3rd August 1915 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: Roman Fischer, an Austrian fencer, and  Arthur Birch, an Australian chemist.




On the Italian Front: After 91,000 casualties the Second Battle of Isonzo on the Italian/ Austrian border (now the Soca valley in north west Slovenia) draws to a close because both sides have run out of ammunition, both for small arms and for artillery. [Wikipedia].


On the (Belgian) Home Front: British nurse Edith Cavell, who has been based in Brussels for many years, is arrested by the German authorities on suspicion of helping British, French and Belgian soldiers and citizens to escape from German occupied Belgium.



30th July, 1915 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Brighton, England – Rachel Amos (later Bromwich), “Celtic scholar celebrated for her masterly dictionary of Welsh and British legend” [The Independent].



Western Front: At one of the narrowest sections of no-man’s land, at Hooge in Belgium, German soldiers surprise British defenders with six of their new Flammenwerfer (flamethrowers) to capture the Hooge crater. [Burg & Purcell: Almanac of World War 1].


Australia: WIth a growing sense of unity among the Australian states, the nation holds its first “National Day”.


In Gosford, New South Wales, Miss McCabe appears as “Britannia”, holding a trident. transported in a  Chrome Yellow Renault garlanded with flowers. [Flickr].

Britannia tableau, Australia Day parade, Gosford, Friday 30 July 1915

While in New Zealand, farmer and diarist George Adkin “levelled heaps in [his] Cow p[addock] all day”.


16th June 1915 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY – in a summer-house in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychchwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – the UK branch of the Women’s Institute.



Western Front: Over 1000 die in 12 hours today at the Battle of Hooge (aka Bellewaarde).


Home Front: William “Chalky” White, suffering with spinal injuries, and recovering at the Queen Mary’s Royal Naval Hospital in Southend (formerly the “Palace Hotel”) writes home proudly to his mum after he gets a visit today from Queen Mary herself.



6th June 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: Brebis Bleaney, CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society), British physicist specialising in the use of microwaves to study the magnetic properties of solids.



Miracles and second thoughts:

When Zeppelin LZ-37 is attacked and destroyed by a British fighter plane eight crew members perish in the flames, but a ninth crew member throws himself overboard as the vessel is crashing above a convent in Ghent and falls into a bed,where he survives. [Burg & Purcell].

Meanwhile the government in Berlin orders U-boat commanders not to torpedo large passenger ships. [Burg & Purcell].



9th May 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in New York – Hy Turkin, baseball encyclopedia editor.



Western Front: At the Battle of Aubers Ridge, British forces attack the German line in support of the larger, French led offensive to the south – the Second Battle of Artois. “This battle [of Aubers Ridge] was an unmitigated disaster for the British army. No ground was won and no tactical advantage gained. It is doubted if it had the slightest positive effect on assisting the main French attack 15 miles (24 km) to the south”. [Wikipedia]. There are over 11,000 British casualties. Four Victoria Crosses are later awarded.



8th May 1915 (Saturday)

BORN  TODAY in battle:  on the Bellewaerde Ridge, near Ypres in Belgium, nine months after  conception in the first days of the war – Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.



At the Battle of Frezenberg, one act of the month-long drama known as the Second Battle of Ypres, the Patricias are “holding up the whole damn line”.





2nd May 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: In Leigh-On-Sea, Essex – Margaret Rose “Peggy” Mount, OBE, english actress best known for her “battleaxe” portrayals.



The Eastern Front: After a huge artillery bombardment along a 19 mile front, the German 11th Army retakes the city of Gorlice in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia from the Russians. The city (now in Poland) is largely in ruins [Burg & Purcell].

The Western Front: During the second week of fighting at the second Battle of Ypres the death of 22 year old Canadian Lieutenant Alexis Helmer inspires Doctor and Major John McCrae to set down the first draft of his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
          Between the crosses, row on row,
       That mark our place; and in the sky
       The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
       Loved and were loved, and now we lie
             In Flanders fields.
    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
       The torch; be yours to hold it high.
       If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
             In Flanders fields.

McCrae died of pneumonia in January 1918, “while still commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne”. [Wikipedia]