15th January, 1915 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Prospect, Adelaide – John Dowie, Australian sculptor, painter and teacher.



Receiving his officer’s commission today: Reginald William Gelme, a former pupil of Sydney Grammar school, destined to die of illness in Mesopotamia in 1916, and buried in Basra cemetery.


War at Sea: The French submarine Saphir sinks in the Dardanelles near the town of Çannakale. The crew swim for shore but Captain Fournier, with the French flag flying, remains with his vessel as it sinks under fire, and drowns, despite an attempt to rescue him.


Trouble with vermin: Australian Bert Smythe enjoys the company of the “Regimental Rat” at his camp in Egypt.




26th July 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: In Llanelli, Wales, to Lithuanian parents – Isaac Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1956 to 1979.


World Affairs: The British Government, distracted until yesterday with its Irish question, and only just beginning to focus on the European situation, attempts to organize a political conference among the major European powers to resolve the dispute between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. France and Italy agree to participate. Russia then agrees, but Germany refuses.

Meanwhile Russia begins “pre-mobilisation” measures along its borders with Austria-Hungary, part of its “period preparatory to war”, including cancelling leave for reservists and clearing frontier railway lines.

The French also cancel all military leave and order most of their troops back from Morocco.

Tiny Montenegro mobilizes!



Ireland: In the “Howth gun running incident” Irish Nationalists smuggle a consignment of old rifles from the Franco-Prussian War (1870) into the country. They will eventually see service in the Easter Rising in 1916.

When the British authorities attempt to intervene events rapidly turn bloody, resulting in the infamous “Massacre of Bachelor’s Walk”



18th June 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: The Victorian [that is, the South Australian] Croquet Association. Centenary celebrations  “will start with cutting the birthday cake at the AGM on 17th June 2014, followed by a luncheon at the opening of the Croquet Victoria season, on 6th August 2014”. [Croquet Victoria – “Advancing Croquet in Victoria”].


Accidents: At Carr Bridge, Inverness, Scotland – flooding causes a bridge to collapse, and a derailment and fall from a height for a Highland Railways train. Five drown and ten are injured.


Early flight: At the International Airplane Safety Competition in France, US inventor Lawrence Burst Sperry demonstates his new three-way gyrostabilizer (autopilot) by having himself and his engineer stand on the wings of the aircraft with the pilot’s seat empty, during a flypast.  There are claims that in 1916 he used his new invention to become the founding member of the “mile-high club”. [Wikipedia]. What is more certain is that his last flight took place on 23rd December, at the age of 31, when his craft was lost in, and his body later recovered from, the English Channel/ La Manche.







14th May, 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: By Order-in-Council in Ottawa, the Royal (Canadian) Navy Volunteer Reserve.


~ Also, Sergeant Alfred Douglas Finucane, Paratrooper in North Africa, Siciliy, Italy and Arnhem. German  P-O-W.


Arms Race:

~ on Clydeside in Scotland, the Royal (British) Navy launches HMS Galatea, an Arethusa class light cruiser.


~ The Royal (Italian) Navy commissions the Giulio Cesare, launched in 1911.


~ At Bridgeport, Connecticut, the US Navy lays down its L5 class submarine (L5 – SS44) which will launch in May 1916.


~ the people of Hartlepool, in north east England, are enjoying the spectacle of 10 Royal Flying Corps biplanes landing on the beach en route from Scotland to the south of England.

~ Farther south, the British military are making their first inspection, at Farnborough, of a new model – the “Bristol Scout” (“A” model).



Society and culture: George Isaac Playle from Essex in the east of England, who has followed his older brother, Arthur, into the Navy, is promoted from “Boy, second class” to “Boy, first class”. By February 1915 (aged 18) he will be promoted again, to “ordinary seaman”, and in May of the same year he will perish when HMS Goliath is torpedoed and sunk in the Dardanelles.



26th February, 1914 (Thursday)


~ At the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland – HMHS (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) Britannic, larger sister of HMS Titanic (already in her watery grave for nearly two years now). Built as transatlantic passenger liner, she (Britannic) will be overtaken by the war, and taken over by the Royal Navy. In November 1916, while in use as a hospital ship,  she will become the largest maritime casualty of the first world war, claiming her own watery grave, far from her sister (but with far fewer lives lost) after she strikes a mine off the Greek island of Kea.


~ At the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, at Govan on the Clyde, in Scotland – – HMS Lydiard, a torpedo boat destroyer of the Royal Navy. She will survive the first World War before facing an ignominious end at the scrapyard in 1921.


World Affairs: In the British Houses of Parliament, the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir Winston Churchill)  is asked to clarify whether certain cruisers have “been equipped with quick-firing guns by co-operation of the owners and the Admiralty; … do the vessels carry passengers; and, if so, what would be their legal rights if the liners should ever be engaged in a naval action to their injury? “


11th February 1914 (Wednesday)


~ in Preetz, Schleswig-Holstein, Imperial Germany – Hans Hermann Junge, Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp who joined the Waffen SS in July 1943 to regain “his sense of objectivity” after his time with Hitler.  He died in combat in August 1944, aged 30. “Hitler had liked Hans Junge and was so upset by his death that he broke the news to [Frau Junge] personally” [Wikipedia].


~ In Montreal, Canada – George Gordon Hyde, Royal Canadian Air Force pilot stationed in Britain from 1940, killed in a flying accident in May 1941, aged 27.


~ In Worcester, in the Western Cape, South Africa – G.L.F.Hartwig, Professor of Wood Technology at Stellenbosch University from 1950 to 1979.


World Affairs: Ivan Longinovich Goremykin replaces Vladimir Nikolaevich Kokovtsev as Prime Minister of Russia. After retiring from public life in 1916 he will be murdered by a mob in his home region in the Caucasus in 1917.


Society and culture: In Sikkim, the landlocked Himalayan state in British India, Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal, 35 year old Oxford graduate, is recognised as the reincarnation of his uncle and becomes the ruling Maharaja. He dies (of jaundice and heart failure?) in suspicious circumstances in less than a year, to be succeeded by his brother.


Science and technology: In Istanbul, the Silahtarağa Power Station is powered up for the first time, bringing electric power to the city’s trams and lighting the Sultan’s Topkapi Palace.


28th January 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: In California – Beverley Hills, 90210.  Happy Centenary!


Arms Race – At the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, Germany – submarine U32 is launched. After sinking 36 merchant ships and 1 warship she will herself be destroyed north west of Malta, in May 1918, with the loss of 41 lives (all hands).


In Britain, the Admiralty [naval authorities] order a series of C Class Light Cruisers to be built by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead, including HMS Caroline, finally decommissioned in 2011.


Women’s suffrage: At the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba (now a Canadian National Historic Site) , Nellie McClung and fellow activists stage a play in which “the women discussed a number of their own issues as if pertaining to men – whether to give men the vote, and whether to allow them equal guardianship over children. Ultimately, the play was a success and helped advance the cause of women’s suffrage. In January 1916, Manitoba became the first Canadian province to give women the right to vote”. [Canada’s historic places]


14th July 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Omaha Nebraska – Leslie Lynch King, Jr, destined to become the 38th President of the USA from 1974 to 1977. After his parents divorced later in 1913 his mother married (in 1916) Gerald Rudolff Ford and young Leslie King was renamed Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr.

Second Balkan War: Greek forces reclaim the city of Komotini in Western Thrace from the Bulgarians.

Royal Lancastrian Progress: On the last day of their royal tour, King George V and Queen Mary visit Manchester and Salford. Manchester Corporation consider the visit to be so  important that they persuade the British government to declare today a public holiday in Manchester and Salford.

Accidents: Gwendoline Hopton – talented artist in the St Ives artistic community, dies after sustaining a fractured skull in a collision between her bicycle and a carriage in Gloucestershire.

9th June 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Oxford, England – Patrick Steptoe, fertility pioneer.

Arms Race: At Greenock, on the Clyde in Scotland, the Cunard Line launches RMS Alaunia, an ocean liner which, like her sisters Andania and Aurania, has no first class berths – just second and third class. At the outbreak of war she will be requisitioned as a troopship, and her fate is to be sunk by a mine off the English south coast (near Hastings) in September 1916, where she still lies to this day.

The dismal science: John Maynard Keynes publishes “Indian Currency and Finance”.

Labour relations: Striking female fishing net workers at Kilbirnie in Scotland hold a picnic.

8th June 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in United Province (now Uttar Pradesh), India – Shamim Karhani  – Urdu  (Indian) nationalist and revolutionary poet.

Arms Race: On board the British submarine, HMS E5, there is an engine room explosion which kills 13 sailors. HMS E5 will strike a mine and sink in March 1916 while rescuing the survivors from a stricken trawler in the North Sea.

Women’s Suffrage: Emily Wilding Davison dies from the serious injuries sustained four days ago when she threw herself in front of the King’s Horse at the Epsom Derby.

Sport: Thirty thousand German athletes attend a ceremony of dedication for a new stadium near Berlin which has been built to host the 1916 Olympics.