’ll find they’re just full of artifacts.”

Assembled with modern video footage of the Argonne forest, is stock footage and photographs taken by soldiers and ambulance drivers.

“Model T’s to War” describes how the American Field Service was created, how the wounded were taken to dressing stations and then to hospitals via the Model T.

According to an article by the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Phoebe Mitchell, Klekowski said Model T ambulances made it possible to rescue the battlefield’s injured, as negotiating the rough terrain was something French vehicles couldn’t do.

Some tidbits the film revealed was the actual radiators of the Model T were used to heat water. Drivers and troops could make hot drinks and bathe using the heated water generated by the radiators. Photographs were even developed using the water and headlights of the vehicle.

In the WGBY interview Klekowski said of the French museums and people encountered while filming the documentary, “They really wanted us to tell this story to American people.”

Fore more information visit:

The Amherst Bulletin

The UMass Amherst Office of News & Information

UMass Arts & Events calendar


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