Ships of the Second Convoy at King George’s Sound, Albany, prior to departure on 31 December 1914. Image courtesy National ANZAC Centre.
The second convoy of the first AIF departs Albany in Western Australia. The convoy consists of 19 ships.
The Leader publishes a letter from “Rex” of the Veterinary Field Section, part of the second convoy. “Rex” expresses his delight at leaving the monotony of camp life at Liverpool behind (not to mention the appalling food!). He describes the voyage from Sydney to Fremantle, his role as a veterinarian and mentions Private James McLean from Bloomfield, who is also part of the second convoy. On the Way to the Front
The Leader publishes a letter from Richard William Bonner to his brother at Huntley, describing the sea voyage from Albany to Aden and the troops’ jubilation at the sinking of the Emden. With the Australian Troops
The Leader reports that British troops in northern France experienced a white Christmas, whilst those on the British front enjoyed a “merry Christmas”, complete with “plumb” [sic] puddings. A Merry Xmas.
Five months into the war German and British soldiers in some sectors of Western Front observe an unofficial Christmas truce. Weapons are laid down, troops exit their trenches and mingle in no man’s land. Joint burial ceremonies are observed and prisoners exchanged. Soldiers share food and cigarettes, join together in singing carols and even engage in a game of soccer. The Leader later publishes an eyewitness’ account: Great day of peace in trenches
Friedrichshafen FF.29 seaplane on the deck of the German submarine U-12. Image in public domain.
The first German air raid on England takes place. A Friedrichshafen FF.29 seaplane drops two bombs into the sea near the Admiralty Pier in Dover. Such raids continue throughout the war, with little effect.
British forces occupy the coastal town of Jasin in East Africa to stabilise the frontier tribes in the Umba Valley (modern-day Tanzania)
French troops passing time in a trench during the Battle of Champagne. Image courtesy Le Miroir, 27 décembre 1914.
The First Battle of Champagne begins, marking the first major Allied attack against the Germans since the initiation of trench warfare on the Western Front. The French Fourth Army and the German Third Army engage in combat that lasts until 17 March 1915.
British troops with Indian reinforcements clash with German troops in the Battle of Givenchy. Allied losses are high; casualties are exacerbated by the inclement weather conditions.
“Never mind me; I’m all right; look after the others first”
William Holland was born in Bourke in 1893. He was living in Orange and working as a station hand when WWI began. William enlisted in December 1914, joining the Light Horse Reserve. William and his mother were residing at his aunt’s and uncle’s house in Byng Street; William’s uncle – Henry Armytage – was Orange Municipal Council’s sanitary inspector.
In March 1915 William was transferred to 12th Light Horse Regiment as a transport driver. He embarked in June 1915, arriving at Gallipoli on 29 August 1915. Driver Holland was sent directly to the trenches. The following day he wrote a letter to his grandparents from the trenches:
“the bullets are flying over my head. We are…as safe as a bank as long as we lie low…Some of the boys have been here 17 weeks and longer, and are none the worse for the experience.”
William would be mortally wounded just a month after writing that letter; he was killed in action before his grandparents received his letter. He was just 22 years of age.
William’s mother, Elizabeth Simmons, was advised of her son’s death via a telegram from the Defence Department. The 103rd Casualty List, however, reported that No. 319 Private W. Holland (7th Light Horse, late 12th Light Horse) of Orange had been killed in action. William’s service number was 314 (not 319). A distressed Elizabeth contacted the Australian Red Cross Society in the hope that her son was still alive, however this was not the case.
In June 1916 William’s commanding officer, Sergeant Vernon, wrote a letter of condolence to William’s grandparents, describing how he had “died a hero”. Private Holland and five other soldiers had been struck by a shell, and as the stretcher bearers approached him William exclaimed: “Never mind me; I’m all right; look after the others first”. By the time they returned to collect William he had passed away. The Leader published the letter in an article entitled “The spirit of the true ANZAC”.
William is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll.
Three Scandinavian kings at Malmo in December 1914. Image in public domain.
King Haakon VII of Norway, King Gustav V of Sweden, and King Christian X of Denmark meet at Malmo in Sweden to confirm joint Scandinavian neutrality during the war
Britain proclaims Egypt as a protectorate. The British press bureau releases the following statement:
In view of the state of war arising out of the action of Turkey, Egypt is placed under the protection of His Majesty and will henceforth constitute a British Protectorate. The suzerainty of Turkey over Egypt is thus terminated and His Majesty’s Government will adopt all measures necessary for the defence of Egypt and the protection of its inhabitants and interests.