by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent
The headlines in the Capital Journal addressed the sinking of the Formidable, a gain of 50 yards by the Germans in the Argonne, the Kaiser’s New Years address and the collapse the Turkish attempt to invade Egypt:
DAY’S WAR NEWS GREATLY REDUCED FOR BUSY READERS
Another British Battleship, the Formidable Is Sent to the Bottom
OF ITS CREW OF 780 ONLY 71 ARE SAVED
Other News From the Many Battlefields Condensed From the Dispatches
ADMIT GERMANS GAINED 50 YARDS IN ARGONNE REGION
French Claim Gains elsewhere to Off Set Their Other Stereotyped News
SOME HOT FIGHTING REPORTED IN ALSACE
German War Office Announces Defeat of Both British and French
THE KAISER ISSUES NEW YEAR’S ADDRESS
Points to Brilliant Victories and that No Enemy Has Foothold on German Soil
TURKISH TROOPS ON WAY TO EGYPT MURDER GENERAL
Wretchedly Equipped Soldiers Mutiny and Assassinate Their Leaders
TURKS MAY ABANDON EGYPTIAN CAMPAIGN
German Influence will Compel Them to Concentrate Forces Against Russia
In the Oregon Statesman’s “Synopsis of the War Situation” we find the following:
There is a paucity of news concerning the fighting on land, where the armies of the allies and the Germans are carrying out the maneuvers which have been in effect for many days . In the entrenched line in Flanders and France artillery duels and infantry attacks continue, but without decisive results. In Poland the Germans are trying to get through to Warsaw and the Russians are disputing their every move. North of the Vistula and along the east Prussian frontier fog envelops the armies and hinders their actions.
“Fog envelops the armies.” “Three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent.” (Carl von Clausewitz). Whatever clarity may have existed, or which has been clarified over the past century, readers at the time would have agreed as to the metaphor of the word “fog.” In Paris, the new year brought a sense of official optimism:
President Poincare of France, in a New Year’s address to the diplomatic corps, said he had no doubt that “next year at this traditional reception we shall celebrate the establishment of a beneficent peace, which, solidly based on rectitude and respect for international treaties, will give necessary security to the nations.”
President Poincare was only off in his estimate by 35 months.
On the editorial page, the paper comments on infringements on American shipping and measuring success by the yard:
On top of the protest sent Great Britain, comes stories of the Japanese holding up our ships just as England has done. If these stories are true, it is probable she has taken this course at the request of England, which makes it that much more necessary that Uncle Sam stand pat and settle the question of American ships’ right topsail the seas unmolested by Japanese, English or any other war vessel.
Since the United States has sent her protest to England against unwarranted interference with her commerce, England has taken every opportunity to assert she is “mistress of the seas.” This is cheerfully admitted, but the old girl wants to remember that that is all she is, as she was never married to them. She has no dower rights and can make no claim to the estate.
France having got the fighting down to a garage basis, refuses to count any day’s gains of less than two feet twelve inches. Considering their brilliant bayonet charges are made with the pick and spade, and underground at that, a yard a day is really good work under the existing conditions. The army is working steadily, which accounts for the steady gains, and the work is being rushed with three shifts a day.