Lowell in World War I: Oct 14 to Oct 25, 1918

Another two weeks worth of headlines from 100 years ago. As the end of the war draws near, the number of casualties increase while the Spanish Flu brings death to Lowell.

October 14, 1918 – Monday –  Wilson is to act quickly in reply to Germany. Expected to demand unconditional surrender before granting an armistice. Grippe checked: Material decrease in number of cases reported in this city today. School teachers help in overcoming Influenza epidemic. Superintendent of Schools Hugh Molloy announced today that he has asked all teachers in Lowell schools to assist in conducting a citywide canvas to determine the extent of the influenza epidemic in the city. Supt Molloy said the only way to determine the scope of the problem is to do a house-to-house canvas. Molloy told teachers to speak with the children of each house, since they are more likely to speak English than are their parents. He also said it would be permissible for teachers to recruit children 14 years or older to accompany them as translators. Because all will remain outside in the fresh air, it is thought that there will be little exposure to infection, but all will be equipped with masks for added protection.

October 15, 1918 – Tuesday – Allies capture dozen towns and 8000 Huns in one day. American drive in Meuse continues successfully. Grippe epidemic: No material change in local situation. Thirteen patients discharged from Isolation Hospital. Authorities are optimistic.

October 16, 1918 – Wednesday – Allies capture 12,000 Huns and advance seven miles in two days. Yanks batter down stiff resistance and push on along Meuse. Grippe waning. Fewer cases reported here today than in past two weeks. Schools, theatres and saloons may remain closed for another week.

October 17, 1918 – Thursday – Lille captured. Great bastion falls after bitter struggle. New offensive launched by Haig. New allied victories in Flanders. Grippe halted. Only 54 new cases of influenza reported at City Hall today. Indications of general lifting of ban at meeting to be held tomorrow.

October 18, 1918 – Friday – Zeebrugge is taken by Allies as Huns rush back across Belgium. French and American successes in Argonne. Secretary McAdoo makes urgent appeal to people of Lowell to contribute to the Fourth Liberty Loan. “Let every true American citizen today examine himself under the white light of patriotism and say whether or not he has done his utmost in this urgency. The highest obligations of duty and patriotism command every true American to go immediately to his bank or to his Liberty Loan committee and to subscribe to the limit of his ability to the Fourth Liberty Bonds.” Ban is still on: Board of Health refuses to raise lid on general closing order. No action taken on church closing question. Local theatre men are indignant. Exercises in connection with assembling a student army training corps are underway at the Textile School.

October 21, 1918 – Monday –  Germany modifies U-Boat warfare. Makes new plea in reply to US. Reply fails to meet Wilson’s demands, but attacks on passenger ships to stop. Grippe abating. Intimated that ban will be lifted in this city in a few days. Only 23 new cases reported today. Lowell men leave for Fort Williams. Lowell’s four exemption boards each sent 10 men to Fort Williams, Portland, Maine, this morning.

October 22, 1918 – Tuesday – Tournai and Valenciennes within grasp of British. French march on Ghent. Grippe epidemic. Increase in number of new cases reported. Indications that ban will be continued for several days. Prior to this morning’s meeting of the board of health, everything seemed rosy for a general resumption of normal life in the city on Thursday, but a majority of the board voted to continue the ban indefinitely, especially after hearing from Major Durant of the medical reserve of the Massachusetts state guard. The major cautioned against loosening restrictions too soon. He said that had happened in Lawrence and the disease resumed stronger than ever. The Major also said that the present disease wasn’t influenza at all, but was something far more deadly, and the more that medical authorities came in contact with it, the more terrorizing it became. Teachers complete canvas. Teachers from the 13 grammar school districts in the city completed their canvas, turing in 24,600 cards registering entire households as to their health situation. The cards are now being compiled by Albert D Mack and his staff of assistants at the high school annex. Mr. Mack states that these records will be of great value in the future, for they indicate the number of people living in every house in the city.

October 23, 1918 – Wednesday – British launch new attack. Americans drive on Metz. Americans plan to fight all winter, even in the severest weather. Grippe relaxing. Decrease in number of cases reported today. Ban off on Monday. Massachusetts Mills will expend $100,000 to increase its efficiency. Plans include new building, new walls, water wheels and generators. The directors of the Massachusetts Mills seem disposed to heed Inventor Edison’s advice that American industries should make haste to use more “white coal,” (electricity generated by water power) than has previously been the case. Names of Lowell men on casualty lists: Private Armand B Alix, 20, of Battery F, 102nd Field Artillery, has been severely wounded. He is the son of Mrs. Lottie Alix of 228 Bridge Street. Private George Kelley of Co. M of the old Ninth Regiment is reported missing in action. He previously served on the Mexican border and had been employed at the Massachusetts cotton mills before resuming military service. Corporal John T McQuesten, 21, of Co G of the 104th Infantry has been severely wounded in France. He is the son of Mrs. Anna L McQuesten of 118 D Street.  Two Lowell men serving with the Canadian overseas forces are also reported to have been wounded. They are Private Arthur W Howitt, son of William O Howitt of 52 Myrtle Street, and Armand Laurent, son of Mr and Mrs Philorum Laurent of 324 Aiken street.

October 24, 1918 – Thursday – British smash German lines and move towards Mons, capture 6000. French launch offensive south of Oise. Important gains for Americans. Wilson ultimatum: No Armistice till Germans surrender. No more separate dealings, US and Allied governments to act in concert. The annual convention of the Middlesex County teachers association has been postponed because of the epidemic. One of the new 72 inch boilers recently delivered to city hall by Scannell Boiler Works has already been set in position and today the second heater was being installed in the basement of the building. Promotion for Lowell boy in France. Joseph A McCann was recently promoted to sergeant with the motor truck corps. Before leaving Lowell, Sgt McCann was rated one of the best automobile men in the city.

October 25, 1918 – Friday –  Italians launch drive against Austrians as Allies sweep on in France and Belgium. “If you approve of my course, elect Democrats to Congress,” urges President Wilson. Ban lifted here. Lowell Board of Health votes today to lift general ban on Monday. Churches open Sunday. Big falling off in number of influenza cases here. Health Board report on relief work. Government appeals for nut shells and fruit stones: One million pounds are needed daily for the manufacturing of gasmask charcoal, but the government is only able to purchase one-third of this amount. This failure of the public to cooperate fully by saving and sending in this form of waste from the kitchen have made it necessary for the chemical warfare headquarters to renew its appeal.

One Response to Lowell in World War I: Oct 14 to Oct 25, 1918

  1. Patti Mason says:

    Loved you stories of Lowell and WWI

    The Westford Historical Society entered a WWI tree in the Westford Family FunFest Festival of Trees, Wreaths, and Gingerbread Creations at the Westford Regency . It runs until Dec 27. The tree is full of hand knitted/crocheted Poppies from Westford people and photos of Westford soldiers in WWI . They won 2nd place in the town/business division.
    I tried to attach a photo, but it would not let me. I did put one up on Marie Sweeney Facebook page and you can see the photo and others at http://www.westford.org/FunFest