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2nd May

Allied Appeal for Rapid American Assistance

A document contained the manpower estimate prepared by the Ministers of Great Britain, France and Italy and confirmed by the Allied commander General Ferdinand Foch.

‘It is the opinion of the Supreme War Council that in order to carry out the war to a successful conclusion, an American army should be formed as early as possible under its own commander and under its own flag. In order to meet the present emergency, it is agreed that American troops should be brought to France as rapidly as Allied transportation facilities will permit, and that, as far as consistent with the necessity of building up and American army, preference will be given to infantry and machine gun units to training and service with French and British armies. ‘The document went on to say that ‘during the month of May preference should be given to the transportation of infantry and machine gun units of six divisions.’

Orbituary in Local Paper

William James Kane served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and he was killed on 2nd May 1916. In 1918 members of his family placed these lines in a local paper.

‘Friends may forget him, but mother will never,
He will dwell in my heart till life’s journey is done.
Lord, teach us to live that when our days are ended
We’ll be met at the gates by our dear hero son.’

Orbituary in Local Paper

Joseph McCafferty served as a private in the Royal Irish Regiment and he was killed on 2nd May 1916. In 1918 his family placed the following lines in a local paper.

‘Though far away your grave to see,
Yet not too far to think of thee.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on him.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, intercede for him.
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for him.

3rd May

Two Local Men Lose Their Lives in the Great War

Patrick Cullen served as a private in the Royal Muster Fusiliers.

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

5th May

Lord French Appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

Born in 1852, one branch of his family had settled in County Wexford in the 14th century. In 1884 he took part in the Sudan Expedition which was sent to relieve Major-General Gordon. In 1899 he served in the Second Boer War where he was associated with Lord Kitchener who said of him,’ French is the most loyal, energetic soldier I have, and all under him are devoted to him.’ In 1911 Lord French was appointed Chief of Staff of the British army and at the outbreak of the First World War he was given command of the British Expeditionary Force. Lord French was replaced in 1915 by Douglas Haig.

Majaryk Convinces President Wilson to establish Czechoslavakia

On a visit to Chicago, the future first president of Czechoslavakia was greeted by a crowd estimated at one hundred and fifty thousand. During this visit he convinced President Wilson of the merits of establishing this new state. His earlier plan had been to attempt reform of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy into a federal state.

U Boat Rammed and Sunk Off Rathlin Island

The 500 ton steamer Green Island was sailing between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle when a periscope was sighted just ahead, and the ship altered course and rammed the submarine. The merchant ship on turning back found large amounts of oil on the surface. All the crew of UB 119 by the merchant ship Green Island. All the thirty-four crew of UB 119 were lost, the submarine having taken part in its first and last patrol.

7th May

A Local Man Lost His Life in the Great War

James Cruickshank served as a rifleman in the Royal Irish Rifles.

9th May

German Airships Attack Dover

There was an unsuccessful attack on the strategic port, but three of the airships crashed.

10th May

Second Attack on Ostend

H.M.S Vindictive was scuttled at the harbour entrance and as a result, German cruiser was no longer able to use the port.

Two Local Men Lose Their Lives in the Great War

William McGregor served a private in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

William Norris served as a corporal in the Cameronians.

Strike of Building Workers in the City Ends

This had begun on 6th May and had involved over sixty men.

11th May

Isle of Man Prepares for A long War

The authorities on the island raised the military age to fifty-one.

12th May

Daring Raid on Zeebrugge

In an attempt to thwart the U-boat campaign, the Royal Navy carried out a daring attack, with fifteen planes giving cover. In the ensuing dogfight a number of German planes were shot down. This raid was used for propaganda purposes and eight Victoria Crosses were issued.

13th May

Cargo Ship Beached in Lough Swilly

The 5,000 ton cargo ship Esperanza de Larinaga was sailing from Galveston in Texas to Manchester with general cargo when it was torpedoed by U-65 about thirty-five miles off the entrance of Lough Swilly with the loss of one crew member. The ship was beached in Lough Swilly. U-65 sailed six patrols and in that time sank six merchant ships. The German submarine was lost off Padstow in Cornwall later that year will the loss of all of her thirty-seven crew.

Two Local Men Lose Their Lives in the Great War

William Shields served as a private in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

John Williamson served as a private in the same regiment.

Mid May

Workers Socialist Federation Meet in London

At their conference delegates called for an end to the war, for the government to recognise the Russian government and the organisation also called for elf-determination for Ireland. The organisation also called for the release of conscientious objectors and the establishment of soviets across England.

15th May

County Down Fishing Fleet Destroyed in Attack

The Kilkeel fishing fleet was attacked by a U-boat which suddenly surfaced in the middle of the boats. The crews of the ten fishing boats, eight from Kilkeel and two from Portavogie, were ordered to get into small boats. The crew of the ‘Never Can Tell’ did not have a smaller boat and were taken on board the U-boat where they were held for an hour and a half. In that time the fishermen were given gin and cigarettes. As the sailors were leaving the submarine, the captain said, ‘Good night, and tell them on the shore that we were cruel to you and tell them in Belfast we were asking for them.’ UB 64 took part in eight patrols and sank twenty-nine merchant ships, gross tonnage 33,740 tons. It surrendered in 1918 and was broken up two years later in Portsmouth.

St. Kilda Attacked by the Germans

Early in the First Word War the Royal Navy erected a signal station on this remote island, establishing daily communications with the mainland. The German submarine U-90 arrived in the bay and after issuing a warning began to shell the island. Seventy-two shells were fired and the wireless station was destroyed. Buildings such as the church, manse and storehouse at the jetty were damaged but nobody was killed. An eye witness later recalled, ‘It was not what you would call a bad submarine because it could have destroyed every house down because they were all in a row. He only wanted Admiralty property. One lamb was killed but all the cattle ran away to the other side of the island when they heard the gunfire. ‘Later a naval gun was erected overlooking the bay but it was never fired in anger.

Russian Royal Family Moved to Secure Property

The tzar and members of the Russian Royal Family were moved to a building in Yekaterinburg in the Urals, to a place referred to as ‘The House of Special Purpose.’ To prevent people seeing in or the Royal family seeing out, the windows were sealed shut, covered in newspapers and whitewashed.

Mid May

American Destroyer Arrives in Ireland

The USS Dixie was built as a passenger ship but was taken over by the U.S. navy and converted into an auxiliary cruiser. The ship was deployed in the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century.

17th May

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Claims Sinn Fein and German Collusion

On his arrival in Ireland Lord French declared that Bolshevism was in the air and that Sinn Fein was the party of the ‘troublesome uneducated.’ He claimed that he had been presented with evidence of a plot between Sinn Fein and the Germans. He ordered the arrest of leading members of Sinn Fein.

Leading Sinn Fein Leaders Arrested

Seventy-three Sinn Feiners were arrested across Ireland, on the claims of a plot between Sinn Fein and Germany. Emon De Valera was arrested at the railway station at Greystones. British Intelligence referred to him as ‘Edward De Valera ‘and claimed that he had made ‘treasonable speeches across Ireland.’ The British authorities claimed that on one occasion he called for the complete separation of Ireland from England and for the renewal and arming of volunteers.

References were made to alleged inflammatory speeches at Armagh on 12th September 1917, at County Clare on 10th October 1917 and at Balbriggan on 18th October in the same year.

18th May

Letter on German Plot Arrests

A letter on this issue was sent to the Chief Secretary’s Office in Dublin Castle. In the letter concerns were expressed about the consequences of the arrests. The writer insisted, ‘You have got to prove your accusations or else your action in arresting these men will be worse that useless. If you merely imprison these men, deport them to England and hush the whole thing up- the course of action adopted with the arrested suspects after the 1916 rebellion-you will make things worse.’

British Air Raid on Cologne

A daytime air raid was carried out on the German city. During the war the British dropped 660 tons of bombs on Germany while the Germans dropped just about 300 tons on Britain. British air raids on Germany were met with retaliatory air raids on France which caused tension among the Allies.

A Local Man Loses His Life in the Great War

Thompson Harper served as a corporal in the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

19th May

Major Attack on London

Over thirty German airships and planes carried out an attack on the capital and in the raid six German aircraft were lost. Many bombs were dropped and forty-nine people were killed, one hundred and seventy-seven were injured and damage amounted to £117,317. This had been the largest and last raid on London.

In the First World War damage done by German bombing amounted to £2,962,111, One thousand four hundred and fourteen people were killed and three thousand four hundred and sixteen were injured. These figures include those killed or injured from anti-aircraft shrapnel fire. In addition, trade and industry were disrupted especially in London where over three hundred thousand citizens regularly had to seek shelter.

Royal Irish Constabulary Security File, Suspects to Be Monitored

In a recently auctioned file, advice was given to members of the police force to report on the activities of certain members of Sinn Fein. One whose movements were to be observed was Michael Collins, described as ‘dressing well, usually in grey suit, fawn overcoat and Trilby hat’. Others to be observed included Cathal Burgess and Harry Boland.

First Public Performance of a Derry Shipbuilder’s Choir

The choir of the North of Ireland Shipbuilding Company had its first public performance in the Guildhall. Newspaper reports stated that their performance was ‘to a large and appreciative audience.’ With increased orders to replace ships sunk by U-boats, four new slipways had been built and new housing had been constructed at Garden City on the outskirts of the city. Soon afterwards the shipyard also established a soccer club.

24th May

Women in Canada Given the Vote

Women in Canada over the age of twenty-one were given the right to vote in federal elections. However, at this time, the extension of suffrage excluded Asian and indigenous men and women.

American Pre-Fabricated Hospital Arrives in County Cork

Materials for a hospital arrived at White Point in Cork Harbour. American personnel constructed the fifty-hut hospital. There were seven main wards which were lit by electricity and central heating. Associated buildings included a mess room and a chapel. The Y.M.C.A. room contained a barber’s shop, a reading and a pool room, a canteen with a stage.

25th May

German U-boats Off the United States

German U-boats had now extended their range and were menacingly operating off the coast of North America.

Two Local Men Lose Their Lives in the Great War

John Austin served as a private in the Royal Scots.

William J.Mc Sheehy also served as a private in the Royal Scots.

Strike of City Carters and Dockers

This had begun on 23rd May and had directly involved over four hundred workers.

26th May

Orbituaries in Local Paper

Hugh McGowan had served as a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery and was killed on 26th May 1917. In 1918 his brother Charles and sister Kate of Abbey Street had the following lines placed in a local paper.

O! Immaculate Heart of Mary,
On him your prayers extol,
Oh! Agonising Heart of Jesus,
Have mercy on his soul.
Those who think of him tonight,
Are those who loved him best.
His wife and other members of the family had the following lines inserted in a local paper.
O! Blessed Mother of Mary,
On him your prayers extol.
O! Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Have mercy on his soul.’

27th May

Third German Spring Offensive, Operation Blucher

Germany launched the third phase of its spring offensive, the Third Battle of the Aisne. This began in the French sector along Chemin des Dames. The main objective was to drive a wedge between the British and French forces before the arrival of the Americans. The French had been forced back to the River Marne but held the position after being reinforced by American troops.

Three Local Men Lose Their Lives in the Great War

Daniel Black served as a private in the Royal Field Artillery.

Robert Given served as a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles.

Cornelius Harrigan served as a private in the East Yorkshire Regiment.

28th May

United States Forces Attack German Position

In the Battle of Cantigny the American army attacked a small German salient for two reasons, to take a strategic German position and to instil confidence among the British and French armies. The salient was successfully captured in thirty minutes.

30th May

Two Local Men Lose Their Lives in the Great War

John J. McIlhargey served as a corporal in the Royal Engineers.

Henry Morre served as a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps.


Increase in Sinn Fein Membership

A report by the Royal Irish Constabulary stated that since about the beginning of March there had been 23% increase in Sinn Fein membership. The report also stated that there was an increase in the number of young men who were enlisting in the Volunteers, anxious to avoid compulsory service.