20th May, 1915 (Thursday)


~ On Independence Day in  Cardenas, in the province of Matanzas, on the north coast of Cuba – the city’s electric tramway.


~ Also, on the Degania Alef kibbutz in Ottoman Palestine, to Shmuel and Devorah Dayan, immigrants from Ukraine – a son: Moshe.



In Rome: The Italian Parliament ratifies the decision to go to war against Austria-Hungary. [Mark Thompson: “The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919”]

12th April 1915 (Monday)


~ in Natchez, Mississippi – Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor, Chicago Blues guitarist and singer.


~ Also the Wauchope railway station on the North Coast line in New South Wales, serving Wauchope, 455 kilometres from (and to) the Central Railway Station in Sydney.



In the Middle East

~ Twelve thousand Turkish and Arab Troops counter-attack against the Anglo-Indian forces who are holding Shaiba, near Basra. [Burg & Purcell].


~ French warships bombard Gaza in Palestine, still a part of the Ottoman Empire and a base for Turkish threats to the Allied forces in Egypt.


29th March 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Barnes, West London – Seton Robert Tristram (“Bobby”) Headley,  consultant anaesthetist


Natural and man-made disasters: in Palestine, Ihsan Hasan Al-Turjman records in his diary the seventh day of a plague of locusts overwhelming the region:

“The locust invasion started seven days ago and covered the sky. Today it took the locusts clouds two hours to pass over the city. God protect us from three plagues: war, locusts and disease, for they are spreading through the country. Pity the poor.”



 The Home Front: In  England’s west country, the “Exeter and Plymouth Gazette” reports on some “excellent” cultural support being provided to the local troops, where Mrs. J. Skeete, of Heavitree, is teaching French to soldiers billeted in Exeter.

“The classes are held at the United Services Institute, Castle-street, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each week. In three months no less than 450 soldiers have been given a good knowledge of the language, and the Army Council has written Mrs. Braithwaite Skeete in appreciative terms concerning the admirable work she is doing”.


15th September 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Lodz (then in the Russian Empire, now in Poland) – Aharon Katzir-Katchalsky, migrant to Palestine in 1925 who was killed in the Lod Airport Massacre in 1972.



In South Africa, parts of the Afrikaans community ~perceived by the (British) South African government to be instigating a rebellion~ follows General Maritz in proclaiming alliance with the Germans of South West Africa:

The former South African Republic and Orange Free State as well as the Cape Province and Natal are proclaimed free from British control and independent, and every White inhabitant of the mentioned areas, of whatever nationality, are hereby called upon to take their weapons in their hands and realize the long-cherished ideal of a Free and Independent South Africa.” 

The Maritz Rebellion, also known as the “Boer Revolt” is only successfully suppressed after martial law is declared in October 1914.


8th February 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: In Spokane, Washington State – Margaret Virginian Wittman, “Miss Idaho” in the 1933 Miss America beauty pageant, even though she had never lived in Idaho or participated in a state contest. At the centre of a disqualification scandal after a newspaper reveals her (lack of) credentials.


Early Flight: Between Damascus and Jerusalem, in the Ottoman Near East, Turkish Pilot Fethi Bey dies when his Bleriot XI/B aircraft called the “Muavenet-i Milliye” crashes into rocky terrain while he is attempting to fly from Istanbul to Alexandria.


3rd September 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Hot Springs, Arkansas – Alan Walbridge Ladd, aka the cowboy “Shane”


World Affairs


~ The Zionist Congress meets in Vienna to discuss its aim to colonise Palestine


~ Negotiations begin between Turkey and Bulgaria which will eventually (late September) lead to the Treaty of Constantinople, whereby Turkey regains Adrianople (Edirne), its ancient capital taken by the Bulgarians earlier in the year.


Arms Race: the Dreadnought battleship “Reshadieh “, built by the Vickers Company in Britain as part of an order for the Ottoman Navy,  is launched by the daughter of the Turkish Ambassador to Britain, using rose-water instead of the customary champagne. She (the battleship, that is) will be “requisitioned” (confiscated from the Turks while still in final fit out in Britain) by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill in August 1914, and renamed HMS Erin, causing a diplomatic furore, indignation in Istanbul, and increasing the likelihood that Turkey enters WW1 on the side of the Central Powers.


Empire: In a remote part of the British East Africa “Protectorate” (Northern Kenya) where British forces are conducting a continuing campaign against desert raiders and intruders from across the Abyssinian border, Lieutenant William Lloyd-Jones leads a small party which attacks and kills a party of raiders, and sustains serious injuries which require him to be stretchered back to Nairobi, a journey taking over 6 weeks. Later he is awarded the “last Distinguished Service Order to be awarded before the Great War broke out”.


Exploration: In the Arctic Circle, the archipelago named “Emperor Nicholas II Land” (now Severnaya Zemlya) is discovered, the last archipelago (so far) to be discovered anywhere on the planet.


23rd July 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Plymouth, Devon, England – Michael Mackintosh Foot, post war Labour politician, passionate anti-nuclear campaigner, famous orator,  and (briefly, 1980-1983) Leader of the Labour Party.

World Affairs – in Rehovot in Palestine, where Polish Jews founded a community in 1890, Palestinians attack the jewish settlement.

Labour Relations: In Michigan, USA, copper miners begin a strike which will last for over eight months. Thier goal – an eight hour day without loss of pay.

Science, technology and early flight: George Prensiel, a German national working at the London Aerodrome, patents his life saving (ejecting) parachute apparatus.

Cinema: At Oneonta in New York State, the Oneonta Theatre shows the first ever talking movie using Thomas Edison’s short lived Kinetophone technology. The technology will be abandoned after a short time and movie goers will need to wait another 13 years until true talkies arrive.


15th July 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Smarhon’, or Smorgon, in Russia (now in Belarus) – Abraham Sutzkever, YIddish poet, Jewish partisan against the Germans in wartime Vilna (the Jewish Ghetto in Vilnius, now in Lithuania), rescued by the Soviets from the Lithuanian forest in 1944, witness at the Nuremburg trials  (February 1946) and immigrant to Mandate Palestine in 1947.

Arms and technology: Swiss citizen Franz Schneider is granted a patent for a synchronisation device that allows a machine gun to fire between an aircraft’s spinning propeller blades.

World Affairs: Britain’s House of Lords votes down the Irish Home Rule Bill, prompting the Prime Minister to announce his intentions to abolish the Upper House during the next parliament. In the real world his plans both for Ireland and the Peers of the Realm will soon be overtaken by world war 1.

18th June 1913 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: In Paris, at the first ever Arab Congress – Arab Nationalism – when representatives meet to discuss and search for reform within the Ottoman Empire.

It took place at a time of uncertainty and change in the Ottoman Empire in the years leading up to World War I. The Empire had undergone a revolution and a coup by the Young Turks in 1908. Arabs were agitating for more rights under the fading empire and early glimmers of  Arab nationalism were emerging. A number of dissent and reform-oriented groups formed in Greater Syria, Palestine, Constantinople and Egypt.  Zionist immigration to Palestine was increasing, and England and France were expressing interest in the region, competing for spheres of influence“. [Wikipedia – “Arab Congress of 1913”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Congress_of_1913    ].

Women’s suffrage: Members of the (UK) National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) set off on a six week “pilgrimage” around Britain to build (further) support for the Suffragette movement.

Society and culture: Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad founds the urdu islamic newspaper Al-Fazl, in Qadian, in the state of Punjab in India.

15th May 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: In Auckland, New Zealand – Charles Reilly, volunteer for air crew duties in 1939 who trained at Weraroa in 1940 before sailing for the UK the same year. After training in Uxbridge and other locations in the UK, he was transferred to Palestine. Eight days after his arrival he took off for a night flight to Crete. Radio contact was lost in the early hours of 28th October1942, and he (aged 29) and the crew were officially presumed lost at that date…

Accidents: In Glendevon, Scotland, shale miner Charles McQueen is killed from an underground fall of shale.

World Affairs: Major Herbert Garland, a British scientist, soldier and explosives expert, is elected a Fellow of the (British) Chemical Society. At the outbreak of war he will join the “Arab Bureau” and operate alongside T.E Lawrence supporting bedouin insurgency against the Turks in Western Arabia. Lawrence once commented: “Garland is much more use than I could be… he is an expert on explosives and machinery. He digs their trenches, teaches them musketry, machine gun work, signalling, gets on with them exceedingly well and always makes the best of things and they all like him too”. [Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2010].