Category: world war 1

Hungarians Set Up Slovak Soviet Republic

The establishment of the short-lived Slovak Soviet Republic.

June 16 1919, Prešov–The Hungarians had made considerable gains in Slovakia since going on the offensive there in late May.  The Allies in Paris were growing increasingly frustrated with Hungary, but were divided on what to do and had little real authority in the area.  The French wanted the Romanians to cross the Tisza and overthrow Béla Kun by force, but the Americans were worried that this would lead to an irreversible expansion of Romania.  Ultimately, they settled on a series of sharply-worded telegrams to Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia, sent on June 12.  The Allies had decided on Hungary’s borders, and all three countries would withdraw their forces behind their new frontiers; these decisions could not be changed “by the unscrupulous use of military methods.”

On June 16, the Hungarians, likely in response, decided to resort to political methods instead, setting up a Slovak Soviet Republic in the areas they had taken.  This made the conflict in Slovakia technically an internal Slovakian matter, separate from the question of the Hungarian-Slovakian frontier.  This did not satisfy the Allies, however, and the Hungarians (by now also suffering reverses in the field) agreed to withdraw from Slovakia entirely; the Slovak Soviet Republic would last only three weeks.  Hungarian hopes that the Romanians would also adhere to Allied demands and pull back from the Tisza were not fulfilled.  Hungary’s establishment of the Slovak Soviet Republic and subsequent withdrawal only managed to alienate Hungarian nationalists, who had supported Béla Kun’s regime not out of affection for communism, but because they thought he offered the best hope for preventing the loss of territory to Hungary’s neighbors.

Sources include: Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919; Glenn E. Torrey, The Romanian Battlefront in World War I.

Allies Issue Final Peace Terms, Ultimatum

June 16 1919, Paris–The last-minute British doubts about the treaty ultimately led to few changes–mainly a plebiscite in Silesia and a promise of an eventual plebiscite in the Saar.  On June 16, the final text (though at some points corrected in red ink) was delivered to the German delegation, which was informed that they had five days to accept the terms in full: “They must sign or the armistice is at an end,” in Bonar Law’s words.  It was by no means clear that the Germans would sign the treaty; German popular opinion was staunchly against it, though there was no appetite for a resumption of the war, either.  Regardless, the Allies were ready to drive east from their Rhine bridgeheads, if necessary.

Sources include: Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919; Gregor Dallas, 1918: War and Peace; The New York Times.

First Trans-Atlantic Flight

The crash landing site in County Galway.  An extensively rebuilt version of the plane is now on permanent exhibit at the Science Museum, London.

June 15 1919, Clifden, County Galway–The German Gotha raids on London had led to demands for a British response.  However, the first British long-range bombers had only just been completed by the end of the war–the Handley-Page V/1500 (which would later be used to bomb Kabul instead) and the Vickers Vimy.  The end of the war led to a search for peacetime applications of these aircraft, and one soon presented itself.  Lord Northcliffe’s Daily Mail re-issued its prize offer for a Transatlantic flight, and multiple teams, including both Handley-Page and Vickers aircraft, began planning for an attempt.

Ultimately, the Vickers team won.   Their plane, equipped with extra fuel tanks in place of bomb racks, took off from St. John’s, Newfoundland, on the afternoon of June 14, while the Handley-Page team was still conducting their final rounds of tests.  The two pilots, Alcock and Brown, had both flown during the war but had been captured, Alcock by the Turks in September 1917, and Brown by the Germans in November 1915 (though he was repatriated via Switzerland in 1917).  Alcock had begun planning for a Transatlantic flight while in captivity.

After a difficult flight through bad weather, the two arrived over Ireland the next morning and crashed while landing in County Galway, having mistaken a bog for a field.  They had flown nearly 16 hours, traversing nearly 1900 miles. The pair were treated as heroes for their accomplishment, and were awarded the Daily Mail prize by Air Minister Winston Churchill.

Exhausted stretcher bearers from the 3rd Aus…

Exhausted stretcher bearers from the 3rd Australian Division rest in the mud and drizzle of Broodseinde Ridge, during the Third Battle of Ypres, 11 October 1917.

Australian soldiers having their feet inspec…

Australian soldiers having their feet inspected for trench foot at Zonnebeke, September 1917.

Australian tunnelers pumping water from dugo…

Australian tunnelers pumping water from dugouts, Hooge, Belgium. 18 September 1917.

A monkey acquired by Australian troops in Egyp…

A monkey acquired by Australian troops in Egypt as a mascot, 1915.

Australian Light Horsemen, Australian and Ne…

Australian Light Horsemen, Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, watering their horses at Ain es Sultan (Elisha’s Well), 1917.

The 2nd Australian Tunnelling Company at wor…

The 2nd Australian Tunnelling Company at work underground. 14 November 1917 at Nieuport Bains, Belgium.

Officers and other ranks attend a training s…

Officers and other ranks attend a training session on an aero-engine at the Australian Flying Corps training depot at Halton Camp, Wendover, Buckinghamshire, 1918.