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1st January 1915 - The Great War, Day by Day - The Wartime Memories Project

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The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day

1st January 1915

On this day:

  • HMEF Oldbury begins work.   HMEF Oldbury in Worcestershire started in January 1915, for the production of TNT. It was under direct control of the Ministry of Munitions. The first output was in May 1915,

  • Construction begins on Humber Forts.   Construction of Bull Sand Fort began in 1915 to defend the River Humber from German naval attack and possible invasion. However construction difficulties resulted in it and the Haile Sand Fort not being completed until 1919.

  • 2nd Life Guards on duty   The War Diary of the 2nd Life Guards records: At Staple. The Regiment as part of the 3rd Cav Division came on duty from 1st to 3rd Jan, but nothing occurred.

    War Diary

  • Explosives Factory on Cligga Head reopens   Nobel's Explosives Factory covered 110 acres on the cliff top at St George's Common, Cligga Head near Perranporth, Cornwall. The factory had been bought by the Nobels in 1892 from the British & Colonial Explosives Company which manufactured dynamite for the mining industry. The factory buildings were surrounded by earth banks designed to contain a blast in the event of an explosion. The factory closed in 1909 but opened again at the outbreak of the Great War and was engaged in the filling of Mills Bombs, employing around 1000.

  • Australian Troop Transports   

    HMAT A37 Barambah Pictured at Port Melbourne on the 5th June 1916.

    HMAT A37 Barambah weighed 5,923 tons with an average cruise speed of 10.5 knots or 19.44 kmph. The Barambah was previously a captured German vessel called Hobart. It was manned by Australia officers and crew and transferred to Commonwealth Government Line, 23 May 1918.

    John Doran

  • 27th Battlaion Northumberland Fusiliers raised   27th (Service) Battalion (4th Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers was raised in Newcastle, January 1915, by the Lord Mayor and City.

  • 4th Northumberlands reorganised   In Jan 1915, the 4th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers was reorganised into four companies. A Company joining with E Coy, B with G, C with F and D with H.

  • Sheffield City Battalion abandon route march   The first route march of the new year for the Sheffield City Battalion is cut short by a violent storm. The men returned swiftly to Redmires Camp and later an illustrated a lecture was given by Capt. Hoette on his experiences during the South African War.

    Sheffield City Battalion - Ralph Gibson & Paul Oldfield

  • HMS Formidable lost   

    HMS Formidable

    Under the command of Vice-Admiral Commanding, Channel Fleet, Sir Lewis Bayly, the 5th Battle Squadron spent 31 December participating in gunnery exercises off the Isle of Portland, supported by the light cruisers Topaze and Diamond. After the exercises, that night the fleet remained at sea on patrol even though submarine activity had been reported in the area. With rough sea conditions and the wind increasing, submarine attacks would have been difficult to carry out and so were not thought to be a significant threat. Formidable was steaming at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h) at the rear of the squadron off Portland Bill just 20 nmi (23 mi; 37 km) from Start Point, when at 0220 on 1 January 1915 a torpedo from U-24 struck the number one boiler port side. It was thought that she might be saved by reaching the coast but by about 0240 she had taken a list of 20° to starboard and the Captain Noel Loxley gave the order to abandon ship. Darkness and worsening weather made it difficult to get the men and boats over the side; some small boats being thrown into the water upside down.

    At about 0305, Formidable was struck by a second torpedo on the starboard side. Amidst a 30 ft (9.1 m) swell the pinnaces and launch along with other boats (one of which capsized soon after) were launched and the two light cruisers came alongside and managed to pick up 80 men in the deteriorating weather. By 0445, she seemed in imminent danger of capsizing and a few minutes later she rolled over onto many of the men in the water and sank quickly. Captain Loxley remained on the bridge along with his Fox terrier Bruce, calmly overseeing the evacuation of the ship.

    In rough seas near Berry Head, a Brixham trawler Provident, under the command of Captain W. Piller picked up the men from one pinnace before it sank, saving 71 members of the crew. The second pinnace took off another 70 men, of which 48 were brought ashore alive after it was eventually spotted from the shore the following night, 22 hours after the sinking. The loss of life of Formidable was 35 officers (including Captain Loxley) and 512 men from a complement of 780. The body of Captain Loxley's dog Bruce, a war dog washed ashore and was buried in a marked grave in Abbotsbury Gardens in Dorset.

    Formidable was the third British battleship to be sunk and the second to be sunk by enemy action, during the First World War.

    The Royal Navy's Formidable-class battleships were an eight-ship class of pre-dreadnoughts designed by Sir William White and built in the late 1890s. The class is often further divided into a separate London class, and the London class sometimes is divided further into a separate Queen class.

    HMS Formidable, the third of four ships of that name to serve in the Royal Navy, was the lead ship of her class of pre-dreadnought battleships. Commissioned in 1904, she served initially with the Mediterranean Fleet, transferring to the Channel Fleet in 1908. In 1912, she was assigned to the 5th Battle Squadron, which was stationed at Nore.

    Following the outbreak of World War I, the squadron conducted operations in the English Channel, and was based at Sheerness to guard against a possible German invasion. Despite reports of submarine activity, early in the morning of 1 January 1915, whilst on exercise in the English Channel, Formidable sank after being hit by two torpedoes. She was the second British battleship to be sunk by enemy action during the First World War.

    World War I

    At the beginning of the First World War, Formidable and the 5th Battle Squadron were based at Portland and assigned to the Channel Fleet to defend the English Channel. After covering the safe transportation of the British Expeditionary Force to France in August 1914, Formidable took part in the transportation of the Portsmouth Marine Battalion to Ostend on 25 August.

    On 14 November, Formidable and the other ships of the 5th Battle Squadron were rebased at Sheerness because of concern that a German invasion of Great Britain was in the offing. The squadron was relieved by Duncan-class battleships of the 6th Battle Squadron and transferred to Portland on 30 December.


    According to writer Nigel Clarke in the Shipwreck Guide to Dorset and South Devon, the original "Lassie" who inspired so many films and television episodes was a rough-haired crossbreed who saved the life of a sailor during World War I.

    Half collie, Lassie was owned by the landlord of the Pilot Boat, a pub in the port of Lyme Regis. On New Year’s Day in 1915 the Royal Navy battleship Formidable was torpedoed by a German submarine off Start Point in South Devon, with the loss of more than 500 men. In a storm that followed the accident, a life raft containing bodies was blown along the coast to Lyme Regis. In helping to deal with the crisis, the local pub in Lyme Regis, called the Pilot Boat, offered its cellar as a mortuary.

    When the bodies had been laid out on the stone floor, Lassie, a crossbred collie owned by the pub owner, found her way down amongst the bodies, and she began to lick the face of one of the victims, Able Seaman John Cowan. She stayed beside him for more than half an hour, nuzzling him and keeping him warm with her fur. To everyone’s astonishment, Cowan eventually stirred. He was taken to hospital and went on to make a full recovery. He visited Lassie again when he returned to thank all who saved his life.

    The sinking of the ship was a severe blow to Britain during these early years of the war. When the officers heard the story of Lassie and what she did to rescue Cowan, they told it again and again to any reporter who would listen as it was inspirational and heart-warming. Hollywood got hold of the story, and so a star was born.

    John Doran

  • Reserve position   E Battery 3rd Brigade RHA

    At Baillieul with 5th Cavalry Brigade.

    1st to 14th January in billets 1 1/4 miles SW of Bailleul - farm at Steenje. On the 4th January Captain EB Maxwell left on posting to 1st Division. On the 5th January Major Scarlett left on posting to Home establishment. On the 3rd January Lieutenant OM Lund joined from 2nd Division and Lieutenant AG Neville joined from 8th Division.

    war diaries

  • 3rd Monmouths refit for India   Leaving the East Coast by train for Cambridge the soldiers had very happy memories for the grateful, local residents bestowed much kindness on the Officers and men helping to ease the discomfort of their duties and during the atrocious weather.

    While the Battalion was in Cambridge it was reorganised into four double Companies, consisting of tried and tested soldiers and all who had volunteered for service. Drafts from the reserve Battalion were arriving to make up the force of the original Battalion, these were fit men who were able to replace those found unsuitable for overseas service, during the final selection. They were issued with new service equipment, rifles and bayonets and their old equipment was passed on. For the rest of their stay in Cambridge they were subjected to rigorous courses of exercises in movements in this formation, and instructions and practice in bayonet fighting, all carried out on the famous area, Parker's Piece. Early in January the Battalion now assembled was in its final form. Along with others, the Battalion was selected for overseas service and the final orders arrived for proceeding overseas to France, this news raised Welsh spirits.

  • 10 Squadron Formed   No. 10 Sqn was formed from elements of No. 1 Reserve Squadron at Farnborough on 1st of January 1915. The Squadron immediately moved to a new base at Brooklands Aerodrome, and then spent 4 months at the training base at Netheravon from April until being posted as operational to St Omer in France on the 27th July 1915, equipped with the RAE BE2 observation machine.

    No. 10 squadron was used repeatedly for trials of new aircraft designs, or the use of aircraft in new roles, throughout the war.

  • No 8 Squadron formed   At the outbreak of war only 4 of the RFC’s 7 squadrons were fully equipped and staffed, and it was not until October 1914 that all of them reached full operational capability. No. 8 Squadron was the first new squadron to be created after the outbreak of war when it was formed at Brooklands on 1 January 1915.

    They proceeded to St Omer France in April 1915 as an Army Co-operation unit flying B.E.2Cs. Operating from the RFC HQ airfield at St Omer, the squadron primary role was long-range reconnaissance, carrying out flights of up to 100 miles behind the front lines. The squadron also operated a fighter flight equipped with a variety of aircraft types to provide defensive support to reconnaissance planes.

  • 1st January 1915 brigade move

  • Events in 1915   Bavarian Ersatz Division part of 7th Army

    Woevre 1915.

    The Benzino Division occupied the area east of St. Mihiel (Spada to Apremont) during the entire year 1915. In November it took the name of Bavarian Ersatz Division.

    The division rested in Lorraine from December, 1915, to the end of February, 1916.

    historical records

  • 1st Jan 1915 Quiet opening to 1915

  • 1st Jan 1915 Change of Billets for 2nd Queens

  • 1915 actions   1st Bavarian Division part of 1st Bavarian Corps and 2nd German Army.


    Artois. The 1st Bavarian Division was kept in line on the Somme (Dompierre-Maricourt) until October, 1915. Its composition was changed - the Body Infantry Regiment went to the Alpine Corps and the 10th Infantry to the 10th Bavarian Division. In return, the 24th Infantry (a new formation) was received.

    The division was taken to the region north of Arras (Neuville-Souchez sector), where it remained for almost seven months (October 1915 - May 1916).

    Historical Records

  • 1st January 1915 Actions during 1915

  • 1st January 1915 Actions during 1915

  • 1st January 1915 Actions during 1915

  • 1st Jan 1915 New Year Greetings at Sea

  • 1st Jan 1915 Trenches Like a River

  • 1st Jan 1915 In Action

  • 1st Jan 1915 In Action

  • 1st Jan 1915 Canvas Huts

  • 1st Jan 1915 Bombardment

  • 1st Jan 1915 New Year

  • 1st Jan 1915 On the Move

  • 1st Jan 1915 On the Move

Can you add to this factual information? Do you know the whereabouts of a unit on a particular day? Do you have a copy of an official war diary entry? Details of an an incident? The loss of a ship? A letter, postcard, photo or any other interesting snipts?

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Want to know more?

There are:30 articles tagged with this date available in our Library

  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

Remembering those who died this day.

  • Pte. Isaac Frank Butler. Essex Regiment 2nd Btn. Read their Story.
  • Rflmn. Gurung Kami. 1st Btn. Read their Story.

    Add a name to this list.

  • Items from the Home Front Archive

    Do you have any letters, photos, postcards, documents or memorabilia from the Great War? We would love to include copies. Please use this form to submit diary entries and letters or photographs for this new Section: add to this archive.

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