Centenary of the Great War

AERIAL ASSAULT: Technology goes to war and n troops are fascinated with one of the new weapons. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for24-30 December 1917.

CHRISTMAS UNDER FIREField-marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the West Front, reports:- There was mutual artillery fire and patrol encounters on Christmas Day.

Previous reports stated: We inflicted casualties and took a few prisoners in patrol encounters southward of Cambrai. There is increased activity of hostile artillery from Armentieres to Langemarck and artillery fire west of La Bassee and east of Ypres.

There was vigorous bombing and fighting, despite the haze. Enemy artillery and machines were active. We brought down five in air fighting, and two others by gunfire.

Enemy scouts repeatedly but unsuccessfully attacked our squadron. Heavy anti-craft fire forced down one of our machines; the others returned.

We repulsed raiders at night in the neighbourhood of the Bapaume-Cambrai road, eastward of Monchy le Preux, and south-eastward of Armentieres.

ENTERTAINING THE ANZACSMany people entertained Dominion soldiers in London. Colonel M’Cay presided at a dinner and concert to a thousand ns at the Anzac Buffet.

The n Y.M.C.A. provided meals all day long at the Aldwych Theatre. The n War Chest Club dined and entertained a large number. Sir Thomas M’Kenzie presided at the New Zealand Y.M.C.A. dinner and entertainment at the Criterion Restaurant, where several hundreds of New Zealanders were present.

Many ns and New Zealanders spent Christmas in Paris. The newly-established English League Club provided the utmost hospitality, and English girls acted as guides. A remarkable sight was twenty colonial troopers in the Bois de Boulogne, with two girl riders leading.

MESSAGE TO THE TROOPSField-marshal Sir Douglas Haig, in a special order to the British Armies in France, says:-

“Our victories and successes have been very considerable, and might well have led to early and complete victory but for the Russian collapse.

“It behoves us to harden our hearts, and steel ourselves for further efforts. I have every confidence that the same courage and determination as in the past will be forthcoming to meet the further demands for the safety of our hearths and homes during the coming year.”

ATTACK ON GENERAL HAIGMajor J. C. Wedgwood, speaking in the House of Commons, said that the House had the right to consider three points with reference to the leadership of Field-marshal Sir Douglas Haig:- First: He was too optimistic. Second: As a cavalry officer he believed it was possible to use cavalry in breaking through the German line. Third: When a large army had not fulfilled expectations, the best way to restore the moralewas to change the head.

THE YEAR’S ENLISTMENTSMr. Mackinnon, the Director-General of Recruiting, stated on Saturday that the voluntary system has produced so far this year 47,250 recruits for the n Imperial Force and has issued a circular letter to the secretaries of the State recruiting committees throughout the Commonwealth, requesting them to use their best efforts to bring the total up to 48,000 before the end of the year.

KILLINGWORTHThe Killingworth Girls’ League recently tendered Sapper Alfred Punton, of the Miners’ Battalion, a welcome home and presentation in the institute hall. The chairman, Mr. E. Humble, spoke in appreciation of the work done by their guest and his comrades. Killingworth had responded well to the call of duty. He called upon Miss Maggie Greenfield to present their guest with a gold signet ring on behalf of the Killingworth Girls’ League.

CAPTAIN G. C. WILSON, D.C.M. M.C.Mrs. A. C. Wilson, of St. James’-road, Adamstown, has received a cable message from her son, Captain Gordon Wilson, D.C.M., of the n Flying Corps, advising that he had been awarded the Military Cross. He also stated that her two other sons were well.

PRIVATE ERNEST BROWNPrivate Ernest Brown, son of Mr. W. Brown, of Tudor-street, Hamilton writing home from a hospital in England, gives an account of how he was wounded on the last occasion.

“We left,” he says, “at 5.30 in the afternoon, led by Lieutenant Winn, of Newcastle, a very game officer, and got up to the trenches all right. I was carrying the stretcher. We dug a sort of shelter, in which to place the ammunition and belt boxes, and finished about daybreak. We then mounted the gun. At 5.40 the Germans opened a terrible bombardment, and at six o’clock our own barrage opened up, and soon shut up the Germans. At about half-past six o’clock we went up in the air. We stopped an eight-inch shell all on our own. All that could be seen of us was our arms and heads sticking out. The chaps who were in the trench were calling out for help. I soon freed myself, and those of us who were left started to get the others out. Mr: Winn told those who could walk to start off for the dressing station. I went for about 1000 yards, but I could go no farther, and went down to it. I was picked up by two Germans who put me on a stretcher, and carried me about a mile and a half to where the motor ambulances were. All the way down they were asking, “Kamerad, are you in pain?”

After mentioning that he was operated on in hospital, Private Brown goes on to say, “I had a small bone taken out of my wrist, and the doctor told me that I was finished with the war. I will never be able to bear much weight on my wrist, but there is one consolation, that it is my left. I will still have a grip with my fingers. The wound in my wrist is a nasty sort, as the bullet went in at the back of the wrist, and came out at the thumb.”

In an earlier letter Private Brown mentioned that in addition to the wounds in the wrist and thumb he also had slight wounds in the head and shoulder. “Old Fritz did not let me last long at him this time,” he adds. “He was pretty hot, but I may say he got as good as he gave, if not more.”

LATE SERGEANT THOMPSONA memorial service for the late Sergeant “Jack” Thompson, who was killed in action on October 12th, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Thompson, Dudley, was held on Sunday. The drapings were of purple and black, the Union Jack, which was sent from the Dudley school children inEngland to the pupils of the Public School, Dudley, and lent for the occasion by Mr. H. Wilkinson, principal of the Dudley Public School, formed a foreground. Sergeant Thompson left with “Newcastle’s Own,” and was promoted to sergeant on the battlefield for conspicuous bravery.

Letters have been received from his commanding officer, in which he states:- “I am writing to express my deepest appreciation of your son’s conduct, both in and out of the trenches. He was among the best sergeants in the battalion, brave as a lion, and he would have undoubtedly received a commission within a month or two had he lived.”

Letters have also been received from Captain-chaplain Osborne (Church of England), and from his mates, all giving glowing accounts of his bravery. Sergeant Thompson was out in front of his platoon, leading them to action, when a sniper’s bullet pierced his heart, and so he died at his post, and as he fell back he offered his hand to a mate close by and said, “Good-bye, old boy,” and died thirty seconds later.

1917 IN RETROSPECTThe war has been the outstanding event in one of the most eventful periods in the world’s history, and 1917 draws to a close with peace a long way off.

The enemy is yet strong, and aided by the crafty schemes and the lavish misuse of wealth, has disseminated his poison to some purpose. The eyes of the world have day by day watched with pride and anxiety the Allied fortunes in the active theatre in the West, where the so-called impregnable von Hindenburg line has been shattered in many places. The men under Field-marshal Haig’s command have added imperishable glory to the British arms. Bullecourt, Lagnicourt, Cambrai, Bapaume – who is there that is not stirred by the mention of these names?

America’s entry into the war has supported immensely the Allied cause, as did the action of Greece in breaking off relations with Germany.

The conquest of the Turk has been complete. The capture of Jerusalem has stirred civilised minds everywhere. General Allenby’s victory is indeed a great one, and with it must end the German dream of expansion in Asia Minor. The fall of Bagdad was another achievement for the British, with whom in this region all the honours of war now rest.

By comparison, there was not much declared activity on the water, excepting, of course, the operations of the submarines against merchantmen. We now have the assurance that the skill of Britain’s naval experts has mastered the U-boat menace, and that the losses from this source will during the continuance of the war show a gratifying decline, if indeed, this is not already evident. That being so, the outlook for 1918 is distinctly good. Britain entered the war with no army to speak of, but a magnificent navy. She now has both, and will continue in the conflict till a peace for the world is secured, based on generosity and right.

‘s casualties in the war total 228,813. Of this number more than 40,000 have paid the supreme sacrifice. During the year the casualties were very heavy.

ENLISTMENTSAlfred Barnes, Waratah; Aubrey Erald French, Scone; Percival Clarence George, Ravensworth; Henry Joseph Hills, Toronto; Frederick Henry Jansen, Hamilton; Arthur William Whitton, Denman.

DEATHSPte John Allan, Newcastle.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter-based military historian. Follow his research at facebook老域名购买/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory