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January

1st January

German and Austrian Assaults

German forces carry out raids near Loos, Mencourt and along other sections of the Western Front but fail in their objectives. Some British planes were involved in taking aerial photographs while others dropped bombs on German emplacements including a large ammunition depot near Courtrai. There were a number of dog fights between the British and German air forces all along the Western Front. On the Southern Front Austrian forces attacked Bassano, Treviso and the outskirts of Venice.

A Local Man Lost in the Great War

Joseph Mullen served as a private in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Londonderry Sentinel, Obituaries

The following obituaries and reflections were carried in the Sentinel on Tuesday 1st January 1918.

DEATH FROM WOUNDS

STOTT-Died from wounds received in action in France on 24th November 1917, Miles Stott, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

‘I little thought when I said goodbye
It would be the last parting between you and I,
I loved you in life, you are dear to me still,
But in grief I must bend to God’s holy will.’

Deeply regretted by his sorrowing wife and little son.
33, Wapping Lane, Londonderry.

IN MEMORIAM

McFarland-In loving remembrance of Private Andrew McFarland, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers), killed in action 1st January 1917, and was interred in St. Quentin Cabaret Cemetery.

‘O God of love, O King of Peace,
Make war throughout this world to cease;
The wrath of sinful man restrain; Give peace, O Lord, give peace again.’

Deeply regretted by his sorrowing Father and Mother, Sisters and Brothers.
39, Lower Bennett Street, Londonderry.

The Sentinel, The Passing of The Old Year

The year 1917, with its long list of terrible tragedies all over the world and its memorable deeds of heroism on many battlefields, which have never been surpassed in the annals of the British nation, has passed away. Its history, one might almost say, has been written in blood and its memory saturated with the tears of countless mourners. Still the spirit of our race remains unbroken, and hopes are, if possible, higher than ever that the year 1918 will bring victory and peace once more.


Christ Church, Londonderry

There were the usual watch night services in several of the city churches. Rev. Canon MacQuaide, M.A., preached an earnest and impressive sermon to a large congregation in Christ Church. There were also special services in St. Augustine’s, the Methodist, and other churches, which were well attended. At about a quarter to twelve (midnight) the cathedral team of bellringers announced the passing of the old year, its death knell sounding in solemn tones all over the city. Immediately afterwards the merry peal of joybells welcomed in the New Year. The bells of St. Eugene’s Cathedral were also rung and ships along the river sounded their horns.

Sentinel Editorial

‘The New Year finds the nations at war, without any immediate prospect of peace coming to a distracted world. There is not a little peace talk, and it cannot be denied that by large numbers in all the belligerent countries, and also all the neutral countries, the hope is fondly cherished that perchance some of it may lead to peace.But, even while this is so, men who do not allow themselves to be carried away by their natural leanings towards seeing an end of the bloodshed find themselves forced to the conviction that, so far as can be seen, there is still a long way to be traversed before a peace can be brought about that will be worth having. Germany shows signs of being done with the war of her own plotting. But she has not made such an advance as affords any indication that she is prepared to sue for peace on the only terms which the Allies can accept. Her latest attempt to use Russia as a lever to force a general peace cannot succeed. The Allies have broken with all that exists of the government in Russia, and cannot be moved by any representations of the German-instigated conspirators who have temporarily paralysed the Russian army and plunged the country into the horrors of civil war.’

Pay Rise for Local Employees

In the city the New Year brought some good news for local plumbers. Their pay was increased from nine pence to ten pence an hour.

2nd January

Royal Air Force Raid on Mannheim


A raid on this city lasted from nine o’clock at night until quarter to ten. Three bombs were dropped which did minimum damage. The German authorities estimated that it cost approximately two pounds to repair a telephone line.

Concern in Britain over ‘An Unequal War’

The Ministry of Labour informed the war cabinet that there was growing concern at grassroots level that the war meant ‘profiteering’ by some, that there was an inequality of sacrifice with the working class suffering heavily. According to the officials in the Ministry of Labour It also appeared that the conflict had become a ‘capitalist’ war.

Fear of Inflation and Higher Food Prices in Ireland

The Wexford People expressed concern that there was danger again of famine in the country.’ Food prices and the prices of other necessities have risen an enormous pitch. Bread famine now stares us in the face. Of course, the troops must be fed but the food which is the God given right of the people is being sent elsewhere before the eyes of the people.’

Recently Discovered Security File, Instructions to R.I.C Officers

There was growing concern in the R.I.C. about subversive activity around the country. Instructions were sent out from headquarters in Dublin instructing members of the R.I.C. to ‘be aware of travelling theatre companies which should be watched or suppressed.’

4th January

The War at Sea, Sailing Ship Sunk Off County Down


A German U-boat of The First World War

The sailing ship Otto was captured by U91 off St. John’s Point, County Down. This German submarine had taken part in eight patrols and sank thirty-seven ships, total tonnage lost was 87,119.

5th January

Lloyd George’s Speech on War Aims

Following a cabinet meeting, the prime minister delivered this speech at a trade union meeting at Caxton Hall.The three main points were that he wished the British people to make greater sacrifices in the war effort and secondly that Britain would continue to support its European Allies. He also made a direct appeal to the ordinary people of Germany and Austria-Hungary, declaring that it was only their governments which stood in the way of a quick peace which would allow them to return to their ordinary lives.

He continued,’ When men by the million are being called upon to suffer and to die, and vast populations are being subjected to the sufferings and privations of war on a scale unprecedented in the history of the world, they are entitled to know for what cause or causes they are making the sacrifice. It is only the clearest, greatest and justest of causes that can justify the continuance even for one day of this unspeakable agony of the nations, and we ought to be able to state clearly and definitely, not only the principles for which we are fighting, but also their definite and concrete application to the war map of the world.

We have arrived at the most critical hour in this terrible conflict, and before any government takes the fateful decision as to the conditions under which it ought either to terminate or continue the struggle, it ought to be satisfied that the conscience of the nation is behind these conditions, for nothing else can sustain the effort which is necessary to achieve a righteous end to this war.’

Griffith on the Power of Sinn Fein

The strength of Sinn Fein was praised by Arthur Griffith. ‘Sinn Fein is the dominant vital force in Irish national life. It draws its strength not from party exigencies or incidental convulsions of current events, but from the re-awakened consciousness of the national mind.’

A Local Man Lost in the Great War

John Todd served as a sergeant in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Strike in the Shipyard

A strike had begun on 1st January of platers’ helpers and labourers, a strike which directly had involved about forty men.

6th January

The King’s Proclamation on The War

This day was appointed by the King George V ‘for the world-wide struggle for the right of triumph and liberty.’

TO MY PEOPLE – ‘The world-wide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty is entering upon its last and most difficult phase. The enemy is striving by desperate assaults and subtle intrigue to perpetuate the wrongs already committed and stem the tide of a free civilisation. We have yet to complete the great task to which, more than three years ago, we dedicated ourselves.

At such a time I would call upon you to devote a special day to prayer that we might have the clear sightedness and strength necessary to the victory of our cause. This victory will be gained only if we steadfastly remember the responsibility which rests upon us, and in a spirit of reverent obedience ask the blessing of Almighty God upon our endeavours. With hearts grateful for the divine guidance which has led us so far towards our goal let us seek to be enlightened in our understanding and fortified in our courage in facing the sacrifices we yet may have to make before our work is done.

I therefore hereby appoint January 6th to be set aside as a day of prayer and thanksgiving in all the churches throughout my Dominions, and require that this Proclamation be read at the services on that day. GEORGE R.I.

8th January

President Wilson Launches His ‘Fourteen Points’

The President of the United States gave a speech on the objectives of the American nation. He declared that the United State’s objectives were to ‘vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world.’ The main points were

  • the abolition of secret treaties
  • reduction in armaments
  • adjustments to colonial claims
  • the freedom of the seas
  • self-determination for national minorities
  • the establishment of a world organisation, The League of Nations, which would guarantee the territorial integrity of nations.

German Rejection of Wilson’s Plan

The almost immediate German response to President Wilson’s plan was one of rejection. After the collapse of Russia, the Germans felt that they were now in a stronger position of victory on the Western Front.

12th January

Pit Disaster North Staffordshire

The Minnie Pit was one of the most profitable coal mines in North Staffordshire. On a Saturday morning there was a huge explosion and within minutes one hundred and fifty men and boys were killed, from the effects of the explosion, from roof falls and from inhaling poisonous gases.

Two Royal Navy Ships run aground Orkney

In June 1916 H.M.S. Hampshire struck a mine here and at least six hundred of the crew lost their lives. Also killed was the British Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener.

After this loss, Royal Navy strategy was altered, deploying smaller ships such as H.M.S Opal and H.M.S. Narborough to hunt down German minelayers and submarines. In stormy seas the two ships were ordered back to base but in near zero visibility they ran onto rocks. Gunner William Sissons managed to swim ashore and after a day and a half survived on a diet of shellfish and snow. He was rescued but one hundred and eighty-eight men were lost.

13th January

Warship Sinks in Storm near Malin Head

H.M.S. Racoon was a three funnelled coal burning destroyer of 950 tons. Earlier in the war it had taken part in the Gallipoli Campaign where it sustained minor damage. In January 1918 the ship was sailing from Liverpool to Lough Swilly to take up convoy duties. Nine of the crew had been left behind at the last port of call.

Off Donegal the ship was caught in a heavy snowstorm and ran aground on the Garvan Islands near Malin Head with the loss of all ninety-one crew. Those who lost their lives were buried in various locations including Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, at Rathmullan, Greencastle and Culdaff in County Donegal and at Ballycastle and also on Rathlin Island in County Antrim.

14th January

English seaside Town Attacked by German Navy

Great Yarmouth was attacked by the German navy. This was the fifth time that the seaside town had been attacked by the Germans. At five minutes to eleven in the darkness, the town was lit up by a star shell which had been fired by a German ship far out at sea.

15th January

Attack on steelworks Near Metz

Steelworks were attacked at Thionville, a town between Luxembourg and Metz. A one ton bomb was dropped and another weighing half a ton was dropped on a railway junction near Metz.

Arrival of Submarines from the United States

Seven American submarines had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Azores. They were to be based in Cork and their mission was to attack U-boats which were engaged in attacking shipping and also to attack them on the surface as they re-charge their batteries. These submarines were based in Berehaven.

16th January

Riots in Vienna and Budapest

There were riots in the two cities as Austro-Hungarians took to the streets to express mounting dissatisfaction with the progress of the war.

19th January

Strike among Shipyard Workers on the Strand Road

A strike of platers and rivetters which had begun on 14th January was settled. It had directly involved over one hundred workers.

26th January

Irish Steamship Sunk off Wales

The Irish steamship ‘Corb‘with a hit by a torpedo off Anglesey. All twelve crew lost their lives.

Manx Society in United States

The Buffalo Branch in the United States donated £66 to the Manx Disabled Soldiers and Sailors Fund.

Reflection on the South Armagh By-Election

The Dundalk Democrat, reflected on the by-election which was won by Joe Devlin, of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The newspaper declared, ‘The Irish Parliamentary Party had enlisted farmers to purchase their own holdings, secure decent cottages for the labourers to live in and had brought education into the homes of the people.’

27th January

Ocean Liner Sunk Off Rathlin

The Andania was a 13,000 ton ocean-going liner which had been deployed earlier in the war to take men of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers to Helles in Gallipoli. On this occasion the ship had left Liverpool the previous day in a convoy of seven ships. As many of the passengers were preparing to hold a religious service off Rathlin Island, the ship was hit by a torpedo from U-46 and began to list badly. Attempts to tow it to the coast failed. Seven of the crew lost their lives and survivors were landed at Larne.U-46 had taken part in eleven patrols and sank fifty-two ships, with a loss of 140,314 tons of shipping.

Another Ship Sunk Off Angelsey

The ‘Ehhelina’ of 13,000 tons was the largest cargo ship to be sunk off the Welsh coast. She was taking iron ore from Spain to Barrow-in Furness when it was sunk by U-103 with the loss of twenty- six men. Between January 1918 and the Armistice, eighteen ships were sunk off the Welsh coast.

U-103 completed five tours and sank eight ships, totalling 15,462 tons. On 12th May 1918 the U-boat was rammed in the Southern Approaches by the Olympic, the sister ship of the Titanic which was bringing United States troops to France. Nine German sailors lost their lives and thirty-five survivors were later landed in Queenstown.

28th January

German Raids over London

Nine airships took part in raids over London and one was shot down. Sixty-seven people were killed and one hundred and sixty-six were injured. As the airships approached, marrons were fired as a warning and fourteen people were tragically killed in a stampede to reach a shelter in Westminster.

Civil War Breaks Out in Finland

There was conflict for control of the country as it was being transferred from a duchy of the Russian Empire to an independent state. The Red Guards in Finland were composed mostly of industrial and agrarian workers who controlled mostly the south of the country. The White Guards were composed mainly of the middle and upper class and the White Guards controlled the north of the country.

29th January

Another German Raid on London

This was the second night of attack on the capital but little damage was done.

A Local Man Lost in the Great War

Louis A. Cattley served as a Marconi operator in the Mercantile Marine.

31st January

Royal Naval Ships Collide off Scotland, Over One Hundred Killed

About forty ships of the Royal Navy sailed from Rosyth bound for exercises at Scapa Flow. To avoid attracting German U-boats, each vessel only displayed a dim stern light and radio silence was observed. As the submarines passed May Island, lights of possible minesweeping trawlers were observed which resulted in ships altering courses with fatal consequences. Within an hour, two submarines had been sunk, four submarines damaged and H.M.S. Fearless had been damaged.

In total, one hundred and four men lost their lives in an event and much of the information about the subsequent investigation and court martial was not released until the 1990s.

Local Man Lost in the Great War

Robert Arbuckle, a member of Ebrington Presbyterian Church, served as a sergeant in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Shortly after his death his wife Tillie had the following lines inserted in a local newspaper.

‘Oh, could I hear his voice once more,
And see his loving smile,
The one that would my heart still cheer,
But I must wait awhile.
A sudden change, at God’s command he fell,
He had no chance to bid his friends farewell.
Affliction came, without warning given,
And bid him haste to meet his God in Heaven,
He died that we might live.’