Australian businessman, Albany Bell, describes his experience as a volunteer military secretary with the YMCA accompanying Australian troops on their voyage to the front. Baptism of Soup
April 1917 becomes known as Bloody April, due to the huge number of casualties sustained by the Royal Flying Corps at the hands of the German Luftstreitkräfte during the Battle of Arras. 275 British aircraft are lost; 400 casualties are sustained, including 207 deaths, a casualty rate nearly four times that of Germany.
German U-boats sink a total 430 Allied and neutral merchant ships during the month of April
Lieutenant General Frederick Stanley Maude defeats the 13th Turkish Corps at Shatt-el-Adhaim and Kifri in Mesopotamia
Turkish forces occupy Mush in Armenia
The Leader publishes a tribute to Australian soldiers written by Miss Campbell, a signaller from Durban, South Africa. In Praise of Anzacs
We stand on the shore of Durban,
And watch the transports go
To England, from Australia,
Hurrying to and fro.
Bearing the name of nation
Who are heroes to the core
To stand or fall by the Motherland,
And they’re sending thousands more.
We’ve watched the ships returning,
With the cripple and the maim,
With limbs that trail and falter
Theirs an immortal name!
The deathless name of ”Anzac,”
That thrills from pole to pole,
The remnants of the heroes
On the long and glorious roll.
And now, in their tens of thousands,
Come the men to fill their ranks;
And what can we do to show them
Our love, our pride, our thanks?
We can’t do much (I own it),
But give them a passing cheer
While the real elite beat a shocked retreat
Why, they saw one drinking beer!
O! God, could we show these misers
The path that the Anzacs went!
Could they rest in their beds at night-time
Or dine in their damned content?
Could they talk with a sneer of Australians
When one or two get drunk?
I’d rather a drunk Australian
Than a wealthy Durban funk.
He’s a better man than you are
You dear teatotal saint;
You do not drink – you do not fight!
What wonderful restraint!
We stand on the shore of Durban,
For we’re not all made like you,
And the glorious name of ”Anzac”
Thrills us thro’ and thro’.
But all we can do is to cheer them,
And throw them a trifle from shore;
We’re not millionaires (like some are),
Or perhaps we would try to do more.
They are coming in tens of thousands,
And here’s to their honour to-day
Here’s to the Sister Dominion,
Who is showing us the way.
WWI cigarette card featuring General Henri-Philippe Petain. Image in public domain.
French President Raymond Poincare relieves French Commander-in-Chief, General Robert Georges Nivelle of his command following the failure of the Second Battle of the Aisne, also known as the Nivelle Offensive. General Henri-Philippe Petain is appointed as his replacement.
French army units at Châlons-sur-Marne mutiny following recent defeats and heavy casualties. Outbreaks of mutiny continue until October.
British troops on the Western Front occupy German trenches south of Oppy
A Canadian Army officer shows a German Army cartridge belt to King George V. The group is standing in a former German trench on Vimy Ridge captured by the Canadians in April 1917. King George is placing a souvenir cartridge in his pocket. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
Day 1005 of the war
British forces on the Western Front continue to advance east of Vimy and capture Arleux
French troops advance towards Suippe valley in Champagne
Lieutenant Clarence Crase Thomas becomes the first US Naval Officer killed in World War I when German submarine U-21 torpedoes the American tanker SS Vacuum 190 kms west of the Hebrides Islands in northern Scotland. The force of the blast throws the crew into the ocean and the tanker sinks within two minutes. Picked up by a passing boat, Thomas soon died of cold and exposure. Thomas was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross “for distinguished service in the line of his profession as commander of the armed guard crew of the … Vacuum.”
The United States Congress passes the Army Bill paving the way for conscription
Veterans of the Gallipoli landing are guests of honour at memorial services in London. Anzac Day in London
The headmaster of Wolaroi School commemorates Anzac Day by announcing a scholarship for free board and tuition for the sons of deceased or permanently disabled soldiers. Wolaroi Memorial Scholarship
Guatemala severs diplomatic relations with Germany
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party – Bolsheviks (RSDLP-B) conference opens in Petrograd, with Vladimir Lenin elected honorary Chairman. 57 delegates discuss the present situation, current tasks, the attitude to the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and the question of its reorganisation, the structure of Party organisation, attitudes to the other Social-Democratic trends and municipal elections. The conference which continues until 5 May.
Vladimir Lenin pre 1925, Isaak Brodsky. Image in public domain.
Albert Bruntnell of the National Party addresses the people of Orange in the lead up to the Federal election on 5 May
Lieutenant Robert Alexander Little, an Australian pilot serving with the Royal Air Force engages a German DFW fighter, forcing it to land. He follows the aircraft down and captures the crew at gunpoint. With an official tally of 47 victories, Little is regarded as the most successful Australian flying ace.
British troops on the Western Front advance to St Quentin Canal near Vendhuil and capture Bithem
British and Indian forces in Mesopotamia capture Samarra; Turkish troops retreat from Shatt-el-Adhaim towards Jebel Hamrin
The Leader reports the death in France of Orange-born solicitor Francis Bede Commins. Personal
Orange solicitor, Major Ronald Charles Osborne, is awarded the Military Cross. Soldiers’ Letters
Mary Vernon, Honourable Secretary of the 1st Light Horse Comforts Fund appeals for tinned fruit, tinned vegetables and lime juice for soldiers of the 1st Light Horse serving in Egypt. Summer Foods for Soldiers
The Lancet publishes Dr CU Longridge’s controversial paper claiming that trench foot is the result of electricity leaking from the body. Trench Foot and Electric Leakage
British soldiers on the Western Front capture rest of Trescault and most of Havrincourt Wood
British forces in Mesopotamia occupy Samarra, 96 kilometres north of Baghdad; they take 937 prisoners
Descendants of John Patrick Hamilton VC with Orange City Cr Reg Kidd, NSW Member for Calare, Andrew Gee and Orange RSL sub-branch vice-president Chris Colvin. Image courtesy Orange City Library.
A statue dedicated to the memory of Victoria Cross recipient John Patrick Hamilton is unveiled in Orange. Fifty people attend the ceremony, including descendants of John Patrick Hamilton VC spanning three generations. Guest speakers include Orange mayor, Cr John Davis OAM, Orange Ex-Services’ Club Senior Vice President, Graham Gentles, The Hon Katrina Hodgkinson, MP, NSW Member for Calare, Andrew Gee, and Ian Burrett JP, whose father, Lt Col Athol Frederick (Joe) Burrett DSO was John Hamilton’s commanding officer.