End of Tsar's ironclads

May 28: After l904's humiliating defeat by the Japanese fleet at Port Arthur, the Imperial Russian Navy set sail to Japan to teach the Orientals a lesson.

The Russians were jittery. They accidentally opened fire on British herring ships in the North Sea, believing them to be Japanese patrol boats. But the fleet made a magnificent sight as it traversed half the globe. The world watched, enthralled, awaiting the inevitable annihilation of the Japanese by the massive battle cruisers and ageing ironclads of the Tsar.

It was not to be. By the time the Russian fleet reached the narrow straits between Korea and Japan, their crews were sick and exhausted, their warships worn out by the long voyage. At Tsushima, Admiral Togo attacked in his modern battle fleet of warships, including some built in Britain.

Japanese scientists had perfected a powerful explosive which made their shells and torpedoes particularly deadly. It was all over quickly. The Alexander II went down with all hands, followed by ship after ship until the battered Russians surrendered.

Tsushima was a warning to history. In previous centuries, wars had been decided by raw courage and sheer numbers of men. In the 20th century, technology would be master.

June 26: The Automobile Association was formed in Britain by early motorists. The first badges bearing the distinctive AA logo are issued to members to put on their cars. They feature the signature of secretary Stenson Cooke. Until 1896 the law in England had required a 'horseless carriage' to be preceded by a man with a red flag, but since then motoring had developed swiftly. King Edward VII was an early convert to motoring, conferring an aristocratic image on the ownership of a motor vehicle.

Albert EinsteinSeptember 26: In Berne, Switzerland, a young physicist called Albert Einstein published a new theory overturning all the accepted rules of physics. Einstein asserted that mass and time are not constant and, at speeds approaching the speed of light, both can change. To the man in the street such things seemed not only improbable but worthless. Yet Einstein's new view of physics soon transformed our views of the universe, and even led to the development of the atom bomb.


In brief

January 6.
At Rushall Magistrates' Court, Abraham Hill, 30, of Old Hill was remanded in custody, charged with attempted suicide. He had been found with his head on the railway line and said he was tired of life.

February 10.
A meeting of Wolverhampton Free Church Council heard that most people in the town seemed to be "given over to the pursuit of pleaseure and regarded amusement as the one aim in life."

April 29.
Aston Villa beat Newcastle United 2-0 to win FA Cup at Crystal Palace.

June 1.
Chairman of Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce Mr Hall Jones asked the annual meeting: "Is there a deterioration taking place in the population? Are men so keen as those of the last generation?"

June 14.
Messrs Gibbs and Dumbell of Wolverhampton market a new photographic device for trapping speeding motorists.

June 30.
Two men fined 1 each at Walsall for attacking Harry Kingdom, landlord of the Fountain Inn, Foster Street. The landlord admitted he was bigger than the others but declared: "It's not always the fattest who's the strongest."