Extracts from Disley Primary School Ledger.
Very wet. Morning attendance poor, many children arrived very wet. Clothes dried in school private rooms. Mr Carswell visited to school to explain his son’s absence.
Attendance for week very poor owing to bad weather.
Owing to the fog the children who reside in the hills were sent home at 3:40pm.
The attendance during the week has been much better, the percentage reaching 92.5 against 88.6% for previous week. Leaves from punishment book for last 3 years forwarded to the Director of Education
Notified medical officer reporting influenza cases – 25.
Reported 8 further cases of influenza. School visited by officers of N.S.P.C.C.
Sickness returns made to Dr. Young – Attendance 146.
During the week the attendance has been very poor indeed owing to influenza. This afternoon 67 children have been absent. Percentage for week 72.3 against 92.3% for previous year.
Day by Day
Sea War, Pacific
A powerful squadron of German warships commanded by Admiral Maximilian von Spee inflicts a major defeat on Vice Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock’s British squadron off Coronel, Chile.
Spee, whose warships have been taking on coal from German colliers in Chilean waters, leads his two heavy cruisers, the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, and three light cruisers, the Dresden, Leizig and Nurnberg, into battle in the late afternoon and in heavy seas.
Cradock’s force, which has been hurriedly assembled to deal with Spee, consists of two old heavy cruisers, the Good Hope and Monmouth, the light cruiser Glasgow, and an armed former ocean liner, the Otranto. A fifth vessel, the aging battleship Canopus, has been left behind in the Falklands, a British coaling station in the South Atlantic, because it could not keep up with the rest of Cradock’s squadron.
Spee’s two heavy cruisers use the longer range of their main guns to smash Cradock’s cruisers and frustrate the manoeuvres of the British, who try to get close range to use their smaller guns. Both the Good Hope and Monmouth go down with all hands, including Cradock, in the early evening. The Glasgow and Otranto escape under the cover of darkness. The British are fearful that Spee’s squadron will move into the Atlantic to disrupt their commerce and quickly send a squadron of warships under Vice Admiral Sir F.D. Sturdee to intercept Spee’s warships.
Air War, Germany
Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, commander-in-chief of the Imperial German Navy, demands mass firebomb raids on London.
Both countries declare war on Turkey. The Russian I Caucasian Corps invades Turkish-government Armenia at five points, but is repulsed by a Turkish counterattack on the 11th.
Sea War, North Sea
German warships begin to bombard and lay mines off a number of towns along Britain’s east coast. The raids reach their peak on December 16, when German heavy cruisers led by Admiral Franz von Hipper attack the ports of Whitby and Hartlepool and cause over 7oo casualties.
Although the brief raids have little military impact, the dead toll of civilians and damage to property sends shockwaves through the British establishment. Of more military value are German mine-laying operations in British inshore waters.
Africa, German East Africa
A British amphibious assault directed against Tanga, a German held port, is decisively defeated by General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. Lettow-Vorbeck’s force consists of a few German companies and local troops – askaris. Tanga marks the beginning of a four-year-long guerrilla war by Lettow-Vorbeck, which will see him operate at will throughout East Africa, tying down increasingly large British and Commonwealth forces with little aid from Germany. His campaign is a model of guerilla warfare.
In the face of a renewed Austro-Hungarian offensive directed toward Belgrade and desperately short of ammunition, Marshal Rodamir Putnick’s Serbian troops holding positions outside the capital city withdraw slowly and in good order. However, Austro-Hungarian troops cannot be prevented from occupying Belgrade on December 2.
The government declares war on Belgium.
The naval high command forms the decoding unit known as Room 40, which becomes the hub of Britain’s intelligence-gathering operations.
Far East and Pacific, Japan
After a siege that began in late August, the Japanese secure the formal surrender of the German base at Tsingato, China.
Eastern Front, Galicia
The German Ninth Army, which has been commanded by General August von Mackensen since Hindenberg’s recent promotion, is launched against the Russians. Mackensen’s main aim is to drive a wedge between the Russian First and Second Armies and defeat each in turn. General Pavel Rennenkampf’s First Army is overwhelmed by Mackensen and the Russian Second Army is virtually surrounded near Lodz.
However, an unusually swift Russian counterattack turns the tables on the Germans, and one of Mackensen’s spearhead units, General Reinhard von Scheffer-Boyadel’s XXV Reserve Corps, is surrounded. However, Scheffer-Boyadel displays exemplary powers of leadership, breaking out of the Russian encirclement and taking 16,000 Russian prisoners and more than 60 artillery pieces with him in a running fight that lasts nine days in atrocious winter weather.
Although the Russians have rebuffed the German offensive directed against Lodz, the strategic initiative remains with Hindenberg, who although still outnumbered, has thwarted the Russian plan to invade the German industrial heartland of Silesia. German casualties in the battle total 35,000 men killed or wounded; Russian casualties are at least three times as many.