July 1918

Germany’s last offensive fails. The Tsar and his family are murdered. The Allies prepare to attack.


1/7/1918 Writing on the wall for Austria-Hungary as France declares support for an independent Czechoslovakia

3/7/1918 “Wholesale jollification”: Lettow-Vorbeck’s victory at Nhamacurra

3/7/1918 The death of Mehmed V of Turkey

4/7/1918 Hamel: a local victory for the Australians and a worrying portent for the Germans

6/7/1918 The Left SR uprising: a deadly threat to the Bolsheviks at the heart of their power

7/7/1918 The Bolshevik regime secure once more as the Left SR uprising fizzles out

9/7/1918 The dangerous folly of low level acrobatics

15/7/1918 Round Five: Ludendorff’s Peace Offensive

17/7/1918 The sinking of the Carpathia

17/7/1918 The Tsar and his family killed

18/7/1918 2nd Marne: the French strike back

22/7/1918 Ludendorff shaken as French troops advance across the Marne

24/7/1918 Foch meets the Allied commanders, calls for them to go on the attack

26/7/1918 The last flight of Mick Mannock, Britain’s highest scoring fighter ace

29/7/1918 Trotsky drafts the Tsar’s officers

see also:

Monthly Archive 1918

June 1918

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

images

German prisoners, July 1918 (Wikipedia Commons)

1926 depiction of the Tsar’s murder (History: Why Czar Nicholas II and the Romanovs Were Murdered)

June 1918

German offensives on the Western Front blocked. The cold grip of influenza. More and more Americans. Austria-Hungary’s disastrous attack across the Piave. More turmoil in Russia.

1/6/1918 Beethoven comes to Japan

1/6/1918 Roderic Dallas is promoted too late

4/6/1918 Pemberton Billing wins “Cult of the Clitoris” libel trial

4/6/1918 Trotsky: “Long Live Civil War!”

6/6/1918 US troops halt one German offensive as Ludendorff prepares another

7/6/1918 Influenza spreads its tentacles

8/6/1918 The Komuch: an anti-Bolshevik government in Siberia, supported by the Czechoslovaks

9/6/1918 Round four: Ludendorff unleashes Operation Gneisenau

10/6/1918 Austria-Hungary’s failed naval breakout

10/6/1918 Vorontsovka: Germany and Turkey come to blows

11/6/1918 French counterattack blocks Germany’s latest offensive

13/6/1918 An inconvenient Grand Duke meets his end

15/6/1918 Austria-Hungary attacks across the Piave

16/6/1918 Failure on the Piave for Austria-Hungary

17/6/1918 Ludendorff prepares for Round Five

19/6/1918 Italy strikes back on the Piave river

19/6/1918 Francesco Baracca’s last patrol over the Piave

20/6/1918 Arthur Griffith wins East Cavan by-election from his English prison cell

21/6/1918 Austria-Hungary retreats across the Piave

23/6/1918 Piave: for Italy a triumph, for Austria-Hungary disaster

25/6/1918 US Marines clear the Germans from Belleau Wood

28/6/1918 In response to industrial unrest the Bolsheviks nationalise industry

29/6/1918 Vladivostok falls to the Czechoslovak Legion

30/6/1918 Time begins to run out for the Germans

see also:

Monthly Archive 1918

May 1918

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

image sources:

German machine gunners advance (German History in Documents and Image – Advance of a German Machine Gun Unit on the Western Front (June 1918))

Ludendorff’s first four offensives (100 Years Ago Today, @CenturyAgoToday on Twitter)

US Marines attacking in Belleau Wood (War on the Rocks: The importance of the Battle of Belleau Wood)

Europe and the Near East, June 1918 (Mental Floss WW1 Centennial: Austria Hungary’s last gasp)

May 1918

Civil war escalates in Russia but comes to an end in Finland. British forces round up malcontents accused of preparing for German invasion of Ireland. After a lull, Ludendorff’s third offensive smashes the French. And American troops receive their baptism of fire.

4/5/1918 Turkey in the ascendant as the British retreat across the Jordan

6/5/1918 Ludendorff ponders his next move

7/5/1918 Romania agrees to harsh peace terms with Germany

9/5/1918 Britain raids Ostend again

9/5/1918 Bolshevik problems: sulky workers and stingy peasants

11/5/1918 Emperor Karl takes his punishment

12/5/1918 Alienated Cossacks revolt against the Bolsheviks

14/5/1918 The Chelyabinsk Incident: violence breaks out between the Czechoslovak Legion and the Bolsheviks

14/5/1918 Diaz reforms the Italian army but angers Foch by refusing to attack

16/5/1918 Finland’s Whites celebrate victory as the civil war comes to an end

17/5/1918 Sinn Féin leaders arrested as Britain strikes against “German plot”

19/5/1918 The last Gotha bombing raid on London

19/5/1918 Gervais Lufbery’s fatal fall

21/5/1918 Ludendorff’s gaze turns to India

23/5/1918 The former Tsar and Tsarina are joined in Ekaterinburg by their children

25/5/1918 Trotsky orders the Czechoslovak Legion’s suppression

26/5/1918 Georgia exits the Transcaucasian Federation

27/5/1918 Blücher-Yorck: German stormtroopers smash the French

28/5/1918 Hubert Rees meets the Kaiser

28/5/1918 Cantigny: US troops have their baptism of fire

31/5/1918 A new French tank

see also:

Monthly Archive 1918

April 1918

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

image sources:

German stormtroopers advance (CWGC: Operation Blücher-Yorck)

map (Mental Floss – Erik Sass’s WWI Centennial: America’s Fighting Debut)

Some thoughts on the film “1917” (2019)

Secret Panda

I saw this Sam Mendes directed film in the IFI back in the Before-Time. As you know, it deals with an imaginary episode from the eponymous year, where two soldiers are sent running to halt a British advance into a carefully laid German trap. As such the premise subverts some of the clichés of First World War films, which more usually feature callous or delusional generals sending the lower ranks off to certain death.

For me much of the film’s appeal lies with the Roger Deakins cinematography – as with everything he touches, it looks amazing and keeps managing to present stunningly composed shots and images to the viewer. The attack scene at the end is obviously one such, but there are many others. The strange scene in the woods where a unit’s commander sings the folk song ‘I Am A Poor Wayfaring stranger’ to his men before they attack…

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Dark Corners: “Westfront 1918” (1930)

Over on my other blog I wrote about a German film from 1930 set in 1918 as the tide begins to turn in favour of the Allies.

Secret Panda

Nearly three years ago the Irish Film Institute hosted the Dark Corners season of films from the Weimar Republic. I wrote about them in the pages of popular journal Frank’s APA and now at last I am sharing my thoughts on these films with you, starting with this one. Popular films like Cabaret have fixed Weimar in the public mind as a period of decadent excess that almost deserved to be swept away by the Nazis. Weimar cinema meanwhile is usually associated with expressionism (funny camera angles, strange sets, fantastic plots), but the programming of this season attempted to present a broader picture of the films produced in that era. Old favourites like Dr Mabuse, Caligari, Nosferatu and Metropolis were avoided in favour of other types of picture, particularly ones showcasing the New Objectivity style of the 1920s, though they did still show expressionist classic Der Golem (which…

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Whither Great War Live?

Readers will have noticed that I stopped updating this blog on 28 June 2019, the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. That was always the end point I had in mind for this project, even though much at that point still remained unresolved – notably the future shape of Turkey, the fate of Russia, the status of Ireland (my own country) and indeed whether the United States would join the League of Nations. I could have continued the blog further but the Treaty’s signing on the anniversary of Franz Ferdinand’s murder was too convenient a stopping point, and any continuation beyond that point would have meant a dissipation of focus away from the First World War itself.

So is that the end of this blog? Basically, yes. I had hoped to occasionally treat readers to reviews of Great War related books, but other demands on my time have left these hopes unrealised. I have also failed to produce short notes on some general Great War topics (whose fault was the war, why did the Allies win, could the war have turned out differently, and so on). These may yet appear though if they do it will be a pleasant surprise.

One thing however I am going to do is complete the posts I had been doing compiling each month’s worth of posts in one place (you can see links to these for the years 1914 to 1916 here and 1917 here). Pressure of time in the early summer of 2018 forced me to abandon these, with the April 1918 post being the last one on the blog. I was never that clear whether anyone read these (which is true of posts on the blog generally), but as a completist I feel the need to finish these off, so I am going to post the remaining ones of these month by month from the end of May this year to June 2021. I have created a page for links to these monthly summary posts for 1918 here, should readers wish to catch up on what was going on in the spring of 1918 (summary: Germany was trying to win the war before the arrival of American troops irrevocably turned the tide in the Allies’ favour).

If you are interested, I also have another blog, on which I post occasionally about books and films and music and stuff.

images all from Giant Military Cats on Twitter, which I recommend to anyone who likes both cats and military things.

Covid-19 and the Spanish Influenza

Secret Panda

As a distraction from the current Covid-19 unpleasantness, readers may be interested in casting their mind back to a hundred years ago, when another respiratory disease swept the world. The Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 famously killed more people than the First World War, reaching parts of the globe barely touched by that conflict. It acquired its name because in neutral Spain the press was more free to report on the disease’s ravages than in the countries at war, leading people to think that it was exacting a particularly heavy toll there. In fact it was no worse in Spain than anywhere else. The disease certainly did not originate in there, though its exact origins are mysterious, with some suggesting a US army camp in Kansas, others the British training base of Étaples on the French coast, with others again naming China.

The Spanish Influenza has certain similarities with Covid-19…

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28/6/1919 The German peace treaty signed in Versailles

Seven weeks ago the Allies presented their peace terms to the Germans. Five days ago the German government finally agreed to accept the terms rather than face an Allied invasion. Today their plenipotentiaries, Herman Müller of the Social Democrats and Johannes Bell of the Centre Party, arrive in Versailles to sign the treaty.

The Allies have decided that the peace treaty will be signed in the Hall of Mirrors in the former royal palace, where in 1871 the German Empire was proclaimed after France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War. Proceedings are opened by Clemenceau, the French premier. He calls on the Germans to sign the treaty, thereby signifying that their country will abide by the peace terms. Müller and Bell do so, making no speech and offering no protest, to everyone’s relief. The various Allied delegations then sign: first Wilson and the Americans, then Lloyd George and the British Empire delegations, then the French, Italian and Japanese delegations, who are in turn followed by representatives of the smaller powers. The whole affair is a piece of diplomatic theatre, so much so that Paul Cambon, France’s ambassador to Britain, feels that the occasion lacked only music and dancing girls.

The treaty contains many provisions that the Germans find distasteful. They are obliged to shoulder the responsibility for starting the war and they must also pay substantial reparations to the Allies. Large swathes of Germany territory is being ceded to Poland, whose corridor to the sea separates East Prussia from the rest of Germany; Danzig meanwhile is to become a free city, effectively a port for Poland. Germany is also losing territory to France (the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, captured in 1871), Belgium and Denmark (which has managed to expand its frontiers despite being neutral in the war). Germany is also to lose all its colonies, which will be divided out among the Allies as mandates, to be run for the benefit of their inhabitants. Meanwhile Germany’s union with Austria is forbidden and it will have to accept a long occupation of the Rhineland.

The treaty also imposes irksome restriction on Germany’s internal organisation. The country’s armed forces are to be limited in size to just 100,000 troops, who are to be long-serving volunteers rather than conscripts. Tanks and aircraft are forbidden to the German armed forces, as are chemical weapons. The navy is to be severely restricted in size and prohibited from possessing U-boats.

The German delegates consider these terms harsh. Some on the Allied side agree with them, with Lloyd George and Wilson in particular worrying that the treaty’s terms are laying the grounds for future wars, as one day a resentful Germany will seek its vengeance. But others, notably Clemenceau and especially Marshal Foch fear that the terms are too lenient, leaving France vulnerable to future attack by a resurgent Germany.

Wilson’s fears regarding the treaty’s harshness are assuaged by the foundation of a new League of Nations. The covenant of this international body has been included in the treaty, whose signatories are to be founding members (apart from Germany, which will only be allowed to join when it has demonstrated its reformed character). Wilson hopes that the League will allow the nations of the world to settle their disputes peacefully, without recourse to war.

The signing of the treaty does not bring an end to the work of the Paris Conference. Peace treaties with Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey remain to be drafted. But Germany was the Allies’ main enemy and with the German peace treaty signed there is a general sense that the conference is moving on to less important matters. Lloyd George and Wilson prepare to leave Paris and return home, with Wilson in particular knowing that selling the treaty domestically will not be easy.
And so in a sense the First World War comes to an end, five years to the day after a Serbian nationalist shot and killed an Austrian archduke.

images:

The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, by William Orpen (Wikipedia)

Clemenceau, Wilson, and Lloyd George leaving the Versailles palace after signing the treaty (Century Ireland: Germany signs the Peace Treaty in Versailles)

25/6/1919 Bethmann Hollweg invites the Allies to put him on trial in place of the Kaiser

Now that Germany has accepted the Allied peace terms, all efforts in Paris are now focussed on preparations for the signing of the peace treaty, which is to take place in Versailles. But today a communication arrives that provides a curious diversion from this important work. It is from Bethmann Hollweg, the man who was Germany’s chancellor from the start of the war until he was obliged to resign in 1917. Bethmann Hollweg is concerned by reports that the Allies plan to try his master, the former Kaiser, for his role in starting the war. As a man of honour, Bethmann Hollweg writes to propose that he be put on trial in place of Wilhelm.

The Allies do not reply.

image:

Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, by Max Liebermann (Wikipedia)

23/6/1919 Nation building and war in Ireland

Irish nationalists continue with their struggle to secure the freedom of their country. The Dáil, Ireland’s self-declared sovereign parliament, is working to create the administrative apparatus of an independent state. To fund its operations it has recently announced a bond issue, with bonds purchasable both within and outside the country. Early indications are that the bond issue will be a great success, with large numbers of people in both Ireland and the United State seeking to buy them. The Dáil is also working to create a parallel court system that will bypass the British controlled system of justice operating in the country.

Irish nationalists are working to internationalise the conflict. De Valera, Sinn Féin leader and president of the Dáil government, has travelled to the United States to court opinion there. Ireland’s cause has already excited much American interest, particularly among those of Irish descent. The US Senate has passed a resolution calling for Irish representatives to be heard at the Paris Conference; Britain’s objections have unfortunately prevented the raising of the Irish question there.

Within Ireland the military campaign for Irish freedom is escalating, as are British attempts to repress it. The country is becoming increasingly militarised and acts of violence are becoming more routine. Earlier this month policemen in Dublin were shot (but not fatally) when dispersing a crowd that had gathered to attend a banned memorial concert for James Connolly. Today meanwhile in Thurles, Michael Hunt of the Royal Irish Constabulary is shot and killed in broad daylight in a street thronged with people returning from a race meeting. A district inspector, he is the most senior policeman to have lost his life in the conflict thus far.

images:

Sinn Féin Court, by Sean Keating (Niall Murray, Twitter)

Michael Hunt (Century Ireland: Policeman murdered on crowded Thurles street)

Men of the South, by Sean Keating (millstreet.ie: the Men of the South)