Little Bits of History

August 31

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 31, 2017

1939: The Gleiwitz incident begins. What we know about these events were revealed at the Nuremberg Trials by Alfred Naujocks of the SS. False flag attacks were historically a naval plan where one used the flag of another nation instead of one’s own battle flag, This ruse during an attack is considered to be outside the bounds of reasonable warfare and against international law. Operation Himmler was a plan put forth by Nazi Germany in order to create the illusion of Poland’s “aggression” against Germany. It included staging false attacks on themselves using either innocent people or concentration camp prisoners. It was hoped this “documented” propaganda campaign would confuse the Allies when Germany “defended” herself.

Late in the evening, on this date, a group of German operatives were led by Naujocks into the Gleiwitz radio station. They were dressed in Polish uniforms and they sent out a short anti-German message in Polish. The hope was that the attack would look like anti-German Poles. They left behind a “victim” of the attack, a German farmer sympathetic to the Poles. He had been arrested by the Gestapo the day before and killed by lethal injection. He was then shot a couple times and brought to the “attack” so as to leave behind a someone who looked like he had been killed during this raid.

He was not the only “victim” who was “shot” during the attack. Several prisoners from Dachau concentration camp were drugged, brought to the scene, and then shot dead at the station. Their faces were disfigured to make identification impossible. The Polish uniforms and identification had been secured by the Abwehr and this was only one of several skirmishes along the German-Poland border at the same time as this radio attack. Also included were some house burnings. All this was supported by the “evidence” of the previous few months when German newspapers and politicians had been accusing the Poles of aggressive behavior against the Nazis. There were accusations of Poland carrying on an ethnic cleansing by killing Germans living in Poland.

As a response to these horrific “attacks” against Germany, the Nazis launched Fall Weiss, the invasion of Poland, initiating World War II in Europe. On September 1, 1939, as the Panzers rolled into Poland, Hitler gave a speech in the Reichstag citing these attacks as justification for Germany invading their neighbor. Although American correspondents were summoned to the radio station on September 1, they were not permitted to investigate the incident in detail and the world audience remained skeptical regarding the German charges. Naujocks’s testimony at the Nuremberg Trials blamed his superior officer, Heinrich Muller, head of the Gestapo, as the man who issued the orders.

I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn’t matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth. – Adolf Hitler, August 22, 1939 speaking to his generals

We learned in World War II that no single nation holds a monopoly on wisdom, morality or right to power, but that we must fight for the weak and promote democracy. – Joe Baca

Today we know that World War II began not in 1939 or 1941 but in the 1920’s and 1930’s when those who should have known better persuaded themselves that they were not their brother’s keeper. – Hubert H. Humphrey

We tend to think of World War II and all the atrocities that happened, and people say, ‘Never again.’ But these things are still happening. The Amnesty International files are big. – Jimmy Smits

August 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2017

1974: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) headquarters is bombed. MHI is located in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and was founded in 1934. They are involved in aerospace, defense, energy, shipbuilding, and wind power. They build several different types of aircraft, rockets, and spacecraft as well as ships from large cruise ships to ferries, tankers, and warships. They also build turbines for both fossil fuels and wind generation of energy and a host of other products. This multi-billion dollar corporation sprang from an earlier business started at the behest of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the last shogunate before the Meiji restoration. They began with shipbuilding and then spread out to other areas of heavy manufacturing.

The East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front (EAAJAF) sprang up from the Hosei University history department. In 1970, Masashi Daidoji enrolled and formed the L-Class Struggle Committee which was a “non-sect radical” group of the far left. They were not affiliated with any outside group but were decidedly anti-Japanese. With people from the philosophy and literature departments joining the ranks, they swelled to over 100 members but the All Campus Joint Struggle Committee failed and soon the L-Class also ceased to exist. Doidoji dropped out of school, but not out of activism. In August, a “Research Group” sprang up and they looked into the many “evil deeds” of Japanese imperialism and found many reasons to be intensely anti-Japanese.

They also looked into methods of urban guerrilla warfare and resistance movements. These, along with past historical errors combined and the zealots got the idea of appealing to the masses with the idea of staunch anti-Japaneseism, a radicalized version of anti-Japanism. The group decided to bomb three different sites which they felt were particularly representative of Japan’s participation in World War II. In December 1971 and in April and October of 1972 they carried out small bombing attacks and then opted to initiate a full-blown terrorist attack.

The EAAJAF was too broad and individual names were given to each smaller cell. Daidoji’s team was named “Wolf’ to express their “proud independence”. They used 1973 to perfect their bombs, grow their war chest, and create propaganda materials. On August 14, 1974 they tried to blow up a bridge over which the Emperor’s train was traveling. They were forced to abort when they were spotted. Instead, on this day, they attacked MHI. The bomb killed 8 and wounded 376 people. They were so successful, they carried out a series of more bombings until they were finally arrested on May 19, 1975. Although Daidoji and one other cell leader were given the death penalty, they remain on death row even now and wage their “war” from behind bars, writing revolutionary essays and books from prison.

Without Revolutionary theory, there can be no Revolutionary Movement. – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Understand: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible–it’s to dismantle those systems. – Lierre Keith

The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has – from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness. – Christopher Hitchens

The goal of radicalism is to improve the human condition, not to prove one’s own moral superiority. – Jack Newfield



August 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 29, 2017

708: Wadōkaichin becomes legal tender. It is the oldest official Japanese coinage and came into being during the reign of Empress Genmei. Wadōkaichin is the transliteration of the four symbols found on the face of the round coin. They are placed around a square cut into the center of the coin. Genmei was only one of eight ruling empresses of Japan. There were three prior to her ascending to the Chrysanthemum throne and four following her, including her daughter who ruled immediately after Genmei abdicated in her daughter’s favor.

Genmei was the consort of Crown Prince Kusakabe no Miko, son of Emperor Tenmu. Her husband died when their son, Monmu, was only six years old. When Tenmu died, Monmu became emperor, a post he held for ten years until he died in 707. He had ruled from the age of 15 to the age of 25. Although he left behind two young children, Genmei felt the pressures of ruling Japan would be too much for her six-year-old grandson. So she took over the Chrysanthemum Throne in his place. Very shortly after taking over the rule of the land, a copper mine was found in Chichibu in Musashi Province, an area today which includes Tokyo.

The nengō, or calendar designation for eras of reigning monarchs, had to change with the new monarch’s rule and the copper became the identifying mark of the times. The ““ part of the coin is the Japanese word for copper and the “wa” part refers to the ancient Chinese name for Japan. So “wadō” means “Japanese copper”. In May of 708 the copper was examined at Genmei’s Court and a mint was established in Omi Province. Wadōkaichin went into circulation on this day and remained currency for 250 years. It was made in the same way older Chinese coins had been made with a diameter of slightly less than an inch and weighing just over an ounce. China had been minting coins for over a millennium by this time so their system was copied in Japan.

Genmai ruled for eight years. During that time, she also moved the official residence to Nara. This move had been planned by her son but he was unable to complete the move before he died. Moving residences was also a customary part of each new reign, but Mommu had not moved at the beginning of his tenure. The new Empress was set up in her new house and had the Kojiki, a three volume history of Japan, published. This was also started by her own father and not finished in his lifetime. Genmei was the only Empress to abdicate, not in favor of a male heir, but instead, retired to allow her daughter to reign. Empress Gensho held the Throne until her nephew could take control in 724.

Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life. To be successful, it is also very important to be humble and never let fame or money travel to your head. – A. R. Rahman

Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will. – Nelson Mandela

A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money. – W. C. Fields



August 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2017

1898: Caleb Bradham renames Brad’s Drink. He was born in 1867 in Cinquapin, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a member of the Philanthropic Society, their oldest student organization given to debating. He then enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Medicine but had to drop out after his father’s business went bankrupt. Bradham taught for a year before opening up his own drug store and as was the custom of the time, it had a soda fountain. In 1893, he invented his own concoction to serve, a mixture of kola nut, vanilla, and “rare oils” were served from his shop. On this day, he renamed his product Pepsi-Cola.

Even though no pepsin was included in the recipe, the drink did seem to aid in digestion, something pepsin was used for. Bradham selected Pepsi as a nod to that benefit and Cola from the kola nut actually included. James Henry King, his assistant, was the first to taste the new drink. The Pepsi-Cola Company was incorporated in North Carolina on Christmas Eve in 1902. Bradham was the president; the first trademark wasn’t registered until June 16, 1903. Also, during that year, production of the beverage moved out of the shop and into a rented nearby building. All that was made was the syrup but in 1905, that changed and the drink was packaged in six ounce bottles for the first time.

Not busy enough with running his store and his new company, Bradham was also the president of the People’s Bank of New Bern and chairman of the Craven County Board of Commissioners. He was an officer in the naval reserves and retired after 25 years as a rear admiral. At the peak of its success, the Pepsi-Cola Company had franchises in 24 states. On May 31, 1923, Bradham and Pepsi-Cola Company declared bankruptcy, secondary to the escalating price of sugar after the end of World War I. (Before the war sugar was three cents a pound and after, it was 28 cents.) The assets of the company were sold to Craven Holding company for $35,000 or about $500,000 today. The company changed hands a few times until Charles Guth of Loft, Inc. purchased it.

Between 1922 and 1933, Coca-Cola Company was offered the chance to purchase Pepsi three times and declined on each occasion. Today, Pepsi is manufactured by PepsiCo which is now headquartered in Purchase, New York. Pepsi remains their best selling product but is only one in an extremely long list of subsidiaries and products. PepsiCo’s revenues for 2016 were $62.8 billion with a net income of $6.3 billion. They have about 264,000 employees. Even so, Coke outsells Pepsi by about $2 billion per year. Coke has 17% market share in the US with 9.4% going to second place Diet Coke. Pepsi comes in third with 8.9% share. In blind taste tests, Pepsi wins, but regardless of this fact, Coke sells more bottles/cans.

There’s not a man, woman or child on the face of the earth who doesn’t enjoy a tasty beverage. – David Letterman

Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage. – Woody Allen

A few decades ago, many people didn’t drink water outside of a meal. Then beverage companies started bottling the production of far-off springs, and now office workers unthinkingly sip bottled water all day long. – Charles Duhigg

Pepsi is the second-most-recognized beverage brand in the world after Coke, and eighteen of PepsiCo’s other brands, which include Tropicana, Gatorade, and Quaker Oats, are billion-dollar businesses in their own right. – John Seabrook



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August 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2017

1927: The Famous Five file a petition. Also known as the Valiant Five, Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards, were women’s rights activists from Alberta, Canada. They posed a question regarding the British North America Act, 1867. This act, also called the Constitution Act, was and remains a major portion of Canada’s Constitution. It defined the operation of the Government and federal structure which included the House of Commons and the Senate as well as the justice system and taxation procedures. Under Part IV “Legislative Power” was a section on how senators would be placed into office.

The Governor General of Canada held the power to make normal senatorial appointments. Today, this is done with only with the advice of the prime minister. Prior to 1965, an appointment was for life but today, they must retire at age 75. There are 96 seats in the senate, apportioned by province in the Act. What the five women wanted to learn was the definition of a particular word in Section 24. They asked, “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?” Their petition was filed with the Canadian Supreme Court on this day.

The Supreme Court gave their unanimous decision on April 24, 1928. They believed that “Person” did not, in fact, include women in this instance. The last line of their judgment read, “Understood to mean ‘Are women eligible for appointment to the Senate of Canada,’ the question is answered in the negative.” The women were not pleased with this announcement. Murphy had been advocating for women’s rights since 1916 and she gathered her partners in activism together for this question. In Canada, the federal government has the power to refer questions to the Court for clarification. The Court decided, but at the time, they were not the final arbiters of the question.

The next step was for the case to be brought on appeal before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. This was the court of last resort for the British Empire. The names were listed in alphabetical order, so it is Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General) but it is more famously known as the Persons Case. The committee found a different meaning of the word and Lord Chancellor, Viscount Sankey’s determination was that women were, in a broad sense, persons. With this reversal, it was now possible for women to become Senators. None of the five original women were ever posted to that seat, but on October 8, 2009 the Senate voted to make all five of them “honorary senators”. The first female senator came from Quebec and was Cairine Reay Wilson, appointed four months after the ruling which came down on October 18, 1929.

Women have been taught that, for us, the earth is flat, and that if we venture out, we will fall off the edge. – Andrea Dworkin

Women belong in the house – and the Senate. – Author unknown

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. – Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

I ask no favors for my sex…. All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks. – Sarah Moore Grimké



August 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 26, 2017

1676: Robert Walpole is born. He was the fifth of nineteen children born to Robert Walpole, Sr. who was a member of the local gentry in Houghton, Norfolk, England. His mother, Mary, was the daughter and heiress of Sir Geoffrey Burwell. Robert attended private schools and then entered Eton College in 1690 before heading on to King’s College, Cambridge. When his only remaining older brother died in 1698, Robert left school to administer the family estate. Although he had wanted to be a clergyman, with this change in status, he was heir to the family’s property which fell to him at his father’s death in 1700. The estate included nine manors in Norfolk and one in Suffolk.

Walpole entered politics in 1701 when he was elected for the first time at Castle Rising. He, like his father, was a Whig and in this capacity was able to mediate between the party and the government in 1705. He continued to move up in the political realm and as his power grew, he still did not have enough clout to keep Lord Godolphin from prosecuting Henry Sacheverell, a minister who preached anti-Whig sermons. This case proved highly divisive throughout the country and the new leader removed Walpole from his position, Secretary of War. He retained his position as Treasurer of the Navy. In 1712, Walpole was impeached and proved he had been innocent, but the trail left him branded as guilty and corrupt.

There was a great deal of scandal and corruption within the higher government offices over the next decade. George I came to be King of England and he distrusted Tories and the Whigs were in good favor. Walpole was made First Commissioner (Lord) of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1716. The following year he resigned but remained influential in the House of Commons. Walpole was England’s first Prime Minister and the date, if not the actual title is usually given as April 1712 when he was appointed Lord of the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Leaser of the House of Commons. His brother-in-law, Lord Townshend, served as Secretary of State at the time.

Walpole was not only the first of Britain’s Prime Ministers, but he held the office for longer than any other, staying in that position for nearly 21 years. He served under George I and George II even though he had been involved in acrimonious in-family fighting decades earlier. Walpole’s power base began to decline in 1737 and over the next few years, his involvement in large decisions grew ever smaller. By the time the election of 1741 took place, he was replaced by the Earl of Wilmington. By this time, he had already established the role of the PM and established historical methods of working with the Crown and Parliament. He died in 1745 at the age of 68.

Gentlemen have talked a great deal of patriotism. A venerable word, when duly practiced.

I have never been afraid of making patriots; but I disdain and despise all their efforts.

The very idea of true patriotism is lost, and the term has been prostituted to the very worst of purposes. A patriot, sir! Why, patriots spring up like mushrooms!

All those men have their price. – all from Robert Walpole



August 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2017

1967: George Lincoln Rockwell is killed. He was born in 1918 in Bloomington, Illinois. His parents were vaudeville comedians and actors and his father knew many famous people of the day. His parents divorced when he was six and they shared custody of their three children with them split between New Jersey and Maine. George applied to Harvard when he was 17 but was not accepted. He enrolled at Hebron Academy and delved into Western philosophy and world religions. In 1938 he entered Brown University as a philosophy major. In his sophomore year at Brown, he dropped out and joined the US Navy where he attended flight school in Massachusetts and Florida.

He married while in the service and during World War II, he was stationed in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters where he served on several ships and worked as a reconnaissance photographer. He held supportive roles and did training and transport. He never flew a combat mission. After the War, he was in the reserves when he was again called up for the Korean War. During that time, he was stationed in San Diego and trained pilots. He was transferred to Iceland where families were not permitted and while there, his first wife divorced him. He met and married an Icelandic woman and within five years (and another three children) they were also divorced.

While stationed in San Diego, Rockwell became a supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. He was influenced by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s stand against communism. Rockwell also supported General Douglas MacArthur’s candidacy for President of the United States going so far as to adopt the general’s corcob pipe. He read many Nazi publications and became a fervent anti-Semite as well as a Holocaust denier. As his politics grew ever more stridently right-wing, his standing in the Navy grew more tenuous. After 19 years, the Navy gave him an honorable discharge, but would not allow him to stay.

In 1959, Rockwell founded the World Union of the Free Enterprise National Socialists (WUFENS) which became the American Nazi Party. He was both a White supremacist and anti-Semite and held a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on April 3, 1960 to advertise his beliefs. The American Nazi Party helped the Ku Klux Klan in their efforts, as well. Rockwell began a record company called Hatenanny Records which released hate filled singles and created a Hate Bus to agitate the Freedom Riders. On this day, while leaving a laundromat in Arlington, Virginia he was shot and killed by a former Nazi Party member, John Patler. Patler was convicted of the murder and served eight years in prison. The American Nazi Party remains active with Rocky Suhayda the current leader.

I care not what religion, club, area or class you come from, nor what bit of colored cloth you wave as a flag. WE are ALL under deadly attack by colored hordes which outnumber us more than seven to one, led by a filthy Jewish, Communist conspiracy!

I care not what religion, club, area or class you come from, nor what bit of colored cloth you wave as a flag. WE are ALL under deadly attack by colored hordes which outnumber us more than seven to one, led by a filthy Jewish, Communist conspiracy!

Nazism says that women are absolutely equal to men. But they’re different. And thank god for the difference. – all from George Lincoln Rockwell

I am not surprised at all. I’ve expected it for quite some time. – George Lovejoy Rockwell, hearing of his son’s death




August 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 24, 2017

1456: The earliest date we have for a Gutenberg Bible is today. Also called the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible, or B42, this was the first major book printed in Europe using the mass-produced moveable metal type. Printing goes back to very early times, if we include the duplication of images by means of stamps. These woodblock images were used in the Far East and were in use in the first century AD. Movable type was in use in China around 1040. They switched from woodblocks to porcelain but that was changed to clay, probably because of cost. Neither became popular. Chinese characters are numerous and creating all the pieces was prohibitive. By 1377, this was mastered and was described by French scholar Henri-Jean Martin. It was very similar to Johannes Gutenberg’s system.

Gutenberg was not just a printer. He was also a blacksmith and goldsmith which gave him access to methods and tools. Around 1439, through a series of investment catastrophes, Gutenberg found himself with debt and no way to repay it. He claimed he had a “secret” to share and there has been speculation it was the idea of movable type printing. Between 1450 and 1455, Gutenberg printed several texts many of which are unknown to us today. We may surmise they were done by Gutenberg by comparing fonts but there is no imprint or date given for these earliest works.

By the time Gutenberg got around to printing a Bible, he had as many as 100,000 letters available to create the pages. Setting up a page could take up to half a day. Then the press would require loading and inking, no small feat in itself as well as individually pulling the impressions and setting up the sheets to dry. There is speculation that Gutenberg and his partner, Johann Fust, had up to 25 craftsmen working to create the massive Bible. While we don’t have an accurate way to know how many of these Bibles were printed (numbers range from 158 to 180 copies), there are 49 copies (or substantial portions of copies) remaining in existence today. They are considered to be one of the most valuable books in the world even though no complete copies have been sold since 1978.

France is in ownership of four of the Bibles and the earliest date inscribed on any of them is this date. It is for the first volume of the Bible with the second volume dated August 15, 1456. This was the date the rubricator and binder finished his process and completed the work. Germany, home of the printing press and Gutenberg, has the most extant copies of the Bible at thirteen. The US owns eleven and the UK has eight. Vatican City, Russia, and Spain have two each with the remaining copies singly dispersed around the planet. There are also 36-line versions of the Bible printed and it is not known if these are a second run for Gutenberg or the work of another printer. Today’s Gutenberg Bibles are almost all owned by universities or other scholarly institutions. Few remain with religious institutions.

We can put television in its proper light by supposing that Gutenberg’s great invention had been directed at printing only comic books. – Robert M. Hutchins

I owe all my knowledge to the German inventor, Johannes Gutenberg! – Mehmet Murat Ildan

The solution was eventually found by Johannes Gutenberg, who made the breakthrough that finally established printing as the communication technology of the future. Similar ideas may have been under development around the same time in Prague and Haarlem. But in business, the key question is not about who else is in the race, it’s about who gets there first. Johannes Gutenberg was the first to make the new technology work, ensuring his place in any history of the human race. – Alister E. McGrath

Gutenberg made everybody a reader. Xerox makes everybody a publisher. – Marshall McLuhan



August 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2017

1305: William Wallace dies. Scottish Gaelic would render his name Uileam Uallas and the Norman French would have it as William le Waleys, but regardless of the way his name is given, he was a Scottish knight who became one of the leaders of the Wars of Scottish Independence. There were actually two portions of the wars, with the First War lasting from 1296 to 1328 and ending with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton and then a Second War from 1332 to 1357 which ended with the Treaty of Berwick. In both of these confrontations, Scotland was able to remain an independent state. They were important for a variety of reasons including the introduction of the longbow as a key weapon of medieval times.

Wallace was born into a family of the lesser nobility and little is known of his early life. He grew into an imposing man, said to be very tall and strong. Alexander III was King of Scotland from 1249 until he fell from his horse in 1286. His rule had brought stability and prosperity to his country. His death without a male heir left the country in upheaval and headed toward civil war and with the power gap, their neighbor to the south looked to take control. Instead of permitting the Scottish nobility come to a consensus about their next King, Edward I of England reversed their rulings and called the Lords to his court to stand as plaintiffs. When they refused, Edward began raids on border towns and war began.

Because of Wallace’s great abilities, it is theorized he had previous wartime experience, but none had been found in the record. But with his country in peril, Wallace began his resistance with the assassination of William de Heserig, the English High Sheriff of Lanark in 1297. Wallace then joined William the Hardy, Lord of Douglas and they continued to resist English incursions. On September 11, 1297 Wallace and Andrew Moray joined forces for the surprising Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The Scots continued to hold their own against the British invaders and Wallace continued to fight against them. On August 5, 1305, a Scottish knight loyal to Edward I betrayed Wallace and led to his capture.

Wallace was brought to London and stood trial at Westminster Hall. He denied being capable of treason against the crown, for he “could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.” He was found guilty anyway and sentenced to death. He was held at the Tower of London and on this day was stripped naked and dragged through the streets at the heels of a horse. Once at the Elms at Smithfield, he was hanged, but before dying he was cut down. He was then emasculated and eviscerated with his bowels burned before him as he watched. He was then beheaded and his body cut into four pieces. His head was tarred and placed on a spike on London Bridge. His body parts were distributed for display in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth.

An independent Scotland – like all countries – will face challenges, and we will have our ups and downs. But the decisions about how we use our wealth will be ours. – Nicola Sturgeon

If you put a frog in boiling water, it’ll jump straight out. If you put it in cold water and gradually bring it to the boil, it’ll sit right there until it dies. Scotland has been sitting in England’s gradually boiling water for so long that many people are used to it. – John Niven

Scotland and England may sometimes be rivals, but by geography, we are also neighbours. By history, allies. By economics, partners. And by fate and fortune, comrades, friends and family. – Douglas Alexander

Without the shepherd’s dog, the whole of the open mountainous land in Scotland would not be worth a sixpence. – James Hogg



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August 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2017

1711: The British Quebec Expedition destroys itself. Also called the Walker Expedition to Quebec, it was part of Queen Anne’s War which was the colonial portion of the War of Spanish Succession. Part of the colonial assault was a plan to take Quebec, something which never came to fruition. Robert Harley, chief minister of the crown, planned this particular assault on the Canadian city. Francis Nicholson was sent to Boston with plans in June 1711. Walker was to co-lead an expedition with Samuel Vetch with British ships landing in Boston on June 24. They needed provisions for the expedition, but the imported troops outnumbered the citizens of Boston and made finding the necessary provisions problematic.

It took weeks for everything to be readied and the fleet of both British and colonial ships left on July 30. There were nine ships of war, two bomb vessels, and 60 transports and tenders. There were 7,500 troops and 6,000 sailors along with camp followers. They reached Nova Scotia on August 3 and Vetch piloted them around Cape Breton and Cape North and into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. By August 18, they were about to enter the Saint Lawrence River and a storm blew in. They were forced to shelter in Gaspe Bay. The storm continued for days, switching wind directions, and the fleet slowly moved forward.

On this day, the wind shifted again and the heavy fog lifted slightly. Land was sighted and the ships moved again. Walker’s assessment of their position was off by about 20 miles and so his navigational orders were in error. As darkness fell, he gave orders to steer towards the northwest before retiring below deck. Captain Paddon reported there was a problem around 10.30 but Walker thought it was more of the ships approaching. A few minutes later, Paddon demanded Walker come up to the deck to see breakers ahead. Walker ignored him. An army captain approached Walker and insisted he come see for himself.

The ship Walker was on escaped the near collision with the rocky, shallow, island-strewn portion of the river called Pointe-aux-Anglais today. It took three days to discover the full scope of the disaster. Throughout the night, shrieks had been heard as ships crashed into the rocks and men were thrown into swirling waters. In all, seven transports and one supply ship were lost. After rescuing as many as possible, it was still reported that 884 soldiers perished. That number was later lowered to 740 but that may not have counted the women who were accompanying them. In all, it was one of the worst naval disasters in British history. The mission was cancelled.

The late disaster cannot, in my humble opinion, be anyways imputed to the difficulty of navigation, but to the wrong course we steered, which most unavoidably carried us upon the north shore. – Samuel Vetch (blaming Admiral Hovenden Walker)

The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even at a calm sea. – Ovid

We poison our lives with fear of burglary and shipwreck, and, ask anyone, the house is never burgled, and the ship never goes down. – Jean Anouilh

A sailing ship is no democracy; you don’t caucus a crew as to where you’ll go anymore than you inquire when they’d like to shorten sail. – Sterling Hayden