31st May 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Canberra – Judith Wright, poet, environmentalist and campaigner for aboriginal land rights.



In Turkish Mesopotamia (now Iraq, allegedly) – British and Indian troops are pushing back the Turks as the Allied forces advance northward in an amphibious operation on the River Tigris. [Burg & Purcell]

On the Austrian Isonzo river in the Julian alps (now the Soca River in Slovenia), Italian forces are attempting to push back Austrian troops and to advance eastward into the province of Carnolia (northern Slovenia). [Burg & Purcell]

15th May 1915 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in London – Hilda Schwarz (later Bernstein), journalist, author, artist, activist, communist and exile.



The Dardanelles: Senior British Admiral Sir John Fisher resigns in protest at what he perceives to be Churchill’s misplaced obsession with forcing the Dardanelles, a strategy which has so far yielded nothing but many thousands of deaths [Burg & Purcell].

The Western Front: After a 60 hour bombardment by 433 artillery pieces   firing about 100,000 shells, British General Sir Douglas Haig launches his British, Indian and Canadian  army against the German defences on the first day of the Battle of Festubert.  After 10 days and over 20,000 casualities the Allies will have gained approximately 3 kilometres. Overall losses for the Second Battle of Artois (of which this forms part) are in the order of 200,000 German, French, British, Indian and Canadian men, including over 100,000 Frenchmen [Wikipedia].



The Reuters News Agency files unconfirmed reports (from the Spanish government) of a revolutionary coup in Portugal, where all communications (railway, telegraph etc) have been cut and there are (unfounded) rumours that the ex-Premier, Afonso Costa, has been assassinated.


5th November 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: Emmanuel Kiwanuka Nsubuga, Archbishop of Kampala from 1966 to 1990, who spoke out against human rights abuses during the regime of Idi Amin.



Britain declares war on Turkey and immediately annexes Cyprus. France also declares war on Turkey.



In (nominally) Turkish ruled Egypt (actually already a British “protectorate”) British forces depose the Khedive (the Turkish equivalent of a viceroy) – Abbas II Hilmi Bey, who has reigned since 1892.


In London, Selfridges Store is selling puppets of “Guy-ser Bill” to be used as effigies for the English celebration of “Guy Fawkes night”.






6th July, 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Halifax Nova Scotia – Viola Davis (later Desmond), Canadian black activist  wrongly convicted for tax evasion as a result of a protest over segregation in a New Glasgow theatre, and pardoned posthumously, in 2010, forty five years after her death [Wikipedia].


World Affairs: In St Petersburg, the Russian government warns Austria not to make unreasonable demands of the Serbians in response to their alleged involvement in the Archduke’s assassination.

Society and Culture: In Kiel, Germany, where the German and British navies have been jointly celebrating “Kiel Week” together, the Kaiser sets off on his annual holiday cruise, heading for Norway. {Almanac of World War 1].



17th June 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Tientsin, China – to missionary parents – John Hersey, journalist, author, lecturer and professor.


Society and Culture:

~ Mary Dorothy Lyndon of Athens, Georgia, becomes the first woman ever to be awarded a degree by the Univeristy of Georgia.


~ In London, 26 year old Marcus Mosiah Garvey boards the steamship “Trent” to return home to Jamaica after two years studying law and philosophy at London’s Birkbeck College, and working for the “African Times and Orient Review.”  [Wikipedia}   ” I read ‘Up From Slavery’ and then my doom – if I may so call it – of being a race leader dawned on me”. [Barbados Underground].



Sport: In England, the Western Times newspaper reports that the Exeter City football (soccer) team have played their first match (a few days ago) in a tour of South America, against a team representing North Argentina. The final score is reported at 1-0, but the cablegram received is unclear about which team was victorious.

“The cablegram received by Mr. Sid Thomas, the Secretary of the club yesterday, gives the score 1-0. According to the usual rule of the home teams score coming first, North Argentina won. On the other hand it is argued that the message means that the City were victorious. Supporters will have to possess themselves in patience.” [Western Times – Wednesday 17 June 1914]




22nd February 1914 (Sunday)


~ in Catanzaro, in Italy’s deep south – Renato Dulbecco, virologist, Italian world war 2 conscript, emigrant to the USA, and Nobel Prize winner.

~ in Padua, in Italy’s far north – Otello Toso, Italian film and stage actor who died in a car accident, aged 52.



Human Rights: On her sixteenth birthday, Thillaiyadi Valliammai, a South African Tamil woman who has just served three months hard labor in Maritzburg prison for her small part in the Satyagraha protest movement led by Mahatma Ghandi, dies from an illness contracted during her imprisonment.


Accidents: At the beach at Manley in New South Wales, 16 year old William Overton and 14 year old Ronald Starkey are swept out to sea while swimming, and are drowned.


27th November 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in New York City – Walter Benjamin Garland, Brooklyn college mathematics student, communist party and National Negro Congress activist, volunteer fighter with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. US Army volunteer in World War 2 whose request to serve overseas was denied. Post war activist against discrimination and police brutality, co-founder of the United Negro Allied Veterans Association.


Crime and punishment: At Pentonville Prison, in London, England – Frederick Robertson is hanged by the neck for the double murder of his relatives – Nellie and Beatrice Robertson.


Transport and gallantry: In the village of Liss in Hampshire, England, Percy Norwood sustains serious head injuries while rescuing blacksmith Harry Rasell from the path of an oncoming train. Harry’s pony had bolted, crashing into the crossing gates and throwing him onto the rails ahead of the train.


Thanksgiving: In the US State of New Mexico, Governor William C McDonald proclaims this Thursday, the fourth Thursday in  November, as a day of thanksgiving:  “I urge upon all that this day be observed as one of prayer and praise to God for the many blessings enjoyed by our people. At the same time may we not forget the poor and needy, making the day what its name implies for all”.


Journalism, society and culture: The National Geographic magazine publishes an article with ethnographic plates entitled “The Non-Christian Peoples of the Philippine Islands”.


13th November 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Rock Island, Illinois – Helen McDougall, better known as Helen Mack – Hollywood actress whose titles included: The Struggle (1931); Son of Kong (1933); Kiss and Make Up (1934); His Girl Friday (1940) ; and (finally) The Divorce (1945).


Women’s suffrage: In Hartford, Connecticut, USA  – Emmeline Pankhurst delivers her “Freedom or Death” speech.

You won your freedom in America when you had the revolution, by bloodshed, by sacrificing human life. You won the civil war by the sacrifice of human life when you decided to emancipate the negro. You have left it to women in your land, the men of all civilised countries have left it to women, to work out their own salvation. That is the way in which we women of England are doing. Human life for us is sacred, but we say if any life is to be sacrificed it shall be ours; we won’t do it ourselves, but we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death”. {historyisaweapon.com]


6th November 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Poland – Waclaw Lapkowski, Polish Air Force pilot who joined the the British Royal Air Force 303 squadron on the day it was formed in August 1940. Shot down and seriously injured in September that year, returning to the squadron in January 1941. Wounded again in April 1941, before taking command of 303 squadron in June.  In July 1941, while leading a Spitfire attack, he was shot down over the English Channel, aged 27.  His body was washed ashore and he is buried in Lombardsidje Communal Cemetery, Belgium.


Human Rights – in South Africa, Mohandas Karamchand (“Mahatma”) Gandhi is arrested while leading a passive resistance march in protest at the treatment of Indian workers.


15th October 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: In Riga (at that time part of Russia, but dominated by German speakers; taken by the Germans in 1917 and retained as part of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk; independent Latvia between the two world wars; annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940; recaptured by Germany in 1941; retaken by the Red Army in 1944 and part of the Soviet bloc; currently independent again since 1991) – Wolfgang Luth, U-boat Captain, shot dead in 1945 by a sentry (acting on Luth’s previous orders) after the Captain failed to give the proper pass-word.


Accidents and disasters: A rail accident in the St James’ area of Liverpool, England, kills 6 and injures 63 others.

As this week racks up its third tragedy, following the loss of the SS Volturno (130 lives) last Wednesday, and the explosion at the Senghenydd colliery (440 lives) yesterday, it is becoming known as “Black Week”.



World Affairs: In South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi begins his march from his farm at Phoenix, near Durban, to the Natal border with the Transvaal, with the intention to cross the border illegally in support of rights for Indians in South Africa. With subsequent and surprising support from no less a figure than Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of India, Ghandi’s reputation as an international figure will be established.


High Society: At St James’s Palace, London –  Princess Alexandra Victoria Alberta Edwina Louise, second Duchess of Fife and great granddaughter of Queen Victoria marries Prince Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert of Connaught and Strathearn, grandson of Queen Victoria.