[From 1917 Examiner Annual]
Since the issue of the Examiner Annual for 1916, there have been important developments in connection with the Great War. Peace is not yet within prospect, but the British and their Allies are full of confidence, and look forward to an ultimate settlement on terms of their dictation. There are good grounds for this feeling, the main one being that on practically all the fronts the initiative has passed from the enemy to the Allies. Towards the end of 1915 we were mainly on the defensive in Europe. Now it is the Germans, Austrians, Turks, and Bulgarians who are fighting desperately to stay the Allied onslaughts. Then Roumania has entered the war on the side of the Allies, and though so far the Roumanian forces have met with misfortune, they are keeping a large body of the enemy busily engaged-a body which might otherwise have been employed along the main fronts.
On December 15th, 1915, General Sir Douglas Haig took over the chief command of the British Forces on the Western front from Field-Marshal Lord French. Trench fighting and, artillery exchanges were the main features along the British and French fronts during the winter months-months of drenching rain and fierce storm. On February 22nd commenced the tremendous onslaught by enormous German armies under the Crown Prince of Prussia with a view to the reduction of Verdun. The resistance of the French must be recorded as outstanding among the brilliant events of the war. Time after time, for over one hundred days, the Germans attacked and were utterly reckless so far as sacrifice of lives was concerned. It is estimated that in killed, wounded, and prisoners, they lost over half a million of men, and such advantages as they reaped were utterly incommensurate with this terrible cost. They succeeded in taking several defences, including Fort Douaumant, and eventually got to within three miles of Verdun when their advance was stayed as a consequence of the British and French attacks on the Somme. To complete the story, the French took the offensive from Verdun in the Autumn, and in the course of a few days, and a trifling loss, regained practically all the positions which the Germans took after over three months' fighting and at the loss of hundreds of thousands of the flower of the German Army. On July 1st, the great combined British and French advance in the region of the Somme opened, and from then to now the allied operations an this portion of the front have been invariably successful. Many square miles of territory have been recaptured from the Germans; many positions so strongly fortified that the Germans frequently boasted of their impregnability have been taken, and about 100,000 Germans have been made prisoners. Altogether, the Germans must have lost close upon a quarter of a million of men, while the Allies losses, though large, are actually and relatively much lower than those of their adversaries. Just now the Allies are favourably situated for an advance upon Bapaume, a place of great importance, which has been made all the easier of approach by reason of a brilliant success gained by the British on November 13th in the region of the River. Ancre. The Somme offensive will ever be memorable for the fact that what are termed " tanks " were first introduced into warfare. These effective engines of war were a British invention, and were brought into use by the British. They caused much material and moral damage to the foe, and were a very appreciable factor in enabling the British and French to capture positions at comparatively, small cost. Truly, everything has, of late, gone well for the Allies in the West.
The unfortunate attempt on theGallipoli Peninsular in conjunction with the effort to force the Dardanelles collapsed late in December of 1915, when the British and French Armies were withdrawn. This withdrawal was a magnificent piece of work, it being accomplished at the cost of very few lives. Most of the important war material was got away, while such as the armies were forced to leave behind was ruthlessly destroyed.
In Egypt, the British have most effectually prevented any invasion by Turkish-Germanic forces. Such fighting as has occurred was invariably resulted in defeat of the enemy, and several desert raids by the British have occasioned the Turks considerable loss. Bombardments from the air have been resorted to on both sides. In convection with the Egyptian front, it is noteworthy that during the rear the Arabs revolted against the Turks and captured Mecca the most holy city of Islam-from the forces of the Sultan.
The British have no reason to regard with much satisfaction the operations in Mesopotamia during the year. After reaching within almost striking distance of Baghdad, our army was compelled to retire upon Kut. Here General Townshend was cut off by the Turks and was besieged for 143 days. A relief force under General Aylmer made gallant efforts to raise the siege, but these were unavailing, and in the spring General Townshend was starved into surrender. The Turks took as prisoners 2,970 British and 6,000 Indian troops.
As the result of war in various parts of Africa, the Germans are now practically de!wic-ed of all their possessions in that great continent. German South-West Africa was conquered for Britain in 1915 by General Louis Botha in command of a South African Union field force. Late in February, 1916, the conquest of the Cameroons was completed by British and allied forces fighting still proceeds in German Fast Africa, but General Smuts, in command of Imperial and South African troops, is rapidly reducing the huge and difficult tract of country. All that remains to be done consists in hunting down the few isolated bodies of men that still hold out for Germany.
Late last year the German-Bulgarian forces completed the over-running of Serbia, notwithstanding the heroic resistance of our gallant little ally. Monastir fell early in December, and with the fall of this town the Serbian army ceased for the time being to exist. A large force of French and British had, however, assembled at Salonika with the reluctant consent of King Constantine of Greece. This force established itself in strong positions, and not only prevented all advance into Greece, but prepared for an offensive later on. The remnants of the Serbian army were re-organised and re-equipped, and Italian and Russian troops were brought in. In the early autumn fierce fighting took place, the gallant Serbians bearing a prominent part. As the outcome, the Allies have made very useful progress. Monastir was re-occupied in the middle of November, and the German-Bulgarian defenders were driven back. It is of peculiar interest to Manx people that one of the service companies furnished by the Isle of Man Volunteers is engaged in these Serbian operations. Allied operations in the Balkans are much hampered by the unfriendly attitude of King Constantine, who, presumably inspired by his Queen a sister of the Kaiser has placed many difficulties in our way. Strong measures have been and are being taken with his Hellenic Majesty with a view to bringing him to a more reasonable frame of mind. M. Venizelos, the Greek patriot, and probably the most influential man in the kingdom, is heart and soul with the Allies. He has boldly parted company with the King and established a Provisional Government which has the support of the bulk of the Greek population. Little Montenegro, the smallest of our Allies, fell into the enemy's hands early in the year, but everything points to this being a temporary loss. Roumania, on entering the war on the side of the Allies, met with considerable success in connection with her invasion of Transylvania, but later experienced defeats at the hands of very strong German and Austrian forces. Fighting is proceeding in the Transylvanian passes and the Dobrudja.
Early in the year, the Russians, who had previously experienced reverses along the long Eastern front, commenced to re-assert themselves. First in the Caucasus they soundly drubbed the Turks and took Erzerum and other strongly fortified places, capturing many prisoners and much war material. Later, the Russians resumed their offensive against the German and Austrian forces, and met with considerable success, more especially in Galicia. In the course of the fighting they heavily defeated the German-Austrian forces on several occasions, capturing altogether about 300,000 prisoners: now our big ally is in front of Lemberg, and great hopes are entertained that this important town may soon fall.
The Italians had ill-luck in May, when the Austrians recovered much ground lost by them in the Trentino and captured about 6,000 Italian prisoners. Later on, however, the Italians more than neutralised this enemy success by. regaining their positions. June, another Italian offensive commenced, and resulted in the rapture of Gorizia and the taking of many thousands of prisoners. Trieste, the great Austrian port on the Adriatic, is now threatened by the Italians.
The British Navy has added to the lustre of its records during the year, and still rules the seas of the world. On June 2nd, the great Battle of Jutland was fought, and resulted in glorious victory for Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and his incomparable seamen. Although the weather conditions favoured the Germans, they were, after the greatest naval fight of history, forced to run for it. " Actually and relatively," to employ Sir John Jellicoe's words, their losses were greater than ours. They lost at least 18 warships against our 14, and never since have they offered to accept the gage of battle which the British Navy ever offers. There have been other minor encounters between British and German sea forces, and in all of these our gallant tars have maintained their high traditions. In November, a flotilla of German torpedo boats attempted to raid the Gulf of Finland, but were driven off by the Russian forts with the loss of several speedy modern craft. A submarine vessel built for commercial purposes the Deutschland crossed from Germany to the United States in July, and subsequently repeated the feat. Another similar craft-the Bremen also attempted the transatlantic crossing, but as nothing has been heard of her it is presumed she has fallen a victim to the watchfulness of the British Navy. The German submarine menace, which abated considerably in the early part of the year, was revived in the Autumn, with the result that many British and neutral merchant vessels were sunk. Steps are being taken to cope with this danger, and, among other things, the British Government are moving in the direction of the control of food supplies and prices. Such control has become highly necessary in consequence of the increasing prices of bread, potatoes, sugar, and milk, to say nothing of flesh meat.
The Germans during the year have maintained their methods of " frightfulness" in many directions. Passenger-carrying steamers have been sunk at sea without previous warning, and with considerable loss of life, while there have been many air-raids both by air- ships (Zeppelins) and aeroplanes. It is satisfactory to note that in Great Britain three Zeppelins were brought down either by British airmen or anti-aircraft guns, while others have been destroyed on the Continent or while crossing over the sea. Horrible revelations revelations authenticated to the full have been forthcoming as to the treatment of British prisoners in German internment camps. It is to be hoped that in due course the scoundrels responsible for the abominable neglect and torture of our men will receive. punishment fitting their crimes.
On June 6th, a great blow befell Britain in the loss at sea of Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener, Secretary of State for War. In under two years this great soldier and organiser transformed Great Britain from a third rate into a first rate military Power. By voluntary enlistment he raised a, splendidly-trained and fully equipped army of four millions of men, and otherwise so ordered matters that the Germans were decisively checked in their long prepared-far effort to overrun Europe. Accompanied by a special party, Lord Kitchener was on the way to Russia on a special mission. He was travelling on H.M.C. Hampshire, which vessel when West of the Orkneys, struck a, mine and went down. Most of those on board were drowned, including the soldier who had don so much to nave the Empire.
Compulsory Military Service was brought into operation for Great Britain during the year-first as to single men between 18 and 41, and subsequently as to married men between 18 and 41 So far as compulsory service of single men was concerned, the Insular Legislature unanimously requested the Imperial Government to extend the system to the Isle of Man, but with regard to compulsion of married men, there was some demur in the House of Keys A big majority of the Tynwald Court, however, decided that the Imperial Authorities, should be asked to make such compulsion operative in the Island. Both requests were granted, and the Military Service Acts were made applicable to the Island, an, Tribunals for dealing with applications for exemption were constituted.
Towards the end of November, 1915, the death of the Emperor of Austria, (Franz Josef) was announced. He had reigned for over sixty years, but his life was clouded by many untoward events connected with the Imperial family. For a year before his death he had been physically and mentally incapacitated from taking any part in the affairs of his Empire.
The closing week of November, too, was marked by inhuman outrage on the part of the Germans. Contrary to all the rules of civilised warfare, they sank by torpedo-fire two large British hospital ships, notwithstanding that the merciful character of these craft was indisputably indicated. Previously the enemy had also sunk hospital ships, and this aggravation of such dastardly conduct occasioned expressions of horror and indignation throughout the world, outside enemy countries.
The prospect towards the close of November was that the war would continue for a considerable time, but there was abundant confidence in Allied countries that the only possible termination must consist in the crushing defeat of the Central Empires and their duped Allies. So far as Britons were concerned, there was greater determination. than ever to fight on until the menace of Prussian militarism was utterly wiped away.
The prejudicial effect of the war upon a section of the population of the Isle of Man was maintained in enhanced degree during 1916. Hopes entertained early in the year that the Admiralty would release the vessels of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's fleet requisitioned in connection with the war were not realised, with the result that there was again no, season worth speaking about. Notwithstanding lack of transport facilities, some 36,000 visitors were brought to the Island by the steamers available, which was practically double the number landed in 1915. The distress which prevailed among boarding-house keepers and others dependent for livelihood upon holiday-makers was in same measure relieved by legislation providing for grants from the Insular Exchequer in relief of rates, and conferring borrowing powers upon the rating authorities, also, in relief of rates; but considerable dissatisfaction was expressed that such relief did not take into account rates' for 1915. So strong was the feeling in this matter that several persons resisted payment of the 1915 rates in determined fashion, and there were unedifying scenes in connection with the proceedings far enforcement of payment. Mr Samuel Norris, leader of the agitation demanding relief for 1915 rates, was sent to gaol for contempt of court in hindering and obstructing the process of the court. He almost immediately petitioned the Home Secretary for release, and his petition was supported by a memorial signed by some three thousand residents in the Island. Mr Herbert Samuel, however, declined to interfere with what he declared was the Lieut.-Governor's prerogative, and Mr Norris, after undergoing twenty-eight days' imprisonment, apologised for, and undertook not to repeat, his contempt, whereupon 'he was discharged from gaol by the High Court.
Very many Manx families are in mourning for men who have made the supreme sacrifice while serving against the enemy on land or sea. The casualty lists have indeed included the names of a large number of Manx soldiers and sailors especially soldiers. It is some consolation that most of these come under the headings "wounded" or " missing," or " prisoners of war," but a considerable proportion of our gallant Manx lads have died on the field of honour.
While the war has spelled hardship and even ruin for some people in the, Island, it has undoubtedly enriched in substantial fashion the farmers o£ agricultural land. Prices of agricultural produce have gone up enormously oats have sold at 32s 6d per boll, and potatoes at £12 per ton, prices never even approached in height within living memory. Cattle, sheep, and pigs, too, have yielded the farmers huge profits, and altogether what is now the leading industry of the Island has made tremendous advances because of Germany's effort to materialise a dream of world power.
Towards the end of the year. further efforts were being made to bring about restoration of a sufficient service of passenger-boats between the Island and the mainland in the summer of 1917. These efforts were being influentially supported. and strong hopes were entertained that they would prove suceessful.
14th. Four German prisoners escaped from Knockaloe
Camp. They were captured the same evening while attempting, to put to sea
from Peel in a motor-yawl.
22nd. Fatality at Crogga Hill (Santon). Traction engine with threshing mill attached dashed into a wall, crushing to death the two men in charge.
23rd. Death of Mr John Casement, engineer, Douglas; for over half-a-century in the service of the Isle of Man Steam Packet company.
24th. Annual meeting of the Isle of Man Banking Company, Ltd. Dividend of 15 per cent. per annum.
1st. Tynwald Court pass resolution requesting the Imperial Government to,
extend the Military Service (No. 2) Act to Isle of Mom,.
7th. H.M.S. Peel Castle reported on fire in the Straits of Dover.
16th. Great storm, causing the Manx steamer service to, be dis-organised.
29th. Annual meeting of Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Ltd. Dividend of 7 per cent. declared.
29th. Military Service Act, by Order in Council, extended to the Isle of Man.
10th. £20,000 voted by Tynwald in relief of rates for the year 1916-17.
21st. Adjourned meeting of Tynwald to consider means of recouping the Accumulated Fund, depleted (prospectively) by the grant in relief of rates. Deputy-Governor (Mr T. Kneen) submitted proposals for the imposition of Estate Duty, Land Tax, House Tax, and Tea Duty. Additional tax of sixpence per pound imposed on tea, bringing the duty up to elevenpence. During discussion, there was some straight talk by members of the Keys concerning the attitude of the Legislative Council re Income Tax.
24th. Military Service (Isle of Man) Act, 1916, came into operation, whereby all single men: between the ages of 19 and 41 were deemed to have enlisted in the Army for the period of the war.
29th. Annual meeting of Employees' Hospital Fund at Douglas. Total amount collected during the year 1915, £87 17s 9d. 27th. Mr J. D. Farquhar, an interpreter at the Douglas Alien Detention Camp, awarded £10 damages in the High Court against Brown and Sons, Ltd., for libel published in the " Daily Times."
4th, 5th, and 6th. Twenty-fifth annual Manx Music Festival successfully held
at Villa Marina, Douglas.
6th. Disturbance at Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp. The disturbers, on being ordered to disperse, refused, whereupon a sentry opened fire and three prisoners were wounded.
24th (Easter Monday). Opening of Michael Primitive Methodist new hall and Sunday-school.
9th. At a meeting, of Tynwald, a motion that the Military Service Bill be extended to the Isle of Man was carried without dissent. An amendment was moved by Mr Cormode to, add the words "The Manx Legislature is agreeable to, its extension to the Island if his Majesty's Government so desires," his plea being that the number of men available under, the Act was inconsiderable. In the Keys, Messrs Kermode, Southward, Radcliffe, Walton, Cowell, Quine, Cormode, and Crennell voted for the amendment, which was lost.
20th. Summer-Time Act, extended to the Isle of Man by an Order in Council, came into force. At 2 a.m. on Sunday the hands of all public and most private clocks were put forward one hour.
28th. Death of Mr John J. Davidson (jeweller), Douglas, a public-spirited townsman. He was the senior local preacher in the Douglas Wesleyan Circuit, having been on the "plan" 53 years.
31st. Death of Mr Robert J. Kelly, senior representative of Athol Ward in the Douglas Town Council.
31st. Great sea fight off the coast of Jutland, between the British and German fleets. After a prolonged battle, the Germans retreated to their base. The casualties included three Manxmen killed.
5th. Informal visit to Douglas and the Alien (camps of the Right Hon. Herbert
Samuel, his Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Home Affairs.
6th. H.M.S. Hampshire, with Lord Kitchener and staff on board, sunk by mine or torpedo off the Orkney Islands. All hands lost with the exception of seven men who were rescued from a raft.
16th. Elijah Oliver, of Lonan, a conscientious objector to Military Service, refusing to obey an order to join the Army, was conveyed to, the steamer en route far Liverpool on a stretcher.
20th. Annual Financial Statement issued from the Isle of Man Government Office. The surplus for the year 1916-17 amounted to £18,149.
20th. Third reading of the Estate Duties Bill passed by the House of Keys by 13 votes to 10. The Land Tax Bill was rejected.
24th. Death of Mr Sam Watterson, of Douglas, formerly of Port St. Mary; aged 74.
29th. Lord Raglan returned to the Island after an absence extending over nine months.
5th. Celebration of the ancient ceremony at Tynwald Hill. The occasion was
marked by demonstrations against food taxes and alleged insufficiency of the
grants made by Tynwald in aid of war distress. A. memorial, which included a
demand for the resignation of Lord Raglan, was presented to the Lieutenant-Governor
on Tynwald Hill.
5th. Annual open-air gathering of the W.M.A. at. Bishopscourt.
11th. Meeting of Tenwald. An effort was made by eight members of the Keys to reduce indirect taxation, and to make up any deficiency in revenue by imposing direct taxes; but the whole of the food taxes were re-imposed. In regard to the petition presented to the Lieut.-Governor on Tynwald Day, a committee of the Court was appointed to examine the document. They reported it " contained expressions which were not respectful, decorous, nor was it temperate of language." Acceptance of the petition was therefore refused.
20th. Death of Mr W. J. Radcliffe, M.H.K., J.P., of Ballaradcliffe, Andreas.
22nd. Death of Mr J. T. W. Wicksey, B.A., B. Mus., headmaster of Castletown Grammar School.
Sth. At a Court of General Gaol Delivery, Sergt. John Williams, R.D.C., Knockaloe
Camp, charged with the murder of Col.-Sergt. William H. Malings, was found guilty
of murder, qualified by the finding that at the time Williams was of unsound
mind. Sentence was passed that he be detained during his Majesty's pleasure.
Arthur John Anderson, charged with criminally assaulting a child of 3½ years,
was sentenced to fifteen years' penal servitude.
16th. Death of Rev. T. M. Pinnock, Iiitt. D., retired P.M. minister, Douglas; President of the Manx Free Church Council.
16th. The Estate Duties Bill signed in Tynwald, imposing direct taxation for the first time in the Island. It is provided that the funds raised under the measure shall be assigned for Old Age Pensions.
28th. Death of Mr James Murray Cruickshank, High-Bailiff of Ramsey and Peel.
29th. Lady Raglan announced her intention not to appear at any future public functions in the Isle of Man owing to attacks directed against her husband.
9th. Announcement made that Mrs Sophia Teare (a native of the Isle of Man);
of Chokio, U.S.A., who died on July 24th in that cite, in her will bequeathed
500 dollars to the Ramsey Hospital, and 500 dollars each to Ramsey and Douglas,
to be distributed among the wives of deceased and poor soldiers and sailors.
14th. Mimic Tynwald Ceremony at St. John's, organised by the London Film Company in connection with the adoption as a screen-play of Mr Hall Caine's book, " The Manxman."
15th. Owing to an outbreak of swine fever, 200 pigs were slaughtered at Kerroo Dhoo, Foxdale, under the Cattle Diseases Prevention; Act.
6th. Uproarious proceedings marked an attempted sale of house-hold furniture
in Douglas in connection with the enforcement of judgment against ten persons
in respect of unpaid borough rates for the year 1915.
13th. Death of Mr Flaxney Stowell, of Castletown, aged 70 years.
20th. Mr Samuel Norris (secretary of the War Rights Union) and eight Douglas householders were prosecuted, at the instance of Mr S. C. Craige (Coroner of Middle Sheading), on a charge of contempt of court, it being alleged that they obstructed the coroner in the carrying out of a sale of goods seized under execution of the High Court for payment of rates due the Douglas Town Council for the year 1915. Lord Raglan, Deemster Moore, and Deemster Callow were on the bench. Mr Norris maintained that he had not wilfully caused any obstruction. He was found guilty by the court, and, refusing to apologise, was committed to gaol until be purged his contempt. Others of the defendants, also refusing to apologise, were fined £1 each.
21st. " Our Day" collections in Douglas on behalf of the Red Cross Society and Order of St. John. £202 was collected. 24th. Mr Samuel Norris, imprisoned on charge of contempt of court, petitioned the Home Secretary for release.
25th. The ketch " Gladys," bound from Manchester to Douglas with 100 tons of coal, was wrecked at Douglas during a fierce storm. The crew of four were drowned. Three bodies were subsequently recovered.
28th. Accident to the train from Port Erin due Douglas at 5-10 p.m. When ,entering the cutting at the Nunnery Grounds, the engine left the rails and dashed into the embankment. The fireman sustained a broken collar-bone. The engine was slightly damaged. At a Children Court, subsequently, three boys were charged with placing two bulks of sand and a stone on the railway line, causing the engine to become derailed. Two, parents were fined £2 each, and one parent £l.
2nd. Death of Mr Josiah Lawton, T.C., of Ramsey. He had served twelve years
as a Town Commissioner.
6th. Rise in prices of flour and bread announced by Isle of Man Bakers' Association-the quartern loaf. tenpence.
7th. Order in Council issued releasing the I.O.M. Volunteers from actual military service.
9th. Alderman J. T. Faragher installed Mayor of Douglas for the ensuing year.
10th. Answering questions in the House of Commons, the Home Secretary said he had received the petition for release of Mr Samuel Morris, imprisoned for contempt of court, but by constitutional usage the prerogative in such a case rested with the Lieut.-Governor. Mr Samuel further stated that, in regard to the petition for Reform and the removal of the Governor, no representations had been made to him by the Manx Legislature. Accordingly he had not ;seen his way to take any action in the matter.
14th. At a sitting of the Legislative Council, consideration of the seven Constitutional Reform Bills was deferred until the termination of the war.
15th. Death of Mr William Todhunter, J.P., of Douglas, one of the founders of the firm of Todhunter and Elliot, Ltd., Duke-street; aged 78 years.
17th. Mr Samuel Norris, imprisoned for contempt of court, was released upon apologising for his action and giving the court the requisite undertakings. Mr Norris spent 28 days in gaol.
18th. Mr William Alma Sale, a famous Manx baritone, died in hospital at Manchester, in his 53rd year.
21st. Order in Council promulgated empowering the Lieutenant-Governor to prohibit any meeting or procession calculated to give rise to grave disorder, conduce to a breach of the peace, or promote disaffection.
23rd. Death of Mr Thomas Kneen, Glencrutchery, H.M. Clerk of the Rolls, aged 64 years.
25th. Mr J. A. Brown, editor of the " Isle of Man Times," charged before the High Court with contempt of court in commenting on the imprisonment of Mr. S. Norris. Mr Brown apologised and was ordered to put his apology in affidavit form and appear again on the 28th. He complied, with the aid of counsel. The court accepted the apology and imposed a fine of £50.