Saturday, March 11, 2017

Today -100: March 11, 1917: Of Nissen huts, armed ships, poison darts, and food riots

The NYT has a short article about Nissen huts, those pre-fabricated portable semi-circular buildings usually associated with the Second World War, but which were put into use by the British Army in 1916.

Austria says it has granted autonomy to occupied Albania. In other words, it plans to conscript Albanians.

If Wilson arms private commercial ships, and he seems to have decided that he can just ignore the 1819 law, they will be authorized to fire on German u-boats without warning even if those subs haven’t done anything hostile. The administration says this still counts as self-defense since the German government has said its subs can do the same. And Germany said that armed ships are not civilian ships with the rights that would go along with that status It’s almost like both these countries want to go to war with each other.

The official British investigation into the Dardanelles campaign is made public, and it’s surprisingly honest about the incompetence of military leaders, although it places a lot of blame on the conveniently late Lord Kitchener.

A British court finds Alice Wheeldon, her daughter and son-in-law, guilty of a plot to assassinate Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson. With poison darts, no less. Her other daughter is acquitted. Sentences of 10, 5 and 7 years, respectively, are imposed. Their lawyer tried to suggest that the government’s failure to produce as a witness the “mysterious secret government agent known as Gordon” was somehow suspicious. And indeed, “Gordon” was in fact a paid government agent, had made it all up, was a convicted blackmailer, had been committed for insanity, all of which might have been seen as a little suspicious by the jury, had they known about it. The lawyer probably didn’t help anything by suggesting that in Gordon’s absence, the defendants should be subjected to trial by ordeal. Since Wheeldon was a suffragette before the war, Emmeline Pankhurst is allowed to testify, not because she has any evidence, just to deny that the WSPU ever plotted to assassinate Lloyd George (although they did blow up his house that one time). Indeed, now, Pankhurst says, “The Women’s Social and Political Union regards the Prime Minister’s life as of the greatest value in the present grave crisis, and its members would if necessary to do so, take great risks themselves to protect it from danger.”

In response to food riots, the Petrograd municipal government is given control of all food supplies in the district. What’s the Russian for “too little, too late”?

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