Zeppelins,Bombing and Chocolate

Zeppelin

Ever since I was a young lad I was interested in WWII,mainly because I had a personal connection to it. But for some reason I was never really that interested in WWI, probably because the Netherlands had managed to stay out of it.

However the last few years I have become more interested in the so called ‘Great war’ the war which was supposed to end all wars, but as we know now it didn’t and in fact one of the consequences of WWI was WWII.

I only recently found out that Britain had been subjected to a Blitz like warfare during World  War i, it had been bombed a great number of times not only by airplanes but more so by Zeppelins.

On the night of 19–20 January 1915, Britain was bombed for the first time in its history. The target was  Greater Yarmouth.The Zeppelin designated L 3  was the first airship  raid to wreak havoc in  England on that fateful night.

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It was operated by a crew of fifteen. The dirigible was 518 feet, 2 inches (158 meters) long with a diameter of 48 feet, 6 inches (14.8 meters).

The first 2 ever civilian casualties caused by an air raid were Martha Taylor and Samuel Smith.

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In total  about 51 bombing raids were made by airships  on Britain during the war. These killed 557 and injured another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of which 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents. Airplanes carried out 27 raids.

It was very difficult to hunt for Zeppelins despite their size, additionally it was hard to bring them down, The metal frame protected them from bullets fired from airplanes. A new sort of bullet had to be designed. The answer came via incendiary ammunition .Incendiary bullets called “Buckingham” ammunition were supplied to early British night fighters for use against these Zeppelins . The flammable hydrogen gas of the zeppelins made incendiary bullets much more deadly than standard ones which would pass through the outer skin without igniting the gas.

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On the evening of 5 August 1918 Sir Egbert “Bertie” Cadbury made hunt for the L 70.  which took off from Friedrichshafen with four other airships.

The commander of the L 70 was Peter Strasser the chief commander of German Imperial Navy Zeppelins and one of the architects of the Zeppelin air raids.

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Cadbury had been  attending a charity concert at which his wife was performing when an RAF orderly found him. Cadbury drove back to the airfield, where he was informed that three Zeppelins had been reported about 50 miles  to the north-east, and knowing there was only one aircraft available, an Airco DH.4.

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Cadbury gathered  his flying kit and ran for the airplane .With Captain Robert Leckie in the rear gunner’s seat, Cadbury climbed up to over 16,000 feet  by jettisoning his reserve fuel and some small bombs, where he saw three Zeppelins ahead and above him. He later recounted:[

“At 22.20 we had climbed to 16,400 feet and I attacked the Zeppelin ahead slightly to the port so as to clear any obstruction that might be suspended from the airship. It was a most fascinating sight – awe inspiring – to see this enormous Zeppelin blotting the whole sky above one. The tracers ignited the escaping gas, the flames spreading rapidly and turning the airship into a fireball in less than a minute. The L.70 dived headlong into the clouds. It was one of the most terrifying sights I have ever seen to see this huge machine hurtling down with all those crew on board.”

The other airships dropped their bombs blind, relying on radio bearings for navigational information but none fell on land. An attempt was made to salvage the wreckage of L 70 and most of the structure was brought ashore, providing the British a great deal of technical information. The bodies of the crew members were buried at sea.

This L 70 raid was to be last raid on Britain by Zeppelins.

After the war Cadbury resumed his job at  the family business, joining J. S. Fry & Sons, with which Cadbury’s had merged in 1918,  soon he  became the  managing director. Along with Cecil Roderick Fry, Cadbury  was pivotal in relocating Fry’s manufacturing operations from Bristol to Somerdale Garden City. At its height, the Somerdale workforce numbered over 5,000.

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On 29 August 1939, Cadbury was appointed honorary air commodore of No. 928 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, a Balloon Barrage Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force.

Next time you take a bite in any of the Cadbury bars just think about this bit of history.

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A very Dickens Christmas meal.

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In the mid 1800’s Lady Maria Clutterbuck published a cook book called “what shall we have for dinner?” An introduction was written by Sir Charles Coldstream.

It was a cook book typical of the Victorian era. The book did not necessarily instructions how to cook a meal it was more a book of menus. like the one below a menu for the winter time and possibly for Christmas.

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You will have difficulties in finding more works by Lady Maria Clutterbuck or the writer of the introduction ,Sir Charles Coldstream. They were in fact the pseudonyms of Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine Dickens.

It is unclear when Catherine Dickens cook book was first published but a second edition was published in 1851.

Catherine

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The bombing of Wimbledon-Centre Court

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Nothing was sacred and nothing was spared during WWII, not even the hallow grounds of the  All-England  Lawn Tennis Club otherwise known as ;Wimbledon’.

Although the club was closed for all matches in the war years. Rather then having Tennis players run over its lawns civil defense and military personnel made use of  the All-England Club. It  even became home to a small farmyard stocked with rabbits, pigs and hens..

During the six years of war more than 1,000 bombs fell on the borough of Wimbledon, destroying nearly 14,000 homes.

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The Centre Court did not escaped unscathed either, one bomb hit it on on 11 October,1940. Resulting in damage a corner of the competitors’ stand, losing 1200 seats in the stadium. It would take to 1947 before the damage was repaired.

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Black Monday- April 13 1360

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You often hear the term ‘the coldest winter,or hottest summer on record etc’ but the oldest ongoing instrumental record of temperature in the world is the Central England Temperature record, started in 1659.

Although I am not disputing the climate change, the fact is there have been climate changes  or freak weather events ever since the world has existed.

On Easter Monday, 13th April 1360, a freak hail storm broke over English troops as they were preparing for battle with the French during the Hundred Years’ War. So brutal was the storm that over 1,000 men and 6,000 horses lost their lives that night. Convinced it was a sign from God, King Edward rushed to pursue peace with the French, marking the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War.

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In April 1360, Edward’s forces burned the Paris suburbs and began to move toward Chartres. While they were camped outside the town, a sudden storm materialized. Lightning struck, killing several people, and hailstones began pelting the soldiers, scattering the horses. One described it as “a foul day, full of myst and hayle, so that men dyed on horseback .” Two of the English leaders were killed and panic set in among the troops, who had no shelter from the storm.

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French friar Jean de Venette credited the apocalyptic storm as the result of the English looting of the French countryside during the observant week of Lent.

On May 8, 1360, three weeks later, the Treaty of Brétigny was signed, marking the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War.

The legacy was mentioned in Shakespearean work:

“It was not for nothing that my nose fell a- bleeding on Black Monday last, at six o’clock i’ the morning.” —Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, ii. 5.

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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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Jan Ingenhousz-Scientist

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This blog is about one of the best known scientists in the history of the world,Jan Ingenhousz.

Jan Ingenhousz or Ingen-Housz  (8 December 1730 – 7 September 1799) was a Dutch physiologist, biologist and chemist.

He is best known for discovering photosynthesis by showing that light is essential to the process by which green plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. He also discovered that plants, like animals, have cellular respiration.In his lifetime he was known for successfully inoculating the members of the Habsburg family in Vienna against smallpox in 1768 and subsequently being the private counsellor and personal physician to the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa.

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Okay, lets be fair. He actually wasn’t a well known scientist at all and most of you(including me) probably only saw his name for the first time today, either because of this blog or more likely because Google reminded us of his Birthday today.

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Photosynthesis is so essential to life on this planet that it’s easy to forget we didn’t even know about it 250 years ago.

The process of plants converting water and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen, using light as a catalyst, was first discovered by Dutch scientist Jan Ingenhousz in 1779.

Ingenhousz began studying medicine at the age of 16, and spent the first part of his career developing a vaccination for smallpox.

In the 1760s he travelled to London and on to Hertfordshire, where he immunised 700 village people in a successful effort to combat an epidemic.

This involved the fairly gruesome process of pricking the skin with a needle that had been dipped into the pus of an infected person’s wound.It worked, however, and after word of Ingenhousz’s success spread, he was invited by the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa to inoculate her entire family.

Over the years, he turned his attention to other scientific pursuits including energy generation, particle motion and gaseous exchange in plants.

Alhough it was already known that plants produced and absorbed gases, it was Ingenhousz who first noticed that oxygen was produced by leaves in sunlight, and carbon dioxide produced in darkness.

This demonstrated that some of the mass of plants comes from the air, and not only the water and nutrients in the soil.

He published his findings in 1779, significantly influencing further research on plant life in the centuries to follow.

Today’s Google doodle focuses on Ingenhousz’s lasting contributions to our understanding of the natural world, on what would have been his 287th birthday.

He died September 7, 1799, Bowood, Wiltshire, England.

Jan-Ingenhousz

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The Bombing of Broadgate, 1939- The IRA S-plan

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In the wider perception of European history, the late 1930s is remembered as the time when Nazi Germany began to cast its shadow over Europe leading ultimately to the most destructive conflict in history – World War II. At the same time however, old grievances were bubbling to the surface once more in Ireland and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were about to resume their campaign to unify Ireland and expel what they saw as a British military occupation of Northern Ireland.

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ON AUGUST 25, 1939, an IRA bomb killed five innocent people and wounded more than 60 others in Coventry. The dead included a 15-year-old boy and an 82- year-old man. Little over a week later, the bombing was overshadowed by the outbreak of the Second World War.

The first direct talks between the IRA and the Nazis began in 1937, when Tom Barry, the then chief-of-staff, travelled to Germany.

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The legendary leader of the Cork flying columns was accompanied on his travels by a German agent, Jupp Hoven. While posing as a TCD student, Hoven undertook spying work in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. He was a close friend of Helmut Clissmann, who ran the German academic exchange service in Dublin. Both men were from Aachen and had nurtured links with the IRA in the 1930s.
Barry’s 1937 trip to the Continent was aimed at seeking German support for IRA attacks on British military installations in Northern Ireland. But at an IRA convention in April 1938, Barry’s plan was rejected in favour of more grandiose pro-German plans conceived by the new chief-of-staff, Seán Russell. The 1916 veteran had long cherished a Casement-style alliance with Germany.

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In August 1938, Russell called on an old IRA comrade, James(Saemus) O’Donovan, who, since 1930, had been working as a manager at ESB headquarters in Dublin.

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The IRA leader’s visit was to enlist his friend’s help in designing a bombing campaign on English soil, to be launched the following year. Russell and O’Donovan were the only two surviving members of the IRA general headquarters staff who had opposed the Anglo-Irish treaty in January 1922. Despite being on the state payroll and having a young family, O’Donovan did not hesitate to accept Russell’s call to arms. I

O’Donovan’s elder son, Donal, had misgivings about his father’s decision to re-enlist with the IRA in 1938, at the age of 41. But James O’Donovan himself never expressed any regrets about his role in the English bombing campaign, which resulted in the deaths of seven members of the public, scores of serious injuries, and the execution of two IRA volunteers in February 1940.

The S-plan kicked off with polite formality, as might be expected from an ex-pupil of the Jesuits (O’Donovan was born in Roscommon in 1896 and educated at Glasgow’s prestigious St Aloysius College). In mid-January 1939, the British foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, received an IRA letter declaring war, which began ‘Your Excellency . . .’. It was typical of O’Donovan to issue a deadly threat cloaked in formal terms.
The ultimatum gave the British government four days to withdraw troops from Northern Ireland—an impossible deadline to meet. In fact, however, the S-plan had nothing to do with forcing a British withdrawal from the North, and everything to do with attracting the attention of the Germans. Russell saw Hitler as the only European leader capable of destroying Britain. His logic was that with England on her knees, nothing could prevent a German-backed reunification of Ireland.

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The British government refused to adhere to the demand and thus the IRA declared war on the United Kingdom on Sunday 15th January 1939. The next day, five bombs were detonated in London, Warwickshire and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The targets were electricity pylons and power sub-stations in an attempt to specifically harm industrial outputs in those areas. This set the tone for much of the IRA’s campaign and over the following week a significant number of targets were hit but with almost no fatalities since they were aimed at infrastructure, power and gas supplies. This was a key factor in supporting the propaganda war since large numbers of deaths might turn the all-important American support against them.

As a wave of IRA bombs exploded across English cities in  January 1939, it didn’t take the Abwehr long to act. In early February it dispatched one of its agents, Oscar Pfaus, to Dublin to meet the IRA leadership. O’Donovan recalled that on 3 February the German agent ‘met Seán Russell and myself in Pete’s [Kearney] house in Clontarf. He explained that his principals would be glad to meet a representative from us and discuss the possibility of assistance . . .’.
This was an offer the IRA leaders could not refuse.

Throughout 1939 the IRA carried out repeated attacks aimed at further undermining the British industrial complex and the British people’s confidence in their government to protect them. In July 1939, attacks were made on cinemas in London and Birmingham using tear gas bombs which although didn’t kill anyone struck fear in to the wider public that their enemy was on their own streets and walking among them. At the same time, perhaps frustrated by the lack of results thus far, the British government revealed that it had been informed that the attacks on the UK would intensify in the coming months. Not long after this, bombs were detonated at banks across London killing one person while a second was killed in a blast at King’s Cross train station a month later. The British responded with emergency powers that saw large numbers of the Irish community in Britain get deported to Southern Ireland who were themselves introducing legislation to combat the IRA. The British were also increasingly concerned about reported support for the IRA’s campaign coming from Berlin.

Then on August 25th 1939, less than a week before Hitler’s forces crossed in to Poland, a rather inconspicuous-looking bike was placed up against a wall in Broadgate, part of Coventry’s busy city centre.

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The bike had a basket on the front, common for the time, with a bundle inside it. A rather frustrated man had left it there and walked away having found it difficult to take the bike across the tramlines in the area. His name was Joby O’Sullivan who came from Cork and he was the only one who knew that the bundle in the basket was in fact a bomb. He would later state that he intended to take the already armed bomb to a nearby police station but the tramlines had slowed his progress down meaning the bomb was due to detonate soon and not wanting to be a martyr he left it where it was.

At two minutes after half past two on a busy Friday afternoon, the 5lbs of explosive was detonated by an alarm clock timer. The blast shattered glass which shot out like bullets that cut down people walking by at the time.

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A young shop assistant, 21-year old Elsie Answell, was killed instantly having been standing by a window near where the bomb detonated. She was due to be married in early September but ended up getting buried in the same church her service was to take place.She was only identifiable by her engagement ring.[2

In the W.H. Smiths store, 30-year old Rex Gentle who came to Coventry from North Wales for holiday work and 15-year old local boy John Arnott were also killed in the initial blast. 50-year old Gwilym Rowlands was killed while sweeping the roads for the council while the oldest victim, 82-year old James Clay, was struck down as he walked home from his regular café which he had left earlier than usual because he was feeling unwell. Another 70 people were injured many of them with severe lacerations caused by the flying glass.

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The British public were outraged and the attack served to further diminish confidence in British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his government who seemed impotent to stop both the IRA at home and Hitler in Eastern Europe.

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Stratford Martyrs

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The Stratford Martyrs were a group of 11 men and two women who were burned at the stake together for their Protestant beliefs, at Stratford-le-Bow or Stratford near London in England on 27 June 1556, during the Marian persecutions.

Protestants were executed under heresy laws during persecutions against Protestant religious reformers for their religious denomination during the reigns of Henry VIII (1509–1547) and Mary I of England (1553–1558}

A detailed description of the event is in John Foxe’s book, The Acts and Monuments.Foxe lists those executed.

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The 16 accused had been brought to Newgate in London from various parts of Essex and Hertfordshire. There, beginning on 6 June 1556, at an ecclesiastical tribunal under the direction of Thomas Darbyshire, the chancellor of Edmund Bonner the Bishop of London, they were charged with nine counts of heresy, to which they all either assented or remained silent. All of them were condemned to death and later published a letter detailing their beliefs in rebuttal of a sermon that had been preached against them by John Feckenham, the Dean of St Paul’s. On the 27 June 1556, the remaining 13 were brought from London to Stratford, where the party was divided into two and held “in several chambers”. Here, the sheriff unsuccessfully attempted to persuade each group to recant, by telling them falsely that the other group had already done so.

The executions were said to have been attended by a crowd of 20,000. The exact place of the execution is unknown; the most likely site is thought to have been Fair Field in Bow (then known as Stratford-le-Bow), north of the present day Bow Church DLR station.An alternative suggested location is Stratford Green, much of which is now occupied by the University of East London Stratford Campus; however, this theory seems to date only from the erection of a monument to the martyrs in the nearby churchyard of the Parish Church of St John the Evangelist in 1879.

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According to Foxe, “eleven men were tied to three stakes, and the two women loose in the midst without any stake; and so they were all burnt in one fire”

In 1879 a large monument was erected in St John’s churchyard in Stratford Broadway, to commemorate the 13 and others who were executed or tortured in Stratford during the persecutions. The memorial is Grade II listed on the National Heritage List for England.

 

The Battle of Bamber Bridge

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The Battle of Bamber Bridge was an outbreak of racial violence and mutiny that began in the evening of 24 June 1943 among American servicemen stationed in the British village of Bamber Bridge, Lancashire. Coming just days after the 1943 Detroit race riot.

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The incident was sparked by the attempted arrest by white Military Police (MPs) of several black soldiers from the racially segregated 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment in the Ye Old Hob Inn public house.

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In the following hours, the situation was further inflamed by the arrival of more military police armed with machine guns, and the response of black soldiers who raided the armoury and armed themselves with rifles. A firefight broke out, and continued until the early hours of 25 June. The fight left one soldier dead and several MPs and soldiers injured. A court martial after the event convicted 32 soldiers of mutiny and related crimes, but put blame on poor leadership and racist attitudes among the MPs.

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On 20 June, 1943, an estimated 100,000 black civilians travelled from Detroit city to the Belle Isle on the Detroit river to relax in the 90 degree heat. Rumours began to spread of a black woman and her baby being murdered, which quickly led to tensions and later fighting on the way back to the city.

The rioting tragically resulted in 25 black people dead, 17 shot by the police, and riots quickly spread to Texas, Massa, Ohio, Harlem and 4,000 miles to North West England. Bamber Bridge had been the headquarters for the 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment for several months, and many of the American black soldiers would socialise in Preston.

On the evening of Thursday, June 24 1943, several black GIs decided to stay in Bamber Bridge and drink in thatched pub the Olde Hob Inn. At 10 pm, the drinkers in the pub jeered as closing time was announced, the atmosphere already tense between the GIs from the news of the riots in Detroit. Military Police passing by attempted to arrest one GI in the pub, resulting in a backlash from other drinkers.

A British soldier asked: “Why do you want to arrest them? They are doing nothing wrong.” However, they then attempted to arrest several more GIs between the pub and Adams Hall, their base. The result ended up in a GI being shot and injured. Three Military Police vehicles set it off again at midnight after a brief calm period, by returning to the base armed with a machine gun. The word was spread from the gates to the several hundred soldiers inside, who broke into storerooms for weapons and ammunition.

They smashed through the gates and headed into Bamber Bridge, where they launched an attack on all Military Police and vehicles. British civilians watched as their quiet town erupted in violence and gunfire, forcing many to hide indoors away from the chaos. The Military Police set up a road block and again tried to arrest the disorderly GIs. Local policeman alleged that the Military Police ambushed the GIs by trapping them in the road with machine guns. One GI was shot and died several days later. More than 20 men were found guilty and charges included resisting arrest and illegal possession of rifles. Sentences ranged from three months to 15 years, but most soldiers had these reduced and were serving again within a year.
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Imber friendly fire incident

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The Imber friendly fire incident took place on the 13 April 1942 at Imber, England, during the Second World War. One of the Royal Air Force fighter aircraft taking part in a firepower demonstration accidentally opened fire on a crowd of spectators, killing 25 and wounding 71. Pilot error and bad weather were blamed for the incident

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On 13 April 1942 the weather was hazy and six Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawker Hurricanes from No. 175 Squadron RAF and six Supermarine Spitfires from No. 234 Squadron RAF were being used for a demonstration of tactical airpower at Imber, a British Army training ground on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

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The event was a dress rehearsal for an upcoming visit by Winston Churchill and General George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army and attended by a number of military personnel.

The Spitfires overflew followed by the Hurricanes. Five of the Hurricanes hit the correct targets: several armoured vehicles and mock tanks. The pilot of the sixth Hurricane opened fire at the spectators before continuing with the demonstration. Casualties were 25 military personnel killed and 71 wounded.

The following day the War Office and Air Ministry issued a joint statement:

During combined excercises to-day in Southern England there was an unfortunate accident in which a number of soldiers, including some members of the Home Guard, were killed and other injured. The next-of-kin have been informed.[4]

First reports were that 14 had died with forty to fifty injured but this was later revised to 23 killed on the day (16 officers and seven soldiers). Four of the officers were members of the Home Guard.Two other officers died from wounds in the next few days, one on the 14 April the other (a Home Guard officer) on the 15 April to bring the total deaths to 25.

The Court of Inquiry found the pilot, 21-year-old Sergeant William McLachlan was guilty of making an error of judgement and that the weather at the time contributed to the incident. The pilot of the Hurricane had misidentified the spectators as dummies, thinking that they were part of the demonstration when he opened fire.

An inquest held at Warminster into the deaths recorded that the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds and attributed to misadventure. The RAF pilot told the inquest he lost sight of the aeroplane he was following in the haze and realised he had made a mistake after he fired. The coroner also pointed out that, contrary to rumour, the pilot was British and not American.