October 20, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The day’s headlines from The Daily Capital Journal:

ESTIMATE LOSSES IN WAR WILL TOTAL MORE THAN MILLION

GERMANS RENEW ATTACK ON DUNKIRK; BIG FIGHT BREWING

Estimating the casualties for all sides, J. W. T. Mason wrote:

Taking British losses as a basis for an estimate, and reckoning that other nations engaged in the present European war have suffered proportionately, the total of killed, wounded and captured during the first ten weeks of the conflict must be nearly 1,300,000.

The official British casualty list, just issued for the period between September 13 and October 8, gives 13,541 as the number of King George’s troops dead, wounded or in the enemy’s hands. Previous reports, dating from the beginning of the war, would bring the British total up to approximately 32,000.

The British forces engaged in fighting on the continent are understood to number not exceeding 200,000. This would mean casualties of 16 percent, and, taking that as a basis for the warring powers must, as stated above, have lost in the neighborhood of 1,300,000 men thus far.

Commenting on non-combatant casualties, the editor of the Oregon Statesman writes:

Let us not grieve for the slain soldiers. They have escaped from misery. Let us shut our eyes even to those weeping for their dead or wounded. There is wretchedness enough, God knows, in hundreds of thousands of homes where women and children wait in lonely sorrow and poverty. But there is anguish greater than theirs.

With the war less than three months old, 3,000,000 victims are homeless. Probably two million are today seeking bread from the hands of strangers, absolutely destitute, without money food or baggage, perhaps without even a change of clothing.

They have been driven from their homes by invading armies. If fear permitted their return they would find little shelter, no food and no work.

And these fugitives are not strong men – those are in the armies. They are the old and inform, and women and the children. They are largely ignorant. They are dazed by their fate and helpless in a strange environment. In countless cases families are separated, never to be reunited.

****

. . . [I]n the mere volume of accumulating misery there is hope. That vast, formless flight of refugees is the greatest “peace parade” ever held. Let the world gaze its fill upon that nightmare procession, and then it will come to its senses and make an end of the tragedy forever.

Unfortunately, a truly forlorn hope.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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