Commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Lieutenant General John J Pershing, lands at Boulogne, 13 June 1917. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 5510).
- Day 1050 of the war
- London suffers its highest civilian casualties of the war as 18 German Gotha bombers raid the city, killing 157 and injuring 432
- Commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Lieutenant General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing, arrives at Boulogne, France, where he receives a tumultuous welcome. Footage of General Pershing’s arrival in France
- Forty-three people are killed at Ashton-under-Lyne when five tons of TNT explodes at the Hooley Hill Rubber and Chemical Company munitions factory. The explosion ignites two nearby gasometers, sending a massive fireball hundreds of metres into the air. Several hundred people are injured. Tragedy on the Home Front: Munitions Explosion in Ashton
- Allied forces on the Southern Front occupy Trikala and Volo
- German submarine SM U-69 torpedoes the merchant cruiser HMS Avenger in the Atlantic Ocean west of the Shetland Islands. One person is killed.
This entry was posted on June 13th, 2017.
German prisoners captured in the Battle of Messines, June 1917. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 2276).
- British troops on the Western Front continue their advance beyond Messines
- Allied forces on the Southern Front occupy Larissa and Corinth
- British naval forces destroy the Fort of Salif on the Red Sea
This entry was posted on June 12th, 2017.
- The Leader reports that the recent Red Triangle Day raised more than £1,000 for YMCA. Red Triangle Day
- Allied governments demand the abdication of the pro-German King Constantine of Greece
- British forces on the Western front continue their progress south-east of Messines. They capture La Potterie farm
- French troops land at Corinth on the Southern Front; Franco-British forces enter Thessaly
This entry was posted on June 11th, 2017.
Italian soldiers praying on Mount Ortigara, Italy, 1917. Image in public domain.
- The Italian Sixth Army attacks the 11th Austro-Hungarian Army on the southern front near Trentino in an attempt to capture Mount Ortigara, in the Asiago Plateau. The Battle of Ortigara continues for two weeks; the Italians are repelled with flamethrowers and gas, sustaining some 25,000 casualties, including 2,800 dead. Some Italian battalions lose more than 70% of their effective strength Austria suffers 9,000 casualties.
- Fighting continues in the Battle of Messines on the Western Front; Allied troops continue to gain ground
This entry was posted on June 10th, 2017.
Messines as I saw it, 9 June 1917, Major Edwin Summerhayes. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
- John Wright of Burnt Yards is killed in the Battle of Messines
- The Australian destroyers HMAS Warrego, HMAS Parramatta, HMAS Yarra, HMAS Swan, HMAS Torrens and HMAS Huon leave Sydney for service in the Mediterranean. The vessels are sent in response to an urgent request from the British government for assistance in dealing with the increasing threat posed by German U-boats. The Australian Destroyer Flotilla, as the fleet became known, would be based in Brindisi in Italy as part of the Otranto Barrage, the Allied naval blockade of the Otranto Straits between Brindisi and Corfu on the Greek side of the Adriatic Sea.
- The Russian Provisional Government rejects a German proposal for an unlimited armistice
This entry was posted on June 9th, 2017.
- Day 1045 of the war
- Miners are urged to present to Lieutenant Linklater at the Orange drill hall to enlist as tunnellers for the Miners’ Corps
- Walter Arthur Horace Higman is killed in the Battle of Messines
- Alfred George Carter, an engine fitter from Orange, is to be invalided home from the war, having sustained an arm and shoulder injury. Personal
- Mayor of Orange, Ald ET McNeilly appeals to the people of Orange to donate to the Soldiers’ Memorial Fund for the erection of a monument to the district’s war dead. Soldiers’ Memorial for Orange
- Nurse Gladys Boon arrives in Orange to spend a day’s final leave with her family prior to sailing for the front. Personal
- Allied forces repulse German counter-attacks east of Messines ridge
- Italian forces occupy Janina in Greece
This entry was posted on June 8th, 2017.
The Battle of Messines, Charles Wheeler, 1923. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
At 3.10 am on 7 June 1917 Australian forces detonated 19 underground mines below German trenches on Hill 60, south of Ypres, heralding the beginning of the Battle of Messines. The blast consisted of 450,000 kilograms of explosives and completely destroyed the German front line at the northern end of Messines Ridge, killing some 10,000 German soldiers. The explosion was one of the largest in history, with an impact that was reportedly heard in London and Dublin. Official Australian war correspondent CEW (Charles) Bean described the explosion:
At 3.10 a number of big guns began to fire and then the trench-walls rocked; to the left, near Wytschaete, a huge bubble was swelling, mushroom-shaped, from the earth, and then burst to cast a molten, rosy glow on the under-surface of some dense cloud low above it. As its brilliance faded two more bubbles burst beside it. During twenty seconds the same thing happened again and again, from the right to the far left. The nineteen great mines had been exploded. With a roar the machine-gun barrage broke out. The massed artillery was already firing. The ridge faded from view, and for two hours nothing could be seen of it from Hill 63 through a fog of smoke and dust.
British, New Zealand and Australian infantry launched into action following the explosion, employing the creeping barrage tactic, supported by the artillery and taking the surviving Germans by complete surprise. Messines was the first time Australians and New Zealanders had fought side by side since the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. It has been argued that the Battle of Messines was the most successful local operation on the Western Front, if not of the entire war. Official AIF photographer Frank Hurley later described the scene at Hill 60:
Here the awfulness of the battlefield burst on one. The great howitzer batteries were in full operation and the ear-splitting din was followed by the scream of a hail of shell which swept over our heads to the enemy lines… We plodded through shell craters and shell-torn ground littered with fragments of burst shell and shrapnel, torn equipment and smashed entanglements, over the blood-drenched battlefield till we arrived at the famous Hill 60.
What an awful scene of desolation! Everything has been swept away: only stumps of trees stick up here and there… It’s the most awful and appalling sight I have ever seen. The exaggerated machinations of hell are here typified. Everywhere the ground is littered with bits of guns, bayonets, shells and men. Way down in one of these mine craters was an awful sight. There lay three hideous, almost skeleton decomposed fragments of corpses of German gunners. Oh the frightfulness of it all. To think that these fragments were once sweethearts, maybe husbands or loved sons, and this was the end. Almost back again to their native element but terrible. Until my dying day I shall never forget this haunting glimpse down into the mine crater on Hill 60.
When fighting ceased on 14 June Allied casualties numbered 24,562, and German casualties 25,000 with 10,000 missing and 7,200 taken prisoner. 6,799 Australian casualties were sustained in the Battle of Messines. Nine men from the Orange district died during the conflict; seven of them on the opening day of battle.
George Edgar Lockie
Albert James Rich
John Joseph Cullen
Walter Arthur Horace Higman
Battle of Messines. Anzac Field Dressing Station, 7 June, 1917. Image courtesy State Library of Queensland.
This entry was posted on June 7th, 2017.
A German trench destroyed in the explosion on Messines Ridge, 7 June 1917. Several dead German soldiers are in the foreground. Image courtesy National Library of Scotland.
- Allied forces launch the Battle of Messines at 3.10 am with the detonation of 19 underground mines below German trenches on Hill 60, south of Ypres in Belgium. Seven men from the Orange district are killed in action.
- William Clement is killed in action in the Battle of Messines
- George Edgar Lockie is killed in action in the Battle of Messines
- Luke Hughes is killed in action in the Battle of Messines
- Bertie Stibbard is killed in action in the Battle of Messines
- Albert James Rich is killed in action in the Battle of Messines
- John Joseph Cullen is killed in action in the Battle of Messines
- Frederick Peppernell is killed in action in the Battle of Messines
This entry was posted on June 7th, 2017.
- The Leader reports that Charles McMurtrie has been discharged from the AIF due to the injuries he sustained in battle – a bullet wound to the leg and a broken bone in his neck. Charles captivates the people of Orange with his stories of Fleurbaix, the desert, British tanks and German submarines. Sergeant Major Chas McMurtrie
- The Australian Red Cross requests food items for soldiers serving in France. Between February and April they issued soldiers with 30,000 articles of clothing, 6,000,000 cigarettes, 60,000 pounds of tobacco, 29,349 toilet and shaving sets and 55,142 packets of stationery. Australian Red Cross Largesse
- Heavy fighting continues at Carso on the Southern Front; Austrian troops claim to have captured 10,000 prisoners in the last three days
- Ala es Sultaneh is again appointed Prime Minister of Persia
This entry was posted on June 6th, 2017.
- Gerald Griffith, a farmer from March, dies of wounds at Messines in Belgium
- 22 German Gotha G. IV bombers conduct a second daylight raid in Britain. Unable to bomb London due to bad weather they divert to the Thames Estuary, bombing a Royal Navy facility at Sheerness. killing 13 and injuring 34. British forces counter attack and manage to destroy one bomber.
- British troops on the Western Front make a small advance south of the Souchez river, and begin to attack north of the river Scarpe
- Italian forces withdraw further south of Jamiano on the Southern Front
- The American collier USS Jupiter under the command of Lieutenant Kenneth Whiting arrives in Pauillac, France, the first US military unit to arrive in Europe
- American men between the ages of 21 and 31 present for military conscription on the first day of registration under the Selective Service Act of 1917
Young men registering for military conscription, New York City, 5 June, 1917, Bain News Service. Image courtesy Library of Congress.
This entry was posted on June 5th, 2017.