BORN TODAY: at Ellerslie Station in New South Wales – David Campbell, Australian poet.
BORN TODAY: in Birmingham, Alabama – Margaret Abigail Walker, novelist and poet.
Extreme Weather: A violent storm kills at least 38 people in Cincinatti, Ohio. “An uncertain number of people drowned in overturned boats in the Ohio River.”
On the Southern Front: The first battle of the Isonzo, between Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces, draws to a close after two weeks.
“The first battle of the Isonzo cost the Italians 14,947 casualties, including 1,500 men taken prisoner. The Austrians lost 9,948 men, a higher proportion of their army on the Isonzo, but not enough to win the Italians a breakthrough. The search for that breakthrough would result in ten more Italian attacks on the Isonzo, none of which would achieve the decisive breakthrough.” [www.historyofwar.org]
EXPLORATION: Members of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition celebrate mid-winter with a dinner on board HMS Endurance.
DIED TODAY: at Bukovina (now split between Romania and Ukraine) – Ferenc Istvan Dénes Gyula Békássy, Cambridge graduate, Hungarian bi-lingual poet and Imperial Hussar. Killed in action, aged 22.
Eastern Front: Austro-Hungarian forces recapture the city of Lemberg (Lwow/ Lviv) from the Russians.
Africa: On the shores of Lake Victoria in German East Africa, the British 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and others have launched an amphibious attack on Bukoba (“The Battle of Bukoba”) with the objective to destroy the German wireless station.
BORN TODAY: in Canberra – Judith Wright, poet, environmentalist and campaigner for aboriginal land rights.
In Turkish Mesopotamia (now Iraq, allegedly) – British and Indian troops are pushing back the Turks as the Allied forces advance northward in an amphibious operation on the River Tigris. [Burg & Purcell]
On the Austrian Isonzo river in the Julian alps (now the Soca River in Slovenia), Italian forces are attempting to push back Austrian troops and to advance eastward into the province of Carnolia (northern Slovenia). [Burg & Purcell]
BORN TODAY: in Valle de Zaragoza, in the state of Chihuahua – Francisco Avitia Tapia (“El Charro Avitia”), Mexican singer and actor.
The (British) Home Front: The British government decides to intern all residents who are citizens of military service age from enemy countries [Burg & Purcell].
War at Sea (the Dardanelles) – in the early hours before daylight, the Turkish destroyer Muavenet-i Milliye slips through British naval defences off Cape Helles and successfully torpedoes HMS Goliath, which sinks in minutes, drowning 570 of her 700 strong crew.
Western Front: The english war poet Julian Grenfell is struck and mortally wounded by a shell-splinter to the head while monitoring enemy troop movements, dying nearly two weeks later.
BORN TODAY: In Leigh-On-Sea, Essex – Margaret Rose “Peggy” Mount, OBE, english actress best known for her “battleaxe” portrayals.
The Eastern Front: After a huge artillery bombardment along a 19 mile front, the German 11th Army retakes the city of Gorlice in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia from the Russians. The city (now in Poland) is largely in ruins [Burg & Purcell].
The Western Front: During the second week of fighting at the second Battle of Ypres the death of 22 year old Canadian Lieutenant Alexis Helmer inspires Doctor and Major John McCrae to set down the first draft of his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
McCrae died of pneumonia in January 1918, “while still commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne”. [Wikipedia]
BORN TODAY: in Alexandropol in the Russian Empire (now Gyumri in western Armenia, near the Turkish border) – Hovhannes (Onik) Tadevosi Karapetyan, poet.
War at Sea: In the Straits of Otranto, between Italy and Albania, where the French are attempting to blockade the Austro-Hungarian navy inside the Adriatic (ie preventing access to the wider Mediterranean), the Austrian submarine U-5 torpedoes and sinks the cruiser Leon Gambetta, sending 547 sailors to their death. [Burg & Purcell].
Africa: At Gibeon Station in German South West Africa (now Namibia) – 41 German and South African soldiers die in battle.
Western Front: GAS!
The 3rd and 4th [gas] attacks took place on 26-27 April 1915 at Steenstrate-Lizerne, near Ieper, in which British, Sikhs and French were the victims. To the left of the Sikhs were French Colonial troops with essentially North Africans and at their right were the British. The Ferozepur Brigade, and the French colonial troops to the left of them, were the worst hit. More gas attacks followed on 27-29 April and 01-02 May 1915 and the victims were again British, Sikhs, Pathans, French and Algerians. [http://www.sikhiwiki.org/].