31st January 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in Austin, Texas – Alan Lomax, “one of the great American field collectors of folk music  of the 20th century… also a folklorist,  ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activitist, oral historian and film-maker” [Wikipedia].



Eastern Front: At Bolimow, the German ninth army launches 18,000 gas laden artillery shells against Russian troops, but sub-zero temperatures neutralise the gas which is dispersed without harm. The Russians, unaware, do not report the gas attack to thier allies. [Burg & Purcell].


Middle East: Forces of the Idrisid Emir of Asir (now south west Saudi Arabia) occupy the Farasan Islands in the Red Sea.



Leisure: and love: New Zealand farmer and diarist George Adkin enjoys a summer’s afternoon of photography, and the company of his beloved fiance, Maud, “my sweet softie”.



30th January 1915 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Kensington, London – Brigadier John Dennis (“Jack”) Profumo, 5th Baron Profumo in the nobility of Sardinia, educated at Harrow and Oxford, Secretary of State for the British War Office from 1960-1963 (when he resigned after a scandal involving Christine Keeler, a model with “connections” to a Soviet diplomat); and later a volunteer East End toilet cleaner while retaining his membership of the Boodles (gentleman’s) club in London’s St James. “His friend, social reform campaigner  Lord Longford said he ‘felt more admiration [for Profumo] than [for] all the men I’ve known in my lifetime’ ”. [Wikipedia].



War at Sea: German U-boat SM U-20 sinks two British cargo vessels in the English Channel/ La Manche, while SM U-21 sinks another three in the Irish Sea. All twenty one crewmen from the vessel “Oriole” are drowned. The crewmen from the other four vessels are thankfully all rescued by nearby ships.


War of Words: The British “Spectator” magazine publishes a review of a newly published book “What’s Wrong with Germany?”, but also goes on to offer its own diagnosis:

“We believe that, if the inquiry is to be pushed to the ultimate point, what is wrong with the Germans is their dreadful, their slavish devotion to Logic— to the “Absolute” and to Abstractions. When English- men create an Abstraction they do not call upon all mankind to enthrone it. They treat it as some- thing which is ” there or thereabouts,” as something useful, no doubt, but not to be pressed too far. When the Germans create an Abstraction they fall down and worship it. They not only treat it with intellectual servility, but regard it as a living thing. When their Abstraction is once established, they will not place any limits on its authority. They follow it ruth- lessly, relentlessly, remorselessly, and to the bitter end. The result is what we see in the world to-day—the earth reeking with blood, Belgium, Poland, and some of the fairest parts of France drinking the cup of suffering to the dregs, and millions of men by land and sea locked in a death struggle. Truly did Mme. de Steel use the words which we have placed as a motto to this article—” Thinking calms men of other nations; it inflames the Germans.” They are maddened by an Abstraction, but they adore it. Frankenstein had to obey the monster he created, but he loathed and feared it. Germany, the new Frankenstein, worships her creations, and is willing to follow them through blood and fire, no matter what the consequence to herself or to the rest of mankind.” [Spectator, 30th January 1915].



US influence in Europe: Colonel Edward House, US President Wilson’s special adviser on foreign affairs, sails for Europe in pursuit of peace talks after holding bilateral discussions with the German and British ambassadors in Washington. [Burg & Purcell].

29th January, 1915 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Copenhagen – Halfdan Rasmussen, poet, resistance fighter and human rights activist.



Western Front: In the Argonne region of North East France, twenty three year old Lieutenant Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel earns an Iron Cross (his second) for leading his platoon in successful raids against French positions [Burg & Purcell].


28th January, 1915 (Thursday)


~ in Inskip, in Lancashire, England – Albert Long, palaeobotanist, naturalist and teacher.

“Education is no good if it makes people greedy or selfish or unjust. It should cure these evils. All the certificates in the world therefore cannot be compared to a kind Spirit.” [Royal Society website]


~ Also, Sir John Colville “knight and civil servant”, son of the Honourable George Colville and Lady Cynthia Colville, educated at Harrow and  Trinity College, Cambridge, and later the Assistant Private Secretary to three British Prime Ministers. “Although he should not have done so, Colville kept a diary from 1939 – 1957, parts of which have been published”.[The Janus library project in Cambridge].


~ and in Beijing – Nien Cheng, “Chinese writer scarred by the Cultural Revolution” [Guardian newspaper obituary].



The Dardanelles: In London, the War Council is split over the planned Dardanelles operation, but with help from Kitchener and Asquith (the Prime Minister) Churchill’s will prevails and the plan will proceed. [Burg & Purcell]

War at Sea: Off the coast of Brazil, the American cargo ship, the William P. Frye, a four-masted steel barque heading for England with a cargo of wheat, has been intercepted by a German cruiser. When the crew fails to fulfill orders from the German captain to jettison its cargo, the ship is sunk, inciting indignation in the US.



27th January 1915 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in South Shields, in north east England – Jack Brymer OBE, “the leading clarinettist of his generation, perhaps of the century” [The Times, as quoted on Wikipedia].



Western Front: To celebrate Kaiser Wilhelm’s (56th) birthday, each soldier of the German 14th Reserve Corps, which has been stationed on the Somme for several months, receives  half a bottle of wine, 15 cigars, 12 cigarettes and pack of tobacco and sausage. [Ralph Whitehead: “The other side of the wire”].


A sporting spat: In the Chancery Courts in London, Mr William Taylor fails to protect his patent for his “invention” of the dimpled golf ball.



26th January 1915 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Colorado, USA – The Rocky Mountain National Park, a “huge expanse of scenic rugged terrain” [Google maps].



Transcaucasian Front, and beyond: In Sufian in Persia (now in Eastern Azerbaijan province in Iran) Russian forces under General Chernozubov overpower Turkish forces, enabling the Russians to re-establish local control and authority in Tabriz, ignoring Persia’s declared neutrality.



Taxation blues: In Dublin, in (British) Ireland, Mr Richard Reeve Smythe of Griffin Lodge is being prosecuted for refusing to pay his motor tax, as required of motor owners under the provisions of the Motor Tax Licence Duties Collection Order, 1910. My Smythe’s legal council questions the validity of the tax, noting that “motorists across Ireland rarely paid it to their county councils and prosecutions were like angel visits, few and far between” [RTE century ireland].


25th January 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Salford, England – James Henry Miller, better known to posterity as the singer songwriter and folk musician Ewan MacColl. The son of “an iron moulder and militant trade unionist who had moved to Salford with his wife, a charwoman, to look for work after being blacklisted in almost every foundry in Scotland” [Wikipedia].



Western Front: in German held Mezieres in France, the commander of XV Corps attends a meeting of the German Supreme Command for the Western Front. The attendees agree that the XV Corps sector, south of Ypres, will be used to test the new “gas cloud” weapon.



Science and technology: the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, inaugurates the U.S. transcontinental telephone service by making a demonstration call to Thomas Watson, his former assistant, in San Francisco.



24th January 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: – in Aberdeen, Washington State, USA – Robert (“Burns”) Motherwell the third, abstract expressionist.


A centenary exhibition is taking place at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery, (Duke St, St James), London until late March 2015.



In the Middle East:    DIED TODAY: – Aged 36, at Al Majma’ah, in the Province of Ar-Riyadh, in (what is now) Saudi Arabia – Captain William Henry Irvine Shakespear, British civil servant, explorer born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1878. At the Battle of Jarrab, between  the forces of Ibn Saud, the future King of Saudi Arabia, and Ibn Rashid, head of the Al-Rasheed dynasty, Shakespear (who has been acting as military adviser to Ibn Saud) is shot and killed by one of Ibn Rashid’s men.



In the North Sea: nearly 1000 german sailors perish at the Battle of Dogger Bank.




23rd January 1915 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in St Lucia, in the British Windward Islands (now a sovereign independent state) – Sir (William) Arthur Lewis, Nobel Prize winner for Economics who specialised in the economics of development.


War at Sea:

The German submarine SM-U21 sinks three British merchant vessels in the Irish Sea.


Colonial Unrest:

in Magomero in British Nyasaland (now Malawi), John Chilembwe, a US educated Baptist pastor and educator, and supporter of the new creed of “Ethiopianism”, leads an anti-european attack on the estate of William Jervis Livingstone, himself the son of a Baptist Minister.

William Jervis Livingstone was murdered and beheaded in front of his wife, small daughter Nyasa (5 years old) and infant baby Alastair then only 6 months old; two other European employees were also murdered – Duncan MacCormick from the Isle of Lismore (like William), and Robert Ferguson. Three Africans were also killed by the rebels, and European-run mission was set on fire and a missionary was severely wounded. All the dead and injured were men, as Chilembwe had ordered that women should not be harmed. In wholly unchristian act, on 24 January, a Sunday, Chilembwe conducted a service in the Providence Industrial Mission church next to a pole where Livingstone’s head was impaled – a macabre and gruesome incident in the extreme – especially where a man of the church was instrumental in its implementation” [Wikipedia]

John Chilembwe Day is observed annually on January 15 in Malawi.


Rural Unrest:

In Hertford, England – Herbert Wright and Samuel Playle are found guilty of poaching on land belonging to Lord Desborough and each fined 10 shillings. An expensive pheasant.


22nd January, 1915 (Friday)

Your country needs you!

 –  In blizzard conditions on Epsom Downs, in southern England, General Kitchener “inspects” over 20,000 troops drawn together for his review. “Reveille was at 0400hrs to allow for the march to the Downs. Lord Kitchener, who arrived at 1030hrs, stayed only five minutes” [Epsom and Ewell History Explorer].


In 2015, two hundred thousand trees are being planted – one “centenary wood” each in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The english centenary wood is close to the spot where Kitchener inspected the troops on 21st January 1915.


“A wood is the polar opposite of war – a beautiful, peaceful oasis of calm and life which throws into sharp contrast all that war brings.” (Mr David Appleton, whose four great uncles were all killed in action during 1915 and 1916.)