28th February 1915 (Sunday)


~ in Petropolis, Brazil – Sir Peter Brian Medawar, Nobel winning biologist.

~ in Sedlčany, Bohemia, in the Austro-Hungarian empire (later Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic) – Jiri Jaromir Machacek, fighter pilot with the Czech airforce, and later the French airforce, who joined the (British) RAF in 1940. Shot down and lost at sea while flying a spitfire in July 1941, aged 26.



27th February 1915 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: In Herne Hill, Middlesex – Squadron Leader Gordon Alfred Denby, DFC, lost in the North Sea in December 1942, aged 27, when the engine of his Beaufighter X7963 failed.



Society and culture: In England’s west country, the “Western Times” reports on the behaviour of three youths in Exeter…

…Bertie Webber, of 32, Combe Street, Walter Swanston, Market Street, and Alfred Beer, 5, Friars Walk, admitted playing football in the public street on Friday last. They expressed regret, and were ordered to pay 1s each.”



…and nearby, in central Dorset, four battalions of the Royal Naval Division are marching, wearing pith helmets in the pouring rain, across the downs to Shillingstone Station on the first stage of their journey by train to Gallipoli, where many will die in the coming months.


26th February, 1915 (Friday)


~ In Ravenna – Bruno Loatti, Italian cyclist.

~ In Guissano – Aldo Boffi, Italian footballer




Dardanelles: The first allied forces land at Sedd El Bahr (“Walls of the Sea”) on the south (Asian) side of the straits, on the Gallipoli peninsula in Anatolia. Their purpose is to destroy guns, searchlights and defence installations evacuated by Turkish forces during the recent heavy shelling. [Burg & Purcell].


The Western Front: Near Verdun in France, the German 3rd Guard Pioneer Regiment introduces new technology into the arts of trench warfare with the debut of the flammenwerfer (flamethrower), a weapon more effective psychologically than practically.





25th February, 1915 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY:  in Jaslo in the Carpathian mountains of Poland – Edward Roman Pilch, fighter pilot with the 302 “Poznanski” Squadron of the British RAF who died in an accident while practising dogfights in a Hurricane WX-X R2687 over Sussex in February 1941, shortly before his 26th birthday.



The Dardanelles: After delays caused by bad weather, the Anglo-French assault on the Turkish outer forts resumes today.


23rd February 1915 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY* in Glen Cove, Nassau County, New York – Walter Shorenstein “San Francisco real estate mogul” [nndb.com]



* or perhaps, on Feb 15th?

The perils of modern transport: In Exeter, in England’s west country, the Western Times reports the sad death yesterday of Mr George Creedy, retired policeman, aged 82. Earlier in the month Mr Creedy, who was deaf, had stepped into the path of an oncoming tram in Exeter’s main street.



In the Dardanelles: British troops occupy the Greek Island of Lemnos as part of the attempt to capture the Dardanelles and the sea route to Constantinople.


Colonial tensions: British instructions for the “colonial contingents” (including Australians and New Zealanders) in Egypt include stern advice on dealing with “natives”

“The ill-treatment of natives is a very serious offence, and all cases are to be fully investigated and  reported to Divisional Headquarters before disposal….

“Men should be warned against striking natives, altercations with them should be carefully avoided. They should be particularly warned against donkey boys and dragomen [ie guides and interpreters] as most of these know the english language and are apt to become familiar… They should have as little dealings with natives as possible, whose one idea is to make money out of them.”


22nd February 1915 (Monday)


A French soldier writes home to his mother of the horror of battle:

” Our losses are terrible; those of the enemy greater still. You cannot imagine, beloved mother, what man will do against man. For five days my shoes have been slippery with human brains, I have walked among lungs, among entrails. The men eat, what little they have to eat, at the side of the dead”.

And a British nurse confides to her diary:

“It is such a vast upheaval when you are in the middle of it, that you sometimes actually wonder if everyone has gone mad, or who has gone mad, that all should be grimly working, toiling, slaving from the firing line to the base, for more Destruction, and for more highly finished and uninterrupted Destruction, in order to get Peace. And the men who pay the cost in intimate personal and individual suffering and in death are not the men who made the war”.

“Letters of a soldier 1914-1915” and “Diary of a nursing sister on the Western Front, 1914-1915”

21st February 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY – in Kharkiv, in the Russian Empire (soon to be the first city to acknowledge Soviet power, in 1917, and now the second largest city in Ukraine) – Evgeny Mikhailovich Lifshitz, Soviet physicist.


World Affairs: A plan for a general insurrection against British rule in the Punjab, India, fails after informants forewarn the authorities.



War from the air: a German Zeppelin bombs the towns of Braintree and Cochester in England’s eastern county of Essex.


20th February 1915 (Saturday)

World Affairs: In San Francisco, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opens. “Much of the site [is] built in landfill that partly consists of debris from the [1906] earthquake.”




War at Sea: on a particularly bad day for British shipping a total of five vessels – four cargo ships and a Royal Navy trawler –  are lost to a combination of accidents and enemy actions (naval attacks, torpedos and mines). Norway also loses a cargo ship to north sea mines.


The boredom of war: from Cairo, young British archaeologist turned Intelligence Officer, T.E. Lawrence, writes home to his family in England:

The Seven Golden Odes of Pagan Arabia or The Moallakat: translated by Lady Anne Blunt, and put into English verse by Wilfred Scawen Blunt: published at the Chiswick Press 5/- in 1904 probably. Can you get me this book? I expect it is out of print:- but if so Blackwell would get a copy very easily, as it is a well known book. If you get it, please send it out to Intelligence Department, W.O. [ie the War Office]  as above. No news this week; we sit still, and maintain an appearance of miserly inactivity. ” [www.telstudies.org/]


19th February, 1915 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in University College Hospital in Bloomsbury, London, to comedy double act parents Callan and Emery – Richard Gilbert “Dick” Emery, English comedian and actor, who in the early 1940s created comedy character “Vera Thin”, explaining “I was better in drag than combat gear” [Wikipedia].



In the Dardanelles: An Anglo-French force of 18 (mainly British) battleships, together with cruisers, minesweepers and other vessels (the largest fleet ever so far assembled in the Mediterranean), including Ark Royal, a sea-plane carrier, begins its long range bombardment (from over 6 miles off-shore) of the Turkish forts guarding the strategically vital Dardanelle Straits, which restrict sea-borne access to the Turkish capital of Constantinople. [Burg & Purcell]

In the Middle East: Meanwhile the Anglo-Indian force in Ottoman southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) encounters a larger than expected Turkish force and is forced to retreat to Basra. [Roger Ford: Eden top Armageddon, World War 1 in the Middle East].