3rd September, 1915 (Friday)


~ in Kristiania (formerly, and more recently, Oslo) – Knut Nystedt, Norwegian orchestral and choral composer.

~ In Cranz in East Prussia (now Zelenogradsk in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic) – Abel Ehrlich, Israeli composer.

~ In Memphis, Tennessee – John Len Chatman, better known as Memphis Slim, American blues pianist, singer and composer.




14th May, 1915 (Friday)

BORN TODAY: in Bergen – Olaf Sunde, Norwegian resistance fighter, lawyer and workers’ rights activist.



The politics of the arms race: The Times of London reports on the “shell crisis” facing British forces on the Western Front, thereby implicitly criticising the government for the supply chain failures:

“Need for shells: British attacks checked: Limited supply the cause: A Lesson From France… We had not sufficient high explosives to lower the enemy’s parapets to the ground … The want of an unlimited supply of high explosives was a fatal bar to our success”. [Wikipedia]


21st April 1915 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: on the island of Sandøy in Norway – Oddmund Myklebust, Norwegian fisherman and politician.


Society and culture: Speaking at a reception in Madras in British India [now Chennai in India] Ghandi praises the Madrassis for their fortitude during the long civil disobedience campaign in South Africa:

“It was the Madrassis who of all the Indians were singled out by the great Divinity that rules over us for this great work. Do you know that in the great city of Johannesburg, the Madarasis look on a Madrasis as dishonored if he has not passed through the jails once or twice during this terrible crisis that your countrymen in South Africa went through during these eight long years?”


Western Front: the second Battle of Ypres commences in Belgium.


20th February 1915 (Saturday)

World Affairs: In San Francisco, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opens. “Much of the site [is] built in landfill that partly consists of debris from the [1906] earthquake.”




War at Sea: on a particularly bad day for British shipping a total of five vessels – four cargo ships and a Royal Navy trawler –  are lost to a combination of accidents and enemy actions (naval attacks, torpedos and mines). Norway also loses a cargo ship to north sea mines.


The boredom of war: from Cairo, young British archaeologist turned Intelligence Officer, T.E. Lawrence, writes home to his family in England:

The Seven Golden Odes of Pagan Arabia or The Moallakat: translated by Lady Anne Blunt, and put into English verse by Wilfred Scawen Blunt: published at the Chiswick Press 5/- in 1904 probably. Can you get me this book? I expect it is out of print:- but if so Blackwell would get a copy very easily, as it is a well known book. If you get it, please send it out to Intelligence Department, W.O. [ie the War Office]  as above. No news this week; we sit still, and maintain an appearance of miserly inactivity. ” [www.telstudies.org/]


9th December 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: In Copenhagen –  Max Manus, Norwegian-Danish migrant, ship-broker, seaman, adventurer, soldier, resistance fighter, escapee, wanderer, saboteur, guard to a Royal Family, recipient of Norwegian, English, Polish, American and Italian medals, and office machinery entrepreneur.



The Middle East: After a six day skirmish (the “Battle of Qurna”) Anglo-Indian forces take the city of Qurna, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, from the Ottoman occupiers, thereby securing the British advance into Mesopotamia (now Southern Iraq).



Mining accidents: At the Scranton diamond mine in Pennsylvania, a lift carriage disintegrates and plunges several hundred feet into the shaft, killing 13 miners.



20th October 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Stockwell, London – Maudie Joan Littlewood, “The Mother of Modern Theatre” [Wikipedia].



War at Sea: Off the Norwegian coast, the British cargo ship SS Glitra becomes the first merchant vessel ever to be sunk by a submarine when the crew of German U-boat U-17 board her, evacuate the crew and open the ship’s sea cocks. [Burg and Purcell].

Western Front: fighting is intensifying around Ypres, with the arrival of the British 1st Corp and the forward push of the German fourth army.


In the (British) Empire: The SS Geelong leaves Hobart in Tasmania, carrying 36 officers and 898 troops bound for Egypt.





6th October 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Larvik, Norway – Thor Heyerdahl, wannabe Viking turned anthropo-mariner.

Ultimately his interest in the legends and pictographs of curved reed or wooden boats led him to Azerbaijan, a Caucasus nation sandwiched between Russia to the North and Turkey and Iran in the south. There the 5,000 year old pictographs of crafts, reminiscent of ancient Viking ships, seemed to support Heyerdahl’s belief that significant sea travel, and long distance river travel, had been going on much earlier than most historians believed and in fairly “primitive” yet high effective craft — craft that decayed leaving little trace of existence or construction. While many historians believed that significant boat travel occurred only after the rise of large civilizations, Heyerdahl was certain that travel by boat created trade and cultural exchange and thus spurred the growth of the great civilizations. Thus, he claimed, boat travel was a leading cause of civilization, not merely one of its products. But the similarity between the pictographs and the ships of his Heyerdahl’s Norwegian ancestors had significance. They reminded him of ancient legends which claimed that his people had originally come from the land of Aser, east of the Black Sea.” [nndb.com]



Belgium: As the Belgian army begins to withdraw from Antwerp, the govenrment moves to Ostend, and nearly a quarter of a million residents flee towards France and the Netherlands. [Burg and Purcell]. 

Today a new British Army Division – the 7th – also lands at Zeebrugge, but is too little, too late, to save Antwerp from the Germans. [Peter Chasseaud “Mapping the First World War”]

Society and Culture: On a Royal train in a pine forest somewhere in Russia, British Major General Sir John Hanbury-Williams KCB, KCVO, CMG, dines with The Russian Emperor Tsar Nicholas II, and is “at once struck by his extraordinary likeness to our own King” (King George V of the United Kingdom and British Dominions and Emperor of India ~ his cousin).



19th September 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Oslo – Ada Buch Polak (née Andrea Buch), Norwegian art historian.



Western Front: In the city of Reims, in Eastern France, the Cathedral of Notre Dame is severely damaged by persistent German artillery fire, and quickly becomes a symbol of French resistance to German hostilities.


24th August 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: Ivar Iversen, Norwegian sprint canoer.



Southern (Balkan) Front: Austrian forces in Serbia are forced to withdraw back across their own border.

[Burg & Purcell]

The Western Front: Mildred Aldrich, American retiree in France, visits Paris, and reports on the panic among foreigners wishing to leave:

“But all the foreigners, caught here by the unexpectedness of the war, seem to be fighting to get off by the same train and the same day to catch the first ship…”   She continues ” there are almost no men in the streets. There are no busses or tramways, and cabs and automobiles are rare… Paris is no longer our Paris, lovely as it still is”.  [from “A Hilltop on the Marne”]

The widening war: In Bombay (now Mumbai) in India,  7th (Indian) Division embarks for Europe as part of the Indian Expeditionary Force “A” which is being sent to reinforce the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France.