October 27, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

As the First Battle of Ypres progressed, the headlines reflected the struggle:

FIGHT AT THE YSER FIERCEST OF WAR, RAGING ALL NIGHT
West Bank of River Is a Veritable Inferno – Fight Grows In Fierceness
HEAVENS LIT UP BY BURSTING SHELLS
Great Searchlights Aid “Night Shifts” – Sky Filled With Aeroplanes

The west bank of the River Yser, between Nieuport and Dixmude, was literally an inferno today.

It was at this point that the Germans, already across the stream, were hurling every ounce of their strength against the allies; front, in iron determination to break through toward Dunkirk and Calais.

The fighting increased constantly in strength. Both sides were rushing up reinforcements. It was the critical point on the whole battle line and admittedly the situation marked a climax in the western theatre of the present war.

There was no cessation in the struggle Monday night. Throughout all the hours of what should have been darkness, the combatants played enormous searchlights upon one anthers ranks. Bursting bombs and shrapnel lit up the heavens. Miles away the thunder of the engagement was plainly audible.

Aviators were taking a prominent part in the engagement. During the night the flashing searchlights frequently revealed them, hovering over the field, on the alert for the least item of information concerning the movements of the fighting forces below them.

On the editorial page, the editor argues that it is time to stop watching the war and to get down to business:

There is nothing much the matter with the business of this country today except that we have all been watching the great war instead of attending to business. We have waited, wondering what would happen to us, instead of going ahead and making conditions what they should be.

The novelty of the war is wearing off, its effects upon us are beginning to be understood, and there is a slow but sure revival of business all along the line.

Our great businessmen are realizing that, instead of being in disaster, we are not face to face with the greatest business opportunity in the history of this country. We should not take advantage of nations in trouble,but the work’s business must go on, and this country is the only one that can and must take it up.

In October of 1914, the United States had been in recession since January of 1913. The recession would not end until December of 1914. During this period business activity had declined more than 25%. Trade was off by nearly 20%. Real income declined and it was during this recession that the Federal Reserve System was established. Oregonians had experienced two panics and a recession during the preceding seven years.

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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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