Keith McClymont of Stuart Town writes a letter from hospital in Heliopolis, where he finds himself following a game of football. He is enjoying a “good bed, and something like the old conditions of life”, after ten months of “the dust and flies of the desert”. Life in Hospital
The upturned hull of HMS Natal in Cromarty Firth, 1915. Image in public domain.
The armoured cruiser HMS Natal is destroyed in Cromarty Firth, Scotland, following a series of internal explosions. The disaster occurs during Christmas celebrations when locals are invited aboard to view in a special film show. 421 crew and civilian men, women and children die. HMS Natal World War One Disaster Remembered
Final planning for the evacuation of Helles continues, with all officers now informed of the plans. December 30
French General Maurice Sarrail arrests the consular staff of the four Central Powers at Salonika and deports them from Greece, effectively assuming control of Salonika
The P&O passenger ship Persia is torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Crete. She sinks in five minutes in one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean, 343 of the 500 people aboard drown. Salvaging a Sense of History
The Kingani on Lake Tanganyika 1915. Image courtesy Kolonialen Bildarchiv, Frankfurt.
HMS Mimi and HMS Toutou attack the German gunboat Kingani on Lake Tanganyika. The crippled vessel is captured and towed to the British base, where she is repaired and brought into British service as Fifi – the first German warship to be transferred to the Royal Navy.
The RAN Bridging Train is transferred temporarily to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps for operations against the Turks in Sinai
Preparations are underway for the final evacuation of Allied troops from Helles using the same successful tactics that made the withdrawal from Anzac and Suvla such a success
The German raider SMS Moewe sails from Bremen on her maiden cruise. Disguised as a neutral cargo ship, the Moewe raids commerce vessels, sinking several ships during the course of the war.
1915 Christmas billy, Thomas Sydney Harrison. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
Many Australian troops spend Christmas Day at sea en route from Gallipoli to Egypt; others are camped on the island of Lemnos.
Major Ernest Harris writes from Lemnos:
Each man was given a ‘Christmas Billy’, and I can assure you they opened them as eagerly as children at home do open their Christmas stockings … Just one thing hurt very much — it was the picture on the outside of the billy, showing a Kangaroo on the map of Gallipoli, with his tail knocking a Turk into the sea and underneath the words ‘THIS BIT OF THE WORLD BELONGS TO US’.
British troops kill 300 Senussi at Wadi Majid. British losses number 13 dead and 51 wounded.
James Dalton was born in Sydney in 1890. His father was Thomas Garrett (“Gatty”) Dalton MA, LLB, and Mayor of Orange in 1903, 1904 and 1905. His grandfather, also called Thomas, built Duntryleague and founded Dalton Brothers Stores.
James was the first son and the third of six children born to Gatty and his wife Mary Helene Condon. He spent his childhood at Killiney in Kite Street, a house built in 1875 by his grandfather, and now known as Mena. He was educated at St Ignatius’ College at Riverview.
James served in the Senior Cadets for three years and in the 9th Light Horse Regiment, of the Citizen Military Forces for 15 months. When he enlisted in January 1915, James was employed as a clerk in the family business – Dalton Bothers Ltd.
James was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant to the 7th Light Horse Regiment, 4th Reinforcement, embarking from Sydney in April 1915 with the Third Expeditionary Force. James, also known as “Sonny Jim” returned to Orange to farewell his family and friends prior to embarkation. A large crowd gathered at the Steam Engine Hotel on 3 March 1915 to pay tribute to James. The Mayor, Ald. ET McNeilly, chaired the meeting and a number of other alderman proposed toasts and delivered speeches. The crowd joined in singing patriotic songs and at the end of the evening Ald. McNeilly presented James with a wristlet watch. A Soldier’s Farewell
Just two months later, in June 1915, James was promoted to Lieutenant. He served for the duration of the war, in Egypt, Gallipoli and Palestine.
In August 1918 Lieutenant Dalton was sent to Jerusalem rest camp, only to be hospitalised three days later, suffering from debility. He rejoined his regiment the following week, but was again hospitalised in December, this time with pneumonia. James died at the 28th Casualty Clearing Station in Salonika on 19 December 1918, less than six weeks after the armistice agreement was signed.
James is commemorated on St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of Lieutenant Dalton; it was donated by his uncle, Michael Francis Dalton. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
The French liner Ville de la Ciotat is torpedoed by the German submarine U-34 off the coast off Crete in the Mediterranean. Of the 135 passengers and 181 crew, a total of 80 people perish, either killed by the explosion or drowned. The British steamship Meroe rescues the survivors and transports them to Malta.
The Leader reports that soldiers in camp in Sydney have been granted five days leave over Christmas and a free pass to any town in the state. Soldiers’ Holidays