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.

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