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
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.
British troops in Mesopotamia continue their progress along the south bank of the Tigris River. Sir Frederick Stanley 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
Forty year old Bertie Tanner arrived in Devonport, England, with the 33rd Battalion on 29 January 1917. Bertie did not see active combat; he died of pneumonia eighteen days later in the Tidworth Military Hospital. The attending medical officer noted: “this was a serious case which progressed rapidly to a fatal termination”.
Bertram Frederick Tanner was born in Molong on 8 January 1876. ‘Bertie’, as he became known, was the third of eight children born to William Tanner and his wife Catherine (Kate) Tanner (nee Archer). William ran a drapery store in Riddell Street, and in 1879 was elected as the first mayor of the newly formed Molong Municipal Council. By 1886 the family had moved to Orange, where William operated a drapers and outfitters business in Summer Street. He also served as an alderman and, in 1892, was elected mayor of Orange.
It seems that Bertie had a history of chest complaints. In November 1899 the Western Champion reported that the 23 year old had contracted a severe case of “water pleurisy” while working at Singleton and had been forced to return home to Orange for treatment. In October 1916, during his time at Rutherford training camp, he was hospitalised with a severe cold.
Bertie enlisted in Walgett on 11 July 1916 and proceeded to Narrabri training camp. He was there for two weeks before being transferred to Armidale. On 2 September he was transferred to Rutherford, and, on 7 November, to Liverpool, in preparation for embarkation.
Private Tanner embarked SS Port Napier at Sydney on 17 November 1916, and disembarked at Devonport on 29 January 1917. The following day the 33rd Battalion was marched into the 9th Training Battalion at Durrington. Two weeks later, on 13 February, a dangerously ill Bertie was admitted to the Tidworth Military Hospital. He passed away three days later, on 16 February, and was buried in the nearby Tidworth Military Cemetery on 19 February.
Upon enlistment Private Tanner had nominated his brother in law, Edgar Albert Tanner, as his next of kin and, in his will, bequeathed his personal effects, bank savings and deferred pay to his nephew, Warren Tanner. In July 1917 Edgar received Bertie’s personal effects, which consisted of one holdall, a housewife, two knives, a pipe, a shaving brush, a hair brush, a polishing brush, a boot pad, cheque forms, a book, postcards, one photograph, one letter, one pair of mittens, his identity discs, a leather belt, watch, three badges, two rings, tobacco pouch and one key.
In May 1921 the Base Records Office wrote to Bertie’s father to inform him that: “the provisions of a Will have no bearing upon the distribution of Medals unless they are specifically mentioned therein”. William Tanner was issued with his son’s war medals in September 1922.
Bertram Frederick Tanner is commemorated on the Orange Public School Honour Roll, the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 123 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. His name also appears on a commemorative plaque on his parents’ grave in Rookwood cemetery, Anglican section.
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 “L Cpl RF Tanner”, presumably Bertie. It was donated by former mayor of Orange, James Stuart Leeds. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
Commander of 8th Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Edwin Tivey, claims that Australian soldiers on the Somme display “marvellous endurance, patience and pluck” in the face of the bleakest winter weather. The Australian Soldier – Patient and Plucky
French soldiers carry out a successful large-scale raid 20kms north-west of Compiegne on the Western Front
British naval airmen bomb Bruges for the second time this week
German ambassador to the United States, Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff and his staff set sail from Hoboken, New Jersey, having been ordered to leave the country by President Woodrow Wilson on 3 February
Britain informs the Japanese government that it will support Japanese claims to German territories north of the Equator if Japan will support similar British claims south of the Equator
The President sat in his easy chair, and a lonely man was he,
For the ‘phone alone intruded there with the latest news from sea.
His brow was furrowed with groves of care, and his fingers smudged with ink.
It’s a quiet room and a fastened door when the President starts to think.
The streets were ringing with rumoured war, and the citizens all alive,
Like a swarm of bees on a summer’s day when there’s danger near the hive.
And Theodore Roosevelt swore a swear, while the Kaiser, winked a wink.
He knew he might venture another coup when the President starts to think.
There are few of us wrought in the same design, it’s a trick that Nature plays,
But many men of many minds and many amazing ways.
To each and all his personal mood, to each his dominant kink.
So some will smile and others may sigh when the President starts to think.
At sea, ten thousand hearts are stirred with alternate fear and hope,
And twenty thousand eyes are strained for a threatening periscope.
There’s murder lurking in every wave, for they’re always on the brink,
And the death-watch ticks the tortured hours while the President stops to think.
There are men of action and men of words, entirely different stuff.
Yet even the worm is moved to turn if you pinch it hard enough.
And even patience may tire at last of the perjured word and pact,
And the Chancellor find it time to think when the President starts to act.
German submarine SM UC-66 torpedoes the British passenger liner SS Afric 22 kms south west of the Eddystone Lighthouse in the English Channel. The Afric is transporting cargo from Liverpool to Sydney at the time; five people die as the Afric sinks.
British troops south-east of Grandcourt on the Western Front capture a German strong point as raids north-east of Arras take 40 prisoners
German soldiers repulse Russian counter-attacks near Jakobeny on the Eastern Front
American president, Woodrow Wilson, refuses to negotiate with Germany until the unrestricted submarine warfare policy is revoked
The Allied Conference to discuss military and financial issues closes in Petrograd after deliberations lasting two weeks
Frederick Hart of Molong sends news from Minden in Germany, where he is a prisoner of war. Fred says he is “still alright” and that prisoners receive clothing and a weekly food parcel from the British Red Cross League, and bread and cheese from Switzerland. Prisoner in Germany
Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Alexander Poynton, extends the deadline for investment in the Commonwealth War Loan to 14 February. The War Loan
British forces on the Western Front repulse German attacks south of Serre, and take 48 prisoners east of Souchez. Successful raids are effected at Neuville, Loos and Ypres.
German troops on the Eastern Front near Jakobeny attack and seize the new Russian positions and more than 1,200 prisoners
German soldiers attack Hill 1050 on the Southern Front east of Monastir, gaining a footing at several points in the Italian front lines
US Ambassador to Germany, James Watson Gerard, and his staff arrive in Switzerland from Berlin
Austrian submarine U-35 bombs and sinks the American schooner SS Lyman M Law in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Cagliari, Sardinia. The crew of eight American and two British sailors are ordered to disembark prior to the attack; they are transported to Cagliari and released. American schooner Lyman M. Law is sunk
German submarines SM U-52 (right) and SM U-35 (left) meeting in the Mediterranean c1916. Image courtesy Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918 in seiner rauhen Wirklichkeit.
Allied raids succeed at Givenchy, Neuville, Grandcourt, La Bassee, Neuve Chappelle, Auberive and Luneville
British forces capture a strong system of hostile trenches along a kilometre-wide front south of Serre Hill; 215 prisoners are taken
German airmen bomb Dunkirk, Amiens and Nancy
Italian airmen on the Southern Front capture two of three Austrian hydroplanes at Valona
Turkish forces near Kut-al-Amara attempt four unsuccessful attacks on British forces during the night. Meanwhile, the British attack the Kut liquorice factory, and establish a new line on a 5.5km front, pressing the Turks back a kilometre.
US Ambassador to Germany, James Watson Gerard and his staff depart Berlin