Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today -100: August 26, 1914: What is the distant thundering that I hear?

British War Secretary Lord Kitchener says that wine and spirits sent to the troops will not be forwarded to them (soldiers are not expected to be teetotal – that’s just crazy talk – and there will be an official ration of rum, though not as generous as the half liter of wine per day that French soldiers will be issued).

Britain, with 2,000 casualties in Belgium, the greatest loss in a single battle since the Crimean War, is beginning to plan for a longer war than expected, perhaps even as long as three years.  The newspapers are discussing conscription.  Secretary of War Kitchener wants 100,000 men just for starters.  The current term of enlistment for British soldiers is for the duration of the war or three years, whichever comes first.

French troops entering the Lost Province of Lorraine were greeted by the local officials – who then pointed out their position to the Germans.  “A local schoolmaster corrected the range of the German guns by moving the hands of the church clock.”

France has retreated from Alsace.

Kaiser Wilhelm has awarded two of his sons the Iron Cross for bravery.

From Punch (click for bigger).  Caption reads: The Coming of the Cossacks.  Wilhelm II: “What is the distant thundering that I hear? Doubtless the plaudits of my people!”

Turkey bought two cruisers from Germany, which are still crewed by Germans, despite objections from Britain, France and Russia.  Turkey seems to be inching towards entering the war, which would probably bring in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria against it.

Italy says Austrian troops are massing on its border.

Germany keeps imposing new (illegal by international law) levies on Belgium.

Fog of War? The NYT, evidently under the impression it’s mentioned this before, talks about stories of a Belgian soldier, Lt. Henkhart, driving around Antwerp in an armored car all by himself shooting Germans.  They have no idea if it’s true.

Some Japanese sailors are petitioning to be sent to the front against Germany, signing the petition with their own blood, as was the custom.

Woodrow Wilson declares more American neutrality, this time in the war between Germany and Japan.  This is the 9th sub-war he’s had to declare neutrality in, if you’re keeping track at home.

But US “neutrality” evidently doesn’t require arms manufacturers not to sell to combatant nations, which is a funny definition of neutrality.  The German-American Alliance protests the sale by Colt of guns to Canada.

A court martial acquits the 22 Colorado National Guardsmen for their role in the Ludlow massacre (specifically, they were charged with murder, manslaughter, arson and larceny).

This blog’s frenemy, Gov. Coleman Blease of South Carolina, loses his bid for a US Senate seat to incumbent Ellison “Cotton Ed” (he  aims to keep the negro down and cotton prices up) Smith.

Blease will win that Senate seat in a decade.

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  1. The French have always had a civilised approach to the provision of beverages to the military. In the 1960s I spent some time serving with the British Fleet Air Arm. We we had what we supposed was a myth that French aircraft carriers were fitted with a ring main of wine - as opposed to out boring ones of water and electricity. One (boozy) weekend exchange with the French Navy I had chance to go on board the Clemenceau. Lo and behold, it was true with convenient "charging stations" throughout the ship. In port and freshly replenished, the wine was definitely plonk but drinkable though apparently after a while at sea sloshing about in the tanks it became pretty poisonous.

  2. I've just read an October article in which Kitchener asks the general public not to treat soldiers, who aren't even on duty. He also (not mentioned in the article) preferred that British unmarried soldiers die virgins.

  3. And here's an article I coincidentally just got to about a new Argentinian superdreadnought with "the cutest little bar on any of the seven seas," whereas the US Navy doesn't have "enough intoxicants to make a baby jolly."