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23 December

 
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Mark



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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2005 9:10    Onderwerp: 23 December Reageer met quote

23 december 1914

Christmas Truce

A German soldier, Karl Aldag, reports that both sides had been heard singing hymns in the trenches. German troops coming into the lines bring Christmas trees. Some men begin to place them on the parapets of the fire trenches. Local truce on the front of 23rd Brigade.

Bron: The long, long trail
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2005 9:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

23 december 1916

Sir Douglas Haig's 2nd Despatch (Somme)

Op 23 december 1916 publiceeerde Haig zijn verslag over de strijd aan de Somme.

Quote:
The despatch (Haig's second as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in France and Flanders) encompasses the Somme Offensive of July-November 1916, in which Allied - predominantly British - forces ultimately succeeded in throwing back the German Army on the Somme, although at great cost in casualties and without attaining the breakthrough Haig especially sought.


De volledige tekst staat op First World War.com.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2005 9:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

23 december 1916

Bron: De Eerste Wereldoorlog 1914 - 1918

No. 21.
Oorspronkelijk kerstverhaal door Eline van Stuwe


In de voormalige danszaal van de oude Fransche patriciërswoning, waar eertijds over het spiegelgladde parket schoone vrouwen door wereldsche mannen ten dans waren geleid, stonden nu, geschaard langs de hooge, met eikenhout beschoten wanden, stil en ernstig de vele ziekbedden van de Engelsche ambulance.
De reusachtige kristallen lichtkronen, die vroeger met hun hellen schijn zoo menig vroolijk feest hadden bestraald, waren nu met hoezen omwikkeld, het zware damast voor de breede vensters was door wit linnen gordijnen vervangen en over het gladde parket waren grijs vilten kleeden gespreid, om de voetstappen te dempen. Geen frivole vleierijtjes, geen klaterende lachjes werden meer gehoord, de prikkelende geur van lysol had het zoet aroom der parfums doen vervluchtigen en schier verbijsterend deed in deze omgeving van ernst en wee de weidsche kracht der oude familie-portretten, die men aan de wanden had laten hangen.

Het bleeke licht van den laten winterdag verzwond in het duister van den avond. Zuster Elisabeth schoof geruischloos de gordijnen toe en deed bij de zwaarste zieken de groen omkapte electrische lichtjes aangloeien. Onhoorbaar op haar zachte pantoffeltjes met het nauwelijks ruischen van hare kleederen deed zij haar rondgang door de zaal.
Zij bleef niet, zooals anders haar gewoonte was, bij ieder ziekbed even staan, om bemoedigend te glimlachen, een vriendelijk woord te prevelen, of haar koele hand kalmeerend neer te leggen op een hoofd, dat geen rust kon vinden.
Zij zag de gewonden niet, de wanden van de ziekenzaal waren weggevallen, Frankrijk was in 't niet verzonken en voor haar wijd geopende oogen doemde het vriendelijke Engelsche "home" op, waarin het met Kerstmis altijd zoo vreugdig was. Het lachen der vele gasten, het klinken der champagnekelken tegen elkaar drongen in hare ooren, de brandende plumpudding met den bloeienden hulsttak ging de tafel rond en in een nevenzaal zag zij het twinkelen der lichtjes aan den Kerstboom.

Opeens bleef Zuster Elisabeth midden in de zaal staan, haar adem stokte en haar hand tastte onzeker naar een stoel, waaraan zij zich kon vastgrijpen.
Wat was er overgebleven van dit alles?
Een week na haar huwelijk, dat door den oorlog werd bespoedigd, was zij haar man naar Frankrijk gevolgd, omdat zij niet minder dan hij voor het vaderland werkzaam wilde zijn. Hij was gevallen aan de Somme en zij had hem niet weergezien. Haar oudste broer was als krijgsgevangene naar Duitschland gevoerd en de jongste, de lieveling van het heele gezin, de levenslustigste van allen, was blind geschoten en naar een instituut gebracht, om weer bruikbaar te worden gemaakt voor het dagelijksche leven. En nog altijd ging het menschenmoorden door, nog altijd . . . .
Zuster Elisabeth zonk neer bij de groote middentafel en klemde krampachtig het hoofd in de handen. Wanneer zou er aan al dien jammer een einde komen . . . wanneer?

Het binnentreden van een ziekenoppasser deed haar opschrikken. De man plaatste op de tafel een groote kom met in stukjes geslagen ijs en verdween weer even haastig als hij was binnengekomen. Door de open deur viel het helle lichtschijnsel van den corridor de half duistere zaal in. Zuster Elisabeth hoorde de andere verpleegsters, die de laatste hand legden aan 't versieren der Kerstboomen, praten en lachen en zij was zeer dankbaar, dat men haar niet gedwongen had mede te doen en haar rustig bij de zieken gelaten had. Onder de luchthartige zusters voelde Elisabeth zich niet thuis, zij deden haar dikwijls pijn met hun vroolijkheid, en hun scherts griefde haar. Maar de zieken stelden haar nooit te leur, hun aanhankelijkheid gaf haar moed en de gestadige zorg voor hun welzijn beurde haar op uit haar eigen neerdrukkend verdriet.

Aan het einde van de zaal hoorde zij plots het zwakke kreunen van een gewonde. Zuster Elisabeth herkende onmiddellijk de stem van No. 21, zij wischte zich snel de oogen droog en haastte zich naar het ziekbed. Het pijnlijke kreunen verstomde, toen zij zich over den lijder heen boog. Met vlinderlichte hand sloeg zij het dek op en verwijderde den ijszak, die door de koortshitte van den gewonde in haar koele handen aanvoelde als een in kokend water gedoopten lap. Zuster Elisabeth schudde het hoofd. Hoop was er voor dezen ongelukkige alleen, als de koorts weg bleef en sinds vanmorgen was de temperatuur steeds stijgende en dat niettegenstaande zijn wond, een schot door de linkerlong, alle kans bood op herstel.
"Geestelijk lijden houdt bij hem het lichamelijk herstel tegen," had de dokter haar herhaaldelijk toegevoegd, "zie uit te vinden wat den jongen hindert." Maar No.21 was zoo gesloten als een boek met zeven zegels, niemand gunde hij zijn vertrouwen, niemand had nog ooit een woord van toenadering van hem gehoord, zelfs Elisabeth niet, ofschoon hij aan haar zichtbaar de voorkeur gaf boven de andere zusters.

Toen zij den versch gevulden zak weer zorgzaam op de pijnlijke zijde had gelegd, zóó dat de zieke door geen onachtzaam gebaar werd geschaad, liet zij even de hand op zijn schouder rusten en fluisterde overredend: "Tracht nu eens ernstig wat te slapen, beste jongen, anders ben je straks, als wij Kerstmis vieren, niets waard."
" 't Is nu geen tijd, om feest te vieren," prevelde de gewonde driftig; toen haar arm grijpend met zijn vrije hand vroeg hij zacht: "Waarom heb je daar straks gehuild?"
Zuster Elisabeth glimlachte; hoe was het mogelijk, dat hij haar hier had hooren schreien, terwijl zij neerzat aan het andere einde van de zaal?
"Ik . . ." stamelde zij verlegen, "ik .. . ach, ik huilde . . . Deze dag is ook zoo vol herinneringen."
"Juist," stemde de zieke toe, "juist, en daarom moet hij ook niet vroolijk worden gevierd. Als ze straks de Kerstboomen binnen brengen, dan moet je mijn bed naar den muur schuiven en de dekens over mijn ooren halen, ik wil niets hooren en niets zien."
"Is dat wel aardig voor de anderen?" vroeg Elisabeth licht bestraffend. "Ze hebben er zich allemaal zoo op verheugd."
"Wel mogelijk." No. 21 wuifde afwerend met de hand. "Laat ze feest vieren voor mijn part, als ze daar plezier in hebben, ik ben er niet toe gestemd, niemand kan me dat kwalijk nemen, ik wil 't niet."
De met moeite uitgestooten laatste woorden verontrustten Elisabeth.
"Goed, goed," zeide zij kalmeerend, "ieder is hierin vrij, om te doen, wat of hij zelf wil. Stil maar."

Zij zag het hooggekleurde gezicht van den zieke in de kussens terugzinken, zijn adem ging hortend en snel en zij vroeg zich af, hoe zij aan zijn wensch gehoor zou kunnen geven, zonder de andere gewonden te kwetsen. Brave jongens waren het allemaal; gehoorzaam en rustig hielden zij zich in het vooruitzicht op het naderende feestje, hoe storend moest het naar den muur gekeerde bed van No.21 werken op hun genoegen, dat mocht niet.

Toen de Directrice binnentrad, en naar ’t verloop van den middag vroeg, wees Zuster Elisabeth haar op de onrustbarende temperatuurstijging van No.21, vanmorgen 39.5, nu al 40.8; was het niet raadzaam hem met ’t oog op den drukken avond van de anderen te isoleeren? Boven was nog een kamer met een bed vrij, daar zou hij rustig liggen en niet gestoord worden.
De Directrice knikte goedkeurend met 't hoofd, maar dan moest de patiënt dadelijk worden overgebracht, de oppassers stonden klaar om de boomen rond te brengen in de verschillende zalen, er mocht niet langer worden gewacht.

Zuster Elisabeth wenkte een ziekenoppasser, bestelde een brancard en liep toen haastig op 't bed van No.21 toe. "Je moogt boven liggen op een kamer alleen, we zullen je er dadelijk heen brengen," fluisterde zij in zijn oor.
"Ik dank je," zuchtte de zieke zonder veel blijken van instemming, maar toen men hem droeg over den hel verlichten corridor, langs de versierde Kerstboomen met hun frisschen dennengeur en de vele flikkerende waskaarsjes, wendde hij wrevelig het hoofd om. In de bovenkamer leunde hij uitgeput en hijgend van vermoeienis in de kussens terug.
"Zal je nu kalm zijn, niet praten, je niet opwinden?" smeekte Elisabeth, toen de oppassers het vertrek verlaten hadden.
"Kalm zijn? Waarom zou ik kalm zijn," bracht de zieke er hortend uit. "Wat zou dat voor nut hebben om kalm te wezen, ik wensch niet meer beter te worden, Zuster."
"Kom, kom," suste Elisaheth, "dat zijn praatjes, die ik niet wil aanhooren, ze verlangen allemaal om beter te worden, waarom jij dan niet?"
No.21 haalde schamper de schouders op. "Komt er niet op aan, waarom niet," gromde hij binnensmonds.

Zuster Elisabeth zweeg, het kwam wel meer voor, dat de patiënten moedeloos werden en naar het einde verlangden, het was het best daar niet op te antwoorden, met de beterschap kwam ook weer 't verlangen om te leven.

Op het punt de kamer te verlaten, greep de zieke haar aan haar kleeren vast en dwong haar
naar hem te luisteren. "Ga kijken, of er ook brieven onder den Kerstboom liggen, en als er een is voor mij, breng hem dan hier, gauw, gauw, hoor je. - Als er geen is, kun je wegblijven, of neen, kom in elk geval terug, óók als er géén is, dan weet ik, dat ik niet meer hoef te wachten."

Zuster Elisabeth schoof de deur uit. Dat was het dus, wat hem hinderde. Een brief, waarop hij wachtte, een brief, die niet kwam. Beneden was het feest in vollen gang, luidruchtig praten en lachen klonk door tot den corridor. Elisabeth aarzelde, om de zalen binnen te gaan. Wat moest zij doen, als er géén brief was voor den armen jongen boven?

De meeste zieken met kussens in den rug gesteund zaten op in bed en maakten grapjes met de zusters, die de geschenkjes aandroegen en de linten en de pakjes los knoopten.
"Waren er ook brieven? Misschien een brief of een pakje voor John Lavery?" vroeg Elisabeth aan de Directrice, de hoofdverpleegster, de zusters en de oppassers, aan ieder, die ze tegen kwam. "O ja, er zijn veel brieven voor de patiënten gekomen, maar voor John Lavery was er geen." Opeens voelde Elisabeth, hoe vermoeid zij was na dezen langen, zwaren dag. Zij kampte met de begeerte stil beneden te blijven en aan een ander het brengen van de teleurstelling op te dragen, maar de diepe weemoed, die in de vraag van den zieke had door geklonken, dreef haar voort.

No.21 lag met het hoofd naar de deur gewend, toen zij binnen trad en nog vóór zij een woord had uitgebracht, deed hij met een kort, bitter lachje hooren: "Ik wist 't wel, er is er geen."
"Maar van wien moest die brief dan wezen? Zeg 't me, misschien kan ik je helpen," bemoedigde Elisabeth, doch de zieke stootte wild haar hand van zich weg, alsof haar aanraking hem hinderde en begroef het hoofd in de kussens.
Wanhopig wendde Elisabeth zich af en liep naar de tafel, om een kalmeerend middel te halen, maar onmiddellijk keerde zij op haar schreden terug, hevig verschrikt door het woeste snikken, dat de kussens niet vermochten te smoren.
"Houd op, houd dadelijk op, je weet niet, hoe nadeelig zoo 'n opwinding voor je is," beval zij streng. "John Lavery, ben jij 'n man, om je zoo aan je droefheid over te geven? Schaam je, er is medicijn voor elk verdriet; houd op John Lavery of ik zal den dokter moeten roepen, om
je te dwingen stil te zijn."

Haar woorden gingen verloren in den storm van leed en reeds tastte haar hand naar de electrische schel om hulp te roepen, toen de heftigheid van het snikken plotseling verminderde. De oogen nog nat van tranen, rukte de zieke zich, naar adem snakkend, op, krampachtig hoesten deed zijn lichaam sidderen en als verlamd van ontzetting zag Elisabeth den doek, dien hij zich voor den mond hield, rood kleuren. Daar was nu de catastrophe, waarvoor de dokter zoo gewaarschuwd had, de bloedspuwing, die hem het leven kosten zou.
Zuster Elisabeth knorde niet meer; met sussende, vleiende woordjes liet zij den zieke neerliggen, zij waschte hem, deed hem stukjes ijs slikken en spreidde een schoon laken over zijn bed, zóó behoedzaam, zoo zacht en teeder als een moeder.

Toen zette zij zich aan zijn bed, vouwde de handen en sloot de oogen toe. Zij wilde bidden, redding vragen voor dit jonge leven, maar zij wist, dat er geen redding meer mogelijk was, en zij kon geen woorden vinden. Toen klonk opeens als een zucht zoo zwak van de lippen van den zieke: "Zuster, dit is het einde, nietwaar? Je hoeft me niets meer wijs te maken Zuster, ik heb zelf in de medicijnen gestudeerd en weet dus waar ik aan toe ben."
"Ssst, ssst," maande Elisabeth.
De zieke glimlachte vermoeid.
"Laat me maar, Zuster, je bent zoo goed voor me geweest, je verdient te weten waarom . . . Toen ik uittrok, was ik verloofd, ze was mooi, Zuster, héél mooi en héél jong, ik geloof niet, dat ik van eenig wezen zoo veel gehouden heb, als van haar. Ze was er trotsch op, dat ik me vrijwillig aanmeldde en ze smaalde op anderen, die thuis bleven. In de eerste weken schreef zij me trouw, haar brieven en haar portretje waren mijn eenig geluk.
Toen bleven haar brieven plotseling uit, ik vroeg een verklaring, smeekte om bericht, maar er kwam niets meer, tot een vriend, die pas uit Engeland was vertrokken, me vertelde, dat zij zich verloven zou met een ander. De booze wereld had altijd gezegd, dat zij lichtzinnig was, ik geloofde het niet, ik geloofde ook mijn vriend niet en schreef opnieuw, tot . . . . tot de wanhoop me krankzinnig maakte, ik waagde me te ver en . . . . liep de wond op in mijn long, die me hier bracht. Vreemd, vreemd, dat ik tot nu toe nog altijd geloofd heb, dat ik nog altijd een brief van haar verwachtte, waarin ze me schreef, dat alles gelogen was. Zoo zeker, alsof iemand 't me gezegd had, wist ik, dat die brief me met Kerstmis bereiken zou, maar . . . . nu is het Kerstmis en de brief is er niet. De zieke zweeg. Zuster Elisabeth had zijn handen in de hare genomen en streelde ze zachtjes. Beneden verstomde het gerucht, deuren werden gesloten, snelle schreden zweefden de trap op.

Elisabeth rees haastig op en opende de deur. Een pleegzuster reikte haar een roomkleurig couvert over. "Toch nog voor John Lavery," zei ze, " 't couvert was tusschen andere brieven weggeraakt en werd nu pas gevonden."
Met één oogopslag zag Elisabeth, dat het zware couvert geen brief, maar een gedrukte kaart bevatte, de verlovingskaart van John Lavery's meisje. Zij wenkte de zuster heen te gaan en trad in de kamer terug, het couvert achter haar rug verbergend. Maar de zieke had de gefluisterde woorden verstaan.
"Toch nog van háár, Zuster," stamelde hij heesch. "Maak dan open Zuster en lees me voor, ik . . . ik kan 't niet meer zelf doen. Maak open, Zuster."
Toen weifelde Elisabeth niet meer. Met vaste stem dicht naast zijn bed gezeten, las zij: "John, liefste, twijfel toch niet aan me, ik heb je lief. Hoe heb je geloof kunnen slaan aan de praatjes van de menschen, je moet toch gevoeld hebben, dat ik je liefhad, je moest weten, dat ik je steeds liefhebben zal".

Dien nacht stierf John Lavery, de roomkleurige kaart tusschen de vingers geklemd, die den naam droeg van zijn meisje en den naam van een ander.

Eline van Stuwe (1876 – 1955)
Het bovenstaande kerstverhaal verscheen in het weekblad De Prins van 23 december 1916.
Met dank aan Rob Kammelar die dit verhaal opnieuw ontdekte.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2005 9:43    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

23 december 1915

Telegram van Tsaar Nicolaas aan zijn vrouw, Tsarina Alexandra.

Quote:
Telegram. Army in the Field. 23 December, 1915.

This morning I made the final inspection of the army on the Western Front. The troops look splendid...


Bron: website Letters from Tsar Nicholas to Tsaritsa Alexandra.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2005 23:10    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Die Nachrichten vom 23. Dezember

1914
Fortgesetze französisch-englische Angriffe abgewiesen
Die Zerstörung von Middelkerke durch die englische Flotte
Amtliche Darstellung des Rückzugs aus Serbien
Der Oberkommandierende unserer Verbündeten über die Kriegslage
Erfolge der österreichisch-ungarischen Marine
Die Kämpfe in Kamerun
Die Einnahme von Duala

1915
Die Kuppe des Hartmannsweilerkopfes zurückerobert
Das Vordringen in Montenegro
Versuchte Landung der Alliierten bei Kavalla
Anklagen des griechischen Ministerpräsidenten gegen die Entente

1916
Tulcea an der unteren Donau besetzt
Der größte Teil der Dobrudscha vom Feinde gesäubert
Das Ende der Somme-Schlacht
Die Besetzung von Tulcea durch die Bulgaren
Eine schweizerische Note an die Kriegführenden

1917
Erkundungsgefechte zwischen Arras und St. Quentin
Der Kaiser bei den Verdun-Kämpfern
Der Kaiser über die Verteidigungsschlachten im Westen
Hindenburgs Weihnachtszuversicht
Beginn der Friedensverhandlungen in Brest-Litowsk
Drei englische Zerstörer torpediert

1918
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2005 23:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

December 23

1915 Vera Brittain’s fiancé dies at the Western Front

Roland Leighton, the fiancé of Vera Brittain, a nurse in the British Red Cross who will become a famous author and feminist after the war, dies of wounds sustained in battle at the Western Front in France.

Brittain, born in 1893, grew up as part of a prosperous family in the north of England. In 1915, she abandoned her studies at Oxford to enlist in the armed forces as a nurse. Over the next three years, she served in London, Malta and on the Western Front. After the war ended, Brittain devoted herself to the causes of peace and women’s rights. The author of 29 books in all, she is perhaps best known for her first book, the war memoir Testament of Youth, in which she chronicles her experiences of war and loss.

“The war at first seemed to me an infuriating personal interruption rather than a world-wide interruption,” Brittain admits early in Testament of Youth. Her longtime dream to get out of the provinces and attend Oxford was just coming true when war broke out. By that time, she had met and fallen in love with Roland Leighton, a schoolmate of her younger brother Edward. Soon, both Roland and Edward had enlisted in the British army.

Roland went to the front on March 31, 1915. During a leave that year, he and Vera were formally engaged. She began working as a nurse at a hospital, first in Devonshire and later in London, and was preparing for his arrival on another leave at Christmas time when she received a telephone message informing her of his death. Roland had been shot in the stomach on December 22 as his company, the 7th Worcesters, battled the Germans in the trenches. He died the next day in a hospital bed in nearby Louvencourt, France.

By war’s end, Vera Brittain’s brother, Edward, was also dead—killed in action in Italy on June 15, 1917—as well as several of her good friends. In her memoir, first published in 1933, Brittain, a devoted pacifist, mourns the great sacrifices made by her loved ones and the rest of the younger generation for the sake of their ideals. Brittain writes in her foreword, as the rumblings of another great international conflict were already making themselves heard, that her object in writing Testament of Youth was at least in part to keep the horror of the Great War alive in the minds of a new generation—“to challenge that too easy, too comfortable relapse into forgetfulness which is responsible for history’s most grievous repetitions.”
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2006 0:33    Onderwerp: Re: 23 December Reageer met quote

Mark @ 23 Dec 2005 9:10 schreef:
23 december 1914

Christmas Truce

A German soldier, Karl Aldag, reports that both sides had been heard singing hymns in the trenches. German troops coming into the lines bring Christmas trees. Some men begin to place them on the parapets of the fire trenches. Local truce on the front of 23rd Brigade.

Bron: The long, long trail


De Belgen steken de IJzer over en slaan ten zuide van Diksmuide een bruggenhoofd.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2006 0:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

23 december 1915. Hevige gevechten op de uiterste oostkant van het westelijk front. De Fransen lijken successen te boeken op de Hartmannsweilerkopf. De Duitsers spreken dat tegen.

Laatst aangepast door Richard op 23 Dec 2006 0:45, in totaal 1 keer bewerkt
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Dec 2006 0:37    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Mark @ 23 Dec 2005 9:36 schreef:
23 december 1916

Sir Douglas Haig's 2nd Despatch (Somme)

Op 23 december 1916 publiceeerde Haig zijn verslag over de strijd aan de Somme.

Quote:
The despatch (Haig's second as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in France and Flanders) encompasses the Somme Offensive of July-November 1916, in which Allied - predominantly British - forces ultimately succeeded in throwing back the German Army on the Somme, although at great cost in casualties and without attaining the breakthrough Haig especially sought.


De volledige tekst staat op First World War.com.


Hevige gevechten in Champagne.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 05 Dec 2010 18:59    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Finnbar @ 23 Dec 2009 10:36 schreef:
23 december 1915

Vera Brittain loses fiance at Western Front

Roland Leighton, the fiance of Vera Brittain, a nurse in the British Red Cross who will become a famous author and feminist after the war, dies of wounds sustained in battle at the Western Front in France.
Brittain, born in 1893, grew up as part of a prosperous family in the north of England. In 1915, she abandoned her studies at Oxford to enlist in the armed forces as a nurse. Over the next three years, she served in London, Malta and on the Western Front. After the war ended, Brittain devoted herself to the causes of peace and women’s rights. The author of 29 books in all, she is perhaps best known for her first book, the war memoir Testament of Youth, in which she chronicles her experiences of war and loss.
“The war at first seemed to me an infuriating personal interruption rather than a world-wide interruption,” Brittain admits early in Testament of Youth. Her longtime dream to get out of the provinces and attend Oxford was just coming true when war broke out. By that time, she had met and fallen in love with Roland Leighton, a schoolmate of her younger brother Edward. Soon, both Roland and Edward had enlisted in the British army.
Roland went to the front on March 31, 1915. During a leave that year, he and Vera were formally engaged. She began working as a nurse at a hospital, first in Devonshire and later in London, and was preparing for his arrival on another leave at Christmas time when she received a telephone message informing her of his death. Roland had been shot in the stomach on December 22 as his company, the 7th Worcesters, battled the Germans in the trenches. He died the next day in a hospital bed in nearby Louvencourt, France.
By war’s end, Vera Brittain’s brother, Edward, was also dead—killed in action in Italy on June 15, 1917—as well as several of her good friends. In her memoir, first published in 1933, Brittain, a devoted pacifist, mourns the great sacrifices made by her loved ones and the rest of the younger generation for the sake of their ideals. Brittain writes in her foreword, as the rumblings of another great international conflict were already making themselves heard, that her object in writing Testament of Youth was at least in part to keep the horror of the Great War alive in the minds of a new generation—“to challenge that too easy, too comfortable relapse into forgetfulness which is responsible for history’s most grievous repetitions.”


Bron: www.history.com

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BerichtGeplaatst: 05 Dec 2010 19:01    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Tandorini @ 23 Dec 2009 21:57 schreef:
1939: Anthony Fokker sterft op 49-jarige leeftijd te New York. Fokker was een Nederlandse vliegtuigbouwer die in de Eerste Wereldoorlog de Duitsers een oppermachtige positie in de lucht bezorgde dankzij een revolutionaire techniek waardoor de boordmitrailleur voor het eerst tussen de propellerbladen van het vliegtuig door kon schieten.


Zie voor verdere reacties : http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?p=296441#296441
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 11:18    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Christmas Truce of 1914

23 December 1914 - A German soldier, Karl Aldag, reports that both sides had been heard singing hymns in the trenches. German troops coming into the lines bring Christmas trees. Some men begin to place them on the parapets of the fire trenches. Local truce on the front of 23rd Brigade.

http://www.1914-1918.net/truce.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 11:23    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Kerstkaart uit 1914 bezorgd
De Pers, 14 december 2007

Een kerstkaart die in 1914 werd gepost, is nu pas bezorgd in de Amerikaanse staat Kansas.

De kaart werd op 23 december 1914 gestuurd aan Ethel Martin in Oberlin, Kansas. De afzenders waren haar nichten uit Alma in de staat Nebraska, zo’n 120 km verderop.

Volgens postbode Steve Schultz is het een mysterie waar de kaart 93 jaar lang is geweest. “Het is verbazingwekkend dat hij nooit weggegooid is.” De kaart zou in de staat Illinois gevonden zijn. De kerstgroet was nog in perfecte staat.

Ethel Martin leeft niet meer, maar haar schoonzuster Bernice Martin heeft de kaart in ontvangst genomen.

http://www.depers.nl/opmerkelijk/151448/Kerstkaart-uit-1914-bezorgd.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 11:48    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The King and Soldiers Gloves.

This letter appeared in the Eastbourne Gazette on 23rd December 1914. It is interesting how the expectation of the writer was that every recruit would wear gloves and carry a cane when off duty.

The King and Soldiers Gloves.

Sir,

I notice the King has sent £25 to the fund for supplying gloves and mittens to the troops, which was started by the Grand Duke Michael, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir. F. Ponsonby, Keeper of the Privy Purse, in forwarding a cheque to the Grand Duke, writes; “The King is glad to hear what a success the fund has been and how grateful the troops are for the gloves which have been supplied to them.”

May I express a hope that all recruits will make a point of wearing gloves and carrying canes when they are off duty, it is the custom for the troops in garrison towns to do this and we want the new soldiers of the King (Kitchener’s Army) to cultivate briskness and smartness I every detail.

Yours faithfully

Veteran.
Eastbourne, Monday.

http://eastbournewar.blogspot.com/ via http://www.blogcatalog.com/blogs/eastbournes-war-years-1914-18
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 11:53    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

THE TWO MIRACLES OF DECEMBER 23rd 1914

The Great War (WW1) commenced in August 1914 and the first five months the fighting was relentless. Thousands and thousands of men had been killed or wounded but neither side had gained more than a few yards. The repulsion of trench warfare was that so many were dying for so little progress.

When the winter months arrived the conditions became almost insufferable. The trenches flooded with rain and snow. It was freezing and wet. Mixed with the slime lay half-submerged bodies. Often soldiers slept standing up leaning against the dripping trench walls whilst standing knee deep in muddy water. While rats invaded their meagre rations, lice infested their bodies. Toilets were non-existent. You can forgive the soldiers from becoming animalistic whilst living like this but by December blood lust was giving way to fellow feeling. A ‘live and let live’ attitude was developing, which worried the British high command.

The first miracle of December 23rd 1914 started as day give way to night. At first the men of the Berkshire Regiment could not believe their eyes. Something strange was happening right in front of them, where the German trenches faced theirs. A small, sparkling, conical shape appeared above the German parapet. Then another appeared followed by another and another. Soon there was an entire row, which twinkled in the dark empty sky.
They were Christmas trees. Spellbound, the Berkshires began crawling out of their trenches. Although fraternising with the enemy was forbidden, their officers turned a blind eye to what was going on. The German infantrymen were Saxons of XIX Corps, and they too left their trenches. Cautiously the two groups met amidst the barbed wire and bomb craters. The Saxons explained that the candle lit Christmas trees were of greater importance to them than the war.

Apparently thousands of little conifers had been sent to the front line so the soldiers would not forgo this most cherished symbol of the festive season. Word got back to the Saxon major that two British officers were waiting, by the wire, to speak to him. It was agreed there would be an informal truce for the whole of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. During the next forty-eight hours similar ceasefires broke out along the whole length of the Western Front.

To the disgust of the Generals of both sides their men simply laid down their arms and befriended their enemies in a spontaneous gesture of peace and goodwill. An article appeared in The Scotsman newspaper stating that the two sides, which were only sixty yards apart, were becoming ‘very pally’. Shouts of ‘Englander’ or ‘Tommy’ would be answered with ‘Jerry’ or ‘Fritz’.

As most of the Germans had at one time worked over the Channel language was not a problem. The Army top brass issued a directive forbidding the fraternisation but it was ignored. Alarmed at this the British high command, twenty-seven miles behind the trenches issued the following warning, “It is thought possible the enemy may be contemplating an attack during Christmas or New Year. Special vigilance will be maintained during this period”.
The threat was largely ineffectual as the Christmas spirit took hold. The Germans had received Christmas trees and presents from home. The British had each received an oblong box, from the daughter of King George V, Princess Mary. Inside was tobacco or sweets for the non-smoker and a card from the King stating, ‘May God protect you and bring you home safely’. Even the weather turned seasonal as the rain stopped and a heavy frost solidified the mud.

The reports that followed included alternate singing of carols and folk songs, the sharing of drink and food, and the burying of bodies by unarmed men from both camps working side by side. But perhaps the most frequently reported event was a regulation football match, using caps as goalposts. The final score was ‘3/2 fur Fritz’.

On Boxing Day Captain Stockwell of the Welsh Fusiliers had three shots fired into the air, posted a sign reading ‘Merry Christmas’ and climbed atop of his parapet. The Germans quickly displayed a sign saying ‘Thank You’ and their company commander stood proudly on his own parapet. The two officers faced each other bowed, saluted and then descended into their own trenches. The German captain then fired two shots into the air. The war recommenced.

Amid the unutterable hell of the Flanders and Normandy battlefields, the sudden cessation of hostilities seemed like, or perhaps it was, a miracle.

Oh yes, the second miracle of December 23rd 1914 was the birth of Mary Poole, my mother.



http://www.melvynhigson.com/2%20Miracles/Two%20Miracles/main.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 11:55    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Manchester Guardian

(...) During the summer of 1914 most of the newspapaper's writers, including C. E. Montague, Leonard Hobhouse, Herbert Sidebottom, Henry Nevinson, and J. A. Hobson called for Britain to remain neutral in the growing conflict in Europe. However, once war was declared, most gave their support to the government.

J. A. Hobson remained opposed to Britain's involvement and joined the and anti-war organisation, the Union of Democratic Control (UDC). Hobson served on the UDC's executive council and wrote the book Towards International Government (1914) which advocated the formation of a world body to prevent wars.

C. E. Montague, although forty-seven with a wife and seven children, volunteered to join the British Army. Grey since his early twenties, Montague died his hair in an attempt to persuade the army to take him. On 23rd December, 1914, the Royal Fusiliers accepted him and he joined the Sportsman's Battalion.

Montague was later promoted to the rank of second lieutenant and transferred to Military Intelligence. For the next two years he had the task of writing propaganda for the British Army and censoring articles written by the five authorized English journalists on the Western Front (Perry Robinson, Philip Gibbs, Percival Phillips, Herbert Russell and Bleach Thomas). Howard Spring, another of the newspaper's writers, also worked for the Military Intelligence in France. (...)

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRguardian.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 11:58    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

BRIGADIER GENERAL SHEPLER W. FITZGERALD

(...) He was first assigned to Fort Monroe, Va., with the 169th Coast Artillery Company. In June 1913 he was transferred to Fort Rodman, Mass., where he remained until October 1914. He was then detailed for duty in the Signal Corps and assigned to the Aviation School at North Island, Calif.

He and the late Capt. Townsend F. Dodd were awarded the Mackay Trophy in 1914 for the most meritorious flight of the year. Flying a Burgess plane, the two made a reconnaissance flight on Dec. 23, 1914, from Los Angeles, Calif., via Santa Ana, Capistrano and Oceanside, to Delmar, Calif., then to North Island. The take-off from Los Angeles was made at 9:44 a.m., and the landing at North Island at 1:01 p.m.

In June 1915 he graduated from Flying School and was ordered to duty with the 1st Aviation Squadron at Fort Sill, Okla. He returned to San Diego in November 1915, and in March 1916 proceeded to the Philippine Islands where he served with the 2nd Aero Squadron until June 1916. He returned to the United States and was detailed to the John Hays Hammond Laboratory for experiments with pontoon equipment.

He was assigned to flying duty at Mineola, N.Y., in December 1916, and in July 1917 was ordered to Toronto, Canada, where he commanded a detachment of American flying students undergoing instruction at the Royal Flying School. He then went to Mount Clements, Mich., for training.

He sailed for France with the 2nd Provisional Wing of the Air Service in December 1917, and upon arrival was assigned to duty in the Training Section of Headquarters Air Service in Paris. He spent the first three months of 1918 on temporary duty in England, then returned to France for training and flying duty at Tours and Issoudon until April 1918.

He next was Director of the II Corps Aeronautical School at Chatillon-sur-Seine and of the Second Aviation Instruction School at the Observation Center at Tours. He later was Air Service Commander of the First Army and was commended by the Chief of Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, for exceptional service.

Upon his return to the United States in June 1919, he was assigned to duty in the Supply Group (...)

http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=10148
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:01    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

AUCKLAND WEEKLY NEWS - 23 DECEMBER 1915

OLD BOYS AT THE FRONT – Auckland Grammar School record

[Over 560 names – 33 have fallen – 9 reported missing]

BASSETT, Cpl Cyril, Victoria Cross; TILSLEY, Sgt Robert, DCM

Mentioned in Despatches: STEELE, Oliver – KIA; TREACHER, Bugler Donald – Missing; WALLACE, Sgt Alan – KIA

Lees verder op http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~sooty/awn23dec1915.html . Blijft een interessante site.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:03    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Events of the Gallipoli Campaign

23 December 1915 - Gunner James Twamley, 22, Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds at Helles. On his grave in Lancashire Landing Cemetery his family placed this inscription:

Only a boy but a British boy
The son of a thousand years.


http://www.anzacsite.gov.au/5environment/timelines/100-events-gallipoli-campaign/november-december-1915.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:08    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Barnsley Pals | Trench Raid of 23rd-24th December 1916
Andrew C Jackson 2002

On 21st December 1916, orders were issued by 94th Infantry Brigade Headquarters for the 13th Bn., York & Lancaster Regt. (1st Barnsley Pals) to carry out a raid on the enemy lines midway between Hebuterne and Serre. The objectives were entirely typical - to obtain identifications and to inflict casualties. Preparatory work by the artillery began immediately. The enemy wire was targetted at six points along the divisional front and paths through had been cleared by the afternoon of the 23rd. Each day from the 21st, three bursts of artillery fire were directed onto the enemy trenches, the idea being to train the enemy to expect bombardments so that a similar burst of fire on the night of the raid would give no warning of an imminent attack. Each burst started on the enemy's second and third lines and ended on the front line.

Just as on the two previous days, 31st Division artillery briefly bombarded the German lines first at 5.30pm and then again at 6.45pm on the 23rd. As the second bombardment drew to a close, 2 officers and 77 other ranks from "C" Company of the 13th York & Lancasters formed up in the Orchard at Hebuterne and made their way down the Serheb road to the front line. By 8.30pm, the raiding party had moved into No Man's Land without being seen by the enemy, and had halted close by the German wire. There the men waited for zero hour.



The final bombardment began at 9.56pm, four minutes ahead of zero hour. After opening as usual on the enemy's 2nd and 3rd lines, the bombardment shifted not to the front line but to form a protective barrage around the trenches to be raided. Shortly afterwards a machine gun barrage was opened over the enemy's 4th line (Snuff Alley). At about 9.58pm, the raiding party was led by Capt. Lionel Foers through the gap in the enemy wire and into the front line where they immediately came across a large dug-out. No sooner had the party entered the trench than a shell exploded in the midst of them, wounding 2/Lt. Harry Midwood and 6 or 7 other ranks. Foers - having been knocked over and dazed by the shell-burst - struggled to his feet to give orders for the wounded to be taken back across No Man's Land. Midwood alone of the wounded remained with the party.

Foers then turned his attention to the dug-out. He later reported that on looking down one of the entrances he saw two of the enemy and heard a great deal of talking. He called out "Kommen Sie mit" several times but, on receiving no response other than a rifle shot, he posted two men at the other entrance and threw Mills bombs down into the dug-out. As this failed to draw out the enemy, Foers then threw down phosphorous bombs which set the dug-out on fire. As fumes from the furiously burning dug-out filled the trench, the party withdrew, though not before throwing four phosphorous bombs through the other entrance. The danger was far from over, as the party struggled to bring the severely wounded Midwood back across No Man's Land through shell bursts and sweeping machine-gun fire. After some considerable time, the party regained the British lines with little or no addition to the casualty list.

The raid could scarcely have been regarded as a success with no identification having been made at the cost of 8 or 9 casualties. Tragically, 2/Lt. Midwood died of his wounds at No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station, Puchevillers on Christmas Day. 12/534 Pte. Colin Jackson, who died of wounds on Christmas Eve, was probably also a victim of the raid.

The raiding party having returned without making any identifications, it was fortunate that in the early morning two Germans from the 8th Bavarian Infantry Regt. came in from No Man's Land to surrender.

Before departing for leave on the 24th, the battalion's commanding officer, Capt. C. H. Robin, wrote a report on the events of the previous night in which he brought to the attention of 94th Infantry Brigade Headquarters the excellent work done by Capt. Foers, 852 Sgt. F. Sagar, 39998 Cpl. W. Sayers, 389 Pte. J. Gough, 3/28713 Pte. W. Harker and 1011 Pte. C. Nurney. For this action, the Military Cross* was awarded to Capt. Foers, and the Military Medal to Sgt. Sagar. It was left to Capt. F. W. L. Hulk to write a letter of condolence to Midwood's mother.

http://www.pals.org.uk/barnsley/trenchraid2.htm

* For conspicuous gallantry in action. After a bomb had exploded in the middle of the raiding party, causing several casualties, he, with great presence of mind, quickly rallied his men and successfully bombed an enemy dug-out. Later, he rescued a wounded officer. - http://www.pals.org.uk/barnsley/foers_mc.htm

En hier de condoleancebrief aan de moeder van Midwood:

Dear Mrs. Midwood,

It is with the greatest sorrow I have to inform you of the death of your gallant young son. He died from wounds received in action. He was wounded on the night of Dec. 23rd, and died in hospital on the 25th. It may be a little consolation for you to know that everything was done for him in every possible way.

When I joined the battalion he was one of my officers. He was held in high respect by all officers and men. He always did his duty under all circumstances, cheerfully and with zest, and was one of my most valued officers.

At present I am temporarily commanding the battalion, and I wish to convey to you the deepest sympathy of myself, officers, and men of the regiment in your great loss, and I cannot express how he will be missed by us all.

Hoping strength will be given to you to bear your great loss.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) F. W. L. HULK, Capt.
O.C. 13th York and Lancaster Regt.

http://www.pals.org.uk/barnsley/midwood_letter.htm

Compiled from TNA documents WO95/2341, WO95/2363, WO95/2365, WO339/27873, WO339/40059, the "London Gazette" of 13th February 1917, and the "Harrogate Herald" of 17th January 1917. The raid has also been described in detail in "Not For Glory" by R. H. Haigh and P. W. Turner.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:13    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

23 December 1915 → Commons Sitting

BRITISH-MADE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS.


HC Deb 23 December 1915 vol 77 c593 593

Sir H. DALZIEL asked the Home Secretary whether the prohibition against certain British-made fire extinguishers will be withdrawn, provided all claims that they are effective in connection with Zeppelin bombs are no longer persisted in?

Sir J. SIMON If all claim to be effective against Zeppelin bombs or the fire caused by them is abandoned, I do not think the warning issued by the Press Bureau would apply.

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1915/dec/23/british-made-fire-extinguishers
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Diary of EW Manifold - WWI

Edward Walford Manifold was born on 28th April 1892 and grew up in the Western District of Victoria. He travelled to England to join the Royal Field Artillery when World War I broke out.

Diary Entry - 23rd December, 1915 - I spent an uneventful day at the O.B. The light was very bad, there being a thick fog (ground) about Les Brique. At two, it commenced to rain and continued till about four. The Major and Griffith came up at two thirty but only stayed about ten minutes and then went on to follow some telephone wire. I only fired ten rounds all day, and most of those were fired in finding the corrector. In the evening, Siggers and I went for a walk along the usual pavé track and, as we went along, we came across a very lame horse being led by a gunner. We questioned the man as to what was the matter with it, and he told us that it had been wounded with a pipsqueak while standing outside the Infantry brigade headquarters. The poor wretch had a lump of the shell on the inside of the near hind leg. It was burned into the flesh, and we could not remove it, and it seemed to be losing a lot of blood. Before we had gone much further, it began to rain, so we retraced our steps to the Mess. Two more attachés arrived for tea, the other four having left in a bus before breakfast.

http://ewmanifold.blogspot.com/2010/12/diary-entry-23rd-december-1915.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:20    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish pharmacologist and biologist who also published many articles on bacteriology, immunology and chemotherapy. However, everyone knows him because of the discovery of the enzyme lysozyme in the year 1922. He was the one who also discovered the antibiotic substance penicillin, back in the year 1928. (...)

Fleming [...] had the chance to serve his country during the World War I as a captain in the Army Medical Corps. Not only he, but many of his colleagues worked in the makeshift hospitals that were opened in the battlefields at the Western Front in France. However, in the year 1918, he returned to St. Mary's Church where he was elected as a Professor of Bacteriology in 1928.

Professional Career

When the World War I ended, Fleming started searching for an anti-bacterial agent, because he had witnessed the death of so many soldiers from septic and infectious wounds. In an article that he wrote for the medical journal ‘The Lancet’ during World War I, Fleming described an experiment that he had done. In the article, he clearly explained why antiseptics were killing more soldiers than the infections themselves. He also mentioned that though antiseptics worked well on the surface, but deep wounds tended to shelter some anaerobic bacteria from the antiseptic agent and the antiseptics themselves.

These reports of Alexander Fleming were also backed up by Sir Almroth Wright but inspite of this most of the army physicians continued the use of antiseptics even in the cases where the use of these antiseptics worsened the physical condition of the patient in question.

Alexander Fleming did not quite envision the discovery of the antibiotic penicillin, rather it was discovered accidentally. During the year 1928, Fleming was investigating the properties of a bacteria named staphylococci. He was already a famous personality who was quite well known because of his earlier work. He had also gained good reputation as a brilliant researcher. Some time during this year, he had gone to a long holiday. After he returned, he noticed that many of his dishes were contaminated with a fungus and hence he submerged the dishes in a solution of disinfectant.

Since he wanted to show his visitors what he had been researching on, he retrieved some of the dishes from the disinfectant. That is when he noticed that a zone had formed around the fungus as a result of which the bacteria could not grow further. He, then, separated a small extract from the mould and identified it as being from the Penicillium genus, and hence named it ‘Penicillin’.

En waarom staat-ie hier nu bij? Hierom:

On 23 December, 1915, Alexander Fleming married a trainee nurse, Sarah Marion Mc Elroy of Killala, Ireland. She subsequently died in the year 1949. They had a child named Robert who went onto become a general medical practitioner.

http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/alexander-fleming-2585.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Action at Magdhaba, 23 December 1916

The action at Magdhaba, 23 December 1916, was a minor British victory during their advance across the Sinai in 1916. The target of the British advance was El Arish, from where they could both block Turkish moves towards Egypt and advance into Palestine. The Turks had 1,600 men at El Arish, with detachments at Magdhaba and Abu Aweigila, on the Wadi El Arish. On 20 December the British were ready to attack El Arish, but before they could attack the Turks abandoned the place. Some of the troops from El Arish moved to Rafah, others to Magdhaba.

The British advance was being led by the Desert Column, commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Philipe Chetwode. His command included the 42nd and 52nd infantry divisions, the Anzac Mounted Division and the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade. On 21 December the two mounted units occupied El Arish without resistance.

Chetwode then decided to send them to attack the Turkish position at Magdhaba, which threatened the right flank of the British advance. Under the command of General Chauvel the two units made a night march, arriving at Magdhaba at dawn on 23 December.

The Turks were in a strong position at Magdhaba. The 80th Turkish Regiment, 1,400 strong, and occupied a strong position in a circle of redoubts. The Turks were outnumbered, but the light guns carried by the mobile cavalry and camel units were of limited use against the Turkish fortifications. Although the Turkish position was surrounded by noon, little progress was made, and at 2 p.m. Chauvel issued an order to withdraw. However, at the same time one of the redoubts finally fell to a cavalry charge, and Chauvel cancelled the order. The Turks resisted for another two and a half hours, but finally surrendered at 4.30 p.m.

Turkish casualties were 97 dead and 1,282 captured. British losses were 22 killed and 124 wounded. With the fall of Magdhaba, the only Turkish position left in Egypt was at Rafah.

Rickard, J (1 September 2007), Action at Magdhaba, 23 December 1916 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/action_magdhaba.html
Een schat aan informatie: http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog?topic_id=1104498
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:30    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

De Telegraaf, 23 december 1916



Anoniem, Theo van Doesburg en Bernard Canter (23 december 1916) 'De allermodernsten', De Telegraaf, 24e jaargang, nr. 9506, Avondblad, Derde Blad, p. 9. Auteursrechterlijk beschermd gedeelte onleesbaar gemaakt door Wikimedia Commons.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Telegraaf_1916-12-23_article_01.jpg
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:32    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Scientific American, 23rd December 1916



“Aerial lookout in an observatory car suspended from a Zeppelin airship”

http://xplanes.tumblr.com/post/179620046/scientific-american-23rd-december-1916-aerial
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:39    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The organisation of the Imperial Camel Brigade, 1916-1918

The 1st Brigade, Imperial Camel Corps--more commonly known as the Imperial Camel Brigade--was raised on 13 December 1916 under the command of Brigadier General Clement Leslie Smith VC MC. The Brigade concentrated at Mazar on the north coast of the Sinai Peninsula on 19 December; and on the following day advanced to El Arish where it was attached to the Anzac Mounted Division. The Imperial Camel Brigade bad its baptism of fire as a brigade formation at the Battle of Magdhaba on 23 December 1916--only four days after being concentrated and l0 days after being raised.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb271/is_4_44/ai_n29055876/
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:42    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Letter of condolence, 23 December 1916

Rev Hume received this letter of condolence from his son’s Senior Officer in the Royal Naval Air Station with a further explanation of events.



Transcript

R. N. Air Station
Westgate-on-Sea
Kent
23 December 1916


Dear Mr Hume

We were all deeply affected by your son’s death & felt for you very much when you came to visit Westgate, it must have been a very trying day for you.

He was a fine boy in every sense of the word. He was a good officer & a nicer companion in a mess one couldn’t have. I was astonished when he told me his age. He gave one the impression of being much older. He was I think without exception the best boy in the mess both from the point of capability as an officer & as a man, everyone here would tell you the same.

As to his health, he never complained to me of feeling ill & he played football & was in every skylark in the mess. He was at the Queens at a dance the night before his end, & he was full of life then & I saw him & was talking to him a few minutes before he went up & he was quite fit & full of spirits. His skin was sallow I presume as a result of the time he spent in Mesopotamia but as far as I know he was alright in himself.

I had no opportunity of seeing him after the accident as he was taken to Sheerness, but from what Douglas tells me I think that death must have been instantaneous. They would both be unconscious if not before reaching the water, immediately the machine hit the water. The cut on his trousers would occur when the machine crashed into the water. I really don’t think he had any of the horror of seeing death approaching. As in all these cases of aeroplane accidents the pilot is so busy trying to right the machine that he has no time to think of anything else. This one hears from people who have had accidents of the same nature, but who have come out of it alive.

I don’t think there is any other point I can give you information on but I am glad to have this opportunity of telling you how much we all thought of your boy.

I am yours very sincerely
J. P. Berry

http://www.scottisharchivesforschools.org/aslits/u3sou4.asp
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 12:48    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLIII, Issue 14180, 23 December 1916







http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=PBH19161223.2.17
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Christmas 1916 - with the 4th Field Ambulance, A.I.F.

Private William Dalton Lycett, 2063, of the 4th Field Ambulance A.I.F. enlisted on 12th September 1914, he embarked on the 22nd December 1914 at Melbourne on the H.M.A.T. “Berrima”.

Saturday 23rd December, 1916 - Up at 8.30 a.m. and had breakfast. Afterwards got cleaned and shaved. Getting large sick parades, nearly all the men suffering from severe colds. Had French kiddie about 8 years old in, slate blew off roof and gashed his face, sent him to Amiens hospital. Very cold, raining and blowing a gale. On duty at 2 p.m., a dozen patients in. Our hospital is an old barn and patients lie on straw. Am on committee for Xmas dinner and we had a meeting this afternoon. After tea wrote three letters and then turned in at 9 p.m.

http://outofbattle.blogspot.com/2009/12/christmas-1916-with-4th-field-ambulance.html
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Lovecraft’s Letters

As to letters, my case is peculiar. I write such things exactly as easily and as rapidly as I would utter the same topics in conversation; indeed, epistolary expression is with me largely replacing conversation, as my condition of nervous prostration becomes more and more acute. I cannot bear to talk much now, and am becoming as silent as the Spectator himself! My loquacity extends itself on paper.

- H.P. Lovecraft to Rheinhart Kleiner, 23 December 1917

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/letters/
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 13:35    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Stijn Streuvels, In oorlogstijd. Het volledige dagboek van de Eerste Wereldoorlog

23 december 1917 - De veldwachter roept van de kerksteen: dat alle ‘kunstvoorwerpen’ moeten aangegeven worden, zonder meer. 't Is wellicht de eerste keer dat het woord ‘kunstvoorwerpen’ officieel uitgesproken wordt op de gemeente, - van verschillende kanten hoor ik vragen onder de omstaanders: wat is dàt? - bij buitenmensen wekt het onbekende altijd bijzonderlijk onrust en verlegenheid.

http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/stre009inoo02_01/stre009inoo02_01_0040.php
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 13:41    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Major Warships Sunk in World War 1 - 1917

23 December 1917
Surprise, British, R class Destroyer
Tornado, British, R class Destroyer
Torrent, British, R class Destroyer
Mined in the North Sea whilst going to meet a convoy.

http://www.worldwar1.co.uk/sunk17.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 13:42    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Belgian Air Force during WW1 - The Air War Escalates 1916-1917

On 23th December 1917, the French squadron C74 who had co-operated with the Belgians since the dark days of 1914 left the Belgian sector to be a full French operated unit.

http://www.wwiaviation.com/ww1_belgium1916-17.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 13:45    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

James Thomas Byford "Mac" McCudden



The following incidents are examples of the work he has done recently:

On the 23rd December, 1917, when leading his patrol, eight enemy aeroplanes were attacked between 2.30 p.m. and 3.50 p.m. Of these two were shot down by Captain McCudden in our lines. On the morning of the same day he left the ground at 10.50 and encountered four enemy aeroplanes; of these he shot two down.


http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/england/mccudden1.php
Zie ook http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/james_mccudden.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 13:49    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Last British WWI Soldier Dies; Leaves Gripping Account of Trench Warfare Hell
July 25, 2009

Britain's last remaining World War I soldier, Harry Patch, died at the age of 111 today, leaving behind a collection of gripping stories about the inhuman conditions he and his comrades faced in the trenches of Ypres, in West Flanders, Belgium, during the battles of Passchendaele and Pilkem. The BBC has an amazing roundup of Patch's memories of his time in the war, in which he describes the muddy trenches - a mere three feet wide and six feet deep - that he had to occupy for days on end. The soldiers were mired in filth for months at a time, with the constant companionship of legions of lice:

From the time I went to France - the second week in June 1917 - until I left 23rd December 1917, injured by shellfire, I never had a bath ... For each lousy louse, he had his own particular bite, and his own itch and he’d drive you mad. We used to turn our vests inside out to get a little relief. And you’d go down all the seams, if you dared show a light, with a candle, and burn them out. And those little devils who’d laid their eggs in the seam, you’d turn your vest inside out and tomorrow you’d be just as lousy as you were today. And that was the trenches.

http://www.jaunted.com/story/2009/7/25/114120/122/travel/Last+British+WWI+Soldier+Dies%3B+Leaves+Gripping+Account+of+Trench+Warfare+Hell

Harry Patch: Never spoke about the war until he turned a 100 years old



Born 17 June 1898

A rude awakening

I had a brother who was a regular soldier. He was in Africa when the war broke out. He was a sergeant major in the Royal Engineers, who fought and was wounded at Mons. And they kept him in England after that, as an instructor. He never went back and he used to tell me what the trenches were like. I didn’t want to go. I knew what I was going to. A lot of people didn’t and when they got to France they had a rude awakening.

The trenches were about six feet deep, about three feet wide - mud, water, a duckboard if you were lucky. You slept on the firing step, if you could, shells bursting all around you. Filthy.

Infected by lice

From the time I went to France - the second week in June 1917 - until I left 23rd December 1917, injured by shellfire, I never had a bath. I never had any clean clothes. And when we got to Rouen on the way home they took every stitch of clothing off us: vest, shirt, pants, everything and they burnt it all. It was the only way to get rid of the lice. For each lousy louse, he had his own particular bite, and his own itch and he’d drive you mad. We used to turn our vests inside out to get a little relief. And you’d go down all the seams, if you dared show a light, with a candle, and burn them out. And those little devils who’d laid their eggs in the seam, you’d turn your vest inside out and tomorrow you’d be just as lousy as you were today. And that was the trenches.

Fighting for their lives

You daren’t show above otherwise a sniper would have you. You used to look between the fire and apertures and all you could see was a couple of stray dogs out there, fighting over a biscuit that they’d found. They were fighting for their lives. And the thought came to me – well, there they are, two animals out there fighting over dog biscuit, the same as we get to live. They were fighting for their lives. I said, ‘We are two civilised nations - British and German - and what were we doing? We were in a lousy, dirty trench fighting for our lives? For what? For eighteen pence a flipping day.’

Life in the trenches

You got tots of rum.There were many a man who didn’t like rum, didn’t drink it. It used to warm you up. Life in the trenches, well…can you imagine now, going out from this room along the corridor and there is a trench dug across the lawn. Six feet deep and three feet wide. There is water and mud in the bottom. You sit on a trench at the side to sleep, don’t matter whether it is wet, fine, hot or cold. Four days you are there and you got to stick it. That was the conditions.

If any man tells you he went into the front line and he wasn’t scared – he’s a liar. You were scared from the moment you got there. You never knew. I mean, in the trench you were all right. If you kept down, a sniper couldn’t get you. But you never knew if the artillery had a shell that burst above you and you caught the shrapnel. That was it.

Shell shock

You were in that trench. That was your front line. You had to keep an eye on the German front line. You daren’t leave. No. I suppose if you left, and some of them did, they were shot as cowards. That is another thing with shell shock – I never saw anyone with it, never experienced it – but it seemed you stood at the bottom of the ladder and you just could not move. Shellshock took all the nervous power out of you.

An officer would come down and very often shoot them as a coward. That man was no more a coward than you or I. He just could not move. That’s shell shock. Towards the end of war they recognised it as an illness. The early part of the war – they didn’t. If you were there you were shot. And that was it. And there’s a good many men who were shot for cowardice and they are asking now … that verdict be taken away. They were not cowards.

Sleep in the trenches

Rats as big as cats. Anything they could gnaw, they would - to live. If you didn’t watch it, they’d gnaw your shoe laces. Anything leather, they would nibble that. As you went to sleep, you would cover your face with a blanket and you could hear the damn things run over you.

As you to sat on the firing step, you could have a doze. Not much more. Half-past seven in the morning, stand-to and you’d have an inspection. Last thing at night, you’d have an inspection. You had to sleep in between.

No Man’s Land

Probably you’d hear something in No Man’s Land. It might have been a working party. You reported it. The officer would have a look through his field glasses. If it was any good and it wasn’t British, give them a burst. Number One would give them a shot or two out of the Lewis gun, and after firing that Lewis gun from one aperture, we would always move down the trench. This was because, if it was spotted by a German observer there, the range was sent back to their artillery. Staying put was an invitation for half a dozen rockets. If you stayed where you were, you chanced it.

Going ‘over the top’

Never forget it. We crawled, couldn’t stand up - a sniper would have you. I came across a Cornishman, he must have been from ‘A’ or ‘B’ companies who were the assault companies when we went over. ‘C’ and ‘D’, we were support. I came across a Cornishman, he was ripped from his shoulder to his waist – shrapnel.

Now a bullet wound is clean, shrapnel will tear you all to pieces. He was laying there in a pool of blood. As we got to him, he said, ‘Shoot me.’ He was beyond all human aid. Before we would pull out the revolver to shoot him, he died. I was with him in the last seconds of his life. hen he went from this life, to whatever is beyond.

Now what I saw in the way of sights at Passchendaele and at Pilkem - the wounded lying about asking you for help - we didn’t have the knowledge, the equipment or the time to spend with them. I lost all my faith in the Church of England.

And when that fellah died, he just said one word: ‘Mother.’ It wasn’t a cry of despair. It was a cry or surprise and joy. I think - although I wasn’t allowed to see her - I am sure his mother was in the next world to welcome him. And he knew it. I was just allowed to see that much and no more. And from that day until today - and now I’m nearly 106 years old - I shall always remember that cry and I shall always remember that death is not the end.

You’ve got a memory. You’ve got a brain about the size of a tea cup. I’ve got a memory that goes back for 80 or 90 years and I think that memory goes on with you when you die. And that’s my opinion. Death is not the end.

Shooting to kill

I never knew Bob [Harry’s friend and gunner] to use that [Lewis] gun to kill. If he used that gun at all, it was about two feet off the ground and he would wound them in the legs. He wouldn’t kill them if he could help it.

[A German soldier] came to me with a rifle and a fixed bayonet. He had no ammunition, otherwise he could have shot us. He came towards us. I had to bring him down. First of all, I shot him in the right shoulder. He dropped the rifle and the bayonet. He came on. His idea, I suppose, was to kick the gun if he could into the mud, so making it useless. But anyway, he came on and for our own safety, I had to bring him down. I couldn’t kill him. He was a man I didn’t know. I didn’t know his language. I couldn’t talk to him. I shot him above the ankle, above the knee. He said something to me in German. God knows what it was. But for him the war was over.

He would be picked up by a stretcher bearer. He would have his wounds treated. He would be put into a prisoner-of-war camp. At the end of the war, he would go back to his family. Now, six weeks after that, a fellow countryman of his pulled the lever of the gun that fired the rocket that killed my three mates, and wounded me. If I had met that German soldier after my three mates had been killed, I’d have no trouble at all in killing him.

Losing friends

The night we caught it, we were in the front line and we were going back. We had taken the German front line, the German support line and we were coming back from the German support through the German old front line. We had to cross what was the old No Man’s Land. It was crossing there that a rocket burst amongst us. It killed my three mates, it wounded me. We were on open ground.

September 22nd, half-past ten at night. That’s when I lost them. That’s my Remembrance Day. Armistice Day, you remember the thousands of others who died. For what? For nothing. And today you would never get another trench warfare. Never. Today, you got the internal combustion engine, the one like you drive your car and improvement on that. It’s entitled a man to fly, and today a trench is no good. He simply goes down the trench with his machine gun - that’s it. You’ll never get another trench war.

Being wounded

You didn’t know you were hit. You never heard the bullet or the shell that hit you. All I can remember was a flash, I went down, blew me down. I suppose I had enough sense, I saw the blood, I had a field dressing on. I must have passed out. How long I lay there I don’t know.

Next thing I found I was in a dressing station. The field bandage had gone, the wound had been cleaned and a clean bandage on it. Around about it was a disinfectant of some sort, to keep the blinking lice away from the blood.

I lay there all the next day and the doctor came to me. ‘You can see the shrapnel – it must have been a ricochet.’ It was just buried in. He said to me, ‘Would you like me to take that out?’ I said, ‘How long will you be?’ He said, ‘Before you answer yes. With no anaesthetic in the camp at all, we’d used it on all the people more seriously wounded than you are.’ He said, ‘If I take that shrapnel out it will be as you are now.’ Pain from it was terrific. I said, ‘Alright carry on.’ Four fellahs held me down, one on each arm, one on each leg, and I can feel the cut of that scalpel now as he went through and pulled it out.

The doctor came to me some hours later. He said, ‘You want this shrapnel as a souvenir?’ I said, ‘Throw it away,’ and I never saw it again. I met his son, who was also a doctor, at Buckingham Palace eighty years later. He told me that if the shrapnel was a quarter inch deeper, it would have cut a main artery and that was it.

Going home

The fellah in the next bed said to me, ‘If he writes anything in that book on the table, a green book, you’re for Blighty.’ Well I didn’t believe him, and then some hours later somebody came in, they called my name, my number. I was out on the Red Cross truck down to Rouen … And there we had a bath, got rid of the lice, they burnt our clothing. We could see the hospital ship. We were out on the hospital ship, but never sailed that night. There was a rumour of a submarine in the Channel. We sailed the next night and came to Southampton. I think if I had gone to the field dressing main station, I don’t think I ever would [have sailed]. It was the fact that it was the advanced dressing station and they wanted the beds. Get rid of him.

Mutiny

‘E’ company were about a thousand strong. We had an officer we didn’t like. He used to take us out route marches. We didn’t like it. That afternoon he wanted the ‘E’ company on parade for bayonet practice. The war had been over for months. The sergeant major opened the door. Somebody threw a boot at him. He went back, reported it.

The officer came and they told him flat that they weren’t going out on parade. Well, he went back to the company office and about thirty of the men followed him and they asked for him. He came out, he pulled his revolver out and he clicked the hammer back. Nobody said anything. We had all been on the range. I was on fatigue that morning so I wasn’t on parade. Nobody said anything.

They all went back to their huts and they rounded up what ammunition they could and went back and they asked for the officer again. He was a captain, risen from the ranks. He came out and he clicked the hammer back on his revolver. He said, ‘The first man who says he is not going on parade, I’ll shoot him.’ No sooner had he said that, when thirty bolts went back and somebody shouted, ‘Now shoot you bugger if you like.’ He threw the revolver down, disappeared. We were all run up for a mutiny.

We had a brigadier come over from the mainland to hear the officer’s side of it. Then he said, ‘I want to hear the men.’ Twenty or thirty of the men went behind a screen and they told him. They said, ‘We don’t want bayonet practice. We’ve had the real bloody thing. Some of us are wounded by bayonets.’ The outcome was that there were no parades except just to clear the camp, just fatigues. The officer was moved to a different command. We never saw him again. It’s a damn good job we didn’t.

The price of war

It wasn’t worth it. No war is worth it. No war is worth the loss of a couple of lives let alone thousands. T’isn’t worth it … the First World War, if you boil it down, what was it? Nothing but a family row. That’s what caused it. The Second World War – Hitler wanted to govern Europe, nothing to it. I would have taken the Kaiser, his son, Hitler and the people on his side … and bloody shot them. Out the way and saved millions of lives. T’isn’t worth it.

Breaking the silence

Opposite my bedroom there is a window and there is a light over the top. Now [when the staff go into that room] they put the light on. If I was half asleep – the light coming on was the flash of a bomb. That flash brought it all back. For eighty years I’ve never watched a war film, I never spoke of it, not to my wife. For six years, I’ve been here [in the nursing home]. Six years it’s been nothing but World War One. As I say, World War One is history, it isn’t news. Forget it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/last_tommy_gallery_03.shtml
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 13:56    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

From ‘the War Illustrated' 23nd December, 1917



http://www.greatwardifferent.com/Great_War/War_Christmas/War_Christmas_01.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 13:57    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Anthony Eden, letter to Lady Eden (23rd December, 1917)

Did you read David Lloyd George's speech in the House? Have we not got one single politician who is really out to do his best, holiday or no holiday, or are they all an unscrupulous set of narrow-minded, self-satisfied crassly ignorant notaries! My God! it does make me see red. They they start criticizing the Army! My God, if they would mind their own business and do their own job and let the Army run the fighting we would bring the Germans to their knees.

What about Ireland? Not a word about conscripting them. There are a quarter of a million of the finest fighting men in Europe to be had for the taking and we do nothing.


http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWeden.htm
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Death Plaque



Engineer Lieutenant Commander David Duncan Cuninghame.
H.M.S. "Surprise" Royal Navy.
Died. 23 December 1917. Age 38.
Buried. 's Gravenzande General Cemetery. Holland.
Husband of, Ada Cuninghame, of, Hyde Park. London.
Son of, Mr. & Mrs. Cuninghame, of Saltcoats, Ayreshire, Scotland.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronpigram/5274304182/
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Hetherington, T.G., Letter, 23 December 1918



Letter from T.G. Hetherington to G.I. Lloyd, Historical Records Branch, Ministry of Munitions re armour plate experiments

Lees verder op http://pw20c.mcmaster.ca/hetherington-tg-letter-23-december-1918
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Estonian War of Independence 1918-1920

While military units, supported by the volunteers of the Defence League, desperately resisted on the front, intense organisational work was going on in the rear. Johan Laidoner (since January 1919 Major General) was named Commander-in-Chief on 23 December 1918, and he was the life and soul as well as the co-ordinator of these efforts. A mobilisation was carried out, assembling a total of 14,000 men by 5 January 1919. The Estonian forces started a counter-attack, and on the first birthday of the Republic of Estonia, 24 February 1919, General Laidoner could report that the enemy had been driven out of Estonian territory. Though the Red Army was continuously supplemented, it could not stop the Estonian armed forces. In the course of the counter-attack, the Estonian forces took 6,000 prisoners of war and more than 40 cannons.

http://www.eam.ee/index.php?id=312
Zie ook http://www.estonica.org/en/History/1914-1920_The_First_World_War_and_Estonian_independence/Estonian_War_of_Independence/
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Blackrock College War Dead 1914-1918

Kevin Brayden
Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Blackrock College – (1904-1906)
Killed in action on the 23rd December 1918 age 26. He is buried in the
Jerusalem War Cemetery (grave no. T 55). His brother Henry Brayden also attended the College.

http://www.rockunion.ie/individual-blog.php?blog_id=63
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Popular Science, December 1918, page 23 - Ship Emergency Steam Cutoff Valves



One of the major causes of death to passengers after the steamship RMS Lusitania was hit by the torpedo, was that the captain had no way to slow or stop the ship, and consequently the lifeboats were battered on the sides of the fast-moving ship and the lifeboats overturned when they touched the ocean at high speed.

The torpedo strike had either killed the ship's engineers or cut off contact with them, and there was no means for anyone else to shut down the engines.

In December 1918, Popular Science Monthly reported that this problem had occurred so many times to other ships after the sinking of the Lusitania, that the British Board of Trade suggested that every passenger-carrying ship be provided with some means of of stopping the engines from the deck or skylight hatchway. The magazine illustrated several such possible remote valve control methods to cut off engine steam from multiple locations.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Popular_Science_Dec_1918_p23_-_Ship_Emergency_Steam_Cutoff_Valves.JPG
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MEDIATIJDLIJN AMSTERDAMSE TRAM 1913
door Cees Pot

23 december 1913 - De directie draagt de conducteurs op niet langer toe te laten, dat er op de balkons van tramwagens door passagiers wordt gefloten. Er is over geklaagd door andere passgiers.
Het NRC kan zich niet voorstellen, dat iemand zich ergert, laat staan dat er een klacht wordt ingediend. Het is niet de taak van het trambedrijf om het publiek op te voeden.

http://www.amsterdamsetrams.nl/tijdlijn/tijdlijn1913.htm
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Vera Brittain's boyfriend Roland Leighton, was killed on 23rd December 1916. Soon afterwards she visited his family home in Hassocks in Sussex.

I arrived at the cottage that morning to find his mother and sister standing in helpless distress in the midst of his returned kit, which was lying, just opened, all over the floor. The garments sent back included the outfit that he had been wearing when he was hit. I wondered, and I wonder still, why it was thought necessary to return such relics - the tunic torn back and front by the bullet, a khaki vest dark and stiff with blood, and a pair of blood-stained breeches slit open at the top by someone obviously in a violent hurry. Those gruesome rages made me realise, as I had never realised before, all that France really meant. Eighteen months afterwards the smell of Etaples village, though fainter and more diffused, brought back to me the memory of those poor remnants of patriotism.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jbrittain.htm
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Sir Douglas Haig's Somme Despatch

The second Despatch of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief of the British Armies in France and Flanders. Printed in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 29 December 1916. It covered the enormous and critical Battle of the Somme.


Haig at his desk in the railway carriage used as a mobile office. Contrary to the myth of "chateau generals", Haig spent much of his time travelling to meet with subordinate commanders, review troops or holding battle planning meetings with the commanders of the five British armies in France and Flanders.

General Headquarters,
23rd December, 1916.

My Lord,
I have the honour to submit the following report on the operations of the Forces under my Command since the 19th May, the date of my last Despatch.

1. The principle of an offensive campaign during the summer of 1916 had already been decided on by all the Allies. The various possible alternatives on the Western front had been studied and discussed by General Joffre and myself, and we were in complete agreement as to the front to be attacked by the combined French and British Armies. Preparations for our offensive had made considerable progress; but as the date on which the attack should begin was dependent on many doubtful factors, a final decision on that point was deferred until the general situation should become clearer.

Subject to the necessity of commencing operations before the summer was too far advanced, and with due regard to the general situation, I desired to postpone my attack as long as possible. The British Armies were growing in numbers and the supply of munitions was steadily increasing. Moreover a very large proportion of the officers and men under my command were still far from being fully trained, and the longer the attack could be deferred the more efficient they would become. On the other hand the Germans were continuing to press their attacks at Verdun, and both there and on the Italian front, where the Austrian offensive was gaining ground, it was evident that the strain might become too great to be borne unless timely action were taken to relieve it. Accordingly, while maintaining constant touch with General Joffre in regard to all these considerations, my preparations were pushed on, and I agreed, with the consent of H.M. Government, that my attack should be launched whenever the general situation required it with as great a force as I might then be able to make available.

2. By the end of May the pressure of the enemy on the Italian front had assumed such serious proportions that the Russian campaign was opened early in June, and the brilliant successes gained by our Allies against the Austrians at once caused a movement of German troops from the Western to the Eastern front. This, however, did not lessen the pressure on Verdun. The heroic defence of our French Allies had already gained many weeks of inestimable value and had caused the enemy very heavy losses; but the strain continued to increase. In view, therefore, of the situation in the various theatres of war, it was eventually agreed between General Joffre and myself that the combined French and British offensive should not be postponed beyond the end of June.



The object of that offensive was threefold:
(i.) To relieve the pressure on Verdun,
(ii.) To assist our Allies in the other theatres of war by stopping any further transfer of German troops from the Western front.
(iii.) To wear down the strength of the forces opposed to us.

3. While my final preparations were in progress the enemy made two unsuccessful attempts to interfere with my arrangements. The first, directed on the 21st May against our positions on the Vimy Ridge, south and south-east of Souchez, resulted in a small enemy gain of no strategic or tactical importance; and rather than weaken my offensive by involving additional troops in the task of recovering the lost ground, I decided to consolidate a position in rear of our original line. The second enemy attack was delivered on the 2nd June on a front of over one and a half miles from Mount Sorrell to Hooge, and succeeded in penetrating to a maximum depth of 700 yards. As the southern part of the lost position commanded our trenches I judged it necessary to recover it, and by an attack launched on the 13th June, carefully prepared and well executed, this was successfully accomplished by the troops on the spot. Neither of these enemy attacks succeeded in delaying the preparations for the major operations which I had in view.

4. These preparations were necessarily very elaborate and took considerable time. Vast stocks of ammunition and stores of all kinds had to be accumulated beforehand within a convenient distance of our front. To deal with these many miles of new railways— both standard and narrow gauge—and trench tramways were laid. All available roads were improved, many others were made, and long causeways were built over marshy valleys. Many additional dug-outs had to be provided as shelter for the troops, for use as dressing stations for the wounded, and as magazines for storing ammunition, food, water, and engineering material. Scores of miles of deep communication trenches had to be dug, as well as trenches for telephone wires, assembly and assault trenches, and numerous gun emplacements and observation posts. Important mining operations were undertaken, and charges were laid at various points beneath the enemy's lines. Except in the river valleys, the existing supplies of water were hopelessly insufficient to meet the requirements of the numbers of men and horses to be concentrated in this area as the preparations for our offensive proceeded. To meet this difficulty many wells and borings were sunk, and over one hundred pumping plants were installed. More than one hundred and twenty miles of water mains were laid, and everything was got ready to ensure an adequate water supply as our troops advanced. Much of this preparatory work had to be done under very trying conditions, and was liable to constant interruption from the enemy's fire. The weather, on the whole, was bad, and the local accommodation totally insufficient for housing the troops employed, who consequently had to content themselves with such rough shelter as could be provided in the circumstances. All this labour, too, had to be carried out in addition to fighting and to the everyday work of maintaining existing defences. It threw a very heavy strain on the troops, which was borne by them with a cheerfulness beyond all praise.

5. The enemy's position to be attacked was of a very formidable character, situated on a high, undulating tract of ground, which rises to more than 500 feet above sea-level, and forms the watershed between the Somme on the one side and the rivers of south-western Belgium on the other. On the southern face of this watershed, the general trend of which is from east-south-east to west-north-west, the ground falls in a series of long irregular spurs and deep depressions to the valley of the Somme. Well down the forward slopes of this face the enemy's first system of defence, starting from the Somme near Curlu, ran at first northwards for 3,000 yards, then westwards for 7,000 yards to near Fricourt, where it turned nearly due north, forming a great salient angle in the enemy's line. Some 10,000 yards north of Fricourt the trenches crossed the River Ancre, a tributary of the Somme, and still running northwards passed over the summit of the watershed, about Hebuterne and Gommecourt, and then down its northern spurs to Arras. On the 20,000 yards front between the Somme and the Ancre the enemy had a strong second system of defence, sited generally on or near the southern crest of the highest part of the watershed, at an average distance of from 3,000 to 5,000 yards behind his first system of trenches. During nearly two years' preparation he had spared no paim to render these defences impregnable. The first and second systems each consisted of several lines of deep trenches, well provided with bomb-proof shelters and with numerous communication trenches connecting them. The front of the trenches in each system was protected by wire entanglements, many of them in two belts forty yards broad, built of iron stakes interlaced with barbed wire, often almost as thick as a man's finger. The numerous woods and villages in and between these systems of defence had been turned into veritable fortresses. The deep cellars, usually to be found in the villages, and the numerous pits and quarries common to a chalk country were used to provide cover for machine guns and trench mortars. The existing cellars were supplemented by elaborate dug-outs, sometimes in two storeys, and these were connected up by passages as much as thirty feet below the surface of the ground. The salients in the enemy's line, from which he could bring enfilade fire across his front, were made into self-contained forts, and often protected by mine fields; while strong redoubts and concrete machine gun emplacements had been constructed in positions from which he could sweep his own trenches should these be taken. The ground lent itself to good artillery observation on the enemy's part, and he had skilfully arranged for cross fire by his guns. These various systems of defence, with the fortified localities and other supporting points between them, were cunningly sited to afford each other mutual assistance and to admit of the utmost possible development of enfilade and flanking fire by machine guns and artillery. They formed, in short, not merely a series of successive lines, but one composite system of enormous depth and strength.

Behind his second system of trenches, in addition to woods, villages and other strong points prepared for defence, the enemy had several other lines already completed; and we had learnt from aeroplane reconnaissance that he was hard at work improving and strengthening these and digging fresh ones between them and still further back. In the area above described, between the Somme and the Ancre, our front line trenches ran parallel and close to those of the enemy, but below them. We had good direct observation on his front system of trenches and on the various defences sited on the slopes above us between his first and second systems; but the second system itself, in many places, could not be observed from the ground in our possession, while, except from the air, nothing could be seen of his more distant defences. North of the Ancre, where the opposing trenches ran transversely across the main ridge, the enemy's defences were equally elaborate and formidable. So far as command of ground was concerned, we were here practically on level terms; but, partly as a result of this, our direct observation over the ground held by the enemy was-not so good as it was further south. On portions of this front the opposing first line trenches were more widely separated from each other; while in the valleys to the north were many hidden gun positions from which the enemy could develop flanking fire on our troops as they advanced across the open.

6. The period of active operations dealt with in this despatch divides itself roughly into three phases. The first phase opened with theattack of the 1st July, the success of which evidently came as a surprise to the enemy and caused considerable confusion and disorganisation in his ranks. The advantages gained on that date and developed during the first half of July may be regarded as having been rounded off by the operations of the 14th July and three following days, which gave us possession of the southern crest of the main plateau between Delville Wood and Bazentin-le-Petit. We then entered upon a contest lasting for many weeks, during which the enemy, having found his strongest defences unavailing, and now fully alive to his danger, put forth his utmost efforts to keep his hold on the main ridge. This stage of the battle constituted a prolonged and severe struggle for mastery between the contending armies, in which, although progress was slow and difficult, the confidence of our troops in their ability to win was never shaken. Their tenacity and determination proved more than equal to their task, and by the first week in September they had established a fighting superiority that has left its mark on the enemy, of which possession of the ridge was merely the visible proof. The way was then opened for the third phase, in which our advance was pushed down the forward slopes of the ridge and further extended on both flanks until, from Morval to Thiepval, the whole plateau and a good deal of ground beyond were in our possession.

Meanwhile our gallant Allies, in addition to great successes south of the Somme, had pushed their advance, against equally determined opposition and under most difficult tactical conditions, up the long slopes on our immediate right, and were now preparing to drive the enemy from the summit of the narrow and difficult portion of the main ridge which lies between the Combles Valley and the River Tortille, a stream flowing from the north into the Somme just below Peronne.

7. Defences of the nature described could only be attacked with any prospect of success after careful artillery preparation. It was accordingly decided that our bombardment should begin on the 24th June, and a large force of artillery was brought into action for the purpose. Artillery bombardments were also carried out daily at different points on the rest of our front, and during the period from the 24th June to 1st July gas was discharged with good effect at more than forty places along our line upon a frontage which in total amounted to over 15 miles. Some 70 raids, too, were undertaken by our infantry between Gommecourt and our extreme left north of Ypres during the week preceding the attack, and these kept me well informed as to the enemy's dispositions, besides serving other useful purposes.

On the 25th June the Royal Flying Corps carried out a general attack on the enemy's observation balloons, destroying nine of them, and depriving the enemy for the time being of this form of observation.

8. On July 1st, at 7.30 a.m., after a final hour of exceptionally violent bombardment, our infantry assault was launched. Simultaneously the French attacked on both sides of the Somme, co-operating closely with us. The British main front of attack extended from Maricourt on our right, round the salient at Fricourt, to the Ancre in front of St. Pierre Divion. To assist this main attack by holding the enemy's reserves and occupying his artillery, the enemy's trenches north of the Ancre, as far as Serre inclusive, were to be assaulted simultaneously; while further north a subsidiary attack was to be made on both sides of the salient at Gommecourt. I had entrusted the attack on the front from Maricourt to Serre to the Fourth Army, under the command of General Sir Henry S. Rawlinson, Bart., K.C.B., K.C.V.O., with five Army Corps at his disposal. The subsidiary attack at Gommecourt was carried out by troops from the Army commanded by General Sir E. H. H. Allenby, K.C.B.

Just prior to the attack the mines which had been prepared under the enemy's lines were exploded, and smoke was discharged at many places along our front. Through this smoke our infantry advanced to the attack with the utmost steadiness, in spite of the very heavy barrage of the enemy's guns. On our right our troops met with immediate success, and rapid progress was made. Before midday Montauban had been carried, and shortly afterwards the Briqueterie, to the east, and the whole of the ridge to the west of the village were in our hands. Opposite Mametz part of our assembly trenches had been practically levelled by the enemy artillery, making it necessary for our infantry to advance to the attack across 400 yards of open ground. Nonetheless they forced their way into Mametz, and reached their objective in the valley beyond, first throwing out a defensive flank towards Fricourt on their left. At the same time the enemy's trenches were entered north of Fricourt, so that the enemy's garrison in that village was pressed on three sides. Further north, though the villages of La Boisselle and Ovillers for the time being resisted our attack, our troops drove deeply into the German lines on the flanks of these strongholds, and so paved the way for their capture later. On the spur running south from Thiepval the work known as the Leipzig Salient was stormed, and severe fighting took place for the possession of the village and its defences. Here and north of the valley of the Ancre as far as Serre, on the left flank of our attack, our initial successes were not sustained. Striking progress was made at many points and parties of troops penetrated the enemy's positions to the outer defences of Grandcourt, and also to Pendant Copse and Serre; but the enemy's continued resistance at Thiepval and Beaumont Hamel made it impossible to forward reinforcements and ammunition, and, in spite of their gallant efforts, our troops were forced to withdraw during the night to their own lines.

The subsidiary attack at Gommecourt also forced its way into the enemy's positions; but there met with such vigorous opposition, that as soon as it was considered that the attack had fulfilled its object our troops were withdrawn.

9. In view of the general situation at the end of the first day's operations, I decided that the best course was to press forward on a front extending from our junction with the French to a point halfway between La Boisselle and Contalmaison, and to limit the offensive on our left for the present to a slow and methodical advance. North of the Ancre such preparations were to be made as would hold the enemy to his positions, and enable the attack to be resumed there later if desirable. In order that General Sir Henry Rawlinson might be left free to concentrate his attention on the portion of the front where the attack was to be pushed home, I also decided to place the operations against the front, La Boisselle to Serre, under the command of General Sir Hubert de la P. Gough, K.C.B., to whom I accordingly allotted the two northern corps of Sir Henry Rawlinson's army. My instructions to Sir Hubert Gough were that his Army was to maintain a steady pressure on the front from La Boisselle to the Serre Road, and to act as a pivot, on which our line could swing as our attacks on his right made progress towards the north.

10. During the succeeding days the attack was continued on these lines. In spite of strong counter-attacks on the Briqueterie and Montauban, by midday on the 2nd July our troops had captured Fricourt, and in the afternoon and evening stormed Fricourt Wood and the farm to the north. During the 3rd and 4th July Bernafay and Caterpillar Woods were also captured, and our troops pushed forward to the railway north of Mametz. On these days the reduction of La Boisselle was completed after hard fighting, while the outskirts of Contalmaison were reached on the 5th July. North of La Boisselle also the enemy's forces opposite us were kept constantly engaged, and our holding in the Leipzig Salient was gradually increased.

To sum up the results of the fighting of these five days, on a front of over six miles, from the Briqueterie to La Boisselle, our troops had swept over the whole of the enemy's first and strongest system of defence, which he had done his utmost to render impregnable. They had driven him back over a distance of more than a mile, and had carried four elaborately fortified villages. The number of prisoners passed back at the close of the 5th July had already reached the total of ninety-four officers and 5,724 other ranks.

11. After the five days' heavy and continuous fighting just described it was essential to carry out certain readjustments and reliefs of the forces engaged. In normal conditions of enemy resistance the amount of progress that can be made at any time without a pause in the general advance is necessarily limited. Apart from the physical exhaustion of the attacking troops and the considerable distances separating the enemy's successive main systems of defence, special artillery preparation was required before a successful assault could be delivered. Meanwhile, however, local operations were continued in spite of much unfavourable weather. The attack on Contalmaison and Mametz Wood was undertaken on the 7th July, and after three days' obstinate fighting, in the course of which the enemy delivered several powerful counter-attacks, the village and the whole of the wood, except its northern border, were finally secured. On the 7th July also a footing was gained in the outer defences of Ovillers, while on the 9th July on our extreme right Maltz Horn Farm—an important point on the spur north of Hardecourt —was secured. A thousand yards north of this farm our troops had succeeded at the second attempt in establishing themselves on the 8th July in the southern end of Trones Wood. The enemy's positions in the northern and eastern parts of this wood were very strong, and no less than eight powerful German counter-attacks were made here during the next five days. In the course of this struggle portions of the wood changed hands several times; but we were left eventually, on the 13th July, in possession of the southern part of it.

12. Meanwhile Mametz Wood had been entirely cleared of the enemy, and with Trones Wood also practically in our possession we were in a position to undertake an assault upon the enemy's second system of defences. Arrangements were accordingly made for an attack to be delivered at daybreak on the morning of the 14th July against a front extending from Longueval to Bazentin-le-Petit Wood, both inclusive. Contalmaison Villa, on a spur 1,000 yards west of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood, had already been captured to secure the left flank of the attack, and advantage had been taken of the progress made by our infantry to move our artillery forward into new positions. The preliminary bombardment had opened on the 11th July. The opportunities offered by the ground for enfilading the enemy's lines were fully utilised and did much to secure the success of our attack.

13. In the early hours of the 14th July the attacking troops moved out over the open for a distance of from about 1,000 to 1,400 yards, and lined up in the darkness just below the crest and some 300 to 500 yards from the enemy's trenciies. Their advance was covered by strong patrols, and their correct deployment had been ensured by careful previous preparations. The whole movement was carried out unobserved and without touch being lost in any case. The decision to attempt a night operation of this magnitude with an Army, the bulk of which has been raised since the beginning of the war, was perhaps the highest tribute that could be paid to the quality of our troops. It would not have been possible but for the most careful preparation and forethought, as well as thorough reconnaissance of the ground which was in many cases made personally by Divisional, Brigade and Battalion Commanders and their staffs before framing their detailed orders for the advance. The actual assault was delivered at 3.25 a.m. on the 14th July, when there was just sufficient light to be able to distinguish friend from foe at short ranges, and along the whole front attacked our troops, preceded by a very effective artillery barrage, swept over the enemy's first trenches and on into the defences beyond.

On our right the enemy was driven from his last foothold in Trones Wood, and by 8.0 a.m. we had cleared the whole of it, relieving a body of 170 men who had maintained themselves all night in the northern corner of the wood, although completely surrounded by the enemy. Our position in the wood was finally consolidated, and strong patrols were sent out from it in the direction of Guillemont and Longueval. The southern half of this latter village was already in the hands of the troops who had advanced west of Trones Wood. The northern half, with the exception of two strong points, was captured by 4.0 p.m. after a severe struggle.

In the centre of our attack Bazentin-le-Grand village and wood were also gained, and our troops pushing northwards captured Bazentin- le-Petit village, and the cemetery to the east. Here the enemy counter-attacked twice about midday without success, and again in the afternoon, on the latter occasion momentarily reoccupying the northern half of the village as far as the church. Our troops immediately returned to the attack, and drove him out again with heavy losses. To the left of the village Bazentin-le-Petit Wood was cleared, in spite of the considerable resistance of the enemy along its western edge, where we successfully repulsed a counter-attack. In the afternoon further ground was gained to the west of the Wood, and posts were established immediately south of Pozieres.

The enemy's troops, who had been severely handled in these attacks and counter-attacks, began to show signs of disorganisation, and it was reported early in the afternoon that it was possible to advance to High Wood. General Rawlinson, who had held a force of cavalry in readiness for such an eventuality, decided to employ a part of it. As the fight progressed small bodies of this force had pushed -forward gradually, keeping in close touch with the development of the action and prepared to seize quickly any opportunity that might occur. A squadron now came up on the flanks of our infantry, who entered High Wood at about 8.0 p.m., and, after some hand-to-hand fighting, cleared the whole of the Wood with the exception of the northern apex. Acting mounted in co-operation with the infantry the cavalry came into action with good effect, killing several of the enemy and capturing some prisoners.

14. On the 15th July the battle still continued, though on a reduced scale. Arrow Head Copse, between the southern edge of Trones Wood and Guillemont, and Waterlot Farm on the Longueval-Guillemont Road, were seized, and Delville Wood was captured and held against several hostile counterattacks. In Longueval fierce fighting continued until dusk for the possession of the two strong points and the orchards to the north of the village. The situation in this area made the position of our troops in High Wood somewhat precarious, and they now began to suffer numerous casualties from the enemy's heavy shelling. Accordingly orders were given for their withdrawal, and this was effected during the night of the 15/16th July without interference by the enemy. All the wounded were brought in.

In spite of repeated enemy counter-attacks further progress was made on the night of the 16th July along the enemy's main second line trenches north-west of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood to within 500 yards of the north-east corner of the village of Pozieres, which our troops were already approaching from the South.

Meanwhile the operations further north had also made progress. Since the attack of the 7th July the enemy in and about Ovillers had been pressed relentlessly, and gradually driven back by incessant bombing attacks and local assaults, in accordance with the general instructions I had given to General Sir Hubert Gough. On the 16th July a large body of the garrison of Ovillers surrendered, and that night and during the following day, by a direct advance from the west across No Man's Land, our troops carried the remainder of the village and pushed out along the spur to the north and eastwards towards Pozieres.

15. The results of the operations of the 14th July and subsequent days were of considerable importance. The enemy's second main system of defence had been captured on a front of over three miles. We had again forced him back more than a mile, and had gained possession of the southern crest of the main ridge on a front of 6,000 yards. Four more of his fortified villages and three woods had been
wrested from him by determined fighting, and our advanced troops had penetrated as far as his third line of defence. In spite of a resolute resistance and many counter-attacks, in which the enemy had suffered severely, our line was definitely established from Maltz Horn Farm, where we met the French left, northwards along the eastern edge of Trones Wood to Longueval, then westwards past Bazentin-le-Grand to the northern corner of Bazentin-le-Petit and Bazentin-le-Petit Wood, and then westwards again past the southern face of Pozieres to the north of Ovillers. Posts were established at Arrow Head Copse and Waterlot Farm,vwhile we had troops thrown forward in Delville Wood and towards High Wood, though their position was not yet secure.

I cannot speak too highly of the skill, daring, endurance and determination by which these results had been achieved. Great credit is due to Sir Henry Rawlinson for the thoroughness and care with which this difficult undertaking was planned; while the advance and deployment made by night without confusion, and the complete success of the subsequent attack, constitute a striking tribute to the discipline and spirit of the troops engaged, as well as to the powers of leadership and organisation of their commanders and staffs. During these operations and their development on the 15th a number of enemy guns were taken, making our total captures since the 1st July 8 heavy howitzers, 4 heavy guns, 42 field and light guns and field howitzers, 30 trench mortars and 52 machine guns. Very considerable losses had been inflicted on the enemy, and the prisoners captured amounted to over 2,000, bringing the total since the 1st July to over 10,000.

16. There was strong evidence that the enemy forces engaged on the battle front had been severely shaken by the repeated successes gained by ourselves and our Allies; but the great strength and depth of his defences had secured for him sufficient time to bring up fresh troops, and he had still many powerful fortifications, both trenches, villages and woods, to which he could cling in our front and on our flanks. We had, indeed, secured a footing on the main ridge, but only on a front of 6,000 yards; and desirous though I was to follow up quickly the successes we had won, it was necessary first to widen this front. West of Bazentin-le-Petit the villages of Pozieres and. Thiepval, together with the whole elaborate system of trenches round, between and on the main ridge behind them, had still to be carried. An advance further east would, however, eventually turn these defences, and all that was for the present required on the left flank of our attack was a steady, methodical, step by step advance as already ordered. On our right flank the situation called for stronger measures. At Delville Wood and Longueval our lines formed a sharp salient, from which our front ran on the one side westwards to Pozieres, and on the other southwards to Maltz Horn Farm. At Maltz Horn Farm our lines joined the French, and the Allied front continued still southwards to the village of Hem on the Somme. This pronounced salient invited counterattacks by the enemy. He possessed direct observation on it all round from Guillemont on the south-east to High Wood on the northwest. He could bring a concentric fire of artillery to bear not only on the wood and village, but also on the confined space behind, through which ran the French communications as well as ours, where great numbers of guns, besides ammunition and impedimenta of all sorts, had necessarily to be crowded together. Having been in occupation of this ground for nearly two years he knew every foot of it, and could not fail to appreciate the possibilities of causing us heavy loss there by indirect artillery fire; while it was evident that, if he could drive in the salient in our line and so gain direct observation on to the ground behind, our position in that area would become very uncomfortable. If there had not been good grounds for confidence that the enemy was not capable of driving from this position troops who had shown themselves able to wrest it from him, the situation would have been an anxious one. In any case it was clear that the first requirement at the moment was that our right flank, and the French troops in extension of it, should swing up into line with our centre. To effect this, however, strong enemy positions had to be captured both by ourselves and by our Allies.

From Delville Wood the main plateau extends for 4,000 yards east-north-east to Les Boeufs and Morval, and for about the same distance south-eastwards to Leuze and Bouleau Woods, which stand above and about 1,000 yards to the west of Combles. To bring my right up into line with the rest of my front it was necessary to capture Guillemont, Falfemont Farm and Leuze Wood, and then Ginchy and Bouleaux Wood. These localities were naturally very strong, and they had been elaborately fortified. The enemy's main second line system of defence ran in front of them from Waterlot Farm, which was already in our hands, south-eastwards to Falfemont Farm, and thence southwards to the Somme. The importance of holding us back in this area could not escape the enemy's notice, and he had dug and wired many new trenches, both in front of and behind his original lines. He had also brought up fresh troops, and there was no possibility of taking him by surprise. The task before us was therefore a very difficult one and entailed a real trial of strength between the opposing forces. At this juncture its difficulties were increased by unfavourable weather. The nature of the ground limited the possibility of direct observation by our artillery fire, and we were consequently much dependent on observation from the air. As in that element we had attained almost complete superiority, all that we required was a clear atmosphere; but with this we were not favoured for several weeks. We had rather more rain than is usual in July and August, and even when no rain fell there was an almost constant haze and frequent low clouds. In swinging up my own right it was very important that the French line north of the Somme should be advanced at the same time in close combination with the movement of the British troops. The line of demarcation agreed on between the French commander and myself ran from Maltz Horn Farm due eastwards to the Combles Valley and then northeastwards up that valley to a point midway between Sailly-Saillisel and Morval. These two villages had been fixed upon as the objectives, respectively, of the French left and of my right. In order to advance in co-operation with my right, and eventually to reach Sailly-Saillisel, our Allies had still to fight their way up that portion of the main ridge which lies between the Combles Valley on the west and the River Tortille on the east. To do so they had to capture, in the first place, the strongly fortified villages of Maurepas, Le Forest, Rancourt and Fregicourt, besides many woods and strong systems of trenches. As the high ground on each side of the Combles Valley commands the slopes of the ridge on the opposite side, it was essential that the advance of the two armies should be simultaneous and made in the closest co-operation. This was fully recognised by both armies and our plans were made accordingly.

To carry out the necessary preparations to deal with the difficult situation outlined above a short pause was necessary to enable tired troops to be relieved and guns to be moved forward; while at the same time old communications had to be improved and new ones made. Entrenchments against probable counterattacks could not be neglected, and fresh dispositions of troops were required for the new attacks to be directed eastwards. It was also necessary to continue such pressure on the rest of our front, not only on the Ancre but further south, as would make it impossible for the enemy to devote himself entirely to resisting the advance between Delville Wood and the Somme. In addition it was desirable further to secure our hold on the main ridge west of Delville Wood by gaining more ground to our front in that direction. Orders were therefore issued in accordance with the general considerations explained above, and, without relaxing pressure along the enemy's front from Delville Wood to the West, preparations for an attack on Guillemont were pushed on.

17. During the afternoon of the 18th July the enemy developed his expected counterattack against Delville Wood, after heavy preliminary shelling. By sheer weight of numbers' and at very heavy cost he forced his way through the northern and north-eastern portions of the wood and into the northern half of Longueval, which our troops had cleared only that morning. In the south-east corner of the wood he was held up by a gallant defence, and further south three attacks on our positions in Waterlot Farm failed. This enemy attack on Delville Wood marked the commencement of the long closely contested struggle which was not finally decided in our favour till the fall of Guillemont on the 3rd September, a decision which was confirmed by the capture of Ginchy six days later. Considerable gains were indeed made during this period; but progress was slow and bought only by hard fighting. A footing was established in High Wood on the 20th July and our line linked up thence with Longueval. A subsequent advance by the Fourth Army on the 23rd July on a wide front from Guillemont to near Pozieres found the enemy in great strength all along the line, with machine guns and forward troops in shell holes and newly constructed trenches well in front of his main defences. Although ground was won the strength of the resistance experienced showed that the hostile troops had recovered from their previous confusion sufficiently to necessitate long and careful preparation before further successes on any great scale could be secured. An assault delivered simultaneously on this date by General Gough's Army against Pozieres gained considerable results, and by the morning of the 25th July the whole of that village was carried, including the cemetery, and important progress was made along the enemy's trenches to the north-east. That evening, after heavy artillery preparation, the enemy launched two more powerful counterattacks, the one directed against our new position in and around High Wood and the other delivered from the north-west of Delville Wood. Both attacks were completely broken up with very heavy losses to the enemy.

On the 27th July the remainder of Delville Wood was recovered, and two days later the northern portion of Longueval and the orchards were cleared of the enemy, after severe fighting, in which our own and the enemy's artillerv were very active.

18. On the 30th July the village of Guillemont and Falfemont Farm to the south-east were attacked, in conjunction with a French attack north of the Somme. A battalion entered Guillemont, and part of it passed through to the far side; but as the battalions on either flank did not reach their objectives, it was obliged to fall back, after holding out for some hours on the western edge of the village. In a subsequent local attack on the 7th August our troops again entered Guillemont, but were again compelled to fall back owing to the failure of a simultaneous effort against the enemy's trenches on the flanks of the village. The ground to the south of Guillemont was dominated by the enemy's positions in and about that village. It was therefore hoped that these positions might be captured first, before an advance to the south of them in the direction of Falfemont Farm was pushed further forward. It had now become evident, however, that Guillemont could not be captured as an isolated enterprise without very heavy loss, and, accordingly, arrangements were made with the French Army on our immediate right for a series of combined attacks, to be delivered in progressive stages, which should embrace Maurepas, Falfemont Farm, Guillemont, Leuze Wood and Ginchy.

An attempt on the 16th August to carry out the first stage of the pre-arranged scheme met with only partial success, and two days later, after a preliminary bombardment, lasting thirty-six hours, a larger combined attack was undertaken. In spite of a number of enemy counter-attacks—the most violent of which, levelled at the point of junction of the British with the French, succeeded in forcing our Allies and ourselves back from a part of the ground won—very valuable progress was made, and our troops established themselves in the outskirts of Guillemont village and occupied Guillemont Station. A violent counterattack on Guillemont Station was repulsed on the 23rd August, and next day further important progress was made on a wide front north and east of Delville Wood.

19. Apart from the operations already described, others of a minor character, yet involving much fierce and obstinate fighting, continued during this period on the fronts of both the British Armies. Our lines were pushed forward wherever possible by means of local attacks and by bombing and sapping, and the enemy was driven out of various forward positions from which he might hamper our progress. By these means many gains were made which, though small in themselves, in the aggregate represented very considerable advances. In this way our line was brought to the crest of the ridge above Martinpuich, and Pozieres Windmill and the high ground north of the village were secured, and with them observation over Martinpuich and Courcelette and the enemy's gun positions in their neighbourhood and around Le Sars. At a later date our troops reached the defences of Mouquet Farm, north-west of Pozieres, and made progress in the enemy's trenches south of Thiepval. The enemy's counter-attacks were incessant and frequently of great violence, but they were made in vain and at heavy cost to him. The fierceness of the fighting can be gathered from the fact that one regiment of the German Guards Reserve Corps which had been in the Thiepval salient opposite Mouquet Farm is known to have lost 1,400 men in fifteen days.

20. The first two days of September on both Army fronts were spent in preparation for a more general attack, which the gradual progress made during the preceding month had placed us in a position to undertake. Our assault was delivered at 12 noon on the 3rd September on a front extending from our extreme right to the enemy trenches on the right bank of the Ancre, north of Hamel. Our Allies attacked simultaneously on our right. Guillemont was stormed and at once consolidated, and our troops pushed on unchecked to Ginchy and the line of the road running south to Wedge Wood. Ginchy was also seized, but here in the afternoon we were very strongly counter-attacked. For three days the tide of attack and counter-attack swayed backwards and forwards amongst the ruined houses of the village, till, in the end, for three days more the greater part of it remained in the enemy's possession. Three counter-attacks made on the evening of the 3rd September against our troops in Guillemont all failed with considerable loss to the enemy. We also gained ground north of Delville Wood and in High Wood, though here an enemy counter-attack recovered part of the ground won.

On the front of General Gough's Army, though the enemy suffered heavy losses in personnel, our gain in ground was slight.

21. In order to keep touch with the French who were attacking on our right, the assault on Falfemont Farm on the 3rd September was delivered three hours before the opening of the main assault. In the impetus of their first rush our troops reached the farm, but could not hold it. Nevertheless, they pushed on to the north of it, and on the 4th September delivered a series of fresh assaults upon it from the west and north. Ultimately this strongly fortified position was occupied piece by piece, and by the morning of the 5th September the whole of it was in our possession. Meanwhile further progress had been made to the north-east of the farm, where considerable initiative was shown by the local commanders. By the evening of the same day our troops were established strongly in Leuze Wood, which on the following day was finally cleared of the enemy.

22. In spite of the fact that most of Ginchy and of High Wood remained in the enemy's hands, very noteworthy progress had been made in the course of these four days' operations, exceeding anything that had been achieved since the 14th July. Our right was advanced on a front of nearly two miles to an average depth of nearly one mile, penetrating the enemy's original second line of defence on this front, and capturing strongly fortified positions at Falfemont Farm, Leuze Wood, Guillemont, and south-east of Delville Wood, where we reached the western outskirts of Ginchy. More important than this gain in territory was the fact that the barrier which for seven weeks the enemy had maintained Against our further advance had at last been broken. Over 1,000 prisoners were made and many machine guns taken or destroyed in the course of the fighting.

23. Preparations for a further attack upon Ginchy continued without intermission, and at 4.45 p.m. on the 9th September the attack was reopened on the whole of the Fourth Army front. At Ginchy and to the north of Leuze Wood it met with almost immediate success. On the right the enemy's line was seized over a front of more than 1,000 yards from the southwest corner of Bouleaux Wood in a northwesterly direction to a point just south of the Guilleniout-Morval tramway. Our troops again forced their way into Ginchy, and passing beyond it carried the line of enemy trenches to the east. Further progress was made east of Delville Wood and south and east of High Wood. Over 500 prisoners were taken in the operations of the 9th September and following days, making the total since the 1st July over 17,000.

24. Meanwhile the French had made great progress on our right, bringing their line forward to Louage Wood (just south of Combles)- Le Forest-Clery-sur-Somme, all three inclusive. The weak salient in the Allied line had therefore disappeared and we had gained the front required for further operations. Still more importance, however, lay in the proof afforded by the results described of' the ability of our new Armies not only to rush the enemy's strongest defences, as had been accomplished on the 1st and 14th July, but also to wear down and break his power of resistance by a steady, relentless pressure, as they had done during the weeks of this fierce and protracted struggle. As has already been recounted, the preparations made for our assault on the 1st July had been long and elaborate; but though the enemy knew that an attack was coming, it would seem that he considered the troops already on the spot, secure in their apparently impregnable defences, would suffice to deal with it. The success of that assault, combined with the vigour and determination with which our troops pressed their advantage, and followed by the successful night attack of the 14th July, all served to awaken him to a fuller realisation of his danger. The great depth of his system of fortification, to which reference has been made, gave him time to reorganise his defeated troops, and to hurry up numerous fresh divisions and more guns. Yet in spite of this, he was still pushed back, steadily and continuously. Trench after trench, and strong point after strong point were wrested from him. The great majority of his frequent counter-attacks failed completely, with heavy loss; while the few that achieved temporary local success purchased it dearly, and were soon thrown back from the ground they had for the moment regained. The enemy had, it is true, delayed our advance considerably, but the effort had cost him dear; and the comparative collapse of his resistance during the last few days of the struggle justified the belief that in the long run decisive victory would lie with our troops, who had displayed such fine fighting qualities and such indomitable endurance and resolution.

25. Practically the whole of the forward crest of the main ridge, on a front of some 9,000 yards from Delville Wood to the road above Mouquet Farm, was now in our hands, and with it the advantage of observation over the slopes beyond. East of Delville Wood, for a further 3,000 yards to Leuze Wood, we were-firmly established on the main ridge; while further east, across the Combles Valley, the-French were advancing victoriously on our right. But though the centre of our line was well placed, on our flanks there was still difficult ground to be won. From Ginchy the crest of the high ground runs northwards for 2,000 yards, and then eastward, in a long spur, for nearly 4,000 yards. Near the eastern extremity of this spur stands the village of Morval, commanding a wide field of view and fire in every direction. At Leuze Wood my right was still 2,000 yards from its objective at this village, and between lay a broad and deep branch of the main Combles Valley, completely commanded by the Morval spur, and flanked, not only from its head north-east of Ginchy, but also from the high ground east of the Combles Valley, which looks directly into it. Up this high ground beyond the Combles Valley the French were working their way towards their objective at Sailly-Saillisel, situated due east of Morval, and standing at the same level. Between these two villages the ground falls away to the head of the Combles Valley, which runs thence in a south-westerly direction. In the bottom of this valley lies the small town of Combles, then well fortified and strongly held, though dominated by my right at Leuze Wood, and by the French left on the opposite heights. It had been agreed between the French and myself that an assault on Combles would not be necessary, as the place could be rendered untenable by pressing forward along the ridges above it in on either side. The capture of Morval from the south presented a very difficult problem, while the capture of Sailly-Saillisel, at that time some 3,000 yards to the north of the French left, was in some respects even more difficult. The line of the French advance was narrowed almost to a defile by the extensive and strongly fortified wood of St. Pierre Vaast on the one side, and on the other by the Combles Valley, which, with the branches running out from it, and the slopes on each side, is completely commanded, as has been pointed out, by the heights bounding the valley on the east and west. On my right flank, therefore, the progress of the French and British forces was still interdependent, and the closest co-operation continued to be necessary in order to gain the further ground required to enable my centre to advance on a sufficiently wide front. To cope with such a situation unity of command is usually essential, but in this case the cordial good feeling between the Allied Armies, and the earnest desire of each to assist the other, proved equally effective, and removed all difficulties.

On my left flank the front of General Gough's Army bent back from the main ridge near Mouquet Farm down a spur descending south-westwards, and then crossed a broad valley to the Wonderwork, a strong point situated in the enemy's front-line system near the southern end of the spur on the higher slopes of which T'hiepval stands. Opposite this part of our line we had still to carry the enemy's original defences on the main ridge above Thiepval, and in the village itself, defences which may fairly be described as being as iiearly impregnable as nature, art, and the unstinted labour of nearly two years could make them. Our advance on T'hiepval, and on the defences above it, had been carried out up to this date, in accordance with my instructions given on the 3rd July, by a slow and methodical progression, in which great skill and much patience and endurance had been displayed with entirely satisfactory results. General Gough's Army had, in fact, acted most successfully in the required manner as a pivot to the remainder of the attack. The Thiepval defences were known to be exceptionally strong, and as immediate possession of them was not necessary to the development of my plans after the 1st July, there had been no need to incur the heavy casualties to be expected in an attempt to rush them. The time was now approaching, although it had not yet arrived, when their capture would become necessary; but from the positions we had now reached and those which we expected shortly to obtain, I had no doubt that they could be rushed when required without undue loss. A a important part of the remaining positions, required for my assault on them was now won by a highly successful enterprise carried out on the evening of the 14th September, by which the Wonderwork was stormed.

26. The general plan of the combined Allied attack which was opened on the 15th September was to pivot on the high ground south of the Ancre and north of the Albert-Bapaume road, while the Fourth Army devoted its whole effort to the rearmost of the enemy's original systems of defence between Morval and Le Sars. Should our success in this direction warrant it I made arrangements to enable me to extend the left of the attack to embrace the villages of Martinpuich and Courcelette. As soon as our advance on this front had reached the Morval line, the time would have arrived to bring forward my left across the Thiepval Ridge. Meanwhile on my right our Allies arranged to continue the line of advance in close co-operation with me from the Somme to the slopes above Combles; but directing their main effort northwards against the villages of Rancourt and Fregicourt, so as to complete the isolation of Combles and open the way for their attack upon Sailly-Saillisel.

27. A methodical bombardment was commenced at 6.0 a.m. on the 12th September and was continued steadily and uninterruptedly till the moment of attack. At 6.20 a.m. on the 15th September the infantry assault commenced, and at the same moment the bombardment became intense. Our new heavily armoured cars, known as "Tanks," now brought into action for the first time, successfully co-operated with the infantry, and coming as a surprise to the enemy rank and file gave valuable help in breaking down their resistance. The advance met with immediate success on almost the whole of the front attacked. At 8.40 a.m. tanks were seen to be entering Flers, followed by large numbers of troops. Fighting continued in Flers for some time, but by 10.0 a.m. our troops had reached the north side of the village, and by midday had occupied the enemy's trenches for some distance beyond. On our right our line was advanced to within assaulting distance of the strong line of defence running before Morval, Les Boeufs and Gueudecourt, and on our left High Wood was at last carried after many hours of very severe fighting, reflecting great credit on the attacking battalions. Our success made it possible to carry out during the afternoon that part of the plan which provided for the capture of Martinpuich and Courcelette, and by the end of the day both these villages were in our hands. On the 18th September the work of this day was completed by the capture of the Quadrilateral, an enemy stronghold which had hitherto blocked the progress of our right towards Morval. Further progress was also made beteen Flers and Martinpuich.

28. The result of the fighting of the 15th September and following days was a gain more considerable than any which had attended our arms in the course of a single operation since the commencement of the offensive. In the course of one day's fighting we had broken through two of the enemy's main defensive systems and had advanced on a front of over six miles to an average depth of a mile. In the course of this advance we had taken three large villages, each powerfully organised for prolonged resistance. Two of these villages had been carried by assault with short preparation in the course of a few hours' fighting. All this had been accomplished with a small number of casualties in comparison with the troops employed, and in spite of the fact that, as was afterwards discovered, the attack did not come as a complete surprise to the enemy. The total number of prisoners taken by us in these operations since their commencement on the evening of the 14th September amounted at this date to over 4,000, including 127 officers.

29. Preparations for our further advance were again hindered by bad weather, but at 12.35 p.m. on the 25th September, after a bombardment commenced early in the morning of the 24th, a general attack by the Allies was launched on the whole front between the Somme and Martinpuich. The objectives on the British front included the villages of Morval, Les Boeufs and Gueudecourt, and a belt of country about 1,000 yards deep curving round the north of Flers to a point midway between that village and Martinpuich. By nightfall the whole of these objectives were in our hands, with the exception of the village of Gueudecourt, before which our troops met with very serious resistance from a party of the enemy in a section of his fourth main system, of defence. On our right our Allies carried the village of Rancourt, and advanced their line to the outskirts of Fregioourt, capturing that village also during the night and early morning. Combles was therefore nearly surrounded by the Allied forces, and in the early morning of the 26th September the village was occupied simultaneously by the Allied forces, the British to the north and the French to the south, of the railway. The capture of Combles in this inexpensive fashion represented a not inconsiderable tactical success. Though lying in a hollow, the village was very strongly fortified, and possessed, in addition to the works which the enemy had constructed, exceptionally large cellars and galleries, at a great depth underground, sufficient to give effectual shelter to troops and material under the heaviest bombardment. Great quantities of stores and ammunition of all sorts were found in these cellars when the village was taken.

On the same day Gueudecourt was carried, after the protecting trench to the west had been captured in a somewhat interesting fashion. In the early morning a Tank started down the portion of the trench held by the enemy from the north-west, firing its machine guns and followed by bombers. The enemy could not escape, as we held the trench at the southern end. At the same time an aeroplane flew down the length of the trench, also firing a machine gun at. the enemy holding it. These then waved white handkerchiefs in token of surrender, and when this was reported by the | aeroplane the infantry accepted the surrender of the garrison. By 8.30 a.m. the whole trench had been cleared, great numbers of the enemy had been killed, and 8 officers and 362 other ranks made prisoners. Our total casualties amounted to five.

30. The success of the Fourth Army had now brought our advance to the stage at which I judged it advisable that Thiepval should be taken, in order to bring our left flank into line and establish it on the main ridge above that village, the possession of which would be of considerable tactical value in future operations. Accordingly at 12.25 p.m on the 26th September, before the enemy had been given time to recover from the blow struck by the Fourth Army, a general attack was launched against Thiepval and the Thiepval Ridge. The objective consisted of the whole of the high ground still remaining in enemy hands extending over a front of some 3,000 yards north and east of Thiepval, and including, in addition to that fortress, the Zollern Redoubt, the Stuff Redoubt, and the Schwaben Redoubt, with the connecting lines of trenches. The attack was a brilliant success. On the right our troops reached the system of enemy trenches which formed their objectives without great difficulty. In Thiepval and the strong works to the north of it the enemy's resistance was more desperate. Three waves of our attacking troops carried the outer defences of Mouquet Farm, and, pushing on, entered Zollern Redoubt, which they stormed and consolidated. In the strong point formed by the buildings of the Farm itself, the enemy garrison, securely posted in deep cellars, held out until 6.0 p.m., when their last defences were forced by a working party of a Pioneer Battalion acting on its own initiative. On the left of the attack fierce fighting, in which Tanks again gave valuable assistance to our troops, continued in Thiepval during that day and the following night, but by 8.30 a.m. on the 27th September the whole of the village of Thiepval was in our hands. Some 2,300 prisoners were taken in the course of the fighting on the Thiepval Ridge on these and the subsequent days, bringing the total number of prisoners taken in the battle area in the operations of the 14th-30th September to nearly 10,000. In the same period we had captured 27 guns, over 200 machine guns, and some 40 trench mortars.

31. On the same date the south and west sides of Stuff Redoubt were carried by our troops, together with the length of trench connecting that strong point with Schwaben Redoubt to the west and also the greater part of the enemy's defensive line eastwards along the northern slopes of the ridge. Schwaben Redoubt was assaulted during the afternoon, and in spite of counter attacks, delivered by strong enemy reinforcements, we captured the whole of the southern face of the Redoubt and pushed out patrols to the northern face and towards St. Pierre Divion. Our line was also advanced north of Courcelette, while on the Fourth Army front a further portion of the enemy's fourth system, of defence north-west of Gueudeoourt was carried on a front, of a mile. Between these two points the enemy fell back upon his defences running in front of Eaucourt l'Abbaye and Le Sars and on the afternoon and evening of the 27th September our troops were able to make a very considerable advance in this area without encountering serious opposition until within a few hundred yards of this line. The ground thus occupied extended to a depth of from 500 to 600 yards on a front of nearly two miles between the Bazentin-le-Petit, Ligny, Thilloy and Albert-Bapaume roads. Destremont Farm, south-west of Le Sars, was carried by a single company on the 29th September, and on the afternoon of the 1st October a successful attack was launched against Eaucourt l'Abbaye and the enemy defences to the east and west of it, comprising a total front of about 3,000 yards. Our artillery barrage was extremely accurate, and contributed greatly to the success of the attack. Bomb fighting continued among the buildings during the next two days, but by the evening of the 3rd October the whole of Eaucourt l'Abbaye was in our hands.

32. At the end of September I had handed over Morval to the French, in order to facilitate their attacks on Sailly-Saillisel, and on the 7th October, after a postponement rendered necessary by three days' continuous rain, our Allies made a considerable advance in the direction of the latter village. On the same day the Fourth Army attacked along the whole front from Les Boeufs to Destremont Farm in support of the operations of our Allies. The village of Le Sars was captured, together with the Quarry to the north-west, while considerable progress was made at other points along the front attacked. In particular, to the east of Gueudecourt, the enemy's trenchesi were carried on a breadth of some 2,000 yards, and a footing gained on the crest of the long spur which screens the defences of Le Transloy from the south-west. Nearly 1,000 prisoners were secured by the Fourth Army in the course of these operations.

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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 18:04    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Deel 2

33. With the exception of his positions in the neighbourhood of Sailly-Saillisel, and his scanty foothold on the northern crest of the high ground above Thiepval, the enemy had now been driven from the whole of the ridge lying between the Tortille and the Ancre. Possession of the north-western portion of the ridge north of the latter village carried with it observation over the valley of the Ancre between Miraumont and Hamel and the spurs and valleys held by the enemy on the right bank of the river. The Germans, therefore, made desperate- efforts to cling to their last remaining trenches in this area, and in the course of the three weeks' following our advance made repeated counter-attacks at heavy cost in the vain hope of recovering the ground they had lost. During this period our gains in the neighbourhood of Stuff and Schwaben Redoubts were gradually increased and secured in readiness for future operations; and I was quite confident of the ability of our troops, not only to repulse the enemy's attacks, but to clear him entirely from his last positions on the ridge whenever it should suit my plans to do so. I was, therefore, well content with the situation on this flank. Along the centre of our line from Gueudecourt to the west of Le Sars similar considerations applied. As we were already well down the forward slopes of the ridge on this front, it was for the time being inadvisable to make any serious advance. Pending developments elsewhere all that was necessary or indeed desirable was to carry on local operations to improve our positions and to keep the enemy fully employed. On our eastern flank, on the other hand, it was important to gain ground. Here the enemy still possessed a strong system of trenches covering the villages of Le Transloy and Beaulencourt and the town of Bapaume; but, although, he was digging with feverish haste, he had not yet been able to create any very formidable defences behind this line. In this direction, in fact, we had at last reached a stage at which a successful attack might reasonably be expected to yield much greater results than anything we had yet attained. The resistance of the troops opposed to us had seriously weakened in the course of our recent operations, and there was no reason to suppose that the effort required would not be within our powers. This last completed system of defence, before Le Transloy, was flanked to the south by the enemy's positions at Sailly-Saillisel and screened to the west by the spur lying between Le Transloy and Les Boeufs. A necessary preliminary, therefore, to an assault upon it was to secure the spur and the Sailly-Saillisel heights. Possession of the high ground at this latter village would at once give a far better command over the ground to the north and north-west, secure the flank of our operations towards Le Transloy, and deprive the enemy of observation over the Allied communications in the Combles Valley.

In view of the enemy's efforts to construct new systems of defence behind the Le Transloy line, it was desirable to lose no time in dealing with the situation. Unfortunately, at this juncture, very unfavourable weather set in and continued with scarcely a break during the remainder of October and the early part of November. Poor visibility seriously interfered with the work of our artillery, and constant rain turned the mass of hastily dug trenches for which we were fighting into channels of deep mud. The country roads, broken by countless shell craters, that cross the deep stretch of ground we had lately won, rapidly became almost impassable, making the supply of food, stores and ammunition a serious problem. These conditions multiplied the difficulties of attack to such .an extent that it was found impossible to exploit the situation with the rapidity necessary to enable us to reap the full benefits of the advantages we had gained. None the less my right flank continued to assist the operations of our Allies against Saillisel, and attacks were made to this end, whenever a slight improvement in the weather made the co-operation of artillery and infantry at all possible. The delay in our advance, however, though unavoidable, had given the enemy time to reorganise and rally his troops. His resistance again became stubborn and he seized every favourable opportunity for counter-attacks. Trenches changed hands with great frequency, the conditions of ground making it difficult to renew exhausted supplies of bombs and ammunition, or to consolidate the ground won, and so rendering it an easier matter to take a battered trench than to hold it.

34. On the 12th and 18th September further gains were made to the east of the Les Boeufs-Gueudecourt line and east of Le Sars, and some hundreds of prisoners were taken. On these dates, despite all the difficulties of ground, the French first reached and then captured the villages of Sailly-Saillisel, but the moment for decisive action was rapidly passing away, while the weather showed no signs of improvement. By this time, too, the ground had already become so bad that nothing less than a prolonged period of drying weather, which at that season of the year was most unlikely to occur, would suit our purpose. In these circumstances, while continuing to do all that was possible to improve my position on my right flank, I determined to press on with preparations for the exploitation of the favourable local situation on my left flank.

At midday on the 21st October, during a short spell of fine, cold weather, the line of Regina Trench and Stuff Trench, from the west Courcelette-Pys road westward to Schwaben Redoubt, was attacked with complete success. Assisted by an excellent artillery preparation and barrage, our infantry carried the whole of their objectives very quickly and with remarkably little; loss, and our new line was firmly established in spite of the enemy's shell fire. Over 1,000 prisoners were taken in the course of the day's fighting, a figure only slightly exceeded by our casualties. On the 23rd October, and again on the 5th November, while awaiting better weather for further operations on the Ancre, our attacks on the enemy's positions to the east of Les Boeufs and Gueudecourt were renewed, in conjunction with French operations against the Sailly-Saillisel heights and St. Pierre Vaast Wood. Considerable further progress was achieved. Our footing on the crest of the Le Transloy Spur was extended and secured, and the much contested tangle of trenches at our junction with the French left at last passed definitely into our possession. Many smaller gains were made in this neighbourhood by local assaults during these days, in spite of the difficult conditions of the ground. In particular, on the 10th November, after a day of improved weather, the portion of Regina Trench lying to the east of the Courcelette-Pys Road was carried on a front of about 1,000 yards. Throughout these operations the enemy's counter-attacks were very numerous and determined, succeeding indeed in the evening of the 23rd October in regaining a portion of the ground east of Le Sars taken from him by our attack on that day. On all other occasions his attacks were broken by our artillery or infantry and the losses incurred by him in these attempts, made frequently with considerable effectives, were undoubtedly very severe.

35. On the 9th November the long continued bad weather took a turn for the better, and thereafter remained dry and cold, with frosty nights and misty mornings, for some days. Final preparations were therefore pushed on for the attack on the Ancre, though, as the ground was still very bad in places, it was necessary to limit the operations to what it would be reasonably possible to consolidate and hold under the existing conditions. The enemy's defences in this area were already extremely formidable when they resisted our assault on the 1st July, and the succeeding period of four months had been spent in improving and adding to them in the light of the experience he had gained in the course of our attacks further south. The hamlet of St. Pierre Divion and the villages of Beaucourt-sur-Ancre and Beaumont Hamel, like the rest of the villages forming part of the enemy's original front in this district, were evidently intended by him to form a permanent line of fortifications, while he developed his offensive elsewhere. Realising that his position in them had become a dangerous one, the enemy had multiplied the number of his guns covering this part of his line, and at the end of October introduced an additional Division on his front between Grandcourt and Hebuterne.

36. At 5 a.m. on the morning of the 11th November the special bombardment preliminary to the attack was commenced. It continued with bursts of great intensity until 5.45 a.m. on the morning of the 13th November, when it developed into a very effective barrage covering the assaulting infantry. At that hour our troops advanced on the enemy's position through dense fog, and rapidly entered his first line trenches on almost the whole of the front attacked, from east of Schwaben Redoubt to the north of Serre. South of the Ancre, where our assault was directed northwards against the enemy's trenches on the northern slopes of the Thiepval ridge, it met with a success altogether remarkable for rapidity of execution and lightness of cost. By 7.20 a.m. our objectives east of St. Pierre Divion had been captured, and the Germans in and about that hamlet were hemmed in between our troops and the river. Many of the enemy were driven into their dugouts and surrendered, and at 9.0 a.m. the number of prisoners was actually greater than the attacking force. St. Pierre Divion soon fell, and in this area nearly 1,400 prisoners were taken by a single division at the expense of less than 600 casualties. The rest of our forces operating south of the Ancre attained their objectives with equal completeness and success.

North of the river the struggle was more severe, but very satisfactory results were achieved. Though parties of the enemy held out for some hours during the day in strong points at various places along his first line and in Beaumont Hamel, the main attack pushed on. The troops attacking close to the right bank of the Aricre reached their second objectives to the west and north-west of Beaucourt during the morning, and held on there for the remainder of the day and night, though practically isolated from the rest of our attacking troops. Their tenacity was of the utmost value, and contributed very largely to the success of the operations. At nightfall our troops were established on the western outskirts of Beaucourt, in touch with our forces south of the river, and held a line along the station road from the Ancre towards Beaumont Hamel, where we occupied the village. Further north the enemy's first line system for a distance of about half-a-mile beyond Beaumont Hamel was also in our hands. Still further north—opposite Serre— the ground was so heavy that it became necessary to abandon the attack at an early stage; although, despite all difficulties, our troops had in places reached the enemy's trenches in the course of their assault.

Next morning, at an early hour, the attack was renewed between Beaucourt and the top of the spur just north of Beaumont Hamel. The whole of Beaucourt was carried, and our line extended to the north-west along the Beaucourt road across the southern end of the Beaumont Hamel spur. The number of our prisoners steadily rose, and during this and the succeeding days our front was carried forward eastwards and northwards up the slopes of the Beaumont Hamel spur. The results of this attack were very satisfactory, especially as before its completion bad weather had set in again. We had secured the command of the Ancre valley on both banks of the river at the point where it entered, the enemy's lines, and, without great cost to ourselves, losses had been inflicted on the enemy which he himself admitted to be considerable. Our final total of prisoners taken in these operations, and their development during the subsequent days, exceeded 7,200, including 149 officers.

37. Throughout the period dealt with in this despatch the role of the other armies holding our defensive line from the northern limits of the battle front to beyond Ypres was necessearily a secondary one, but their task was neither light nor unimportant. While required to give precedence in all respects to the needs of the Somme battle, they were responsible for the security of the line held by them and for keeping the enemy on their front constantly on the alert. Their role was a very trying one, entailing heavy work on the troops and constant vigilance on the part of Commanders and Staffs. It was carried out to my entire satisfaction, and in an unfailing spirit of unselfish and broad-minded devotion to the general good, which is deserving of the highest commendation. Some idea of the thoroughness with which their duties were performed can be gathered from the fact that in the period of four and a half months from the 1st July some 360 raids were carried out, in the course of which the enemy suffered many casualties and some hundreds of prisoners were taken by us. The largest of these operations was undertaken on the 19th July in the neighbourhood of Armentieres [at Fromelles]. Our troops penetrated deeply into the enemy's defences, doing much damage to his works and inflicting severe losses upon him.

38. The three main objects with which we had commenced our offensive in July had already been achieved at the date when this account closes; in spite of the fact that the heavy autumn rains had prevented full advantage being taken of the favourable situation created by our advance, at a time when we had good grounds for hoping to achieve yet more important successes. Verdun had been relieved; the main German forces Lad been held on the western front; and the enemy's strength had been very considerably worn down. Any one of these three results is in itself sufficient to justify the Somme battle. The attainment of all three of them affords ample compensation for the splendid efforts of our troops and for the sacrifices made by ourselves and our Allies. They have brought us a long step forward towards the final victory of the Allied cause.

The desperate struggle for the possession of Verdun had invested that place with a moral and political importance out of all proportion to its military value. Its fall would undoubtedly have been proclaimed as a great victory for our enemies, and would have shaken the faith of many in our ultimate success. The failure of the enemy to capture it, despite great efforts and very heavy losses, was a severe blow to his prestige, especially in view of the confidence he had openly expressed as to the results of the struggle. Information obtained both during the progress of the Somme battle and since the suspension of active operations has fully established the effect of our offensive in keeping the enemy's main forces tied to the western front.

A movement of German troops eastward, which had commenced in June as a result of the Russian successes, continued for a short time only after the opening of the Allied attack. Thereafter the enemy forces that moved east consisted, with one exception, of divisions that had been exhausted in the Somme battle, and these troops were always replaced on the western front by fresh divisions. In November the strength of the enemy in the western theatre of war was greater than in July, notwithstanding the abandonment of his offensive at Verdun. It is possible that if Verdun had fallen large forces might still have been employed in an endeavour further to exploit that success. It is, however, far more probable, in view of developments in the eastern theatre, that a considerable transfer of troops in that direction would have followed. It is therefore justifiable to conclude that the Somme offensive, not only relieved Verdun, but held large forces which would otherwise have been employed against our Allies in the east.

The third great object of the Allied operations on the Somme was the wearing down of the enemy's powers of resistance. Any statement of the extent to which this has been attained must depend in some degree on estimates. There is, nevertheless, sufficient evidence to place it beyond doubt that the enemy's losses in men and material have been very considerably higher than those of the Allies, while morally the balance of advantage on our side is still greater. During the period under review a steady deterioration took place in the moral of large numbers of the enemy's troops. Many of them, it is true, fought with the greatest determination, even in the latest encounters, but the resistance of still larger numbers became latterly decidedly feebler than it had been in the earlier stages of the battle. Aided by the great depth of his defences, and by the frequent reliefs which his resources in men enabled him to effect, discipline and training held the machine together sufficiently to enable the enemy to rally and reorganise his troops after each fresh defeat. As our advance progressed, four-fifths of the total number of divisions engaged on the Western front were thrown one after another into the Somme battle, some of them twice, and some three times; and towards the end of the operations, when the weather unfortunately broke, there can be no doubt that his power of resistance had been very seriously diminished.

The total number of prisoners taken by us in the Somme battle between the 1st July and the 18th November is just over 38,000, including over 800 officers. During the same period we captured 29 heavy guns, 96 field guns and field howitzers, 136 trench mortars, and 514 machine guns.

So far as these results are due to the action of the British forces, they have been attained by troops the vast majority of whom had been raised and trained during the war. Many of them, especially amongst the drafts sent to replace wastage, counted their service by months, and gained in the Somme battle their first experience of war. The conditions under which we entered the war had made this unavoidable. We were compelled either to use hastily trained and inexperienced officers and men, or else to defer the offensive until we had trained them. In this latter case we should have failed our Allies. That these troops should have accomplished so much under such conditions, and against an Army and a nation whose chief concern for so many years has been preparation for war, constitutes a feat of which the history of our nation records no equal. The difficulties and hardships cheerfully overcome, and the endurance, determination, and invincible courage shown in meeting them, can hardly be imagined by those who have not had personal experience of the battle, even though they have themselves seen something of war.

The events which I have described in this Despatch forms but a bare outline of the more important occurrences. To deal in any detail even with these without touching on the smaller fights and the ceaseless work in the trenches continuing day and night for five months, is not possible here. Nor have I deemed it permissible in this Despatch, much as I desired to do so, to particularise the units, brigades, or divisions especially connected with the different events described. It would not be possible to do so without giving useful information to the enemy. Recommendations for individual rewards have been forwarded separately, and in due course full details will be made known. Meanwhile, it must suffice to say that troops from every part of the British Isles, and from every Dominion and quarter of the Empire, whether Regulars', Territorials, or men of the New Armies, have borne a share in the Battle of the Somme. While some have been more fortunate than others in opportunities for distinction, all have done their duty nobly. Among all the long roll of victories borne on the colours of our regiments, there has never been a higher test of the endurance and resolution of our infantry. They have shown themselves worthy of the highest traditions of our race, and of the proud records of former wars. Against such defences as we had to assault— far more formidable in many respects than those of the most famous fortresses in history— infantry would have been powerless without thoroughly efficient artillery preparation and support. The work of our artillery was wholly admirable, though the strain on the personnel was enormous. The excellence of the results attained was the more remarkable, in view of the shortness of the training of most of the junior officers, and of the N.C.Os. and men. Despite this, they rose to a very high level of technical and tactical skill, and the combination between artillery and infantry, on which, above everything, victory depends, was an outstanding feature of the battle. Good even in July, it improved with experience, until in the latter assaults it approached perfection.

In this combination between infantry and artillery the Royal Flying Corps played a highly important part. The admirable work of this Corps has been a very satisfactory feature of the battle. Under the conditions of modern war the duties of the Air Service are many and varied. They include the regulation and control of artillery fire by indicating targets and observing and reporting the results of rounds; the taking of photographs of enemy trenches, strong points, battery positions, and of the effect of bombardments; and the observation of the movements of the enemy behind his lines. The greatest skill and daring has been shown in the performance of all these duties, as well as in bombing expeditions. Our Air Service has also co-operated with our infantry in their assaults, signalling the position of our attacking troops and turning machine guns on to the enemy infantry and even on to his batteries in action. Not only has the work of the Royal Flying Corps to be carried out in all weathers and under constant fire from the ground, but fighting in the air has now become a normal procedure, in order to maintain the mastery over the enemy's Air Service. In these fights the greatest skill and determination have been shown, and great success has attended the efforts of the Royal Flying Corps. I desire to point out, however, that the maintenance of mastery in the air, which is essential, entails a constant and liberal supply of the most up-to-date machines, without which even the most skilful pilots cannot succeed.

The style of warfare in which we have been engaged offered no scope for cavalry action, with the exception of the one instance already mentioned, in which a small body of cavalry gave useful assistance in the advance on High Wood.

Intimately associated with the artillery and infantry in attack and defence the work of various special services contributed much towards the successes gained. Trench mortars, both heavy and light, have become an important adjunct to artillery in trench warfare, and valuable work has been done by the personnel in charge of these weapons. Considerable experience has been gained in their use, and they are likely to be employed even more frequently in the struggle in future. Machine guns play a great part—almost a decisive part under some conditions—in modern war, and our Machine Gun Corps has attained to considerable proficiency in their use, handling them with great boldness and skill. The highest value of. these weapons is displayed on the defensive rather than in the offensive, and we were attacking. Nevertheless, in attack also machine guns can exercise very great influence in the hands of men with a quick eye for opportunity and capable of a bold initiative. The Machine Gun Corps, though comparatively recently formed, has done very valuable work and will increase in importance. The part played by the new armoured cars —known as "tanks"—in some of the later fights has been brought to notice by me already in my daily reports. These cars proved of great value on various occasions, and the personnel in charge of them performed many deeds of remarkable valour.

The employment by the enemy of gas and of liquid flame as weapons of offence compelled us not only to discover ways to protect our troops from their effects but als- to devise means to make use of the same instruments of destruction. Great fertility of invention has been shown, and very great credit is due to the special personnel employed for the rapidity and success with which these new arms have been developed and perfected, and for the very great devotion to duty they have displayed in a difficult and dangerous service. The Army owes its thanks to the chemists, physiologists and physicists of the highest rank who devoted their energies to enabling us to surpass the enemy in the use of a means of warfare which took the civilised world by surprise. Our own experience of the numerous experiments and trials necessary before gas and name could be used, of the great preparations which had to be made for their manufacture, and of the special training required for the personnel employed, shows that the employment of such methods by the Germans was not the result of a desperate decision, but had been prepared for deliberately. Since we have been compelled; in self defence, to use similar methods, it is satisfactory to be able to record, on the evidence of prisoners, of documents captured, and of our own observation, that the enemy has suffered heavy casualties from our gas attacks, while the means of protection adopted by us have proved thoroughly effective.

Throughout the operations Engineer troops, both from home and overseas, have played an important role, and in every engagement the Field Companies, assisted by Pioneers, have co-operated with the other arms with the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty. In addition to the demands made on the services of the Royal Engineers in the firing line, the duties of the Corps during the preparation and development of the offensive embraced the execution of a vast variety of important works, to which attention has already been drawn in this despatch. Whether in or behind the firing line, or on the lines of communication, these skilled troops have continued to show the power of resource and the devotion to duty by which they have ever been characterised. The Tunnelling Companies still maintain their superiority over the enemy underground, thus safeguarding their comrades in the trenches. Their skill, enterprise and courage have been remarkable, and, thanks to their efforts, the enemy has nowhere been able to achieve a success of any importance by mining. During the Battle of the Somme the work of the Tunnelling Companies contributed in no small degree to the successful issue of several operations. The Field Survey Companies have worked throughout with ability and devotion, and have not only maintained a constant supply of the various maps required as the battle progressed, but have in various other ways been of great assistance to the artillery. The Signal Service, created a short time before the war began on a very small scale, has expanded in proportion with the rest of the Army, and is now a very large organisation. It provides the means of inter-communication between all the Armies and all parts of them, and in modern war requirements in this respect are on an immense and elaborate scale. The calls on this service have been very heavy, entailing a most severe strain, often under most trying and d'angerous conditions. Those calls have invariably been met with conspicuous success, and no service has shown a more whole-hearted and untiring energy in the fulfilment of its duty.

The great strain of the five months' battle was met with equal success by the Army Service Corps and the Ordnance Corps, as well as by all the other Administrative Services and Departments, both on the Lines of Communication and in front of them. The maintenance of large armies in a great battle under modern conditions is a colossal task. Though bad weather often added very considerably to the difficulties of transport, the troops never wanted for food, ammunition, or any of the other many and varied requirements for the supply of which these Services and Departments are responsible. This fact in itself is the highest testimony that can be given to the energy and efficiency with which the work was conducted. In connection with the maintenance and supply of our troops, I desire to express the obligation of the Army to the Navy for the unfailing success with which, in the face of every difficulty, the large numbers of men and the vast quantities of material required by us have been transported across the seas.

I also desire to record the obligation of the Army in the Field to the various authorities at home, and to the workers under them— women as well as men—by whose efforts and self-sacrifice all our requirements were met. Without the vast quantities of munitions and stores of all sorts provided, and without the drafts of men sent to replace wastage, the efforts of our troops could not have been maintained.

The losses entailed by the constant fighting threw a specially heavy strain on the Medical Services. This has been met with the greatest zeal and efficiency. The gallantry and devotion with which officers and men of the regimental medical service and Field Ambulances have discharged their duties is shown by the large number of the R.A.M.C. and Medical Corps of the Dominions who have fallen in the Field. The work of the Medical Services behind the front has been no less arduous. The untiring professional zeal and marked ability of the surgical specialists and consulting surgeons, combined with the skill and devotion of the medical and nursing staffs, both at the Casualty Clearing Stations in the Field and the Stationary and General Hospitals at the Base, have been beyond praise. In this respect also the Director General has on many occasions expressed to me the immense help the British Red Cross Society have been to him in
assisting the R.A.M.C. in their work. The health of the troops has been most satisfactory, and, during the period to which this despatch refers, there has been an almost complete absence of wastage due to disease of a preventable nature.

With such large forces as we now have in the Field, the control exercised by a Commander-in-Chief is necessarily restricted to a general guidance, and great responsibilities devolve on the Army Commanders. In the Somme Battle these responsibilities were entrusted to Generals Sir Henry Rawlinson and Sir Hubert Gough, commanding respectively the Fourth and Fifth Armies, who for five months controlled the operations of very large forces in one of the greatest, if not absolutely the greatest struggle that has ever taken place. It is impossible to speak too highly of the great qualities displayed by these commanders throughout the battle. Their thorough knowledge of the profession, and their cool and sound judgment, tact and determination proved fully equal to every call on them. They entirely justified their selection for such responsible commands. The preparations for the battle, with the exception of those at Gommecourt, were carried out under Sir Henry Rawlinson's orders. It was not until after the assault of the 1st July that Sir Hubert Gough was placed in charge of a portion of the front of attack, in order to enable Sir Henry Rawlinson to devote his whole attention to the area in which I then decided to concentrate the main effort. The Army Commanders have brought to my notice the excellent work done by their Staff Officers and Technical Advisers, as well as by the various commanders and staffs serving under them, and I have already submitted the names of the various officers and others recommended by them.

I desire also to record my obligation to my own Staff at General Head Quarters and on the Lines of Communication, and to the various Technical Advisers attached thereto for their loyal and untiring assistance. Throughout the operations the whole Army has worked with a remarkable absence of friction and with a self-sacrifice and whole-hearted devotion to the common cause which is beyond praise. This has ensured and will continue to ensure the utmost concentration of effort. It is indeed a privilege to work with such officers and with such men.

I cannot close this Despatch without alluding to the happy relations which continue to exist between the Allied Armies and between our troops and the civil population in France and Belgium. The unfailing co-operation of our Allies, their splendid fighting qualities, and the kindness and goodwill universally displayed towards us have, won the gratitude, as well as the respect and admiration, of all ranks of the British Armies.

In conclusion, I desire to add a few words as to future prospects. The enemy's power has not yet been broken, nor is it yet possible to form an estimate of the time the war may last before the objects for which the Allies are fighting have been attained. But the Somme battle has placed beyond doubt the ability of the Allies to gain those objects. The German Army is the mainstay of the Central Powers, and a full half of that Army, despite all the advantages of the defensive, supported by the strongest fortifications, suffered defeat on the Somme this year. Neither victors nor the vanquished will forget this; and, though bad weather has given the enemy a respite, there will undoubtedly be many thousands in his ranks who will begin the new campaign with little confidence in their ability to resist our assaults or to overcome our defence. Our new Armies entered the battle with the determination to win and with confidence in their power to do so. They have proved to themselves, to the enemy, and to the world that this confidence was justified, and in the fierce struggle they have been through they have learned many valuable lessons which will help them in the future.

I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's obedient Servant,
D. HAIG,
General, Commanding-in-Chief,
British Armies in France.

http://www.1914-1918.net/haigs_somme_despatch.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 18:07    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Cameliers at the Battle of Magdhaba 1916


Camel Corps at Magdhaba by H. Septimus Power (1926).

This painting by Australian official war artist H. Septimus Power depicts the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade at the Battle of Magdhaba on 23 December 1916. The cameliers have reached their final assembly point and are about to dismount and go into action on foot. In the background explosions of British artillery fire fall on the five Turkish redoubts surrounding Magdhaba. The redoubts are being bombarded in support of the imminent ground assaults by the troopers of the Anzac Mounted Division and the cameliers of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade.

This was the Brigade's baptism of fire as a complete unit, having only been formed four days earlier from a hodge-podge group of ad hoc camel battalions and independent camel companies. The cameliers succeeded in being the first of the attackers to capture one of the Turkish redoubts, taking 95 Turkish prisoners and suffering only light casualties in return, including 10 wounded - but no deaths - in No 15 (New Zealand) Company.

Harold Septimus Power was one of a number of official war artists appointed to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during the First World War. Born in Dunedin in 1877, his family emigrated to Australia when he was still a child. Power worked as an artist in Melbourne and Adelaide before moving to Paris in 1905 to attend the prestigious Académie Julian. He then moved to London, winning much renown (and patronage) for his work, until his appointment to the AIF in 1917. After the war Power returned to Melbourne where he continued to enjoy significant commercial success, and professional acclaim, for the rest of his career. He died in 1951.

http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/cameliers-battle-magdhaba-1916
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 18:18    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Royal Canadian Navy in Halifax – December 1917

http://www.ubcpress.ca/books/pdf/chapters/halifax/chap1.pdf
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2010 22:05    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Christmas crisis

After 9 November the government had ordered the newly created People's Navy Division (Volksmarinedivision) from Kiel to Berlin for its protection and stationed it in the Royal Stables (Marstall) of the Berlin Stadtschloss (Imperial City Residence). The Division was considered absolutely loyal and had indeed refused to participate in the coup attempt of 6 December. The sailors even deposed their commander because they saw him involved in the affair. It was this loyalty that now gave them the reputation of being in favour of the Spartacists. Ebert demanded their disbanding and withdrawal from the Residence and Otto Wels, as of 9 November commander of Berlin and in line with Ebert, refused the sailors' pay.

The dispute escalated on 23 December. After having been put off for days the sailors occupied the Imperial Chancellery, cut the phone lines, put the Council of People's Representatives under house arrest and captured Otto Wels. The sailors did not exploit the situation to eliminate the Ebert government, as could have been expected from Spartakist revolutionaries. Instead, they still insisted on only their pay.

Nevertheless, Ebert, who via secret phone line was in touch with the Supreme Command in Kassel, gave orders to attack the Residence with troops loyal to the government on the morning of 24 December. The sailors repelled the attack under their commander Heinrich Dorrenbach, losing about 30 men and civilians in the fight. The government troops had to withdraw from the centre of Berlin. They themselves were now disbanded and integrated into the newly formed Freikorps. To make up for the loss of face they temporarily occupied the editor's offices of the "Red Flag". But military power in Berlin once more was in the hands of the People's Navy Division. Again, the sailors did not take advantage of the situation.

On one side this shows that the sailors were not Spartacists, on the other that the revolution had no guidance. Even if Liebknecht had been the revolutionary leader like Lenin, to which legend later made him, the sailors as well as the Councils would not have accepted him as such. So the only result of the Christmas Crisis, which the Spartacists named "Ebert's Bloody Christmas", was that the Revolutionary Stewards called for a demonstration on Christmas Day and that the USPD left the government in protest on 29 December. They could not have done Ebert a bigger favour since he had let them participate only under the pressure of the revolutionary events. Within a few days the military defeat of the Ebert government had turned into a political victory.

http://www.ww1-propaganda-cards.com/revolution(1).html

A crisis occurred on 23rd December 1918 when sailors in Berlin rose on being ordered to leave their billets in the palace. The soldiers stationed in Berlin refused to crush the sailors, who seized the Chancellery, making Ebert a prisoner. However, loyal soldiers on 24th December crushed the sailors. In protest at this, on 27th December, the Independent SDs committed political suicide by leaving the government and so giving up any influence they had; they had thus missed the chance to call for radical revolution. At the same time, Gustav Noske, an ex-basket weaver and union leader, became Minister of Home Defence and at once supplemented loyal troops with the right wing Freikorps.

http://www.bfley.com/ecolint-history/Ch.%204%20Germany%201888-1933.htm
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