15th February 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad – Claudia Vera Cumberbatch, later Claudia Jones, political activist and black nationalist deported from the USA during the McCarthy era; asylum seeker in 1950s Britain; founder of the “West Indian Gazette”; and considered to be the “Mother of Notting Hill Carnival”.



Eastern Front: German troops capture Plozk on the Vistula River [Burg & Purcell].

Balkan Front: In Rome, Sidney Sonnino, the Italian foreign minister, officially informs the Austro-Hungarian government in Vienna that its military action in the Balkans has violated the “Triple Alliance” between Italy, Austria and Germany. Although Italy is still officially a neutral state in the war this declaration is effectively an invitation for the Triple Entente (France, Russia and Britain) to come up up with a better offer to buy Italy’s support against the Triple Alliance. [Mark Thompson: “The White War – Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919″].

Colonial unrest: In Singapore, Indian soldiers mutiny in response to rumours that they are to be sent to Turkey to fight against fellow muslims (the Singapore or “Sepoy” mutiny).



10th July 1914 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Singapore: the Old Boys Association  of the Anglo-Chinese School (established 1886). School mission: “To be a beacon of truth and light, a world class institution through the holistic development of our students”.


World Affairs: In Belgrade, Serbia, Nicholas Genrikhovich Hartwig, the Russian Ambassador to Serbia – a “Pan-Slavist” said to be “more Serbian than the Serbians” – collapses and dies of a massive heart attack while visiting Baron von Gieslingen, the Austrian Ambassador in Belgrade. The Serbian press immediately publishes several inflammatory articles accusing the Austrians of poisoning Hartwig while he was a guest at their legation. The very first fatality of World War 1?


Society and culture: In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the local police force poses for photographs during a general inspection.  The followng day the Halifax Herald reports that “The policemen were out in full force with the exception of one or two who are on the sick list”.

Science and technology: in Tambaroora, New South Wales, a telephone is installed at the post office and public telephone facilities become available for the first time.





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.