The Halifax explosion, 6 December 1917. Image courtesy Library and Archives Canada PA-166585.
- The French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc collides with the Norwegian relief vessel Imo in Halifax harbour, Nova Scotia. The Mont-Blanc, laden with 9,000 tons of munitions destined for the Western Front, explodes, creating one of the largest man-made explosions to date. Hundreds of people watching the catastrophe are blinded as the blast wave shatters windows. Overturned lamps and stoves ignite a multitude of fires; the ensuing shock wave shatters windows 80 kilometres away. The resultant fire cloud surges 3.6 km into the atmosphere; the city of Halifax is reduced to ruins and debris. 2,000 people are killed and 9,000 injured, 6,000 are left homeless. The Halifax Explosion
- Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia conclude the armistice on the Eastern Front; one million German soldiers are now available to reinforce German positions on the Western Front
This entry was posted on December 6th, 2017.
- Day 1225 of the war
- Rector of Holy Trinity Church, the Rev Canon Taylor, urges the people of Orange to vote in favour of conscription in the upcoming referendum; those who do not are presumably “pro-enemy, athiests, anarchists [or] natural slackers”. Recruits and Reinforcements
Australian Nationalists’ pro conscription poster, 1917. Image courtesy Riley and ephemera collection, State Library of Victoria.
This entry was posted on December 5th, 2017.
Crewmembers of HMAS Australia wearing winter clothing during WWI operations in the North Sea. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
This entry was posted on December 4th, 2017.
This entry was posted on December 3rd, 2017.
Postcard celebrating the ceasefire on the Eastern Front. Image in public domain.
- A formal ceasefire is proclaimed throughout the battle zone between Russia and the Central Powers
- Get Into A Gap by Dryblower (Edwin Greenslade Murphy)
Get into a gap; they are frequent in France;
Give a gallant but war-weary brother a chance.
Set your face to the foe and your soul to the sky,
“My country,” be ever your brave battle-cry.
Get into a gap where the fighters are faint,
And the Hun gold is spreading its treacherous taint
The trench where the brother your dear mother bore,
Is a half-dazed automaton, garnished with gore,
Where the heavens drop death and the earth is a hell
And peace only comes from a bullet or shell,
Where men are but blots on a blood reddened map –
Get into a gap.
The war isn’t over by many long days.
On the fields of red Belgium the Hun cattle graze.
A hero must die for each inch that we win,
While they’re driving the murderers back to Berlin.
A thousand go down where our Lewis guns speak,
A thousand lay stark where our shrapnel guns shriek.
Like swathes of grey grass they’re bestrewing the plain,
But a thousand leap up where one savage is slain.
Won’t you come to their aid in the sectors and saps –
And fill up the gaps?
Fill up the gaps where the coal-boxes burst,
Sending hundreds a day to the base to be nursed;
Fill up the gaps where yellow gas waves
Turn the sheltering shell-holes to wire-tangled graves.
They are doing their bit while you’re slacking behind,
They are coming back paralysed, wounded and blind.
You munch near a menu; they’re glad of a bite
When the tucker mule isn’t mud-smothered at night.
Where the sky-archies belch and the trench mortars snap –
Fill up a gap.
Fill up a gap, where your brother has been;
The pay’s not excessive, the work isn’t clean.
But the man who goes NOW will be gripped by the hand,
When the peace ships come back and the weary troops land.
It is then you’ll be asked what you did in the days
When France was a shambles and Belgium ablaze.
‘Twill be then by the scorn of the women you’ll know
The craven you were when they asked you to go.
Be a man, not a weakling, home-pampered on pap –
And fill up the gap.
This entry was posted on December 2nd, 2017.
Ferry Post on the Suez Canal, Egypt c1917. Ferry Post was a camp and stopping point for Australian troops moving to and from the front. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
This entry was posted on December 1st, 2017.
The first day we marched eight miles, the second fifteen, and the third six … The cobbled roads of France are cruel to march on, and you can guess how we felt after all these miles, chafed with our equipment, and with blisters on our feet. I think most of us were nearly crippled by the time we arrived.
- The manager of the Gallipoli Strollers thanks the people of Orange for their patronage and hospitality, not to mention their generous donations. Gallipoli Strollers
- German troops launch strong counter-attacks at Cambrai and recapture much lost ground
This entry was posted on November 30th, 2017.
- Germany accepts Vladimir Lenin’s offer of an armistice; Russian delegates cross German lines; hostilities cease on the Russian front
This entry was posted on November 29th, 2017.
The uninterrupted and unstinted supply of steaming hot foods and drinks, soups, biscuits, bovril, etc., [is] responsible for quickly reviving the fighting morale and spirits of men somewhat broken under the stress of incessant shell fire and raids
This entry was posted on November 28th, 2017.
George [Hartas] and I have captured a great big Hun prisoner, one about 6ft 6in, and I tell you we souvenired him. I am sending the things home to you. The souvenirs include a German cap, a pocket wallet with the photo or his wife and three children, a small photo. and his purse, with some Hun money in it … also his ring, which looks like a wedding ring. I want you to keep them, as they will speak for what we do here.
This entry was posted on November 27th, 2017.