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.
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.
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.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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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