9th April, 1915 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: On the Island of Vis in the Austro-Hungarian empire (now in Croatia) – Tomislav Bradanovic Lincir, migrant, actor and lover of fruit trees.



The Western Front: The “Times” of London reports rumours that German forces are planning to use chemical weapons against the Allies:

“It has been reported that in the Argonne, where the trenches are very close, the Germans have on several occasions pumped blazing oil or pitch onto the French, but, according to the statements of our prisoners, they are preparing a more novel reception for us in front of parts of our line. They propose to asphyxiate our men if they advance by means of poisonous gas. The gas is contained under pressure in steel cylinders, and, being of a heavy nature, will spread along the ground without being dissipated quickly.”


The Middle East: Sir John Nixon arrives in Basra, in Turkish Mesopotamia (now Iraq) to take command of the original Expeditionary Force, with orders to carry on with a further advance of 60 miles up the Tigris from al-Qurnah to Erza’s tomb and al-Amara.


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?


Click to access blast_manifesto_05.pdf

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.



1st April 1913 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY – Robert Adrian de Jauralde Hart, English horticulturalist – the “gardener with a vision of sustainable forests in the city” (the Guardian). Author, ecologist and conservationist.

“Obviously, few of us are in a position to restore the forests.. But tens of millions of us have gardens, or access to open spaces such as industrial wastelands, where trees can be planted. and if full advantage can be taken of the potentialities that are available even in heavily built up areas, new ‘city forests’ can arise…”

First Balkan War: The Turkish government accepts the peace terms for the end of the war, thereby losing 60,000 square miles of its previous European territory and retaining only a tiny foothold in Europe.

Philippe, Duke of Montpensier and pretender to the French throne, is proclaimed King of Albania – one of the former Ottoman provinces in Europe.

Arms Race/ Second Balkan War: The Romanian air-force is founded.

Science, technology and labour relations: Ford Motor company begins its first experiment with the assembly line method of manufacturing.

The Natural History Museum in London opens its Department of Entomology (the study of insects – I had to check).

Transport: In the village of Elsenham, Essex, UK – a branch railway line opens to the town of Thaxted, approximately 6  miles away. (It will survive until 1952).

In Tokyo, Japan, the Oji electric tramway station opens (now the Toden Arakawa line).

Womens’ Suffrage: At the Old Bailey (law court) in London, Emmeline Pankhurst (aged 53) is sentenced to three years penal servitude for “feloniously procuring and inciting a person or persons unknown to commit felony; unlawfully soliciting and inciting persons unknown to commit felony and certain misdemeanours”.

Society and culture: The first permanent force South African army comes into being under the terms of the South Africa Defence Act, 1912.

In German East Africa, the town of Bismarckburg (now Kasanga in Tanzania) on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, with around 3900 inhabitants, becomes the official seat of the District Office.

In Prague (then in Austria-Hungary, later Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic) the Jedlicka Institute for the Disabled is founded, specialising in the care of disabled children and adults.