Page 1

Allied Bombardment of the Dardanelles (21 April 1915)

Throughout March and April, the Canadian Press Service regularly reported on the progress of the Allied fleet through the Dardanelles, the strait which leads from the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey’s capital, Constantinople.
The fleet of British warships systematically bombarded the Turkish forts in the strait. The forts were unable to slow their advance because of the inferior range of their guns. The only thing that slowed the fleet’s advancement was mines in the water. Meanwhile, the Russian fleet was applying pressure in the Black Sea to the north of Constantinople.
The Entente optimistically assumed they would “hammer” their way through the Dardanelles by Easter (April 4). Although they did not meet this objective, by April 21, 20 000 British and French troops landed in Turkey, and by the end of the month the Entente were reportedly capturing entire battalions of Ottoman forces. Their successes bolstered the confidence of the Entente.

(“Pounding at the Forts,” Ayr News, 11 March 1915.; “Turks in Terror,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 6 March 1915.; “Allies Will Hammer Way Through the Dardanelles by Easter,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 13 March 1915.; “British and French Troops in Turkey,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 21 April 1915. “Entire Turkish Battalion Captured by Allies,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 29 April 1915.
Visual: “Turks Batteries Reduced.” Ayr News, 18 March 1915.; “Scene of History Making Bombardment by the Allied Fleets in Turkish Waters,” Waterloo Chronicle, 18 March 1915.)image-11Scene of History Making Bombardment by the Allied Fleets in Turkish Waters


The Second Battle of Ypres (19-26 April 1915)

The Second Battle of Ypres, a town in Belgium, was the first major battle in which Canadians fought. As the week went on, the dispatches from London reported the important contributions of Canadians including the recapture of four 4.7-inch guns and the capture of a large number of German prisoners. A number of British officials and Prime Minister sent their congratulations and appreciation to the Canadian officers at the front for their valour and gallantry.
This was also the first battle in which the Germans used chlorine gas that in many cases caused acute bronchitis and resulted in death by asphyxiation. By the end of the week, the British government was responding to an outcry from the public to supply the troops with gas masks.
By the time the battle was over, Canada suffered 6000 casualties. This amounted to one third of their effective strength in April 1915. This would contribute to the call for increased strength in the coming months.

(James Wood, Militia Myths: Ideas of the Canadian Citizen Soldier, 1896-1921, (Toronto: UBC Press, 2010): 224-225.; “British Troops Score Big Triumph in Ypres District,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 20 April 1915.; “Canadians Saved the Line,” Ayr News, 29 April 1915.; “Canadians Praised,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 26 April 1915.; “Die of Acute Bronchitis,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 29 April 1915.; “Request for Respirators Was Prompt,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 29 April 1915.

"The Second Battle of Ypres" by Richard Jack

“The Second Battle of Ypres” by Richard Jack


The War Hits Home (29 April 1915)

The heavy casualties of the Second Battle of Ypres suddenly made Canadians more aware of their vulnerability. It also inspired involvement, particularly in areas like Toronto and Ottawa, because an especially high number of casualties originated from these areas.
At the end of April, there was still widespread confidence in the Allies and the war effort. Nonetheless, the rising Canadian casualty count was beginning to cause concern over the sustainability of the Canadian war effort.
A report from Ottawa indicated that over 300 Canadian soldiers had died up to that point and the total casualties were over 1000. This led to concerns that Canada and the Entente might not be able to recruit and train more men in time to replace the mounting casualties.
Reports of high casualties stressed the importance of patriotism and perseverance. By late 1915, these ideas would contribute to a heavy and aggressive push for recruitment in all parts of the country, and not least of all in Waterloo.

(James Wood, Militia Myths: Ideas of the Canadian Citizen Soldier, 1896-1921, (Toronto: UBC Press, 2010): 225.; “Canadians’ Death Roll Totals over 300,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 22 April 1915.; “The War is Coming Home to Canadians,” Elmira Signet, 29 April 1915.)The War is Coming Home to Canadians


The Call for Recruitment Picks Up (20 May 1915)

On May 20, Canada was requested to provide seven new battalions and several artillery brigades which would amount to an increase of 10 000 men. This would be added to those in training and the estimated 60 000 Canadian troops already overseas.
Around the same time, it was estimated that there were 250 000 men in Canada who had received military training at some point and were still under the age of 45. The response to the call for more troops was successful, and the order for 10 000 more men was filled promptly.
Three weeks later, on June 9, Minister of Militia, Sam Hughes called for another 35 000 troops. This meant that the Canadian Army’s forces would be increased to a total of 150 000.

(“Ten Thousand More Troops,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 21 May 1915.; “K. of C. Urge Men to Enlist,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 25 May 1915.; “Large Force Can Be Raised,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 2 June 1915; “Hughes Wants 35,000,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 9 June 1915.

Minister of Militia Sam Hughes

Minister of Militia Sam Hughes


Recruiting Posters (29 June 1915)

The Berlin Daily Telegraph received propaganda posters from Britain and proudly displayed them in the windows of their office. The poster campaign in Britain was reportedly remarkably large (3-4 million posters distributed) and unprecedented.
Charles E. Lauriat, Jr., who worked for a Boston publisher, was interviewed after his return from Britain. He said that the posters were highly effective in boosting patriotism and encouraging enlistment. He claimed that, “the Monday after the Lusitania disaster, it was impossible to get within fifty yards of the door of the recruiting station.” According to Lauriat, the patriotic excitement which was aided by the poster campaign was what would set the British apart from the Germans on the battlefield.

(“Recruiting Posters from Motherland,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 29 June 1915.; “Posters as Recruit Getters,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 8 July 1915.



“The Call for Recruits” (6 July 1915)

An editorial in the Berlin Daily Telegraph directly addressed to “you, who are in Berlin” highlighted several of the fears relating to low recruitment numbers in the city. The writer felt that the three understrength (i.e. not full) Berlin companies of the 108th Regiment in addition to the 150 men who had joined the three contingents of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were not sufficient in a town with a population of 20 000.
The writer then discussed a speech given by the leader of the Ontario Liberals, N.W. Rowell. Rowell stated that if Germany were able to keep it current position, it could easily have “mastery over Europe.” Even if driven back to its own borders, if its armies were allowed to stay intact, the indecisiveness of the victory would force the next generation to maintain constant armies and military production.
This editorialist was linking the need for more recruits from Berlin with the goal of making the Great War the war to end all wars.

(“The Call for Recruits,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 6 July 1915.)Berlin Daily Telegraph-1915-07-06-Call for Recruits


“A crusade for the honor of women and the sacredness of the home” (26 July 1915)

As the need for recruits increased, many arguments became important to persuade everyone to do their part. In order to convince women to encourage men to go overseas, there were stories circulated about the mistreatment of women and children in areas occupied by German troops.
Women were asked to consider “the dropping of bombs on defenceless towns in England and the sinking of the Lusitania, causing the death of many innocent women and children” or the happy Belgian or French homes destroyed or invaded by German insult and outrage. Canadian soldiers were said to be going to Europe to defend the honour of women and daughters in France and Europe. The German soldiers who allegedly threatened their honour were drunks and not taught to respect women in the way that Canadian men were. Canadian women had to convince soldiers to go to Europe to stop “German domination of the world” and “world-wide white slavery” (i.e. sexual enslavement of white women).

(“Women and Recruiting,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 26 July 1915.
Visual: Picture courtesy of Queen’s University Archives
With Permission)To the Women of Canada


A Hot Recruiting Letter Received from a St. Thomas Boy (27 July 1915)

The Berlin Daily Telegraph published a letter which a soldier sent from the front. The soldier was from St. Thomas, Ontario (south of London) and wrote his letter in an effort to convince more of his peers to join him overseas.
He was unimpressed with those who considered him a friend or who wished him luck as he boarded the train yet did not join up themselves. He considered them cowards and said that fear was no excuse, “because a man without any grit is better off dead.” As far as he was concerned, anyone of his “friends” who did not enlist with very good reason was “Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!”
Demonstrating an alternative strategy to this soldier’s goading, an article in the Telegraph the day before promised great comradery to anyone who did join the ranks, especially if they applied for training through Canadian universities which had a program to provide proper military training to young men.

(“A Hot Recruiting Letter Received from a St. Thomas Boy,” The Berlin Daily Telegraph, 27 July 1915; “Opportunity for Young Men to Join Ranks,” The Berlin Daily Telegraph 26 July 1915.)BerlinDailyTelegraph-1915-07-27-Page7 recruiting letter; italy needs frontier0000


Boy Scouts and the Red Cross (12 August 1915)

Everyone was expected to do their part, and the Boy Scouts were no exception. Local Boy Scouts helped the Red Cross roll bandages and collect razors to donate to soldiers overseas.
Donations of razors to soldiers were very common. As of August 1915, 70 000 razors had been donated from across the Empire. One store owner from Ayr reportedly had a donation box for razors in his shop. Donations to the local Boy Scouts were generous.
Berliner, Private Allen Smith read about the Boy Scouts’ efforts while in the trenches and wrote to the scoutmaster about his experience as a Boy Scout and how useful Boy Scout training was for future soldiers.

(“Boy Scouts Helping in Red Cross Work,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 6 August 1915.; “Responding to the call…,” Ayr News, 12 August 1915.; “Results Are Encouraging,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 13 August 1915.; “Letter to the Boy Scouts,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 24 August 1915.)Berlin Daily Telegraph-1915-07-06-Boy Scouts in the Laurentians


For God, King, and Country (12 August 1915)

There was far more enlistment from immigrants from the British Isles than from those born in Canada. An article like this one from The Ayr News demonstrated why Canadians ought to contribute all they can whether they enlist or give to the Canadian Patriotic Fund.
The article listed the ten reasons why Canadians should contribute. These reasons were mostly related to Canada honouring its duty to the Empire that was protecting it and to encouraging those still at home to do all they can to help those who have already gone to the front.
Readers were meant to feel guilty because they were enjoying the comforts made possible by their fellow countrymen and the mother country.

(“For God, King, and Country,” Ayr News, 12 August 1915.)For God, King, and Country