Shrewsbury School

The news 100 years ago: 1st - 8th January 1915

Thursday 1 January 2015


No OS lost their lives this week 100 years ago.

While fierce fighting raged in France, the war at sea also continued. On 1 January 1915, a British Battleship, HMS Formidable, was sunk by a German submarine in the English Channel. Of a crew of 780, 547 were killed, including the ship’s captain, Arthur Loxley.

A life raft containing bodies from the Formidable was blown along the coast to Lyme Regis, where a local pub, the Pilot Boat, offered its cellar as a mortuary. The landlord’s dog – a crossbred half collie called Lassie – began to lick the face of one of the seamen, John Cowan, and insisted on staying beside him for more than half an hour. To everyone’s amazement, Cowan stirred; he was immediately taken to hospital whereupon he made a full recovery, later returning to the Pilot Boat to thank Lassie. The story is believed to have been an inspiration for the later Lassie films, although the connection is difficult to prove.

Battle of Soissons, 8th January 1915
A translated extract from a Parisian newspaper; published on 18th January 1915:
Details of the recent fighting at Soissons show that the French made a resolute advance on the Bethune-road, and rushed to the farm, where they encountered a German division.

The French repulsed sharp attacks, and flung themselves with desperate courage on the lower slopes of spur 132 until counter- attacks compelled them to fall back on Croy.


Meanwhile the French attempted to scale the eastern ridge of the Perrière plateau, but were thrown back by a withering German fire.

Fighting on spur 132 was resumed on Wednesday, when 200 Germans were killed and many taken prisoners. The Germans regrouped their forces, and debouehcu along the Chivres Valley, outnumbering and outflanking the French.

The flooding of the Aisne had destroyed the bridge at Missy, thus preventing reinforcements; but the bridge was hastily reconstructed to enable the French to retreat. The Germans occupy the villages on the right bank, but are unable to cross the Aisne.

The French artillery is sweeping the plain at Venizel.


The Germans violently bombarded Soissons on Thursday. Fires have broken out in all parts of the town. The tower and portico of the cathedral have been completely destroyed. The shells killed many children. The Germans are keeping men, women and children in the quarries as hostages and are forcing the women to go to Soissons and bring back provisions.

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