Reported in the News Letter during this week in 1916


Here are some of the stories covered by the News Letter 100 years ago

Serious Explosion

In Munitions Store

[March 6]

A violent explosion occurred on Saturday [March 4] in the Double Couronne powder magazine at St Denis, near Paris.

The latest information is that 22 persons were killed and 26 injured. Seven soldiers are reported to be buried under the debris.

Some passers-by were killed, and where the factory stood only a huge crater is now visible.

Fierce Struggles

Around Verdun

[March 6]

The battle for Verdun continues, the struggle being particularly fierce around the village of Douaumont, of which the French still hold the outskirts.

A series of German attacks around the Haudromont Wood have been repulsed, the enemy suffering terrible losses.

At various points, says an unofficial message, there are great mounds of German dead in front of our Allies’ lines.

Train Accident

Carriages Derailed

[March 6]

A serious accident befell the 3.5pm train on the Midland Railway extension from Londonderry to Glenties on Friday [March 3], a coach and two wagons becoming derailed at the approach to the Canal Bridge at Strabane.

The wagons were thrown over the embankment, and smashed by the force of the impact, but the passenger coach struck the parapet of the bridge, and so, happily, was prevented from falling into the canal.

It is stated that one of the wagons became derailed about a hundred yards from the bridge.

The passengers of the coach appear to have had an almost miraculous escape from death, but fortunately only one of them was at all seriously injured –Mr Dobbins, a national school teacher from the Strabane district, who sustained a scalp wound and was conveyed to the Lifford Infirmary where he was detained for treatment.

A horse in one of the overturned wagons was so badly injured that it had to be destroyed.

As a consequence of the accident, the line was blocked for most of the afternoon.

How Can Peace Come?

Germans Must Acknowledge False Gods

[March 6]

In the Carlisle Memorial Church, Rev R Lee Cole preached last evening to a large congregation on the topic “How can peace come?”

The Belfast preacher said they did not want their children to have to fight the whole conflict all over again.

They could not hope that permanent peace would come by a treaty or agreement made with Germany. Such a treaty would only be a “scrap of paper” whenever the German people chose to repudiate it.

Nor was the crushing of Germany to a continual bondage a guarantee of peace. That course would only foster hatred and the desire for revenge as soon as possible.

Nor would it be a guarantee of peace to crush Germany economically. She could be crippled for a few years, or even generations, by a huge war indemnity, but of itself that course was not a pledge of peace.

He did not hope that Germany would again break up into separate States, as some writers expected, or that the authors of German atrocities would be brought to trial as criminals.

The only sure guarantee of peace was when the German people saw that they had been following false gods and lying prophets.

If the war were now pushed to its fullest by the Allies, and Germany soundly and thoroughly defeated, it would not take the German people long to see how false and hollow was the pan-German ideal and how unreliable guides were the militarist leaders.

The first duty of British citizens, therefore, was to carry forward the war with grim determination, else a permanent peace was impossible.

Sinn Fein Disloyalty

Woman’s Violent Speech

[March 7]

Countess Marcievicz addressed a public meeting in the City Hall, Cork, last night under the auspices of the women’s branch of the Sinn Fein party.

She said she was proud that there was today an Irishman in another country who was making treaties for Ireland with England’s enemies. (Cheers.)

Today the men of Ireland were alive, and realised that the only way to speak to England was with guns in their hands. They had not dared to have conscription in Ireland because the volunteers had guns in Ireland today. The authorities knew they were disloyal, and they were afraid of them. (A voice: ‘Down with Redmond,’ and cheers.)

They had seen the letter in the papers from Mr Skeffington saying the reason no Zeppelins had dropped bombs in Ireland was because they had an ambassador at the Court in Berlin.

Robert Emmet’s epitaph could only be written in the blood of England with swords in the hands of Irishmen.

American Fined Over Drunken Incident

[March 8]

Grover Cleveland Gunter, a sturdy young American, who was stated to have come to this country as a cattleman on a liner, was sentenced at Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday to a fine of £5, or twenty days’ imprisonment, for traducing the British army.

The evidence was that while the worse for drink he continued to shout that he was proud of his German descent, and that the British soldiers were a set of curs and cowards, and that kilted soldiers were a lot of women and no good.

Yesterday he stated that he had no recollection of what had happened, and that there was not a drop of German blood in him.

Deadly Bombardment

Soldier Killed At His Post

[March 11]

Mr Robert Gageby JP, 45 Brookhill Avenue, Belfast, received intimation yesterday that his second son, Private Robert Gageby, 18th Battalion Canadian Infantry, had been mortally wounded in Flanders.

Private Gageby emigrated to Toronto in 1911, prior to which he was a clerk in the City Hall.

Capt S M Loughin, writing to Mr Gageby, says: “On the morning of 2nd March the Germans subjected our trenches to heavy bombardment. We had men killed and wounded. Your son was one of the first killed. I helped to put him on a stretcher, and a party at once took him to the dressing station. About two hours after reaching there he died. He was severely wounded on the forehead and his eyes were hurt.

“As a soldier your son was one of the best. He did his duty and was at his post when he met his death.”

Mr Gageby’s youngest son, Private Samuel Gageby, of the 14th Royal Irish Rifles (Young Citizen Volunteers), has been invalided from service through illness brought on by the rigours of campaigning in France.

Letter Tells How Officer Died

Death Was Absolutely Instantaneous

[March 11]

The parents of the late Captain W T Lyons, 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, a promising Belfast officer, who was recently killed while serving on the western front, have received a sympathetic letter from the officers of the battalion.

Captain Lyons was a son of Mr and Mrs Wm Lyons, 21 Kerrsland Drive, Strandtown, and a cousin of Mr W J Faulkner, 161 Ormeau Road.

Lieutenant G D Scale, writing on the 6th inst., says: “On behalf of the officers of the 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, I wish to express their very deep sympathy in the loss you have sustained in the death of Captain Lyons.

“As I dare say you know, the Brigade were brought up to retake from the Germans some trenches taken from us in the middle of last month. It was during the attack, which was entirely successful, that Captain Lyons was killed.

“He was in a dug-out with the colonel and second-in-command when a shell landing on top of the dug-out killed all those inside. Death was doubtless due to concussion from the force of the explosion, and was absolutely instantaneous.

“We in the mess all feel his loss very much indeed. Captain Lyons was buried in the little cemetery in the rear of the trenches, and a cross is being placed on the grave as soon as possible.”