A scene in Vaulx, showing wilful German destruction. The village was the battle headquarters of the 7th Infantry Brigade in the capture of Lagnicourt on 26 March 1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
- Day 970 of the war
- British troops on the Western Front take Roisel, east of Peronne, as the French occupy the right bank of Oise from north of Vaudreuil to La Fere and progress along the east bank of Ailette River.
- The French government protests against the barbarity and devastation caused by the German army in evacuated French territory
- Russian armies on the Eastern Front pledge loyalty to the new Provisional Government
This entry was posted on March 24th, 2017.
Romanian troops cross the Trotus River, 1917. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 76641).
- French troops succeed at Artemps on the Western Front
- The retreating German army floods the Oise valley and La Fere
- New Allied detachments cross the Ailette river and progress north of Soissons
- Russian soldiers on the Eastern Front lose trenches west of Moinesci near River Trotus
This entry was posted on March 23rd, 2017.
- Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States of America, Romania, and Switzerland formerly recognise the new Provisional Government in Russia. British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, sends a telegram to Russian Prime Minister Lvov, declaring:
There is most profound satisfaction in Great Britain and the overseas Dominions that Russia stands with the nations which base their institutions on responsible government…We believe that the revolution…will be the greatest service yet performed for the Allied cause. There is [no] doubt that the revolution will result in the establishment of a stable constitutional Government, which will strengthen Russia in the resolve to prosecute the war until the last stronghold of tyranny has been destroyed and all free people will unite to attain in the future fraternity and peace.
- British troops meet with increased enemy resistance from west of St Quentin to south of Arras, amid heavy snow storms on the Western Front
- French forces progress north of Tergnier and Soissons, despite stiffening defence. Film of German damage to French property, during the retreat to the Hindenburg Line, March 1917
- Russians retake lost trenches near Lida on the Eastern Front
- The German raider Moewe returns to her home port of Kiel following her second cruise in the Atlantic, having sunk 111,000 tons of British shipping
German auxiliary cruiser SMS Moewe, South Atlantic Ocean, 1916. Image courtesy http://smsmoewe.com/smsmfors.htm
This entry was posted on March 22nd, 2017.
Trees felled by German troops block the road at Peronne, March 1917, Lieutenant John Warwick Brooke. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 5014).
- The Leader reports that Ernest Harold Goode of Millthorpe has been killed in action in France. Local Soldier Killed
- British troops on the Western Front advance south-east and east of Peronne, occupying 40 more villages
- Russian soldiers in western Persia continue to pursue the Turks from Sakiz towards Kermanshah
- The American oil tanker SS Healdton, bound from Philadelphia to Rotterdam, is sunk without warning by a German submarine in the North Sea, despite being inside the safe channel established by Germany for neutral ships. 21 of the 41 crew die. The Loss of the Healdton
This entry was posted on March 21st, 2017.
Aerial view of the ruined Chateau de Coucy, 1917. Image in public domain.
- Harold Ernest Whitmee dies of wounds in France
- Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara of the Australian Flying Corps No 1 Squadron rescues a downed comrade in Palestine and becomes the first Australian airman to win a Victoria Cross
- Retreating German soldiers blow up the historic ruins of Chateau de Coucy, built in the 1220s
- British forces on the Western Front advance towards Cambrai and St Quentin capturing a further 14 villages
- Alexandre Félix Joseph Ribot is appointed Prime Minister of France
- The German U-boat UC-66 torpedoes the British hospital ship Asturias near Bolt Head, Devon. The Asturias is en route to Southampton when she is torpedoed without warning, having just discharged 1,000 wounded men from the Western Front to Avonmouth. 31 people are killed; a further 11 go missing. In November 1916 the Asturias transported the then unknown Lieutenant JRR Tolkien, a victim of trench fever, from France to hospital in England. HMHS Asturias
This entry was posted on March 20th, 2017.
- Day 965 of the war
- Campbell Joseph Edwards, a labourer from East Orange, describes the stopovers in Durban, Cape Town and Cape de Verde on the voyage to England. He is given four days’ leave shortly after arrival, which he uses to explore the sights of London. In England
- Arnold Cassin Caldwell, a draughtsman with the Land Board Office in Orange, provides an insight into daily life at Perham Downs training camp on the Salisbury Plains. He says:
We are just beginning to settle down to life here, which is hardly a bed of roses, but we are making the best of it… The ground is frozen all day long, and we have to break the ice to wash in the mornings. Soldiers’ Letters – With The Engineers
- Ernest William Lee of Blayney depicts the Battle of Rafa in Sinai in great detail. Bloomfield farmer, James Stuart McLean, informs his mother that he has sent her some souvenirs from the Western Front, including a small organ bellows from the ruined cathedral in Ypres. In Sinai – Clearing Out The Turks From Rafa
Sir Frederick Stanley Maude leads the Indian Army into Baghdad, 11 March 1917. Image courtesy Sir Stanley Maude and Other Memories.
- One week after the British Army’s occupation of Baghdad, Lieutenant General Frederick Stanley Maude delivers The Proclamation of Baghdad, promising freedom for the Arab race. He declares:
Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators…It is the wish not only of my King and his peoples, but it is also the wish of the great nations with whom he is in alliance, that you should prosper even as in the past, when your lands were fertile, when your ancestors gave to the world literature, science, and art, and when Baghdad city was one of the wonders of the world.
- Allied forces on the Western Front capture a further 40 villages; a total of 170 villages have been taken in the last three days
- German submarine U-64 torpedoes the French battleship Danton torpedoed in the Mediterranean Sea 35 kilometres off the coast of Sardinia. 806 men are rescued; 296 men, including the captain go down with the ship.
- The Russian Provisional Government announces amnesty for political prisoners
This entry was posted on March 19th, 2017.
- British troops on the Western Front occupy Chaulnes and Peronne; they advance along a 72 kilometre front from Chaulnes to Arras
- French soldiers occupy Chauny, Noyon, Nesle and Guiscard and advance along a 64 kilometre front
- German forces launch heavy attack against Avocourt-Mort Homme sector at Verdun
- After five days’ fighting on the Southern Front French soldiers capture 1,200 Bulgarians, 1.5 kilometres of trenches and the village of Svegovo, north of Monastir
- Russian soldiers enter the city of Van in Armenia
- German submarines attack three American steamers. The City of Memphis is sunk by gunfire from SM UC-66 south of Fastnet, Ireland; all 57 people aboard survive. The Illinois is torpedoed in the English Channel, also without casualty. SM U-70 torpedoes the Vigilancia west of the Scilly Islands, with the loss of 15 lives.
- The week that was: The Tsar Abdicates – Baghdad Falls
This entry was posted on March 18th, 2017.
Men of the Australian 2nd Division outside the Bapaume Town Hall, March 1917. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (E(AUS) 393).
- Thomas John Dixon is killed in action in France
- Australian soldiers occupy Bapaume on the Western Front, as the British capture Fresnes and several nearby villages, and the French capture Roye and Lassigny; all of which had been German-occupied for the last two years
- British forces capture Peronne. Footage of Peronne shortly after its capture by the British
- Allied aircraft bomb Frankfurt in retaliation to the wanton German destruction of French towns and villages. As a reprisal the Germans move many Allied prisoners of war closer to the front, placing them in range of artillery fire.
- Five German airships raid Kent inflicting minimal damage and no casualties. On her return trip to Germany L-39 is shot down at Compiegne in France with the loss of the entire crew.
- British troops in Mesopotamia continue their advance; they are now almost 60 kilometres north of Baghdad
This entry was posted on March 17th, 2017.
- The Leader reports the death of Orange grazier Lisle Mervyn Lane, killed in action in France on 2 March. Killed in Action – Lieut Lisle M Lane
- The Leader urges readers to forward their newspaper to wounded soldiers overseas. Do It Now
- Aristide Briand resigns as Prime Minister of France
- A single German aeroplane raids Kent and Sussex, inflicting only minor damage and no casualties
- Austrian soldiers destroy Italian defences in San Pellegrino valley on the Southern Front and assume positions there
- Russian troops dislodge Turkish soldiers from summit of Naleshkian in Persia and occupy Alliabad
- The Leader publishes the poem Vincet Amor Patriae (Love of Country Shall Prevail)
It isn’t the moment for quarrels,
The war’s not by any means won;
It isn’t the moment to rest on your laurels
And point to the things you have done.
It isn’t the time to go in for backbiting
And jealousy as to who leads.
There’s but one thing to do If we’d see this thing through:
It’s the time not for words, but for deeds!
Let the past be all dead and forgotten;
It’s the future we’ve got to begin.
Let us show that the effort we make is forgotten
Of our grim resolution to win.
Do not mourn for the past and its failures;
There is work, bitter work, to be done.
Let it ring through the land That united we stand;
Let us show how a war can be won!
Men of Britain, the hour is before you,
Put your selfish desires on the shelf;
Let your aims be alone for the country that bore you,
Each man for the State-not himself.
Just together stand shoulder to shoulder;
To your glorious traditions cling fast.
Undismayed by the foe, let the whole world just know
That the Right shall prevail at the last!
This entry was posted on March 16th, 2017.
Russian Provisional Government, March 1917, Jakov Vladimirovic Stejnberg. Image in public domain.
- Tsar Nicholas II abdicates, ending the 300 rule of the House of Romanov. A new democratically minded Provisional Government is established with Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov appointed as Prime Minister, Paul Nikolayevich Milyukov as Foreign Minister and General Alexander Ivanovich Guchkov the Minister for War. The new government pledges to bring order to the chaos created by the old government, and seeks the full cooperation of the people and army. Great Britain, France, the United States, and Italy rush to recognise the new government in the hope Russia will stay in the war and maintain its extensive presence on the Eastern Front.
- British and Australian troops on the Western Front progress on a four kilometre front between St Pierre Vaast Wood and Saillisel, as German soldiers attack east of Achiet-le-Petit
- German forces continue their withdrawal to the Siegfried Stellung (the Hindenburg Line), employing a scorched earth policy in their wake
- British troops in Mesopotamia take Mushaidiya, forcing the Turks to retreat further north along the Tigris River
This entry was posted on March 15th, 2017.