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Sir Douglas Haig on the Somme Battle

The battle of the Somme was begun to save Verdun, to prevent the transfer of further enemy reinforcements from the West to the Russian or Italian fronts, and “to wear down the strength of the forces opposed to us”. All three purposes were fulfilled.

December 30, 1916

Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatch upon the battle of the Somme, the full text of which we publish to-day, will be read with extraordinary interest in this country. It is the first official narrative, not only of the greatest battle in which the British Army has ever been engaged, but of the greatest battle the world has ever seen. In duration, in the numbers employed, and in the magnitude and continuous intensity of the Allied artillery fire, no conflict ever recorded can compare with the battle of the Somme. It began six months ago, and it is not over yet.

The public are by this time familiar enough with the dimensions and character of the mighty struggle in which the British and French Armies have been so long engaged. They need authoritative enlightenment chiefly about its objects and results, as to which there has been some difference of opinion in uninformed quarters. Sir Douglas Haig furnishes a full and, in our view, a completely satisfactory answer to this line of inquiry. His dispatch is neither a defence nor a vindication, for he has no need of either. It is a calm and unemotional narrative of great achievements, written with the restraint which has invariably marked his daily bulletins. He sets down what he tried to do, and what his gallant troops, in conjunction with the French, have done. He shows, in a manner which we believe the public will find convincing, that the battle of the Somme, up to its present stage, has fully achieved its principal objects.

It has done far more, for, as Sir Douglas Haig justly claims, it has shown the Allies and the world how ultimate victory can and will be won. More than half the German Army, which is the bulwark of the enemy’s forces, suffered defeat upon the Somme this year. The Allies proved their ability to overcome the flower of the German troops, “despite all the advantages of the defensive, supported by the strongest fortifications”. The comparative feebleness of the resistance of many German units in the later stages of the battle “justified the belief that in the long run victory would lie with our troops”.

So far as concerned the immediate purposes of the Allies, victory was amply attained when the offensive slackened in the middle of November. Sir Douglas Haig hints that, as is no secret, he began his offensive rather earlier than he liked. Every commander in such a position naturally wishes to wait until his munitionment is complete and until his raw drafts have acquired experience. Nevertheless, in view of the results, we do not think the date chosen for the joint advance need be regretted. The Germans were very near the outskirts of Verdun, they were striking hard, and the moral and political consequences of the fall of Verdun would have been so serious that further inaction was impossible. That is the complete and crushing answer to the advocates of delay.

The battle of the Somme was begun to save Verdun, to prevent the transfer of further enemy reinforcements from the West to the Russian or Italian fronts, and “to wear down the strength of the forces opposed to us”. All three purposes were fulfilled, and Sir Douglas Haig maintains that “any one of these results is in itself sufficient to justify the Somme battle”. We fully agree; but to us the vital and overwhelmimg importance of the battle of the Somme lies in the fact that it is proof of our power, if we use it wisely, to win complete and final victory.

This from the point of view of strategy and military prospects. There are other aspects in which the dispatch has an almost breathless interest for our own people. It touches nearly every home in the land and beyond the seas, wherever British people live. Behind the formal official phrases of Sir Douglas Haig they will pierce to a vision of what these operations have meant to the men engaged. In a large proportion they were men untried. Before them, as the day of the offensive approached, and for months afterwards, lay the tangle of German positions - “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.” Behind these lines, the enemy’s strongholds had been enforced with every device of military ingenuity - woods and villages turned to fortresses, cellars stuffed with machine-guns and trench-mortars, dug-outs constructed and connected by elaborate underground passages.

Against all this the British troops went up and conquered. They wait now, proved men and with the knowledge that they have reserves to fill their ranks, for their next opportunity. The British peoples share their confidence, and will not omit to give that full measure of credit to Sir Douglas Haig himself which his dispatch necessarily passes over without a word.

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100 Years Ago


november 24, 1916

Reduced hotel menus

The manager of one of the leading Edinburgh hotels is entirely in favour of the Government scheme for economizing the consumption of food in hotels. He says: “I have never known people live so well as they have done during the last two years. So far from economizing, they are having the best of everything.

“The following dinner bill for two men is now a common thing. Two table d’hôte dinners, 12s; a bottle of champagne, 17s; a pint of port, 4s; two coffees, 1s; two liqueur brandies, 3s; two cigars, 3s; tip to waiter, say, 2s 6d; Total, £2 2s 3d.

“There are frequent parties given by or in honour of officers ordered to the front or to sea, at which a specially dainty dinner is served, costing 10s 6d, or 15s a head. There is a large demand for oysters at 4s a dozen or for cooked oyster dishes at 6s a dozen. Our table d’hôte dinner is 6s, and here is a sample menu: Hors d’oeuvres, consommé millefanti, crême de volaille jussienne, suprêmes de barbues americaines, carrés de près-salés Palmer, pommes fondante, choux-fleur, dindonneaux rôtis, bread sauce, salade de saison, pouding diplomat, glace venézienne Palmier, canapé Prince de GaIles, dessert.

“Such a dinner could be easily cut down to 4s by crossing out the hors d’oeuvres, one of the soups, one of the sweets, the ice, and the savoury, and by confining the dessert to an apple, an orange, or a banana. I would leave in one substantial dish, but make it a choice of meat or bird, rather than both. Even then one would have a good dinner. The diner would save, we should save, and food would be saved.”

We have received the following messages from seaside resorts on the subject of extravagant living at hotels: Bournemouth. A leading proprietor says that the public is to blame for expensive menus. At many hotels efforts have been made to reduce the length of table d’hôte dinners, but guests have complained and asked that the courses which were removed should be restored. Folkestone. At the Burlington the choice of dishes has already been limited, and a good three course dinner will eventually be adopted instead of the meal of eight or nine courses. Eastbourne. Locally caught fish is obtained in good quantities, and the recent glut of mushrooms has been welcome, as many visitors prefer them to eggs for breakfast.


november 25, 1916

The vital question of men

Now that the Government have definitely decided to strengthen the Board of Admiralty, we may return to a question which is equally urgent — the timely provision of men for the Army. It is absolutely vital. We do not wish to exaggerate, or to support the suggestion — which is being made in some quarters with the best intentions — that success or failure to solve this problem means the difference between victory and defeat. Our plans are not laid or conducted, and never will be laid or conducted, on the supposition that defeat is even thinkable. But we do believe that upon this success or failure now there depends the difference between a crushing blow, and it may be a final blow, at Germany next year and an indefinite prolongation of the struggle with all the accumulated loss of blood and resources which it would involve.

We do not doubt that Ministers are giving the problem their most anxious consideration. Of course they are; but if they allow its perplexities to hamper decision much longer decision will be too late. This is the last week in November, and the men must be forthcoming by the spring. All that is left of the winter is not too much for their training. Every day counts, and no day that is now lost can be made up for in good time. The events of this year show what our soldiers can do, if only the nation at home do their duty by them. Broadly considered, this year’s campaign is a record of steadily increasing success in our attack, accompanied by a casualty list steadily and rapidly decreasing in proportion to the results attained. It has produced a new perfection in the use of our artillery and in the combined employment of this arm with our infantry. With these palpable evidences of their growing superiority to the enemy before their eyes, the moral of the Army is rising every day. Their temper as a fighting force was never finer. But for one consideration their confidence in early and complete success would be quite undisturbed.

That consideration is uncertainty about the supply of men. Everybody who is in touch with the Army at all knows that this is the paramount question which occupies all minds, from the mind of the humblest platoon commander to the mind of the Commander in Chief.

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100 Years Ago - Rumanian debacle










The Fate of Bukarest

Von Mackensen made the passage of the Danube with an ease which indicates that the principal cause of Rumania’s plight has throughout been lack of munitions. One side had enough shells and big guns and the other had not.

December 6, 1916

The armies of the enemy are closing in on Bukarest, and it has been authoritatively stated that to resistance will be offered within the precincts of the city. Bukarest is not in any case in a position to resist. It is a ring fortress of a type now regarded as comparatively obsolete, except for the purpose of imposing a brief delay on an invading army. The forts are almost destitute of guns, for most of their armament which could be moved was probably transported to the frontiers long ago.

The strange feature of the situation is that the main attack upon Rumania failed, and is even now being stoutly resisted. The Austro-Germans unquestionably sought to deliver their principal assaults from the north through tho Predeal and Torrzburg Passes, where they were firmly held for weeks. They are not even yet reported to have reached Sinaia, the summer capital quite close to the frontier, in the Predeal Pass.

The German Press notes without reluctance the skilful manner in which the Rumanian right wing has been handled. It was the failure of the Rumanian forces south of the Vulkan Pass which made the gap through which the flood of invasion poured with such swiftness. For the purposes of the enemy, one pass was as good as another. Von Mackensen was ready in Bulgaria, and made the passage of the Danube with an ease which indicates that the principal cause of Rumania’s plight has throughout been lack of munitions. With certain elements of difference, it is the story of last year in Galicia over again. One side had enough shells and big guns and the other had not.

It would be foolish to minimize the consequences of the temporary conquest of a large portion of Rumania and the impending abandonment of the capital. We think the moral effect will perhaps prove graver than the material result. The estimates of the stores of food likely to be secured by the enemy are possibly exaggerated, but it is difficult to exaggerate the moral effect of a military stroke by which for the time being Bukarest must probably share the fate of Antwerp. It heartens the foe, it prolongs the war, it deeply impresses neutrals, and it leaves the Allies with a sense of profound humiliation.

The deplorable thing about the Rumanian campaign is that it might never have taken its present course if the political and military situation in the Near East had been studied in London and elsewhere with vision and insight. The whole story of the negotiations which preceded Rumania’s intervention is a story of bungling diplomacy, in which Viscount Grey drifted and allowed himself to be led instead of leading. We have failed in every country in the Balkans in turn, through the same lack of foresight and decision. There were many secret wrangles about Balkan policy, but the complex problems presented by Rumania’s decision were never thought out by British Ministers. Read more...Collapse )

(unfortunately automatic text recognition in the Times Archive is quite poor)

The Emperor Francis Joseph, whose death is reported from Vienna, was born on August 18, 1830, and was thus in his 86th year, and the oldest Sovereign in Europe. The death of the Austrian Emperor removes a figure that seemed to have become a permanent feature of the political configuration of Europe. :For more than threescore years he had stood erect while others came and went. lie, as a reigning monarch, saw the rise and fall of Louis Napoleon. lie witnessed the whole royal and imperial career of William of Prussia, the first German Emperor. lie saw the first railway engine and the first aeroplane brought to Vienna. His active political life began with the fall of Metternich, whose pupil lie had been. Yet historians will see in vain to classify Francis Joseph of Hapsburg-Lorraine. Ife belonged to no category, unless Sovereigns whose names designate an era bo held to form a category of thioir own. Mlore tlan three-score years of troubled ecperi- ence, vorking on a fibre naturally plastic, produced i claracter refractory to terse qualification. Neither Maria Theresa, with whom Francis Joseph will rank in Hapsburg annals, nor Louis XIV., nor Queen Victoria, whho alone surpassed or rivalled himin length of reign. were exposed to vicissitudes such as taxed his pliancy and tried his fortitude.
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100 Years Ago - Death of the Emperor



Francis Joseph’s last hours

In our later editions yesterday we announced the death of the Emperor Francis Joseph, which took place at Schönbrunn on Tuesday evening at 9 o’clock. The death of the Austrian Emperor appears to have come as a sudden blow to the population of Vienna. His constitution had survived so many moral and physical shocks that the population of the once gayest city in Europe seems hardly to have credited the news when at last it came. It was not until 11pm that the news of the Monarch’s death spread in public places and paralyzed the population. Instantly song and dance ceased everywhere.

His Majesty continued his usual mode of life and occupations right up to yesterday; but he overtaxed his powers, persisting, in spite of a rising temperature and an irritating cough, in receiving the usual daily reports. He also gave long audiences during which he spoke a good deal. Since Saturday his appetite had decreased. On that day his Majesty drank as a tonic a glass of strong white wine and two small glasses of champagne, and smoked his usual cigar. The last few nights were disturbed by the irritating cough, but his doctors were reassured by his good heart action and regular breathing.

Even yesterday the Emperor worked during the day, although he was fatigued and run down. He received the Archduke Friedrich, the Commander-in-Chief, in an audience lasting three-quarters of an hour. On Monday evening for the first time he went to bed earlier than usual. A Vienna telegram states that he got up yesterday with a high fever and felt very faint. He had a cup of tea and two slices of ham and at 8 o’clock a glass of sour milk. At lunch he ate almost nothing. Towards the evening he ate a plate of strong soup and a piece of chicken. His weakness then increased so much that towards six he asked to he taken to bed.

His body physician, Dr Kerzl, and Professor Ortner did not leave the Monarch. The Emperor lay quietly. The Archduchess Marie Valérie and his granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth von Windisch-Graetz, came frequently to the bedside. Between 8 and 9 the doctors found that a speedy end was imminent. The Court chaplain, Dr Seidl, administered Extreme Unction in the presence of the members of the Emperor’s family who had in the meantime been summoned.

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100 Years Ago




Sir Douglas Haig’s success

Success again is ours. On how large a scale it is yet impossible to say, for all is still confusion; fighting goes on along almost the whole length of the front on which we struck, and the battlefield has been wrapped in fog, so that nothing has been visible, except from the shortest distance. This we know, that Beaumont Hamel is ours and Beaumont Hamel has been held by the Germans to be even more impregnable than Thiepval. We have also taken the lesser village of St Pierre Divion on the opposite side of the Ancre, and, with the ground won, a very large number of prisoners have fallen into our hands. Something over 1,000 were already in the “cages” early this afternoon. The number has since been increased to 2,000, and doubtless there are more to come.

We have read in English papers in the last few days that the Battle of the Somme was over. Germany seems to have been quite convinced that her great ally, the mud, had brought our offensive to a standstill for the winter. But two fine drying days have sufficed to enable us to strike again, and in a quarter where there is every reason to believe that the blow was entirely unexpected. It might well have been so, for on all the German front in France and Belgium there is, perhaps, no more notoriously strong position than the short stretch of the enemy’s first line immediately above the Ancre. He may well have felt sure that we would shrink, with the condition of the ground and the air all against us, from attempting to penetrate where we had failed on July 1. Our losses there have been avenged today.

For the first 3,000 yards above the Ancre — to well beyond Beaumont-Hamel — the ground taken is nowhere less than 1,500 yards in depth, and in one part approaches 2,500 yards. Numbers of yards — or miles (for the gain amounts to square miles) — are, however, unimportant. The great fact is that we have struck frontally at the main German first line, with tier behind tier of trenches, all strongly wired and fortified for two years past, and with all the prestige of former fruitless attacks against it to give its defenders confidence. We not only broke it, but broke it with almost ridiculous ease, and for a clear stretch of 3,000 yards north of the Ancre, to an average depth of about a mile, the front line system is ours.

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100 Years Ago - U.S. of A.


The announcement of the break with Germany






Back row, left to right: President Wilson, Messrs. WilIiam G. McAdoo (Secretary of the Treasury), Thomas W. Gregory (Attorney-General), Josephus Daniels (Secretary of the Navy), David F. Houston (Secretary of Agriculture), William B. Wilson (Secretary of Labour).
front row, left to right: Messrs. Robert Lansing (Secretary of State), Newton D. Baker (Secretary of War), Albert S. Burleson (Postmaster-General), Franklin K. Lane (Secretary of the Interior), and William G. Redfield ( Secretary of Commerce)


A turning point in history

Thoughtful observers on both sides of the Atlantic have long foreseen that sooner or later America would feel the call to take her due place on the larger questions of principle which are at the foundation of world-politics.

February 5, 1917

An event of measureless importance has happened in the history of mankind. Whatever may be the immediate consequences of the breach of diplomatic relations between America and Germany, the act of President Wilson opens a new chapter for the New World and for the Old. For the first time since they became a Great Power, the United States have directly intervened in a great European war. America may, or may not, be forced to draw the sword herself. That issue now lies in the hands of Germany. A few hours or days will show whether she will obey the dictates of prudence or those of insolence and of despair. But, be her decision what it may, her threat to fling aside the last pretence at legality in the conduct of her maritime war has compelled America to adopt a course pregnant with untold results hereafter.

Thoughtful observers on both sides of the Atlantic have long foreseen that sooner or later America would feel the call to take her due place on the larger questions of principle which are at the foundation of world-politics. The arrogant lawlessness of Germany has now driven her to manifest her readiness to champion international right with the full strength of her vast resources. The President has carried the whole Union with him. At no time can we recall so universal and so enthusiastic an outburst of American opinion. The nation has indeed “found itself,” as our Washington Correspondent remarks, under the shock of the German threat and amidst the approval aroused by Mr Wilson’s reply. All parties and all sections of opinion support him, and all loudly proclaim that they will follow him in any action he may be obliged to take. The Press from one end of the Republic to the other, without respect of politics, re-echoes the applause with which the distinguished audience in Congress hailed his simple and vigorous statement.

The American people do not want war, and Mr Wilson has made it abundantly plain in his speech that war remains as hateful to him as ever. But they adhere firmly to the views which he expressed in speeches he made just a year ago. There is something, he then said, which they love better than peace, and that is the principles on which their political life is founded. He warned them that the time might come when it might become impossible for him both to keep them out of the war and to keep the national honour unstained. They are resolved to keep that honour unstained - as resolved as our own people showed themselves when Germany bade us to condone the overrunning of Belgium.

And, now that the President has taken action, we may, without impertinence or fear of misconstruction, say how entirely the English peoples will concur in his contention that no course but the course he has chosen would have become the honour of a great nation. “I can do nothing less,” he declares, and so plain and imperious does the voice of honour and of right appear to him that he “takes it for granted that all neutral Governments will take the same course.” The circumstances of other neutrals differ from those of the great Republic and differ amongst themselves, but we are confident that in their hearts they will approve the President’s action not less warmly than do his countrymen.

It is unnecessary to reconsider Mr Wilson’s arguments in detail. They are firmly based upon his former diplomatic correspondence with Germany, and we have recorded our hearty agreement in them, as they were advanced and repeated in his Notes. He has protested all along that the policy of sinking merchant ships and liners indiscriminately and at sight is an inhuman and flagrant violation, not merely of the letter of international law, but of the fundamental principles of humanity upon which it is founded. Germany gave him assurances which seemed to secure the abandonment of this atrocity. Now she tells him bluntly that she intends to practise it on a far larger scale than ever. The exception which she offers in favour of a single American ship to England per week only adds to the grossness of the indignity.

Mr Wilson still cherishes the hope that Germany may shrink from the actual perpetration of the crimes which she threatens to commit upon the citizens of a friendly and neutral Power. He still hopes that Austria may not join her ally in the profession of naked lawlessness, and that her representative may remain at Washington, where his services might be useful, it is thought, not only for safeguarding the services which America has hitherto rendered to the victims of Germany in Belgium and to prisoners of war in Germany, but also for doing good in other ways.

The President’s desire to avoid war is widely shared, but confessedly it is not a confident hope. Can the party of Prussian “militarism “ afford to renounce at the summons of America the programme which they have haughtily proclaimed amidst the unstinted applause of their supporters? Would the “Prussian military idol,” as Mr Lloyd George calls it, bear the shock of this public overthrow.

If Germany does not draw back, the armed intervention of America becomes certain. We shall not now speculate either upon that event or upon its probable effects on the struggle. The supremely momentous fact to which we confine our attention to-day is that, by the severance of diplomatic relations with Berlin, America, the greatest of all neutrals, has taken a definite stand against the spirit of barbarism which has animated Germany’s whole conduct of the war.

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Big Brother watches you


Відкрив Ґуґл і побачив. Несподівано, ага :)




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