20th February 1915 (Saturday)

World Affairs: In San Francisco, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opens. “Much of the site [is] built in landfill that partly consists of debris from the [1906] earthquake.”




War at Sea: on a particularly bad day for British shipping a total of five vessels – four cargo ships and a Royal Navy trawler –  are lost to a combination of accidents and enemy actions (naval attacks, torpedos and mines). Norway also loses a cargo ship to north sea mines.


The boredom of war: from Cairo, young British archaeologist turned Intelligence Officer, T.E. Lawrence, writes home to his family in England:

The Seven Golden Odes of Pagan Arabia or The Moallakat: translated by Lady Anne Blunt, and put into English verse by Wilfred Scawen Blunt: published at the Chiswick Press 5/- in 1904 probably. Can you get me this book? I expect it is out of print:- but if so Blackwell would get a copy very easily, as it is a well known book. If you get it, please send it out to Intelligence Department, W.O. [ie the War Office]  as above. No news this week; we sit still, and maintain an appearance of miserly inactivity. ” [www.telstudies.org/]


3rd August 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Bellevue , France – a son and third child to the dancer Isadora Duncan, each with different fathers. Her first two children drowned in a freak motor accident in the River Seine in Paris in April 1913. This third child survived only a few hours.




Eastern Front: German troops invade Poland, capturing Kalish, Chenstokhov and Bendzin.

Western Front: Belgium rejects the German ultimatum at 7.00AM. The British government and parliament, previously divided along party lines, finds solidarity in its interests to preserve Belgian neutrality. The British foreign secretary  comments:

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”

Germany declares war on France as one and a half million German troops move towards Belgium and France. Another half million are moving Eastward…


Sources: “Almanac of World War 1”  – “The Guns of August” – “Hansard” (record of the proceedings of the British Parliament).



Migration: The town of Utica, in Oneida County, New York State enjoys “Old Home Week” when former citizens who have gone out into the world are welcomed back, and everyone’s mutual prosperity is celebrated.


 Globalisation: the Panama Canal is officially opened to commercial traffic. (some sources say August 15th).



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”.



Boxing Day, 26th December 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Petropavlovsk in the Russian Empire (now Petropavl in Kazakhstan) – Vladimir Tretchikoff, the man who brought us the painting “Chinese Girl” (aka “the Green Lady”) one of the best selling art prints of the twentieth century. With his family he fled to China in 1917 before moving to Singapore, and eventually to South Africa, but only after his passenger ship was bombed by the Japanese and he was taken captive by the Japanese for the remainder of the war.


Antipodean romance: George Adkin, New Zealand farmer and diarist waxes lyrical on a wonderful day with his beloved Maud, concluding his diary entry with: “a most enjoyable, successful + never-to-be forgotten day.”  [Museum of New Zealand].


Globalisation:  The Western Mail, in Perth, Western Australia, reports on recent efforts by the Philippines authorities to introduce the plant Carludovica palmata, so that the locals can compete in the global market for Panama Hats.


17th November 1913 (Monday)

BORN TODAY:  in Bridgeport, Connecticut – the profession of dental hygienists.



Colonial unrest: On the Manggadh Hill on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border in British India as many as 1,500 followers of social reformer Govind Guru, a banjara (Gypsy) from Vedsa village near Dungarpur in Rajasthan, are massacred by British forces.

World Affairs:  In Panama, the USS Ancon Steam becomes the first vessel to sail the entire length of the new canal from one ocean to another.

Society and Culture:

~ {Ancient] in the village of Nafferton in the East Riding of Yorkshire in England, the ancient Court Leet (a mediaeval tradition dating back many hundreds of years) meets for the very last time. The Village itself dates back to before the Norman invasion in the eleventh century (“Nadfartone” = scandinavian for Nafftan’s farm).


~ [and modern] In Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm bans the armed forces from dancing the tango.


Labour Relations: In Wellington, New Zealand, George Adkin – farmer turned special constable – packs up and heads for home after collecting his pay of eight pounds for his sixteen day’s duty (ten shillings per day). {Museum of New Zealand].


11th October 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Rochester, New York – Joe Simon, comic book creator.

Early flight: Romanian aviator Gheorghe Negel dies when his Farman aeroplane crashes in the city of Targoviste.


Arms Race: The German Imperial Navy launches (the first) submarine U-29. (another will be launched nearly 23 years later, in August 1936).


Society and culture: in the newly completed Panama Canal, a man gets into difficulty while swimming and has to be rescued by one Captain Morgan (of the SS. Ecuador) who jumps 40 feet from the bridge to rescue him.


10th October 1913 (Friday)

BORN TODAY:  Somewhere in the USA – Paul C Fisher, inventor and patent holder for the “Fisher Space Pen…the most lucrative [patent] in the history of pens”.

“The Space Pen (also known as the Zero Gravity Pen), marketed by Fisher Space Pen Company, is a pen that uses pressurized ink cartridges and is claimed to write in zero gravity, underwater, over wet and greasy paper, at any angle, and in a very wide range of temperatures. The Fisher Space Pen was invented by American industrialist and pen manufacturer Paul C. Fisher and is manufactured in Boulder City, Nevada, United States of America. Paul C. Fisher first patented the AG7 “anti gravity” pen in 1965. Pens claiming some or all of the same abilities have also appeared on the market from other manufacturers”. [Wikipedia]


~ In Chicago, Illinois – the Swedish National Society of Chicago (Svensk Nationalforbundet i Chicago).


~ In Cleveland, Ohio – Janis Carter, “B-Movies” bigamist (“I married an angel” 1942: “I married a communist” 1949: “My forbidden past” 1951 etc).


World Affairs: In Washington DC, President Woodrow Wilson presses a button which telegraphically sends an electrical charge which detonates the Gamboa Dike on the Panama Canal, thereby completing the construction of the Panama Canal a mere 94 years after the Spanish Government first authorised the building of a canal.


~ In Mexico, Presdient (General) Huerta orders the arrest of 110 members of the Chamber of Deputies after widespread protests at the disappearance of Senator Belisario Dominguez.

~ In China, the the Chief of Beijing’s mounted police is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate the President.