11th December 1914 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Michigan, USA – Robert Ayres, actor.



War from the air: After some “friendly fire” incidents caused by mis-identification of aircraft, the British RFC (Royal Flying Corp) abandons it practice of marking its planes with the union flag (sometimes mistaken at a distance for an Iron Cross) and adopts instead a distinctive “roundel” symbol.[Museum of Army Flying].


War at Sea: Eight trawler-men from Grimsby on England’s east coast are missing, after their trawler the “Earl Howard” is lost, “presumed to have struck a mine in the North Sea”.


Lest we forget (the horses): In Ormskirk, Lancashire (yet) more horses are being loaded into trains, destined ultimately, for the Western Front.



In the New Zealand general election, 84% of eligible Maori voters exercise their democratic right.


1st September 1914 (Tuesday)

DIED TODAY:  RIP Martha, who passes away in her cage today in Cincinatti zoo. Martha is the very last member of the species Ectopistes migratorius  (passenger pigeon), once the most abundant bird in North America. As recently as 1866 one large flock of her ancestors in Ohio was estimated to contain 3.5 billion birds [Wikipedia].


“Her body was frozen into a block of ice and sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it was skinned, dissected, photographed and mounted. Currently, Martha is in the museum’s archived collection and not on display. A memorial statue of Martha stands on the grounds of the Cincinnati Zoo” . [Wikipedia]

QUOTE:  “A poignant example of what happens when the interests of man clash with the interests of nature…When their interests clashed with the interests of man, civilization prevailed”

[Smithsonian Institute].


Meanwhile, the affairs of men twist and turn…

In Russia, the city of St Petersburg is rebranded to Petrograd, ditching its germanic title for a suitably slavic alternative.

In Paris, Kitchener meets the BEF commander at the British Embassy and orders him to bring the British troops in to the line with French forces. The Germans, meanwhile, are within 30 miles of the French capital.



10th June 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Vina Del Mar, Chile – Rosita Maria Martha Esther Aldunate del Campo Serrano, the “Chilean Nightingale”, especially popular in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s.


Crime: In Sydney, Australia – armed robbers Ernest Ryan (aka “Shiner”) and Samuel Freeman (aka “Jewey”) rob the payroll delivery at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. Cab driver Albert Andrews tries, but fails, to overtake the getaway car in his horse drawn wagon.


Science and technology: At 60 00.00’N 000 39.00’E, Captain Brown, acting on behalf of the Fishery Board for Scotland, releases a (scientific) message in a drift bottle.  The bottle will not be recovered until April 2012 – nearly 98 years later (a Guinness World Record) -having (apparently) travelled a distance of just 9.5 nautical miles.


Society and culture: in the Alexander Garden in Moscow, the “Romanov Obelisk” is officially opened, commemorating the 300 year anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913. Later it will be re-styled as a “monument to socialist thinkers”.


Animal Rights: Carbine, the New Zealand thoroughbred racehorse, Melbourne Cup winner and sire of many later winners, is humanely put down at the age of 29, after suffering a stroke. Today “his skeleton can be seen on display at the Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Melbourne” [alldownunder.com – “celebrating the things that make Australia unique”].


15th December 1913 (Monday)

LAUNCHED TODAY:  At the John Brown shipyard, in Clydebank, Scotland – the British Royal Navy launches HMS Tiger, its most heavily armoured battlecruiser, costing 2.5 million British pounds. Tiger fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. she was decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1932.



Animal Rights: At Kensington Town Hall in London, author John Galsworthy delivers a speech protesting against cruelty to performing animals.


Extreme Weather: The English are busy reflecting on their extremely mild (“unseasonable”) weather. “The heat of the sunshine was hardly less extraordinary for the time of year, and it was possible to sit writing out of doors until the sun had set and it was too dark to see” [The Spectator, 27th December 1913].


9th December 1913 (Tuesday)

NOT BORN TODAY:  On Deception Island, in the South Shetland archipelago, in Antarctica, a passing whaler removes  two eggs from the nest of an unlucky chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica),  and later passes them to Falkland Islander, Mrs Vera Packe. The eggs are now in the care of the Norfolk Museum in England. How the parent penguins felt about the tragedy is lost for all time.



3rd June 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY:  in South Devon, England – Brixham Bowling Club: strictly men only – the ladies will have to wait until 1952 before they can join.

Society and culture: Mirza Ghulam Samdani is awarded the Indian Title Badge, third class (muslim type). According to the (UK) National Army Museum web-site:

“Indian Title Badges were announced at the Delhi Durbar in 1911 and first issued in 1912. The badges were awarded in three classes to civilians and Viceroy’s Commissioned Officers of the Indian Army for faithful service or acts of public welfare. Recipients proceeded from the lowest class to a higher one, and each was accompanied by a distinctive title, inscribed upon the badge, differing according to whether the recipient was a Muslim, Hindu or Sikh.

Thus 1st Class holders received the title: Diwan Bahadur (Muslim) or Sardar Bahadur (Hindu or Sikh); 2nd Class holders, Khan Bahadur (Muslim) or Rao Bahadur (Hindu or Sikh) and recipients of the 3rd Class, Khan Sahib (Muslim), Rao Sahib (Hindu or Sikh) or Sardar Sahib (Sikhs only)”.

[National Army Museum – http://www.nam.ac.uk/ ].

Women’s suffrage: Emily Wilding Davison and a friend decide to attend tomorrow’s famous Derby horse-race and disupt the race by waving the WSPU colours in front of the racing horses.

Oysters: An ornithologist captures and then releases the last confirmed Canary Island Oystercatcher Haematopus meadewaldoi, since believed to be extinct.  Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Igor Stravinsky eat oysters for dinner and then fall ill with typhus for a month.

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.

4th March 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY, in Senatobia, Mississippi – Willie Johnson, electric blues guitarist and principal guitarist in Howlin’ Wolf’s band  between 1948 and 1953.

World Affairs: Woodrow Wilson inaugurated as the 28th US President, replacing President William Taft.

Arms Race: The USS Arizona is ordered. She will launch in June 1915 and see active service for over 26 years before being sunk at Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941.

In response to growing concerns by the Dutch government that it is no longer properly equipped to protect its Empire, the shipbuilder Germaniawerft, based in Kiel, Germany, submits a proposal for a revised battleship design to the Dutch Navy.

Animal rights: The Weeks-McLean Act prohibits the spring hunting and marketing of migratory birds in the USA.

28th February 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY, in the Bronx, New York City – Victoria Hamilton Adair, American Poet.

DIED TODAY – shot in Possession Bay, South Georgia, Antartica – the largest ever recorded elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) measuring 6.85 meters (22.5 ft) long and estimated to weigh 5,000 kilograms (11,000 lb).

Disasters & accidents: In Omaha, Nebraska, a fire a the Dewey Hotel kills 20 people.

Arms Race: At Portland Harbour in Dorset (UK) an airship is seen by a postman, a government official and a nurse. It is using a strong searchlight and clearly unconcerned about being observed by casual passers-by.

Science and technology: In Sydney, NSW, the “Royal Hall of Industries” opens with a range of modern and forward looking exhibits including motorbikes, insecticides and photographic equipment.

Empire, shipping, labour and migration: The SS Ganges – a 3475 ton steam ship launched in Glasgow in 1906 – leaves Fiji bound for India. On board are 807 Indian indentured laborers who have completed their contract in Fiji. 681 are heading home to Calcutta (modern Kolkata) and 126 to Madras (modern Chennai). Between 1879 and 1916 tens of thousands of Indians migrated to Fiji to find work – mostly on sugar plantations. Repatriation began in 1892 and will continue (eventually using aeroplanes) until 1956.

21st February 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY, in Ohio, USA – Ross Rocklin (aka Ross Rocklynne), sci-fi author in the so called “Golden Age” of Science Fiction (1938 to 1946).

Human Rights: the State of Arkansas abolishes the practice of convict leasing. It will remain legal in Alabama until 1928 and will not be completely eradicated until World War 2. Matthew Mancini described this vicious labour system in his book “One Dies, Get Another – Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928”.

Society and culture: In Choctaw County, Oklahoma, the “Fort Towson Enterprise” reports on the improving conditions after the recent smallpox epidemic in Hugo:

“There has been a great and decided change for the better in the smallpox situation, not only to Hugo but all over the county, the past week. Very few new cases have developed, and very few cases of varloloid, which would indicate that all cases are successfully quarantined and there is no chance, practically, for exposures. This is glad and welcome news to the people of the county. There has been a terrible fear, and justly, by the people of the county to visit Hugo the past few weeks, but the official report below given evidence of the disappearance of the dread malady”.

The official report then summarizes that only 33 deaths have occurred in Hugo in the last week, 14 white patients and 19 negroes.

Science & Technology: Meanwhile the “Athens Banner” from Atlanta, Georgia, reports on the innovative use of electric heating to bring forward the season for successfully hatching “electric hatched chicks”.