Mary Reddan of Byng Street receives a letter of thanks from British soldier Eric Pryor for a hooded scarf he received whilst recovering in hospital in Bombay. A Soldier’s Thanks
The Leader calls for a “searching inquiry to be instituted” to discover the fate of parcels sent to soldiers at the front but not received. Mrs Elizabeth White, of Mullion Creek, sends a parcel every fortnight to her son, Roy, who is serving with the 6th Australian Light Horse Brigade in Egypt, yet, to date, Roy has received just one parcel. Soldier’s Parcels
British soldiers on the Western Front have captured 1,228 German prisoners, including 27 officers, during January
German forces on the Eastern Front launch three night attacks east of Jakobeny; all three attacks are repulsed with heavy loss
The German government announces the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic from 1 February. Claiming that the Red Cross is being misused, Germany declares hospital ships will no longer be tolerated, nor will civilian vessels. Germany Resumes Submarine Warfare
Private Tom Millgate from Borenore sends a letter home with a description of “one of the worst of foes” – Mud:
The…dragging slime that stretches from Switzerland to the sea is far worse to face than the fire of machine guns, or the great black trench-mortar bombs which come twisting down through the air
Private Tom Hood of Mullion Creek sends a series of letters home describing the voyage from Australia and the stopover in Durban. He says that the 212 men aboard have written so many letters that the censor has restricted them to just two (two-page) letters and two postcards each until the next port. Interesting Letters From Pte Tom Hood
The British advance continues south-west of Kut-al-Amara in Mesopotamia
Australian soldiers on a frozen pond in the grounds of Henencourt Chateau, Somme, January 1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
The French winter of 1916-17 is the harshest in 40 years; it is bitterly cold, with driving rain, mud and snow. Over 20,000 Australian soldiers are evacuated from the trenches suffering from exhaustion, frostbite, pneumonia and trench foot.
British troops in Mesopotamia make considerable progress on the right bank of the Tigris River south-west of Kut-al-Amara
The Kaiser was holding a birthday, with feasting and revel and wine;
And the roar of his cannon re-echoed from Riga across to the Rhine.
Blaspheming the name of his Maker, mouthing a braggart boast,
He stood at his birthday table, and called for another toast.
“Here’s to my gallant allies, and here’s to them every one.
Since their God has been good and allowed them to share in my place in the sun!’
Then, spite of the burst of cheering, and spite of the drunken din,
There came a voice from the doorway-‘Pardon, may I come in?’
“Who is it that seeketh to enter?” a wondering Kaiser cried;
And ‘Only another ally,’ the same sleek voice replied;
“Only another ally, bringing his homage to you,
And rendering every honour where honour is surely due.”
Then the Kaiser looked down the table, to the guests who had come at his call –
Turco and arrogant Austrian, bargaining Bulgar and all.
“An Ally that I have forgotten? Then open my portals wide!”
So did they leap to his bidding-and the Devil stepped inside.
There he did stand in the doorway, looking around with a grin,
As he numbered his new-found comrades in their brotherhood of sin.
“Sir, I am proud to toast you, for ever since hell had birth
I had hoped to find the colleague who would open a branch on earth.”
Then he snapped his tapering wine glass as he swung on his heel to go,
And the wine ran down over the damask cloth like blood on the Belgian snow.
“Brothers,” he cried, “I leave you but not with a final toast;
To-night I stand your Unbidden Guest-to-morrow I’ll be your Host!”
The Leader reports that former mayor of Orange, Dr Neville Howse has been awarded the Order of the Bath – Knight Commander (KCB). This honour is awarded to senior military officers for services in action; Sir Howse’s was one of only eight KCBs issued to Australians in WWI. Surgeon General Sir NR Howse KCB CB VC
The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) plans to use some of the £150,000 donated to the organisation by Australians to open an office in London. The office will be located in The Strand, adjacent to Australia House and will render personal service to Australian troops in London. YMCA Work Abroad
The Australian Hall in Orange hosts a second series of lectures by survivors of the Gallipoli campaign. Anzac Entertainers
French troops on the Western Front regain most of the recently lost ground near Verdun
British soldiers recapture lost trenches near Kut-al-Amara in Mesopotamia
HMS Laurentic during her war service. Image in public domain.
HMS Laurentic strikes two mines laid by the German submarine U-80 off Lough Swilly in Ireland. The vessel had departed Liverpool two days earlier for Halifax, with 475 passengers and a secret cargo of gold to purchase munitions from Canada and the US. Many of the passengers manage to board life boats, but given the extreme cold of -13C degrees, freeze to death. 354 people die, 121 survive, including the captain, Reginald Norton.
German destroyers shell Southwold and Wangford on the English coast near Suffolk
German troops on the Western Front launch four attacks north-west of Verdun, and seize two kilometres of French trenches at Hill 304
Russian counter-attacks on the Eastern Front fail; fierce fighting continues near Lake Babit
Allied forces capture enemy trenches on the Hai salient south-west of Kut-al-Amara; Turkish counter-attacks recover a little ground.
The Win The War League is established in Australia in an attempt to boost recruitment. The Leader declares:
It is hoped that the Win the War League will be the means by which the Australian manhood will be marshalled for the final conflict. [Those who] cannot serve at the front will be asked to serve at the back…Let not Australia falter by the way.
Local soldiers at the front express their gratitude for the recent shipment of cigarettes and tobacco. According to Major Dragnor: “nothing helps more than a good cigarette or a pipe full of tobacco”. Soldiers Praise Smokes
German Major Gideon von Grawert and his contingent of 289 men surrender to Brigadier General Edward Northey’s force at Likuju in German East Africa. They are held at Blantyre in Nyasaland prior to being transferred to a prisoner of war camp in Malta.
Emir Faisal’s Arab Northern Army capture the Ottoman controlled coastal city of Wejh in Arabia
Representatives of the British, French, and Italian admiralties attend the Allied Naval Conference in London to discuss naval policy in Mediterranean
The Harwich Flotilla clashes with German 6th Torpedo-Boat Flotilla in the North Sea; the destroyer HMS Simoom is torpedoed and damaged by SMS S-50. Her 81 crew are rescued by HMS Morris and she is scuttled by HMS Nimrod.
German troops on the Eastern Front launch a counter-offensive between Lake Babit and Tirul Marsh; as a consequence Russian soldiers lose much of their recently captured ground.
Bulgarian troops near Tulcea are driven back across the Danube River
The Leader ponders the accuracy of the term “Anzac Nurses”, and compares the physical attributes of Australian and English women
Bulgarian troops on the Eastern Front cross the southern arm of the Danube River near Tulcea
The Orange Red Cross Society appeals for fruit and sugar to make jam for soldiers fighting overseas. Jam, they say, is in more demand than clothing, and they have pledged to supply 500lbs (227 kilos). Home Made Jam For Soldiers