April 1915

by popegrutch

In April 1915, Jack Johnson lost his heavyweight title after holding it for more than six years.

In April 1915, Jack Johnson lost his heavyweight title after holding it for more than six years.

As the spring rains fall on the Northern Hemisphere, the First World War continues to rage in Europe, while Revolution drags on in Mexico and the baseball season starts in the United States. For more specifics, look below for a roundup of news items in the headlines for April 1915.

World War I: On April 22nd the Second Battle of Ypres begins. It will continue for more than a month as both sides try to establish control over the Belgian town of Ypres, and will claim more than 100,000 casualties on both sides. It marks the first large-scale use of poison gas by the Germans. On April 25, the Gallipoli campaign is initiated with landings at Anzac and Cape Helles by British, Australian, New Zealand, and French troops. This campaign against the Ottoman Empire continues through January, 1916, and claims almost half a million casualties.

Sports: On April 5th boxer Jack Johnson is defeated by “Great White Hope” Jess Willard at Havana, Cuba. Jackson has held the title of heavyweight champion since 1908, the first African American to do so.

Labor: In Vienna, from April 12 to 13th, representatives of socialist parties of Germany, Austria, and Hungary meet for the Vienna Socialist Conference, as an extension of the Second International. Among the representatives is Friedrich Ebert, future Social Democratic President of Germany. Although its resolutions are critical of the war, the Conference calls for a peace that “would not humiliate any of the peoples” and the parties represented continued to support their governments, contributing to the eventual dissolution of the International over the issue of support for war bonds.

Human Rights Violations: On April 24, the deportation of Armenian notables from Istanbul begins, marking the beginning of what will become the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. Turkey continues today to deny the use of the word “genocide” as an accurate description for actions which caused the deaths of 1 and a half million Armenians.

Diplomacy: Italy signs the Treaty of London, secretly agreeing to join the First World War on the Allied side, although they remain formally a part of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. This was technically a defensive alliance, and the Italian government reasoned that the Central Powers had begun the war by attacking, thus freeing Italy from obligations to fight on their side.

Movies:The Tramp,” starring Charlie Chaplin, released April 11. This will be the most profitable Chaplin film to date, to be outdone later in the year by “Burlesque on Carmen.”

Born: Harry Morgan (later known for roles in the television shows “Dragnet” and “MASH“), April 10; and Anthony Quinn (who was in “La Strada” by Fellini and “Zorba the Greek”), on April 21.