WAR DIARY MAIN EVENTS MAY 1918
Follow our diary through the war years as part of our commemoration of the First World War and the events leading up to it.
Entries kindly maintained by local Historian Godfrey Thomas, author of Every one a Hero, the stories behind the names on War memorials in three local schools.
MAY 1918 Main Events
1st Germany and France agree arrangements for the exchange of prisoners
2nd Heavy fighting in Palestine further weakens Turkish position there
3rd The RAF ‘down’ 36 German planes over the Western Front
4th The Germans capture the port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea
5th The British make small gains in an advance in the Somme area
6th The Russian and German navies in a major exchange in Black Sea
7th Nicaragua declares war on Germany
8th German forces occupy the Russian port of Rostov on the Sea of Azov
9th Big Italian advance against the Austrians on the Southern Front
10th Ostend harbour blocked by British sinking of ‘HMS Vindictive’
11th The British sink the first of a new class of German submarines in Atlantic
12th Continuing small but definite Arab success against Turks in Palestine
13th Unseasonal heavy rain stops activity on most of the Western Front
14th The Italian- Austrian campaign flares up on the Southern Front
15th China and Japan agree cooperation against Germany
16th USA delegates meet King George V in London
17th 150 Sinn Fein members arrested for ‘plotting’ with Germany
18th Australian forces advance eastwards on the old Somme battlefield
19th German planes bomb London and a British hospital at Etaples in France
20th Continuing Allied push Germans east on the Somme
21st Further British advance on German positions in East Africa
22nd A British air raid on Zebrugge harbour destroys its facilities
23rd Further Arab advances against the Turks near Medina
24th Gas used by the Germans along the Western Front
25th Costa Rica declares war on Germany
26th Italian advance against the Austrians near the Swiss frontier
27th German successes near Verdun and in the Somme area
28th American troops launch their first attack, in the Somme area
29th Britain and French forces pushed back along parts of the Western Front
30th French and Greek forces force Turkish retreat in the Varda river valley
31st British planes bomb Turkish supply railways in Jordan
LIONS NEWS MAY 1918
May 1918 was yet another month of both good and bad news from Britain’s point of view; there were to be another six months of war and the outcome was still far from clear.
The month started with the newly formed Royal Air Force shooting down 36 German planes in one engagement in a war increasingly being fought in the skies over both Britain and German territory across the Channel. Australian and American troops made their first appearance on the Western Front and inspired by Lawrence of Arabia, the Arabs increased their campaign for independence from the Turks by a series of big advances in the Middle East, whilst in Africa, British advances against the Germans seemed to be near conclusion and on the Western Front unseasonal heavy rain brought activity to a near standstill, a blessing in disguise in terms of lives saved.
Germany and France began talks about the exchange of prisoners and in Britain 150 members of the Sinn Fein movement in Ireland campaigning for independence for Ireland were arrested and charged with plotting with Germany. Meanwhile a delegation from America had talks with King George V in London, no doubt talking about the future.
German spies were being arrested from time to time in Britain (twelve had been executed by the end of the war) and the provisions of the Defence of The Realm Act, passed in 1914, were still in force some, like the blackout, the use of binoculars, the ban on fireworks and censorship of letters to and from war zones pursued with rigour. Rationing continued and extra land was being constantly converted to arable use for us to grow more of our own food.
Two more countries, Nicaragua and Costa Rica declared war on Germany, an act of symbolism more than anything else but important for continuing a steady pattern of hitherto neutral countries lining up against Germany. The month nonetheless ended with depressing news from the Western Front of advances and retreats in almost equal numbers particularly over the old Somme battlefield. What would the early summer bring everyone wondered?