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A Century Ago in Whitaker's
Events of the Year 1917–18
The following constitutes selected extracts from the Events of the Year chapter as recorded in the 1918 and 1919 editions of Whitaker's Almanack, published a century ago. The text has been reproduced in its original form, along with its idiosyncrasies of style and archaic spellings of names. The information in parentheses following the date is the name of the sub-section the extract was taken from.
10. (Labour) Special Conference of Labour Party in London decided, by 1,846,000 votes to 550,000, to accept the invitation to the International Socialist Conference at Stockholm, on condition that it be “consultative, and not mandatory.” 11. (Diary of the War) Liner City of Athens mined off Cape Town; 21 passengers and crew drowned. 13. (Imperial Politics) Mr. Bonar Law stated in the House of Commons that the Government, in common with the Governments of the United States, France, and Italy, had decided to refuse passports to delegates to the Stockholm Conference. 14. (Diary of the War) China declared war against Germany and Austria-Hungary. 15. (Imperial Dominions) Publication of an important memorandum on the extension of provincial autonomy in India drawn up by Mr. Gokhale before his death. 15. (Imperial Politics) The removal of the “Ladies Grill” was sanctioned. 18. (Labour) Proclamation by Government prohibiting the threatened strike of the Amalgamated Society of Locomotive Engineers. 27. (Imperial Dominions) Coalition Government formed in S. Australia, with Mr. Peake as Premier.
3. (Diary of the War) Moonlight air raid on the S.E. coast; Sheerness-Chatham district visited by 6 enemy aeroplanes, and bombs dropped in the Chatham district: 107 killed, 88 wounded. 4. (Imperial Politics) Trades Union Congress at Blackpool, by 2,849,000 votes to 91,000, vetoed further consideration of the Stockholm Conference. 4. (Crimes) E. D. Morel sentenced at Bow Street to 6 months’ imprisonment for inciting Miss Ethel Sidgwick to smuggle out of England to Switzerland copies of pacifist literature, contrary to the Defence of the Realm Act. 13. (The King and Court) Their Majesties presented their State portraits to the inhabitants of Windsor to be placed in the Guildhall to commemorate the King’s adoption of “Windsor” as the name of the Royal House and Family. 20. (Legal) A Divisional Court in a West Hartlepool appeal case held that no priest or minister ordained or appointed later than thirty days after the passing of the Military Service Act, 1916, could claim exemption from military service.
4. (Diary of the War) Passchendaele Ridge, E. of Ypres, attacked on a front of 8 miles by Sir Douglas Haig, who won a brilliant victory N. of Langemarck to the Tower Hamlets ridge on the Menin-Ypres road, gaining all objectives and winning most important positions: 3,000 prisoners taken and severe losses inflicted on the enemy; British losses light. 6. (Diary of the War) Diplomatic relations with Germany broken off by Peru and Uruguay. 13. (Diary of the War) Armed merchant-cruiser Champagne torpedoed and sunk: 5 officers and 51 men lost. 17. (Diary of the War) The Antilles, a U.S. transport, torpedoed; 67 lives lost. 17. (United States) Final call to arms of the first batch of conscripts (687,000), bringing up the military and naval forces of the U.S. to 1,750,000 men. 19. (Diary of the War) Raid by 10 or 12 Zeppelins over E. and N.E. counties; one airship got through to London and dropped 3 bombs; total casualties, 34 killed, 56 injured. 25. (Other Countries) Fall of the Boselli Italian Ministry. 24. (Diary of the War) Italians attacked by strong Austro-German forces under Mackensen on the Upper Isonzo, on either side of Tolmino.
6. (Diary of the War) Pacifist motion in the House of Commons defeated by 282 votes to 33. 7. (Diary of the War) Coup d’état in Petrograd by Bolshevists under Lenin: M. Kerensky and his Provisional Government deposed. 20. (Imperial Politics) House of Commons made several important changes in the Reform Bill, giving the vote to the wife of a Local Government elector, if 30 years of age, and enfranchising every sailor and soldier serving in the war who has attained the age of 19. 28. (Diary of the War) Liner Apapa torpedoed and sunk; 79 lost.
6. (Imperial Dominions) Explosion of a munition ship in collision with another vessel in the harbour of Halifax (N.S.): one-third of the city laid in ruins, 1,226 deaths, 400 persons missing, over 3,000 houses destroyed by explosion and fire, 25,000 people rendered homeless. 8. (Diary of the War) Ecuador broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. Armistice signed with the enemy by troops on the Romanian front. 8. (Other Countries) Revolution in Portugal resulted in the overthrow of the Government after three days’ fighting. 10. (Diary of the War) Panama declared war on Austria-Hungary. 11. (Diary of the War) Statement by Mr. Balfour in the House of Commons that the German Government had in Sept. made a communication to the British Government relative to peace. Entrance into Jerusalem of Gen. Allenby, accompanied by military attachés of France, Italy and the U.S. Cuba declared war on Austria-Hungary. 18. (The King and Court) His Majesty was graciously pleased to assume the office of Ranger of Windsor Park. 23. (Diary of the War) H.M.S. Stephen Furness announced by Admiralty to have been torpedoed and sunk by U-boat in the Irish Channel: six officers, 95 men lost. 29. (Other Countries) Virtual destruction of Guatemala City by an earthquake: 1,000 reported killed, 125,000 people homeless. 30. (Imperial Dominions) Election riots at Quebec: city placed under martial law.
8. (United States) Pres. Wilson’s message to Congress, in which he specified 14 conditions necessary for a world’s peace. 9. (Other Countries) Rapid spread of plague in China: passenger and goods traffic suspended between Pekin and Fengchen (Shansi). 10. (Diary of the War) Russo-German peace negotiations continued at Brest-Litovsk: Ukraine Republic recognized by Petrograd delegates and enemy representatives. 11. (Imperial Politics) Result of Australian conscription referendum: for, 1,013,000; against, 1,178,000: majority of Australian Forces voted in the affirmative. 12. (Accidents (General)) Colliery explosion at the Minnie Pit of the Podmore Hall Colliery, Halmead, Staffs, resulting in the death of 155 men. 14. (Diary of the War) Attempted assassination of Lenin at Petrograd. 23. (Diary of the War) New Public Meals Order establishing two meatless days a week. 24. (Diary of the War) Reply in the Reichstag of Count Hertling, German Imperial Chancellor, to the speeches of Pres. Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George on war aims: no cession of Alsace-Lorraine; no interference with Germany in Russian peace; Belgium to be dealt with at a Conference; Great Britain to give up Gibraltar, Malta, &c.; restoration of German Colonies demanded. 28. (Diary of the War) Enemy air raid on London by 15 machines in three groups: five penetrated the defences: in a subsequent attack one machine reached London, and dropped bombs, killing 58, and injuring 173, including 30 killed and 91 injured in a single building used as an air raid shelter.
1. (Diary of the War) Ukraine Republic recognized by Central Powers. 6. (Imperial Politics) Royal Assent, Representation of the People Bill. 10. (Diary of the War) Announcement by M. Trotsky that “while desisting from signing a formal treaty of peace, the state of war with the enemy Powers is ended”: Russia out of the war. 14. (United States) Death of Sir Cecil Spring Rice, Ambassador to the United States. 19. (The King and Court) Prince of Wales took his seat in the House of Lords as a peer of the realm. 23. (Labour) Resolution of the Inter-Allied Labour and Socialist Conference held in London adopted a statement of war aims, deciding to ask the Socialists of the Central Empires to reply without delay. 24. (Accidents (General)) Steamer Florizel wrecked near Cape Race with loss of 102 lives. 28. (Imperial Politics) Sir G. Cave, in the House of Commons, explained that M. Litvinoff, the Bolshevist “Ambassador” to London, was not an Ambassador of any recognised Government.
MARCH 1918
1. (Diary of the War) H.M. armed merchant cruiser Calgarian torpedoed and sunk off the Irish Coast; 21 officers, 46 men lost. 2. (Diary of the War) Peace signed at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and Central Powers: enemy demanded the detachment of Ardahan, Kars, and Batoum in the Caucasus. 13. (The King and Court) His Majesty received at Buckingham Palace the Siamese Military Mission, and conferred the K.C.M.G. on the Chief, Maj.-Gen. Phya Bhijai Janridh. 15. (Accidents (General)) L. & N.W. ss. Rathmore in collision with another vessel, 26 lives lost. 20. (Imperial Politics) Bill to enfranchise all women on equal basis with men, except those married to enemy aliens, introduced by Sir Robert Borden in Dominion House of Commons. 21. (Diary of the War) Great German massed attack by some 40 enemy divisions on British 3rd and 4th Armies on a 50-mile front between the Scarpe and the Oise. 30. (Diary of the War) German long-range gun bombarded Paris; a church shelled while the congregation were worshipping on Good Friday – 75 killed, 90 injured.
APRIL 1918
2. (Educational) Conference of the National Union of Teachers at Cambridge, by 42,757 votes to 26,040, decided against equal salaries for men and women. 2. (Imperial Dominions) Inauguration of the South African University at Cape Town: Prince of Wales first Chancellor. 9. (The King and Court) Queen assumed the position and title of Commandant-in-Chief of the Queen Mary’s Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. 20. (Diary of the War) German advance north-east of Ypres stopped by British artillery fire. At close of month of battles German thrust against British Armies held. 21. (Imperial Politics) Irish bishops and clergy, at Mass, denounce conscription for Ireland. 23. (Diary of the War) Guatemala declared war on Germany.
MAY 1918
5. (Imperial Politics) Gen. Lord French, K.P., appointed Lord-Lieut. of Ireland, in succession to Lord Wimborne, resigned, and Mr. E. Shortt, K.C., Chief Secretary for Ireland, in place of Mr. Duke, resigned. 7. (Diary of the War) “Peace of Bucharest” signed between Romania and the Central Powers. 8. (Art) Sale at Paris of pictures by M. Degas, the famous painter, realised £224,000. 8. (Diary of the War) Nicaragua declared war on Germany. 15. (Imperial Dominions) Direct railway service from Cairo to Palestine by the completion of swing-bridge over Suez Canal at Kantara. 17. (Diary of the War) Discovery of German-Irish plot: many Sinn Feiners arrested, including de Valera, Count Plunkett, Countess Markievicz, and other leaders. 18. (Imperial Politics) Royal Assent, Military Service (No. 2) Act. 22. (Imperial Dominions) Completion of the Katanga railway, giving direct communication from the Cape to the Congo. 19. (Diary of the War) Group of British hospitals at Etaples, outside French battle area, bombed by German airmen: 300 casualties. 23. (Diary of the War) Costa Rica declared war on the Central Powers. 23. (Other Countries) Diplomatic relations between Mexico and Cuba severed. 27. (Other Countries) Illness of King Alfonso, caused by influenza widely spread throughout Spain.
JUNE 1918
1. (Labour) Decision announced of British Workers League to form itself into a political party to be known as the National Democratic and Labour Party. 3. (Diary of the War) Prime Ministers of Great Britain, France and Italy, at sixth session of Supreme War Council at Versailles, agreed to declaration of the creation of a united and independent Polish State with free access to the sea, and sympathy with the Czecho-Slovak and Jugo-Slav national aspirations. 10. (Other Countries) 400 people killed by an explosion of a munitions depôt at Jassy. 21. (Imperial Politics) Government announced the abandonment, for the present, of Home Rule and conscription for Ireland. 22. (United States) Disastrous railway collision near Hammond, Indiana: 59 killed, 115 injured. 24. (Other Countries) Capt. Amundsen left Christiania on a N. Polar expedition in the Maud. 26. (Diary of the War) House of Lords adopted a motion approving of a League of Nations. 28. (Labour) Series of resolutions passed at Labour Conference affecting domestic policy and the interests of workers: “equal rights for women” adopted.
JULY 1918
1. (Accidents (General)) Explosion at a national shell-filling factory in the Midlands: 100 killed, 150 injured. 5. (Crimes) The Recorder at the Central Criminal Court, in the case of a man charged with publishing a declamatory libel of and concerning his wife, held that a man could not libel himself, and, therefore, according to old common law, he could not libel his wife. 5. (United States) Excursion steamer Columbia overturned in the Illinois River: 175 drowned. 8. (Diary of the War) House of Commons, without a division, accepted the Government Bill prolonging the life of Parliament for another six months, to Jan. 30, 1919 (the fifth extension of its life). 8. (The King and Court) Their Majesties received at Buckingham Palace a number of deputations, who presented loyal addresses of congratulation on their Silver Wedding. 12. (Diary of the War) Japanese battleship Kawachi, of the Dreadnought class, blown up in Tokuyama Bay and sunk: over 500 casualties. 15. (Diary of the War) Third great German offensive launched on a front of 50 miles east and west of Rheims in two parts: the first against French sector on a 35 mile front between Château-Thierry and Vrigny: the other east of Rheims between Prunay and Maisons de Champagne on a front of 25 miles. Hayti declared war on Germany. 15. (Imperial Dominions) Threatened strike of 300,000 railwaymen in Canada. 16. (Diary of the War) Murder of Ex-Tsar Nicholas II. by Bolshevists. 19. (Diary of the War) Honduras declared war on Germany. 27. (Diary of the War) Spread of enemy retreat and pursuit by Allied cavalry.