The assassination of a British Prime Minister.

John Bellingham assassinating the Rt Hon Spencer Perceval in the Lobby of the House of Commons, 11 May 1812

British politics is probably the most intriguing politics in the world. With all its traditions and even the sometimes humorous debates in the house of commons are often fascinating.

However what many people don’t know that in 1812 on the 11th of May the only ever assassination of a British Prime minister took place.

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Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland, was shot and killed in the lobby of the House of Commons in London, around  17:15 pm  Hisassassint was John Bellingham, a  merchant from Liverpool who had a bone to pick  with the government. Bellingham was arrested and, four days after the murder, was put on , convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Newgate Prison one week later on 18 May.

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As the Prime Minsiterl entered the lobby of the House of Commons a number of people were gathered around in conversation as was common practice. Many turned to look at him as he came through the doorway. No-one noticed as the quiet man stood up from beside the fire place, removing a pistol from his inner pocket . Nor did anyone notice as the man walked calmly towards the Prime Minister. When he was close enough, without saying a word, the man shot his gun directly at the Prime Minister’s chest. The Prime Minister staggered forward before falling to the ground, calling out as he did so words that witnesses later recalled in different ways as: “I am murdered!” or ‘Murder, Murder’ or ‘Oh God!’ or ‘Oh my God!”

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John Bellingham was a businessman in his forties, who in 1804 had been falsely imprisoned for debt in Russia. The British embassy would not help him and when he was released in 1809 he returned to England seeking compensation from the British government, which kept turning him down.

On Friday 15 May 1812  John Bellingham  got his day in court, but only to answer a charge of murder. The trial took place in a crowded court room at the Old Bailey, presided over by Sir James Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.

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Bellingham was denied to plead insanity and was found guilty of murder, executed by public hanging at Newgate .

The execution was fixed for the morning of Monday 18 May , his body was then  handed over to the anatomists to be dissected.Bellingham’s skull was preserved at Barts Pathology Museum

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Perceval, meanwhile, was brought in an impressive funeral procession from Downing Street to Charlton, to be buried in a family vault at St Luke’s.

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Sources

History Today

The Guardian

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The Princess mechanic

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Love her or loath her, there is no denying Queen Elizabeth II is an iconic figure and is well able to stand her ground and she is not afraid to get her hands dirty.

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On April 25 1942, at age 16, the then Princss  Elizabeth registered with the Labour Exchange ,the British employment agency at the time, and was extremely keen to join a division of the women’s armed forces. Her father was reluctant to let her do so, but eventually relented.PROD-The-Princess-Signs-Up

She enlisted in the Army age 18 .Once in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Elizabeth learned how to change a wheel, deconstruct and rebuild engines, and drive ambulances and other vehicles.

She  joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service as an honorary Second Subaltern, Princess Elizabeth achieved the rank of honorary Junior Commander within five months. Unlike the other members of the ATS, Elizabeth returned each night to sleep in the royal residence of Windsor Castle.elizaebeth 2

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Sources

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When the Dutch gave New Netherland to the Brits

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Although the Dutch and the Brits are good friends now, it was not always thus. There have been several Anglo-Dutch wars.

The 3rd ,  Anglo-Dutch war ended this day in 1674 by the signing of the Westmnster Treaty of 1647. The English were dismayed by the unexpected fact that Dutch raiders managed to capture more English ships than vice versa and that New Amsterdam had been retaken by the Dutch in 1673.

New Amsterdam was the Capital city of New Netherland

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It was located on the east coast of North America(the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod,  part of the Mid-Atlantic States of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, and  outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.)

Part of the treaty was that New Netherland was to be returned to the Brits, while the Dutch kept Surinam.

The official peace was proclaimed  was proclaimed at Whitehall on 27 February at 10.00 am.

New Amsterdam is now called New York of course.

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WWII Internment camps in Britain

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“Collar the lot,” is what Churchill said about the citizens of enemy nations living in the UK, it didn’t matter if they were friend or foe,.

During the Second World War (1939 – 1945) a number of internment camps for civilians from enemy countries were established on the Isle of Man. These were based at Peveril Camp, Peel (on the west coast of the island) and Mooragh Camp, Ramsey (on the NE coast of the island). Some civilians lived in the pre-war guest houses at Douglas and other Manx towns. Prisoner of War camps were established at Base Camp, Douglas and one nearby at Onchan.

During the war, thousands of people were held in internment camps on the Isle of Man.

Some were political detainees or suspected spies, but many were innocent refugees who had nowhere else to go.

Throughout the UK citizens from Germany,Italy and Austria,including Jews who had escaped these countries from Nazi perscuion, were rounded up and transferred to the Isle of Man.

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At the outbreak of World War Two there were around 80,000 people in Britain who were considered potential “enemy aliens”.

It was feared there might be people acting as spies, or people willing to assist Britain’s enemies in the event of an invasion.The UK government asked the Isle of Man to accommodate people at camps in Douglas, Ramsey and Peel.

Political prisoners were detained in high security camps, but most internees – including many Jewish refugees – were free to go shopping, swim in the sea and attend classes.

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One of the internees was Rabbi Werner van der ZylRabbi_Werner_van_der_Zyl. a rabbi in Berlin and in London.He was a founder and President of Leo Baeck College, London; President of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (now known as the Movement for Reform Judaism); and Life Vice President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.Van der Zyl came to Britain in 1939. During World War II the British Government interned him at Kitchener Camp in Sandwich, Kent and then at Mooragh Internment Camp  on the Isle of Manas an “enemy alien”. He was released from internment in 1943.

Fred Uhlman was born in Stuttgart, Germany, into a prosperous middle-class Jewish family. He studied at the Universities of Freiburg, Munich and Tübingen from where, in 1923, he graduated with a degree in Law followed by a Doctorate in Canon and Civil Law.uhlman

On 4 November 1936, he married Diana Croft, daughter of Henry Page Croft (later Lord Croft), against her parents’ strongest wishes, and they remained close and happy for nearly fifty years.

They set up home on Downshire Hill, in London’s Hampstead and it became a favourite cultural and artistic meeting place for the large group of refugees and exiles who, like Uhlman, had been forced to flee their homeland. He founded the Free German League of Culture, whose members included Oskar Kokoschka and Stefan Zweig, though he parted company with it when he felt it coming under communist domination.

Nine months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Uhlman, with thousands of other enemy aliens, was, in June 1940, interned by the British Government, in Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man.  He was released six months later and reunited with his wife and with his daughter, born while he was interned.

Photograph of internees in a yard at Hutchinson Internment Camp [c.1940-1] by Major H. O. Daniels

 

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Sources

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The Telegraph

The King’s great matter

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By the mid-1520s, King Henry VIII had grown very unhappy in his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. She had, by then, borne him eight children, with only the Princess Mary (born 1516) surviving infancy. Henry wished for a male heir to stabilize the future succession of the Crown. For state and personal reasons, he sought a divorce from Catherine so that he might marry Anne Boleyn, a young lady of the court with whom he had fallen in love. Between 1527 and 1535, England was preoccupied with the political and religious questions attendant to what was called “the King’s great matter.”

In 1525, Henry VIII became romantically interested in Anne Boleyn, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine who was 11 years younger than Henry.

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Henry began pursuing her;Catherine was no longer able to bear children by this time. Henry began to believe that his marriage was cursed and sought confirmation from the Bible, By 1527, Henry was citing Biblical verses Leviticus 18:1-9 and Leviticus 20:21, interpreting these to mean that his marriage to his brother’s widow explained his lack of a male heir by Catherine.which he interpreted to say that if a man marries his brother’s wife, the couple will be childless.Even if her marriage to Arthur had not been consummated (and Catherine would insist to her dying day that she had come to Henry’s bed a virgin), Henry’s interpretation of that biblical passage meant that their marriage had been wrong in the eyes of God.Whether the Pope at the time of Henry and Catherine’s marriage had the right to overrule Henry’s claimed scriptural impediment would become a hot topic in Henry’s campaign to wrest an annulment from the present Pope. It is possible that the idea of annulment had been suggested to Henry much earlier than this, and is highly probable that it was motivated by his desire for a son. Before Henry’s father ascended the throne, England was beset by civil warfare over rival claims to the English crown, and Henry may have wanted to avoid a similar uncertainty over the succession.

It soon became the one absorbing object of Henry’s desires to secure an annulment.Catherine was defiant when it was suggested that she quietly retire to a nunnery, saying: “God never called me to a nunnery. I am the King’s true and legitimate wife”.He set his hopes upon an appeal to the Holy See, acting independently of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, whom he told nothing of his plans.

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William Knight, the King’s secretary, was sent to Pope Clement VII to sue for an annulment, on the grounds that the dispensing bull of Pope Julius II was obtained by false pretenses.

As the Pope was, at that time, the prisoner of Catherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles V, following the Sack of Rome in May 1527.

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Knight had difficulty in obtaining access to him. In the end, Henry’s envoy had to return without accomplishing much. Henry now had no choice but to put this great matter into the hands of Wolsey, who did all he could to secure a decision in Henry’s favour.

However, the Pope had never had any intention of empowering his legate. Charles V resisted the annulment of his aunt’s marriage, but it is not clear how far this influenced the Pope. But it is clear that Henry saw that the Pope was unlikely to give him an annulment from the Emperor’s aunt.

The Pope forbade Henry to proceed to a new marriage before a decision was given in Rome, not in England. Wolsey bore the blame. Convinced that he was treacherous, Anne Boleyn maintained pressure until Wolsey was dismissed from public office in 1529. After being dismissed, the cardinal begged her to help him return to power, but she refused. He then began a plot to have Anne forced into exile and began communication with Queen Katherine and the Pope. When this was discovered, Henry ordered Wolsey’s arrest and had it not been for his death from illness in 1530, he probably would have been executed for treason.

A year later, Catherine was banished from court, and her old rooms were given to Anne Boleyn. Catherine wrote in a letter to Charles V in 1531:

My tribulations are so great, my life so disturbed by the plans daily invented to further the King’s wicked intention, the surprises which the King gives me, with certain persons of his council, are so mortal, and my treatment is what God knows, that it is enough to shorten ten lives, much more mine

Wolsey was replaced by Sir Thomas More, who took the job on the condition that he not be involved in the divorce matter, and who would later prove a greater problem for Henry than Wolsey.

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At this time the government was effectively in the hands of the dukes of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Wiltshire, the last of whom was Anne Boleyn’s father. .

In July 1531, Henry officially separated from Catherine and began to live openly with Anne Boleyn. Also that year, the politically enterprising Thomas Cromwell was appointed to the inner circle of the king’s council, soon gaining the king’s confidence and advising him toward a direct break with the Roman Church.

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Matters came to a head when Henry married Anne Boleyn secretly in January 1533, after discovering she was pregnant with the king’s child. Also that month, the reform-minded Thomas Cranmer was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. In March, all appeals to Rome were suspended with Parliament’s Act of Appeals, effectively breaking off England’s legal ties to the Papacy. In May, Cranmer assembled a court at Dunstable that delivered sentence that the marriage with Catherine was void, and the marriage with Anne was true. Catherine lost her title, Anne was named Queen of England, and the infant Elizabeth born in September 1533 replaced Princess Mary as the legitimate heir to the throne. Henry received his divorce and his new wife, King-Henry-VIIIbut he did not yet have a male heir, and in conjunction with these events, he declared himself the Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England, igniting a virtual revolution of Church and State.The declaration received legal force in the 1534 Act of Supremacy, and was followed by the Oath of Succession which was demanded from all government officials, lay and clerical. The oath concerned the transferral of the primary sovereign right to the inheritance of Anne’s daughter Elizabeth, taking it from Catherine’s daughter Mary.

Thomas More, also unwilling to take an oath to support the Act of Succession, and having opposed Henry’s marriage to Anne, was charged with treason, imprisoned, and executed. Bishop Fisher, an early and consistent opponent of the divorce and supporter of Catherine’s marriage, was also imprisoned for refusing to recognize Henry as head of the church. While in prison, the new Pope, Paul III, made Fisher a cardinal, and Henry hurried Fisher’s trial for treason. More and Fisher were both beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1886 and canonized in 1935.

In 1534 and 1535, when Catherine heard that her daughter Mary was ill, each time she asked to be able to see her and nurse her, but Henry refused to allow that. Catherine did get word out to her supporters to urge the Pope to excommunicate Henry.

When, in December 1535, Catherine’s friend Maria de Salinas heard that Catherine was ill, she asked permission to see Catherine. Refused, she forced herself into Catherine’s presence anyway. Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador, was also allowed to see her. He left on January 4. On the night of January 6, Catherine dictated letters to be sent to Mary and to Henry, and she died on January 7, in the arms of her friend Maria. Henry and Anne were said to celebrate upon hearing of Catherine’s death.

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Dad’s Army- The British home guard

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“Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler” is the first line of the theme of the British sitcom Dad’s Army. A truly hilarious show. I remember one episode where Capt Mainwaring is telling a story how he met an Australian soldier. He had asked him “Did you come here to die?” whereupon the Australian soldier replied”No I came here Yesterday”

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Dad’s Army was based on the British Homeguard.

The Home Guard (initially “Local Defence Volunteers” or LDV) was a defence organisation of the British Army during the Second World War. Operational from 1940 until 1944, the Home Guard was composed of 1.5 million local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, such as those too young or too old to join the services, or those in reserved occupations–hence the nickname “Dad’s Army”. Their role was to act as a secondary defence force, in case of invasion by the forces of Nazi Germany and their allies.They were to try to slow down the advance of the enemy, even by a few hours in order to give the regular troops time to regroup. The Home Guard continued to guard the coastal areas of the United Kingdom and other important places such as airfields, factories and explosives stores until late 1944 when they were stood down, and finally disbanded on 31st December 1945, eight months after Germany’s surrender. Men aged 17 to 65 could join. it was unpaid but gave a chance for older or inexperienced soldiers to support the war effort.

Below are some pictures of the real ‘Dad’s Army’

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Home Guard training during the War would occasionally descend into farce, according to the recently discovered diary
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Home Guard post at Admiralty Arch in central London, 21 June 1940.

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Merthyr Tydfil Home Guard

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Bunwell Home Guard

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The cast of Dad’s Army

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The bombing of Buckingham Palace

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Buckingham Palace was hit by bombs seven times during the Second World War. It was just a matter of sheer luck that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth weren’t killed or very badly injured when the third raid took place on September 13th, 1940.

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The king and queen were in one of the rooms near where the bomb went off. But crucially, the window to that room was open at the time. Hence no glass was blown into the room and the royal couple escaped unscathed. One man did die in the attack though, due to the shards and several others were injured.

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The bombing attack took place at about eleven in the morning – a time when it was likely to be fully occupied with members of the royal family, staff and workmen. The king and queen were quietly sitting enjoying a cup of tea when the bombs exploded just outside their window.

The royal chapel at the palace was also damaged at the same time by a third bomb. The bomb plummeted through the roof destroying the altar, causing a great deal of structural damage and hurling tons of debris into the basement.

The young princesses, Margaret and Elizabeth, were living at Windsor Castle – twenty miles away from the palace – at the time and indeed for the duration of the war. The government had tried to persuade the royal family to live somewhere safer than London, with its constant attacks from the Luftwaffe.

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Queen Elizabeth detailed the events of the daylight raid that occurred on Friday, September 13, 1940 in a letter to her mother-in-law, Queen Mary.

September 13th 1940

My Darling Mama

I hardly know how to begin to tell you of the horrible attack on Buckingham Palace this morning…

…At this moment we heard the unmistakable whirr-whirr of a German plane – We said “ah a German”, and before anything else could be said, there was the noise of aircraft diving at great speed, and then the scream of a bomb – It all happened so quickly, that we had only time to look foolishly at each other, when the scream hurtled past us, and exploded with a tremendous crash in the quadrangle –

I saw a great column of smoke & earth thrown up into the air, and then we all ducked like lightning into the corridor – There was another tremendous explosion, and we & our 2 pages who were outside the door, remained for a moment or two in the corridor away from the staircase, in case of flying glass. It is curious how one’s instinct works at those moments of great danger, as quite without thinking, the urge was to get away from the windows. Everybody remained wonderfully calm, and we went down to the shelter – I went along to see if the housemaids were alright, and found them busy in their various shelters – Then came a cry for “bandages”, and the first aid party, who had been training for over a year, rose magnificently to the occasion, and treated the 3 poor casualties calmly and correctly –

Darling mama, I do hope that you will let me come & stay a day or two later – It is so sad being parted, as this War has parted famillies.

With my love, and prayers for your safety, ever darling Mama your loving daughter in law

Elizabeth

P.S. Dear old B.P is still standing, and that is the main thing.

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the Battle of Britain

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The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the United Kingdom (UK) against the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).

The British officially recognise its duration as from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps with the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz,while German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard it as a campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941.

But rather then going into too much detail, thus article will mainly consist of photographs. I couldn’t possibly add anything more then what is already written about this.

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Not all of the pilots were British .Czech pilots of No. 310 Squadron at RAF Duxford in September 1940..

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The RAF was organised into different ‘Commands’ based on function or role, including Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands. While victory in the Battle of Britain was decisively gained by Fighter Command, defence was carried out by the whole of the Royal Air Force.

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During the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe was dealt an almost lethal blow from which it never fully recovered. Although Fighter Command suffered heavy losses and was often outnumbered during actual engagements, the British outproduced the Germans and maintained a level of aircraft production that helped them withstand their losses.

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One of many German maps of the planned invasion of Britain.

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Although not a major contributor to the 1940 air campaign against Britain, Italy did volunteer as many as 170 planes to the effort. In fact, more than five per cent of the 2,500 Axis aircraft committed to the battle were Italian

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The Raid on the Medway-ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

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The Medway raid of 9-14/19-24 June 1667 saw a Dutch fleet sail into the Thames and attack the British fleet in its anchorage in the Medway, causing a panic in London and winning a victory that helped bring the Second Anglo-Dutch War to an end.

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At the end of the summer of 1666 the British controlled the Channel, after the victory on St James’s Day and the devastating raid on Dutch shipping on 10 August (‘Holmes’s Bonfire’), but this was a short-lived success. The Great Plague of 1665 had already lowered Charles II’s income, and this was followed by the Great Fire of London (2-5 September 1666). Over the winter of 1666-67 the British fleet was laid up in the Medway, and at the start of the campaigning season of 1667 only two small squadrons put out to sea. Peace negotiations had already begun, and to a certain extend Charles’s decision was linked to this, while many in Britain believed that the Dutch would be unable to fund a powerful fleet of their own.

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This was not the case. The Grand Pensionary, Johan de Witt, was opposed to peace on the terms then available, and decided to launch a daring raid into the Thames to attack the British at anchor. The Dutch slowly built up the strength of their fleet at sea. A relatively small fleet sailed north to raid Scotland before returning south, and by 4 June a fleet of 54 ships of the line was off the Thames. This increased to sixty four on 6 June, and finally, on 7 June, Michiel de Ruyter arrived with the rest of the fleet.

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The Medway was very poorly defended in the summer of 1667. A strong iron chain supported by pontoons had been stretched across the river at Gillingham, and thirty pinnaces were available to fend off fireships. Only on 12 June, by which time the Dutch were already in the Medway, was George Monck ordered to build a gun battery at Gillingham.

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De Ruyter decided to send a small squadron up the Thames as far as Northfleet Hope, at Tilbury. This squadron would then turn back and sail into the Medway, where it would attack British shipping and if possible seize the defences of Sheerness. Lieutenant-Admiral Van Ghent was given command of the squadron, which contained seventeen men-of-war of between 60 and 36 guns, most of the ten fireships in the fleet and all of the smaller galliots.

Dutch Attack on the Medway, June 1667

The Dutch attack began in 9 June, when Van Ghent made slow progress up the Thames against a south-westerly wind. The wind prevented the Dutch from attacking some British ships in the Hope and at Gravesend, and on the night of 9-10 June Van Ghent moored just below Gravesend.

On 10 June the Dutch entered the Medway and captured the fort at Sheerness. Charles II responded by sending George Monck, duke of Albemarle, to Kent to organise a defence. Only now was the iron chain put in place at Gillingham, and a small gun battery built at each end while the Unity was posted just below the chain.

The crucial moment of the raid came on 12 June when the Dutch reached the chain. The Vrede, under Captain Jan van Brakel, and with two fireships in support, led the attack.

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While the Vrede attacked and captured the Unity, the fireships attacked and broke the chain. One then destroyed the British guardship Matthias. Van Brakel then went on to capture the Charles V, and used her guns against the British coastal batteries.

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The rest of the British fleet in the Medway was now virtually defenceless. The Royal Charles was quickly captured, and began Van Ghent’s flagship for the day, before being towed across the Channel (as was the Unity). The Monmouth was also burnt during the day.

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On 13 June the Dutch pushed further up the Medway. Although Upnor Castle and a battery on the opposite bank offered more resistance, the Dutch were still able to burn the Royal Oak, the  Loyal London and the Old James, while a larger number of ships were forced to run aground to save themselves.

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On 14 June, with most of his fireships gone, De Ruyter withdrew from the Medway and moored close to Queenborough, before moved into the mouth of the Thames. For a short period London was blockaded, and everything that normally arrived by sea was quickly in short supply (the price of coal rose from 15s to 140s per ton). De Ruyter considered mounting an attack up the Thames towards London, but a combination of improving British defences and the non-appearance of a French fleet forced him to abandon that plan. Finally, at the start of July, de Ruyter left the Thames and entered the Channel. An attack on Landguard Fort (2 July 1667) failed, ending a plan to attack Harwich.

The Dutch victory in the Medway forced Charles II to take the peace negotiations more seriously, and within a few weeks the war came to an end (Treaty of Breda, 31 July 1667).

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The Navigation Acts were modified to allow Dutch and German goods to enter Britain in Dutch ships, and most colonies taken during the war were returned, although the Dutch kept Surinam and Britain kept New York and New Jersey.

The peace was short-lived. After a brief period in which Holland, Britain and Sweden allied together to oppose Louis XIV, the French king managed to bribe Charles II to change sides, only five years after the Peace of Breda, in 1672, the Third Anglo-Dutch War broke out.

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Alderney camps-Nazi Concentration camps in Great Britain.

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The Alderney camps were prison camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during its World War II occupation of the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands was the only part of the British Isles to be occupied.

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The Nazis built four camps on Alderney. The Nazi Organisation Todt (OT) operated each subcamp and used forced labour to build fortifications in Alderney including bunkers, gun emplacements, air-raid shelters, tunnels and concrete fortifications.

The camps commenced operating in January 1942. They were named after the Frisian Islands.

Four labour camps were built, which were named after the German islands of Sylt, Borkum, Norderney and Helgoland.

The camps on Alderney were run from the Neuengamme concentration camp in German Anton Yezhel is one of the few forced workers who was sent to Alderney to have been pictured. Sadly, whether his survived the conditions in unknown.2F743D0F00000578-3363742-image-a-58_1450870271396

Lager Sylt, whose gates still stand today, housed the Jewish prisoners, who were treatment shocked the locals who remained on the Islands under the Nazis.

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Guernsey priest, The Reverend Douglas Ord, saw the prisoners from Sylt arrive in Guernsey in 1944.

He wrote in his diary: ‘Coming down from the harbour was a column of men in rows of five. All were in striped pyjama suits of sorts and their footgear varied from wooden sabots … to pieces of cloth bound round the feet. Others were barefoot.

‘There were more than the 1,000 of them – political prisoners brought away from Alderney. They were shaven-head and in varying degrees of weariness or lameness.

‘Scattered thorough the column among men of sub-human criminal type were others obviously intellectuals, men of superior calibre who had offended the brutal Nazi regime. It tore the heart to see the effects of this systematic and deliberate degradation of human beings.”2F73EA1200000578-3363742-image-a-9_1450342130877

Reverend Ord added: ‘At the head of the column marched five evil-visaged SS men armed with automatic guns. At the rear of the column and along its flanks on both sides and at a distance of about a dozen feet from each other were more of these brutes, similarly armed, and all on alert for any attempt at a break-away. I have never seen such brutality written on human countenances.

‘Occasionally a man would make the ‘V’ sign to us as he went by. All the emotions of pity, sympathy, sorrow, anger and horror surged through us as we watched.

‘All day long the stench of their poor, wretched, unwashed bodies and clothes hung about the route they had followed.’

While there were no gas chambers at Camp Sylt, the way the prisoners were treated led to the deaths of around half of the labourers brought to the island.

Documents compiled by British intelligence services trying to work out what was going on on the Channel Islands at the time laid bare the brutal conditions of life.

One report stated: ‘Too undernourished and exhausted to work efficiently, these men were mercilessly beaten by the German guard and frequently when they were too weak after a beating to stand up, they were clubbed to death or finished off with a knife.’

A report by British intelligence body MI19 said: ‘One such was crucified on the camp gates, naked and in midwinter. The German SS guards threw buckets of cold water over him all night until he was finally dead.

Another was caught by bloodhounds when attempting to stow away to the mainland. He was hanged and then crucified to the same gate. His body was left hanging on the gate for five days as a warning.

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More than 700 camp inmates lost their lives before the camps were closed and the remaining inmates transferred to France in 1944.

After World War II, a court-martial case was prepared against former SS Hauptsturmführer Max List, citing atrocities on Alderney. However, he did not stand trial,and is believed to have lived near Hamburg until his death in the 1980s