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2nd February

Methodist Minister in Isle of Man Preaches Against the War

The Rev. Peet was accused of making statements which were considered as ‘likely to prejudice recruiting into the forces.’ He was found guilty and sentenced to three months hard labour. He was released on 1st March.

3rd February

Royal Navy and American Navy Begin laying Minefields in the North Sea

Both navies began to lay mines in the area between the Orkneys, North Scotland and Norway. By the end of the war the United States navy would have laid 56,571 mines and the Royal Navy a lot less at just 13,546 mines. This area became known as ‘The Northern Barrage.’

4th February

Troop Ship Sunk off instrahull

The Aurania was a 14,000 ton ship belonging to the Cunard Line which was being used to transport troops. She left Liverpool the day before bound for New York. A torpedo from U-67 hit the engine and nine firemen were killed. A trawler took Aurania in tow but she broke up in rough seas off the Scottish island of Mull. U-67 took part in three patrols and in addition to sinking the Aurania it sank a warship of 810 tons.

Strike in the City

A strike which had begun on 25th January by fourteen packers and washers on 25th January was brought to an end.

5th February

S.S. Tuscania Sunk off Rathlin Island, Rescued Brought to the city

The ship had left in a convoy HX-20 of twelve ships from Halifax, Nova Scotia.United States troops when boarding had been ordered to go below decks as there were fears of German spies observing the departure of the convoy. On the 3rd February there was alarm on the ship. There was a crash and men rushed on deck with lifebelts on. It turned out that the ship had passed over the wreck of a sunken ship.

On the 5th February the ship was struck by a torpedo fired by UB-77. The Tuscania was hit near the engine room and escaping steam forced debris upwards, damaging some of the lifeboats. When the ship was struck, there were thirty-nine men stoking coal. None survived. In total two hundred and ten people lost their lives. For the United States, this was the first time since the American Civil War that there had been such a loss of life of military personnel.

Some of the survivors floated in cold conditions for eleven hours to the Scottish island of Islay. Two of the rescue ships, H.M.S. Mosquito and H.M.S. Pigeon brought survivors into Lough Swilly and they were brought ashore at five o’clock in the morning. From there the survivors marched to Ebrington Barracks. A number of the survivors kept diaries all through the war and a number recorded that they were well treated in the barracks. One wrote,’ We got acquainted with a lot of Irish troops from the Royal Inniskillings. I will swear by them for ever. They sure were a fine bunch.’

Two days after the sinking, survivors from the Tuscania marched out of Ebrington Barracks just after noon. They were escorted by ‘Irish Kilty Bagpipes’ and the Royal Inniskilling Band. As the train left the station bound for Carrickfergus, the regimental band of The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers played ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’

Among those who lost their lives on the Tuscania were

Daniel Boyle, trimmer, aged twenty, a son of John and Margaret Boyle of Bunbeg. He is commemorated on Tower Hill Memorial.

Denis Boyle, aged nineteen, a second son of the John and Margaret Boyle, also commemorated on Tower Hill Memorial.

Hugh Caulfield, aged thirty-eight, a fireman, who served as Kelly. He was the husband of Mary Caulfield, nee Carley, of Meeting Street in Maghera. He is commemorated on Tower Hill Memorial.

William McGrory, aged thirty-two, a fireman, from Strabane, a son of the late William and Hannah McCrory. He is commemorated on Tower Hill Memorial.

Peter Reilly was aged thirty-six, a trimmer. He was born in County Leitrim and is commemorated on Tower Hill Memorial.

Ship Sunk Near Holyhead

The Mexico City was sailing from Liverpool to Alexandria with a general cargo when it was sunk off Holyhead with the loss of twenty-nine. U-101 took part in eight patrols with a loss of 26.253 tons.

American Cargo Ship Attacked off County Antrim

The Almanace was a ship of 4,500 tons and had sailed from the United States in Convoy HH40 on its way from Baltimore to Liverpool. The ship was torpedoed and sunk off the Maidens in County Antrim by UB-57 with a loss of six crew. Of the crew one member was Spanish, one was British and three were Japanese including a cabin boy.

U-57 was based in Zeebrugge and took part in eleven patrols, sinking forty-seven ships with a loss of 129,173 tons. The submarine hit a mine in the Southern Approaches on 14th August 1918 with the loss of all hands.

American Destroyer Arrives in Queenstown

The USS Beale arrived in Queenstown which was under the command of admiral Lewis Bayley.The previous year the convoy system had been introduced. The priorities of destroyers like the Beale were to destroy submarines, protect and escort merchant ships and to save the crews and passengers of any ships which had been torpedoed. At this time United States ships were also deployed to patrol the west coast of Ireland, hunting suspected gun-running ships for Irish republicans.

6th February

Royal Naval Ship Sinks off Buncrana

The Nathaniel Cole was a Royal Navy steam trawler of 275 tons which foundered off Buncrana with the loss of all hands.

Representative of the People Act

The Royal Assent was given to a bill which gave the vote to women over the age of thirty. One of the clauses was that conscious objectors were barred from voting until five years after the war ended.

8th February

A Local Man Lost in the Great War

James Burke who was thirty-eight years old served as a private in the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

11th February

President Wilson’s Speech on National Aspirations, Additional Four Points

In a speech, the president said,’ All well-defined national aspirations shall be accorded the utmost satisfaction …. Without introducing new or perpetuating old elements of discord and antagonism that would likely in time to break the peace of Europe and consequently of the world.’ He concluded,’ My ultimate aim is to promote national aspirations within a framework of peace and order.’

President Wilson, Analysis of Austrian and German Views of Peace

On the reply by Count Czernin of Austria, President Wilson said, ‘Count von Hertling’s reply is uttered in a very friendly tone. He finds in my statement a sufficiently encouraging approach to the views of his own Government to justify him in believing that it furnishes a basis for more detailed discussion of purposes of both governments.’

On the German response President Wilson said,’ Count von Hertling’s reply is very vague and very confusing. It is full of equivocal phrases and leads it is not clear where. But it is certainly in a very different tone from that of Count Czernin, and apparently of an opposite purpose. It confirms rather than removes the unfortunate impression made by what we have learned of the conference at Brest-Litovsk. His discussion and acceptance of our general principles lead him to no practical conclusions. He refuses to apply them to the substantive items which must constitute the body of my final settlement.’

President Wilson added,’ What is at stake now is the peace of the world. What we are striving for is a new international order based upon broad and universal principles of right and justice, no mere peace of shreds and patches. This war has its roots in the disregard for the rights of small nations and of nationalities which lacked the union and the force to make good their own claim to determine their own allegiances and their own forms of political life. Covenants must now be entered into which will render such things possible in the future.’

He concluded,’ I hope that it is not necessary for me to add that not a word I have said is intended as a threat. That is not the temper of our people. I have spoken thus only that the whole world may know the true spirit of America-that men everywhere may know that our passion for justice and for self-government is no mere passion of words but a passion which, once set in action, must be

satisfied. The power of the United States is a menace to no nation or people. It will never be used in aggression or for the aggrandisement of any selfish interest of our own. It springs out of freedom and for the service of freedom.’

12th February

Convoy Escort Sinks U-Boat Off Malin Head

H.M.S. Roxborough was one of six Devonshire-class armoured cruisers detailed for convoy duty. Painted In dazzling camouflage, the ship rammed U89 off Malin Head with the loss of all forty-three of the submarine crew. For this action the ship was awarded a star which was painted on its fore- funnel.

16th February

An Attack from the Air on The Capital

A number of German airships carried out another attack on London. The plan had been to drop a 2,000 lb bomb on Victoria Station but it fell harmlessly near the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

Important English Channel Port Attacked and Patrol Ships Sunk

In the early hours of the morning, five German destroyers attacked a number of small patrol vessels off Dover. Bombs fired by the German ships landed on the shore and eight patrol boats were sunk with the loss of thirty-six men.

17th February

Casualties in London, Railway Station Hit

Five bombs were dropped in or near St. Pancras Station in London. One landed near the station’s booking office killing twenty and injuring thirty-three.

20th February

United States Ships from Cork Escort Duty

The Cork –based USS Shaw and the USS Benham escorted HMS Mantua on its journey from Liverpool to the Atlantic Ocean. On their return the American ships escorted SS New York on its journey to Liverpool.

A Local Man Lost in the Great War

John Bryson served as private in the Royal Munster Fusiliers.

21st February

War in the Middle East

In the conflict against the Ottoman Empire and in part of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, the Egyptian Expeditionary captured Jericho.The E.E.F. was supported by troops from the Empire such as India, New Zealand, the West Indies and Australia.

23rd February

Paris Attacked by Huge German Gun

The city came under attack from Crepy-en-Valois, which was a distance of about sixty kilometres from the centre of Paris.

Limerick Newspaper Speaks Out Against British Military in the Local Area

The left-wing paper ‘Soldier Hunter’ was critical about soldiers socialising with locals, declaring that soldiers were ‘demons in human form.’

24th February

Breakup of Empires, Estonia’s Declaration of Independence

This event, also known as ‘The Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia’, occurred on this day. The manifesto had been printed and read out aloud in public in Parmu, the country’s fourth largest city.

25th February

A Local Man Loses His Life in the Great War

Michael McKinney served as a sapper in the Royal Engineers.

26th February

Cargo Ship Sunk the Mouth of Belfast Lough

The S.S. Tiberia was a 10,000 two masted cargo ship which was in a convoy sailing from the Clyde to New York. Escorted by ten ships, the convoy put into Belfast Lough because of bad weather. The ship was sunk by U-19 but the crew survived.

In the First World War U-19 was responsible for sinking over fifty Allied ships and surrendered in 1918. The main gun is now to be found in Ward Park in Bangor, close to the town’s war memorial.