FEBRUARY 1916

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                          FEBRUARY 1916

 

The deployment on 7th Feb 1916 of 24 Squadron Royal Flying Corps brought the first single seater DH2 fighters to the Western Front.

 

Japan is requested by the British Government, on the 8th Feb 1916, to provide naval assistance in the war against the Central Powers.

 

On the 9th Feb 1916, South African Lieutenant-General Jan Smuts was appointed African Supreme Allied Commander, to replace Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien who had been invalided home. After the war Germany and her African possessions were taken over by the League of Nations mandate.

 

On the 9th Feb 1916 British boats secure control of Lake Tanganyika.

 

On the 11th Feb 1916 German submarines are given permission by Kaiser Wilhelm II to attack armed merchant ships but not to torpedo passenger liners.

 

Britain and France agreed on the 14th Feb 1916 that any peace with Germany must be dependent upon Belgium neutrality being guaranteed.

 

On the 15th Feb 1916 the Fifth Battle of Isonzo begins. The Italians make minor advances against Austrian forces in the Italian Alps. The battle ends on the 17th March 1916.

 

On the 18th Feb 1916 the last German garrison of Mora in the Cameroons surrendered to the British. The war on Africa’s West Coast was over. The only remaining colony was in German East Africa. German Military commander General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was able to operate guerrilla tactics to elude the British. By expert use of mountains, bush and forest, he remained un-defeated throughout the war despite having inferior numbers of troops.          .

 

On the 18th Feb 1916 heavy bombing raids by Italian Caproni bombers on Laibach was made in retaliation for an earlier Austrian raid on Milan.

 

On the 21st Feb 1916 the German government informed the United States of America that armed merchant ships will be treated as cruisers.

 

On the 22nd Feb 1916 a memorandum by Colonel Edward M. House, aide to U.S. President Wilson, states Wilson’s readiness to propose peace terms when Britain and France are ready.

 

The Portuguese government agrees, on the 23rd Feb 1916, to a British request to intern more than 70 German vessels.

 

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THE CAUCASUS AND MIDDLE EAST

 

On the 5th Feb 1916, the Trebizond (Trabzon) Campaign began with a successful invasion by Russian naval and land forces launched against the Ottoman Empire.

 

The 7th Feb 1916, saw the Russian forces take the Turkish town of Mus and the Russian offensive of Erzerum began on the 11th Feb 1916. The Turkish 3rd Army begins to abandon Erzerum on the 15th Feb 1916, withdrawing towards Erzincan and on the 16th Feb 1916 the Russian Army of the Caucasus captured the fortress of Erzerum.

 

The strategic goal of the Ottoman empire of 1914, was to cut out Russian access to the oil resources around the Caspian Sea. Enver Pasha, the Ottoman Minister of War believed if Russia could be beaten in the key cities of Persia, it could open the way to Central Asia and India.

In 1915 Russian General Yudenitch dispatched two columns into Persia. General Nikoli Baratov was to push South West through Hamadan to Kermanshah en-route to Bagdad. The second column was to advance through Kum and Kashan to Ispahan and march on Tehran. Baratov’s forces captured Hamadan late Dec 1915, and on the 26th Feb 1916 Baratov’s forces captured Kermanshah.

 

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                                                     VERDUN

 

France and Germany were the principle protagonists when war broke out in August 1914. Everyone thought the war would be over by Christmas 1914. The Germans were reliant on the Schlieffen Plan to allow them to out-flank and over-run Paris, thereby forcing France out of the war. The French had their own Plan XVII to enable them to re-take the lost provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Neither side succeeded. The French were forced to retreat to Verdun, whilst the Germans were halted on the Marne. The static warfare began with the establishment of trench warfare.

General Erich von Falkenhayn, Chief of the German General Staff, was aware the French had a larger army than Germany on the Western Front. He reasoned the French would defend Verdun to the last man and it was the intention of Falkenhayn to ‘bleed France white’

The huge forts above Verdun were the selected killing ground. On the 21st Feb 1916, 1,400 German guns opened fire. The Battle of Verdun had begun.

Most of the French defensive guns had been removed from the forts and they left the forts only lightly manned. Fort Douaumont was captured on the 25th Feb 1916 by nine German troops of the 24th Brandenburg Regiment. They had gained access through an un-defended opening and overwhelmed the aging fifty-seven French defenders.

 

On the 25th Feb 1916, General Philippe Petain, The French Second Army commander, was appointed to organize Verdun’s defences and set about keeping the city out of German occupation. French troops, guns and aircraft were rapidly pouring into the area and by the 28th Feb 1916, the French had halted the original assault on Verdun.

 

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G G Hammond letter 31 Jan 16

Moorside

Crowborough

31.1.16

My Dear Gladys

I was delighted to hear of your success now all you have to do is to pull the two scholarships off, it would be a huge honour.

I am a bit fed up at present as I am working up a lot of old drills &c and have not much news, except that Boon is getting married when his course finishes.  He is a silly fool but he may be sued for breach of promise before long from what I hear.

The girl at Preston is very ill or has been through the shock and her father wrote to Pa Boon telling him all about it.  It seems Boon had told them his mother hated him & he hated her.  Affleck mentioned this in his letter & I don’t think his father is over pleased.

They have now written to me asking for Lilian’s address but as they have removed I told them I did not know it and that I wanted to have nothing more to do with it.  I have not yet heard from the Golden Hen so far this week but Tuesday is usually the time.  Elsie will be pleased to hear of your success.

Well I have no more news at present, write soon

Love to all

George

F Hammond letter 27 Jan 16

27-1-16

Dear F & M

Just a line to let you know I am in the pink.  Sorry I have not dropped you a line every week but things have been much the same as being at home nothing exciting happening.  We have had Divnl football competitions, boxing contests and sports of all kinds including marathon races needless to say I did try the marathon.  We have also had concerts 2 or 3 times a week in a big YMCA Tent just below us.

I had a look in there the other night Kennerley Rumford’s Troupe giving the concert.  Unfortunately Kennerley was indisposed but nevertheless it was worth going to.  We have had a very good time indeed and we feel a little sorry to be leave the place which we are expecting to leave ere this gets in your hands.  Still I believe we are going into decent billets from what one can hear so that’s something we can’t have anything much worse than the time before we were in action so we are not at all upset.  Well I don’t think there’s anything particular to relate.  Sorry to hear Mar’s not so well but hope she will be better by now.  Hope all at home keep smiling and that you will remember me to all enquiring friends.  Have so much kit now I don’t know how to move it however I shall endeavour to wrangle some of it on the mules.

Well Bye Bye for present.

Love to all Burgie.

G G Hammond letter 26 Jan 16

Moorside

Crowborough

26.1.16

My Dear Gladys

Cheer oh!  Jolly glad to receive your letter.  I am most anxious to hear that you have passed your exam and are well on the way for the scholarship.  You must get it.

Had a letter from Willie yesterday.  He seems to be getting along alright.  Says you enjoyed yourself.  Their board have not released the men in the first four groups so it does not look as though he will be called upon.

Glad to hear that the photo is alright.  You had better have it framed for me and I will let you have the money.  I think I told you I had paid Beaty’s so my banking account does not look so healthy as it did.

We have received a number of Derby recruits and I have bought a revolver, Webley £3.6.2.  it is a fine little thing.  I have not received it yet.  Let me know what you would like for your birthday up to 10/-, can’t afford more at present as I have not quite recovered from the Christmas excitement.  Did I tell you AB was overdrawn 7-10-0£ at the bank.  He returned the quid I lent him alright after I wrote rather a rotten letter.

I have been on a course of Physical Drill & bayonet fighting.  Pass alright.  Am very busy at present have been playing rugby today & feel awfully stiff.  Hope you enjoy yourself on Friday.  By the way the captain who was to bring the recruits down came back with Uncle Tom to London he says he was pumping him to find out what kind of a lad I was.  The report I believe was quite favourable.

Well no more at present

Write earlier next week

Fondest love

George

Have sent powder to Fred.  When are you going to have your photo taken?  G

 

F Hammond letter 20 Jan 16

20.1.16

Dear Mar & Pa

Just a line to let you know I am in the pink.  I have nearly resumed my ordinary civilian proportions after living a village life so long but I suppose we shall be living a rough life again soon.  There is really nothing to relate and we all feel ready for a change.

One of our Brigades had a route march through our village the other day and we came across Winnie and he gave us a nice salute.  He was walking evidently trying to get his weight down so everyone thought.  Well and how are you all getting along?  Glad to hear Mar & Pa are OK.  How did Gladys go on in her exam?  What has become of Lt. GG not had a word from him since I returned?  I suppose the Conscription has put the wind up a lot of them nowadays.  Turk still seems to wander away still I suppose he’s glad to get home again as his Master was at times.  Remember me to all enquiring friends

Yours  Burgy

F Hammond letter 9 Jan 16

La Bezie entered in blue biro later

9.1.16

Dear M & Pa

Just a line to say alls well.  I received your little parcel OK.  We are still resting in fact I have never been so spruce since I join the HARMY.  I went and had a bath this morning & got a full rigg out of underwear.  I also have new breeches, boots and putties so you wouldn’t recognise me now.  In fact we have had to dubbin our boots at present.  We have had a good time.  There are 5 of us billeted in a house in the village & get our food & extras cooked there.  We are well known in the village now and are busy trying to learn French choruses.  Tommy Earlam came yday to see us he is only about 9 miles away we were very pleased to see him but he’s very comfortable where he is.  The weather has been rather mild but very damp lately.  I don’t think there is any special news to tell as we are just living a country life.  Winston is with us now so things are looking up.  Well I hope you are all well I suppose we shall be having a turn at the mud etc Ha men tears

Cheer ho

Burgy