7th October 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Faizabad, in British India – Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, also known as Begum Akhtar, classical Indian vocalist.



In Africa: At the Battle of Jabassi in German Kamerun, British forces under the command of Brigadier General Edmund Howard Gorges sail up the River Wuri with 4 field guns. Their first assault on the German entrenchments is repelled by intense machine gun fire. Four Europeans are killed. It is not clear whether the Nigerian casualties in the British contingent were counted.


Propaganda: an English clergyman informs the Manchester Geographical Society “You will hear only one-hundredth part of the actual atrocities this war has produced. The civilized world could not stand the truth. There are, up and down England to-day, scores – I am under-stating the number – of Belgian girls who have had their hands cut off.”  Despite an offer from a press baron of 200 British pounds for an authentic photograph of a mutiliated civilian, no proof is ever forthcoming.



6th September 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: In Accra on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) – Jacob Hackenburg Griffiths-Randolph, Ghanaian Commissioner of Income Tax; political exile; Speaker of Parliament of Ghana; and father-in-law of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the contemporary Ghanaian politician and contender for the 2016 Presidential election.



Western Front: German, French and British troops clash on the first day of the Battle of the Marne. In the stuff of legends, and at a crucial stage on this first day, the Parisian authorities send an additional 6000 troops who are de-training in Paris back to the front in Parisian taxis.

[Tuchman – the Guns of August]

West Africa: At the Battle of Nsanakong in Kamerun, German forces successfully expel a British invasion force, pushing it back into Nigeria one week after the original incursion.


Eastern Front: Writing from the small spa resort of Trenčianske Teplice (now in in Western Slovakia) Žiga, a Hungarian or Slovenian soldier writes to his wife:

“I wrote you a letter in the morning, but I don’t know if you’ll get it. I received your postcard, but not a closed letter. After 24 hours of travelling we arrived to Trenčianske Teplice at noon. We’ll have lunch here and then move on. Don’t write until I send you an address. I won’t receive your letters. Staying yours faithful husband,


They just brought 2000 Russians; I have seen a Russian soldier”


1st January, 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY – from the union of two separate British Colonies in West Africa – a new nation called Nigeria, named – if the internet is to be believed – by Flora Louise Shaw, originally of 2 Dundas Terrace in Woolwich, England, and later the Colonial Editor of the Times. She first coined the term “Nigeria” in 1897, and five years later she married Sir Frederick Lugard, a colonial administrator who, by a strange quirk of fate, became the Governor-General of Nigeria in 1914.


~ Also born today (or possibly tomorrow?), in Moscow, in the Russian Empire – Noor Inayat Khan, GC, also known as Nora Baker and “Madeleine”, poet and children’s author who became a British SOE operative (spy) and worked as a radio operative with the French resistance. She was arrested in October 1943 and died in the Dachau concentration camp in 1944, aged 30.


Science, technology and travel: In Florida, the St Petersburg to Tampa airboat line becomes the first ever scheduled passenger airline flight, a 23 mile journey, taking 23 minutes. Happy Centenary, public air transport!


Society and culture: In Exeter, in South West England, the Western Times reports on an early legal casualty of the new year celebrations:

A cab-driver named Richard Gill … opened the New Year very badly, for at 2.40 yesterday morning he was found by P.S. Bradford to be drunk while in charge of a cab outside the Victoria Hall where a dance was being held. He was brought up at the Police Court yesterday before Mr. Tom Linscott, and was fined 5s. P.S. Bradford and P.C, Weeks giving evidence. Defendant, who, was said, was very troublesome, maintained that he was quite fit to drive, although he had been treated by several “fares” during the evening. [Western Times – 2 January 1914].


Health and safety: Meanwhile the Kilmore Free Press in Victoria, Australia, reports on the antiseptic cleaning  properties of petrol for use in accidents (“petrol good for wounds”), taking care to point out however that “its one great disadvantage is that it is so inflammable, and unless operations or application can be made away from a fire its use is contra-indicated”.