There’s a lot going on in this month’s headlines. Here’s a sampling of what the world was experiencing 100 years ago. In addition to “the war” proper, we’ve now got independence movements turning into outright Civil War in various parts of what had been the Russian Empire, including Finland, Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia.
World War I:
British troops capture Kirkuk, in Iraq, on May 7.
German troops seize Rostov, Ukraine, on May 8.
The British Royal Navy conducts the Second Ostend Raid on May 9, an unsuccessful attempt to sea off U-Boat access to the base there.
The Battle of Kaniv: German forces in Ukraine manage to rout the Polish II Corps on May 10-11, despite heavy losses.
Germany launches its largest and last air raid of World War I against Great Britain on May 20, killing 49 people.
German forces launched the third stage of their offensive against the Allies on the Western Front with Operation Blücher-Yorck, beginning with the attack on Aisne River in France on May 27. Taking advantage of thinly spread out defenses, the Germans advanced through a 40 km (25 mi) gap in the Allied line, punched through eight Allied divisions between Reims and Soissons, and gained another 15 km to the Vesle River by nightfall
Finnish Civil War:
The Battle of Lahti ends on May 1. Together with German forces, Finnish Whites defeat the Red Guard.
Word of the Vyborg Massacre (began April 28), reaches White Guard commander Mannerheim on May 2, who immediately orders it halted. By the time it has ceased, 360-420 Finnish Red Guards and Russians have been killed.
The Battle of Ahvenkoski ends May 5 with the surrender of Red forces there, assuring that Finland will not join the new USSR.
The Civil War ends with the capture of the Russian-held Fort Ino on May 15.
Russian Civil War:
The Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic is abolished May 26; Georgia declares its independence as the Democratic Republic of Georgia.
Armenia and Azerbaijan declare their independence as the First Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic respectively on May 28.
The US Congress passes the Sedition Act on May 16, opening the door to the coming wave of repression during the Red Scare.
Women in Canada (excluding Quebec) are granted the right to vote on May 24.
Hazel Turner, a black farmer in Georgia, is lynched on May 16. When his widow threatens the vigilantes with arrest, she and her unborn child are also murdered on May 19. No one is ever charged with either crime.
Axeman of New Orleans: on May 22, Joseph Maggio, an Italian grocer in New Orleans, and his wife Catherine, were murdered in their own home while sleeping. The killer cut both of their throats with a razor and bludgeoned them with an axe. Joseph survived long enough to be found by his brothers to report the attack. It set off a string of similar murders that terrorized the city until 1919 when the murder spree stopped. None of the serial murders have been solved
Nicaragua declares war on the Central Powers, May 6.
Costa Rica declares war on Germany, May 23.
General Motors acquires the Chevrolet Motor Company on May 2, thus securing one of its signature brands for the next century.
The United States Post Office establishes Air Mail service between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, beginning May 15.
The first of the Sisson Documents, alleging to prove that Germany had conspired with Bolsheviks to bring about the end of the war, is released on May 9. (The documents are later proved to be forgeries).
The Kentucky Derby is won by Exterminator, with jockey Willie Knapp, on May 11.
“M’Liss,” starring Mary Pickford, released May 5.
“Huck and Tom,” starring Mary’s brother Jack Pickford, released May 13.
“Old Wives for New,” directed by Cecil B. DeMille, released May 19.
“Bound in Morocco,” starring Douglas Fairbanks, released May 28.
June Duprez, actress (in “And Then There Were None” and “Calcutta”), born May 14.