28th April 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Stoke, near Plymouth, in England’s west country – Mary (Molly) Isolen Fergusson OBE, a British engineer and the first female member of the UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers, elected in 1957, aged 43.


Accidents & disasters: At Eccles, in West Virginia, a methane explosion rips through Eccles No 5 mine, killing at least 180 men.


Women’s suffrage: In Felixstowe, on England’s east coast, the Bath Hotel burns down as a result of an arson attack by suffragettes Hilda Birkett and Florence Tunks, for which offence they will both receive prison sentences on 29th May.





22nd April 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in  Vogelthal near Oberpfalz in Bavaria – SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann, “the most successful and famous tank commander of World War II”. He died in battle on 8th August 1944, after the D Day landings, aged 30. 


World Affairs: during its invasion and occupation of Veracruz in Mexico, the US opens its military roll of honour by awarding what will – in two days of fighting – become the highest ever number of Medals of Honour for a single US action.


Society and culture: In Southampton, on the south coast of England, a crowd of 100,000 people gather to witness the unveiling of a memorial to commemorate the engineers of the steam ship “Titanic” lost to an iceberg two years previously.




27th December 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Malta, Ohio – the Doty twin – Winston and Weston – child film stars of the silent era who both perished at a new year’s party on 1st January 1934 when “The New Year flood of 1934” swept through Montrose, California, killing around 40 people.


Shopkeepers’ woes: shopkeepers in the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight (England) are complaining of a “dull” Christmas and poor sales brought on by a shortage of money and the increasing popularity of shopping by post. Plus ca change…


Romance: in New Zealand, Farmer George is in the summertime of love.



22nd October 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Hue, French Indochina (now Vietnam) – Bao Dai, King of Annam (a “protectorate” of French Indochina) from 1926 to 1945, and briefly the last Emperor of Vietnam when the Japanese ousted the French in 1940 and ruled through him.


Accidents & Disasters: An explosion at the Dawson coal mine in New Mexico kills 263 mine workers.


Crime: The Cornell Daily Sun reports an interesting case of extortion:

“Chemists employed by the postal authorities discovered today colonies of germs in a letter sent to extort money from Mrs. Frederick Steele, a wealthy suburban resident. The letter warned Mrs. Steele that it contained 2,000,000 malignant bacilli with which she was infected by opening it and demanded a sum of money in return for a supply of the only serum that could cure her. Indications of the presence of a germ culture were found by the government chemist who, however, were unable to state the nature of the disease they might convey”. [the Cornell Daily Sun, 22nd October 1913].


Elsewhere in the US, the papers report the breaking up of a “wholesale jewellery smuggling” operation from Canada into the USA.



14th October 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Prahran, Melbourne, Australia – John Grantley (“Ginty”) Lush, Australian cricketer.


Accidents and disasters: At the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd, South Wales, British coal-mining suffers its worst ever disaster when 440 miners die after an explosion. The authorities later fine the manager £5, with a total of fines on all parties at £24. The local newspaper headline reads: “Miners lives at One and a Penny Farthing each,” (equivalent to about 5 pence in modern english money, or 8 US cents).



9th October 1913 (Thursday)


~ In Buffalo, New York – Peaches Jackson Guererro, child star actress and dancer who died in Honolulu in 2002.

~ In Washington, Indiana – William D Borders, Archbishop of Baltimore who died in Timonium, Maryland in 2010.



Centenaries: 100 years since the birth of Guiseppe Verdi, the Italian composer, in 1813


Accidents and disasters: The SS Volturno, carrying immigrants to a new life in the Americas, burns and sinks in mid-Atlantic. Eleven ships are summoned by wireless telegraph and 520 passengers and crew are rescued, but around 130 people – mainly women and children – drown.


Society and Culture: The Trenton Sun, in Trenton, Illinois, advertises “Fall Style in Men’s Shoes” and “Shoes for Fall and Winter”




8th October 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Grytviken, on the (British) Island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic, Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen, daughter of Fridthjof Jacobsen, Assistant Manager (and soon to be Manager) of the local whaling station, and his wife, Klara Olette. Solveig immediately sets a new record for the human birth recorded closest to the South Pole, and later has a valley named after her – the Jacobsen Valley in Antarctica.


Labour Relations: In Swords, County Dublin, Ireland, there are riots when striking workers try to prevent farmers from bringing their cattle to market.


Society and culture: At Treforest in South Wales, the South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines opens with 17 mining diploma students, including 3 from China. Happy Centenary, University of Glamorgan!


Early flight: Harry Hawker, the Australian aviation pioneer, is seriously injured in a flying accident at  Brooklands in England.