27th April 1915 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Alexandropol in the Russian Empire (now Gyumri in western Armenia, near the Turkish border)  – Hovhannes (Onik) Tadevosi Karapetyan, poet.



War at Sea: In the Straits of Otranto, between Italy and Albania, where the French are attempting to blockade the Austro-Hungarian navy inside the Adriatic (ie preventing access to the wider Mediterranean), the Austrian submarine U-5 torpedoes and sinks the cruiser Leon Gambetta, sending 547 sailors to their death. [Burg & Purcell].

 Africa: At Gibeon Station in German South West Africa (now Namibia)  – 41 German and South African soldiers die in battle.


Western Front: GAS!

The 3rd and 4th [gas] attacks took place on 26-27 April 1915 at Steenstrate-Lizerne, near Ieper, in which British, Sikhs and French were the victims. To the left of the Sikhs were French Colonial troops with essentially North Africans and at their right were the British. The Ferozepur Brigade, and the French colonial troops to the left of them, were the worst hit. More gas attacks followed on 27-29 April and 01-02 May 1915 and the victims were again British, Sikhs, Pathans, French and Algerians. [http://www.sikhiwiki.org/].


22nd April, 1915 (Thursday)

War – from above, from beneath, and from within…


BORN TODAY: in Brno, in Austria-Hungary (now part of the Czech Republic ) – Vilem Goth, Czechoslovakian exile who joined the RAF 310 squadron at Duxford, England, and died in action over Kent fighting for the Allies in 1940 .


The Western Front: At the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans secure an initial advantage by releasing poison gas onto a favorable wind, which totally surprises French colonial troops – Algerian and Zouaves, with many collapsing and dying while trying to flee. [Burg & Purcell].

War at Sea: In Washington DC, the German Imperial Embassy issues the following public notice addressed to US citizens:


Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.


6th December 1914 (Sunday)

BORN  TODAY: in Oran, in French Algeria – Francine Faure, pianist, mathematician, teacher and Mrs Albert Camus.



Eastern Front; the Battle of Łódź concludes inconclusively, with “both sides having achieved their most important objectives”. The Russians have “repulsed the Germans and saved Warsaw” and the Germans have “caused the Russians to abandon their offensive into Silesia… Casualties and losses: Russian Empire: 110 000 killed, wounded or captured, German Empire: 160 000 killed, wounded or captured” [Wikipedia].





9th October 1914 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: at Vlasim in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic) – Josef Prihoda, Czech airman who made his way to Poland when the Germans invaded in March 1939, and then to France after they invaded Poland. Eventually, after the French in Algeria also capitulated to the Germans, he made his way to England and joined the (British) Royal Air Force. Lost in combat in March 1943.



Belgium: The mayor of Antwerp surrenders the city to occupying German troops. [Burg & Purcell].


7th November 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in the coastal town of Mondovi in French North Africa (now Drean in Algeria), Albert Camus, Nobel Prize winner author, journalist and philosopher. “No [he said] I am not an existentialist”, but english school masters obviously weren’t paying attention at the time…


DIED TODAY: in Broadstone, in Dorset, England – Alfred Russel Wallace [born in January 1823] who narrowly missed immortality when Darwin successfully appropriated the theory of evolution (survival of the fittest, perhaps?) but is enjoying a second coming now, courtesy of facebook and the blogosphere. A bronze statue is also a “work-in-progress”, in opposition to “the Art Establishment – with their heads full of conceptual installations, dead cows and dirty bed sheets” [Wallace Statue Campaign].



Labour Relations: In New Zealand, George Adkin, by occupation a farmer with foxgloves on his mind, is drafted in to help with strike-breaking in the “Great Strike”, and faithfully records events in his normally bucolic diary:

Wet night.  Squadrons left for wharves at 8.30.  Our troop took up position in Featherston St, opposite the Railway  Department Buildings.  No crowd to-day – so rang Mackay’s for book (the Rly Depart also gave us magazines) + put in time reading.  For dinner went to one of Harbour Board’s sheds – while waiting the driver of a striker’s wagon drove right through our formation scattering horses – the man was arrested.  Dinner consisted of tea + bread + cheese. [Museum of New Zealand – George Leslie Adkin’s diary].


Extreme Weather: In North America, the Great Lakes is experiencing its worst ever recorded weather “The Great Storm”, with 19 ships lost and 238 sailors drowned.


22nd July 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: In Jura, Switzerland – Andre Boesiger – anarchosyndicalist, member of the Geneva Anarchist Group, and advocate of the “bad pay, bad work” approach to labour relations. Conscientious objector from army service (jailed for 2 years), arms smuggler for both the Spanish Civil War and the Algerian (independence) War.

Disasters & accidents: In Binghampton, New York State, fifty workers – mostly female – die in a fire at the Binghampton Clothing Company.  The fire alarms – recently installed in response to health and safety laws – operate effectively, but the workforce has been subjected to so many fire-drills that it fails to react promptly to the alarms.

In Oakley, Mississippi: 35 black prisoners on the Oakley convict cotton farm perish in a night-time fire which destroys their jail and prevents them escaping from their second floor cells.

15th March 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY, in Vienna, Austria – Stefan Thomas Possony, US economist, military strategist, and psychological warfare expert with the Office of Naval Intelligence during WWII. Later on the Board of the CIA. He graduated from the University of Austria in 1935; left Austria for Czechoslovakia after the Anschluss in 1938; fled to France when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia the following year; and narrowly escaped from France (via Algeria) after the occupation of France.

Society and culture: Died today, at his home in London, Max Arthur Macauliffe, senior British administrator who served in the Indian Civil Service from 1864, was deputy commissioner of the Punjab from 1882,  and a Divisional Judge from 1884, retiring in 1893. Having converted to Sikhdom in the 1860s, and played a leading role in translating Sikh scripture into English, after his death in London he is apparently denied both a christian burial and a sikh cremation.

Extreme Weather: The Bisbee Daily Review (Arizona, USA) reports that late on Thursday (13th) a freak electrical storm kills over 90 people, with “scores” severely injured and “great property loss sustained” as the storm sweeps through the Southern States of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.

Global Finance: French investors, in partnership with the Chinese government, establish the Banque Industrielle de Chine, SA – in an attempt to challenge the already well established (British) Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Unfortunately the Chinese government investment in BIC consists of the Bank’s own funds, thereby weakening its opening balance sheet significantly.

8th March 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY, in Kabylia, a Berber-speaking region in Algeria – Mouloud Feraoun, popular Algerian novelist who was assassinated a few days before the Algerian War of independence from France, by a colonial terrorist organisation.

Arms Race:The German  Imperial Navy launches the SMS Wolf, an auxiliary cruiser or “merchant raider”, equipped with six guns and 450 mines to be dropped outside enemy ports. Her mines will be effective as far afield as Australia’s southern coast during the coming years.

Womens Suffrage: Norway introduces Universal Suffrage (ie giving women the vote). Meanwhile womankind in an increasing number of countries celebrate the fifth annual International Women’s Day

Society and Culture: The Sheffield Independent announces the first UK appearance, at the “Rostock Jungle” of Fitz, the amazing boxing kangaroo. Fitz has just arrived in England on the steamship Aurania, from Buenos Aires.

In Milan, the Teatro alla Scala is officially inaugurated.

In Farnham, Surrey (UK) the “Electric Theatre” (actually a 618 seat cinema) opens for business. In 1917 it will be renamed the Palace Cinema.