14th July 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Panama, Kenneth B Clark – psychologist who studied the effects of racial prejudice on children.


World Affairs: In a telegram to the German Kaiser, Baron Tschirschky (the German Ambassador to Vienna) confirms that Hungarian premier, Count Tisza, has been brought around to the idea of war, and that the Austro-Hungarian authorities have decided to send an ultimatum to the Serbian government. The text will be ready by 19th July, but a decision has been made to delay issuing it until after the French President, Poincare, finishes his state visit to Russia, to reduce the likelihood of a quick and well coordinated reponse from Russia and France.


Exploration: In London’s docklands, the SS “Montcalm” arrives from Manitoba, Canada with a cargo of 99 “endurance dogs”. Each dog has travelled first by freight train from Winnipeg to Manitoba and each is caged individually. They are part of the preparations for Ernest Shackleton’s trans-Antarctic expedition. The “Endurance” will leave Plymouth, bound first for Buenos Aires, on 8th August.


Mysteries: The German cargo ship “Werner Kunstmann” founders on the Goswick Sands in England’s northern waters. “Reputed to have been scuppered following reports that she was on route to supply her cargo of iron ore to German factories which had been building up in their preparations for the start of World War 1. All 17crew were saved when the ship ran aground in fine weather on the Goswick sand ridge and was lost”. [The Berwick Advertiser].


Womens’ Suffrage: Militant suffragette Maude Edwards is released from Perth prison on the grounds that “excitement is injurious to [her] health”.



28th May, 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: In Madras, in British India (now Chennai) – Group Captain Wilfrid George Gerald Duncan Smith, Distinguished Service Order (DSO)  and Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) – World War 2 British flying ace; author of “Spitfire into Battle”; and father of the UK’s Conservative Party Leader (2001 to 2003).


Shipping News: The Royal Mail Steamship the Empress of Ireland leaves Quebec, Canada, bound for Liverpool, England, carrying 1477 passengers and crew, but missing one cat.


Emmy the Cat, “A loyal ginger moggie who had never once missed a voyage, repeatedly tried to escape…the crew could not coax her aboard, and the Empress departed without her…”


Ireland: At Curragh, near Dublin, the (British) South Irish Horse Regiment and their wives and families are enjoying a Regimental Sport Day.



30th June 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Bogota, Colombia – Alfonso López Michelsen, son of a future two times President of Colombia (Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo 1934-1938 and 1942-1945) and himself the President of Colombia from 1974 to 1978.

World Affairs: Mexican rebels take the city of Guaymas in the third year of Mexico’s 10 year revolution.

Second Balkan War: The Bulgarian army torches the wealthy town of Drama one day before it is taken by Greek forces (then in the disputed area between Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece, now in the Greek region of “Eastern Macedonia and Thrace”).

Arms Race – The German Parliament votes to increase the size of its army by 136,000 officers and men.

Accidents: In Lawrence, Massachusetts 11 boys drown in the Merrimack River when a pier leading to a floating bath-house collapses.

Mysteries: Observation confirms that the star we refer to as “the Sun” completed a second sequential calendar month (May and June 1913) with no observed sun spots. There will now be no sun spot free calendar months for at least another 95 years. Sadly, I have no idea of the significance of this fact, but hopefully there are some who do.

28th May 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Novonikolaevsk, Siberia – Monia Talan, MBE – Platoon Sergeant and later Company Sergeant Major, and member of the British elite Special Operations Executive. Refugee from the Russian Revolution aged 5, member of the Shanghai Volunteers in his youth, Hong Kong soldier and later businessman during and after World War 2.  Retired as a horse breeder with his Hungarian wife outside Melbourne, Australia in 1979.

Human rights: In a protest against the South African racist pass laws, a mass meeting of women in Waaihoek adopts a passive resistance stance. The women refuse to carry residential permits, and two hundred angry women march into town to see the mayor, later tearing up their passes and provoking 80 arrests.

Mysteries: Bertrand Russell records in a letter a recent meeting he has had with the philosopher Wittgenstein, and experiences “the younger generation knocking at the door”

We were both cross from the heat. I showed him a crucial part of what I had been writing. He said it was all wrong, not realizing the difficulties—that he had tried my view and knew it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t understand his objection—in fact he was very inarticulate—but I feel in my bones that he must be right, and that he has seen something that I have missed. If I could see it too I shouldn’t mind, but as it is, it is worrying, and has rather destroyed the pleasure in my writing—I can only go on with what I see, and yet I feel it is probably all wrong, and that Wittgenstein will think me a dishonest scoundrel for going on with it. Well, well—it is the younger generation knocking at the door—I must make room for him when I can, or I shall become an incubus. But at the moment I was rather cross”.

Three years later Russell wrote: “I saw he was right, and I saw that I could not hope ever again to do fundamental work in philosophy. My impulse was shattered, like a wave dashed to pieces against a breakwater”.[University College London – 2006: “What Wittgenstein saw and Russell missed”]

Society and technology: At Windsor Castle, England, a copy of today’s Paris newspaper, Le Matin – printed on silk – is delivered to King George V, having been flown across the channel. A second (back-up) copy – being delivered by a separate pilot – never arrives because the craft develops engine trouble and is forced to land short of its destination.

27th May 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: In Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now just in Hungary) – Enver Colakovic, Bosnian novelist, poet and translator.

Arms Race: At Horten, on the Oslofjord in Norway, the Norwegian Royal Navy launches the destroyer Garm. Destroyed by the Luftwaffe on 26th April 1940 during the German invasion of Norway.

Women’s Suffrage: Sylvia Pankhurst establishes the East London Federation of Suffragettes. It is considered by many – including her own family – to be too democratic and working class, and six months later is excluded from the Women’s Social and Political Union.

Science and technology: At Montrose Scotland, Desmond Arthur becomes the first fatality from an aircrash in Scotland when the right wing of his aircraft snaps off at 2500 feet. He is killed instantly on impact and buried in Sleepyhillock Cemetery in Montrose. Later he participated in the one of the most famous ghost stories from World War I  after multiple sightings of the ‘Irish Apparition’ or the ‘Montrose Ghost’, starting in 1916 and recurring as recently as 2012.

On 27 May 1963, Sir Peter Maselfield, was flying his Chipmunk monoplane close to Montrose while en route from Dalcross to Shoreham, when he saw what he believed was a 70 horsepower B.E.2 biplane; the pilot was wearing a leather flying helmet, goggles and a flying scarf. Masefield landed when he believed he had seen it crashing, but on reaching the ground discovered that there was no plane or crash site”. [Wikipedia].

1st May 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY, in Andhra Pradesh, India – Puchalapalli Sundaraiah, founding member of the Communist Party of India and leader of the Telengana Rebellion (peasants’ revolt) in Hyderabad between 1946 and 1951.

Also Felicity Watts (later Felicity Hanbury, and later still Air Commandant Dame Felicity Peake, DBE  – Dame of the British Empire), founding director of the UK’s (second) Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) in 1949. An earlier WRAF existed briefly between 1918 and 1920, and the name was revived in 1949.

World Affairs: Montenegro agrees to end its occupation of Skadar (Scutari) in northern Albania if it is compensated with land elsewhere.

In a border skirmish in the remote region where Kenya and Abyssinia share an ill defined border, Kenyan Political Officer Leycester Aylmer and two of his soldiers are shot and killed by Abyssinian outlaws after a failed attempt to parley.

Transport: In London, England, a committee on London traffic accidents publishes its findings after investigating the sharp increase in serious accidents in recent years involving motor buses. Recommendations include fitting buses with gongs (they are too quiet when compared to horse drawn vehicles) and using “street orderly boys” to clear away mud more quickly. And (of course) “rules should be circulated widely by way of education and warning”.

Mysteries: Six miles north of the Seal Rock off New South Wales, Mr Thomas Brown, a passenger on the steam ship “Fitzroy” who has been locked in his cabin by the captain because of his strange behaviour, escapes while the captain is bringing him tea, and throws himself overboard. The vessel is stopped and a search undertaken, but Mr Brown is not found.

31st January 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY, at Govan on the Clyde, Scotland – HMS Valiant, Queen Elizabeth Class battleship. Launched November 1914, completed February 1916, collided and repaired in August and September 1916, severely damaged  by “human torpedos” in December 1941, and again by a collapsing dry dock in Ceylon in  1944. Retired in 1945 and sold for scrap in 1948.

Transport News: According to a news report (Norfolk News, 8th February 1913) in the sleepy North Norfolk (UK) seaside town of Sheringham, there are multiple witnesses, including a former army officer using binoculars, who see three mysterious aircraft heading west (towards central england) in the early evening darkness. At midnight a man hears an aircraft overhead…


…if this was the biggest news that day, then it must have been a VERY quiet end to January 1913 on planet earth.