This is the 36th weekly installment of my Lowell in World War One series which commemorates the centennial of the entry of the United States into World War One. Here are the headlines from one hundred years ago this week:
December 17, 1917 – Monday – Germans sink 11 ships in North Sea. One British and five neutral merchantmen, British warship and 4 minesweepers sunk. Negotiations for Russo-German peace begin. Red Cross nationwide drive for 15,000,000 members starts today. The Elks’ Christmas Charity Fund. Lowell lodge of Elks will hold a smoke-talk for members and friends tomorrow evening at the Elks’ rooms on Middle street. An excellent program of entertainment has been arranged. There will also be a drawing contest, the proceeds from which will go to the Elks’ Christmas charity fund. 6000 from Fort Slocum sent to Ayer. Due to overcrowding at Fort Slocum, New York, 6000 men in training for the Quartermaster Corps will soon be transferred to temporary housing at Camp Devens where they will eventually be assigned to line companies. 210 Lowell recruits join regulars so far this month. Lowell boys members of “suicide club.” Three Lowell soldiers have volunteered for the first “gas and flame” battalion in the US Army. This recently organized unit is designed to beat the Germans at their own game. Its members will be trained to throw bombs filled with gas and other bombs which ignite and start a big blaze. The work is considered especially dangerous. The three men are Richard Grant of Stackpole St, John J Marlow of 543 Gorham St, and Arthur L Lyons of 48 Prospect Street.
December 18, 1917 – Tuesday – Attempt to kill Governor Stephens. California executive mansion blown up by powerful explosive bomb. Building wrecked. Governor and Mrs. Stephens as well as servants asleep at time. All escaped injury. Police blame pro-Germans. Teutonic ministers on Russian front to begin negotiations for General European peace. Boys rob Salvation Army kettle. A daring daylight robbery was perpetrated in Central Street near the corner of Middle Street early this afternoon by three boys who made a rush for the kettle and pocketed the money.
December 19, 1917 – Wednesday – Austro-Germans strike at two new points on the Italian line. 10 killed, 70 injured in air raid on London. Red Cross workers will meet this evening. Red Cross campaign workers are asked to report to Memorial Hall this evening and to bring the names of all new members they have secured. Catholic pastors defend city’s good name. The pastors of 12 Catholic parishes in Lowell have circulated a joint letter that bears testimony to the excellent moral conditions prevailing in Lowell and defends the reputation of our city and our soldiers against the sensational reports that represent Lowell as a center of immorality. (St Patricks, St Michaels, St Peters, St Louis, Immaculate Conception, St Columbas, Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Lourdes, St Margarets, St Jean Baptiste, St Anthonys, Holy Trinity, and St Josephs).
December 20, 1917 – Thursday – Central Powers inform Russia of plan to make peace proposals to Allies. British bring down 12 German airplanes. Provost Guard looking for delinquents. About a dozen uniformed soldiers armed with pistols arrived in Lowell last night from Camp Devens as a provost guard. They went into every dance hall and theater and inspected all of the soldiers present to ensure they were authorized to be away from their base. Big cut here in street railway service. The coal shortage has resulted in a major curtailment of service by the Bay State Street Railway Co. The local power house on Middlesex street has about ten days supply of coal on hand (the plant burns about 50 tons per day). Great demand for alcohol. This is not the type of alcohol used for internal consumption. Instead, it is used as a low temperature lubricant for automobile engines. Because it is also used by the military as a low temperature lubricant for weapons, there is great demand and the price continues to rise.
December 21, 1917 – Friday – Opposition to Bolsheviki is increasing; situation grows more chaotic. Ukrainian forces marching against Bolsheviki. Kerensky on way to Moscow. Grand Duke Nicholas raising royalist army in Caucasus. Report Russo-Japanese treaty against US. Christmas exercises in Lowell schools. A feature of the various programs this year was the unusual amount of martial songs reflecting the fact that the country is at war, however, there was an abundance of the peaceful and joyous element that should predominate Christmas, war or no war.