Sunday, January 25, 2015

Today -100: January 25, 1915: The baby-killers of Scarborough sallied forth to kill some more babies

Naval battle in the North Sea between the British and German fleets, known as the Battle of Dogger Bank. The British intercept ships on their way, presumably, to bombard more English towns, and do well in the battle, sinking the cruiser Blücher with a loss of 792 men, but not as well as the NYT suggests. They should have pursued the escaping ships but instead hung around to send the crippled Blücher to the bottom. (Yes, British readers, sent to the bottom at Dogger Bank. You may commence sniggering.)

(Pro tip: if you’re looking for cool pictures of the cruiser Blücher on its side, on fire, and sinking, some are from 1940, when the same thing happened. Um, spoiler alert.)

The Daily Chronicle crows, “Yesterday morning the baby-killers of Scarborough sallied forth to kill some more babies...”

Thus far in the war, the Germans have lost 33 ships, amounting to 147,640 tons, the British 20 ships and 156,143 tons.

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg corrects the “misapprehension” about his oft-quoted remark to the British ambassador just before the war began that the Belgian neutrality treaty was a mere “scrap of paper.” He didn’t mean that Germany viewed it as a mere scrap of paper, no, heaven forfend, but that Belgian and British actions had rendered it such. He’s had six months in which his words were used to demonstrate German duplicity and lack of honor, and that’s the best he could come up with?

Harvard is bringing over some of the refugee Louvain University professors to teach.

Sen. William “Gumshoe Bill” Stone (D-Missouri) writes to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan about the supposed partiality of the US towards the Allies (the NYT notes that there are many Germans in St. Louis)(Stone will be one of the few senators to vote against entering the war). Bryan replies that it is not the duty of a neutral country like the US to prevent contraband reaching a belligerent, and that the supposed partiality towards the Allies merely reflects the fact that the British Navy is superior to the German and better able to stop contraband (or things the British deem contraband, including oil and rubber) – in other words, the Germans are just as welcome to buy munitions in the US, the munitions just probably won’t make it to Germany. Bryan is saying that it would actually be “an unneutral act” to prevent Americans selling munitions to the Allies, and there is no obligation on the US to do so. Keep all this in mind when German submarines start sinking ships (although Bryan does point out that Germany didn’t think neutral countries should be banned from selling munitions to warring countries when it was doing it during the Russo-Japanese and Balkan Wars).

A French doctor figures out that shells can kill soldiers they don’t actually hit, with shock and air pressure and fumes and “nervous disturbance.” Lungs can literally explode. “Dr. Sencert’s explanation solves a mystery which formed the base of some of the war’s most extraordinary stories.”

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