The Great War Bookshop Diary, February, 2015 – 1915.


Sunday, February 1st

Germany decides on unrestricted submarine warfare as bread rationing is introduced in Berlin. British football legend, Sir Stanley Matthews, is born in Stoke.

 Monday, February 2nd

A colonel in the Turkish infantry, Mustafa Kemal, starts organising troops on the Gallipoli peninsula to resist an invasion by sea.

Tuesday, February 3rd

Turkish troops attempt to cross the Suez canal with a co-ordinated attack at three places but are easily repulsed. In South Africa, the last pro-German rebels surrender.

 Wednesday, February 4th

Germany publicly declares its new policy on submarine warfare and warns that all ships in British waters are henceforth regarded as legitimate prey.

Thursday, February 5th

Parliament votes to increase the size of the British army to 3,000,000 men.

Friday, February 6th

On the Western Front the war goes underground. The British are mining at La Bassee while the Germans detonate three mines a La Boiselle.

Saturday, February 7th

The Kaiser visits the Eastern Front and braves a blizzard to see the start of an ambitious new offensive against the Russians at Masuria.

Sunday, February 8th

At the British military base at Rouen, the Church Army opens the first civilian-run recreation hut for soldiers heading to and from the Western Front.

 Monday, February 9th

Sandstorms impede the British pursuit of Turks retreating across Sinai from Suez.

Tuesday, February 10th

Now the rebels in South Africa have surrendered, the British turn their attention to the German colony next door whither many have fled.

Wednesday, February 11th

The South African Prime Minister, General Louis Botha, sails for South West Africa (modern Namibia) to command his troops personally.

Thursday, February 12th

At the instigation of Lloyd George, the formation is under way of a new regiment, the Welsh Guards.

Friday, February 13th

Boats kitted with steel nets patrol the English channel to snare German submarines. Railway workers in receive a war bonus.

Saturday, February 14th

The German offensive on the Eastern Front clears the Russians out of East Prussia.

 Sunday, February 15th

A mutiny by Indian troops in Singapore is suppressed with summary executions after nearly 40 Europeans are killed.

Monday, February 16th

In the face of the German submarine threat, the British government prioritise shipping for transporting troops and supplies to Gallipoli.

Tuesday, February 17th

Aircraft launched from HMS Ark Royal reconnoitre the Turkish forts guarding the Dardanelles channel and the Gallipoli peninsula.

Wednesday, February 18th

The year’s first session of the Italian parliament opens with a clamour for war against Austria to reclaim historical territories.

Thursday, February 19th

French and British battleships open a methodical bombardment of the Dardanelles forts.

Friday, February 20th

Winston Churchill, in bed with the flu, holds a meeting with officials to form a Landship Committee to design and build a prototype tank.

Saturday, February 21st

American diplomats work to broker a deal in London and Berlin to halt submarine attacks on neutral shipping.

Sunday, February 22nd

The Germans end their Masuria offensive after driving back the Russians with heavy casualties.

Monday, February 23rd

Troops from South Africa march on German settlements in South West Africa. Anti-submarine nets are deployed in the Irish Sea.

Tuesday, February 24th

In Austria, the government takes over the distribution of flour and grain.

 Wednesday, February 25th

The bombardment of the Dardanelles forts resumes with the Royal Navy’s most powerful battleship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, joining in.

Thursday, February 26th

The Germans use flame-throwers for the first time, against French troops near Verdun. Royal Marines land at the Dardanelles to blow up Turkish artillery.

Friday, February 27th

The despatch of the 46th (North Midland) Division to France heralds the arrival on the Western Front of Britain’s Territorial Army.

Saturday, February 28th

Lloyd George urges speedy progress on the supply of munitions. A merchant ship in the Channel rams a German submarine – the first attack of its kind.

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