15/6/1919 Alcock and Brown conquer the Atlantic

It is barely 15 years since the first aeroplane took to the skies. Since then aviation has progressed in leaps and bounds. The recent war has seen a further rapid development of the aeroplane, as each nation struggled to build new aircraft that could more effectively best their enemies. As a result the aeroplane now is almost unimaginably more advanced than the primitive model flown by the Wright Brothers at Kittyhawk.
Today an astonishing new chapter in aviation opens. Yesterday British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown took off from Newfoundland. Their goal is to successfully cross the Atlantic, thereby earning a place in the history books and a prize of £10,000 being offered by the Daily Mail. And today, after 16 hours in the air Alcock and Brown crash land safely near Clifden in the west of Ireland. Their journey has been a difficult one, with cloud making navigation difficult and inclement weather at times threatening to force them down into the sea, but they have succeeded in their mission. The Atlantic has been conquered.
After a civic reception in Galway, Alcock and Brown take the train to Dublin, where they receive a rapturous welcome from excitable students of Trinity College Dublin. They will proceed on to England to claim their prize.


Alcock and Brown taking off in Newfoundland and their aeroplane after crash landing in Connemara (Wikipedia)

Trinity students fête Alcock and Brown on their arrival in Dublin (Century Ireland)

14/6/1919 Race riots in Cardiff

Some demobilised British soldiers have struggled to find suitable employment on their return home. In coastal cities this has led to resentment against members of various ethnic minorities, seen by some of the disaffected veterans as having taken jobs that are rightfully theirs. Race riots have already erupted in Glasgow, Liverpool and London, with white British men attacking those of darker skin. Earlier this month this unsavoury racist violence spread to Wales, with Black, Asian and Arab residents attacked by rioters in Newport and Barry.

The worst of the violence erupted three days ago in Cardiff and is only subsiding now. The trouble may have begun when a white mob was incensed at the sight of black men and white women travelling together in a car. Others suggest the spark that ignited the violence was a young white man dying in hospital after reporting that a black man had slit his throat. Either way the city soon descended into bedlam, with white mobs attacking anyone from an ethnic minority. Initially the violence was confined to the port area, with boarding houses catering to Arabs and men from the Caribbean ransacked, but the rioting quickly spread through the city, with mobs setting upon any non-white person they can find (and in at least one instance beating up the white wife of a man from Barbados who had made his escape). At least two men lose their lives in the Cardiff rioting, one of whom is an Irishman shot when he was attacking the home of a Somali priest. Hundreds are injured.

Order is now at last beginning to be restored thanks to the deployment of troops on the streets of Cardiff.

images source: ‘One thousand people came rioting down the street’: Reliving a notorious chapter in Cardiff’s past (ITV)

see also:

Race riots in Cardiff and Liverpool leave three dead (Century Ireland)

Remembering the 1919 Cardiff Race Riots (National Museum Wales)

Remembering the Newport Race Riots of 1919 (Wales Arts Review)

13/6/1919 The pendulum swings against the Red Army in Ukraine and south Russia

With unfortunate timing, the Allies have conferred partial recognition on Admiral Kolchak as leader of Russia now that the Red Army has successfully struck back against him; his army no longer threatens to break into European Russia and overthrow the Communists.

The Bolshevik situation is less promising in the south. The Red Army had overrun Ukraine, advancing as far as the pre-war frontiers, but their overstretched forces now face revolts by forces following Nikifor Grigoriev (previously a Bolshevik ally) and the anarchist partisans of Nestor Makhno.

Soviet control of Ukraine is also being contested by Denikin‘s counter-revolutionary Volunteer Army. Bolshevik repression of the Cossacks has pushed them to revolt, which has allowed Denikin’s forces to break through and advance north. Denikin’s men have pushed back the Red Army and advanced into south eastern Ukraine, where they have in turn defeated Makhno’s anarchists. Today Kharkov falls to Denikin’s field commander May-Mayevsky, whose dissolute character does not stop him being an effective military commander.

Denikin and May-Mayevsky have certain key advantages over their enemies. The men of the Volunteer Army are highly trained and far better motivated than the Red Army’s conscripts. They also possess an abundance of cavalry and have received plenty of supplies and military equipment from the Allies, which May-Mayevsky has proved adept at using to good effect. With the Volunteer Army’s star clearly in the ascendant, further defeats for the Red Army in Ukraine look to be inevitable.


Vladimir May-Mayevsky (Wikipedia)

9/6/1919 De Valera courts American opinion, but Lloyd George blocks consideration of the Irish question in Paris

In Ireland Sinn Féin politicians elected in December’s general election have chosen not to attend the House of Commons in London; instead they have assembled in Dublin, declaring themselves to be Dáil Éireann, the sovereign parliament of the Irish nation. Making Irish independence a reality is proving however proving difficult. Members of the Irish Republican Army are attempting to wage a guerrilla war against British forces in Ireland, but IRA actions are showing no great sign of forcing the British to evacuate the country. Dáil Éireann meanwhile has so far failed to make itself the actual centre of political power in Ireland, with real authority still lying with the British administration centred in Dublin Castle.

Sinn Féin leaders are attempting to internationalise their struggle, hoping that other nations will pressurise the British to yield to Ireland’s claims. At its first meeting, the Dáil issued a Message to the Free Nations of the World, asking them to support Irish freedom. The Dáil has sent a delegation to Paris, but the conference has declined to hear it.

Irish nationalists have had more success in the United States, where Irish Americans are sympathetic to Ireland’s cause. De Valera, the leader of Sinn Féin, has crossed the Atlantic and is having some success drumming up interest in the Irish question. The Senate recently passed a resolution calling for the Paris Conference to hear the Irish delegation. Leading Irish Americans have travelled to Paris, to lobby Wilson to have the conference hear the Irish delegation. Political concerns oblige Wilson to meet the Irish Americans, but he is non-committal. Lloyd George is too important to risk antagonising over the Irish issue.

Nevertheless, Wilson today sounds Lloyd George on whether the Paris Conference might discuss the Irish question, but the British prime minister is clear that this is something that he could not countenance; any attempt by the conference to discuss Ireland would lead to a political crisis in London, with the likelihood that Lloyd George’s government would fall. This would cause great upset to the conference’s progress, which is now at an advanced stage. Wilson makes clear to Lloyd George that he has no intention of pressing the issue.

image source:

Éamon De Valera after being made an honorary chief of the Chippewa nation (in October 1919) (History Hub: Eamon De Valera – The Chief) (The linked-to page includes an interesting newspaper report of De Valera’s visit to the Chippewa, including excerpts from De Valera’s speech, in which he draws parallels between the experiences of the Irish and the Native Americans)

7/6/1919 Sette Giugno: Unrest in Malta, killings by British troops

Britain is facing unrest in Ireland, India and Egypt. Now little Malta joins the ranks of territories causing problems for their British masters. The island has seen the price of basic foodstuffs climb out of the reach of ordinary people since the war ended. Today Valetta erupts in rioting, with the material complaints of the Maltese crossing over into a political dissatisfaction with the British that sees building flying the Union Jack attacked. Three Maltese are shot by British troops and many others wounded, but the city remains in a chaotic state.

The unrest and the killing of Maltese rioters has the effect of increasing support in Malta for nationalist politicians, some of whom favour a closer relationship with Italy. But for General Plumer, recently appointed as Malta’s governor general, the lesson is clear: the Maltese must be conciliated by being offered a greater share in the administration and governance of their island.


Student demonstrators at the university (Times of Malta: Malta and Me – colonial politics, Il-Gross and university students)

British soldiers and demonstrators (Maltese History & Heritage: Uprisings & Revolts)

3/6/1919 At Lloyd George’s behest, the Allies agree on a plebiscite to decide Upper Silesia’s future

The German peace terms in were a compromise between French desires to see Germany weakened and British and American fears of so antagonising Germany that it would seek revenge in a future war. Since then the British in particular have started worrying that they compromised too much. They are impressed by Germany’s counterproposals, which appeal to Wilson‘s Fourteen Points, and begin to wonder whether the peace terms might be ameliorated. In this Britain’s Lloyd George is supported by the wider British Empire delegation, with South Africa’s Smuts saying now that the reparations being sought from Germany are excessive.
Because the peace terms took so long to negotiate, the Wilson is extremely wary of attempting to revise them, while Clemenceau is naturally opposed to any change that would strengthen Germany. Nevertheless, Lloyd George scores a success today, when he persuades the others to accept a plebiscite in Upper Silesia on whether the territory should be part of Germany or Poland. The Poles see Upper Silesia as a natural part of their country, so no one is surprised when Paderewski protests on behalf of the Polish delegation, but Lloyd George is insistent that the Upper Silesians must themselves choose where their future lies. Organising a plebiscite will be a difficult matter, probably requiring the deployment of Allied troops to ensure it is conducted fairly, but Lloyd George sees this as a price worth paying.

image source:

Upper Silesia (Bud’s Big Blue: Upper Silesia)

2/6/1919 Austria’s peace terms: no more submarines

The Allies in Paris have presented their peace terms to the Germans. Now at the palace of St. Germain the Austrians receive theirs. Austria is one of the successor states to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, like Hungary seen as part of the imperial centre that ruled over various subject peoples. As such the Austrians are seen as a defeated enemy, even if they clearly played second fiddle in the war to the Germans.

The Austrian peace terms have been prepared in a rush, largely copied from those presented to Germany (they even include a provision barring the landlocked country from operating any submarines). But there are some differences. Unlike the Germans, the Austrians are not being asked to accept responsibility for starting the war (which is curious, given the role played by Austrian leaders in starting the war). The Austrian terms are also more vague with regards to the country’s obligations to pay reparations, with it being tacitly accepted that Austria lacks the resources to provide compensation for damage inflicted by its armed forces. Nevertheless the terms contain provisions that are unpalatable to the Austrians: the loss of the Sudetenland and unfavourable border adjustments in favour of Italy and Yugoslavia. But Karl Renner, Austria’s prime minister and the head of its delegation, delivers a conciliatory speech indicating his country’s likely acceptance of the terms offered. That endears him to his Allied counterparts and provides something of a contrast to Brockdorff-Rantzau‘s haughty response to the German terms.

image source:

Chancellor Karl Renner arriving n Paris (AK Wien Kultur : Die erkämpfte Republik. 1918/1919 in Fotografien, Wien Museum Karlsplatz)