Header Copy

Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft
3rd May - 10th May 1915

This Week in 1915

7th May – The American passenger ship Lusitania is torpedoed by a German U-boat eleven miles off the Irish coast. It sinks in just 15 minutes, killing 1200 of the 2000 civilians aboard

“If the object of the Germans in sinking the Lusitania was to impress the world with their frightfulness in warfare they have indisputably achieved their purpose. They had been guilty of many abominable and almost unimaginable outrages before this one. But none of them had touched the imagination to the same extent, or had demonstrated in so forcible a fashion the lengths to which the Kaiser and his advisors are prepared to go in their defiance of the laws of God and man… A government which can order and approve such an act will order and approve anything. The record of Germany in this war is a black one, and it grows blacker by the day.”                                                       
– Keighley News editorial, 15th May 1915

9th May – The Battle of Aubers Ridge – An attempt by British troops to capture ground that had been denied to them two months earlier during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. The preliminary artillery barrage, intended to cut German barbed wire and destroy fortifications, failed badly, lasting for only forty minutes and failing to do any real damage. British troops, pinned in no man’s land by intact barbed wire and machine-gun fire, were hit by their own supporting artillery barrages. Soldiers attempting to retreat after the failed assaults were caught in a crossfire; as German machine-guns fired from behind, British machine-guns, thinking that the retreating allies were Germans counter-attacking, opened fire from the front. In only one day of fighting, 458 officers and 11,161 men were killed before the attacks were abandoned.

Sources

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)

Gilbert, M. First World War

Longman Chronicle of the Twentieth Century

 

27th April - 3rd May 1915

This Week in 1915

The stalemate at Gallipoli continued. On the 27th of April, the Turkish Minister of War, Enver Pasha, ordered his German commander, General Liman von Sanders, to “drive the invaders to the sea”. Lord Kitchener, on May 3rd, reported to the British Council of War that there was “no doubt we shall break through”. That night a ferocious attack by Turkish troops was repulsed by the French, with heavy losses on both sides. As at the Western Front, trenches and high ground at Gallipoli would change hands again and again, at great cost in life; but on a normal sized map the gains and losses of ground would have been imperceptible.

27th April - 3rd May 1915

The reason for the 8th Gloucesters being recipients of this knitting bonanza was that one of the Ladies’ Committee members, Ann Wright, had a son serving with them. Herbert Wright was born and brought up in Wilsden but at the outbreak of war was a teacher in Cinderford. He had joined up as a private but had recently been gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Sources

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)

Gilbert, M. First World War

Longman Chronicle of the Twentieth Century

 

20th April - 26th April 1915

This Week in 1915

22nd – 25th April – The Second Battle of Ypres: For the first time in the First World War, poison gas was used in an attack, on the evening of the 22nd of April, by the Germans. Within five minutes, 168 tons of chlorine gas had been released against two French and one Canadian division. The effect of the gas was devastating, but the Germans failed to exploit the success; it had been an experimental, rather than a tactical attack. A second gas attack on the 23rd in the same sector prefaced another attack by the Germans. Canadian L/Cpl Frederick Fisher was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously during this action, for protecting the retreat of several artillery batteries with his machine-gun against heavy odds. On April 24th, hundreds of counter-attacking British and Indian troops were mown down by artillery and machine gun fire before they reached even the first line of German trenches. At the end of the action, the lines remained almost static.

20th April - 26th April 1915- German troops in gas masks advance through a cloud of poison gas

25th April – Gallipoli Landings: The first allied troops, mainly from the Australian Expeditionary Force, land on the Gallipoli peninsula. Although the first landings were virtually unopposed, as the ANZACS pushed inland, they ran into ferocious Turkish resistance. At Chunuk Bair, the allies were held halfway up a sloping ridge, with the sea at their backs. Unable to evacuate, they dug in for the night, after both ANZACS and Turks had taken appalling casualties. Another 5 landings were attempted by allied troops, most without significant opposition. However, the Lancashire Fusiliers, landing at a beach codenamed W, ran in a fusillade of heavy artillery fire. Many soldiers drowned under the weight of their equipment, after being shot on the landing boats. By the time the beachhead was secured, of 950 men that had landed, 260 had been killed and 283 had been wounded. Six Victoria crosses were awarded, giving the Lancashire Fusiliers the proud boast of ‘Six VC’s before breakfast!’. By nightfall on April 26th, more than 30,000 allied troops had been landed at Gallipoli. The number of dead and wounded, in the first two days of battle alone, exceeded 20,000.

20th April - 26th April 1915

Sources

Gilbert, M. First World War

Longman Chronicle of the Twentieth Century

Simkins, P., Jukes, G., & Hickey, M. The First World War: The War to End all Wars

http://www.lancs-fusiliers.co.uk/

http://www.theguardian.com/