The Leader publishes a second list of the district’s soldiers currently on active service for the purpose of sending Christmas parcels. Soldiers’ Christmas
The Leader gives an update of the special recruiting train which will run along the Great Western Railway Line seeking reinforcements for the war. Military staff aboard the train includes William Jackson VC [who remains to date the youngest Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross]. Recruiting – Heroes to visit Orange
German zeppelin L-45 raids London, dropping bombs over Hendon and Piccadilly Circus. A 300kg bomb over Camberwell kills ten people and injures 24. The zeppelin continues to the south east, dropping another bomb over Hither Green [now Nightingale Grove], killing a further 15 people This is the last zeppelin raid on London in WWI. Camberwell Zeppelin Raid
Arnold Cassin Caldwell, a draughtsman with the Land Board Office in Orange, describes the impact that German shelling has on French civilians close to the front line. He complains about the cobble stone roads, “they are like needles to walk on”.
Schools in Orange plan special sports events to celebrate War Chest Day on 27 October. Events will include tugs-of-war and spoon races.
Having written open letters to the wives of warriors, the sisters of soldiers, the fathers of fighters and to pals in the State Public Service, “The Recruiter” now appeals to the mothers of men who are in the AIF:
You have made a great gift to the Empire…and now it devolves upon you to rouse these other mothers up to a sense of their duty. You have given yours, and it lies in your hands to a great extent to see that other mothers do likewise.
HMAS Yarra. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
The Australian destroyers HMAS Warrego, HMAS Parramatta, HMAS Yarra, HMAS Swan, HMAS Torrens and HMAS Huon begin patrol operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The vessels are based in Brindisi in Italy as part of the Otranto Barrage, the Allied naval blockade of the Otranto Straits between Brindisi in Italy and Corfu on the Greek side of the Adriatic Sea.
The First Battle of Passchendaele took place in the Ypres Salient of the Western Front on 12 October 1917. Part of the Third Battle of Ypres, the offensive aimed to seize the Passchendaele Ridge from the defending Germans. The assault was ill-fated from the outset, with inclement weather, misinformation, delays in communication and lack of preparedness contributing to a failed objective.
The Australian Third Division and the New Zealand Division spearheaded the offensive, with the Australian Fourth Division in support. Steady rain started falling in the lead up to the attack and confusion ensued when German artillery attacked part of the 3rd Australian Division before the battle started. The paltry Allied artillery barrage offered no protective to the advancing infantry, who were forced to press forward in the quagmire – at times waist deep – armed only with grenades, rifles and light machine guns.
Forward patrols managed to reach the village of Passchendaele, but were unable to hold it, and were forced to retreat to their starting point. The assault ended in total failure, with all attacking units retreating almost to their original position.
The New Zealand Division suffered more than 3,700 casualties as they ran into unbroken German wire at Bellevue Spur and fell victim to German snipers. Casualties that day included some 960 men killed or mortally wounded; the rest succumbed to their wounds in field ambulances and hospitals behind the lines in Belgium, France and England. 12 October 1917 would become known as the blackest day in New Zealand military history.
The Australian Imperial Force lost 4,000 men during the First Battle of Passchendaele; the month of October 1917 would prove the worst month for Australian losses of the whole war, with 40,498 men killed, wounded or missing in action.
There is not the slightest doubt that there are hundreds of young men in Orange who should be over in France doing their duty to the cause of Empire, and why they prefer to loaf about the street, propping up lamp posts and the corners of buildings, while their brothers are lying bleeding on the battlefields of France, passeth all understanding.
The Leader publishes a list of the district’s soldiers currently on active service for the purpose of sending Christmas parcels. Soldiers at the Front