20th December 1914 (Sunday)


War at Sea: The french submarine “Curie” is caught in defense nets while trying to penetrate the Austro-Hungarian navel base at Pula on the Adriatic. She is forced to surface and sunk by gunfire.


Western Front: French General Joffre launches his “war of attrition” against the germans with the (first) Battle of Champagne. Over the coming three months “losses” will total around 93,000 french, 46,000 german, and 3000 british casualties. Over 140,000 men. “Result – inconclusive” [Wikipedia].


The Home Front: Annie Droege, an anglo-german married to a german and living in germany, writes in her diary:

“The people are very busy getting ready for Christmas for the government has asked the people to make it as like Christmas as they can for the children. Every house has sorrow. One girl I met today was going to visit her uncle for Christmas. He has had three sons killed in one week in France. Another was on a ship sent out to South Africa in October and never heard of since. All four sons are gone and all were between the ages of 20 and 28”



Fashion:  On the East Coast of the USA, the “Washington Herald” reports on America’s efforts to wean itself from reliance on Paris:

“American designers have been working to create new and acceptable models. What the outcome of all their efforts will be, nobody knows. One reason why their efforts may result in an apparent failure is that most of them are perfectly willing to have Paris remain the fashion center. And why not? Americans have always profited by Paris-made fashions. They must be duplicated and copied here – and that gives work to dressmakers and manufacturers… and they have always proved themselves interesting, often beautiful, which is all that can be expected of any styles, whoever designs them” [http://clarerosehistory.com/ – “fashion in world war 1”]


20th November 1914 (Friday)


~  Henry Alexander Reginald Paget, the son of Lord Victor William Paget and Olive Mary Meatyard. “He married Sonia Chatoulenco, daughter of Count Paul Chatoulenco” in 1938 and “gained the rank of Lieutenant in the service of the Welsh Guards” [www.thepeerage.com]


~ In New York City – Charles Berlitz, grandson of Berlitz language lesson magnate Maximilian Berlitz. “He learned several languages as a child, studied language at Yale, and worked at Berlitz Publications until the family lost control of the company in 1967. During his time with the family business, he oversaw development of taped version of the famed Berlitz language courses, and wrote several books on language.” [nndb.com]


~ In Florence, Italy, into “one of Florence’s oldest noble families”  – Emilio Pucci, Marchese di Barsento, Italian fashion designer and politician. He “live[d] and work[ed] in the Pucci Palace in Florence for much of his life. He was a keen sportsman, who swam, skied, fenced, played tennis and raced cars” [Wikipedia].



in England’s West Country, the “Exeter & Plymouth Gazette” reports the following ‘tale’ under the headline “Tale from the front”:

“A novel battle has taken place, according to letter from P.C. Elford, who left the Exeter Police Force to rejoin his regiment. He has just sent home an interesting letter to the Chief-Constable of Exeter. He mentions that after a struggle with the Germans in the trenches they finished the battle with bare fists. They took 75 German prisoners, and nearly all had black, eyes and bleeding noses. The regiment was highly delighted to have, fight in the old English fashion. Constable Elford bears special testimony to the bravery of the English officers”.


26th October 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Los Angeles – Uncle Fester.



In Africa: in German Kamerun (now independent Cameroon), British and French forces successfully eject the German garrison from the town of Edea in the “first battle of Edea”.


Crime and punishment: In Sarajevo, the group who plotted successfully to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28th June are found guilty. Those over the age of 20 are sentenced to death, and the younger perpetrators, including the actual assassin, Gavrilo Princip, are given twenty year sentences. [Burg and Purcell]


Fashion: In London, the Guardian newspaper reports on the impact of the war on high fashion:

“One is decidedly struck with the tendency to adopt – or rather adapt – several military styles of coats and capes. The cavalier cape of the summer has become more ample and closely fitting round the throat, while the loose military coat, slightly double-breasted and buttoning close to the neck, with a band collar or edging of narrow fur, is both extremely becoming and useful. These are usually made of a heavy face-cloth or velour, and must, of course, be lined with a silk of contrasting colour. An adaptation of the Russian soldier coat is another favourite. This is cut on somewhat straighter lines than the former and has a sash or girdle of heavy cord and tassel round the waist, tied loosely to the front or side.” [The Guardian, 26th October 1914].


Leisure: In New Zealand, farmer George is studying the geology of the USA in his free time.


3rd February 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Greenwich, England – Joseph Halliburton Thomson, draper (retailer or wholesaler of cloth – mainly for clothing).


Arms Race: At Dumbarton on the River Clyde in Scotland, the shipbuilding company William Denny and Brothers launches HMS Legion on behalf of the British Royal Navy.


Leisure: In the village of Eaton Bray, in the English Midlands, the licence to sell alcoholic beverages in the “Labour in Vain” beer-house is not renewed.


Health and Safety: In Williamstown, Victoria, Australia, the local grammar school building is deemed  unfit and unsafe for human occupation or habitation, and is condemned for demolition.


Boxing Day, 26th December 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Petropavlovsk in the Russian Empire (now Petropavl in Kazakhstan) – Vladimir Tretchikoff, the man who brought us the painting “Chinese Girl” (aka “the Green Lady”) one of the best selling art prints of the twentieth century. With his family he fled to China in 1917 before moving to Singapore, and eventually to South Africa, but only after his passenger ship was bombed by the Japanese and he was taken captive by the Japanese for the remainder of the war.


Antipodean romance: George Adkin, New Zealand farmer and diarist waxes lyrical on a wonderful day with his beloved Maud, concluding his diary entry with: “a most enjoyable, successful + never-to-be forgotten day.”  [Museum of New Zealand].


Globalisation:  The Western Mail, in Perth, Western Australia, reports on recent efforts by the Philippines authorities to introduce the plant Carludovica palmata, so that the locals can compete in the global market for Panama Hats.


4th December 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: In Vienna, Austria-Hungary – Robert Adler – son of Max Adler, the sociologist,  and inventor of the world’s first TV remote control, and hero of couch potatoes everywhere. Refugee from the nazis he fled to London before emigrating to the US in 1941, where demand for labour saving TV devices was at its highest…


~ Also, in Montreal, Canada – Mark Robson, prolific film director whose output included Peyton Place (1957) and Valley of the Dolls (1967), thereby doing his fair share to boost demand for TV remote control devices.


~ and in Glasgow, Scotland – ISOTOPES.


Women’s suffrage – Courtesy of the UK’s infamous “cat and mouse act”, Mrs Emily Pankhurst finds she is temporarily introduced to the pleasures of Exeter gaol, in the west of England.


Society and Culture:

~ The Daily Mail (UK newspaper) reports on the 200th performance of “The Marriage Market” at Daly’s Theatre in London: ” Miss Gertie Millar as a fascinating Western girl finds an ideal partner in the imperturbable Englishman of Mr. G. P. Huntley… Mr. Harry Dearth as the Captain uses his fine voice to excellent effect in a rollicking sailor song, “Here’s good luck to the ladies.”  


~ The Manchester Guardian (newspaper) reports on a recent aristocratic fund raising event at London’s Albert Hall in aid of East End invalid kitchens: “Lady Randolph Churchill plays Empress Theodora in lavish fundraiser”. (aka – rich girls love to dress up).


~ Meanwhile, in Russia –  V.I. Lenin publishes his paper: “The Poverty of the People’s Teachers”.  “The Russian state spends hundreds of millions of rubles on the maintenance of its civil service, the police, the army, etc., while dooming teachers in the people’s schools to starvation. The bourgeoisie “sympathises” with public education—with the proviso, however, that the teachers live in worse conditions than the servants in the manor-houses and the houses of the rich….”


Extreme Weather – Georgetown, Colorado, records the highest single day’s (recorded) snowfall in US history – 63 inches (1.6 metres).


16th October 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: In Florence, Italy – Cesar Bresgen – Austro-Hungarian composer and organist.


Arms Race: At Portsmouth, Hampshire the British Royal Navy launches HMS Queen Elizabeth, a “super dreadnought” class battleship, first of a new generation of warships to be fuelled by oil instead of coal, which will mark a turning point in British geo-political strategy as its focus moves from coaling stations (Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Aden etc) towards oil producing territory, most especially in Persia.


Labour Relations: In South Africa railway workers and miners go out on strike in support of the Satyagraha campaign for Indian and Tamil rights.


Society and culture:  The Cornell Daily Sun reports a ruling from the Board of Student Representatives of Columbia University rejecting a petition from its journalism students claiming exemptions from its rules for freshers. “Freshmen must conform”. For the disappointed wannabe journalist this means that he will have to…

“wear a small skull cap with a white pearl button all year; he cannot walk on the grass; I he must not have cuffs on his trousers; he may not wear flashy ties or socks and he cannot smoke”