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~ Today in World War I History - December 24 ~

1914

Western Front:
- British bomb German airsheds at Brussels.
- Dover bombed by German aeroplane.
- French successes at Perthes-les-Hurlus (Champagne) and Consenvoye (Meuse).

Eastern Front:
- Reported rising of Romanians in Transylvania.

Naval and Overseas Operations
- Portguese Colony of Angola (south-west Africa) invaded by Germans.

Political, etc.
- Morocco: Great Britain recognises French Protectorate.
- 134,000 German and 225,000 Austrian prisoners claimed by Russia to date

1915

Eastern Front:
- Heavy fighting on the River Strypa.

Southern Front:
- Salonika in state of defence; Germans disturbed at Allied occupation.

Naval and Overseas Operations:
- French liner "Ville de la Ciotat" torpedoed Mediterranean, 80 lives lost.

1916:

Eastern Front:
- Battle continues near Ramnicu Sarat.

Southern Front:
- Lively British raids on Doiran front.

1917:

Western Front:
- Mannheim (Rhine) heavily bombed by British airmen.

Eastern Front:
- German forces not sent west or to Italy being massed on southern and Romanian fronts.
- Telegraph between Petrograd and south-west interrupted by Ukraine authorities.

Southern Front:
- Italians regain much of lost ground near the Brenta.
- Snow severe on Italian front.
- French raids in Albania.

Naval and Overseas Operations:
- British seaplanes bomb Bruges Docks and other aerodromes.

1918

Eastern Front:
- Perm taken by the Russo-Czechs, with many prisoners and guns.

Political, etc.
- Fighting in Berlin between discontented sailors and Government troops ends in success of latter.

1919

Aftermath of War:
- Command of British troops in France reduced to a Brigadier-General's.


December 24, 1918

American soldier John Douglas writes home from post-armistice France

On Christmas Eve, 1918, Major John N. Douglas writes to his wife and young daughter from Mayenne, France, telling them of the challenges still faced by the soldiers in his regiment more than a month after World War I officially ended.

According to Douglas, he and his fellows were the first American troops to arrive in the area around Mayenne, located in the Normandy region in northwestern France. The brutally wet and cold conditions they encountered there, combined with the scarcity of supplies, clearly disheartened Douglas.

"I arrived in Maron about noon on the 19th – and we waited there until…the 21st before the train came. It rained continuously – the mud was 2" to 6" deep – there was no place to sleep – no fires – no water to drink – and very little warm food…In France at this season…it gets dark very early – about 4:00 – and as there is practically no kerosene – and candles being very high – everybody goes to bed at dusk – in fact by 6:30 everybody in the small town is asleep – we turned in at 6:00 – It was miserable – wet – cold – no lights – no fires – Oh hell…"

The Normandy area Douglas writes of in this letter, ravished by the Great War, would later become the staging ground for another great clash of arms during World War II.



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