31st May 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: Somewhere in Russia – Anatoli Yakovlev, Russian spy in 1940s New York. Later awarded the title of “Honorable State Security Agent”, the Red Star, the Order of October Revolution and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.

Also, in Cape Province (now Northern Cape Province) in South Africa –  William Ewart Gladstone van Wyk Louw, the Afrikaans language poet.

World Affairs: In Australia, in a Federal election, the Australian Labour Party is marginally ousted by the Commonwealth Liberal Party.

Second Balkan War: The Romanian  Parliament votes in favour of allowing Russia to mediate in its territorial dispute with Bulgaria.

Sport: Swede, Alexis Ahlgren beats Harry Green’s world record for the marathon, which Harry has held for the previous 19 days.

30th May 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Falls City, Nebraska – Pee Wee (George) Erwin, Jazz trumpeter.

World Affairs – in London, at the conclusion of the international conference which has lasted over 5 months, combatants of the First Balkan War sign the Treaty of London. The Balkan League (Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Montenegro), having defeated the Ottomans, successfully confirm the boundaries of the Turkish state in Eastern Thrace, substantially limiting Turkey’s territory in Europe. Issues relating to Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Thrace remain unresolved, thereby sowing seeds for later disputes – the earliest of which will re-emerge within weeks.

Crime and Punishment: Henry Brock is executed for murder in the State of Texas.

29th May 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Baku in the Russian Empire (now Azerbaijan) – Hokuma Gurbanova, Azeri actress and the USSR’s “Peoples’ Artist” for 1965. Also awarded the Order of the Badge of Honour (1949); The Order of Lenin (1959); and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1973).

Also – in Nagyberezna, Austria-Hungary (later Veliky Bereznij in Russia, then Ukraine)  – Ivan Rohach, Ukrainian journalist, poet and writer. Personal secretary to the (nominal) Prime Minister of Carpatho-Ukraine (the Republic of Rusyn) which existed for 1 day – 15th March 1939, before being occupied by Hungary.

Society and Culture: In Paris, the Premiere of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” witnesses probably the most famous riot in musical history.

At Haggar’s Theatre, in Llanelly, Wales – Vulcana (born Kate Williams, daughter of a local preacher, now aged 38) beats rival strong woman Athelda in a competition to lift a challenge bell. With her partner, “Atlas”, she has been appearing as a stage act in London since 1892, having started at the age of 17.

28th May 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Novonikolaevsk, Siberia – Monia Talan, MBE – Platoon Sergeant and later Company Sergeant Major, and member of the British elite Special Operations Executive. Refugee from the Russian Revolution aged 5, member of the Shanghai Volunteers in his youth, Hong Kong soldier and later businessman during and after World War 2.  Retired as a horse breeder with his Hungarian wife outside Melbourne, Australia in 1979.

Human rights: In a protest against the South African racist pass laws, a mass meeting of women in Waaihoek adopts a passive resistance stance. The women refuse to carry residential permits, and two hundred angry women march into town to see the mayor, later tearing up their passes and provoking 80 arrests.

Mysteries: Bertrand Russell records in a letter a recent meeting he has had with the philosopher Wittgenstein, and experiences “the younger generation knocking at the door”

We were both cross from the heat. I showed him a crucial part of what I had been writing. He said it was all wrong, not realizing the difficulties—that he had tried my view and knew it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t understand his objection—in fact he was very inarticulate—but I feel in my bones that he must be right, and that he has seen something that I have missed. If I could see it too I shouldn’t mind, but as it is, it is worrying, and has rather destroyed the pleasure in my writing—I can only go on with what I see, and yet I feel it is probably all wrong, and that Wittgenstein will think me a dishonest scoundrel for going on with it. Well, well—it is the younger generation knocking at the door—I must make room for him when I can, or I shall become an incubus. But at the moment I was rather cross”.

Three years later Russell wrote: “I saw he was right, and I saw that I could not hope ever again to do fundamental work in philosophy. My impulse was shattered, like a wave dashed to pieces against a breakwater”.[University College London – 2006: “What Wittgenstein saw and Russell missed”]

Society and technology: At Windsor Castle, England, a copy of today’s Paris newspaper, Le Matin – printed on silk – is delivered to King George V, having been flown across the channel. A second (back-up) copy – being delivered by a separate pilot – never arrives because the craft develops engine trouble and is forced to land short of its destination.

27th May 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: In Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now just in Hungary) – Enver Colakovic, Bosnian novelist, poet and translator.

Arms Race: At Horten, on the Oslofjord in Norway, the Norwegian Royal Navy launches the destroyer Garm. Destroyed by the Luftwaffe on 26th April 1940 during the German invasion of Norway.

Women’s Suffrage: Sylvia Pankhurst establishes the East London Federation of Suffragettes. It is considered by many – including her own family – to be too democratic and working class, and six months later is excluded from the Women’s Social and Political Union.

Science and technology: At Montrose Scotland, Desmond Arthur becomes the first fatality from an aircrash in Scotland when the right wing of his aircraft snaps off at 2500 feet. He is killed instantly on impact and buried in Sleepyhillock Cemetery in Montrose. Later he participated in the one of the most famous ghost stories from World War I  after multiple sightings of the ‘Irish Apparition’ or the ‘Montrose Ghost’, starting in 1916 and recurring as recently as 2012.

On 27 May 1963, Sir Peter Maselfield, was flying his Chipmunk monoplane close to Montrose while en route from Dalcross to Shoreham, when he saw what he believed was a 70 horsepower B.E.2 biplane; the pilot was wearing a leather flying helmet, goggles and a flying scarf. Masefield landed when he believed he had seen it crashing, but on reaching the ground discovered that there was no plane or crash site”. [Wikipedia].

26th May 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Kenley, Surrey, England – Peter Cushing: Baron Frankenstein, Dr Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, Winston Smith, Dr Who and Grand Moff Tarkin. A momentous day for the fiction of science. (Horror hits a hundred).

Arms Race: The Royal Dutch Navy launches “Gruno”, F81 gunboat.

Women’s suffrage: After a period recuperating from a hunger strike, Emmeline Pankhurst is re-arrested outside the home of her friend Ethel Smyth in Hook Heath, Surrey, England.

Society and Culture: Emily Cecilia Duncan  is appointed as the UK’s first woman magistrate (local judge with powers to try certain lower level offences), having worked as a Guardian (Board Member) of the West Ham Union workhouse for the last 20 years.

25th May 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: In Marylebone, London, England – Donald Duart Maclean, son of Sir Donald Maclean (MP) and member of the “Cambridge Five” who spied for the Soviet Union during and after WW2. Defected to the USSR on his 38th birthday (25th May 1951) when public knowledge of his treachery had become inevitable. Died in Moscow in 1983.

World Affairs: In Vienna, Colonel Alfred Redl, Director of Intelligence for the Austro-Hungarian army, commits suicide after it is discovered that he has been passing secrets to the Russian Empire for the last eleven years.

Society and Culture: In the Kremlin, Moscow – the Romanov family host the first of two lavish banquets to celebrate the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. 700 guests are entertained by a dinner toast accompanied by cannon fire; an ornate and inscribed menu card; and an after dinner performance of the Bolshoy theatre.

The menu card includes a three-person group symbolising the prosperity of Russia and the support of the Czar by all classes of the society . A boyar (nobleman in pre-1700 Russia) is holding a scroll with inscription TRUTH and GRACE. The shield of an ancient warrior is inscribed FOR CZAR AND FATHERLAND and a boy in medieval dress is pouring fruits from a Horn of Plenty. At the sides it reads ABUNDANCE OF FRUITS OF THE LAND.

In four years time the Romanovs will be swept away by the Russian Revolutions of 1917.

24th May 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Langnau im Emmenthal in Switzerland – Hans Schwarzenbach, Swiss equestrian who won silver in the eventing event (?) at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

Arms Race: In Kiel, Germany the Germaniawerft shipyard launches the submarine “U24”. She will sink 34 ships before surrendering in November 1918.

Accidents and disasters: in Long Beach, California, the municipal pier collapses while 10,000 weekenders are crowded on to the pier. Thirty six people die.

In Smyrna (now Izmir) on the Turkish coast, the steamship Nevada strays into a mined part of the harbour, strikes three mines, and sinks with the loss of forty lives.

Empire: The British Empire celebrates “Empire Day”.

Each Empire Day, millions of school children from all walks of life across the length and breadth of the British Empire would typically salute the union flag and sing patriotic songs like Jerusalem and God Save the Queen. They would hear inspirational speeches and listen to tales of ‘daring do’ from across the Empire, stories that included such heroes as Clive of India, Wolfe of Québec and ‘Chinese Gordon’ of Khartoum. But of course the real highlight of the day for the children was that they were let of (sic) school early in order to take part in the thousands of marches, maypole dances, concerts and parties that celebrated the event. [“Historic UK” website – http://www.historic-uk.com/]

In Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) – The British South Africa Police Regimental Association is formed. The UK Branch is planning centenary celebrations in various locations across the UK this month.

23rd May 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: Seizo Suzuki – Japanese hybridiser of roses and the director of the Keisei Rose Research Institute.

Shipping News: In dense fog, a Greek steamer, the “Katina” heading for Athens from the coast of South Wales, runs aground on to the shingle beach below Mansley Cliff in North Devon, England. Amazingly, the Captain and his crew are able to walk ashore as the tide goes down, and to return later to retrieve their possessions. Captain Syrmas is unhappy because his binoculars – a prized gift from the King of Greece – have been stolen from the stranded vessel.

All in all, one of 1913’s quieter days…

22nd May 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY (1813): In Leipzig, Germany – Wilhelm Richard Wagner, revered opera composer who: brought to the world the Ring of the Nibelung; built his own opera house in Beyreuth; endured and enjoyed political exile, turbulent love affairs, poverty and repeated flight from his creditors; became associated with antisemitic ideas; and died in living memory in Venice, just 30 years ago in 1883.

Arms Race – at Barrow in Furness, UK – the Vickers Armaments company launches HMAS AE1, a submarine of the Royal Australian Navy. She will be lost at sea off Papua New Guinea in September 1914.

Transport and technology: In Wabash, Indiana – 11 year old Morris Eagan is killed when he fails to see an approaching automobile being driven by a “demonstrator” [Madison Courier newspaper, 23rd May 1913].