6th August 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Tipperary, Ireland – George Moulson, professional footballer.



Serbia declares war on Germany and Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia

In Belgium, the German Zeppelin airship L-Z drops thirteen bombs on the City of Liege, killing 9 people.

The Battle of the Frontiers opens when German troops cross from Luxembourg into France and take the town of Longwy.

In Britain, 80,000 troops, 30,000 horses and over 315 field guns are assembling on the south coast for the British Expeditionary Force crossing of the Channel / La Manche.

In West Africa: In Togoland and Cameroon, French forces seize German territory and outposts.

(sources: Almanac of World War 1; The Guns of August)

Shipping News: The SS Rohilla, (“named after Afghan tribes who had sought refuge in India during the 18th Century. They were annihilated by the Nawab of Oudh, with the unauthorised help of British troops”), is requisitioned as a hospital ship and renamed the HMHS Rohiila.



Thirty-one year old diarist Franz Kafka is having a bad day:“I am an empty vessel… Full of lies, hate and envy. Full of incompetence, stupidity, thickheadedness. Full of laziness, weakness and helplessness.”


20th June 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: “Blast” magazine – emblematic of the modern art movement in England,and recognised as a seminal text of pre-war 20th-century modernism”. [Wikipedia]. Only two issues (in 1914 and 1915) struggled into a world pre-occupied with weightier matters. A classic case of unlucky timing, perhaps?



Shipping News: In Hamburg, shipbuilders Blohm + Voss launch the largest steamship in the world: the SS Bismarck. The launch ceremony is graced with the presence of  Countess Hanna von Bismarck, grand-daughter of the Iron Chancellor, who struggles to break the customary bottle of champagne but is assisted by the Kaiser, Wilhelm II. [Wikipedia]

In 1920 she (the vessel, not the Countess) will be turned over to the British as compensation for the sinking of HMHS (hospital ship) Britannic, and renamed RMS Majestic.



Trees: New Zealand farmer and diarist George Adkin is planning a new shelter belt for part of his land. He is having trouble sourcing Lawson’s Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsonia) but considering using Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata) instead – both native trees of the West coast of North America.


Walnuts: In California, the Pacific Rural Press reports the huge strides made by the local walnut growing businesses in recent years, including improved marketing, statistical analysis, better distribution networks, improved grading and packing etc.  Calfornia now [1914] provides over 40% of America’s annual demand of 60million pounds weight, in 45 of the 49 mainland states.



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].


8th November 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Rotterdam  – The Netherlands School of Commerce, now the Erasmus University. HAPPY CENTENARY!


Shipwrecks: On Lake Superior, during the “Great Storm”, the steamship Waldo is driven on to Gull Rock, off Keweenaw Point. When the vessel breaks in two the 24 people on board take refuge in the cabin. Because of the severe weather conditions, rescuers are unable to reach them until 3 days later when, mercifully, all 24 plus the ship’s dog are rescued.[US Coastguard].


23rd October 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Portland, Oregon – Arthur Ruitian Chen, US aviator of Chinese and Peruvian descent who joined the Guangdong Provincial Air Force in 1932, completed further flight training in Munich, Bavaria, Germany with the Luftwaffe before returning to China to fight the Japanese between 1937 and 1945. discharged from the Chinese air force in 1945 so that he could join the United States Army Air Forces.  After his death in 1997, posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Airpower Heritage Museum in Midland, Texas, United States and now recognised as the first American ace of World War 2.


Accidents: Manchester, Connecticut suffers its largest ever fire when local school buildings housing 1000 teachers and pupils are destroyed in an afternoon fire. “Because of the insistence of School Superintendent Fred A. Verplanck in conducting routine fire drills, all students and teachers escaped the burning building without loss of life and without serious injury” [Manchester Historical Society, September 2013].


Women’s suffrage: In protest at the arrest of Mary Richardson and Rachel Pease for arson, British suffragettes set light to and destroy the Bristol University Sports Pavilion, leaving a card demanding the release of Richardson who had been forcibly fed while awaiting trial.


Shipping accidents:

~ the French liner Amiral Exelmans runs aground and is lost on a reef at Tabou, on the West African coast, en route from  Dunkerque to Gabon. Her engine room is completely flooded when her hull is holed by the reef.

~ the steamship “Chesterfield” is lost off the mouth of the Brisbane River in Australia, with the loss of two lives.



27th September 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Pittsburgh PA – Albert Ellis, menswear, gift and novelty salesman turned psychologist. PhD in clinical psychology from Columbia in 1947. Famous quotes included: “neurosis is just a high-class word for whining” and “Freud was full of horseshit”.


World Affairs: at the Balmoral show-ground in the north of Ireland, Sir Edward Carson reviews a massive parade of the “Ulster Volunteers” (estimated at 12,000 men). Also today, a provisional loyalist government is proclaimed for the counties of Ulster.


Meanwhile, further south, in Dublin, the SS Hare arrives from Salford with its famous cargo of foodstuffs for the City’s strikers, a gift from the British Trades Union Congress.


Society and Culture: The SS MInnehaha of the Atlantic Transport Line sails from Liverpool bound for New York. Captain “Congenial” Claret is supported by Chief Engineer “Blonde”, Chief Steward “Old” and Surgeon “Noisy”. The first class passenger list includes such notables as “The Holy Terror”  “The Frog”  “The Early Victorian”  “the Beauty” “The Angel” “Very Stout” and Mr John G Rollins, a “weapons exporter based in London”.

You couldn’t make it up… or could you?


Sport: At Manchester United’s “Old Trafford” football (soccer) ground in Britain, the visitors Oldham Athletic play in front of their largest crowd for a league fixture – 55,000 spectators. The record will not be broken until 1975 when the “Latics” are once again visiting the Old Trafford ground.


Medicine: The “Lancet” medical journal publishes an article from the recent joint session of the sections of Dermatology and Syphilography and of Forensic Medicine at the Seventeenth International Congress of Medicine, London – “Syphilis: Its dangers to the community, and the question of state control”.


13th September 1913 (Saturday)


~ at Novo Selo in Cakovec, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia) – Father Ivan Mihalic, Chaplain to the Croatian communities of Melbourne and (later) Adelaide, and later Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.


~ In Chicago, Illinois – Herman Goldstine, mathematician and computer scientist who played an early pioneering role in the development of digital computers.


Early flight: Romanian aviator Aurel Vlaiku dies in air crash while trying to cross the Carpathian Mountain range.


Shipping Accidents: In Plymouth Sound, in South West England, the 150 tonne self-propelled Hopper Barge No. 42,  returning to Southampton from A Coruna in North West Spain runs aground on the breakwater. The crew are rescued and the vessel is floated off, but sinks nearby in the main shipping channel, where she rests to this day.


Science and technology: In India (now Pakistan) the Karachi electric Supply Company Limited is incorporated under the Indian Companies Act, 1882.