Reported in the News Letter during this week in 1916


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

The Summer Time Act

[May 22]

The Summer Time Act came into operation yesterday morning, when, in accordance with the provision of the measure, one hour of time was eliminated by the simple process of putting the clocks forward to that extent.

Thus the day consisted of only 23 hours.

The Act makes a change which affects every man, woman and child in the country, but the principle underlying it has met with almost universal approval, and the new system was inaugurated with a minimum of trouble and inconvenience.

In all Government Departments, as well as on the railways, the change took place at 2am, when the hands of the clocks were put on by an hour; but it is probable that the vast majority of people anticipated matters by altering their clocks and watches before retiring to bed on Saturday night, so that they had the “summer time” when they awoke yesterday morning.

The innovation created by the Act was the subject of much good-natured comment, but the change caused very little, if any, confusion, and it is likely to prove both popular and beneficial. Summer time will continue to be recognised until the 1st October, when we shall revert to normal time.

Great Battle At Verdun

[May 24]

The Germans yesterday made furious efforts on the Verdun front to recover the positions lost by them in the previous day. A succession of mass assaults against the French positions east and west of the Mort Homme ended in disastrous losses for the enemy, without securing any gains.

On the right bank the Douaumont region was also the scene of a murderous conflict. Repeated German attacks entirely failed, and the French maintained all their new positions.

Sinking Of The Bernadette

[May 24]

The Press Bureau last night issued the following details of the sinking of the French sailing fishing vessel Bernadette:

“The Bernadette, a schooner of 300 tons, carrying a crew of 34 men, was proceeding from Fecamp to Newfoundland fishing grounds. On May 1st, at 2pm, when she was about 90 miles from the nearest land, a submarine was sighted about two miles away, coming from the north at full speed.

“When about a mile away the submarine, which was flying the German flag, hoisted a signal for the crew of the Bernadette to leave their ship at once. The master immediately gave orders to lower the boat, seven in number. The crew had only just time to get into them when the submarine, at a distance of about 100 yards, fired the first shot without warning.

“When the firing finished the submarine was only a few yards from the Bernadette.

“Five minutes later the Bernadette settled down by the head, and sank within a few minutes.

“The submarine then disappeared in an easterly direction.

“As the submarine was passing by his boats, the master approached her and asked for food, but the officer on board the submarine waved him off, and the submarine raced away.

“The seven boats continued rowing in the same direction till 8pm, when they lost each other in the darkness.

“Members of the crew were subsequently picked up by various ships, and landed at Liverpool, Gibraltar and Philadelphia.

“It is understood that 29 of the 34 of the crew of the Bernadette have now been picked up, leaving five men still unaccounted for.”

The King To His People

[May 26]

The following message from His Majesty the King to his people was issued for publication yesterday at 9.50pm:

“To enable our country to organise more effectively its military resources in the present great struggle for the cause of civilisation I have, acting on the advice of my Ministers, deemed it necessary to enrol every able-bodied man between the ages of 18 to 41.

“I desire to take this opportunity of expressing to my people my recognition and appreciation of the splendid patriotism and self-sacrifice which they have displayed in raising by voluntary enlistment since the commencement of the war no less than 5,041,000, an effort far surpassing that of any other nation in similar circumstances recorded in history, and one which will be a lasting source of pride to future generations.

“I am confident that the magnificent spirit which has hitherto sustained my people through the trials of this terrible war will inspire them to endure the additional sacrifice now imposed upon them, and that it will, with God’s help, lead us and our Allies to a victory which shall achieve the liberation of Europe.”

Rousing Speech To Unionists

[May 26]

Speaking at the annual meeting of the South Belfast Unionist association in the Old Town Hall last night, Sir William Crawford JP, the president, said: “Some former supporters of the Unionist cause across the Channel, including ‘Mr Punch’, are now expressing the hope that the fact of the extreme section of Home Rulers having risen in open and bloody rebellion, and having devastated the capital of this country, may be a reason for the Unionists of Ulster coming into agreement with the less violent sections, and thus settling the Home Rule controversy.

“We do not think so. (Applause.)

“On the contrary, we think it is an additional reason for our resisting Home Rule.

“We shall never agree to our being deprived of the birthright of full British citizenship (Applause.)

“We want nothing but to be left as we are, under the direct control of the British Parliament.

“Why, I ask, should not Ulster be governed as are Scotland and Wales? (Hear, hear.)

“The disastrous Home Rule Act is on the Statute Book and inoperative for the present. What we say is, let it remain as it is. (Applause.) It would bring calamity on any part of Ireland to which it might be applied. It will never be applied here. (Loud applause)”

Flooding In Belfast

[May 26]

Serious flooding occurred in Belfast yesterday as a result of the heavy rainfall which prevailed for the greater part of the day and the previous night.

The scenes witnessed in various parts of Belfast recalled the great floods experienced locally about fourteen years ago, but the inundations were fortunately not quite so extensive in character or damaging in effect as those of the time alluded to.

The overflow, however, involved considerable inconvenience to many sections of the community. The tramway service was partially dislocated, pedestrian and vehicular traffic was held up to a considerable extent, two large industrial establishments were temporarily closed, and the performances at the Royal Hippodrome and the earlier presentation of “Mr Wu” at the Grand Opera House had to be abandoned.

Several streets were transformed into flowing rivers.

Disabled Soldiers Back from Germany

[May 27]

The disabled British soldiers who returned to England on Thursday night [May 25] told tales of starvation and misery in the prison camps.

Of 98 men who are at Millbank Hospital four have lost their reason under the strain, and the remainder have lost either arm or leg, are crippled, or otherwise seriously disabled.

They came from camps in different parts of Germany, but the treatment they received seems to have been the same. They all complain that the wounded are moved from hospital to internment camp before their wounds are healed. A Scotsman said bread and jam given to men was so bad that even the rats would not eat it.

The French prisoners seem to be favourites in the military camp. The reason why Englishmen were so disliked was given as: “If you knock down an Englishman, he comes up still English.” Russian and Belgian prisoners are very badly treated.

The latest thing they are doing, said another man, is to send about 2,000 British and Russians to dig trenches in Poland.