WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY

MAY 1915

TISBURY AND THE GREAT WAR

David Childs

May was a month of allied offensives both at Gallipoli and the Western Front. In Gallipoli the British tried, with significant losses, to break out of the beachhead at Helles. On the Western Front, the Germans, deploying their new weapon of poison gas broke through the allied line to the north of Ypres and were only forced back by four major allied offensives, known collectively as the Second Battle of Ypres.

The naval campaign saw the resignation of the First Sea Lord, Fisher, and the First Lord, Churchill, both casualties of the failed assault on Gallipoli as well as the sinking of the two battleships in those waters.

More important was the sinking on 7 May by U-boat and without warning, of the liner, Lusitania, in which a significant number of American civilians were travelling. This one act did much to ally American sympathies with the allied cause - although it was to be some while before that nation renounced its neutrality. The last day of the month saw the first German airship raid on London.

POEM FOR MAY

Siegfried Sassoon is remembered mostly for the stance that he later took against the slaughter but here, in the Spring of 1915, he is writing in a vein similar to that of Rupert Brooke whose poems influenced him and who had died in April 1915.

Absolution
by Siegfried Sassoon

The anguish of the earth absolves our eyes
Till beauty shines in all that we can see.
War is our scourge; yet war has made us wise,
And,fighting for our freedom, we are free.

Horror of wounds and anger at the foe,
And loss of things desired; all this must pass.
We are the happy legion, for we know
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass.

There was an hour when we were loath to part
From life we longed to share no less than others.
Now, having claimed this heritage of heart,
What need we more, my comrades and my brothers?

 

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