26th April 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Furth, Bayern, Germany – Ludwig Schweickert, European wrestler killed in action during World War 2.


ACCIDENTS: In the English village of Brayton in Cumberland, a pit explosion injures 8 miners, seven of whom will subsequently die of their injuries.



World affairs: In London,  Italian diplomats agree to declare war on Germany and her allies within one month, in exchange for territory in the South Tyrol, and in the Adriatic, including Gorizia, Istria and most of Dalmatia – the homes of 230,000 German speaking Austrians and around 750,000 Slovenes and Croats, far outnumbering the 650,000 Italians also residing there. [The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919].

Dardanelles: British submarine E-14 successfully passes through the Dardanelles, reaching the sea of Marmara and sinking a Turkish gunboat. [Burg & Purcell].

17th January 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: (only in the USA) – Vincent Kosuga – American onion farmer “best known for manipulating the onion futures market. Though he made millions of dollars on commodity trading, his actions were highly controversial and attracted government scrutiny. This scrutiny led to the passing of the Onion Future Act, which banned the trading of futures contracts  on onions.” [Wikipedia]



In the East: Russia occupies the historic region of Bukovina (now divided between Ukraine and Romania), and also Western Ukraine.




Mining accidents: At the village of Halmer End, in England’s North Staffordshire coal-fields, a coal gas explosion kills 9 miners, including Arthur Shufflebottom, aged just 16.


Society and culture: in the USA, the radical labour organizer and anarchist Lucy Parsons lead a hunger march in Chicago.


9th December 1914 (Wednesday)

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).



Mining accidents: At the Scranton diamond mine in Pennsylvania, a lift carriage disintegrates and plunges several hundred feet into the shaft, killing 13 miners.



12th September 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: In Newport, Wales – “Q” in James Bond films from Goldfinger (1964 – aged 50) to “The World is Not Enough (1999 – aged 85) – aka Desmond Llewelyn.



At Newbury, in the South of England,where a number of regiments are encamped on the racecourse, around 2000 horses are involved in a serious stampede  which spills over into the town where  “some of the horses went through shop windows, and carts were overturned”. 



Mining accidents: At Ralph’s Mine in Huntly, Waikat, on New Zealand’s North Island an explosion kills 43 of the 60 miners who are working today.


10th September 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in British Guiana, South America – Kenrick Reginald Hijmans (“snakehips”) Johnson, jazz band-leader and dancer, killed, aged 26, (along with over 30 others) by a direct bomb hit during the Blitz in March 1941, while performing at London’s Cafe de Paris night club.



Western Front: As the Battle of the Marne draws towards its conclusions, the German armies withdraw towards the border. “Over two million men fought in the First Battle of the Marne and although there are no exact official casualty counts for the battle, estimates for the actions of September along the Marne front for all armies are often given as c. 500,000 killed or wounded. French casualties totalled 250,000 men, of whom 80,000 were killed.” [Wikipedia].



On volcanic Whakaari/White Island in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, “a large portion of the main crater wall collapses onto the crater floor and consumes a mining camp [where] sulphur was mined for the manufacture of sulphuric acid and fertiliser. Ten sulphur miners perish.”

When rescuers reach the island, no sign of the miners can be found.


19th August 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Tyldesley, Lancashire, England – Frank Seddon, dreamer, musician, miner, poet, tubman and fireman, home guard sergeant, family man and migrant.



In Aerschot, in Belgium, German soldiers perpetrate a massacre of priests and civilians, around 150 in total,  ostensibly in retaliation for the murder of a german officer, but believed by some to be part of a deliberate policy of inflicting terror on the civilian population.


At Lesnica in Serbia, Austrian soldiers shoot150 peasants during the army’s forced retreat towards the Drina river, which forms the nearby border with (Austro-Hungarian) Bosnia Herzegovina.

[Burg and Purcell: Almanac of World War 1]

Delivering a speech to the US Senate in Washington, President Woodrow Wilson urges Americans to remain neutral both in actions and in speech:

“The effect of the war upon the United States will depend upon what American citizens say and do. Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned. The spirit of the nation in this critical matter will be determined largely by what individuals and society and those gathered in public meetings do and say, upon what newspapers and magazines contain, upon what ministers utter in their pulpits, and men proclaim as their opinions upon the street.

The people of the United States are drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations now at war. It is natural and inevitable that there should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict. Some will wish one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle. It will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it. Those responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility, responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to its government should unite them as Americans all, bound in honor and affection to think first of her and her interests, may be divided in camps of hostile opinion, hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse and opinion if not in action…

I venture, therefore, my fellow countrymen, to speak a solemn word of warning to you against that deepest, most subtle, most essential breach of neutrality which may spring out of partisanship, out of passionately taking sides. The United States must be neutral in fact, as well as in name, during these days that are to try men’s souls. We must be impartial in thought, as well as action, must put a curb upon our sentiments, as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before another.”


18th July 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: Gino Bartali, Italian champion road cyclist knighted in his home country and posthumously awarded the honorific “Righteous Among the Nations” for his efforts to aid jews during World War 2.


World Affairs: in Berlin, a Bavarian diplomat tells the Bavarian Prime Minister that Austria is only pretending to be “peacefully inclined” and that the utlimatum they are preparing to serve on Serbia is designed to generate a rejection, and thus provide an excuse for war: “ It is perfectly plain that Serbia cannot accept any such demands, which are incompatible with her dignity as a sovereign state” [Fromkin: “Europe’s Last Summer”].


Arms Race: Britain’s King George V reviews the fleet at Spithead, including 260 Royal Navy ships (59 battleships) and 17 seaplanes. It is seen by some as the first stage of the mobilisation for war.


Mining accidents: The Ironwood Times of Michigan reports the deaths of 7 men on Tuesday at the Alpha mine after a roof collapsed, releasing quicksand into the mine.




25th June 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Gelsenkirche, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany – Lorenz Marie Hackenholt, “gas chamber expert”.


World Affairs: Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, heir to the thrones of Austria-Hungary, arrives by train in the town of Ilidza, a suburb of Sarajevo, where he is joined by his wife,  Sophie. He will spend the weekend inspecting military manoeuvres while she visits (catholic) churches, schools, charities etc.


Fire: In Massachusetts, the Great Salem fire destroys  1376 buildings, making 20,000 homeless.


Postcard from Salem


Society and Culture:  At Number 8, Second Avenue, in Forest Town, in England’s industrial midlands, Elijah Mottishaw, miner, and his wife Sarah, get a “surprise” visit from George Frederick Ernest Albert Windsor and his wife, Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, better known as King George V of the United Kingdom and Dominions (and Emperor of India), and his wife, Queen Mary.



19th June 1914 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Overton County, Tennessee – Lester Raymond Flatt, bluegrass guitarist and mandolinist, and one half of the Foggy Mountain Boys (“Flatt and Scruggs”), possibly best known for the “Ballad of Jed Clampett”, the theme music to the 1960s TV sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies”.


Mining Accidents: The Hillcrest Mine in Alberta, Canada is destoyed by multiple explosions which kill 189 miners, leaving 130 widows and 400 fatherless children in a community of around 1000 souls. It is (still) the worse mining accident in Canadian history, and at the time the third worst in the world.



12th June 1914 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: At Dunedin in New Zealand – Allen George Palmer, Inspector of Mines in Tanganyika from 1947 to 1962.


Volcano: At the Lassen Peak in California, a group of 5 climbers are treated to an unexpectedly close-up view of the volcano erupting.