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2015 Historical Anniversaries

A belated Happy New Year!  As some of you may have noticed, unfortunately all has been quiet on the ‘History Geek’ front for a while now, partly due to the demands of having a glamorous job in television and partly because much of my research time has been hijacked by a rather unique shipwreck.  More on that another time.  The important thing is that I’m back and have an exciting series of posts planned for the very near future.

This year is a big one for historical anniversaries – so big in fact that there are far too many to list – but here are some of the ones I’ll be keeping an eye out for.  Some are domestic and some are international.  Some are well-known and will be marked with large commemorations, while others are likely to pass with little recognition.

NEW ZEALAND

100 Years ago – ANZAC troops took part in the Allied invasion of Gallipoli.  The centenary of this bloody campaign will be at the core of the continued commemorations of New Zealand’s role in the First World War.  Check out the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s WW100 site for details on commemorative events you can attend or take part in.

Card sent by New Zealand engineer in Samoa wishing the recipient a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  1915 Would be a tragic year for many New Zealanders. Lemuel Lyes Collection

Card sent by a New Zealand railway engineer in Samoa wishing the recipient a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 1915 Would be a tragic year for many New Zealand families.
Lemuel Lyes Collection

150 Years ago – The Second Taranaki War continued and conflict also erupted on the East Coast after the murder of missionary Karl Völkner.  I’ve previously voiced my disappointment at the lack of national media attention given to key anniversaries of this important chapter in New Zealand’s history and don’t have high hopes that this year will be any different.

Williams, Edward Arthur (Colonel), 1824-1898. Williams, Edward Arthur 1824-1898 :Picket at Nukamuru 30 Jan[uar]y [18]65. Ref: A-210-019. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23092286

Williams, Edward Arthur (Colonel), 1824-1898. Williams, Edward Arthur 1824-1898 :Picket at Nukamuru 30 Jan[uar]y [18]65. Ref: A-210-019. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23092286

150 Years ago – The paddle-steamer City of Dunedin disappeared during a voyage from Wellington to Nelson.  It was on the way to Hokitika (where increasing quantities of gold were being discovered).

In another maritime tragedy off the New Zealand coast, the Fiery Star went up in flames and was abandoned by the Captain and most of the passengers.  As there wasn’t enough room for everyone in the ship’s boats a handful of selfless crew volunteered to stay behind.  Miraculously, they were rescued shortly before the Fiery Star sank, however, none of those who took to the boats were ever seen again.

175 Years ago – On 6 February 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.  European settlement of the country also began in earnest in several regions.  Auckland recently celebrated its 175th anniversary and if you can make it to Akaroa in October you can join in their commemorations as well.

King, Marcus, 1891-1983. King, Marcus, 1891-1983 :[The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, February 6th, 1840]. 1938.. Ref: G-821-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22308135

King, Marcus, 1891-1983. King, Marcus, 1891-1983 :[The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, February 6th, 1840]. 1938.. Ref: G-821-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22308135

200 Years ago – Thomas Holloway King became the first European child to be born in New Zealand.  His christening gown survives to this day and is on display at Te Waitmate Mission.

INTERNATIONAL

50 Years ago – The premiere of a favourite film of mine, ‘Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines’.  Dare I say it, I’d like to see a remake one day.

100 Years ago – The First World War continued; as the stalemate on the Western Front dragged on a new Allied campaign was launched in the Dardanelles.  Zeppelins bombed Britain and a German U-boat sank the passenger liner RMS Lusitania.  If you are interested in following the history of the First World War in real-time then I highly recommend the weekly videos over at ‘The Great War’s YouTube channel.

150 Years ago – The American Civil War finally came to an end.  Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while attending a performance at a theater.

The assassination of President Lincoln: at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., April 14th, 1865  Library of Congress

The assassination of President Lincoln: at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C., April 14th, 1865
Library of Congress

150 Years ago – On 21 July 1865 Wild Bill Hickok defeated David Tutt in a gunfight in the town square of Springfield, Missouri.  The was one of the few real-life examples of a public quick-draw ‘Wild West’ shootout of the sort so often fought on the big screen.

175 Years ago – In May 1840 the world’s first postage stamp went on sale in the U.K.  The Penny Black featured a profile of the young Queen Victoria and is still keenly sought after by collectors today.

200 Years ago – The fate of Europe was decided on rolling fields south of Brussels, near a little place called Waterloo.  The bi-centenary of this famous battle takes place in June and will be marked with a large scale reenactment at the original battlefield.  There are also a series of events planned across the United Kingdom.  Check out the list of events here.

Butte du Lion on the battlefield of Waterloo, 2009 © Lemuel Lyes

Butte du Lion on the battlefield of Waterloo, 2009
© Lemuel Lyes

250 Years ago – The HMS Victory was launched.  The world’s oldest naval ship still in commission celebrates her 250th birthday on 7 May 2015.

HMS Victory © Lemuel Lyes 2009

HMS Victory at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, 2009
© Lemuel Lyes

As you can see, there are plenty of dates to mark and commemorations to look forward to.  I hope you are all having a great year so far and wish you all the best for the rest of it.

© Lemuel Lyes

14 replies »

    • Yes – both of them do sound rather out of the ordinary and warrant more investigation so I’d like to do some more digging. The City of Dunedin was last seen going round and round in circles off the bottom of the North Island and then disappeared with all hands.

  1. Thanks for alerting us to – Two hundred years ago” Waterloo 200 website. Always pondering the questions surrounding my GGG Grandad. A veteran of some Napoleonic solidering, who was pensioned off. Ending up in NZ ?

    • Hi there – mind if I ask who your ggg grandfather was? I’m aware of a few Waterloo veterans who settled in New Zealand. Would love to hear about any others!

      It looks like there are a lot of exhibitions and other initiatives underway to commemorate the bicentenary, in the U.K. especially. Makes me wish I was over there!

  2. Great to see you back! There are certainly a LOT of anniversaries coming up – all of them significant. And odds are on that 25 April will be shared this year by far more than just the history community. Good stuff. (Of course, come 26 April, I suspect there will be a general public sense of the WWI anniversary being ‘over’…but that’s how it goes…).

    • Glad to be back!

      I know that there are also large commemorations planned for some of the other key anniversaries, with the intention of them representing other campaigns, so lets hope that the media gives them decent coverage.

      • I’ll certainly be doing what I can to help promote them. I’ve been very efficiently cut out of the public- and university-funded military historical world, as you know (and the latest is I’ve had NO responses to my approaches to them over contributing to WW1 100 events) but that won’t stop me pursuing the topic as I can. One of the most exciting upcoming events is a mega-diorama of Gallipoli, being built for Te Papa, with over 4000 individually painted soldiers. Peter Jackson’s organised it and has got all the local military wargamers in on the job, painting. It’s a fabulous idea and just wonderful to have this hands-on input from so many New Zealanders. Chris Pugsley is one of the consultants on it, which is great news – guarantees the history will be absolutely solid.

      • That really is a shame that they continue to try and dissuade you from being involved. Good on you for persisting!

        That mega-diorama really is a brilliant idea. I’ve been following the progress online and I’m seriously tempted to make the trip up to see it – that and the other planned exhibitions.

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