8th January 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY – Lionel Emmett, who trained as a physician in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and won gold for India at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 as part of the field hockey team.

Exploration: On the 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, in previously unexplored coastal regions, the Swiss ski expert Xavier Mertz dies – possibly from poisoning by excessive vitamin A as result of eating the livers of the expedition’s Greenland Huskies. His sole surviving companion, expedition commander Douglas Mawson eventually makes it back to safety a month later, after what Sir Edmund Hillary would later call “probably the greatest story of lone survival in Polar exploration”.

Natural disasters and events: The Hobart Mercury (Tasmania) reports the arrival in Sydney of the barque “Belfast”, in a damaged state, having been struck by a meteorite. ” On December 15 [1912] … the vessel was going along with all sail set when an intense bluish light streaked over the ship from stern to bow, with a downward direction. This was followed by the foretop gallant mast and main royal yard coming downwith a run. They had been cut right through, but the sails were not damaged.  Directly after the visitation it was found that the ship’s compasses had been affected, and showed a serious difference. Captain Paragon decided to return to Sydney,which port was made mostly by dead reckoning”.

First Balkan War: at the London Peace conference, Serbia gives up its demand for a port on the coast of the Adriatic.

2nd January 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY, in Kent, England – Anna Lee, MBE (aka Joan Boniface Winnifrith) –  screen actress from 1934 to 1989. Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1993.

World Affairs: In the First Balkan War – the Turkish cruiser Hamidiye sinks a Greek transport ship at Syros, also bombarding the island’s harbour. This action causes panic in Athens, and under the pressure of public opinion an order is sent to the Greek fleet, commanding it to “sail immediately in pursuit”.

Law and Order: The New Orleans “Times Democrat” reports “Few Juveniles arrested” in new year celebrations, but identifies one Louis Armstrong  – “a 12 year old negro” as the most serious case – for discharging a revolver on the corner of Rampart and Perdido streets. He is sentenced to serve time in the “Negro waif’s home”, where he subsequently learns to play trumpet.

Science and Technology: Newspaper reports that scientist Mr Carroll Riker of Brooklyn has a plan to melt the Northern Ice Cap by building a 200 mile jetty off Labrador to change the dominant temperature flows in the currents of the North Atlantic. Estimated cost $38million dollars – cheaper and easier than building the Panama Canal (which has been a work  in progress for 31 years but will not yet open for another year and a half).

Human Rights: After 20 years opposing discrimination against Indians in South Africa, English trained barrister Mahatma Ghandi leaves “Tolstoy Farm” where he has lived for several years with a diverse group including Gujaratis, Tamils, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Parsis and African families.