April 27, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The Capital Journal’s headline again reported the massive artillery battle taking place on the Yser:

Explosion of Guns and Crash of Shells Rock Country Like Terrible Earthquake Shock
Expenditure of Ammunition Beyond Comprehension – Feathery Floating Puffs In the Dome of Sky Reveal Exploding Shells Sent After Bomb-Dropping Air-Craft – Region Covering 60 Miles Is Veritable Hell On Earth – Bombing Is Endless Road of Thunder – Greatest Artillery Duel World Even Had Misfortune to Witness

The greatest artillery duel in the history of the world is in progress from the sea to a point south of Ypres. Even artillery experts at the British headquarters will not venture a guess as to the number of guns in use on both sides. But the number runs far into the thousands and their discharge and the explosion of shells rocks the country as though by an earthquake.

There is but one little bridge that crosses the User canal at one point on the allied front. Here, all day long, 20 great German field guns have been engaged against 18 English and French pieces. As fast as the allied guns could be loaded they were discharged and shells sent screeching against the German positions; yet it was not until after nightfall that the German guns were at last silenced.

French Guns Superior

The famous French “seventy-fives,” the pride of the government, demonstrated to the last their wonderful superiority over every other sort of mobile field artillery. So rapidly were they discharged that their coming sounded like an endless roll of hunger – each peal rolling upon the other without any perceptible interval.

The headline should have read “Race Trumps Love.” Instead, centered on the front page, an article relates the unknowing miscegenation of a San Francisco woman:

Lived Life As Negress Though Showed No Signs of Colored Blood

San Francisco, April 27. – A scientific blood test having shown that Margaret Buckner, 25, is not a negress, she has today filed application for an annulment of her marriage to William N. Lytle, a colored dentist of Oakland.

Ever since she can remember, Mrs. Buckner has been under the impression that she was an octaroon she declared today. She married Lytle while still believing herself part negro.

A child was born. Then the woman began to suspect that she was really white. The blood test showed her there was not a drop of colored blood in her veins. So the annulment proceedings were launched in the superior court here. Dr. Lytle said today that he would not contest the suit.

Until 1951 it was illegal in Oregon for a white person to marry a Black, Native American, Asian, or Native Hawaiian (which makes the correspondent’s grandparents’ marriage illegal).


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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