Ada Gall of Clinton Street, Orange, receives letters of sympathy following the death of her son, Norman, killed in action in France in November 1916. Lieutenant Hall conveys: “What a loss it was to our company I cannot tell you, as he was one of our best soldiers, liked by all men and officers, and respected by all.” The Late Sergt N Gall
Mr and Mrs John Thomas host a farewell party at their Orange home, Glenfield, to wish their son Cecil well during his overseas service. Cecil’s friends from the Yamboyna Tennis Club present him with an inscribed wallet, containing a polished steel shield mirror. Send Off To Trooper Cecil Thomas
The NSW State Recruiting Committee makes an urgent appeal for cyclists to undertake patrol and dispatch work in France. Cyclists Wanted For France
British troops on the Western Front occupy Thilloy, Gommecourt, Puisieux and Sailly-Saillisel
Romanian counter-attacks on the Eastern Front at Bukovina are partially successful
Turkish losses in Mesopotamia in last three months are now estimated to be more than 20,000
British troops continue their advance on the Western Front, occupying the towns of Ligny and Gommecourt, and seriously damaging three lines of enemy trenches and capturing 17 prisoners east of Armentieres
German forces near Jakobeny on the Eastern Front take several Russian positions on high ground and 1,300 prisoners
German airmen bombard Allied camps at Salonika on the Southern Front; Allied soldiers shoot down one enemy aircraft
British soldiers in Mesopotamia continue their pursuit of the retreating Turks; they capture 7,000 prisoners
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.
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
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.
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
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