2nd May 1915 (Sunday)

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]



29th April, 1915 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: Three knights and two aces:

~ In Haynau in eastern Germany (now Chojnów in western Poland) – Hans Karl Bunzel, Oberleutnant and Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.

~ In Rehhof in East Prussia (now Ryjewo in northern Poland) – Paul Brandt, Luftwaffe Ace and Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.

~ In Altenburg, in the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg (now part of Thuringia in Germany) – Heinrich-Wilhelm Ahnert, Luftwaffe Ace and Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.





War from the air: Just before midnight the German Zeppelin LZ.38 crosses the Suffolk coast of eastern England, bombing the towns of Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds during the early of hours of April 30th.


West Africa: From Kamerun a German force raids the town of Gurin just over the border in British Nigeria.


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.”


18th April 1915 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: at Miedzybrodzie, Cracow, Austria-Hungary (now in Poland) – Józef Karol Czulak: Cavalry Officer in Poland; prisoner of war in Romania; fugitive in Yugoslavia; resistance fighter in Italy and France; exile in England; Army Captain in Scotland; liberator in France; undergraduate and research bacteriologist in England; and migrant and cheese scientist in Australia, where he won the Australian Society of Dairy Technology’s gold medal in 1960.



War from the air: French Pilot “Roland Garros is forced down behind German lines and taken prisoner. His plane is recovered intact by the Germans, which results in a technological leap forward for aerial warfare.”


6th April 1915 (Tuesday)

War – a very undemocratic affair

The Western Front: An anonymous young French soldier sends to his mother what will prove to be his last letter:

“Dear beloved Mother – it is mid-day, and we are at the forward position, in readiness. I send you my whole love. Whatever comes to pass, life has had its beauty.”

[Letters of a Soldier, 1914-1915]

The Eastern Front: Tsar Nicholas of Russia is travelling behind the Eastern Front (in what is now Poland) and writes home to his wife, the Tsarina:

“To-day the weather is really delightfully warm. We had a fairly long walk in the fields and got into an evil-smelling swamp. Some amusing scenes occurred here, especially when Grabbe, having tucked tip his skirts, tried with all his might to pull himself out of the deep mud. You can imagine in what a charming condition we returned I Well, my love, my little bird, I must finish; it is time to dispatch the courier. We are all going to the cinematograph.”


The (English) Home Front: Following the King’s recent commitment for the Royal Household to abstain from alcohol until the war is over, some senior statesmen are struggling to follow the example set. A diarist reports “I never saw K [Kitchener, the Secrtary of State for War] so depressed. Neither the retreat at the beginning of the war or Neuve Chapelle affected his spirits as badly as 3 days on lemonade”.


22nd March 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: Ian Cameron Jackson – details available from the UK National Archives for 3.3 British Pounds “1 file, approximately 0Mb” or “view free at the National Archives.. see our opening times”



Eastern Front: After a 133 day siege, Russian troops finally capture Przemysl (then in the Austro-Hungarian empire, now in  Poland) taking 120,000 prisoners and 700 artillery pieces.


Dardanelles: The Allied naval command decides to postpone any further naval attempt on the straits until land forces are brought into the attack from collection bases around the eastern Mediterranean [Burg & Purcell].


19th March, 1915 (Friday)

BORN TODAY:  in Woking, Surrey, England – Flt Lt Gordon Bretell, murdered by the gestapo in a wood in Poland in March 1944  – one of 50  executed as punishment  when recaptured after the “Great Escape”. Aged 29.