January 2nd, 2015

The sinking of the Formbidble with the death of 500 sailors was a tragedy for the British Navy, but out of the tragedy came a story that would continue, usually without its origins being known, for years to come as a Hollywood trope.

When bodies from the Formidible began to wash up on the shore near Lyme Regis they were brought to the basement of a pub for organization and identification.  Soon more than 100 bodies were lined up in the basement.  A local half-collie Lassie was seen by many working with the bodies to find one particular one and curl up to it, occasionally licking its nose and seeming to try to warm the dead man back to life.  After several hours of this behavior a caretaker came to take Lassie away, worried that the dog was being traumatized by the dead sailors.  Lassie refused to leave the "dead man" John Cowan's side and was then left to her devices.  When the job of arranging the bodies was finished a caretaker was amazed to discover Cowan moving his hands - this was especially so since each body had been checked several times to assure they were indeed dead, and the mans skin was nearly frozen from the cold.

Cowan survived, and later came to visit the dog that saved his life, who became a local hero.  Lassie would eventually be published as a short story by Erik Knight in 1940 with no reference to the actual original Lassie.  

Another dog, Bruce would also make the news.  Bruce was Captian Loxeley's (commander of the Formidible) dog, who was last seen sitting calmly by his owner as the ship sank.  He would be found washed ashore in Abbotsbury, where he was buried in a local church yard with a grave marker.

HMS Formidable is sunk

January 1st, 2015

The battleship HMS Formidable is sunk off Lyme Regis, Dorset, England by the German submarine U-24.  547 crew are killed.

Christmas Truce

December 25th, 2014

The Christmas truce was 24 to 48 hour period where soldiers on the western front agreed to a limited ceasefire without the authorization of higher authorities.  The truce resulted in significant sections of the line mingling as soldiers used the time to exchange gifts, play soccer, sing carols, and exchange newspapers.

The truce was in part caused by the fact that most soldiers were not fighting for racial, ideological, or religious reasons on the western front, and very little rancor existed among the general soldiers of the line for the other side.  Although a second truce broke out on a limited scale in 1915, by 1916 no more Christmas truces happened as feelings toward the other side had hardened for all armies on the front.

Christmas truces were not common in other European wars.  In the Second World War allied forces would enter into a period of limited offensives in the week before and after Christmas which German units came to expect, but starting 1943 these truces became opportunities for the German army to launch surprise offensives against the allies, culminating with the battle of the Bulge.

The first of the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships joins the UK navy.

December 22nd, 2014

The first of the new class of British Super Dreadnoughts, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is commisioned into the fleet today.  She was a huge ship for her time, displacing 36ktons loaded with a length of 196 meters at the waterline, and armed with the newly debeloped  15-inch BL Mk1 gun.  She would eventually form a 5th (Fast) Battleship Squadron with her 5 sisters in time for Jutland.

The French attacks in Champagne start using the 4th Army

December 20th, 2014

On 15 December Joffre, frustrated in his attempts to find a weak spot in the German line, choose Fernand de Langle de Cary's 4th Army as a tool to attack the German 3rd Army in Champagne.