With the last post of 1917 comes the first loss of American military lives in World War One. We also see developments in Russia continuing apace, with Finland and Estonia breaking off from the old Empire, and the establishment of secret police forces that would soon become a defining feature of the post-revolutionary political scene (as the were of the Czarist one as well). I hope all my readers had a good 2017, and I wish you a happy new year as we move toward 1918, the year of active American involvement in the World War and also the Influenza Epidemic.
World War I
The British Egyptian Expeditionary Force accepts the surrender of Jerusalem on December 9 by the mayor, Hussein al-Husayni, following effective defeat of the Ottoman Empire‘s Yildirim Army Group during the Battle of Jerusalem.
Egyptian Expeditionary Force secures the victory at the Battle of Jerusalem on December 30 by successfully defending Jerusalem from numerous Yildirim Army Group counterattacks.
The Cheka, or All-Russian Emergency Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage, is established in Russia on December 20. It begins as a small organization of about 40 officials, but will expand to 200,000 operatives within four years.
National Independence Movements
Two freighters collide in Halifax Harbour at Halifax, Nova Scotia and cause a huge explosion that kills at least 1,963 people, injures 9,000 and destroys part of the city on December 6 (the biggest man-made explosion in recorded history until the Trinity nuclear test in 1945).
After nearly 20 years of planning and construction, the Quebec Bridge opens to traffic (the bridge partially collapsed on August 29, 1907 and September 11, 1916).
United States president Woodrow Wilson uses the Federal Possession and Control Act to place most U.S. railroads under the United States Railroad Administration, effective December 26, hoping to transport troops and materials for the war effort more efficiently.