I did actually mean to do this blog just over a week ago, on the anniversary, but various things got in the way, mainly my health. But anyway…
2019 seems to have been the centenary of a large number of events. I suspect its because of the end of WW1, and the freedom to use technology for beneficial reasons, and not just to kill as many of ‘the enemy’ as possible. In 1919, if you wanted to cross the Atlantic, you had one choice, you went by ship, and it took more than a week to do the crossing. Nowadays its possible to cross the Atlantic in a matter of 6 hours or less! Certainly, on a jet plane, I would guess (if possible) that St Johns, Newfoundland, to Clifden in the West of Ireland would probably be about 4 hours or so. Heck, I can fly from Manchester, to Los Angeles (against the jet stream) in just under 11 hours.
However, on 14th June, from St Johns, Newfoundland, 2 British RAF Officers, Alcock, and Brown, set off to do something that had never been done before, to cross the Atlantic by plane. 16 and a bit hours later, on June 15th, they crash landed into a bog, close to Clifden, in the North West corner of Ireland. There was a prize of £10,000 for doing this, which seemingly equates to about £450,000 today!
In case anyone is wondering, it took another 20 years before the first Transatlantic passenger flight happened, a matter of months before the start of WW2!
The sad thing for Alcock at least, was that 6 months later, he was dead, at 27. He crashed while trying to deliver a plane to France, and died shortly after, from his injuries. Brown, and his son both actually served in WW2, he as an instructor, his son as a pilot who tragically died in the war. Supposedly that led to his retirement, and a deterioration in his health, so much so that he died 5 years later, at age of 52.
Incredible to think that 50 years later, man landed on the Moon!
I wonder how, 100 years from now, people will travel between Earth, and probably places beyond this planet as well. One thing is for sure, I personally wont know, but I wonder if a reincarnation of myself will do so?
This song has been recorded more than a few times, but in truth, this is the group that are probably most famous for doing so
First, lets get the rant out of the way, anyone who cant work out who its about doesnt know me well enough. When the whole purpose of your visit is to pay due, and correct respect to thousands of men who gave their lives for us, so that we might be free, you’d think he would at least make the effort to be at the right place, at the right time, wouldn’t you? No, he was so busy doing a TV interview about himself, not the event, that the remembrance had to be delayed, because he wasnt there. See no name, I’m not going to tag him either, but I hope you all know who!
On the morning of the 6th June, 1944, many thousands of brave young men, of many nations attempted to land on a number of beaches in France. Thats right, the event known as D-Day. Several thousand of them never left those beaches alive, some never even made it that far. Thankfully their efforts were not in vain, and just about 1 year later, WW2 in Europe at least, was over, and supposedly the continent was at peace again, though of course that wasnt really going to be the case for at least 46 years, as the Soviet Union took control of Eastern Europe, and the Cold War began. Even after that point, its fair to say there has never been perfect peace between Russia, and the West, but besides that…
Despite the efforts of one buffoon today, let us never forget their braveness in the deeds they did, on our behalf. Given the state of my health, unlike WW1, I dont expect to be around to see the centenary of this date, for sure.
Right, video time. It is WW2 related, though more Battle of Britain, than D-Day. This is the original video, with a slight remix.
Apart from the ‘traditional’ bank holiday events, its a fact that Bank Holidays here in the UK, and those in the US dont tend to coincide. Today, they did. Oh, and to mark a previous recent blog, this is the last day before I’m officially back on medical leave again, lol. Over here, its just called a Spring Bank Holiday, in the US, its called Memorial Day, when (in theory at least nowadays) they remember all the brave people that have died over the years in various wars. We seem to save all that for Remembrance Sunday in November, because of course its against the end of WW1, on November 11, though most remembrances happen on the closest Sunday to that date now.
Equally, Memorial Day used to (according to Wiki) always be celebrated on May 30, but now, for convenience, happens on the last Monday in May, the same date as our Spring Bank Holiday.
The depressing fact, do you have any idea how many years that the US has been at peace since inception in 1776? A meagre 17! So its fair to assume they have plenty of need for Memorials to be remembered! To be fair, a few of those were for the 2 World Wars, but altogether… Oh, and a few of those were of course an in house war!
So during that long period of time, plenty of brave men, and in more recent times, women, have died in the name of war. Today, in the US at least, is the day designated to remember them. In this country, the weekend seems to have been a bit of a political war, seemingly won by very few, if any.
Let us also remember all the folk everywhere who have had to work today, on a Bank Holiday. I know, not the same thing as giving your life, but as I know from so much of my working life, the talk about weekends, and bank holidays off are a misnomer for some.
But yes, US readers (and the stats tell me I have plenty), take a few minutes today to remember those that gave their lives in defence of yours.
The video choice is a weird one, but if you think about, its a title thats probably apt for all those that went into battle. There is also the fact that some car company are using it in ads over here at present. Oh, and fine, yes I’d love to be turned into a mannequin for a role, just saying…
And as promised a week ago, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, and in the eleventh hour in east coast US zone, by the time I finish this, we are one hundred years on from the end of the great insanity that was World War 1. Of course that orange, wigged buffoon from the US couldnt even be bothered to turn up at the US Military Graves for those of his country that fell there in the Great War, because of a little bit of rain. Poor thing, but I bet if they were Russian, his boss would have made him turn up, but anyway…
I actually went to see a good play this week put on by the drama group in Cookridge, which a couple of my fellow workers were taking part in. Too late for you to go now, but they put on a good show. And its from that, that I got the blog title, the not unreasonable line about lions being led by donkeys. Because, sadly, its true, most of the so called leaders of the war force were barely able to tie up shoe laces, judging by their decisions, let alone send brave young men into war, many to meet their death, at far too young an age.
To put it into perspective, if I remember the figures rightly, the group of ‘Yorkshire Pals’ that the play was about on Thursday, 900 men went over the top at the Battle of the Somme, only 150 even made it to the assembly point a few hundred yards ahead of them. The rest of them died, some quite literally never to be seen again.
The thing is, some of the leaders knew what a disaster this was, as I read this morning of Lloyd George, trying to convince a young relative of the Canadian Ambassador not to go to the front, as he wished to. The comment was that things were ‘bad for our forces’, an understatement if ever there was one.
The biggest irony, and leadership incompetence however, was saved for this date, 100 years ago. On this date, an attack was launched, leading to about 2000 young men dying, when the leaders knew that the Armistice was being declared about 3 hours later! I think calling them donkeys, would be insulting donkeys, in truth.
Anyway, 100 years on from that date, let us all remember those ‘brave lions’ that died in that war, and try to forget the ‘idiot donkeys’ that led them there. RIP!
Right, the blog has been serious, the video is not. I need to do something lighthearted for the event, or I’ll scream, so…
For reference, Pat & Stanley are the 2 in the video. As far as I can tell, the singing is the version by The Tokens
101 years ago today, in Vienna, a baby girl was born. Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, in fact, a good Jewish baby. Well, I assume she was good, at least. You’re right, thats not the name she made herself famous with, as an actress, that was Hedy Lamarr. I’m not going to bore you with all the details of her movie career, and past history, if you want to read that, Wikipedia can guide you at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr
But during WW2, she patented something relating to frequency-hopping spread-spectrum, which helped the Allies to win the war. What wasnt known at the time, or indeed for about 40 years after, was the importance of this. Then companies started developing something called mobile phones, and guess what system they had to use to develop these devices? Yes, you’ve guessed it, frequency-hopping spread-spectrum! It was only when they tried to patent it, they discovered that they had been beaten to it, by over 40 years!
So they had to track down Hedy Lamarr, pay her off to gain the rights, and the rest is history. And yes, you guessed it, some of her other scientific work is how the internet developed. So the next time you ponder the scientific genius that allows you to make phone calls, or trawl the internet, just consider this. A movie actress helped to make all this possible!
See, not all actresses were just pretty faces!
OK, fine, there are 2 anniversaries this weekend, one a personal one, that will appear tomorrow, but today marks the 71st anniversary of D-Day, the moment that the history of WW2 changed forever, though certainly the Soviets attacking from the East certainly helped to change the history of the war too.
But on this day, early morning, for the first time in just a few years, France was invaded. This time though, it was a landing force, coming to rescue them from Nazi domination. The beaches were well defended, but the breach was eventually made, and after that, in less than a year, Germany had been overrun, from both directions, and WW2 was over.
Sadly, but inevitably, thousands of brave young men died on that day, and in the 11 months or so after that time, and we must never forget them. Indeed, we should be very proud of them, for freeing Europe. Of course, as history shows, Eastern Europe, for the next 45 years or so, disappeared under a Soviet controlled Iron Curtain, which in the Stalin years at least, probably suffered as much as they did under the Nazi’s!
So on this day, lets remember these brave people that never came back from France, and the freedom they granted us.
The video, well, if anyone can think of a more apt one, I cant!
Well, seriously, given the date and everything, what else were you expecting tonight?
Strictly, the centenary of the significance of the 11th November is still 4 years away, but given this is the centenary of the start of World War 1, its a major landmark anyway. And at the 11th hour today, we have, or will (depending on your time zone) remember them.
Not that we just remember those who fell during that awful war, but on the battlefields everywhere, ever since. I suppose, strictly, those who died before too, but its fair to say that 1918 was of course the day that Remembrance Day over here, Veterans Day in the US, is the one that all are remembered for.
No, I’m not going to get political on the matter, though its fair to say that in hindsight, the leaders on both sides in WW1 didnt think too much about planning.
But anyway, for all those brave souls who died then, and since then, I remember, and respect all you did for us, who followed you.
Oh, the celebration? Well, two friends, one long term, one who I have only got to know recently both celebrate their birthday today.
The new one, that wonderful lady who showed Kate, and I around Cherryvale, less than 2 months ago. I think it was towards the end of last year when we first made contact, due to a posting I made about, yes, going to Cherryvale, the home town of Louise Brooks. Finally, I got to meet her in September, and she was just as wonderful to me in real life, as she had been in cyberspace.
Thanks, Tina, hope you’ve had a wonderful day.
Its fair to say I’ve known James a lot longer, though I’m not sure now, just how many years it has been. But in that time, he has become a true friend, a confidant, my editor, to name but 3 things! This man is simply amazing, believe me. Oh, and to top all this, he is the one who has invited me, in less than 2 weeks now, to celebrate Thanksgiving with him, my first time doing so.
So yes, as well as remembering the brave who died fighting for us, I am celebrating the birthday of 2 wonderful people.
The video, well yes, its a war related one, though possibly not one that people would immediately relate to events.
As Michael Caine would certainly say, not a lot of people know that, especially today, 70 years on! But yes, its true.
Back in June 1940, Hitler was roaring through Europe, and all that was left, was Britain. Thing is, because we’re an island, Hitler did realise that trying to invade our country was going to be a bit more of a challenge than mainland Europe. Didnt stop him trying a bombing campaign, and if he hadnt made the crazy decision to turn on his ally, the Soviet Union, to rid the world of communism, well, who knows if we would have held out eventually? But thats all hypothesis, and no more. He didnt, and as history proved, it backfired on him massively.
But despite all that was said about him, Hitler wasnt entirely stupid, and quickly realised that invading a little bit of Britain might not be so hard. Yes, the Channel Islands of course. And back in June 1940, the navy decided that it either couldnt defend the group of islands, just 14 miles from occupied France, or just didnt want to. Who knows, those details are lost in history, all we know is Churchill decided to demilitarize the Islands, and leave them to it. He did offer an evacuation process for people, but hardly made it look an attractive offer!
Anyway, after a brief (one off) bombing campaign of the islands by the German’s (they were tipped off after that, that there were no military on the island), they took control on the 1st July 1940…and stayed until 9th May 1945. Thats right, nearly a year after D-Day, the German’s still controlled the Islands, partly because they had no way out, even if they’d wanted too! They were well defended, had little benefit to the Allies, and so…got ignored, until the war was over! Snag was, no supplies were therefore getting in, and people were beginning to starve.
Finally, at the end of 1944, a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was reached, and a Red Cross ship sailed into the island, with provisions for the locals. Sadly, that was it for about 5 months, so the benefit was soon gone again.
Lets not mention the atrocities that went on, we all know the history of that. But one of the things constructed, partly by slave labour (from Eastern Europe, who lasted on average 6 months, being starved, brutalised, and over worked), and partly by others, including locals, who were paid well for their efforts, was what is now known as the War Tunnels. Initially as a defence, and communication hub for the island, and toward the end, a military hospital for the invasion that never happened, for the wounded.
Yes, they are where I went today, a follow up visit from over 30 years ago. Back then, the tour was extremely basic, just a few passages you could walk down, a very basic display, and that was it. Now, with time, and modern techniques, its far better done, and I’m glad I went back.
Its hard to imagine, in more senses than one, what life must have been like for the Islanders back then, and I’m not even going to try!
Oh, and for the journey back to town, I travelled on a bus, that may not have been around during the war, but saw service soon after, an amazing treat for someone like me.
The music, what could be more apt, than a German singing about peace, in her own language, English, and at least 1 more for her trouble. It won Eurovision, in 1982, before the contest became a political joke!