15th May 1915 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in London – Hilda Schwarz (later Bernstein), journalist, author, artist, activist, communist and exile.



The Dardanelles: Senior British Admiral Sir John Fisher resigns in protest at what he perceives to be Churchill’s misplaced obsession with forcing the Dardanelles, a strategy which has so far yielded nothing but many thousands of deaths [Burg & Purcell].

The Western Front: After a 60 hour bombardment by 433 artillery pieces   firing about 100,000 shells, British General Sir Douglas Haig launches his British, Indian and Canadian  army against the German defences on the first day of the Battle of Festubert.  After 10 days and over 20,000 casualities the Allies will have gained approximately 3 kilometres. Overall losses for the Second Battle of Artois (of which this forms part) are in the order of 200,000 German, French, British, Indian and Canadian men, including over 100,000 Frenchmen [Wikipedia].



The Reuters News Agency files unconfirmed reports (from the Spanish government) of a revolutionary coup in Portugal, where all communications (railway, telegraph etc) have been cut and there are (unfounded) rumours that the ex-Premier, Afonso Costa, has been assassinated.


11th May 1915 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Luanda, Angola – Aníbal da Fonseca Paciência, Portuguese footballer.



The (English) Home Front: In Liverpool, which has experienced several days of riots targetting german, and alleged german, businesses and homes after the sinking of the Lusitania, a crowd of 2000 intent on rioting – or perhaps looting – in the Wallasey district has to be turned back by a cordon of police. With much german owned property already destroyed the xenophobic crowd directs its attention to other groups – Scandinavians, Italians, Russians and Chinese. The rioting also spreads to Manchester.

Click to access mrhr_02ii_panayi.pdf

The Eastern Front: Tsar Nicholas writes home to his wife, Alexandra. After explaining to her the current difficulties of the Russian Army in the face of the German and Austrian advance, and giving his assessment of the performance of various Russian commanders, he concludes:  “For the last few days the weather has been magnificent, the woods smell so delightfully and the birds sing so loudly. It is a veritable rustic idyll – if only it were not for the war I drive about in a car, look at new places, get out and walk.”


19th October 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Greenwood, Mississippi – Juanita Moore, American film, television, and stage actress who died earlier this year in Los Angeles, aged 99.



Western Front: In Belgium, German forces are converging for an attack at Ypres, a vital transport and communications centre, with the intention of taking control of the Channel ports [Burg and Purcell].

After several gruelling days battling death on hospital trains, an anonymous British nursing sister manages a short respite in Rouen:

“This is the most glorious old city, two cathedrals of surpassing beauty, lovely old streets, broad river, hills, and lovely hot baths and hair shampooing, What with two cathedrals, a happy hour in a hot bath, a shampoo, and delicious tea in the town, we’ve had a happy day.” [from the “Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front, 1914-1915”].

In the Middle East: T.E, Lawrence, held back at the War Office in London in case his special regional knowledge and language skills may yet be put to use, writes to the wife of the British consul in Aleppo, in the Ottoman Empire: “Turkey seems at last to have made up its mind to lie down and be at peace with all the world… I’m sorry because I wanted to root them out of Syria, and now their blight will be more enduring than ever” [Scott Anderson: “Lawrence in Arabia, War, Deceit, Imperial Folly  and the Making of the Modern Middle East”].

In South West Africa:  a German military column crosses the border from (German) South West Africa and enters [Portuguese] Angola without authorization from the Portuguese authorities. The column is intercepted by Portuguese forces and conducted to Fort Naulila, where a dispute results in the death of three German officers. [Wikipedia]




30th June 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Chaves, Portugal – Francisco da Costa Gomes, 15th President of the Portuguese Republic, 1974-1976.


World Affairs: The Austrian foreign minister informs Germany that the Serbia government is responsible for the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand. [Almanac of World War 1]


Accidents: In Manitoba, the bridge spanning the Winnipeg River collapses, plunging a train into the river and killing engineer George Wrighton.




29th December 1913 (Monday)


~ Near Lille, in France – Luxemburger Pierre Werner: husband, father, Doctor of Law, civil servant, Minister of Finance and of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice, author of the “Werner Plan” which anticipated Maastricht, Prime Minister,  and Chairman of television and satellite companies.

Click to access bio_eng1.pdf

~ Also, in Funchal, Madeira – The Britannic Lodge of Madeira, lodge number 3683 under the numbering system introduced in 1894.


World Affairs: In Adelaide, South Australia, “The Register” reports the latest news from Calcutta (now Kolkata) and South Africa on “The Indian problem”.


Holidays over: New Zealand farmer and diarist George Adkin is parted from his loved one, and heads back, starry eyed, to reality.


23rd February 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY, in Ashekpur, Tangail District, Bengal, India (now part of Bangladesh) – Protul Chandra Sorcar, Indian magician and presenter of the Indrajal show, live and on Television.

Law and Order: In Clarendon County, South Carolina, Marion Cantri is lynched for the crime of assault.

Joseph Stalin is arrested by the Russian secret police as he arrives in Petrograd for the International Women’s Day. He is imprisoned for four years, and will be released in 4 years time, shortly before the Russian Revolution.

Society and Culture: Meanwhile Tsar Nicholas II and his family attend a lavish Gala ball at the “Assembly of Nobles” (now the Philharmonic Hall) in St Petersburg.

Second Balkan War (prelude): Romania agrees to an arbitration over its disputed boundary with Bulgaria


16th January 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY – Miroslaw Zulawski, in Nisko, Poland. Poet, soldier, war correspondent, editor-in chief, screenwriter, diplomat and Polish ambassador to Senegal and Mali.

First Balkan War – in the UK, there are “questions in the house” about atrocities being committed against muslims in Albania, Macedonia and Thrace.

Following the coup in Istanbul the new Turkish government hardens its position  on the Bulgarian occupation of Adrianople (Edirne), leading Bulgaria to denounce the recently signed armistice.

Mathematics and literature: G.H. Hardy, a prominent English mathematician receives a letter from an unknown Indian clerk called Ramanujan, who is “discovered” to be a mathematical genius, and is invited to join Hardy in Cambridge. The subsequent events are the subject of a novel published in 2007 by David Leavitt: “The Indian Clerk”

Shipping disaster: The “Veronese” a British packet boat sinks off Porto, Portugal, with a loss of 40 lives.


9th January 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY – Richard Milhous Nixon, in Yorba Linda, California. 37th US President from 1969 to 1974, when he resigned in the face of almost certain impeachment over the Watergate Scandal. Died 1994 (aged 81).

Sovereign states: Portugal’s Prime Minister resigns during the “First Republic” period.

Naval arms race: The UK’s Royal Navy’s Arethusa Class light cruiser, HMS Galatea is laid down at a Clydesdale shipyard. She will launch in May 1914, see action from 1916 during World War 1, and be sold for scrap in 1921.

Transport revolution: In Exeter, UK – a local newspaper reports that a farrier (a specialist in looking after horses’ hooves) has been made bankrupt at the Exeter Court because of – “the introduction of motor cars and a system of electric tramways in Exeter, which [has] caused a considerable reduction in the number of horse drawn cabs plying for hire……and subsequently a loss of trade to the debtor, who did the shoeing of the horses”.