Monday, March 30, 2015

Today -100: March 30, 1915: We are fighting Germany, Austria, and drink

A German sub sinks the British liner RMS Falaba in St George’s Channel (between Ireland and Wales). The sub surfaced, gave the ship 5 minutes to load everyone into lifeboats – which wasn’t enough time – then torpedoed it (it may have resorted to torpedoes so quickly  because the Falaba was trying to wireless for help). 104 of the 240 crew and passengers aboard the Falaba died, including... well, tune in tomorrow. One survivor of the Falaba “distinctly saw the crew on the deck of the submarine laughing.” The Falaba blowed up real good because it was carrying contraband explosives, as the Lusitania would be doing in a little bit.

Not that torpedoing a ship and detonating explosives in it is always a good thing: the U-boat that sank the Falaba, the U-28, will sink in 2½ years when it detonates ammunition on the Olive Branch, which hurls a lorry into the air – right onto the U-28.

An English passenger had a camera, and put those 5 minutes to good use before jumping into the sea, where he floated an hour before being rescued.

The Daily Telegraph calls the Germans “an enemy without bowels of compassion for the defenseless and the weak and without respect for any law except his own necessity.”

Bowels of compassion?

British Chancellor David Lloyd George is threatening to ban booze: “We are fighting Germany, Austria, and drink, and, so far as I can see, the greatest of these three deadly foes is drink.” Unpatriotic boozing workers in shipyards and munition plants are being blamed for the inability to keep up with the ridiculous amounts of shells and whatnot being thrown at the Germans, because no one will admit out loud that Secretary of War Kitchener is just not very good at admin.

One of the pretenders to the defunct French throne, Philippe the Duke of Orléans (to add insult to other insult, the NYT refers to him as the Legitimist heir, mistaking him for a different non-king from a different line, the one thrown out by a revolution in 1830 as opposed to the one thrown out by a revolution in 1848), was rejected when he tried to join the French Army, and then was rejected in turn by the British, Russian and even Belgian armies. Now his request to join the French Foreign Legion under a fake name (as was the custom) has been rejected.

The Allies are claiming that Germany has plenty of food, and all that moaning is just put on to arouse world feeling against England. This assertion is supported by an unnamed “neutral diplomat,” who adds the interesting detail that the average man on the straße in Germany thinks that after Germany defeats Russia (in a couple of months, of course) and France (soon after), France will be bought off with half of Belgium and join Germany in fighting Britain.

Prominent Republicans are considering whether they can nominate Elihu Root for president in 1916 without Roosevelt shitting all over him.

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