Reported in the News Letter during this week in 1916


Here are some of the stories reported in the News Letter during this week 100 years ago:

Success at the Somme

[October 9]

General Sir Douglas Haig records a notable British success on the Somme.

On Saturday afternoon [October 7] our troops, in co-operation with the French on the right, attacked from the Albert-Bapaume road to Lesboeufs (our Allies meanwhile attacking from Morval to south of Bouchavesnes, the combined front being one of over 12 miles).

Between Gueudecourt and Lesboeufs our line was advanced from 600 to 1,000 yards, and Le Sars (north-east of Courcelette) was captured, progress being also made to the east and west of the village.

At night the Germans recovered a small portion of trenches north of Lesboeufs, but elsewhere all our gains have been maintained, and our line has been further advanced north of Courcelette and on the Warlencourt road and north-west of Gueudecourt. During these operations 13 officers and 766 men captured. Successful raids were carried out during Saturday night by Irish, Midland, and Yorkshire troops at various points.

Wounded Soldiers in Belfast

[October 9]

A considerable number of wounded soldiers – 397 in all – were brought from Havre to Dublin on Saturday by the hospital ship Galgorm Castle.

In the afternoon an ambulance train, composed of six coaches, conveyed 140 men northward, 80 of them being cot cases and 60 sitting cases; while another similar train of four coaches took 120 men, all sitting patients, to the Curragh Military Hospital.

About four o’clock the Great Northern train arrived at Great Victoria Street terminus, Belfast, with 110 men, the remainder having been left off on the way, twenty at Portadown and ten at Lisburn.

The arrangements for the reception of the wounded heroes were of the most complete character, and as a result the sufferers were taken from their compartments and removed to the different hospitals with record celerity.

In keeping with all like experiences since the commencement of the war, the patients, without a single exception, were marked by a clearly visible expression of happiness and cheerfulness quite surprising to those at home, which showed that the hardships of the trench and the ordeals of battle had neither abated their courage nor exhausted their buoyancy of spirit.

National Service ‘Not Practicable’ in Ireland

[October 10]

Speaking last night at the High Sherriff’s dinner in Dublin, Lord Wimborne, replying to the toast of ‘The Lord Lieutenant and Prosperity of Ireland”, asked what contribution Ireland was making to man-power.

Up to September 15th there had joined the colours from Ireland 157,000 men, of whom 92,000 were known to me Roman Catholics and 62,000 were known to be Protestant. Since mobilisation Ulster had contributed 54,000 men, of whom 40,000 were Protestants; Leinster, 12,000; Munster, 16,000; Connaught 4,000; and Dublin, 19,000. That was a splendid contribution, and nothing could detract from it. It was voluntary; it was fairly representative; and its achievements were heroic.

Now, however, there was a new standard. It was not –How many men have you sent, but how many remain?

It was estimated last year that there were in Ireland 562,000 men of military age; 157,000 were now in the army, and 90,000 were farmers actually engaged in farming operations. A further 50,000 must be deducted for men engaged in war work, and when further necessary deductions were made there remained between 100,000 and 200,000 men of military age who were eligible. The Irish Division needed 40,000 men before Christmas, and that was an immediate obligation. How were they then to be secured?

“I introduce the word compulsion,” said his Excellency. “There are Irish Unionists and not a few Irish Nationalists who think that compulsion would be the making of Ireland. Personally, I look at the question free from bias. I have never advocated compulsion in Ireland. National service in any community is not practicable without general consent. I do not think there is general consent in Ireland at the present, but I see no reason why anybody should despair of bringing home to the Irish democracy the overwhelming logic of the facts.

“When the war is over there will be a new era, and it behoves all existing classes, institutions, policies and parties to obtain a favourable verdict and a fresh lease of life.

“There will be one test: What have you done to share in the benefits we have won?”

Situation in Ireland;

A Warning to the Government

[October 11]

The “Morning Post” says – There is a powerful faction in Ireland: it grows more powerful every day. Irish-American and German gold is behind it. It is numerous; it is unscrupulous; it is armed; it has terrorised the Nationalist party which is now crawling to find favour in its sight.

The Irish Government are at their old game of excusing, ignoring, blinking this evil power which is gathering force. While we have freedom we shall continue to warn the country and the Government that law and order are still being betrayed in Ireland.

A valued Irish correspondent writes – “The Sinn Fein movement is extending rapidly. They are organising and drilling and furbishing their arms without let or hindrance, and many Nationalists who have a stake in the country here told me they would welcome conscription as the only means of ending this pernicious evil.”

Smoking in a Munition Factory

[October 11]

At the Leeds West Riding Police Court yesterday a munition worker named Rachel Sydell, of Pontefract, was sent to prison for 14 days for having smoked a cigarette in a munition factory. It was stated that the offence was committed in a most dangerous part of the factory. Defendant denied the charge.

Ireland and Recruiting; Ulster’s Fine Record

[October 13]

Sir Edward Carson has issued the following statement:

In the speech of Lord Wimborne, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, made in Dublin on Monday last with reference to Irish recruiting, his Excellency is reported as saying:

“Since mobilisation Ulster has contributed 54,000, of whom 40,000 were Protestants. Leinster has contributed 12,000, Connaught 4,000, Munster 16,000 and Dublin 19,000. That was a splendid contribution, and nothing could detract from it.”

These figures show that Ulster’s contribution of recruits was more than that of the three other provinces added together. As Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan have, I believe, only contributed about 3,000 between them, it will be seen that the other six Ulster counties have contributed about as many as the three Southern provinces together.

Lord Wimborne gives the figures of males of military age as 562,000. But the figures quoted by Lord Wimborne do not include any males of the age between 18 and 19. This would add another 40,000 or thereabouts, which would increase the figure of 562,000 to 602,000.

It is, in my opinion, a great mistake to pretend that Ireland has made a “splendid contribution”. It is not true, and it is an act of encouragement to leave unfinished the work so splendidly commenced by Irish soldiers at the front.