Lowell in World War One: May 13, 1918 to May 17, 1918

This is the 55th 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 for the past two weeks:

May 13, 1918 – Monday – New of Allied plan to hold American Army in reserve puzzles US officials. Americans “got” 600 Huns at Seicheprey. Navy officials enlist Textile School boys. US Navy recruiters will set up shop at the Textile school for the next two days, seeking to enlist undergraduates in the Naval Reserve until their graduation, when they would go on active duties. Students in civil and electrical engineering are especially desired. This is in line with President Wilson’s recommendation that young men remain in school until they have completed their courses. May 24 will be Italy Day in Lowell. Mayor Perry Thompson said he will issue a proclamation urging all residents to observe the day. Cardinal O’Connell coming to Lowell next Sunday afternoon as the guest of the Lowell branch of the League of Catholic Women at their meeting to be held at Notre Dame academy. K of C soldiers honored. The Lowell council of the Knights of Columbus held an inspiringly patriotic exercise yesterday with their service flag blessing and raising which honored 60 members who are now in the service.

May 14, 1918 – Tuesday – First million tons of ships built for US by shipping board now on the high seas. 159 vessels for 1,108,621 tons completed since January 1. Private Martin Connors of the quartermaster’s department, son of Lt and Mrs Martin Connors of this city, is now in Liverpool, England, according to his mother.  Two well known Lowell young men left for Newport, RI, this morning as recruits for the Navy. Leo McCarthy, 70 Willie street, and Richard Farrell, 352 Broadway, are the new members of the water forces. Both come from the “Acre” district and are especially popular in that section of the city.

May 15, 1918 – Wednesday – Allies improve position in important sector. German counter attack beaten off by French. Allies improve positions as expected renewal of German drive fails to develop. Pupils of the High School commercial classes hear Professor Rittenhouse of the accounting department at Boston university. Rittenhouse told the students – the young women in particular – that the training which they are receiving in their commercial courses now will be of benefit to them in future life, whether they keep books or keep house. He also made an appeal to the young men to remain in school until they had finished their courses rather than leave to accept an attractive position outside.

May 16, 1918 – Thursday – Plans to care for 5,000,000 US troops in France. American preparations amazing in immensity. Today’s US casualty report contains 91 names including 8 killed in action, 10 other deaths, and 14 missing. Few buildings being erected in Lowell. James Reilly, president of the Lowell Board of Trade, said yesterday that the number of new houses being constructed this year is far behind previous years. He attributed the slowdown to a lack of building materials and high costs for materials that are available. This is especially unfortunate because the present needs of the government will require local munitions plants to double their capacity which also means doubling the number of workers they employ. These  new workers will require additional housing in Lowell.

May 17, 1918 – Friday – Troops of new American Army reinforce British in Flanders. First American troops to get into fighting zone as units brigaded with British. Congressman John Jacob Rogers made a forceful speech in the House yesterday urging greater bipartisanship and for members to refrain from needless criticism. Mr. Rogers said that since were were at war and engaged in a struggle for existence, he supported granting broad powers to the president.  Lieutenant Joseph Collins of the 108th Signal Battalion, Regular Army, stationed at Camp Logan, Texas, and son of Lt Thomas Collins of the Lowell Fire Department, was severely injured in the motorcycle accident in the south. Lt Collins, who is well known by the young men of the “Grove” broke one of his legs in the accident. Regarding the housing problem, with 4500 Lowell men now away in the service, there are many unoccupied rooms in existing houses. The newspaper recommends officials explore using those vacant rooms to help deal with the current housing shortage.

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