100 years ago today


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















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?


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