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].

21st May 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: at Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, UK – Leonard Cottrell, British author and journalist who popularised archaeology with titles like “Life under the Pharaohs”, “Crete, Island of Mystery”, and “The Quest for Sumer”.

Society and Culture: King George V of Britain and Ireland arrives in Germany  to attend the wedding of his cousin’s daughter – Princess Luise (daughter of the Kaiser). These two cousins are both grandchildren of Queen Victoria of Britain and Ireland. Tomorrow another of King George’s cousins, Tsar Nicholas II, will join them. These two cousins (George and Nicholas) are both grandchildren of King Christian X of Denmark.

In New York, Raffaele Ciavarella is executed in the electric chair for the crime of murder.

20th May 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: Five not at all of a kind:

In Ann Arbor, Michigan – William Redington Hewlett – co-founder of Hewlett Packard;

In Port de Paix, Haiti – Emile Jonassaint – Supreme Court Justice and temporary Head of State after the expulsion of the elected president in 1991;

In London, England – Jasmine Lydia Bligh – one of the BBC’s original three (female) TV presenters;

In Konigsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, an exclave of Russia inside Lithuania)  – Hans-Gunther Bethke –  Wehrmacht soldier and Iron Cross holder who was killed near Leningrad in 1942; and

In Lowell, Massachusetts – Vito Paulekas – son of Lithuanian immigrants, artist, “bohemian” and prime mover of the South California ‘freak scene” in the 1960s;

Arms Race: In Bath, Maine, USA, the US Navy launches the destroyer USS Cassin.

Women’s Suffrage – In Hastings, England, an angry mob of about 300 men attacks a meeting of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).  Later the NUWSS sues the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of Hastings under the Riot Damage Act to recover money they have been forced to pay to an hotelier for damage by the mob.

Society and Culture: London holds its first “Chelsea Flower Show”.

18th May 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: Ray Shaw, English Footballer who played for Birmingham before becoming manager of his home town club, Walsall.

Also “the Most Beautiful Road in the World” [Frankfurter Zeitung] near Tremosine on Lake Garda, in Italy. Now prosaically known as Provincial main road SP38.

Society and Culture: In Zhengzhou, China, a group of nearly 70 poppy farmers are burned alive in their meeting house by Chinese troops after they have refused to let their crops be destroyed by the authorities.

VI Lenin publishes “Backward Europe and Advanced Asia” in the Russian journal Pravda.

On Tagg’s Island, in the River Thames in the London Borough of Richmond, Fred Karno, impresario, opens his “Karsino” (a rebuilt hotel already on the site) – incorporating a hotel. theatre, ballroom, restaurant, bar, pleasure gardens and sporting facilities. It is not a huge success, is sold in 1926 and eventually demolished in 1971. Meantime Karno’s nearby luxurious houseboat “Astoria” has enjoyed better success, especially after it was acquired by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and converted to a recording studio.

In the US, the Crystal Film Company releases “Homlock Shermes” a short, silent comedy featuring Pearl the Detective.