3rd June 1914 (Wednesday)

BORN TODAY: on Menorca, in the Balearic Islands – Ignacio Ponseti: son of a watchmaker; graduate of Barcelona University; medical officer for the Spanish loyalists; refugee from the Spanish Civil War; family doctor in Mexico; orthopedic specialist in Iowa; developer of the Ponseti technique for correcting congenital clubfoot;  and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The Ponseti International Association, the global leader in training and educating healthcare providers on the treatment for congenital clubfoot, is named in his honour.




Society and culture: Cecil Sharp, the English folk song collector, “collects” the sailors sea shanty “Noah’s Ark Shanty” from Captain Hole of Wachet, in Somerset.


Aristocracy: In Paris, Henry Sackville-West, neglected scion of an aristocratic English family, shoots himself minutes after the death of his wife.

In the small hours of the morning of 3 June 1914, a woman and her husband were found dead in a sparsely furnished apartment in Paris. It was only when the identity of the couple was revealed in the English press a fortnight later that the full story emerged. The man, Henry Sackville-West, had shot himself minutes after the death of his wife from cancer; but Henry’s suicidal despair had been driven equally by the failure of his claim to be the legitimate son of Lord Sackville and heir to Knole. The Disinherited reveals the secrets and lies at the heart of an English dynasty, unravelling the parallel lives of Henry’s four illegitimate siblings: in particular his older sister, Victoria, who on becoming Lady Sackville and mistress of Knole, by marriage, consigned her brothers and sisters to lives of poverty and disappointment”

[Bloomsbury publishing – “The Disinherited” by Robert Sackville-West]

“Brilliantly exposes the shadowy side of the Victorian aristocracy and the horrors of life on the wrong side of the blanket . . . A marvellous book – a gripping story, superbly researched and related with grace and humour in elegant, enjoyable prose.”[The Literary Review].



Philanthropy: The Bishop of Chester (UK) performs the dedication ceremony for the new Emmeline Winstanley Home For Boys in Knutsford. The home is a gift from an anonymous donor. Later in this same year it will be converted to house the sons of soldiers and sailors killed during the war.


Journalism and letters: Mildred Aldrich, Bostonian teacher and journalist who, after sixteen years working as a journalist and translator in Paris, has recently moved to Huiry, to a house on a hillside overlooking the Marne Valley, writes the first of her letters which will later be published collectively as “A Hilltop on the Marne”, recording a civilian’s account of life “On the Edge of the War Zone”



27th November 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in New York City – Walter Benjamin Garland, Brooklyn college mathematics student, communist party and National Negro Congress activist, volunteer fighter with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. US Army volunteer in World War 2 whose request to serve overseas was denied. Post war activist against discrimination and police brutality, co-founder of the United Negro Allied Veterans Association.


Crime and punishment: At Pentonville Prison, in London, England – Frederick Robertson is hanged by the neck for the double murder of his relatives – Nellie and Beatrice Robertson.


Transport and gallantry: In the village of Liss in Hampshire, England, Percy Norwood sustains serious head injuries while rescuing blacksmith Harry Rasell from the path of an oncoming train. Harry’s pony had bolted, crashing into the crossing gates and throwing him onto the rails ahead of the train.


Thanksgiving: In the US State of New Mexico, Governor William C McDonald proclaims this Thursday, the fourth Thursday in  November, as a day of thanksgiving:  “I urge upon all that this day be observed as one of prayer and praise to God for the many blessings enjoyed by our people. At the same time may we not forget the poor and needy, making the day what its name implies for all”.


Journalism, society and culture: The National Geographic magazine publishes an article with ethnographic plates entitled “The Non-Christian Peoples of the Philippine Islands”.


12th June 1913 (Thursday)

BORN TODAY: in Wila, in the canton  of Zurich in Swtizerland – Elisabeth Eidenbenz, daughter of a Zurich pastor who joined the Asociación de Ayuda a los Niños en Guerra (“Association to Aid Children in War”). She arrived in Madrid in 1937 and later founded the “Maternite Suisse” in an abandoned Chateau just across the French border where, with the aid of funds from the Swiss Red Cross, she provided refuge for Spanish mothers-to-be, despite (from 1942) harassment from Nazi authorities searching for Jews and Tziganes (Roma/ Hungarian gypsies). She was awarded France’s “Legion d’Honneur” in 2006 and died on May 23rd 2011 in Zürich (Switzerland) at the age of 97.

World Affairs: In Constantinople, Said Halim Pasha is appointed as the new Grand Vizier (First Minister) following the assassination of Mahmoud Shevket Pasha yesterday.

In Samoa, the German Governor of Samoa, Erich Schultz, persuades the Samoans to accept the German Kaiser’s sovereignty over Samoa.

Colonial unrest: In Reykjavik Harbour, Iceland, Einar Petursson is arrested by the Danish coastguard for sailing his small boat flying an “unofficial” new flag for Iceland – a blue and white flag which has been growing in popularity. His arrest provokes outrage among Icelanders who pass a resolution to adopt the new flag for Iceland. The proposal is denied by the Danish authorities, on the grounds that it is considered too similar to the flag of Greece.

Society and Culture: V.I.Lenin publishes “Child Labour in Peasant Farming”

“Capitalism condemns the peasant to extreme degradation and ruin. There is no other salvation for him than through joining the class struggle of the wage-workers. But before the peasant can arrive at this conclusion he will have to experience many years of being disillusioned by deceptive bourgeois slogans”.


29th March 1913 (Saturday)

BORN TODAY, in Garston, Liverpool – James Larkin (“Jack”) Jones CH, MBE – English trade union leader who fought with the British Battalion of the fifteenth International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and was seriously wounded at the Battle of Ebro in 1938. Died in Peckham, South London, in 2009, aged 96.

Law, order and labour relations: In Sligo Town, in County Sligo, Ireland, the ” Sligo Champion” reports news of the ongoing industrial dispute between Sligo’s fishermen and dockers on one side and the Sligo Steam Navigation Company on the other. The Champion’s headlines read: “Grave condition of Affairs… Town thrown into Disorder…Baton charges on strikers…Sad death of unionman…Police and civilians injured…Scenes of wild disorder”.

Meanwhile in another part of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the National Union of Railwaymen is formed today from the merger of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the General Railway Workers Union, and the United Pointsmen’s and Signalmen’s Society.

Shipping News: The SS Pennsylvanian is launched in Maryland US. After delivery to the American-Hawaiian steamship company to serve as a cargo ship in the Pacific she will become, in August 1914, only the second steamship to travel eastbound through the newly opened Panama Canal. Later still she will be requisitioned by the US Military after the US entry in World War One.

The French trawler “Tadorn” is destroyed off Howick in North East England by a fierce storm. Twenty five sailors are saved by the Boulmer lifeboat crew but another five are laid to rest in the local churchyard, far from their homes and loved ones.

Arms Race: Calshot Naval Air Station open on the south coast of England, as a Royal Flying Corps seaplane and flying boat testing station.

16th March 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY, in Seyðisfjörður in Iceland (Still in Iceland – a town of 668 inhabitants in 2011) – Nína Tryggvadóttir “one of Iceland’s most important abstract expressionist artists”. After living in Copenhagen, Paris and New York she was banned from the US in 1949 after a short trip to Iceland, suspected of being a communist, but managed to return to New York ten years later.

Also born today: One of the “Capuchin Martyrs of Valencia” (catholic priests executed during the Spanish civil war) – Enrique Garcia Beltran. Imprisoned on 4th August 1936, and killed in a stone quarry near Castellon on 16th August 1936, aged 23.

Society and culture: In Paris, a crowd of 120,000 demonstrators protest at the decision of the French Army to introduce three years of mandatory military service.

Law and Order: In Illinois, USA, the Chicago Tribune headlines with “Morals Court to Open War on Vice”. Chief Justice Harry Olsen warns that the city cannot “permit such important laws regarding public health and sanitation to lie dormant merely because the exploitation of vice has been commercialized and its financial magnates infest and seek to dominate the politics of the city”. Henceforth, citizens of Chicago should remember that “A card index will be kept of all persons arrested, not only inmates frequenters and lessees of property used for improper persons but also the owners”.

26th January 1913 (Sunday)

BORN TODAY, in Rome, Italy – Mario Riva – The popular Italian film actor and TV personality who died in Verona in 1960 after falling from a stage.

Also Adolf Vodicka, from Czechoslovakia, one of the few surviving combatants of the Spanish Civil War, where he fought as part of the International Brigade.

First Balkan War: Ottoman and Bulgarian forces meet at the Battle of Bulair as the Turks make an attempt to relieve Adrionople (Edirne). In the resulting Bulgarian victory around 50% of the Turkish forces are killed.

Society and Culture: John Paul Jones, a US Naval Hero (or rebel “privateer” and terrorist, depending on your point of view) who died in 1792 in Paris, alone and forgotten, and who has spent much of the intervening period buried beneath a laundry in a Paris suburb, finds his final resting place – a marble sarcophagus (modelled on the tomb of Napoleon) in the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, USA.

Colonial unrest: the USS Rainbow shifts her location from Olongapo to Cavite and remains in the Phillippines until 28 March 1913. The US is in the final stages of a 14 year war against insurgents in the Phillippines, which hostilities will end in June this year at the Battle of Bud Bagsak.