Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Influenza Pandemic of 1918

June 1918

The news round-up this month is a bit deceptive, because a lot of the important historical events of this month weren’t heavily covered at the time. The biggest event really is the escalation of the “Spanish Flu” to a pandemic, but no one knew in June that it would ultimately kill more people than the First World War. The Bolsheviks weren’t advertising the fact that they had begun killing off the Romanov royal family, either. And, the important document the British government sent to the Syrians, assuring them of the principle of national self-determination would have significant influence on the Treaty of Versailles, although it received little publicity at the time. Sometimes, we don’t know what the most significant events of our times are until we can look back at them with some perspective.

 

World War One:

The Battle of Belleau Wood begins June 1. The U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division deployed troops, including the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments, to hold Belleau Wood near the Marne River in France after the towns of Château-Thierry and Vaux fell to the Germans.

Allied counterattacks in the Third Battle of the Aisne on June 3 halted the German advance at the Marne River. Allied casualties were massive at 127,000, including 98,000 French casualties and 29,000 British casualties. Germany suffered slightly more with 130,000 casualties

The Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleship SMS Szent István is sunk on June 10 by two Italian MAS motor torpedo boats, off the Dalmatian coast.

The first airplane bombing raid by an American unit in France is carried out June 12.

Grand Duke Michael of Russia

Russian Revolution:

Grand Duke Michael of Russia is murdered on June 12, thereby becoming the first of the Romanovs to be murdered by the Bolsheviks.

World Health:

The “Spanish ‘flu” becomes pandemic. Over 30 million people die in the following 6 months.

Disasters:

RMS Kenilworth Castle, one of the Union-Castle Line steamships, collides with her escort destroyer HMS Rival on June 4 while trying to avoid her other escort, the cruiser HMS Kent.

Astronomy:

V603 Aquilae, the brightest nova observed since Kepler’s of 1604, is discovered June 8.

Diplomacy:

The Declaration to the Seven, a British government response to a memorandum issued anonymously by seven Syrian notables after the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot Agreement became known, is published June 16. It assures Arabs of the British government’s support of the principle of national self-determination after the war is over.

Crime:

Suspects in the Chicago Restaurant Poisonings are arrested on June 22, and more than 100 waiters are taken into custody, for poisoning restaurant customers with a lethal powder called Mickey Finn.

Film:

Marion Davies produced and starred in her second feature film Cecilia of the Pink Roses, released through Select Pictures on June 2.

Theda Bara starred in the silent drama Under the Yoke, released June 9, which became noteworthy in its controversy in later years for its depiction of Filipinos and the one-sided view of American occupation in the Philippines.

Born:

Robert Preston (actor, in “The Music Man” and “Victor/Victoria”) June 8.

Jane Bryan (actress, in “Kid Galahad” and “Brother Rat”) June 11.

Ellen Liiger (Estonian actress, known for the film adaptation of Karge meri) June 26.

January and February 1918

I let January slip by without posting the Century News, so I’m mixing two months into this one post. After more than three years of nonstop bloodshed, hope and despair are both at all-time highs. With the collapse of the Russian Empire, there’s unrest spreading on both sides, breaking out into declarations of independence, mutinies, and strikes. There’s also the Americans on the way, and the German populace is captivated by the promises made by Woodrow Wilson on the floor of Congress. To make matters worse, a major epidemic is about to begin that kills more people than the war itself. Let’s take a look at the headlines from a century ago:

Trenches on the shore of the Dead Sea.

World War I:

The SS Tuscania is torpedoed off the Irish coast on February 5; it is the first ship carrying American troops to Europe to be torpedoed and sunk.

Capture of Jericho on February 19 by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force begins the British occupation of the Jordan Valley.

The Imperial Russian Navy evacuates Tallinn through thick ice over the Gulf of Finland during February 19-25.

Kurt Eisner

Political unrest:

Kurt Eisner, leader of the Bavarian Independent Socialists (USPD) leads an anti-war march and is arrested and imprisoned for treason. He will be jailed almost up to the end of the war.

The Cattaro Mutiny sees Austrian sailors in the Gulf of Cattaro (Kotor), led by two Czech Socialists, mutiny.

 

Demonstrators in Estonia

Russian Revolution:

The Finnish Declaration of Independence is recognized by Russia, Sweden, Germany and France on January 4.

Russian Constituent Assembly proclaims Russian Democratic Federative Republic on January 19, but is dissolved by Bolshevik government on same day.

The Ukrainian People’s Republic declares independence from Bolshevik Russia on January 22.

The Council of Lithuania adopts the Act of Independence of Lithuania, declaring Lithuania’s independence from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on February 16.

Estonia declares independence, February 24. German forces capture Tallinn on the next day.

Diplomacy:

Woodrow Wilson delivers his Fourteen Points speech on January 8.

 

Colonialism:

U.S. troops engage Yaqui Indian warriors in the Battle of Bear Valley in Arizona on January 9, a minor skirmish and one of the last battles of the American Indian Wars between the United States and Native Americans

Finland:

Finland enacts a “Mosaic Confessors” law on January 12, granting Finnish Jews civil rights.

Finnish Civil War begins with the Battle of Kämärä on January 27.

Naval Construction:

The keel of HMS Hermes is laid in Britain on January 15, the first purpose-designed aircraft carrier to be laid down.

Culture:

The Historic Concert for the Benefit of Widows and Orphans of Austrian and Hungarian Soldiers at the Konzerthaus, Vienna on January 18.

Disease:

“Spanish ‘flu” (influenza) first observed in Haskell County, Kansas.

Suffrage:

Women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom: Representation of the People Act gives most women over 30 the vote.

Extinction:

The last captive Carolina parakeet (the last breed of parrot native to the eastern United States) dies at the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21.

Joseph Kaufman

Deaths:

Joseph Kaufman, actor (in “The Sporting Duchess” and “The Song of Songs”), on February 1.

Births:

John Forsythe, actor (in “The Trouble with Harry” and “Kitten with a Whip”), January 29.

Ida Lupino, actress, director and producer (made “The Hitch-Hiker,” starred in “They Drive by Night”), February 4.

Patty Andrews, singer (of the Andrews Sisters), February 16.