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THE GREAT WAR BLOG

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19th December 1915

Posted on 19 December, 2015 at 4:48 Comments comments (0)
Today’s pictorial paper is the French Sunday supplement La Petit Journal published on the 19th December 1915.

18th December 1915

Posted on 19 December, 2015 at 4:45 Comments comments (0)







In todays Daily Telegraph: Eyes were turning further east than Macedonia today, although page 9 had a number of articles of the diplomatic situation concerning Greece now the Allies were forced back to Salonika, as things seemed to be warming up in Persia. Page 9 also had the news of Russian troops advancing in the country, on the grounds or rumours of a Turco-German advance on India through it. Over on page 10 there was a report of a conspiracy by the Central Powers against the country’s young Shah, which was thwarted by the British and Russians stressing their good intentions and convincing the Shah that the presence of Russian troops in the country was a safeguard to public safety. It surely can’t be coincidence that these two reports appear on the same day, can it? And slightly closer to home on page 11 a correspondent from Petrograd gave a rosy account of the situation for the Russians, as the Eastern Front appeared to be bedding down for a winter of snowstorms and frozen ground, with Russia’s reliable artillery and an abundance of shells highlighted. Also in today’s paper - Margot Asquith sues the Globe newspaper for libel after it accuses her of pro-German sympathies – page 4 - 14 die in a train collision near Newcastle – page 9 - Guglielmo Marconi gives a speech in the Italian Senate expressing some concern over the economic relationship between the UK and Italy since the latter joined the war – page 10 - Entertainments for Christmas are as plentiful as ever, says an article detailing them on page 11. Over on page 12 the women’s page gives suggested Christmas recipes.

17th December 1915

Posted on 17 December, 2015 at 4:20 Comments comments (0)






In todays Daily Telegraph: With the Bulgarians halting in what they would see as their pursuit of the Allies, and what the Allies would see as a successful withdrawal, at the Greek frontier, and proposing that a neutral zone of 2km each side of the border be set up, to which the Greeks agreed (page 9), you get the impression the fighting in Europe will now be somewhat in stasis as Christmas approaches – certainly on the Western Front all you get is a reference to “minor operations” and there has been little news of late from the Eastern either. The concern now in the Balkans seemed to be the fate of Salonika and the Allies’ determination, which they believed was in accordance with the wishes of Greece, to prevent the Central Powers any control over that city. Also in today’s paper - A Professor of Commerce in the University of Birmingham gives practical suggestions as to how to save on page 7 - A wine merchant writes a letter on page 7 expressing his annoyance with the new drink regulations, giving examples of what he could be liable for imprisonment for doing which do rather bolster his case - A leader on page 8 heaps praise on the outgoing Sir John French and lionises the incoming Sir Douglas Haig – “a brilliant soldier, and a great staff officer.” For the second day running pictures of the pair appear in the paper, today on page 12 - Italian troops are successfully landed in Albania – page 8 - The Telegraph announces it will not charge for classified advertisements posted by disabled soldiers – page 8 - The French war loan is inevitably announced to be a great success – page 9 - The Austrian reply to the American note is described as taking an “insolent tone.” How often have we seen that phrase? It does seem that any Central Powers response to a diplomatic note is so described thus (page 9). The Americans will be even less pleased by the news on page 10 that two of their bankers were summarily executed in the captured town of Gorizia - The Government may have ruled out cutting parliamentary salaries (see December 14), but the Attorney-General informs the Commons that the Law Officers have agreed to cut their fees during the war, to that house’s “manifest pleasure” – page 9

16th December 1915

Posted on 16 December, 2015 at 2:26 Comments comments (0)





In todays Daily Telegraph:The major news today was the appointment of General Sir Douglas Haig to replace Sir John French as British commander in France and Flanders. It had become clear that French was not the man to lead his men to victory on the Western Front, and it was necessary to replace him. The initial campaign at Mons had shocked him and made him doubt the prospects of success, compounded by the losses suffered by the Regular Army in the early months which he took badly. He had poor relationships with his Generals and by late 1915 was loth to cooperate with his French Allies. His behaviour at Loos, in particular his handling of the reserves and the errors he made about them in his official despatch alienated Haig, who opened a whispering campaign against French which found backing in London, and his fate was sealed. Not that the War Office announcement conveyed on page 9 gave any hint of this, “over sixteen months of severe and incessant strain, Field–Marshal Sir John French has most ably commanded our Armies in France and Flanders, and he has now, at his own request, relinquished his command” it proclaimed. French had been allowed to resign rather than be forcibly replaced, but it was a diplomatic nicety camouflaging the reality of the situation. Nevertheless he was rewarded for his efforts to an extent by being made a Viscount and Commander-in-Chief of the troops stationed in the United Kingdom. Also in today’s paper - France gives figures as to the number of people arrested for espionage in the country since the war began, and the fate of those whose cases have been concluded – page 7 - The Editor of the New Statesman responds to David Lloyd George’s letter the previous day with one of his own on page 8 - The Allies’ retreat from Serbia into Greece is complete. G. J. Stevens in Salonika claims it was achieved with slight losses, and any Bulgarian or German claims otherwise are a “deliberate tissue of lies” – page 9. - “Lord Derby made an important statement in the House of Lords yesterday on the results of the great recruiting campaign” says a report on page 9. Remarkably, he is able to do this despite being “unable to give any figures” about it - The British encounter a “hostile Arab force” in Western Egypt, says a report on page 9 - Six days after the first report of the medical profession’s concern over army call-ups, the matter is returned to in a letter and article on pages 9 and 10 - More of German plots in the US on page 11, including a plan to use bombs made from thermos bottles to blow up Allied shipping, thwarted by the man involved being a double agent - Not quite sure what the pictures of the “Campaign in Mesopotamia” on page 12 actually have to do with it apart from being in the vicinity of it

15th December 1915

Posted on 15 December, 2015 at 7:17 Comments comments (0)





In todays Daily Telegraph: Not much of note in today’s paper, but some of the more notable stories are: - British sailors pay a visit to the trenches, reports Philip Gibbs on page 8 - David Lloyd George hits back at the New Statesman for claiming he described munitions factory workers as drunkards and shirkers – page 9 - The British forces in East Africa get a new commander in the shape of General Sir Horace Smith Dorrien – page 9, with a photo of the man in question on page 3 - Bulgaria claims “Macedonia is free” but the Allies still claim to be inflicting heavy losses on them in their withdrawal – page 9 - Some relaxation on the sale of alcohol in the afternoon is to be permitted in Christmas week, but there will be some curtailment on the railways during the festive season – both page 10 - A missionary who has returned from Jerusalem reports the Turks under German direction are assembling there for a campaign against Egypt – page 10 - Yet more on Armenian suffering on page 11

14th December 1915

Posted on 15 December, 2015 at 7:14 Comments comments (0)





In todays Daily Telegraph:Although it is well-known how complex the trenching system on the Western Front became, so see stark figures about it at the time still comes as a bit of an eye-opener. A despatch from H. Warner Allen on page 4 brings this to life, after a visit to the French front. The section he visited extended laterally for just over 10 miles, but by the end of the year he reports that the French trenches in that section will run to a total of 280 miles, and this is small beer compared with another section which contains a full 450 miles of them. In total he estimates that the Allies now have at least 10,000 miles of trenches to guard and keep in order, which is an impressive feat of engineering if nothing else, although given the experience of one paymaster and the plague of rats the article goes on to report it clearly can have its downside. Also in today’s paper - Some Australian troops see snow fall for the first time in their lives at Gallipoli – page 4. Below that despatch the Americans report on how the Turks fight like gentlemen - An American deserter is prosecuted for stealing from British soldiers – page 5 - Plucky Allies retiring in the face of overwhelming Bulgarian numbers is still the story coming from Macedonia on page 9 - Britain and Denmark reach an agreement on trade – page 9 - Control over London’s air defences is transferred to the War Office, which raises questions over why gunnery supremo Sir Percy Scott is no longer in charge – page 9 - Herbert Asquith rules out a reduction in Parliamentary salaries to help national retrenchment – page 9. A leader on page 8 expresses the Telegraph’s disapproval of this decision. 

13th December 1915

Posted on 13 December, 2015 at 6:39 Comments comments (0)




In todays Daily Telegraph: The whole country will learn with extreme pleasure that Lord Derby’s scheme has been a pronounced success.” Despite a lack of official figures, a report on page 9 said that there was “good ground for the belief” that the scheme had brought in numbers which had “vastly exceeded estimates” and was “a great triumph for the voluntary system of recruiting.” Below this Derby himself thanked the Press for their assistance, and considering the vast amount of coverage the Telegraph had given to this (again there were a number of articles on pages 9 and 10 on what was happening) it was probably well-earned. A picture on page 3 showing massed men in Camberwell heading for the recruiting office added to the positivity generated in today’s paper towards the scheme’s effectiveness. But would it be enough? Mind you, some of the arguments used by recruiters seemed rather odd. An American journalist on page 11 gave an example of a recruiting sergeant saying the Allies would win because whilst the Germans had spent the time since the start of the war trying to win and failing to do so, the Allies had been trying to lose in the same period and couldn’t. Hardly a ringing endorsement of his superiors! Also in today’s paper - A British press correspondent reports on a night-time excursion into No Man’s Land – page 7 - The question on whether clergymen should join the ranks of combatants has ignited quite a dispute among letter-writers to the paper, and page 7 has the latest offerings in this, alongside on of more theological bent on “God, war and the Devil” - The USA sends a formal note to Austria-Hungary over the sinking of the Ancona – page 9 - Political turbulence in China leads to one Yuan-Shi-Kai reportedly becoming the new Emperor – page 9 - Irish soldiers come in for particular praise as the Allies fight their retreat in Macedonia – page 9. Meanwhile the diplomatic situation between the Allies and Greece is reportedly improving (same page)

12th December 1915

Posted on 13 December, 2015 at 6:02 Comments comments (0)
Today’s pictorial paper is the French Sunday supplement La Petit Journal published on the 12th December 1915.

11th December 1915

Posted on 11 December, 2015 at 2:30 Comments comments (0)









In todays Daily Telegraph: “The German nation is longing for peace with its whole heart.” A leader on page 8 draws an unlikely-sounding conclusion from the debate in the Reichstag on peace conditions, which apparently arrived too late for the previous day’s paper and thus appears on page 9 today, and goes on to argue that “an intelligent people cannot face with any satisfaction the indefinite continuance of a struggle every additional day of which makes matters worse,” but their deluded rulers are so convinced of victory that they are unable to do the right thing by their countrymen. “Meanwhile our statesmen spare us such enthusiastic assurances of our own invincibility as the Imperial Chancellor still thinks likely to inspirit his now rather pensive countrymen,” it goes on to claim, which would be all well and good, but how many setbacks have been camouflaged so far by the Allies, and how often have we heard statesmen and indeed the Telegraph talk of victory being a foregone conclusion for them? What’s the difference? Indeed, it could be argued that what the Telegraph’s leader has to say about Bethmann-Hollweg and what Bethmann-Hollweg had to say in the Reichstag about the Allies are but two sides of a same coin… Also in today’s paper - “How many of us, I wonder, have given even so much as a thought to Serbia as a musical nation,” writes Robin H. Legge on page 4, a sentiment which could well be equally valid a century on. He does manage to fill the best part of a column on the subject nevertheless - Some modesty from one of the British escapees from Serbia in a letter on page 4, in which he ascribes leadership of his party to somebody else. A. Beaumont in Milan has more tales of the “terrible plight of Serbian fugitives” to tell on page 7 - The superiority in weight of munitions for Britain in the Western Front is described as the triumph of the business man on page 7. A member of the Executive Council of the Amalgamated Society of Tailors and Tailoresses isn’t so happy about the effect of the Government’s munitions policy on his trade in a letter on the same page though - “Severe repulses of Bulgar attacks” comes the latest report from Macedonia on page 9, but the announcement that the French have completed their retirement suggests the Allies are still on the back foot. Not that the French report it that way, claiming that as “the Serbian army for the moment is out of the reckoning, our presence on Serbian territory is no longer necessary” so that is why the retirement took place - Another bumper crop of reports as Lord Derby’s recruitment scheme nears its conclusion on pages 9 and 10 - The women’s page provides advice on Christmas pudding making in straitened times – page 12

10th December 115

Posted on 10 December, 2015 at 1:41 Comments comments (0)








In todays Daily Telegraph: Despite the scepticism manifested the previous day in the paper over Bulgarian claims the Allies were forced to admit that they’ve had to fall back in Macedonia (page 9), which rather made a mockery of the Telegraph’s attitude. Nevertheless British headquarters claims there is “no cause for alarm.” Germany was clearly enjoying the Bulgarian success, given the crowing from Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg in a speech in the Reichstag dismissed by the paper as a “boastful oration” (also page 9). Oddly, despite the Reichstag having been reported as debating peace conditions on December 4, and the report concluding with the fact it did so, there is not a mention of what transpired. Greece’s refusal to get involved caused the Telegraph to apportion part of the blame of this Allied reverse to that country in a leader on page 8, and France showed her annoyance by blocking exports to that country (page 9). It was not a happy time for the Allies on this new front. Also in today’s paper - The results of the French Flag Day are published by the French Relief Fund in a classified advertisement, which due to it breaking down the results by location runs over through the whole of page 2 and much of page 3 - German treatment of British invalids held in that country is criticised by members of the American Embassy in Berlin – page 5 - A tremendous rush is reported as Lord Derby’s recruitment campaign enters its final days, and the situation is reported in some depth on pages 9 and 10. However the medical profession is unhappy at the number of students called up (page 10) - The State is to take over all the pubs in an unnamed “border township that would be little known but for its romantic history” which “is about to be converted into a munition centre” – page 10. Gretna is the place thus camouflaged - The National Committee for Relief in Belgium plans a Christmas Day collection “by means of strong paper envelopes” to be passed round dinner tables countrywide – page 10


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