31st October 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Fergus, Ontario – Wilfred Kennedy “Bucko” McDonald, Canadian professional hockey and lacrosse player, coach, politician, and Member of the Canadian Parliament for Parry Sound.



30th October 1914 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Lanchester, County Durham, England – John Wilson, inside-right (soccer player) for West Bromwich Albion, Port Vale, Wigan Athletic and Shrewsbury Town.



War at Sea: His Majesty’s Hospital Ship (HMHS) Rohilla stikes a reef off the Yorkshire coast, and sinks with the loss of 86 lives.


Espionage: In London, the court martial of the German spy Carl Hans Lody begins. Lody is “charged with two offences of war treason concerning the two letters he had sent from Edinburgh on 27 September and Dublin on 30 September. In both letters, the charge sheet stated that Lody had sought “to convey to a belligerent enemy of Great Britain, namely Germany” information relating to the UK’s defences and preparations for war.” [Wikipedia].




29th October 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Oreshak in the Balkan mountains in Bulgaria – Marin Naydenov Minkov, later better known as Patriarch Maxim, the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church from 1971 until his death in 2012.



War at Sea: In Odessa on the Black Sea in Russia (now in Ukraine), the former German battleship and cruiser – Geoben and Breslau – now flying Turkish flags, stage a surprise attack, sinking the Russian gunboat Donetz, and also complete raids on the coastal cities of Sevastapol and Novorossiysk, causing significant damage.  Officially Turkey is still a neutral country, because there has been no previous declaration of war.


Society and Culture: In London, “Admiral His Serene Highness” Prince Louis of Battenberg, Austrian by birth, is forced to resign as Britain’s “First Sea Lord” (Chief of Naval Staff). The papers report that “though he is closely connected by birth or marriage with most of the great reigning houses of Europe – German, Russian, Spanish and Italian – he has won his present rank by ability, not by any exercise of influence”.



28th October 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in New York City – Dr Jonas Edward Salk, who brought the world an effective vaccine against polio:

“In the five years before 1955, when mass inoculations with the vaccine began, cases of paralytic polio averaged about 25,000 a year in the United States. A few years after polio vaccination became routine, the annual number of cases dropped to a dozen or so, sometimes fewer.” [NY TImes obituary].



Eastern Front: Russian troops recapture Lodz and Radon from German forces. [Burg & Purcell]

War at Sea: The German cruiser “Emden” makes a surprise attack on Penang in Malaya (now Malaysia), sinking the Russian Cruiser “Zemtchug” and the French destroyer “Mousquet”.


Society and Culture: At the Bank of England (the UK’s central bank) – one of the City’s most traditional bastions –  the Treasury Committee minutes provide a brief glimpse of the impact of war on the labour market, as now recorded on the contemporary bank’s web-site:

The impact of the war on the Bank is illustrated by a change in the workforce between 1914 and 1918. In August 1914, women clerks at the Bank numbered just 66 and their work was predominantly typing and counting notes. As a result of the enlistment of many of the  Bank’s junior male clerks, the number of temporary and permanent women clerks increased to a peak of 2,463 in June 1919. The responsibilities of the women clerks was (sic) also changing. An extract from the Committee of Treasury minutes on 28 October 1914 discusses that as it was now, ‘desirable to employ women clerks permanently on the coupon work of the Securities Office, the Committee agreed to recommend to the Court of Directors that the staff of the Women Clerks Department be increased by eight clerks.’ ”  [Bank of England archives].






27th October 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Swansea, Wales – Dylan Marlais Thomas, Welsh poet who wrote exclusively in English.



War at Sea:  Twenty miles fromTory Island, on Ireland’s North West coast, American tourists on the liner “Olympic” snap pictures  of the British Dreadnought class battleship “Audacious”  after it is seriously damaged by striking a mine.  Later in the day, despite efforts to tow it to safety, Audacious blows up and sinks in the Atlantic. All of the crew are safely evacuated before the explosion, but an officer on another vessel is killed by a stray piece of armour plating blown half a mile by the blast.

Today she lies on the sea bed 17 miles from Tory Island. Public announcement of her destruction was postponed for over 4 years, until shortly after the end of the war.

[Burg and Purcell, and Wikipedia].


Thoughts of eternity: An anonymous French soldier writes to his mother from the front:

“Let us eat and drink to all that is eternal, for tomorrow we die to all that is of the earth. We acquire an increase of love in that moment when we renounce our mean and anxious hopes”.

[Letters of a Soldier, 1914-1915]



New Zealand farmer Goerge Adkin spends a hot day at the local cattle market, including dinner (lunch) at the Jubilee Hotel and photographing the main street and Town Hall.




26th October 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Los Angeles – Uncle Fester.



In Africa: in German Kamerun (now independent Cameroon), British and French forces successfully eject the German garrison from the town of Edea in the “first battle of Edea”.


Crime and punishment: In Sarajevo, the group who plotted successfully to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28th June are found guilty. Those over the age of 20 are sentenced to death, and the younger perpetrators, including the actual assassin, Gavrilo Princip, are given twenty year sentences. [Burg and Purcell]


Fashion: In London, the Guardian newspaper reports on the impact of the war on high fashion:

“One is decidedly struck with the tendency to adopt – or rather adapt – several military styles of coats and capes. The cavalier cape of the summer has become more ample and closely fitting round the throat, while the loose military coat, slightly double-breasted and buttoning close to the neck, with a band collar or edging of narrow fur, is both extremely becoming and useful. These are usually made of a heavy face-cloth or velour, and must, of course, be lined with a silk of contrasting colour. An adaptation of the Russian soldier coat is another favourite. This is cut on somewhat straighter lines than the former and has a sash or girdle of heavy cord and tassel round the waist, tied loosely to the front or side.” [The Guardian, 26th October 1914].


Leisure: In New Zealand, farmer George is studying the geology of the USA in his free time.


25th October 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in the Netherlands – Franciscus Henricus Antheunis Sr, who migrated to Australia in 1956, together with his wife, taking with them nine year old Franciscus Henricus Antheunis Jr, now a musican and children’s entertainer.




Western Front: In Flanders, in a desperate attempt to stop the German advance, the Belgians open the sluice gates of the coastal dikes to flood the area between the River Yser and a railway embankment further inland. [Burg and Purcell].

An anonymous nursing sister records in her diary the desperation, as recounted to her by the wounded:

“First, you must understand that this big battle from Ostend to Lille is perhaps the most desperate of all, though that is said of each in turn – Mons, the Aisne, and this; but the men and officers who have been through all say this is the worst. The Germans are desperate, and stick at nothing, and the Allies are the same; and in determination to drive them back, each man personally seems to be the same. Consequently the ‘carnage’ is being appalling, and we have been practically in it, as far as horrrors go. Guns were cracking and spitting all night, lighting up the sky in flashes, and fires were burning on both sides. The Clearing Hospital close by, which was receiving the wounded from the field and sending them on to us, was packed and overflowing with badly wounded…”