Reported in the News Letter during this week in 1916


Here are some of the stories reported in the News Letter 100 years ago

West Belfast Battalion

Major-General’s Tribute

[February 14]

Major General Oliver S W Nugent DSO, General Officer Commanding the Ulster 
Division, recently inspected the 9th (Service) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (West Belfast Volunteers) behind the firing line, and subsequently addressed the officers and men in the following terms:

“I personally am, and the rest of the division are, very glad to have you back again in our division.

“I have heard nothing but good reports – of your work in the trenches, your gallantry on patrol, and your digging, your cheerfulness, and the willingness which you have always shown to undertake any job, however difficult, you were asked to do.

“I am sending you back for a well-earned rest as soon as the Brigade is able to relieve you. You must not think a rest means you are going to lie on your backs. You will have plenty of drill and must use your time in brushing up all those things which you have forgotten while in the trenches.

“Once more I thank you for your good work in the trenches and your gallantry in the field.”

Experiences in Vienna

Lady Londonderry’s Sister Interviewed

[February 14]

After internment in Hungary and Austria, detachments of the Scottish and English women doctors and Red Cross nurses who performed such devoted services in Servia reached London on Saturday [February 12].

Among them was Miss Florence Chaplin, daughter of Mr Henry Chaplin MP, and sister of the Marchioness of Londonderry, who had been in Servia for a year, most of the time as a matron of the military hospital at Vrangatchka Banja. Describing her experience (says the Daily Mail), she stated: “Vienna is as gay and bright as ever, infinitely brighter than London; theatre and town life just as usual, and plenty of gaiety. But for the soldiers and the restrictions of hours as to the supply of milk, you would scarcely guess that a war was on.

“Germans were everywhere in Servia and Austria, not in groups, but permeating the place. They have complete control of the rolling stock from Berlin to Constantinople. They are tremendously confident. They say the war is practically finished, and that we are beaten. ‘Of course,’ they say, ‘the English will put a million or two more men in the field, but it is perfectly

futile. However many you put in you can do nothing, you have wasted your chance. Our munitions are far better than yours, and your air service is footling.’

“Nearly every neutral I have met, however friendly, doubts whether the Allies can win a real victory. The most cheering thing I heard was from a neutral friend, a doctor, who had been serving in a military hospital in Vienna. He told me that several Austrian officers had confessed to him that Austria could not go on for more than seven or eight months owing to the lack of men.”

The Late Rev R Ussher Greer

Memorial Tablet Unveiled

[February 14]

There was a large congregation at the evening service at St Michael’s Church, Craven Street, Shankill Road, yesterday, when the Lord Bishop of the diocese (Right Rev Dr D’Arcy) unveiled a memorial tablet to the late Rev R Ussher Greer MA, and performed the solemn dedication ceremony.

The tablet bears the following inscription: “In memorium, Rev Richard Ussher Greer MA, first rector of this parish, 1893-1902, by whose energetic efforts this parish was established and church erected. He died 23rd June, 1915, while serving as army chaplain, Ulster Division. Warm-hearted and zealous in ministry, he turned many to righteousness. Erected by John Nelson to his esteemed friend.”

Rub Away Pain

With A Bottle of “St Jacob’s Oil”

[February 15]

What is rheumatism? Pain only!

Stop drugging! Not one case in fifty requires internal treatment. Rub the soothing, penetrating “St Jacob’s Oil”

directly upon the “tender spot” and relief comes instantly.

“St Jacob’s Oil” is a harmless cure for rheumatism and sciatica which never disappoints and cannot burn the skin. Do not grumble and go on suffering. Get a small

bottle from your chemist.

British Cruiser Mined

Fate of HMS Arethusa

[February 15]

It is officially announced that HMS Arethusa, a light cruiser of 3,600 tons, struck a mine on the East Coast, and it is feared she will become a

total wreck. About ten men have lost their lives. The vessel carried a complement of 280 officers and men.

Poyntzpass Soldier’s Cheerful Letter

[February 15]

Private E G Baird, of Poyntzpass, who is serving with the Ulster Division, in the course of a letter home, says: “I have nothing to complain of. Thanks to our marvellous transport, coupled with those kind and thoughtful comfort organisers, we get decent food for active service, and many little necessary things which make us feel comfortable –

indeed, sometimes it is hard to realise we are not at home.

“We read of great enemy preparations for a grand

attack on this front. It is to be hoped it is true, for our

defence is sure, and we are sure to account for all the


“Our great strength is surely, if slowly, accumulating, and our past bitter

experiences and part failures should go far to make our next grand offensive successful.”

Zeppelin Raid

Verdict of Murder Against the Kaiser

[February 16]

An inquest on a victim of the recent Zeppelin raid over the Midland Counties, who had died in hospital, was held yesterday.

The deceased, a domestic servant, was walking with her sweetheart along a canal towing path when a bomb dropped near them, killing the man outright and severely injuring the girl.

The jury found that death resulted from a bomb thrown from an enemy aircraft, and returned a verdict of wilful murder against the Kaiser and Crown Prince as accessories before the fact.

The Coroner remarked that there was no method of service against the Kaiser or Crown Prince, nor was it possible to take proceedings against them.

The Foreman of the jury inquired whether the verdict would not have weight at the end of the war.

The Coroner replied that he could hold out no hope, and suggested that the jury should reconsider their verdict.

The Foreman said the jury were absolutely unanimous that the German Emperor and his son were guilty of murder, and declined to alter their verdict, which the Coroner then recorded.

Victoria Cross for Belfast Man

[February 16]

The publication of the official record in connection with the 1st Canadian Division in Flanders reveals the fact that the late Company Sergeant-Major William Hall, 8th Canadian Infantry, who won the Victoria Cross near Ypres in April last, was a native of Belfast.

He was awarded the coveted distinction under the following circumstances: “On 24th April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of Ypres, when a wounded man who was lying some 15 yards from the trench called for help, Company Sergeant-Major Hall endeavoured to reach him in the face of a very heavy enfiilade fire which was being poured in by the

enemy. The first attempt failed. Company Sergeant-Major Hall then made a second most gallant attempt and was in the act of lifting up the wounded man to bring him in when he fell mortally wounded in the head.”

Sir Max Aitken, MP, who has compiled the official record, states that Company Sergeant-Major Hall was originally from Belfast, but his Canadian home was in Winnipeg. He joined the 8th Battalion at Valcartier, Quebec, in August 1914 as a private.