6th September 1915 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: Little Willie – the world’s first tank.


Society and culture: Scotland appoints Ms Emily Miller as its first ever policewoman.



The Balkans: Bulgaria signs a military agreement with Germany agreeing to enter on the side of the Central Powers. In return for sending forces against Serbia and Montenegro (thereby re-opening the unresolved business of the recent Second Balkan War), Bulgaria is promised large parts of Macedonia, a sea port on the Adriatic and territorial concessions in European Turkey. [Burg & Purcell: “Almanac of World War 1”]


4th August 1915 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: in Berlin – Eleonore “Loni” Nest, German child star actress who ended her career after more than 40 movies at the age of 13, before retiring to the south of France [Wikipedia]



Adriatic skullduggery: The Triple Alliance  (Britain, France and Russia) reneges on its secret commitment to Italy (that control of parts of the Adriatic coast should only be decided after the war) by sending an official note to Serbia confirming the post-war territorial claims of Serbia and Montenegro. [Wikipedia].


20th March 1915 (Saturday)

War – the ethics of foreign policy

Italy’s price for joining the Triple Alliance: After a long delay the Allies respond to Italy’s terms that they cannot accept complete Italian control of the Adriatic (because of Russia’s continuing support for Serbia). As the wrangling continues, the British political class confide in each other their private opinions of Italy and its people: “greedy and slippery” (Prime Minister Asquith); “the harlot of Europe” (Navy Minister Winston Churchill); “mere organ grinders” (Admiral Fisher); and “the most contemptible nation” (David Lloyd George).  [ Mark Thompson: “The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919”]

Britain’s price for a Russian Bosphorous: Meanwhile, also today, Britain and Russia sign a separate agreement where Britain will take control of oil rich Ottoman provinces in Mesopotamia in return for Russia taking control of its Black Sea route to the Mediterranean through the Bosphorous and the Dardanelles. [UK government national archives online]



The “Spectator” offers its opinion on “Russia’s prize” –  “It is quite clear that France as well as Britain will now welcome Russia’s entry into the warm water, and that winter will no longer mean for Russia the sealing up of all her chief ports. Russia will unquestionably get a great accession of strength by the possession of Constantinople, but no reasonable section of public opinion either here or in France will envy her. She has made great sacrifices for the common cause and deserves great rewards.”


3rd February 1915 (Wednesday)


~ in Sarajevo, then in the condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Austria-Hungarian Empire (now the capital of independent Bosnia Herzegovina) – Danilo Ilic, a member of the “black hand” secret society who recruited Gavrillo Princip, is executed (along with two others) for his part in the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in the summer of 1914.


In Malawi, the Reverend John Chilembwe, “freedom fighter”, is shot dead by colonial police forces while allegedly resisting arrest for his part in a recent attack on, and murder of, several European settlers. “Chilembwe led the uprising in early January fighting for freedom from social injustices faced by his countrymen, and was killed at noon [on] 3rd February 1915” [The Maravi Post].




In the Middle East: British and Egyptian troops, including a British naval contingent, defeat the long expected Turkish attack on the Suez Canal. The German advisers to the Turkish forces begin to realise that their hopes of an Islamic uprising against British power in Egypt and India are misplaced, with evidence before and after the attack that the local Arab forces show no particular loyalty or botherhood with their Turkish masters, and that the Egyptian forces will not easily be turned against their colonial masters  [Scott Anderson: “Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East” ].




15th December 1914 (Tuesday)

BORN TODAY: in Lincoln, England – Arthur Troop, founder of the International Police Association.



In the Balkans: Serbian troops retake the city of Belgrade, successfully repulsing the third Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia. [Burg & Purcell].

In the Middle East: After leaving Marseilles six days ago on a French steamer, a new “Military Intelligence Officer” reaches the north Egyptian coast to take up his new responsibilities with the (British) Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Cairo – T.E.Lawrence, erstwhile arabist and archaeologist. He and his superior officer immediately “set up shop on an upper floor of the Savoy (an eclectic blend of British Victorian and Indian Moghul architectures near the east bank of the Nile) while taking bedrooms at the Grand Intercontinental immediately adjacent” [Scott Anderson: “Lawrence In Arabia – War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East“]

3rd December 1914 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in London, England – Tanya Moiseiwitsch, theatre designer.



The Balkan Front: At the Battle of Kolubara, the Serbs launch their counter-attack against the Austro-Hungarian forces.


In the Middle East: At the juncture of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Turkish Mesopotamia (now Southern Iraq), an Anglo-Indian force is advancing on the town of Al-Qurnah


The Western Front: at Hazebrouck in the arrondissement of Dunkirk, near the French border with Belgium, Britain’s King George V  and Belgium’s King Albert attend a “march past” of Belgian troops.



16th November 1914 (Monday)

BORN TODAY: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York – opening its doors for business for the first time at 10.00AM local time at 27 Pine Street.

Click to access 11_7_64.pdf


Financing the war: At a meeting in the boardroom of the London County and Westminster Bank in the City of London, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) leans on the major British banking houses the day before a government loan, to finance the war effort, comes to the market.

He needed to secure the banks’ firm commitment in advance of the launch, because it was essential that the loan should be seen to sell well. Anything less might suggest – to allies and enemies alike – that Britain lacked confidence” [RBS website]


Balkan Front: At the Kolubara River in the Serbia, the Austro-Hungarian army continues its third attempt to over-run Serbia. Over the next 10 days the Serbians will tactically withdrew into the Serbian mountains (“the Battle of Kolubara”) with the intention to over extend the Austrian lines. Although the Austrians successfully take Belgrade late in November, the position will be reversed in early December, and the invaders successfully expelled, once more, from Serbia by mid-December.


14th November 1914 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY: in Belfast, Ireland – Joseph Barnes, professor of tropical medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and good samaritan in West African leper colonies in the 1940s.



Western Front: As the first Battle of Ypres in Belgium is drawing to a close, the dead on both sides cannot be counted. Only estimated: around a quarter of a million men killed or wounded. And each with parents… wives… siblings… children… grieving.

In Constantinople (now Istanbul) Sheikh-ul-Islam declares an Islamic holy war on behalf of the Ottoman government, urging his Muslim followers to take up arms against Britain, France, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro.


On the “home front” – The New York Times reports an “incident” in one of the “concentration camps” where the British are detaining German and Austrian immigrants.  One german detainee is killed and another injured at the camp in Surrey.


8th November 1914 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY: in Pichilemu, Chile – Juan Acevedo Pavez, Chilean socialist politician.



In the Balkans: as part of the “Third Invasion of Serbia”, now in its third day, the Austro-Hungarians attack the Serbian 2nd Army near Cer Mountain, approximately 100 km from Belgrade.


In London, the French sculptor Auguste Rodin donates eighteen of his sculptures to the Victoria & Albert Museum to honour the French and British soldiers fighting for their countrymen.

“The English and French are brothers; your soldiers are fighting side by side with ours. As a little token of my admiration for your heroes, I decided to present the collection to England. That is all’.


in Perth, Western Australia, the Sunday times newspaper includes a short news story headlined “German debauchery: Orgy with prostitutes” including the German commander’s nonchalant remark to the local burgomaster: “those officers are not the elite of my army”.



25th August 1914 (Tuesday)


~ in Jyväskylä, Finland – Ilmari Vartia, olympic fencer who died of a fencing wound in 1951.


~ In Okawa District, Kagawa, Japan – “The Queen of Boogie-Woogie, Shizuko Kasagi


“Tokyo Boogie-Wookie” 1947 – C’est La Chanson du Siecle!


Eastern Front: Austrian troops take 6000 prisoners in their victory over the Russians at the Battle of  Krasnik (in Galicia, in present day Poland).


Southern (Balkan) Front: The Serbians are mopping up after the complete defeat of the Austro-Hungarians, who have retreated behind their own borders, leaving Serbia bloodied, but not bowed.

Western Front: German troops take Namur, Louvain and Sedan.

A French soldier writes to his mother (in anticipation of an imminent move to the front line):

“…Know that it would be shameful to think for one instant of holding back when the race demands the sacrifice. My only part is to carry an undefiled conscience as my feet may lead”

[Letters of a Soldier, 1914-1915]