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Date Posted:12/21/2013 9:19 PMCopy HTML

Lockerbie bombing: Services mark 25th anniversary


Memorial services are to be held in the UK and the US to mark the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing in which 270 people were killed.

A wreath-laying and church service will be held in the south of Scotland town which was devastated when Pan Am flight 103 was blown from the skies in 1988.

A remembrance service is also being staged at Westminster Abbey in London.

In the US, a ceremony will take place at the memorial cairn in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington DC............>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:12/21/2013 9:21 PMCopy HTML

100 down: The crossword marks its centenary

Somehow, it seems, crosswords should be much older - but Sherlock does not mention them so;

One hundred years ago the first proto-crossword appeared in the New York World newspaper. Since then there have been millions of chewed pens and scratched heads.

A newspaper editor once told me the secret of keeping readers happy. You can shift a paper's politics, apparently, and you can get your facts wrong, but don't ever mess about with the crossword.

The Guardian's 1997 redesign, for example, put the quick crossword on the same page as the cryptic. "The resulting telephone calls, letters and emails," recalled crossword editor Hugh Stephenson, "far outnumbered all those on other aspects of the redesign put together." Households with more than one solver "found themselves fighting turf wars over the same section or, worse, tearing it in two".

And when the Daily Telegraph experimented with having its puzzles assembled by computer, using a database of pre-written clues, its setters became a cause celebre, dubbed the Telegraph Six. Deputy editor Boris Johnson hastily changed tack.............

............Most compellingly, just over one in five says that his or her choice of newspaper has been influenced by its crossword. So that's 14.7 million people solving at least weekly, and 7.3 million making paper-buying decisions based in part on the crossword culture of the paper, from the steady-as-she-goes Times to the unpredictable, puckish Independent.

And these are for the most part pencil-and-paper people...........>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:01/25/2014 12:43 PMCopy HTML

Remembering Under Milk Wood at 60

What could more fitting for Burns Night?


Sixty years ago this week, the actor Richard Burton starred in what many think the best radio play ever written - Under Milk Wood. In 1954 Burton was just starting a dazzling career as a movie star - but for the rest of his life he looked back on Under Milk Wood as one of his great achievements.  Sunday 24 January 1954 should have been a day of rest for Richard Burton.

The actor was in the middle of a long season starring at the Old Vic theatre in London. The previous evening he'd done Twelfth Night and the company was busy rehearsing Coriolanus, with Burton in the central role.

The coming week involved three performances as Hamlet.

Yet Burton hadn't hesitated to take part in a Sunday night tribute at the Globe Theatre (now the Gielgud) to his fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas.

The poet had died in New York 11 weeks earlier at the age of 39.

Burton, a decade younger, had been shocked at the loss of his friend. At the Globe he read Thomas' poems including the famous Fern Hill.

The rest of Sunday was also taken up with Thomas's unique gifts as a writer.

Burton and an all-Welsh cast spent the day in studio 6A at Broadcasting House rehearsing and recording Under Milk Wood.

It was a radio script which BBC producer Douglas Cleverdon had been coaxing for years from Thomas and which was finally delivered in October 1953, a month before the writer's death.

Burton's role as narrator had been intended for Thomas but he died before the recording could be made..........It was broadcast the next evening on the BBC Third Programme..................>

Emlyn Williams, Sybil Thorndike and Richard Burton rehearsed Under Milk Wood at the Old Vic

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:05/24/2014 10:05 AMCopy HTML

The Man who killed Millions

This was Heinrich Himmler on the floor............

He was dead in his 45th year -- on 23rd May, 1945

Selkirk Panton was a Daily Express journalist who covered Berlin, like Louis Lochner and William Shirer, for twelve years. His papers are in the National Library of Australia. Attached to the British Second Army HQ, he witnessed the events after Himmler's death in May 1945.

by Selkirk Panton

THE Brigadier, with a nonchalant gesture, pulled back the grey British Army blanket and said: "There he is -- he's very dead!" There was no doubt about that.

The man lay flat on his back on the bare boards of the suburban parlour. The red plush furniture had been pushed back to make space in the small room. Religious oleographs of angels hung, crooked, on the walls. A half-empty bucket of dirty water stood near the body.

He was naked except for British Army socks, and an army shirt hastily put on him after his death and pulled only over his chest. His eyes were closed, but someone had placed a fine pair of pince-nez on his nose, giving the body a rakish but obscene air.

He was clean-shaven, though a thick stubble showed dark against his putty-coloured skin and around the blue, swollen lips. A thick trickle of congealed blood ran from the right corner of his mouth down to his neck.

He was not a pretty sight. There was little dignity of death in the tubby, flaccid body lying on the floor in that cluttered bourgeois parlour. And certainly no pomp. Yet pomp had been his life.

The Brigadier threw the blanket carelessly across the body. "That's him, all right," he said.

There was no doubt about that. either. This was the innocent-looking little failure, the bankrupt poultry-farmer, who had risen with Hitler to become the Scourge of Europe.

This was Heinrich Himmler on the floor, most wanted man in the world, Chief of the Nazi SS. Head of the dreaded Gestapo, Lord of the Concentration Camps, Architect of Mass Murder, whose orders had sent millions on millions of men, women and children to their death in gas-chambers and camps, before "extermination squads" in "guinea-pig" experiments, and by every device of torture known to devilish human ingenuity.

He was probably responsible for the death of more people than any other man in history -- not hot-blooded massacre, but cold-blooded, inhuman extermination of fellow human-beings, just as a herd of cattle is wiped out because it has foot-and-mouth disease.

It was hard to believe that this paltry, obese figure lying debased and deserted on the bare floor was the man who had cast a nightmare of terror and horror over the civilized world, wielding a power second only to his Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler.

But I had known him for thirteen years and I had no doubts. I recognised him even in death and without his stubby, clipped little moustache.

He was dead in his 45th year -- on 23rd May, 1945, two weeks after the German capitulation and three weeks after the alleged suicide of his Führer whom he had betrayed in the last days of his life.


squaregrey.gif I FIRST met Himmler at a dinner party in Berlin in 1932-and hardly noticed him.

Hitler and his Nazis were still in opposition, but obviously a coming power. And we in the Berlin Office of the London "Daily Express" were keen to contact them and learn their plans.

We invited Captain Ernst Röhm, Hitler's all-powerful chief of the million-strong Nazi private Brown-shirt army of S A (Storm Troopers). He arrived with adjutants and toadies, all brown shirted with their Swastikas and jack-boots.

"I've brought a friend," Röhm said. "I hope you don't mind? May I Introduce Herr Heinrich Himmler?" He added with almost a snigger: "He's the chief of the SS -- they call it the 'elite guard.'"

The grey-looking, medium-sized man with the grey eyes enlarged by strong pince-nez glasses, and the mousy moustache, clicked his heels and bowed stiffly from the hips to each of us.

After that, nobody paid any attention to him. He was insignificant, obsequious, subservient. The mighty Röhm snubbed him several times.

He spoke only when spoken to. He smiled all the time. And he remained in the background until they left.

When they left, Röhm said: "Himmler-he's the Führer's 'treuer Heinrich' ('loyal Henry')." And he laughed.

A year later Hitler came to power and Röhm's SA army of Brown-shirts waxed to two million strong-and became a danger to Hitler. Another year passed and on June 30th, 1934, came the Great Purge, the Blood-bath, the "Night of the Long Knives."

Boisterous, blustering adventurer Ernst Röhm and his chief supporters, accused of "treachery" and "perversities," were summarily executed. So were many of Hitler's non-Nazi political opponents. Foxy von Papen escaped death as narrowly as he escaped the noose at the post-war Nuremberg War Criminal trial.

And, of course, it was the SS men of despised, sell-effacing Heinrich Himmler, Loyal Henry, who bathed Hitler's young Third Reich in blood. Himmler had arrived.

For the next five years I watched him grow from power to power, always surrounded by more pomp and greater bullies. Yet when I met him, as I frequently did, he was still the little man. affable, smiling, heel-clicking, over-courteous.

It was difficult to believe that this man was Chief of the Gestapo and the budding Concentration Camps which were then holiday camps compared with the horror they became -- the mass-extermination centres of Belsen, Buchenwald, Auschwitz and scores more.

Of course, he was a crank. He really believed the mumbo-jumbo of "pure Aryan blood," of the "Herrenvolk," that the blonde Nordics were really the "Master Race."

But it was not until the war broke out in 1939 that he could put into effect his spine-chilling, cold-blooded policy of genocide -- the extermination of whole races.

Yet there is little evidence that he was a sadist, that he actually enjoyed this mass-murder of millions or the tortures inflicted on his Gestapo victims to get secrets and admissions from them.

But, throughout the war, he blackened Germany's name for centuries to come. He thrived on it.

He became loaded with power. Towards the end, he was not only SS Chief, Gestapo Chief, and Supreme Police Chief, but Commander-in-Chief of the Home Army, head of all espionage and counter-spy services at home and abroad, and Minister of the Interior.

Then in early 1945, with the East-West Allied nut-crackers squeezing the Nazi Third Reich to death, Himmler broke.

With Hitler preparing for a Wagnerian death in his Bunker in Berlin, his "treuer Heinrich" betrayed him. That was the final blow to Hitler.

Himmler, through Count Bernadotte of Sweden, made peace overtures to

the Western Allies. He proposed a conditional surrender, leaving part of northern Germany unoccupied as a seat for the new German government, of which, naturally; he was to be head.

Living in the vacuum of his mad Nazi ideas which he believed excused his monstrous crimes, Himmler still cherished the illusion that the Allies would agree to this.

Their answer was, of course, a categorical No!

Even then Himmler could not believe that he had hit rock-bottom.

Events swept over him and left him wandering round northern Germany, still with pomp and long escorts, but without any power.

He wrote a letter to Field-Marshal Montgomery. There was no answer.

Then Grand-Admiral Doenitz, now serving a ten-year sentence as a Nazi War Criminal in Spandau Gaol, Berlin, wrote to the once-mighty Himmler. He told him that Hitler was dead and that, as his appointed successor, he had no further need of the Herr Reich Minister's services.

He added: "I now regard all your offices as abolished. I thank you for the service which you have given the Reich!"

Doenitz then set up his puppet government at his headquarters at Flensburg, on the Baltic near the Danish frontier, and surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. The War in Europe was over the last action of the war on the Continent, swept on Flensburg and arrested Doenitz and his "government."

The British knew that Himmler was in the area. They confidently expected to find him in the Doenitz "bag."

But there was no sign of him. They were told that Himmler, stripped of his power, had moved like a lost soul on the outskirts of the new "government" during the first few days of peace, still with his retinue, his bodyguards, his fleet of cars.

Then, a few days before, accompanied only by his chief adjutant and secretary, he had disappeared. Nobody had seen him since.

The British at once ordered a renewed man-hunt for Himmler. They alerted every Intelligence man. They warned the Russians and Americans that the Nazi arch-fiend had escaped through their net. But they were wrong.

Himmler was already in British hands. He had been two days in a British P.O.W. cage at the time of the British action against the Doenitz "government."

The trouble was that the British did not know it.


squaregrey.gif ON Monday, 21st May, 1945, men of the famous Black Watch Regiment were screening a mixed crowd of people surging towards the West across a small bridge over the Oste River near Bremervoerde, North Germany.

Among the foreign slave-laborers and other DPs they noticed three men in civilian clothes trying to cross the bridge.

One was over six feet, burly and the "killer" type, arrogant and swaggering. The second was small, slightly-built and quiet. Both had flaxen hair. But it was the third man that attracted their attention.

He was medium height, tubby, clean-shaven. And over his right eye he had a big black patch. Except for that theatrical touch, the three men might have got across. But the Black Watch men were intrigued.

They asked for the men's papers. These showed they were discharged Wehrmacht men. The man with the patch said his name was Hinziger. The guards said they did not think their papers were in order. They lifted "Hinziger's" patch and saw that his eye was uninjured.

The three Germans then made another mistake. They began to bluster. The burly one began to shout and threaten. That was enough for the men of the Black Watch. They weren't standing this from any Kraut, Heinie or Hun.

"All right! All right!" one said. "In you go! Come along!" The three men were put in a truck and driven to the prison camp at Barnstedt. ten miles from 2nd British Army Headquarters at Lüneburg.

There they were stripped and their clothing taken away to he searched. No sign of any poison vial leading Nazis were known to carry was found, either in their clothing or on their bodies.


squaregrey.gif THEY were questioned several times. And they made their third mistake. They told different stories each time. And their individual stories did not tally.

After two days of this, "Hinziger's" nerve gave. It was a few hours after the capture of the Doenitz "government."

He turned to the British sergeant interrogating him and said arrogantly: "You don't seem to realise who I am."

"No?" said the sergeant.

"I am Reich Minister Heinrich Himmler, Reich Fuehrer of the SS!" he said proudly.

"Oh, yeah?" said the sergeant. "Well, I'm Winston Churchill!"

"Hinziger" screamed with rage. "I am Himmler, you fool!" he shouted. "I demand to be taken to General Eisenhower or Montgomery."

The sergeant later told me that he looked at him and tried to imagine what he would look like with a moustache and with all the trappings he had seen in photographs of Himmler. He thought, "Maybe he is Himmler, at that."

He called a guard and sent for Captain Sylvester, the Camp Commandant.

"Hinziger" repeated his claim to be Himmler and Sylvester telephoned Colonel Murphy, Chief Intelligence Officer at 2nd British Army HQ at Lüneburg. Murphy said: '"Send him in."

Sylvester gave Himmler a British battle-dress to put on. But Himmler refused after he had put on the khaki socks. I won't wear a British uniform!" he stormed.

"You can't have your own clothes," Sylvester. "You'll wear that uniform or nothing!" Still Himmler refused.

So they wrapped a grey army blanket around him. Wearing this like a dirty toga and still in his socks, Himmler was put in a jeep and driven the ten miles to British HQ. at Lüneburg.

They stopped at 31a Uelzenerstrasse, an ivy-clad, red-brick suburban villa, which British Intelligence officers had turned into a local interrogation centre.

The still dazed and bomb-happy Germans in the street paid no attention to the strange figure as their former Prince of Terrorism was hustled up the front steps into the building.

He was pushed into the ornately furnished parlour, crowded with British officers, among them an army doctor. There is some evidence that they baited and jeered at the queer figure clutching the blanket to him.

The doctor examined him minutely for any sign of concealed poison -- the "SS Cough Drops." This was the tiny vial of paper-thin glass, just under half-an-inch long and a quarter-inch wide, filled with deadly cyanide of potassium which all top Nazis and SS men carried. At one end it had a purple seal.

The doctor even looked in Himmler's mouth He turned to the others. "Nothing!" he said.

They started to question Himmler. '"What were your plans?"

Despite his lack of attire, Himmler was truculent and haughty. "I planned to lie low for several weeks until the search for me had relaxed and you had got over your first flush of victory."

He added: "If I had been in Berlin when the Fuehrer died, I would have died with him!"

He did not know that Hitler had learned of his betrayal in negotiating with the West. Hitler would have shot his "treuer Heinrich" like a dog, just as he had shot Himmler's henchman Fegelein just before his own end, though the obnoxious little ex-jockey was brother-in-law to Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress.

Himmler would not submit to detailed questioning.

"I have a right to an interview with General Eisenhower," he demanded pompously.

He added, with deliberate insult: "I won't talk to underlings!"

Every chance he got he went into a long Nazi diatribe about the menace to the West of Communism and Soviet Russia. "Relations between East and West are already explosive. You will soon have to fight Russia, too," he prophesied.

His words today do not sound so funny as they did to those British officers in the first few happy days of peace eight years ago.

They asked him to sign his name. Eager to prove his identity, he took a proffered pen and wrote in harsh, strong up-and-down strokes in letters nearly half-an-inch high. He handed the piece of paper to Colonel Murphy.

But, with the ink still wet, he snatched it back and tore the paper into tiny pieces. He was afraid, perhaps, that they might write some "confession" above the signature-as he would have done.

Later the scraps were pieced together. There was no doubt it was Himmler's signature.

The British doctor had been watching Himmler. He said later that he was not satisfied. The former SS chief seemed too smug and self-assured, as though he held some last trick.

"Come over to the light," he told Himmler. '"I want to have another look at you. Open your mouth."

He bent Himmler's head back and with his forefinger, moved his tongue so he could see better. He saw the purple seal of the poison vial, no bigger than a man's little fingernail, tucked away in a cunning niche between two back molars.

The doctor made the mistake of uttering some exclamation. Himmler knew his sure way out had been discovered. The game was up. It was now or never.

He clamped his jaws hard on the doctor's finger. The doctor gave a startled cry of pain and jumped back. And Himmler took his last decision.

With a swift movement of his tongue, he dislodged the poison vial and crushed it between his teeth. He gave a gasp of agony as the searing liquid burned away his life. Then, slowly, he crumpled up and collapsed on the floor.

Several British officers dashed forward. They seized him and held him head down. Others brought a nearby fire bucket with water. They held Himmler's agonised body by the ankles and doused his head in and out of the water for nearly 15 minutes.

It was too late to save Himmler, but they felt they had to do something. All they succeeded in doing was to prolong his agony from what should have been seconds into several minutes.

When there was no doubt that he was dead, they put his body on the bare boards. The doctor examined him. They threw the grey blanket over him, locked the building, posted guards round the villa and went to their quarters.

There was no mood of victory and triumph among them. On the contrary, they were subdued. They had let a major prize slip through their fingers.

For Himmler knew more than any other man about the plans for German underground resistance to the Allies. And that, in those early days with Germany still in turmoil, was of supreme importance.

But Himmler at the last, had chosen to live up to the code of his own agents. He had given nothing away. He took all his information and secrets with him.

Still, there were his two companions, the burly adjutant and the slight secretary, in British hands in the Barnstedt prison cage. They might talk.


squaregrey.gif WHILE Colonel Murphy waited for orders for Himmler's disposal, Captain Sylvester, Commandant of the Barnstedt cage, was told to treat the two Nazis with kid-gloves. "We don't want any more accidents," he was told. "We want information."

So a cat-and-mouse game began with them.

They did not know that the British had discovered Himmler's identity, the secret of tho hidden poison vial, or that their Nazi idol was dead.

The British did not know whether they, too, had the "SS Cough Drops" concealed between two molars. And they did not know how to find out without alarming the Germans by revealing their knowledge. They thought of quick knock-out drops. But gave up the idea for in the last moments of consciousness the SS men would know-and be able to crush the vial.

Captain Sylvester said: "I don't know what we are going to do about them. There doesn't seem any safe solution."

Next day the two men were put on an R.A.F. transport 'plane for 21 British Army Group H.Q. at Bad Oeynhausen, main British Zone Army base.

As they flew westward they did not know that a number of bundles lying in the 'plane near them contained the clothing, intelligence file and other records of their demi-god chief who, they thought, was still alive.

The mystery of the two SS men was never solved: whether or not they did have the poison vials. But it is known that they did not commit suicide and that they did talk.

It is known, too, that their R.A.F. pilot gave them deliberately the roughest ride he could. And that the two men were very, very airsick. The R.A.F. man had, perhaps, found the solution denied to the army men.


squaregrey.gif WHILE the cat-and-mouse game with them was still going on at Barnstedt, back in Lüneburg British Intelligence officers and other experts were preparing the last chapter in the story of Heinrich Himmler.

They had two aims: to prove beyond any doubt that the dead man was Himmler; and to prevent any "Himmler Cult" growing among the defeated Nazis.

For more than a day they worked on Himmler's body. They took prints of every finger and each thumb. They measured each limb and every part of the body. They noted every mark, mole or other disfigurement.

They took plaster casts of his teeth, hands and feet.

And finally they made a death-mask.

Then they had finished with the body of the once most feared man in Europe. But where to put it so that its last resting place should not become a shrine for neo-Nazis?

The order came to bury it secretly "somewhere" in the vast Lüneburg Heath, since used as the main training area for the British Army in Germany. Only four men were to do the job and only they were to know where the body was put.

Early in the morning a British major and three sergeants entered the parlour at 31a Uelzenerstrasse. They wrapped Himmler's stiff body in a shroud of two grey blankets. They tied cords round the ankles, the waist and the neck.

Two sergeants picked up the body and carried it to the back entrance where the army truck was waiting.

They stopped well inside the deserted Heath. They unloaded Himmler's body and left it lying on the leaves as they dug his grave.

When it was deep enough, they threw the body in. They put back the earth and scraped leaves over the spot.

The man who had killed millions had been buried much as one might bury a mongrel dog killed on the road.


squaregrey.gif EIGHTEEN months later, British Intelligence agents reported that a cross had been set up at a spot in the Lüneburg Heath and flowers strewn around it.

They said they thought that Nazis had discovered Himmler's secret grave and that the "'Cult" had started. Orders were at once given for the whole area to be dug up. But no body was found.

Then the British Authorities asked themselves: "Well, where is Himmler buried?" They realised that nobody then in Germany knew. Only the major and the three sergeants, who had all long left Germany, had any idea. The major was back at his civilian job. One sergeant was in Malaya, another in the Suez Canal Zone. There was no trace of the third sergeant. He had been demobilised and had emigrated.

The two sergeants were flown home and then, joined by the major, flown to Germany.

They took bearings on the Heath and finally decided on the spot. A working party dug all day in the area.

But they found no body. The search was given up.

And today nobody knows whether they had picked the wrong spot. Or whether fanatical Nazis had dug up the body and entombed Heinrich Himmler in some secret SS shrine.square.gif

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:08/03/2014 7:27 PMCopy HTML

French and German leaders mark WW1 anniversary


The French and German presidents have commemorated the 100th anniversary of Germany's declaration of war on France on 3 August 1914.

Francois Hollande and his German counterpart, Joachim Gauck, made a joint tribute in Alsace to soldiers killed during World War One.

They were to lay the first stone for a memorial at Vieil Armand cemetery.

On Monday, events will be held in Belgium to mark the UK's declaration of war on Germany.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron will take part in that ceremony in recognition of the day that the UK went to war...........>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:08/04/2014 10:29 PMCopy HTML

Britain went to war on August 4 1914.

03 Aug 2014

7am: The Belgian Council of State had broken from its deliberations at 4am. Viscomte Julien Davignon, the Foreign Minister, gave his political secretary, Baron de Gaiffier, Belgium's reply to Germany's ultimatum of the evening before, which he handed to Walter von Below-Saleske at the German Legation. Germany's proposed attack on Belgium's independence, it said, 'constitutes a flagrant violation of international law'.

quotes_1817837a_2992318a.gifThe Belgian government, if it were to accept the proposals submitted, would sacrifice the honour of the nation and betray at the same time their duties towards Europe.
Belgian reply to the German ultimatum...........

........3rd August.......7.30pm: The Cabinet met again in London and agreed that Germany must withdraw its ultimatum to Belgium. Afterwards, Grey told Paul Cambon, the French ambassador, that if the Germans did not back down, 'it will be war'.

Later that evening, Grey looked out of his window on to St James's Park, where the gas lamps were being lit. Though he could not recall saying the words later, he made his famous remark:

quotes_1817837a_2992318a.gifThe lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.
Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary


At dawn on Tuesday August 4 1914, Austria-Hungary was at war with Serbia, and Germany had declared war on Russia and France.

Belgium had been given an ultimatum by the Germans, who demanded they be allowed to enter Belgian territory to defend themselves against France; Belgium had rejected this.

Britain was a signatory to the 1839 Treaty of London, guaranteeing to protect Belgian neutrality. The previous day, Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, had told the House of Commons that the country could not ‘run away’ from its ‘obligations of honour and interest’.............


23.00 As Big Ben strikes 11 in London, no reply has been received to the British ultimatum.

23.02 Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, sends a telegram to the Fleet: ‘COMMENCE HOSTILITIES AGAINST GERMANY’

23.10 The King and Queen appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to wave to the cheering crowds.

quotes_1817837a_2992318a.gifI held a Council at 10.45 to declare war with Germany. It is a terrible catastrophe but it is not our fault. An enormous crowd collected outside the Palace; we went on to the balcony both before and after dinner. When they heard that war had been declared, the excitement increased and May and I with David [the Prince of Wales], went on to the balcony; the cheering was terrific. Please God it may soon be over and that he will protect dear Bertie’s life [George VI, serving with the Royal Navy]. Bed at 12.00’
George V, diary, August 4 1914

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:01/24/2015 7:31 PMCopy HTML


Saturday 24 January 2015

On January 15, 1965, Winston Churchill suffered a severe stroke. The long-retired former Prime Minister was now 90 years old, and so his death nine days later was not a surprise. But Britain's mass media, including the Telegraph, followed him ever step of the way. Read on to see how.............>
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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:07/01/2016 7:48 PMCopy HTML


When President Hollande attends the centenary on Friday, 1st July, he will be the first French head of state at a Somme commemoration in more than 80 years.

President De Gaulle did not attend the 50th anniversary in 1966. Nor have his successors been at any subsequent event.

In fact the last time a French head of state went to a Somme commemoration was in 1932 when the long-forgotten Albert Lebrun helped inaugurate the Thiepval memorial alongside the future King Edward VIII.

In a way this is very odd, because the 1916 Battle of the Somme was not just a British battle - it was a French battle too.

The broad outlines of the Somme offensive had been drawn up by the Allies the previous winter - and initially the plan was for a joint attack on the German front with the British and French contributing roughly equally.

But then came the German attack on Verdun in February, which forced the French to divert resources to the east. In the end their share in the Somme was about one-third, to the British two-thirds.

n mid-1916, the British and French lines on the Western Front met just above the River Somme near the village of Maricourt.

The British line headed west towards Albert, then turned north alongside the little river called the Ancre. The French line went south across the River Somme..............

Battle of the Somme: When London buses went from red to khaki

1 July 2016

..................Pte George Gwynn was a driver sent to Ypres in Belgium with his bus. He gave a recorded interview, which can still be heard, to the Imperial War Museum in 1985, when he was 95, describing how the vehicle was his only shelter.

"I slept at the roadside on those buses, with no cover. We ate on board.

"Each night in the winter we had to get out of our beds and start the engine every two hours. We had to be ready at any time to rush out and pick troops up from their billets.

"We came under fire every night and think 'game over'. The driver of the bus in front of mine was killed. Every night we had something like that."

Pte Gwynne, whose job also entailed taking injured men to field hospitals, recalled driving past "fields full of men, they'd been gassed. All the men just lying on their backs"..............>

The London Transport Museum has restored an original B-type into a battle bus to be driven along the length of the Somme in commemoration of the transport workers who served in World War One

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:07/01/2016 7:53 PMCopy HTML

Canada Day

Canada Day (FrenchFête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire.[1][2][3] Originally called Dominion Day (FrenchLe Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed. Canada Day observances take place throughout Canada as well as among Canadians internationally..........>

How to make a Lumberjack Cake - Happy Canada Day!

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:08/23/2016 9:47 PMCopy HTML

Check out the world's 1st web page, from 25 years ago, on Internaut Day

Posted: Aug 23, 2016

What did web pages look like 25 years ago? Well, 25 years ago today, there was only one that the public could see — the very first.

And it wasn't much more than a few pages of text with some hyperlinks — describing what the World Wide Web was envisioned to be.

Check out the world's first website

The first web page was created by Tim-Berners Lee, a British scientist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, located on the French-Swiss border near Geneva. The page went live at CERN on Dec. 20, 1990, and was opened up to the high-energy physics community on Jan. 10, 1991. But it wasn't until August of that year that Berners-Lee made the project public by posting a summary of it on several online forums, lastly on Aug. 22.

Some time later, Aug. 23, 1991, was named "Internaut Day," which is now celebrated annually to recognize the launch of the World Wide Web ... although Berners-Lee is not sure why that date was chosen.......>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:11/02/2016 8:00 PMCopy HTML

first regular high-definition television service started on Monday the 2nd of November 1936


The BBC’s – and the world’s – first regular high-definition television service started on Monday the 2nd of November 1936. A German service had begun the year before, but only offered pictures with 180-lines: the BBC had since decided that ‘high-definition’ meant 240-lines or higher, conveniently putting it ahead of all rival claims.

Although no direct recordings exist of those first day’s broadcasts from Alexandra Palace, the BBC’s own newsreel cameras were there to film proceedings. So we can see once more the exact moment when the new BBC Television Orchestra, conducted by Hyam Greenbaum began playing and the musical comedy star Adèle Dixon took to the studio floor, to sing ‘Magic Rays of Light ’:

(video in link)

In that newsreel, the man seen reading a script, then looking up and glancing briefly to his right is Cecil Madden, the BBC producer in overall charge of output on the 2nd of November. In his Oral History interview, he reminds us that Dixon’s song wasn’t quite the very first item on this first day – nor was it really an ‘opening night’: proceedings began at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Before Dixon kicked-off a half-hour variety show at 3.30pm, the grand total of 400 or so ‘lookers-in’ dotted around London and the Home Counties had had to endure some short speeches from government officials and BBC bigwigs. Madden describes what was happening behind-the-scenes in Alexandra Palace at this precise moment:..........>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:03/03/2017 7:46 PMCopy HTML

Italy finally commemorates hushed-up wartime tragedy that killed more than 600 people

2 MARCH 2017

On the night of March 2, 1944, a freight train packed with Italian civilians, who were travelling to the countryside in the desperate hope of buying food at a time of near starvation, stalled inside a steeply sloping tunnel.
    Within minutes, the passengers, most of whom were sleeping, were asphyxiated by lethal carbon monoxide fumes from the coal that fueled the steam locomotives.    Ranked as one of the worst and most unusual train accidents in the world, it happened near the town of Balvano in the region of Basilicata, when southern Italy was under the administration of the Allies, who had retaken it from German and Fascist Italian forces after staging amphibious landings in Sicily.............. 

On March 3, a commemorative stone will be laid in a ceremony that will be attended by relatives of the victims, mayors from the region and politicians.   

“It will be the first time that national authorities in Italy will recognise the disaster,” said Mr Barneschi, who found classified documents about the accident at the National Archives in Kew, London.   

“At the time that it happened, the Italian authorities claimed that all the people who died were smugglers and bootleggers and that none of them had bought tickets.
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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:03/27/2017 9:48 PMCopy HTML

The true story behind the deadliest air disaster of all time


Exactly 40 years ago, at Tenerife-North Airport (formerly Los Rodeos), two Boeing 747s - one belonging to KLM, the other to Pan Am - collided on a foggy runway. Five hundred and eighty-three people were killed in what remains the biggest air disaster in history. In this extract from Cockpit Confidential, the pilot Patrick Smith outlines what went wrong:

The magnitude of the accident speaks for itself, but what makes it particularly unforgettable is the startling set of ironies and coincidences that preceded it. Indeed, most airplane crashes result not from a single error or failure, but from a chain of improbable errors and failures, together with a stroke or two of really bad luck. Never was this illustrated more calamitously - almost to the point of absurdity - than on that Sunday afternoon 40 years ago.

In 1977, in only its eighth year of service, the Boeing 747 was already the biggest, the most influential, and possibly the most glamorous commercial jetliner ever built. For just those reasons, it was hard not to imagine what a story it would be - and how much carnage might result - should two of these behemoths ever hit each other. Really, though, what were the chances of that: a Hollywood script if ever there was one..........>

The 10 deadliest air disasters of all time

  1. Pan Am Flight 1736 and KLM Flight 4805, 1977 (583 fatalities)
  2. Japan Airlines Flight 123, 1985 (520)
  3. Saudi Arabian Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907, 1996 (349)
  4. Turkish Airlines Flight 981, 1974 (346)
  5. Saudia Flight 163, 1980 (301)
  6. Iranian military Il-76 crash, 2003 (275)
  7. American Airlines Flight 191, 1979 (273)
  8. American Airlines Flight 587, 2001 (265)
  9. China Airlines Flight 140, 1994 (264)
  10. Nigeria Airways Flight 2120, 1991 (261)
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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:04/06/2017 7:21 PMCopy HTML

100 years ago, the US entered WWI—and a senator from Massachusetts punched a protester in the face over it

April 6 2017

President Woodrow Wilson’s declaration of war against Germany — which he signed exactly 100 years ago Thursday — sent shockwaves across the planet, as the world’s largest neutral military force officially entered World War One.

But earlier that same week, the movement to enter WWI had quite a forceful impact on Boston resident Alexander Bannwart, who got punched in the face over the war by his home-state senator, Henry Cabot Lodge.

According to the U.S. Senate’s website, it is the only historical record of a senator attacking a constituent............>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:06/06/2017 6:41 AMCopy HTML

Very rare D-day "paradummy" found after 73 years - in Liverpool loft

ByLuke Traynor    19:00, 5 JUN 2017

A FAKE parachute used to hoodwink the Germans and divert their attention away from the D-Day Landings has been found - in a Liverpool attic.

The very rare “paradummy” was deployed as a military deception device, imitating a real paratroop drop and causing the Nazis to mistakenly relocate firepower during the Second World War.

The dummies were one third human size and had small arms, legs and heads.

They were made out of hessian cloth, and were filled up with sand to make them drop to the ground quicker.

Nicknamed “Ruperts”, they were dropped in four locations over Normandy at about the same time thousands of Allied airmen landed in the correct drop-zones on the night of June 5, 1944.

Six SAS soldiers were dropped alongside the puppets and played recordings of loud battle noises in order to divert the Nazi troops from the real invasion.

They were designed to explode and burst into flames when they hit the ground.

Now, 73 years later, a paradummy has turned up in a Merseyside loft.

Ruth Garner, valuer at Adam Partridge auctions of Liverpool, told the ECHO: “It was found in a former Army man’s house, and his father and grandfather were also in the Army...............>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:06/27/2017 6:28 PMCopy HTML

Cash 'lives on' after 50 years of ATMs

27 June 2017

Cash will remain a part of our day-to-day lives for decades, the Bank of England's chief cashier has said on the 50th anniversary of the ATM.

Victoria Cleland said that although the use of notes and coins in transactions is falling, cash is part of all the Bank's future plans.

She pointed out that 94% of UK adults use cash machines.

It was 50 years ago today that the world's first ATM was unveiled at a Barclays branch in Enfield, London.

As a tribute to the golden anniversary, Barclays has transformed the modern-day Enfield cash machine into gold...........>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:06/30/2017 10:45 PMCopy HTML

2007 Glasgow Airport attack

The 2007 Glasgow Airport attack was a terrorist ramming attack which occurred on 30 June 2007, at 15:11 BST, when a dark green Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane canisters was driven at the glass doors of the Glasgow Airport terminal and set ablaze.[3] It was the first terrorist attack to take place in Scotland since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.[4] The attack took place three days after the appointment of Scottish MP Gordon Brown as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but Downing Street dismissed suggestions of a connection.[5] A close link was quickly established to the 2007 London car bombs the previous day. Although the doors were damaged, security bollards outside the entrance stopped the car from entering the terminal, where there were 4,000 people, with the potential for many fatalities.............>

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:07/08/2017 1:57 PMCopy HTML

 all very good reading.  Thanks for the history!!
“The truth is like a lion, you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself.” St. Augustine
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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:07/18/2017 8:26 PMCopy HTML

Jane Austen 200th anniversary

The new £10 note featuring an image of author Jane Austen is due to be unveiled late today (18 July) to mark the 200th anniversary of her death.

The launch, taking place at Winchester Cathedral by the Bank of England, will be the first time the public can see the polymer note ahead of its official release in September.

Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility and Emma author Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817.........>


.........It is also the first Bank of England note to include a tactile feature to help visually impaired people. 

Meanwhile, a limited supply of a new £2 coin honouring Jane Austen has been put into circulation by the Royal Mint..........

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:08/24/2017 7:16 PMCopy HTML

10 fascinating things you should know about the Shipping Forecast

http://www.countrylife.co.uk/out-and-ab ... ast-164341

Country Life,  August 24, 2017

The Shipping Forecast began life exactly 150 years ago, on 24 August 1867, and was originally a series of telegraph messages sent to harbour towns to warn of impending storms. There had been some efforts to predict and warn about incoming weather via scientific means before this – pioneered by Robert FitzRoy (on whom more below) following a catastrophic storm in 1859 that killed 800 mariners off the coast of Wales. Sadly, FitzRoy didn’t live to see his ideas become a permanent fixture of British life: he killed himself in 1865, in part because of his frustration at failing to set up a regular service.

[li]The Shipping Forecast started up on radio in 1924, when the Air Ministry started broadcasting its weather shipping programme, using 13 maritime zones, twice daily on the Home Service. It was suspended during the Second World War, but was relaunched in 1949...............>

A photograph of Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy, circa 1860

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:05/10/2018 7:06 PMCopy HTML

Rudolf Hess crash landed in Scotland


On 10 May 1941, Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess crash landed a stolen plane at Eaglesham in what may have been an attempt to broker peace during World War Two, yet was never fully explained. Hess flew from Augsburg and was detected by UK radar off the coast of Scotland. He crash landed at Eaglesham, injuring his ankle and was found by farmer David McLean. Hess demanded to speak to the Duke of Hamilton, saying he had an important message for him alone.

Hess was initially imprisoned in the Tower of London and eventually kept at a military hospital in Wales, where he was treated for insanity. His wife later quoted him as having said of his flight into the UK: 'My coming to England in this way is, as I realise, so unusual that no one will easily understand it.' He died in Spandau Prison in 1987.

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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:11/11/2018 7:59 PMCopy HTML


Casper the west highland terrier sporting a poppy at Castle Stalker in Loch Laich, captured by owner Alex Grant.

Armistice centenary tribute of a cascade of poppies in Largs, by Janet Parker.


In the south, Drumlanrig Castle near Dumfries was bathed in red 

The Titan Crane in Clydebank makes an impressive statement
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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:11/11/2018 8:41 PMCopy HTML

Armistice Day


Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. An American artillery gun from the 11th Field Artillery Regiment named "Calamity Jane" fired a single shot at this time, known as the closing shot of the war. The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.[1]

The date is a national holiday in France, and was declared a national holiday in many Allied nations. In some countries Armistice Day coincides with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, and other public holidays. Armistice Day is not celebrated in Germany, but a German national day of mourning, Volkstrauertag, has been observed on the Sunday closest to 16 November since 1952. .............>
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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:12/21/2018 7:44 PMCopy HTML

Services mark Lockerbie bombing 30th anniversary

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland- ... d-46620288
21 December 2018

Services are to be held in Scotland and the US to remember the victims of the Lockerbie bombing 30 years on.
Wreaths will be laid at a memorial garden in Lockerbie to honour the 270 people killed when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up on 21 December 1988.
A message from the Queen marking the "solemn anniversary" will also be read out at the memorial.
Eleven people in Lockerbie died along with 259 passengers and crew on board the plane bound for New York.
It was the biggest mass murder on British soil in recent history.
The majority of those on board the plane which fell on the town in south-west Scotland were American.
Services will also be held at Syracuse University, Arlington National Cemetery and FBI headquarters in Washington DC..............>

Memorial services will remember the victims of the atrocity 

A memorial cairn to the victims stands in the Arlington National Cemetery
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Re:On This Day

Date Posted:01/26/2019 12:42 AMCopy HTML

Nicely done! Seems to set the bar higher for our petty squabbles. My husband is buried in Arlington, a block from his father who was Air Force instead of Marine Corps like us. Unless God once again laughs at my plan, I will be buried with my husband at Arlington though for me, a mere elderly PFC, it’s a little too much pomp and circumstance which both of them rather gloried in for whatever probably deserved reason. Neither were too old or too young to die, but the son was far and away the better man than the hyperbole he had for a father. Sorry, it was on this day that I thought about that.
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