Little Bits of History

Battle of Bolimow

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 31, 2015
Battle of Bolimow

Battle of Bolimow

January 31, 1915: The Battle of Bolimow is fought. The armies of Germany and Russia met near Bolimow, Poland – a small village in central Poland located between Lodz and Warsaw. The German Ninth Army was led by August von Mackensen while the Russian Second Army was led by Vladimir Smirnov and Vasily Gurko. The day’s events were inconclusive and the battles would continue at the Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes which was fought between February 7 and February 22, 1915. This battle was a victory for the German Empire.

The Battle of Bolimow is noted as the first attempt by the Germans at a large-scale use of poison gas. They fired 18,000 “T-shells” at Russian positions. The shells were filled with xylyl bromide (also called methylbenzyl bromide or T-stoff). It is a poisonous organic compound and is colorless with a pleasant smell. It is chemically written as C8H9Br and was used as a tear gas. Xylyl bromide is highly toxic and was used as a chemical weapon since the early days of World War I. The French were the first to use tear gas grenades against the Germans as early as August 1914. But today’s date is the first time it was brought into battle on a large scale. It was a complete failure.

The six inch artillery shells contained an explosive charge along with seven pounds of xylyl bromide. The winter weather was a factor in the failure. It was too cold to permit a decent aerosol effect and most of the agent was blown back onto the German lines or fell harmlessly to the ground. The dosage was also insufficiently concentrated to do much damage. The gas was again tried in a similar attack at Nieuwpoort in March 1915 and it, too, was unsuccessful. The gas was easy to make and was widely used throughout the rest of the war.

On this day, with the tear gas not effective, the German commanders called off the attack. The Russians sent in 11 divisions in a counter attack. Gurko, a career officer, led his men into what became a German artillery attack using conventional artillery shells. The Russians suffered 40,000 casualties while the Germans suffered 20,000. Today, poison gasses are under the heading of chemical warfare and about 70 different chemicals have been used or stockpiled during the 20th century. Chemical weapons are divided into three categories. The first has few, if any, legitimate uses. The second are chemicals which have no large-scale industrial uses but may have some small-scale legitimate uses. The last have large-scale industrial uses but still can be used as weapons.

Throw poison in the form of powder upon galleys. Chalk, fine sulfide of arsenic, and powdered verdegris may be thrown among enemy ships by means of small mangonels, and all those who, as they breathe, inhale the powder into their lungs will become asphyxiated. – Leonardo da Vinci

There was no sense in this objection. It is considered a legitimate mode of warfare to fill shells with molten metal which scatters among the enemy, and produced the most frightful modes of death. – Lyon Playfair

Why a poisonous vapor which would kill men without suffering is to be considered illegitimate warfare is incomprehensible. War is destruction, and the more destructive it can be made with the least suffering the sooner will be ended that barbarous method of protecting national rights. No doubt in time chemistry will be used to lessen the suffering of combatants, and even of criminals condemned to death. – Lyon Playfair

Russians should be eventually cleared out of the mountain range with gas. – 1943 German telegram to command at Kuban

Also on this day: Sticking to Business – In 1930, 3M marketed Scotch tape.
Radiation Trap – In 1958, James Van Allen was given the means to describe the eponymous bands.
Love Bug – In 1747, The London Lock Hospital opened as the first venereal disease clinic.
The Only One – In 1945, Eddie Slovik was executed.
Battle of May Island – In 1918, tragedy at sea struck.

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Bristol Channel Flood

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 30, 2015
Bristol Channel map

Bristol Channel map

January 30, 1607: The Bristol Channel flood takes place. The channel is a major inlet along the island of Great Britain. It separates South Wales from Devon and Somerset in South West England. It takes its name from the English city of Bristol and is over 30 miles across at its widest point. The damage on this day was most severe on the Welsh side. Cardiff was the most badly damaged with the foundation of St. Mary’s Church destroyed. The flooding covered an estimated 200 square miles and killed more than 2,000 people. Farms were washed away and livestock lost along the coasts of the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary in what was then the Kingdom of England.

The coasts of Devon and the Somerset Levels were awash in seawater with water reaching Glastonbury Tor, 14 miles inland. The seawall at Burnham-on-Sea was destroyed and water entered the low country and the moors. Thirty villages in Somerset were affected. Brean was said to have been “swallowed up” while the Church of All Saints at Kingston Seymour had water to a depth of five feet standing for ten days. A chiseled mark shows the crest of the water to be at 25.4 feet. Many area churches today sport signs showing how high the water reached during the flood. Some of the signs give the date as 1606 because at the time, the new year didn’t begin until March 25.

At the time, the cause of the flood was given as God’s punishment. A contemporary pamphlet entitled God’s warning to the people of England by the great overflowing of the waters or floods was printed. Later supposition was given as a storm surge resulting from extreme meteorological conditions associated with high tide. Newer theories as to the cause of the flood have surfaced since comparing the explanations of what happened in 1607 to what happened in 2004 in the Indian Ocean when the tsunami struck there. It is believed that the great flood in Bristol was caused by this type of phenomenon.

A huge landslide may cause a tsunami as can an earthquake. There is no evidence of a landslide. There is an unstable fault off the coast of Ireland which has caused a vertical displacement of the sea floor. One contemporary report mentioned an earth tremor on the day of the disaster. Other reasons to accept a tsunami as the cause is the displacement of large boulders onto beaches which would have taken extreme force. There is a layer up to eight inches thick composed of sand, shells, and stones within what is otherwise constant deposits of mud. This was found in boreholes from Devon to Gloucestershire. Rock erosion in the area is characteristic of high water velocities. While it is unlikely that such an event would repeat itself, if it occurred today, the cost would range from £7 – 13 billion at current insured values.

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. – Rabindranath Tagore

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. – Alan Watts

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. – W. H. Auden

Water is the driving force of all nature. – Leonardo da Vinci

Also on this day: “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall’s” – In 1922, Dick Martin was born.
King Richard III – In 1835, an attempt was made to assassinate President Jackson.
Assassination attempt – In 1835, the first US Presidential assassination attempt takes place.
Mr. Music – In 1858, the Halle Orchestra performed.
Really, Really Dead – In 1661, Oliver Cromwell’s body was exhumed in order to be executed.

Far Out, Man

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 29, 2015
Mantra Rock Dance poster

Mantra Rock Dance poster

January 29, 1967: The Mantra Rock Dance takes place. It was a counterculture event put on by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as a way for founder AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to have access to a wider audience for fundraising on the West Coast of the US. It was held at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. Prabhupada came from India to New York City in 1965 and found an increased interest in consciousness-expanding spirituality already growing. He was able to set up a temple in the Big Apple and was also asked to set up another on the west coast by some of his earliest followers, Mukunda Das and his wife Janaki Dasi.

The group headed west and met up with Das’s college friends and opened for business in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. At the time, the area was turning into a hippie haven. They wished to expand Prabhupada’s teachings and needed the funding to do so. They felt giving a rock concert would be an opportune method. Some of the more reverent apostles back in New York City found the idea of “amplified guitars, pounding drums, wild light shows, and hundreds of drugged hippies” to be anathema to the message intended. But Prabhupada traveled from New York City to San Francisco for the event.

Headlining the concert was the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin’s band. Also appearing was Moby Grape relatively unknown at the time. The musicians were willing to perform for “musicians’ union minimum” of $250. Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg was also included. He had helped Prabhupada get an extended US visa and although he didn’t hold to all of the swami’s prohibitions as stated, especially the ones about drugs and promiscuity, he was enchanted by the philosophy. Ginsberg often publicly sang the Hare Krishna mantra – something he had learned on a trip to India.

The concert was held on a Sunday evening and tickets were available only at the door where admittance cost $2.50. The concert began at 8 PM and nearly all 3,000 seats were filled. Latecomers had to wait outside in the hopes of someone leaving. Inside, people were given prasad or sanctified food. There was a ban on drugs that was neither obeyed nor enforced but the atmosphere remained peaceful. A few Hells Angels were at the back of the stage as security guards. Timothy Leary made an appearance. The evening wore on and was later proclaimed to have been a beautiful night and “the ultimate high”. It was “the major spiritual event of the San Francisco hippy era.”

Almost everyone who came wore bright or unusual costumes: tribal robes, Mexican ponchos, Indian kurtas, “God’s-eyes,” feathers, and beads. Some hippies brought their own flutes, lutes, gourds, drums, rattles, horns, and guitars. – Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

The Hell’s Angels, dirty-haired, wearing jeans, boots, and denim jackets and accompanied by their women, made their entrance, carrying chains, smoking cigarettes, and displaying their regalia of German helmets, emblazoned emblems, and so on – everything but their motorcycles, which they had parked outside. – Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. – Allen Ginsberg

The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That’s what poetry does. – Allen Ginsberg

Also on this day: Oh, No – O-Three – In 1978, Sweden became the first nation to ban certain aerosols to protect the ozone layer.
Honorable – In 1856, the Victoria Cross medal was established.
“Nevermore!” – In 1845, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe was printed for the first time.
Nevermore – In 1945, the poem was published (a different look at the event).
Like a Phoenix – In 1996, La Fenice was destroyed by fire.

Your License and Registration, Please

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 28, 2015
Sample speeding ticket

Sample speeding ticket

January 28, 1896: Walter Arnold gets a ticket. He is believed to be the first person to ever be given a ticket for speeding. He was fined for going 8 mph in town where the speed limit was 2 mph. He was fined one shilling plus costs. The first speed limit came from the United Kingdom’s Stage Carriage Act of 1832 where the idea was introduced that it was illegal to endanger the safety of a passenger or person by “furious driving”. No actual speed limit was set at that time. Then a series of Locomotive Acts were passed in 1861, 1865, and 1878 with the earliest of these introducing a top speed of 10 mph in the UK. This was reduced to 2 mph in towns and 4 mph in rural areas by the next act. The Locomotives on Highways Act of 1896 raised the limit to 14 mph which was estimated the speed at which a horse being driven “furiously” would travel.

Today, most countries have set maximums for traveling on their roads. Some have also set minimum speeds. Speed limits are posted via a traffic sign and are commonly set for various portions of roads by legislative bodies. Speeds are enforced by national or regional police. Today, the highest posted speed limit is 140 km/h (87 mph) for some roads in Poland and Bulgaria. Texas has a 40-mile long stretch of toll road with a limit of 85 mph (137 km/h). Some roads have no speed limit for certain classes of vehicles. The best known of these are Germany’s Autobahns. A German study found that the average speed on a 6-lane section of autobahn in free-flowing traffic was 142 km/h or 88 mph. There are some areas in other places in the world without posted limits, but because the roads are lower design, the speeds are also lower.

Speed limits are set in an attempt to cap traffic speed for a number of reasons. The most cited reasons are to improve traffic safety and reduce the number of traffic casualties from traffic collisions. The World Health Organization’s report, World report on road traffic injury prevention, identifies speed control as one of the best ways to reduce road casualties. The WHO estimates that there were 1.2 million people killed and 50 million injured on roads around the world in 2004. Another major reason for speed limits is environmental impact reductions. Vehicle noise, vibration, and emissions are lessened with lower speeds. Natural conditions of the roads are another reason for speed reduction as is done inside city limits.

There have been a number of studies showing that reductions in speed limits can reduce the number of traffic fatalities. Posting a lower speed limit doesn’t always make drivers drive at the new lower limit, but it does lower the average speed of all drivers. One of the first studies done in Sweden in 1990 showed that a reduction of 110 km/h to 90 km/h had speed lowered by 14 km/h and fatal crashes were reduced by 21%. Not all studies were this positive. In Australia in 1996, a report on speed decreases of 5-20 km/h showed no significant change as did the 1992 US study reporting on lowering speed limits by 5-15 mph. The WHO also reported (in 2002) that 22% of all injury related deaths were due to traffic accidents.

People spend so much time in their cars, and it’s a legal way to have fun by speeding a little bit or testing yourself a little bit, and you get to invest in your car. For some people, it becomes their baby. – Jordana Brewster

I think God’s going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding. – Steven Wright

I get speeding ticket like everybody else. If the restaurant is full I’m waiting in line like everybody else. – Mikhail Baryshnikov

Men are superior to women, for one thing they can urinate from a speeding car. – Will Durst

Also on this day: Beautiful Snow – In 1887, the largest snowflake on record was found.
Serendipitous Find – In 1754, Horace Walpole coined a new word.
Lighting the Night – In 1807, the first street was lit by gas light.
Challenged – In 1986, the Challenger exploded.
Yale Daily News – In 1878, the newspaper first saw print.

All Hands Lost

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2015
Soviet whiskey-class submarine, S-80

Soviet whiskey-class submarine, S-80

January 27, 1961: The Soviet submarine S-80, sinks. It was a whiskey-class submarine which were known in the USSR as Projects 613, 644, and 665. S-80 was of the first Project type and laid down on March 13, 1950 and launched on October 21 of the same year. The sub was delivered to Baku on the Caspian Sea on November 1 for tests and then transferred north along inland waterways. She was commissioned into the Northern Fleet on December 2, 1952. The Northern Fleet has been a unit of the Russian Navy since 1703, when it was used in service of the Russian Empire. From 1917 to 1991 it was part of the Soviet Union and since then part of the Russian Federation. Today, the Fleet has 39 warships and 45 submarines included.

S-80 served with the Northern Fleet until July 1957 when the sub was overhauled at Severodvinsk. At that time, she was converted to Project 644 (Whiskey-Twin-Cylinder) and given the ability to launch guided missiles when two SS-N-3 Shaddock anti-ship missile tubes were added externally. She was ready to return to sea by April 1959. On this day, S-80 was operating in the Barents Sea located north of Sweden and Finland as well as north and west of Russia. The water is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean to the north, Kara Sea to the east, and the Greenland and Norwegian Seas to the west. The sub was at snorkel depth and using its diesel engines. A submarine snorkel is a device which makes it possible for a sub to operate submerged while still taking air from above the surface.

Weather conditions showed a sea state of 6 (waves 13 to 20 feet or “very rough”) and a temperature of ⁰F 23. At 1.27 AM the sub dropped below snorkel depth. This should have activated an automatic snorkel valve shutoff, preventing water from entering the system. The de-icing system which should have warmed the valve with hot water from the diesel engines had been shut off and the valve became jammed with ice. Seawater flooded the air intakes of the engines and they immediately failed. The machinist in the compartment was unfamiliar with the valve system and did not shut the ventilation flapper valve quickly enough. By the time he found the correct valve, the force of the incoming water had bent the handle and made it inoperable. The compartment filled and the sub became uncontrollable.

As the up-angle passed 45⁰ the boat slowed, then halted, and then fell backward and sunk until it was grounded. Three more compartments were crushed when the sub hit the seabed. Twenty-four crewman survived in the after compartments and made an attempt to escape using IDA-51 apparatuses – a rebreathing system permitting carbon dioxide to be absorbed so the air can be recycled. All 68 people aboard the sub died and their fate remained unknown for over seven years. The wreckage was discovered on June 23, 1968 and was eventually able to be raised.

I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea. – H. G. Wells

Our film examines the heroism, courage and prowess of the Soviet submarine force in ways never seen before. – Kathryn Bigelow

In the long course of history, having people who understand your thought is much greater security than another submarine. – J. William Fulbright

This is no job for a UN committee. It needs the same kind of unwavering dedication and the kinds of people that got us the first nuclear submarine and the first man on the moon. – Wilson Greatbatch

Also on this day: Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes’s Trial – In 1606, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were brought to trial.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.
It’s All Greek – In 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was formed.
Young Liberals of Norway – In 1909, the political party formed.

Live, at the Apollo

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 26, 2015
Apollo Theater

Apollo Theater

January 26, 1934: The Apollo Theater opens. A theater at 253 West 125th Street was built in 1913-14 and originally called Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. It was of a neo-classical design by George Keister and was a Whites Only venue. Hurtig and Seamon were famous burlesque producers and obtained a 30-lease on the building which seated over 1,500 people. In 1928, Billy Minsky took over running the theater. By the early 1930s the theater was in disrepair and closed. In 1933 it was purchased by Sidney Cohen who also owned other theaters in the area. Lavish renovations were made and on this date, the new theater opened with the show “Jazz a la Carte” headlined by Benny Carter and his Orchestra, Ralph Cooper, and Aida Ward. The theater now catered to the African-American citizens of Harlem, New York City, and the world.

On Valentine’s Day of 1934, the first major star came to the Apollo in the form of jazz singer and Broadway star, Adelaide Hall. She appeared in Chocolate Soldiers for a limited run. Sam Wooding’s Orchestra was featured and the engagement was highly praised in the press which helped seal the Apollo’s reputation as a stellar venue. The theater was managed by Morris Sussman and had great competition from other theaters such as the Lafayette which also provided big name entertainment (Louis Armstrong, Bojangles, and Bessie Smith). In the beginning, the shows presented at the Apollo were similar to a vaudeville show complete with a chorus line of pretty girls. That changed as time went on.

The Lafayette was the first to offer amateur night but the Apollo soon took up the idea as well. Winners of the Amateur Night at the Apollo included Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey. Ella was only 17 when she first performed there and when her chance came, she almost chose to dance instead of sing, but was intimidated by the Edwards Sisters. She performed two numbers and won the first prize of $25. Jimi Hendrix won first place in an amateur musician contest in 1964. Other big names whose careers started at the Apollo are legion and include Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and many more.

The 1960s was the Apollo’s most successful decade but as the neighborhood declined, so did the venue. As drugs became more prevalent, robberies and thefts in the area made it unsafe for people to go to the theater. The theater closed in 1976 after an 8-year-old boy was shot to death. Two specials were aired on TV in order to help raise funds to revive the theater. The venue changed hands several times in the ensuing decades.  Once again, renovations were undertaken and today, the Apollo Theater draws about 1.3 million visitors each year. It is on the US National Register of Historic Places and is a New York City Landmark.

The Apollo probably exerted a greater influence upon popular culture than any other entertainment venue in the world. For blacks it was the most important cultural institution–not just the greatest black theatre, but a special place to come of age emotionally, professionally, socially, and politically. – Ted Fox

I told them the rules: “If you like the performer, cheer. You know how to cheer, don’t you?” And the audience let out a roar that rattled windows all over Harlem. – Ralph Cooper

I was at the Apollo Theater all the time, skipping school, and I worked in a barbershop. That’s how I started with doo-wop. Now I’ve come full circle. I did all kinds of music. I used to work on Broadway and Tin Pan Alley. – George Clinton

Forget what you heard—there’s no place like Harlem. Uptown, baby, is where the magic happens and deferred dreams materialize. – Kenya N Byrd

Also on this day: The Hills Are Alive – In 1905, Maria von Trapp was born.
Phantom – In 1988, The Phantom of the Opera opened in New York City.
Bald Eagle or Wild Turkey? – In 1784, Benjamin Franklin debates using the eagle as engraved on the national seal.
Brilliant – In 1905, the Cullinan Diamond was found.
Missing Children – In 1966, three Beaumont children went missing, never to be seen again.

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The Guiding Light

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 25, 2015
The Guiding Light cast

The Guiding Light cast

January 25, 1937: The Guiding Light (GL) first airs. The soap opera began as a 15 minute broadcast on NBC Radio. Irna Phillips was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1901. She was an actress and writer and created many of the early American soap operas. Before GL, she worked on Painted Dreams and worked with eight others soaps later, including As the World Turns, a sister show to GL. Irna was one of ten children and her father died when she was eight. Even as a child, she longed to be an actress and made up complicated stories for her dolls. At nineteen, she found herself pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend. She then gave birth to a still-born baby. She found comfort by listing to the radio sermons of Preston Bradley and it was these sermons that helped her create GL.

On June 2, 1947, the series moved to CBS Radio and on June 30, 1952 it finally came to the small screen on CBS TV. It remained also on the radio until June 29, 1956. The show remained a 15 minute presentation until 1968 when it went to a half hour program. Then in 1977, it became a full hour. The 15,000th CBS episode aired on September 6, 2006. The last show was broadcast on September 18, 2009 after a 72 year run. That makes it the fourth longest running program of all time. A Norwegian children’s program, Lørdagsbarnetimen, is the longest with its first airing in 1924 and running until 2010. The Grand Ole Opry and the BBC religious program The Daily Service both were on the air longer than GL.

The original premise for the radio show centered on a preacher named Rev. John Ruthledge with everyone living in a fictional Chicago neighborhood, Five Points. The plot twists of even these early shows were convoluted and involved extortion, murder, and divorce. One of the characters even managed to have an out-of-wedlock baby. During the radio years, other preachers entered and carried on being a “guiding light” to their flock. When the show’s broadcasting moved to California, so did the location of the inhabitants who next lived in Selby Flats near Los Angeles. The Bauers were a family in Chicago and they moved locations as well. In 1948, the Bauers became the focal point of the soap opera.

For the four years the show was on both TV and radio, the cast would have to record their performances twice, once for each venue. When Irna Phillips left GL for As the World Turns, Agnes Nixon became the chief writer. She left in 1967 to work at Another World. In that same year, GL was first broadcast in color. During the 1960s, the first African-Americans were introduced to the script. More characters, more plot twists, more escapades could not keep the ratings up and on April 1, 2009 it was announced the show would come to an end. The final taping was on August 11 with the show airing the next month. On October 5, 2009, CBS replaced GL with Let’s Make a Deal hosted by Wayne Brady.

In the next 43 years, she [Irna Phillips] would create or co-create 18 radio and television serials; four were still on the air when she died, including Guiding Light and As the World Turns, the two longest-running daytime dramas on television. – Lynn Liccardo

If you have to be in a soap opera try not to get the worst role. – Judy Garland

Soap opera seems to be a dirty word, but actually they are the most popular shows we have. People want to know what happens next, people hate the villains and love the lovers. It’s good, fun TV.  – Dan Stevens

They’re getting me involved in intrigue again, and I think it follows a classic formula in a soap opera. – Michael Zaslow

Also on this day: Moscow University – In 1755, Moscow University was established.
Rebellion – Shays’s Rebellion attacked an arsenal.
First Winter Olympics – In 1924, International Winter Sports Week opened in Chamonix, France.
Payola – In 1960, punishments for those involved in the payola scandal were issued.
Tragedy Strikes – In 2005, hundreds were killed at a stampede near a holy shrine in India.

Near Disaster

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 24, 2015
Unexploded thermonuclear bomb

Unexploded thermonuclear bomb

January 24, 1961: A B-52 Stratofortress crashes. The plane was based out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, USA. It was on a 24-hour Operation Coverall airborne alert mission on the Atlantic seaboard. During the Cold War, program first Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP) called for one third of the Strategic Air Command’s fleet of nuclear bombers to be airborne at all times. The idea was to have at least some of the planes in the air so the entire fleet could not be trapped on the ground and they would be able to fly directly to targets if needed.

On this day, near midnight, the B-52G rendezvoused with a tanker for mid-air refueling. The tanker crew noticed a leak in the right wing and aborted the refueling. They notified the bomber commander, Major Walter Tulloch, and ground control was also informed. The aircraft was told to assume a holding pattern off the coast until most of the fuel was consumed. By the time the plane reached the desired position, the pilot reported the leak had worsened and 37,000 pounds of fuel had been lost in three minutes. The plane was immediately instructed to return and land at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The crew descended to 10,000 feet on its approach to land when the pilots were no longer able to keep control of the plane. The crew was ordered to eject, which they did at 9,000 feet. Five men ejected and landed safely. Another man ejected but died, and two more men died in the crash. The parachuting crew last witnessed the plane intact with its payload – two Mark 39 nuclear bombs. The wreckage covered a 2 square mile area of tobacco and cotton farmland about 12 miles north of Goldsboro. Somewhere between 10,000 and 2,000 feet of altitude, the nuclear bombs separated from the aircraft as it broke up. Three of the four arming mechanisms on one of the bombs activated. The parachute deployed and allowed the bomb to hit the ground with little damage.

The bomb was located intact and standing upright. Its parachute had been caught in a tree. The bomb disposal expert responsible for retrieving the bomb noted the arm/safe switch was still in the safe position although it had gone through the rest of the arming sequence. At the time, the US government said that two of the arming mechanisms had not deployed and the bomb had no chance of exploding. This was a bit of an overstatement and only this last step had remained before detonation would have taken place. The second bomb plunged into a muddy field at a speed of about 700 mph and disintegrated without detonation of its conventional explosives. The tail was found about 20 feet below ground. It was sheer luck the bomb did not detonate.

Until my death I will never forget hearing my sergeant say, ‘Lieutenant, we found the arm/safe switch.’ And I said, ‘Great.’ He said, ‘Not great. It’s on arm.’ – Jack ReVelle, bomb disposal expert

As far as I’m concerned we came damn close to having a Bay of North Carolina. The nuclear explosion would have completely changed the Eastern seaboard if it had gone off. – Jack ReVelle

One simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe. – Parker F Jones

The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52. – Parker F Jones

Also on this day: Badminton – In 1900, the Newcastle Badminton Club opened, the oldest such club in England.
Be Prepared – In 1907, the Boy Scouts were begun by Robert Baden-Powell.
“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River” – In 1848, James W. Marshall spies gold in the American River, sparking the  California Gold Rush.
Never Surrender –  In 1972, Shōichi Yokoi was found.
Little Boot is Booted Out – In 41, Caligula was assassinated.

Taken at Sea

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 23, 2015
Santa Maria,

Santa Maria

January 23, 1961: The Santa Maria, a Portuguese cruise ship, is hijacked.  The 609 foot long, 20,900 ton luxury cruise liner was the second largest ship in the Portuguese merchant navy at the time. It was owned by the Lisbon-based Companhia Colonial de Navegação and she and her sister ship, Vera Cruz, were the most luxurious Portuguese-flag liners at the time. The Santa Maria was used mostly for colonial trade to Angola and Mozambique in Africa and for migrant transportation to Brazil. The Atlantic crossing had several stops between Lisbon and Port Everglades. Madeira, Tenerife, La Guaira, Curacao, and Havana (later San Juan) were all stops between the two terminal ports of call.

On this day there were 600 passengers and 300 crew aboard ship. Men, women, and children were aboard as were 24 Iberian leftists led by Portuguese military officer and politician Henrique Galvão. He was a political foe of dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, the head of the Estado Novo regime. Galvão and his companions had boarded, some at La Guaira in Venezuela and some at Curacao. They pretended to be civilian passengers and their luggage had secret compartments in which to hide their weapons. When they seized the ship, the also cut off all communications. One officer was killed – 3rd Pilot Nascimento Costa – and several others were wounded before takeover was complete.

The rebels forced the crew to alter course. Captain Mario Simoes Maia was forced to sail where directed. It was several days before the missing ship was located by a massive US search effort. The sea and air search found the Santa Maria in the Mid-Atlantic and began communication with it. A fleet of US naval vessels, included four destroyers, surrounded the ship. Some of the destroyers were staffed with USMC infantry belonging to “G” Company, 2nd Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The fleet was under the command of Rear Admiral Allen E Smith. When surrounded, the Santa Maria was still fifty miles offshore of Recife, Brazil.

The admiral left his ship, the USS Gearing, and went to Galvão’s ship and began negotiations. The presidency in Brazil was soon to change and the incoming President was more sympathetic to Galvão and his followers. This was a bargaining chip. The day after negotiations began, the Santa Maria and the US Naval fleet of escorts, entered the harbor at Recife. There, Galvão and all 24 terrorists surrendered the ship and all passengers and crew in exchange for political asylum. Galvão eventually left Brazil for Angola to set up an renegade Portuguese government in opposition to Salazar. Galvão told his story in Santa Maria: my crusade for Portugal, published in 1961. Galvão remained in Angola where he died in exile in 1970 at the age of 75.

In politics, what appears is.

Do not discuss God and virtue. Do not discuss the homeland and its history. Do not discuss the authority and prestige. Do not discuss the family and its moral. Not discuss the glory of work and their duty.

Who is not patriotic can not be considered Portuguese.

Teach your children to work, teach your daughters modesty, teach all the virtue of economy. And if not make them saints, at least make them Christians.  – all from António de Oliveira Salazar

Also on this day: Shaanxi Earthquake – In 1556, the deadliest earthquake on record strikes central China.
More Than Vases – In 1368, the Ming Dynasty came to power in China.
Greenbriar Ghost – In 189, Elva Zona Heaster was murdered but did not leave this mortal coil.
Poppies – In 1912, the International Opium Convention was signed.
Cowboys and Indians – In 1870, the Baker Massacre took place.

Trains Need Brakes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 22, 2015
Venustiano Carranza

Venustiano Carranza

January 22, 1915: The Guadalajara train disaster takes place. The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 and lasted until 1920. Francisco I Madero led an uprising against Porfirio Diaz, the seven term President of Mexico and a controversial figure. Those who rose against him claim he was a villain while his supporters felt he was a hero. His 35 years of rule were a time of prosperity, modernization, and economic growth. It was also a time of repression and political stagnation. When he lost his eighth run for office, he fled to France and died in exile four years later at the age of 84.

As time went on, the Revolution turned from a simple revolt against the established order and morphed into a multi-sided civil war with frequent shifts in power. By this date, Madero had been assassinated and rule of the country had been taken by Victoriano Huerta. Revolutionary forces led by Venustiano Carranza and Pancho Villa had then wrested control from Huerta and Carranza became president in 1914. He and Villa had different visions for Mexico with Villa wanting to continue the revolutionary project. On January 18, 1915 Carranza’s troops captured Guadalajara. Troops stationed in Colima, on the Pacific coast and about 185 miles away, were to come to Guadalajara with their families.

A special train of twenty cars was grossly overloaded with troops and their families. It left Colima with people clinging to the roof and undercarriage. The terrain between the two cities is rugged and at some point between the cities, the engineer lost control of the train as it made a steep descent. With brakes lost, the train gathered speed. Some were thrown from the train as it careened around curves. Eventually the entire train left the tracks and plunged into the valley below. There were approximately 900 people aboard the train when it left Colima. Fewer than 300 survived the crash. Many of Carranza’s troops were Yaqui Indians and when they learned of the deaths of their families aboard the train, they committed suicide. Others swore vengeance against the crew, but they died in the crash.

The war drew on and eventually Carranza was able to produce the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Sporadic fighting continued even after this auspicious day and the war is generally considered to have lasted three more years or even longer. The Cristero War of 1926 to 1929 is sometimes considered to be part of the Revolutionary War. Carranza was assassinated near the end of his term as president under the instigation of a cabal of army generals because of his insistence that his successor be a civilian. Pancho Villa was gunned down on July 20, 1923 by a team of seven riflemen who fired more than 40 shots into his car.

My sole ambition is to rid Mexico of the class that has oppressed her and given the people a chance to know what real liberty means. And if I could bring that about today by giving up my life, I would do it gladly.

I am not an educated man. I never had an opportunity to learn anything except how to fight.

Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something. (apocryphal last words; although it is thought today he died instantly) – all from Pancho Villa

A force of tyranny which we Mexicans were not accustomed to suffer after we won our independence oppresses us in such a manner that it has become intolerable. In exchange for that tyranny we are offered peace, but peace full of shame for the Mexican nation. – Francisco Madero

Also on this day: Roe v. Wade – In 1973, the Supreme Court decided on the abortion issue, assuring all women a right to privacy.
Bloody Sunday – In 1905, a Russian uprising took place in St. Petersburg.
Pontifical Swiss Guards – In 1506, the first of the Swiss Guards come to protect the Pope.
Football – In 1927, an association football match was broadcast over the radio.
United Mine Workers – In 1890, the union was founded.