BORN TODAY: in Purwokerto on the Island of Java in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia ) – her mother a descendent of the Maharaja of Java, of Hindu, Polish, German and French extraction, her father a Danish engineer – Nini Arlette Thielade, ballet dancer.
War from the air: German Zeppelin Z3 is brought down in Denmark and put permanently out of action by a storm. Also today, Zeppelin Z4 is taken out of service. Both aircraft have recently been involved in a raid on the coast of Norfolk, England, late in January 1915.
War underground: On Hill 60 on the Ypres salient of the Western Front, the newly formed “mining” unit of the British Royal Engineers explode their first “deep mine” under German trenches, but it is not enough to enable them to take control of the hill.
War on every terrain: The British War Office experiments today with an early form of tank based on a Holt tractor, but the caterpillar tracks become bogged down in the mud, and the project is abandoned, temporarily at least.
Western Front: In the Argonne region of North East France, twenty three year old Lieutenant Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel earns an Iron Cross (his second) for leading his platoon in successful raids against French positions [Burg & Purcell].
BORN TODAY: In Copenhagen – Max Manus, Norwegian-Danish migrant, ship-broker, seaman, adventurer, soldier, resistance fighter, escapee, wanderer, saboteur, guard to a Royal Family, recipient of Norwegian, English, Polish, American and Italian medals, and office machinery entrepreneur.
The Middle East: After a six day skirmish (the “Battle of Qurna”) Anglo-Indian forces take the city of Qurna, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, from the Ottoman occupiers, thereby securing the British advance into Mesopotamia (now Southern Iraq).
In Louvain in Belgium, American, Swedish and Mexican diplomats visit the city “after three days of barbarous havoc inflicted by German soldiers. They find smouldering buildings and streets strewn with dead horses, executed Belgians, and wreckage. The visitors are appalled.” [Burg and Purcell: “Almanac of World War 1”]
At sea: In the first full naval battle of the war, British and German war ships engage at the Battle of Heliogoland Bight (off the German and Danish coasts). Around 750 – mainly German – sailors die, and the Germans lose six vessels, including a destroyer.
In New Zealand, farmer and diarist George Adkin spends his evening reading the novel “Old St Paul’s” by William Harrison Ainsworth, set in the city of London at the time of the plague and the great fire.
The Western Front: In Alsace and Lorraine, the French forces attack the German left and center, the start of the “Battle of Frontiers” which will culminate in the premature death of roughly 200,000 men from each side. “On the Road East… the French [soldiers] pass a stone marker inscribed ‘Here in the year 362 Jovinus defeated the Teutonic Hordes’ ” [Barbara Tuchman: “The Guns of August”].
The Eastern Front: In Sokal, in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia (later in Poland, then annexed by Germany, then annexed by the Soviet Union and now in western Ukraine) – Russian forces cross the River Bug and defeat a part of the Austrian army, which retreats in the direction of Lemberg (now Lviv).
In the Mediterranean: The British (Hong Kong registered) cargo steamship SS Tatarrax is torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine while en route from Port Said to France.
~ In Budapest – Annie Fischer, child prodigy pianist.
World Affairs: The German Emperor issues the infamous “blank cheque”, promising his full support for Austria in its efforts to punish and diminish Serbia, whatever the wider complications it might cause across Europe. He urges Austria to “march at once” and expresses confidence that Russia was not ready to go to war.
Tourism: Middle aged American tourist Rachel Halsey is spending a day and a half in Venice:
“In the evening, we took a most beautiful gondola ride. The gondolas are very comfortable and the easy way the gondoliers stand and row with one oar is remarkable. Many of the private gondolas are beautiful. Our gondolier sang selections from operas for us. It seemed strange that anyone in such a lowly position should know operas instead of ragtime. The music gondolas decorated with lanterns were numerous and voices good. To lend to the enchantment, the full moon was shining down in all its splendor.
The shops were perfectly entrancing, and before you knew it you could hear yourself saying – I’ll take this, I’ll take that – corals – Roman pearls, scarfs, beads, pictures, Venetian glass, laces etc. Heard a concert in the square the second night. Have forgotten our trip to Lido the little summer resort – about 20 minutes ride from Venice – very pleasant, but not especially interesting. Still water bathing – some of the girls had on men’s bathing suits – no shoes or stockings. Very warm weather and fleas, fleas, fleas! Scratch scratch!”
World Affairs: In the East African Nyasaland Protectorate (now Malawi) the people are blessed with a new flag, combining the (new) Coat of Arms of Nyasaland with the Government Ensign of the United Kingdom.