Friday, February 13, 2015

Today -100: February 13, 1915: Of air raids, shell shock, cruises, gallups, and economical kings

The largest ever aerial raid, 34 planes in all, is sent by Britain against the Germans in Belgium, aimed at disrupting facilities required for the U-boats used in the German blockade of Britain. Some of the planes are shot up, but no pilots are killed, though Flight Commander Claude Grahame-White has to be fished out of the sea. Whether the bombing did much damage is a question, but the British seem to think this was a great psychological victory. There will be a lot of self-proclaimed psychological victories in this war.

The Daily Mail (UK) warns its readers against the unwarranted wave of anticipation that the war will be over soon.

First known use in print of the term “shell shock,” in an article in The Lancet by British army doctor Charles Myers.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Russia claims (again) that Austria intends to re-create the Polish monarchy and name Archduke Charles Stephen, a grossadmiral in the Austrian Navy, king. Austria seems to think the one thing Poles really need to make them loyal is a Hapsburg king. To be fair, they seem to be thinking along the lines of a semi-autonomous kingdom within the Empire, like Hungary (and with more Polish territory, seized from Russia - all of which is currently moot, since it’s the Russian troops who are occupying Austrian Galicia). Austria may also be trying to head off Kaiser Wilhelm picking one of his relatives for the (non-existent) throne. In fact, it will be a couple of years before Austria half-heartedly names a Polish king.

Sir Roger Casement says he has proof that the British government is trying to kill and/or capture him. Some plot to bribe his manservant. Also, his pension as a former diplomat has been suspended.

With the impending German threat to shipping, a lot of Americans are booking passage home on the Lusitania. There’s a quote from a Cunard official about the threat not being “sufficient reason for the cancellation of passengers.” I’m not sure what that means, but it might mean that the company won’t refund tickets held by people too scared to sail. The article says “the chances of a submarine being either able or likely to attack the Lusitania on the coming voyage were as one in a million”; for a start, the Lusi is just too fast for a sub to catch it. It will, however, likely take a different route than usual - and fly an American flag again.

Placards appear in Gallup, New Mexico, warning negroes to leave town, following an incident where a white woman accused a black man of whatever. Half the negro population has fled.

Headline of the Day -100: “King George Economizes.” Well, he cuts the salary of the head chef at Buckingham Palace in half, if that counts as the king economizing. That said, the head chef’s salary was £2,500 a year, which was rather a lot, certainly a lot more, even after being cut in half, than that of Flight Commander Claude Grahame-White, whose daily pay is 25 shillings (£1¼).

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