100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Archive for the category “Europe”

German Submarine Fires On English Island

Walney Island is an island off the west coast of England. Walney is the largest island of the Furness Islands group, both in population and size, as well as the largest English island in the Irish Sea. Walney had a battery post since 1881 and in 1911 coastal defenses were constructed for the Lancashire and Cheshire Royal Garrison Artillery.

On January 29, 1915 at 2:15pm the German submarine ‘U21’ surfaced and opened fire on the ‘German designed’ airship sheds that had been constructed on the island. The rounds that they had discharged fell ‘well short’ of their intended target. The U21 had sunk the HMS Pathfinder in September 1914. It was the first time a ship had been sunk by a self-propelled torpedo.

Deck artillery of the German submarine U21

Torpedo being loaded onto the German submarine U21

Canadian Motorcycle Troops Train In England

At the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914, Canada had no regular military forces. Captain Andrew Hamilton Gault raised the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry named after the Duke of Connaught’s daughter, Princess Patricia of Connaught. The Duke of Connaught was Queen Victoria’s third and and the Governor General of Canada. It was the first Canadian infantry unit to enter the conflict, arriving in Europe in December 1914.


Motorcycles were developed in 1880-1890 with the first motorcycle company coming into existence in 1894. The motorcycle first saw military duty in 1913 with the US military in the borderland conflict between US forces and Mexican revolutionaries.

On January 28, 1915 Canadian Army dispatch riders prepare to set out on a training ride across Salisbury Plain in England on their Douglas 2.75 horse-power motorcycles. Their role as messengers is hoped to be invaluable.


Powerful Earthquake In Italy


Central and Southern Italy has been an active earthquake zone with large quakes reported back as far as the 17th century.

On January 13, 1915 at 8:00am a powerful earthquake hit the central and southern area of Italy. The town of Avezzano was almost entirely demolished from the shaking and only one high-rise building survived. In an instant, over 30,000 people were killed, 96 percent of its population. The shock lasted over 1 minute and houses made of rock that were not reinforced by mortar or even wood contributed to the carnage.

Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Forced To Resign

Leopold Graf Berchtold von und zu Ungarschitz, Frättling und Püllütz
or Count Leopold Berchtold was born into a wealthy noble family. He studied law and joined the Austro-Hungarian foreign service in 1893. He married Countess Ferdinanda Károlyi, the daughter of one of the richest aristocrats in Hungary, in Budapest and their combined fortunes made him one of the wealthiest men in the empire. He served at the embassies in Paris (1894), London (1899) and St. Petersburg (1903). In 1906 he was named Ambassador to Russia.

In February 1912, Count Berchtold was appointed as his successor and thus became, at the age of 49, the youngest foreign minister in Europe. The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 had Austro-Hungary pursuing a hard-line policy and flirting with the idea of war against Serbia. It managed to prevent Serbia from securing an outlet to the Adriatic Sea by support given to the creation of Albania but Russian influence in the area remained strong among Balkan nationalists and supporters of Pan Slavism. Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo in June 1914, Count Berchtold seized the opportunity to launch punitive action against Serbia and deal the country a mortal blow. After diplomacy failed, the Austro-Hungarian government made a decision to enter a state of war with Serbia on July 28, 1914.

Once the war commenced, Italy’s role was a questionable problem. The Italians wanted certain territorial concessions for their participation. The Austro-Hungarian government was dead set against any Italian demands and were ready to go to war with Italy over it. But Brechtold has learned that Italy has obtained vague promises of compensations in South Tyrol from Germany. Under this German pressure and wishing to avoid a two-front war on its borders, Berchtold sends out messages indicating that he was ready to cede the Trentino and parts of the Albanian coastline to Italy. When the ruling cabinent members of the Austro-Hungarian government find out, they are enraged.

On January 13, 1915 Austro-Hungarian Imperial Foreign Minister Count Brechtold has been forced to resign his post. He replacement has been named, Count Stephan Burián von Rajecz.

Imperial Foreign Minister of Austro-Hungary Count Berchtold - resigned

Imperial Foreign Minister of Austro-Hungary Count Berchtold – resigned

Russian Tank Proposal Approved

The idea of the tank came from earlier experiments with mechanized farming vehicles that could cross difficult land with ease by using caterpillar tracks. But the leading officers of the major armies of the world had been raised with cavalry, mounted horseman, playing a major role in battle. The first engagement between the British and Germans in 1914 had involved cavalry near Mons. Cavalry engagements fought in mud proved hampered with little effectiveness and proved costly, fatal and hopeless. It was soon realized that trench warfare had made the use of cavalry null and void. Still, senior military commanders were hostile to the use of armored vehicles as it would have required a change of traditional tactics they have all been steeped in.

When the war started in Russia in 1914, the Main Military-Technical Department submitted two projects for tracked armored vehicles designed by Russian inventor A.A.Porohovschikova.

On January 13, 1915, after a long delay, Porohovschikova’s proposal was approved and 9,660 rubles was allocated for the construction of all-terrain vehicle.


Russian tank design – 1914

Wartime Diary Entry

Alphaeus Abbott Casey

Alphaeus Abbott Casey

Alphaeus Abbott Casey was born at Annesley Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire on January 1895, the son of Thomas and Annie Casey. He was a student of the University of Sheffield who joined the Sheffield City Battalion (12th Bn. York and Lancaster Regiment), which was formed in September 1914, partly at the behest of members of the University of Sheffield, Alphaeus kept a detailed diary which gives a rare insight into the training regime of a Pals battalion.


On January 6, 1915 Casey made this entry into his wartime diary:

Clear sky, sunshine. Felt stiff round belt. Sergeants’ Mess fatigue, paraded 7am

not time to perform toilet. Washed dirty supper pots 7-8.15.

Brekker:- sausage.

Returned 8.45, washed great no of pots, fetched 3 pans of coal and 1 coke, emptied 2 rubbish tins, scrubbed 2 tables, washed dirty glasses in sergeants’ canteen. Absolutely sick of work.

Dinner 12.45:- usual and figs (stewed). Very nice, savoury.

Played footer 1.15-1.45.

1.45-3.15 washed dinner pots. Thought would never finish. Scrubbed floors.

3.30 other 3 men went. I stayed to tea, went to canteen for provisions, helped butter and cut bread. Bardsley (picket) and I took guard sergeant tea.

6.10-6.30 tea, apricots and pineapple and cake. Enjoyed it. Very tired, slight headache, helped finish pots.

Finished work 6.45pm. Played Moses chess, lost. Several good games at solo-whist. Corporal asked for names of those applied for commission. Gave mine.”

Passport Issued to British Red Cross Worker

In June 1859, the Swiss businessman Henry Dunant travelled to Italy to meet French emperor Napoléon III. He arrived in the small town of Solferino on the evening of June 24th and witnessed the Battle of Solferino, an engagement in the Franco-Austrian War. In a single day, about 40,000 soldiers on both sides died or were left wounded on the field. Shocked by the terrible aftermath of the battle, the suffering of the wounded soldiers, and the near-total lack of medical attendance and basic care, Dunant completely abandoned the original intent of his trip and for several days he devoted himself to helping with the treatment and care for the wounded. Back in Geneva, he wrote a book entitled A Memory of Solferino which he published with his own money in 1862. He sent copies of the book to leading political and military figures throughout Europe advocating the formation of national voluntary relief organizations to help nurse wounded soldiers in the case of war. In addition, he called for the development of international treaties to guarantee the neutrality and protection of those wounded on the battlefield as well as medics and field hospitals.

In 1863 Dunant had organize a group of concerned Swiss citizen to establish an international conference about the possible implementation of measures to improve medical services on the battle field, the “International Committee for Relief to the Wounded”. One year later, the Swiss government invited the governments of all European countries, as well as the United States, Brazil, and Mexico, to attend an official diplomatic conference. Sixteen countries sent a total of twenty-six delegates to Geneva. In August 1864, the conference adopted the first Geneva Convention “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field”. In 1876, the committee adopted the name “International Committee of the Red Cross” (ICRC).

With the onset of WWI, the ICRC called upon the national Red Cross societies to support it in its new tasks to assist the millions of people who were falling victim to the conflict. In addition to its traditional work in aid of wounded or sick soldiers, the ICRC was to extend the scope of its action to include prisoners of war, although no convention specifically mandated it to do so. Many volunteers from all over Europe flock to join the ICRC.

On January 4, 1915 a passport lasting two years was issued to Mr Randolph Warrington Phillips of Great Britain. The passport allowed him to work for the British Red Cross Society in France and contains a photograph of Mr Phillips, then aged 33, in his Red Cross uniform.1aab

Belgian Cardinal Arrested


On July 24, 1914, the Belgian government had announced that if war came to Europe, it would uphold its neutrality. The neutrality of Belgium had been guaranteed by the Treaty of London (1839), which had been signed by Prussia. However, the German Schlieffen Plan required that German armed forces violate Belgium’s neutrality in order to outflank the French Army, concentrated in eastern France. The German Chancellor dismissed the treaty of 1839 as a “scrap of paper.” The Belgian government mobilized its armed forces on July 31 and a state of Kriegsgefahr (“danger of war”) was proclaimed in Germany. On August 1, the German government sent an ultimatum to Belgium, demanding passage through the country. Two days later, the Belgian Government refused Germany’s demands and the British Government guaranteed military support to Belgium. The German government declared war on Belgium on August 4, 1914 and troops crossed the border and attacked.

The German army immediately began to engage in numerous atrocities against the civilian population of Belgium, and destruction of civilian property. Thousands of Belgians were killed, homes destroyed and in many cases entire communities destroyed. One and a half million Belgians (20% of the entire population) fled from the invading German army.

Désiré Mercier was born at the château du Castegier in Braine-l’Alleud, as the fifth of the seven children. Mercier received the clerical tonsure in 1871, and was finally ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Giacomo Cattani, the nuncio to Belgium, in April 1874. He obtained his licentiate in theology (1877) and doctorate in philosophy from the University of Louvain, and also took courses in psychology in Paris. Three of Mercier’s sisters became nuns. Mercier was created Cardinal by Pope St. Pius X in April 1907.

During the German atrocities of 1914, thirteen of the priests in Mercier’s diocese were killed, not to mention the many civilians. In response Mercier wrote a pastoral letter, Patriotism and Endurance.

“If any man had rescued you from shipwreck or from a fire, you would assuredly hold yourselves bound to him by a debt of everlasting thankfulness. But it is not one man, it is two hundred and fifty thousand men who fought, who suffered, who fell for you so that you might be free, so that Belgium might keep her independence, her dynasty, her patriotic unity; so that, after the vicissitudes of battle, she might rise nobler, purer, more erect, and more glorious than before.”

The pastoral letter had to be distributed by hand as the Germans had cut off the postal service. His passionate, unflinching words were taken to heart by the suffering Belgians.

On January 3, 1915 Cardinal Mercier was placed under house arrest by German military authorities. The reading of his pastoral letter has been banned.

Advertised January 11, 1913

William Vincent Cahill was born in Syracuse, New York in 1878. He began his studies of art at the Art Students League in New York learning from Howard Pyle and then went on to study in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to New York and is a successful illustrator for magazines and advertisers.

Tom Amidon was the head miller for a small grain mill in North Dakota. In 1893 the mill was on the verge of closing when when Amidon who had begun making a wheat-based hot breakfast cereal for his family, suggested to the other millers that they try selling it. Amidon coined the porridge Cream of Wheat because it was made from the “cream of the crop.” The product made its debut at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.  The cereal became very popular. In 1900 boxes featured the image of a African-American chef  named Rastus developed by artist Edward V Brewer.  It has been suggested that  a chef named Frank L White from a popular Chicago restaurant was photographed in 1900 and was the model for Rastus.

In the January 11, 1913 issue of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, an advertisement for Cream Of Wheat appeared with artwork by William V Cahill.

"Breakfast's Ready Li'l Missy"

“Breakfast’s Ready Li’l Missy”

Parfums Lubin is one of the oldest perfume manufacturers in the world.  Pierre Francois Lubin founded the company in 1798 and his fragrances won over the Imperial Court and was worn by the likes of Josephine Bonaparte. When the Bourbons were restored, Lubin dedicated his fragrances to Queen Marie-Amelie. Eventually Lubin’s perfumes were worn by all the crowned heads of Europe, and were imported to America in 1830.

In the January 11, 1913 issue of LA VIE PARISIANNE, Parfum Lubin advertised it’s new scent – “Chrysantheme” with an alluring exotic nude.





Last Ottoman Forces Leave Northern Africa

The Italian-Turkish War ended in October 1912. What started as a conflict of territory in Northern Africa became a wider conflict that highlighted the weakness of the Ottoman Empire and encouraged nations in the Balkans to start the Balkan War.

https://100yearsagotoday.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/the-italian-turkish-war-ends/On December 10, 1912 the last Ottoman troops left Tripoli completing its surrender of the Libyan territory to Italy.

Ottomans surrender to Italy in Libya 1912

Ottomans surrender to Italy in Libya

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