- The Leader reports the death in France of the “quiet and unassuming” John James McMurtrie, resident of William Street, Orange. Private JJ McMurtrie – Killed in Action
- Cornelius Charles Harris writes home to his family at Byng to tell them about his visit to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, St Pauls Cathedral and the theatre, where he and “the Byng Boys” had a very enjoyable evening. Soldiers’ Letters
- Church of England chaplain of the 18th Battalion, WN Higgins, sends his condolences to Sarah Newton following her son Walter’s death in December 1916. Late Sergeant Newton
- The Blayney branch of the Red Cross Society organises a blackberry picking expedition with the aim of making jam for soldiers at the front. The community picks enough blackberries to make 147 kilos of jam. Industrious Red Cross Workers
- Gallipoli veterans who were part of the initial landing, and the evacuation and/or the battle of Lone Pine are to be issued with a gold “A” to wear on their uniform. A is for Anzac
- Australian and New Zealander soldiers in France express their disapproval of the term “Anzac”, saying it conjures up images of “men who swank in London in their turned-up hats and emu feathers while their brethren of the western front are bullocking or fighting in the mud and trenches.” The Leader concludes that “the term Anzac, as the equivalent of Australian and New Zealander, apparently has had its day, and yet it will live for ever, as a term descriptive of the troops who won abiding fame at Gallipoli.” Anzac Under A Cloud
- British troops on the Western Front make further progress north and south of the Ancre, capturing the village of Le Barque, south-west of Bapaume
- President Wilson asks the American Congress for the authority to arm US merchant ships
- The Anglo-French Conference assembles at Calais to discuss operations, the co-operation of the armies and the co-ordination of operations by the French Commander-in-Chief, General Robert Georges Nivelle
- The Leader publishes Mary Doreen Spender’s poem, Hard Luck:
An Anzac, No! Same kind of hat?
Oh yes, we wear the same;
Same badges, breeches and all that,
But, please cut out the name.
The first batch? They’re my pals all right,
Such chaps, the very rightest sort!
The brand that set the Nile alight,
And every one a life-size sport.
My pals? Some lie on Lone Pine Hill,
Some only reached the Anzac shore;
Some line the muddy trenches still,
Some, fully crocked, at home once more.
Each has his own pet bit of glory,
Some home is proud of Anzac sons;
Dead, wounded, sick – a hero’s story
Belongs to those, the luckier ones.
The girls won’t crowd to hear my battles,
No bally laurel wreaths my brow.
I’ve never been where gunshot rattles
Nor is it sure I shall be now.
My tale? A short one ’tis indeed,
For me no flattering tears will fall;
Jambed in a gun – an invalid
Sent here from Egypt. Yes, that’s all!
Bitter? What if I’m blooming bitter?
Though, grumblings only wasted breath,
I’d sell my soul to have been but fitter
And run with the boys in the Race for Death.
This entry was posted on February 26th, 2017.
Panoramic view of the ruined village of Serre-Les-Puisieux on the Ancre, occupied by the British, 25 February 1917, Ernest Brooks. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 1909).
- German forces on the Western Front retreat from front line positions on the Ancre as part of the withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line
- British troops extend their advance along a 17.5 kilometre front from south of Gomemcourt to east of Gueudecourt
- German submarine SM U-50 fires two torpedoes at the British passenger vessel SS Laconia off the coast of Fastnet in the Atlantic. The Laconia is returning to England from the US with 75 passengers and 217 crew aboard. The vessel sinks; six crew and six passengers are killed, including an American mother – Mary Hoy – and her daughter Elizabeth, from Chicago. The death of the Hoys stirs up public opinion in America and raises public support for the United States entering the war. President Woodrow Wilson considers the attack an “overt act“. The Sinking of the Laconia
- German destroyers bombard Margate and Broadstairs on English Kent coast. Three people are killed and one is wounded
This entry was posted on February 25th, 2017.
- Orange born William Henry Bright dies of disease in France
- German troops continue their retreat on the Western Front, evacuating the villages of Serre, Miraumont, Petit Miraumont, Pys and Warlencourt
- British forces in Mesopotamia consolidate their position, capturing all remaining enemy positions between Kut-al-Amara and Sannaiyat, and taking 1,730 prisoners. British gunboats pursue Turkish commander Karabekir Bey and his troops along the Tigris River towards Baghdad. Outrunning their counterparts on the ground, the crew of the British ships find themselves under fire from four Turkish vessels some 30 kilometres north of Kut at Nahr-al-Kalek. The British soundly defeat the Turks in the ensuing gun battle, destroying three of the Turkish ships and capturing the fourth, the former British monitor ship Firefly.
HMS Firefly. Image courtesy Naval-History.Net.
This entry was posted on February 24th, 2017.
- “Win the War League Day” is observed in Australia to raise funds for the war effort and boost home service
- Thomas Cornish returns to Orange from Egypt, suffering shell-shock and exhaustion. Personal
- Private William Francis Johns of the 1st Light Horse Regiment describes the capture of El Arish in a letter to his family in Orange. His troop rode overnight for 13 hours, entering the Turkish outpost at daybreak. Soldiers’ Letters – El Arish. William Johns’ horse previously belonged to Edgar Roy Stanford; Johns acquired the much coveted mount following Stanford’s death in August 1915.
- Private Bennett of the 13th Battalion, a patient in Randwick Military Hospital, provides a moving account of how soldiers become desensitised to the many horrors of war, and describes his encounter with John Patrick Hamilton, Orange’s first VC winner. Stories of War – The Unfelt Wound
- German forces on the Western Front begin to withdraw to the Hindenburg Line, a stronger, reinforced defensive position. Germans Begin Withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line
- British and Indian forces reoccupy Kut-al-Amara in Mesopotamia; the Turks retreat towards Baghdad
- British troops at Sannaiyat in Mesopotamia storm and take the third and fourth line of Turkish trenches
This entry was posted on February 23rd, 2017.
- Day 940 of the war
- Prime Minister William ‘Billy’ Hughes delivers his policy speech regarding the new Nationalist Party to the House of Representatives. Commonwealth War Ministry
- Allied forces on the Western Front repulse enemy raids east of Vermelles and south of Neuve Chapelle
- British troops take enemy trench and 30 prisoners north of Gueudecourt
- Commander-in-Chief of British and Indian Forces in Mesopotamia, Sir Frederick Maude launches a fresh attack Sannaiyat, capturing two lines of enemy trenches
- German submarine SM U-21 attacks eight Dutch and one Norwegian ship off the Isles of Scilly, despite having been granted a guarantee of safety by the German government. Attack On Seven Neutral Dutch Merchant Vessels
SM U-21 loading a torpedo during World War I. Image in public domain.
This entry was posted on February 22nd, 2017.
- Orange telegraph operator, Hubert Joseph Irwin, is killed in action in France
- The Leader reports the death of 26 year old Francis Bootle. Another Orange Soldier Gone
- Orange sends a further 1250lbs (567 kilos) of jam to Sydney for soldiers abroad. This is in addition to the 950lbs (431 kilos) dispatched on 5 February. Red Cross Society
- The Leader publishes the 273rd Casualty List
- Private Henry Paul James sends news from France to his parents in Millthorpe. This is his fifteenth letter he has sent home, and the first that his parents have received. Soldiers’ Letters
- Private G Hind writes to Orange East Public School student, Doris Dunbar, to thank her for her Christmas gift. A Grateful Soldier
- The Orange Girls’ Friendly Society holds the first of a series of fortnightly fundraisers for soldiers at the front. Girls’ Friendly Society
- Sam Whitmee of Millthorpe describes his Red Cross work in the United Kingdom. Sam spends his days gathering information about the wounded, dead or missing soldiers from the Orange district, which he conveys to anxious family and friends. He describes his voyage to England, with the constant threat of torpedoes, and how the long for “an Australian sun” in the bleak English winter. Mr Sam Whitmee – His Experiences In England
This entry was posted on February 21st, 2017.
- The 11th Australian Light Horse makes a surprise raid on the Turkish outpost of Bir el Hassana in Sinai. The enemy abandon their post.
- The Australian 3rd and 4th Battalions advance one kilometre at Ancre on the Western Front, as British soldiers to the north continue their advance; together they capture 773 prisoners
- A German raid on Australian and British positions at Baillescourt Farm, Ancre, is repulsed
This entry was posted on February 20th, 2017.
Captain William Henry Payne and despatch riders with the 1st Cavalry Divisional Signal Squadron, Mesopotamia, 1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
- William Henry Payne enlists. William is commemorated on the Centenary of WWI in Orange Honour Roll; he would die of wounds in Baghdad on 10 December 1917.
- The Leader reports the death of former Millthorpe boy, Denis Stinson. Pte Denis Stinson Killed in Action
- Residents of Orange continue to support the Red Cross’s appeal for jam for soldiers serving overseas; a further 1000lbs (453 kilos) are ready for dispatch to Sydney. Red Cross Society
- Lady Roberts’ Field Glass Fund in England appeals for more binoculars to be sent for the war effort. Field Glasses For The War
- German soldiers on the Somme employ a flammenwerfer (flamethrower) to capture a British post south of Le Transloy; they take 30 prisoners
- British troops east of Ypres raid enemy positions, and capture 114 prisoners
- The British Admiralty adopts the following scale of weekly pensions for loss of limbs:
- leg up to the hip 16s.
- leg up to the thigh 14s.
- leg above the knee 12s.6d.
- leg below the knee 10s.6d.
- right arm to the shoulder 16s.
- left arm to the shoulder 15s.
- right arm above or through elbow joint 14s.
- left arm above or through elbow joint 13s.
- right arm below the elbow 11s.6d.
- left arm below the elbow 10s.6d.
This entry was posted on February 19th, 2017.
The Berrima under construction, 1913. Image in public domain.
- The Australian troopship Berrima is torpedoed by the German submarine U-84 in the English Channel off the coast of Portland. The crew manages to beach the Berrima with the loss of four lives. Just six days earlier the ship had landed 1,600 Australian troops at Plymouth.
- Allied forces on the Western Front repulse strong enemy attacks on new British positions near Baillescourt Farm north of the Ancre
- Russian troops on the Eastern Front launch a surprise attack in the Trotus valley, capturing a strong position on high ground
- French and Italian troops join forces in southern Albania, isolating Greece from the Central Powers
This entry was posted on February 18th, 2017.
Three members of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force inspect the remains of Turkish trenches at Shumran Bend during the advance on Baghdad, February 1917. Note the home made white flag flying on the shovel in the background. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
- Orange born Harry Murphy, a station manager at Cumnock, dies of wounds in France
- Australian Prime Minister William (Billy) Hughes forms the Nationalist Party of Australia, a merger between the conservative Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party. The party holds government until 1929.
- Australian pilot Sub Lieutenant Roderic Stanley Dallas, serving with the Royal Naval Air Service, shoots down a German Aviatik aircraft over France
- British troops in Mesopotamia continue their progress along the south bank of the Tigris River. Sir Frederick Maude crosses the Shumran bend to the right of Turkish forces and launches an attack on both flanks.
- British troops on the Ancre capture German positions and penetrate enemy lines to the north and south, capturing 773 prisoners
This entry was posted on February 17th, 2017.