6th October 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Larvik, Norway – Thor Heyerdahl, wannabe Viking turned anthropo-mariner.

Ultimately his interest in the legends and pictographs of curved reed or wooden boats led him to Azerbaijan, a Caucasus nation sandwiched between Russia to the North and Turkey and Iran in the south. There the 5,000 year old pictographs of crafts, reminiscent of ancient Viking ships, seemed to support Heyerdahl’s belief that significant sea travel, and long distance river travel, had been going on much earlier than most historians believed and in fairly “primitive” yet high effective craft — craft that decayed leaving little trace of existence or construction. While many historians believed that significant boat travel occurred only after the rise of large civilizations, Heyerdahl was certain that travel by boat created trade and cultural exchange and thus spurred the growth of the great civilizations. Thus, he claimed, boat travel was a leading cause of civilization, not merely one of its products. But the similarity between the pictographs and the ships of his Heyerdahl’s Norwegian ancestors had significance. They reminded him of ancient legends which claimed that his people had originally come from the land of Aser, east of the Black Sea.” [nndb.com]



Belgium: As the Belgian army begins to withdraw from Antwerp, the govenrment moves to Ostend, and nearly a quarter of a million residents flee towards France and the Netherlands. [Burg and Purcell]. 

Today a new British Army Division – the 7th – also lands at Zeebrugge, but is too little, too late, to save Antwerp from the Germans. [Peter Chasseaud “Mapping the First World War”]

Society and Culture: On a Royal train in a pine forest somewhere in Russia, British Major General Sir John Hanbury-Williams KCB, KCVO, CMG, dines with The Russian Emperor Tsar Nicholas II, and is “at once struck by his extraordinary likeness to our own King” (King George V of the United Kingdom and British Dominions and Emperor of India ~ his cousin).



22nd March 1914 (Sunday)


~ in the city of Nukha in the south of Imperial Russia (now Shaki in northern Azerbaijan) – Lutfali Amir oglu Abdullayev, Azeri theatre and film actor.


~ in the bilingual city of Oberglogau (variously in Bohemia, Prussia and Poland, now Głogówek in Poland) – Josef Niemietz, highly decorated Hauptfeldwebel (Company Sergeant Major) in the German Wehrmacht.


~ place unknown – John Alexander Elphinstone, prisoner of war in Colditz, and later the 17th Lord Elhpinstone.


~ In Aranmula temple village in Kerala, British India – Aranmula Ponnamma, award winning Malayalam film actress widely known as the mother figure in Malayalam cinema.


Women’s suffrage: In London, the East London Federation of Suffragettes  choose today, Mothering Sunday,  to march from East London to Westminster Abbey to pray for Votes for Women and those on hunger strike.


23rd June 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Ganja, Azerbaijan – Nigar Rafibeyli, daughter of the first Azeri surgeon to study in Europe (who was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1919). Nigar became a novelist, poet, film-maker and publisher in the 1930s and 1940s. In her honour, a street in Baku has been named after her.

World Affairs: The British light cruiser HMS Newcastle arrives in Shanghai, China, to replace HMS Bedford during the Shanghai Rebellion.

Society, culture and migration: In  Adelaide, South Australia, the P&O line’s steamship Beltana docks after a six week journey from London carrying 81 British farm apprentices. In total 172 young British men aged between 15 and 19 participated in the State of South Australia’s Government farm apprentice scheme during 1913 and 1914, until the First World War interrupted the migration process.

In Kenton, Ohio, the (US) National Onion Association (NAO) is founded. Happy centenary, NAO!

29th May 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Baku in the Russian Empire (now Azerbaijan) – Hokuma Gurbanova, Azeri actress and the USSR’s “Peoples’ Artist” for 1965. Also awarded the Order of the Badge of Honour (1949); The Order of Lenin (1959); and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1973).

Also – in Nagyberezna, Austria-Hungary (later Veliky Bereznij in Russia, then Ukraine)  – Ivan Rohach, Ukrainian journalist, poet and writer. Personal secretary to the (nominal) Prime Minister of Carpatho-Ukraine (the Republic of Rusyn) which existed for 1 day – 15th March 1939, before being occupied by Hungary.

Society and Culture: In Paris, the Premiere of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” witnesses probably the most famous riot in musical history.

At Haggar’s Theatre, in Llanelly, Wales – Vulcana (born Kate Williams, daughter of a local preacher, now aged 38) beats rival strong woman Athelda in a competition to lift a challenge bell. With her partner, “Atlas”, she has been appearing as a stage act in London since 1892, having started at the age of 17.