27th July 1915 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Amsterdam – Wilhelmus Johannes Maria (Willem) Hofhuizen, Dutch expressionist painter.



A bored expat writes: T. E. Lawrence (later – “of Arabia”), stationed as an intelligence officer in Cairo, writes home to his family:

“There is of course, nothing happening here, or likely to happen. Reports, and ciphering and drawing maps all day. The Dardanelles show will end soon:- Syria is quite quiet, though the Armenian villages in the North have been broken up, and the people scattered to various districts. No massacres, however, as yet. I can’t think of anything else to say:- The hot weather, as Father is interested in it, will end at the end of September. It’s not very hot now – and besides I am never more than about 5 minutes in the open air.”



15th June 1915 (Tuesday)

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.


28th April 1915 (Wednesday)


Arms makers: in the US, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation issues its shipping note for “1,248 cases of three-inch calibre shrapnel shells, filled”, due to be carried across the Atlantic (from neutral USA) in the cargo hold of the passenger liner “Lusitania” to the (British) Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. The weapons do not appear in the ship’s final manifest.


Peace makers: The International Congress of Women convenes at The Hague, Netherlands, with more than 1,200 delegates from 12 countries—including Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Poland, Belgium and the United States—all dedicated to the cause of peace and a resolution of the war. “With mourning hearts we stand united here….We grieve for many brave young men who have lost their lives on the battlefield before attaining their full manhood; we mourn with the poor mothers bereft of their sons; with the thousands of young widows and fatherless children, and we feel that we can no longer endure in this twentieth century of civilization that government should tolerate brute force as the only solution of international disputes”.



News makers: The New York Times reports a recent explanation in Russia’s Duma [Parliament} explaining the presence of Russian troops in Persia:

“The presence of our troops in Persian territory by no means involves a violation of Persian neutrality. Our detachments were sent to that country some years ago for the definite purpose of establishing and maintaining order in districts contiguous to our possessions, of high economic importance to us, also to prevent the seizure of some of these districts by the Turks, who openly strove to create for themselves there, especially in the district of Urumiah, a convenient base for military operations against the Caucasus. The Persian Government, not having the actual power to maintain its neutrality, met the Turkish violation of the latter with protests, which, however, had no results.”


11th April 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: Sunil Santha – Sri Lankan composer, singer and lyricist.


DIED TODAY: In prison in the Netherlands – Serial killer Maria Swanenburg, aged 75, convicted in 1885 of poisoning over 100 people with arsenic between 1880 and 1883, of whom at least 27 died, after starting with her own mother (1880) and shortly after her own father. Her motive – insurance policies. Her punishment – life imprisonment.



In the Middle East: Turkish forces shell the city of Qurna in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) which has been held by the British since early December 1914. [Burg & Purcell].

7th January, 1915 (Thursday)


~ In Groningen, Netherlands – Johan Fredrik Eykman, a Dutch chemist.

~ in Ontario – Thomas Keefer, a civil engineer.

~ in the Tochi Valley, Waziristan, on the North West Frontier – Eustace Jotham, VC, an English soldier.

~ In Union County, Illinois – Anna Rebecca Scheetz, an American daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother.






13th December 1914 (Sunday)


~ in the Bronx – Ralph DiGia, “World War 2 conscientious objector, lifelong pacifist and social justice activist, and staffer for 52 years at the War Resisters League” [Wikipedia].


~ at Moama, New South Wales, Alexander Noel Constantine, survivor of the Battle of Britain, shot down and killed in Indonesia in 1947 by Dutch counter-insurgent P-40 Kittyhawks while he was flying an Indian transport plane (C-47 Dakota) carrying medicines donated by the Malayan Red Cross.



War at Sea: A British submarine (B11) penetrates the Dardanelle Straits and destroys the Turkish (British built) Battleship “Mesudiye”, killing 37,  before escaping back into the open waters of the Northern Aegean [Burg & Purcell].




25th October 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in the Netherlands – Franciscus Henricus Antheunis Sr, who migrated to Australia in 1956, together with his wife, taking with them nine year old Franciscus Henricus Antheunis Jr, now a musican and children’s entertainer.




Western Front: In Flanders, in a desperate attempt to stop the German advance, the Belgians open the sluice gates of the coastal dikes to flood the area between the River Yser and a railway embankment further inland. [Burg and Purcell].

An anonymous nursing sister records in her diary the desperation, as recounted to her by the wounded:

“First, you must understand that this big battle from Ostend to Lille is perhaps the most desperate of all, though that is said of each in turn – Mons, the Aisne, and this; but the men and officers who have been through all say this is the worst. The Germans are desperate, and stick at nothing, and the Allies are the same; and in determination to drive them back, each man personally seems to be the same. Consequently the ‘carnage’ is being appalling, and we have been practically in it, as far as horrrors go. Guns were cracking and spitting all night, lighting up the sky in flashes, and fires were burning on both sides. The Clearing Hospital close by, which was receiving the wounded from the field and sending them on to us, was packed and overflowing with badly wounded…”


17th October 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Cleveland Ohio – Joe Carter, Jerry Ess, Herbert S Fine and Jerry Siegel, who co-created a Super Hero, after his eponymous Super Villain failed to ignite.



Eastern Front: In the Battle of the Vistula River (sometimes referred to as the Battle of Warsaw), the german advance on Warsaw is countered by russian forces, and the german commander orders a retreat.


War at Sea: At the Battle of Texel, off the Dutch coast, the British Royal Navy destroys a german flotilla of minelayers and torpedo boats.



6th October 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Larvik, Norway – Thor Heyerdahl, wannabe Viking turned anthropo-mariner.

Ultimately his interest in the legends and pictographs of curved reed or wooden boats led him to Azerbaijan, a Caucasus nation sandwiched between Russia to the North and Turkey and Iran in the south. There the 5,000 year old pictographs of crafts, reminiscent of ancient Viking ships, seemed to support Heyerdahl’s belief that significant sea travel, and long distance river travel, had been going on much earlier than most historians believed and in fairly “primitive” yet high effective craft — craft that decayed leaving little trace of existence or construction. While many historians believed that significant boat travel occurred only after the rise of large civilizations, Heyerdahl was certain that travel by boat created trade and cultural exchange and thus spurred the growth of the great civilizations. Thus, he claimed, boat travel was a leading cause of civilization, not merely one of its products. But the similarity between the pictographs and the ships of his Heyerdahl’s Norwegian ancestors had significance. They reminded him of ancient legends which claimed that his people had originally come from the land of Aser, east of the Black Sea.” [nndb.com]



Belgium: As the Belgian army begins to withdraw from Antwerp, the govenrment moves to Ostend, and nearly a quarter of a million residents flee towards France and the Netherlands. [Burg and Purcell]. 

Today a new British Army Division – the 7th – also lands at Zeebrugge, but is too little, too late, to save Antwerp from the Germans. [Peter Chasseaud “Mapping the First World War”]

Society and Culture: On a Royal train in a pine forest somewhere in Russia, British Major General Sir John Hanbury-Williams KCB, KCVO, CMG, dines with The Russian Emperor Tsar Nicholas II, and is “at once struck by his extraordinary likeness to our own King” (King George V of the United Kingdom and British Dominions and Emperor of India ~ his cousin).