Headlines from “The Mercury” a Tasmanian newspaper, on 4th January 1915
(Photo: The Mercury/Trove)
Along the Western Front, where many French, German and British troops had briefly escaped the barbarism of trench warfare during the Christmas truce, peace had seemed within reach for that short time. There was faint optimism that the warring nations might return to rational thought and end the carnage.
But that dream was shattered on 31st December when massive artillery fire erupted along much of the front line near Argonne and Moselle, particularly around the heights of the Meuse. This onslaught continued into New Years Day with several German infantry attacks also reported in the area.
The Tasmanian newspaper “The Mercury” reported the Allied communiqué of New Years Day 1915:
The enemy unsuccessfully bombarded Saint Georges in Belgium, today. They also bombarded the defences of the bridgehead over the Yser to the south of Dixmuiden, held by the Belgians, but without result. There were lively cannonades between La Bassee and Carency (three miles south west of Lens) and between Albert and Roye which turned out to our advantage. We demolished some of the Germans’ defence works near Craommelle. Artillerv duels continued without interruption during the whole of Thursday in the region of Perthes and Beausejour. The Germans made a very violent attack along nearly the whole of our front in the Bois de la Grurie, in the Argonnes and gained ground at certain points to the extent of about 50 metres (50 yards). We repulsed six violent attempts made by the Germans to recapture trenches they had lost to the northwest of Flirey, between the Meuse and the Moselle.
Such an onslaught so soon after the tranquillity of Christmas Day was probably a reaction of the various High Commands to the friendliness that had developed between the antagonists during that time. January 1st 1915 heralded in a new year of slaughter that would go on virtually unabated for the next three years.