Reported in the News Letter during this week in 1916


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

Blown Up By Mines

Belfast-Built Liner Sunk

[February 28]

The P and O Company’s liner Maloja, 12,400 tons register, was sunk yesterday following an explosion in the English Channel.

This fine vessel, which was built and is registered at Belfast, was on a voyage from London to Bombay with about 140 passengers, 200 crew, and the Indian mails.

The liner was only about two miles off the shore when the explosion occurred, and the final scenes were witnessed by large numbers of people, who anxiously watched the progress of the rescue work.

The Maloja sank in about twenty minutes. The death toll is higher than was at first anticipated. Up to yesterday evening, 44 bodies, including that of a baby and two or three children, had been landed at Dover and conveyed to the market hall, which is being used as a temporary mortuary.

Just after the Maloja had sunk those watching from the shore had another thrilling experience, a second steamer being lost under exactly similar conditions within half-a-mile of the liner. This was the tank steamer Empress of Fort William. She settled down by the stern, but the forepart of the vessel remained above the sea for some little time, and the crew were saved. The vessel then suddenly blew up, and the forepart disappeared in a cloud of steam.

Anti-Recruiting Charges

Woman Sent to Jail

[February 28]

At Westminster police court on Saturday [February 26], Mrs Nellie Best, of Hogarth Buildings, Westminster, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for issuing pamphlets and making statements likely to prejudice recruiting.

After evidence had been given, the defendant, in a long statement, said she had done her very utmost since the war started to prejudice recruiting.

To her, recruiting was enlistment in the trade of murder, expressly forbidden by the law of Jesus Christ.

She prayed every morning that God would lead her to lads eligible for recruiting that she might bring every possible pressure to bear upon them. She was proud to say that she had been directly responsible for keeping hundreds of adults from enlisting in the trade of murder.

Conscientious Objector

Extraordinary Case

[February 29]

A young man with hair over a foot long applied to the Wallasey Tribunal yesterday for exemption from military service on conscientious grounds.

He said he had been a member of the religious sect known as “the Israelites” since May 1913. He was opposed to taking the life of man, bird or beast, as being contrary to the Word of God. He was a vegetarian, and he grew his hair long according to the command in Leviticus.

As a vegetarian he did not believe in handling dead bodies nor in handling wounded bodies, because the blood would contaminate him, and if he broke one of God’s laws he would be guilty of breaking them all.

He would give a wounded man a drink of water, but he would not bind up his wounds.

The Chairman said the tribunal were not satisfied that the applicant’s views were genuinely held, and his application would be refused. While adjusting his hair preparatory to leaving, applicant exclaimed dramatically, “I have been called here to warn you of the approaching end.”

Private Morrow VC

Memorial Fund

[March 1]

The first list of subscriptions to the fund to perpetuate the memory of the late Private Robert Morrow VC, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, appears in our advertising columns this morning, the amount acknowledged being over £70.

It may be recalled that the late Private Morrow, who belonged to Sessia, Newmills, County Tyrone, won the Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry at Messines on 12th April, 1915, and was killed in action thirteen days later.

A committee has been formed with the object of perpetuating the young 
hero’s memory by the erection of a suitable memorial in Newmills, and it is also intended to provide some increase of 
income for his widowed mother, who lives alone on a small farm and is practically dependant on her own exertions.

Ireland’s Demand

For Independence

[March 3]

At an Emmet Commemoration in St Mary’s Hall, last evening – all the doors being guarded by men armed with rifles and bayonets, and the platform similarly protected – Commandant Pearse BA BL, of the Irish Volunteers, said in every generation except the generation that was growing old they renewed their fight against England, and when England thought she had trampled them down in blood or had purchased them with bribes some strong man arose and redeemed them by his sacrifice.

Ireland’s demand all through the centuries had been freedom, and there was only one sort of freedom, which was not to be found on the Statute book of a nation’s enemies, but on the books of a nation’s fathers.

Irish freedom had been
defined to them by their fathers – first of all, by Tone, who said, “To break the connection with England – the never-failing source of our political evils – and to assert the independence of my country: that is my object.”

That definition was accepted and amplified by Davis, Lawlor and Mitchell, the last of whom looked through apocalyptic flames to the day when Ireland would take its stand beneath her own immortal queen and strike for sovereignty.

A Giant Royal Sturgeon

[March 3]

A giant specimen of the royal sturgeon is at present on view in a fishmonger’s shop in Westmoreland Street, Dublin.

The fish, which measures 7ft 10in in length, and 46in in girth, was captured by one of the fleet of the Dublin Steam Trawling Company between Carlingford Lough and Rockabill Light. It weighs 360 pounds.

Ulster Division Casualties

[March 4]

Lance-Corporal David Maguire, of the 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers), was killed by a grenade last Saturday [February 26]. He was 23 years of age, and one of five Coleraine brothers serving with the colours.

He was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force band and Invincible True Blues LOL No 735. Prior to enlisting, he worked at Coleraine Foundry.

Demand For Prohibition

Nation Is Wasting Money On Drink

[March 4]

The War-Time Council on Drink and National Efficiency has issued the following statement, described as “a solemn call to our country to unite its moral, social and economic forces for the purposes of removing the great stumbling block of drink, which stands in the way of national efficiency, especially in relation to the successful prosecution of the war and in the hastening of a righteous peace”.

The council has been formed to consider the following problem: The nation is spending £5,000,000 a day, using all its credit and pledging all its future. We are engaged in a war of exhaustion.

We must conserve all our resources of money, food and energy. We must save. Are we doing so? The fact is we are living far too comfortably and far too wastefully.

The signal example of luxury and waste is expenditure on strong drink. The figures are so vast that it is almost impossible to realise them.

The drink bill of the nation has been increasing since the war began, and is at present at the rate of £170,000,000 a year, and we are destroying weekly valuable food equivalent to 20,000,000 quartern loaves of bread and consuming 36,000 tons of coal a week in breweries and distilleries.

Does this huge drink trade help us to win the war? No-one can pretend that it does.

In multitudes of cases drink is the means of terrible injury, especially to young soldiers and to women. There is abundant evidence that it is also impeding the production of munitions of war, the shortage of which has already cost the lives of thousands of our brave men.

It is obvious that the simplest and fairest solution of this problem is prohibition during the period of the war.