the history channel

Throwback Thursday: HMHS Britannic 1916

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Britannic Image One
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

One-hundred, three years ago, today, the HMHS Britannic, sister ship to the RMS Titanic, sank in the Aegean Sea. On its way to pick up more wounded soldiers near the Gulf of Athens, a loud explosion shook the ship at 8:12am.

In the wake of the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912, the White Star Line made several modifications in the construction of its already-planned sister ship. First, the name was changed from Gigantic to Britannic and the design of the hull was altered to make it less vulnerable to icebergs. In addition, it was mandated that there be enough lifeboats on board to accommodate all passengers, which had not been the case with the Titanic.

The nearly 50,000-ton luxury vessel was launched in 1914 but, was requisitioned soon afterward by the British government to serve as a hospital ship during World War I. In this capacity, Captain Charlie Bartlett led the Britannic on five successful voyages bringing wounded British troops back to England from various ports around the world.

Britannic Image Two
Postcard of the Britannic showing her intended purpose. Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org & ibiblio.org

[Immediately after the explosion], Captain Bartlett ordered the closure of the watertight doors and sent out a distress signal. However, the blast had already managed to flood six whole compartments, even more extensive damage than that which had sunk the Titanic. Still, the Britannic had been prepared for such a disaster and would have stayed afloat except for two critical matters.

First, Captain Bartlett decided to try to run the Britannic aground on the nearby island of Kea. This might have been successful but, earlier, the ship’s nursing staff had opened the portholes to air out the sick wards. Water poured in through the portholes as the Britannic headed towards Kea. Second, the disaster was compounded when some of the crew attempted to launch lifeboats without orders. Since the ship was still moving as fast as it could, the boats were sucked into the propellers, killing those on board.

Less than 30 minutes later, Bartlett realized that the ship was going to sink and ordered it abandoned. The lifeboats were launched and even though the Britannic sank at 9:07, less than an hour after the explosion, nearly 1,100 people managed to make it off the ship. In fact, most of the 30 people who died were in the prematurely launched lifeboats.

In 1975, famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau found the Britannic lying on its side 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean.

[Source]

Britannic Image Three
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org & titanicstation.blogspot.com

Violet Jessop (who was also one of the survivors of Britannic’s sister-ship Titanic and had even been on the third sister, Olympic, when it collided with HMS Hawke) described the last seconds:

“She dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower. All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child’s toys. Then, she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths, the noise of her going resounding through the water with undreamt-of violence…”

Britannic was the largest ship lost in the First World War.

[Source]

The cause, whether it was a torpedo from an enemy submarine or a mine, was not apparent. It would later be revealed that the mines were planted in the Kea Channel on October 12, 1916, by SM U-73 under the command of Gustav Sieß (German language link).

[Source]

Rescue
The Wreck
Legacy
Britannic TV Film 2000 (fictional account)
BBC2 Documentary 2016

From the TV Film

Throwback Thursday: Daniel Boone 1820

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Daniel Boone Portrait Image One
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
1820 Oil painting by Chester Harding

One-hundred, ninety-nine years ago, today, the real Daniel Boone passed away. Two days prior, I posted about the television show Daniel Boone that was hardly accurate in its portrayal or his frame of life despite being a popular show.

From The History Channel:

On September 26, 1820 the great pioneering frontiersman Daniel Boone dies quietly in his sleep at his son’s home near present-day Defiance, Missouri.

The indefatigable voyager was 86. Boone was born in 1734 (he has two different dates of birth due to the 1752 Gregorian calendar switch) to Quaker parents living in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Following a squabble with the Pennsylvania Quakers, Boone’s family decided to head south and west for less crowded regions and they eventually settled in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. There the young Daniel Boone began his life-long love for wilderness, spending long days exploring the still relatively unspoiled forests and mountains of the region. An indifferent student who never learned to write more than a crude sentence or two, Boone’s passion was for the outdoors, and he quickly became a superb marksman, hunter and woodsman. (It should be noted here that historian John Mack Faragher stated that Boone “acquired a level of literacy that was the equal of most men of his times. He was often the only literate person in groups of frontiersmen.”)

Elderly Daniel Boone Image Two
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Alonzo Chappel engraving

In May of 1769, Boone and five companions crossed over the Cumberland Gap and explored along the south fork of the Kentucky River. Boone returned in 1773 with his family, hoping to establish a permanent settlement. An Indian attack prevented that first attempt from succeeding (Boone’s eldest son James and, William Russell‘s son Henry were captured and tortured to death, a prelude to Dunmore’s War.) but, Boone returned two years later to open the route that became known as Boone’s Trace (or the Wilderness Road) between the Cumberland Gap and a new settlement along the Kentucky River called Fortress Boonesboro. Boonesboro eventually became one of the most important gateways for the early American settlement of the Trans-Appalachian West.

From Wikipedia:

After the French and Indian War (1754–1763) broke out between the French and British, and their respective Indian allies, North Carolina Governor Matthew Rowan called up a militia, for which Boone volunteered. He served under Captain Hugh Waddell on the North Carolina frontier. Waddell’s unit was assigned to serve in the command of General Edward Braddock […].

Boone served in the North Carolina militia during [the] “Cherokee Uprising“. His militia expeditions went deep into Cherokee territory beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains and he was separated from his wife for about two years.

On December 22, 1769, Boone and a fellow hunter, Benjamin Cutbirth, were captured by a party of Shawnees, who confiscated all of their skins and told them to leave and never return.

Jemima's Capture Image Three
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Charles Wimar 1853

[During the Revolutionary War], Boone’s daughter Jemima and two other teenaged girls were captured outside Boonesborough by an Indian war party on July 5, 1776. The incident became the most celebrated event of Boone’s life. James Fenimore Cooper created a fictionalized version of the episode in his classic novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826).

He lived quite an eventful life.
♦ In February 1778, Boone was adopted into the Shawnee tribe as a prisoner to replace a fallen warrior (a Shawnee custom) and was named Sheltowee (Big Turtle), eventually escaping.
♦ In September 1778, he was court-martialed due to misunderstandings during the Siege of Boonesborough.
♦ There is some indication that Boone crossed paths with Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather.
♦ In 1780, Boone was [a] Lieutenant Colonel in the Fayette County militia. In October, his brother Ned was killed by Shawnees and beheaded for a trophy, as the they thought they had killed Boone.
♦ In 1781, he was elected as a representative to the Virginia General Assembly.
♦ [Traveling] to Richmond to take his seat in the legislature, […] British dragoons under Banastre Tarleton captured Boone and several other legislators near Charlottesville. The British released Boone on parole several days later.
♦ In 1782, he was elected sheriff of Fayette County.
♦ By 1787, he owned seven slaves.
♦ In 1798, a warrant was issued for Boone’s arrest after he ignored a summons to testify in a court case, although the sheriff never found him.
♦ Also in 1798, the Kentucky assembly named Boone County in his honor.
♦ From 1799 to 1804, he served as syndic and commandant, appointed by the Spanish governor of Spanish Louisiana (now St. Charles County, Missouri).
♦ American painter John James Audubon claimed to have gone hunting with Boone in the woods of Kentucky around 1810 (some historians believe Boone visited his brother Squire near Kentucky in 1810).
♦ Boone died of natural causes at his son Nathan’s home. He was 85.

Burial Controversy
Cultural Legacy
Descendants

Throwback Thursday: Flatwoods Monster 1952

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Flatwoods Monster Image One
Image Credit: ESP Realm Blog

Sixty-seven years ago, today, Flatwoods, WV, in Braxton County, was the site of a reported encounter with a scary entity. At 7:15pm:

[May] brothers Ed, 13, and Freddie, 12, had been playing in their schoolyard with their 10-year-old friend Tommy Hyer. After noticing a pulsing red light streak across the sky and crash on a nearby farm, the three youngsters ran to grab the Mays boys’ mother, then high-tailed it up that hill to check out where the light had landed. A few other boys, one with a dog, showed up, too.

Flatwoods Monster Image Two
Image Credit: history.com
Original drawing by a New York sketch artist.

They ran back down, in sheer and credible terror.

“Seven Braxton County residents on Saturday reported seeing a 10-foot Frankenstein-like monster in the hills above Flatwoods,” a local newspaper reported afterward. “A National Guard member, [17-year-old] Gene Lemon, was leading the group when he saw what appeared to be a pair of bright eyes in a tree.”

Lemon screamed and fell backward, the news account said, “when he saw a 10-foot monster with a blood-red body and a green face that seemed to glow.” It may have had claws for hands. It was hard to tell because of the dense mist.

The story made the local news, then got picked up by national radio and big papers all over the country […]. Mrs. May and the National Guard kid ended up going to New York to talk to CBS […].

But, rattled eyewitnesses weren’t the only reason the story took off. Americans were truly frightened in 1952, made anxious by atomic bombs and what seemed like a new world made by mad scientists. Even LIFE magazine, probably the most popular publication in the nation at the time, had, just a few months earlier, published a seemingly credible trend story about flying saucers. Spook stories sprout best when the seed lands in a bed fertile with anxiety and that was 1952 Cold War America […]. [I]t prompted a U.S. Air Force UFO inquiry, part of a project called Project Blue Book that dispatched a handful of investigators around the country to look into such claims.

Flatwoods Monster Image Three
Photo Credit: history.com &
Flatwoods Monster Museum

One writer who stoked the story (a lot) was Gray Barker, a Braxton County native who investigated the monster and, then, became one of the more prominent UFO myth makers, ever. It was Barker who wrote about Flatwoods, then introduced the mythology of government “Men in Black” after he heard that two Air Force investigators had “reportedly” shown up in Flatwoods, posing as magazine writers.

Flatwoods Monster Image Four
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Flatwoods Monster Chair

People grin about it now and take Monster souvenir money from hundreds of Monster tourists every week. But, it scared people plenty back then […]. “One of the boys peed his pants,” said John Gibson, a high-school freshman at the time, who knew them all. “Their dog (Rickie) ran with his tail between his legs.”

To this day, tourists come out of their way to Flatwoods to visit its monster museum and buy Green Monsters and t-shirts. Freddie and Ed are still alive and, still standing by their story. They are in their late 70s now. They are no longer talking to reporters. They got tired after 100,000 interviews […]. [T]he brothers did appear in a recent documentary about the Flatwoods Phantom.

[The Air Force] concluded that bright, but common, meteors had streaked across the eastern U.S. at dusk that night, seen by many in Baltimore, among other places. And, the monster with the claw-like arms? Likely an owl, they said.

And, so, the Flatwoods Monster, also known as the Green Monster, [or] the Phantom of Flatwoods, who was reportedly seven feet tall, or 10 feet tall, or 13 feet tall, or 17 feet tall, became that most peculiar American invention…a legend emblazoned on t-shirts. [Source]

Flatwoods Monster Episode on The History Channel’s Project Blue Book

Throwback Thursday: Route 66 Decertified 1985

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Route 66 Image One
Photo Credit: Vicky McClain on Unsplash

Thirty-four years ago, today, the scenic U.S. Route 66 was decertified by the Route Numbering Committee.

After 59 years, the iconic Route 66 enters the realm of history on this day in 1985, when the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials decertifies the road and votes to remove all its highway signs. Measuring some 2,200 miles in its heyday, Route 66 stretched from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, passing through eight states. According to a New York Times article about its decertification, most of Route 66 followed a path through the wilderness forged in 1857 by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale at the head of a caravan of camels. Over the years, wagon trains and cattlemen eventually made way for trucks and passenger automobiles.

The idea of building a highway along this route surfaced in Oklahoma in the mid-1920s as a way to link the state to cities like Chicago and Los Angeles. Highway Commissioner Cyrus S. Avery touted it as a way of diverting traffic from Kansas City, Missouri and Denver. In 1926, the highway earned its official designation as Route 66. The diagonal course of Route 66 linked hundreds of mostly rural communities to the cities along its route, allowing farmers to more easily transport grain and other types of produce for distribution. The highway was also a lifeline for the long-distance trucking industry, which by 1930 was competing with the railroad for dominance in the shipping market.

Route 66 Image Two
Photo Credit: Can Ahtam on Upsplash

Route 66 was the scene of a mass westward migration during the 1930s, when more than 200,000 people traveled from the poverty-stricken Dust Bowl to California. John Steinbeck immortalized the highway, which he called the “Mother Road”, in his classic 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. Beginning in the 1950s, the building of a massive system of interstate highways made older roads increasingly obsolete and, by 1970, modern four-lane highways had bypassed nearly all sections of Route 66. In October 1984, Interstate-40 bypassed the last original stretch of Route 66 at Williams, Arizona and, the following year, the road was decertified. According to the National Historic Route 66 Federation, drivers can still use 85 percent of the road and Route 66 has become a destination for tourists from all over the world.

Often called the Main Street of America, Route 66 became a pop culture mainstay over the years, inspiring its own song (written in 1947 [sic] by Bobby Troup, Route 66 was later recorded by artists as varied as Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones) as well as a 1960s television series. More recently, the historic highway was featured prominently in the hit animated film Cars (2006).

[Source]

Interesting Links:
Driving Route 66
Historic 66
Rockin’ Route 66

Wayback Wednesday: The Gold Repeal Resolution 1933

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Gold Repeal Image One
Image Credit: loc.gov

Eighty-six years ago, today, following President Franklin Roosevelt‘s signing of Executive Order 6102 on April 5, and Executive Order 6111 on April 20, the 73rd U.S. Congress enacted House Joint Resolution 192 (48 Stat. 112), abolishing payment in gold. These steps eventually led to the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. The ownership of gold coins, gold bullion and gold certificates was forbidden. The Executive Order(s) required all persons to deliver on, or before, May 1, 1933, all but small amounts of gold. Violation of the order was punishable by fine up to $10,000 or up to ten years in prison, or both.

From The History Channel:

On June 5, 1933, the United States went off the gold standard, a monetary system in which currency is backed by gold, when Congress enacted a joint resolution nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. The United States had been on a gold standard since 1879 […] but, bank failures during the Great Depression of the 1930s frightened the public into hoarding gold […].

Soon after taking office in March 1933, Roosevelt declared a nationwide bank moratorium in order to prevent a run on the banks by consumers lacking confidence in the economy. He also forbade banks to pay out gold or to export it. According to Keynesian economic theory, one of the best ways to fight off an economic downturn is to inflate the money supply. And, increasing the amount of gold held by the Federal Reserve would in turn increase its power to inflate the money supply. Facing similar pressures, Britain had dropped the gold standard in 1931 and Roosevelt had taken note.

On April 5, 1933, Roosevelt ordered all gold coins and gold certificates in denominations of more than $100 turned in for other money. It required all persons to deliver all gold […] owned by them to the Federal Reserve by May 1 for the set price of $20.67 per ounce. In 1934, the government price of gold was increased to $35 per ounce, effectively increasing the gold on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheets by 69 percent. This increase in assets allowed the Federal Reserve to further inflate the money supply.

Executive Order 6102 Image Two
Image Credit: gumroad.com

From Peter Schiff:

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941, “A date that will live in infamy.” When it comes to the US monetary system, June 5, 1933, should share that ignoble title because that date marks the beginning of a slow death of the dollar.

Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102 […] touted as a measure to stop hoarding but, was, in reality, a massive confiscation scheme. Even in the heat of Roosevelt’s confiscation scheme, government troops did not break into people’s homes… Ironically, all the gold actually collected by the Treasury was willfully surrendered in a wave of misguided patriotism, while many ‘law-breakers’ simply kept their gold.

The purpose of Roosevelt’s executive order was to remove constraints on inflating the money supply. The Federal Reserve Act required all notes have 40% gold backing [but], the Fed was low on gold and up against the limit. By increasing its gold stores, the Fed could circulate more notes.

Roosevelt’s [actions] in 1933 set off a dollar devaluation that continues to this day. In 1913, prices were only about 20% higher than in 1775 and around 40% lower than in 1813, during the War of 1812. Whatever the mandates of the Federal Reserve, it is clear that the evolution of the price level in the United States is dominated by the abandonment of the gold standard in 1933 and the adoption of fiat money, subsequently. One hundred years after its creation, consumer prices are about 30 times higher than what they were in 1913.

In 1964, the minimum wage stood at $1.25. To put it another way, a minimum wage worker earned five silver quarters for every hour worked. Today, you can’t even buy a cup of coffee with those five quarters [but], the melt-value of those five silver quarters, today, stands close to $15! Roosevelt’s moves, culminating in the June 5 congressional resolutions, initiated a process of monetary deformation that led straight to Nixon’s abomination at Camp David, Greenspan’s panic at the time of the 1998 Long-Term Capital Management crisis and, the final destruction of monetary integrity and financial discipline during the BlackBerry Panic of 2008.

The legacy of June 5, 1933 continues today. The dollar continues to devalue. That means over the long-term, the price of gold in US dollars will almost certainly continue to rise.

Yay for us. ~Vic

Throwback Thursday: Memorial Day

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Memorial Day Image One
Image Credit: youtube

Memorial Day, as celebrated, has come and gone. The weekend BBQs and party gatherings are over. Some folks have returned to work after their Monday off while others took the entire week off and, possibly, headed to the beach to herald the “summer season”. I am posting, today, because from 1868 to 1970, Memorial Day was observed on May 30.

Our American Memorial Day has quite a rich, lengthy history and one that has its own area of research. Columbus State University in Georgia has a Center For Memorial Day Research and the University of Mississippi in Oxford has The Center For Civil War Research that covers Memorial Day in their data.

So, what IS the origin of our Memorial Day? That’s a good question and the following took two days to research.

May we remember them, ALL. ~Vic

Warrenton, Virginia 1861

A newspaper article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1906 reflects Warrenton‘s claims that the first Confederate Memorial Day was June 3, 1861…the location of the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever to be decorated.

Arlington Heights, Virginia 1862

On April 16, 1862, some ladies and a chaplain from Michigan […] proposed gathering some flowers and laying them on the graves of the Michigan soldiers that day. They did so and the next year, they decorated the same graves.

Savannah, Georgia 1862

Women in Savannah decorated soldiers’ graves on July 21, 1862 according the the Savannah Republican.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 1863

The November 19, 1863, cemetery dedication at Gettysburg was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Some have, therefore, claimed that President Abraham Lincoln was the founder of Memorial Day.

Boalsburg, Pennsylvania 1864

On July 4, 1864, ladies decorated soldiers’ graves according to local historians in Boalsburg. Boalsburg promotes itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Knoxville, Tennessee 1865

The first decoration of the graves of Union soldiers of which there is any record was witnessed by Surgeon Fred W. Byers, of the [96th] Illinois volunteer infantry, now surgeon general of the National Guard of the State of Wisconsin (Spring 1865).

Jackson, Mississippi 1865

The incident in Mrs. [Sue Landon Adams] Vaughan’s life, which assured her name a permanent place in history, occurred at Jackson […] when she founded Decoration Day by first decorating the graves of Confederate and Federal soldiers alike, in a Jackson cemetery on April 26, 1865.

Kingston, Georgia 1865

An historic road-side marker indicates Kingston as the location of the “First Decoration, or Memorial Day” (Late April 1865).

Charleston, South Carolina 1865

On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, recently freed African-Americans reburied Union soldiers originally buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. The event was reported in Charleston and northern newspapers and, some historians today cite it as “the first Decoration Day.”

Memorial Day Image Two
Photo Credit: time.com

Columbus, Mississippi 1866

Thus was established a custom which has become national in its adoption – Decoration Day – having its origin with the ladies of Columbus. Columbus also claims the distinction of being the first to decorate the graves of both Confederate and Federal soldiers, alike (Friendship Cemetery April 25, 1866). [See the poem The Blue & The Gray by Francis Miles Finch}

Columbus, Georgia 1866

To the State of Georgia belongs the credit of having inaugurated what has since become the universal custom of decorating annually the graves of the heroic dead. The initial ceremonies which ushered Memorial Day into life were held in Linnwood Cemetery, at Columbus, on April 26, 1866.

Memphis, Tennessee 1866

Yesterday was the day appointed throughout the South as a day of sweet remembrance for our brothers who now sleep their last long sleep, the sleep of death. That day (the 26th day of April) has, and will be, set apart, annually, as a day to be commemorated by all the purely Southern people in the country, as that upon which we are to lay aside our usual vocations of life and, devote to the memory of our friends, brothers, husbands and sons, who have fallen in our late struggle for Southern independence.

Carbondale, Illinois 1866

A stone marker in Carbondale claims that place as the location of the first Decoration Day, honoring the Union soldiers buried there. General John A. Logan, who would later become commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the largest of the Union veterans’ organizations, officiated at the ceremony (April 29, 1866).

Waterloo, New York 1866

On Saturday, May 5, 1866, the first complete observance of what is now known as Memorial Day was held in Waterloo. On May 26, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated an “official” birthplace of the holiday by signing the presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the holder of the title.

Richmond, Virginia 1866

The anniversary of the death of Stonewall Jackson was observed to-day by floral decorations of the graves of Confederate soldiers at Hollywood and Oakwood (May 10, 1866).

May 3, 1866 [they] formed the Ladies’ Hollywood Memorial Association, with the immediate aim of caring for and commemorating the graves of Confederate soldiers. All disposed to co-operate with us will repair, in such groups and at such hours as may be convenient, on Thursday, May 31st, 1866, to Hollywood Cemetery, to mark, by every appropriate means in our power, our sense of the heroic services and sacrifices of those who were dear to us in life and we honored in death.

Petersburg, Virginia 1866

It was in May of this year, 1866, that we inaugurated, in Petersburg, the custom, now universal, of decorating the graves of those who fell in the Civil War. Our intention was simply to lay a token of our gratitude and affection upon the graves of the brave citizens who fell June 9, 1864, in defence of Petersburg…

Memorial Day Image Three
Image Credit: pdxretro.com & cardcow.com

Southern Appalachian Decoration Day

From The Bitter Southerner:

Dinner on the grounds is not a phrase I hear these days. Just reading the phrase takes me back to those times with my grandmother at her church on […] Decoration Day Sunday. I grew up in north Alabama in the 1960s. Dinner on the grounds was a special occasion that followed the work of cleaning up the graveyard and placing fresh flowers beside the headstones. It provided a time to remember and celebrate the lives of the dear departed. ~Betsy Sanders

Today, we are here to eat, remember and bask in the Southern fascination of death […]. It’s Decoration Day. The South claims death with as much loyalty as we claim our children. J.T. Lowery, a former pastor […] misses when Decoration Day meant keeping company with headstones during dinner on the ground. Opal Flannigan is depending on women […] to uphold a tradition so old it’s hard to say when it emerged. German and Scots-Irish immigrants who birthed much of the Southern Appalachia’s culture in Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas likely brought these traditions [with them]. ~Jennifer Crossley Howard

From UNC Press Blog:

Many rural community cemeteries in western North Carolina hold “decorations.” A decoration is a religious service in the cemetery when people decorate graves to pay respect to the dead. The group assembles at outdoor tables, sometime in an outdoor pavilion, for the ritual “dinner on the ground.” There are variations of this pattern but, the overall pattern is fairly consistent.

Nationwide Observance 1868

In 1866, veterans of the Union army formed the beginnings of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization designed expressly to provide aid, comfort and political advocacy for veterans’ issues in post-war America. In 1868, the leadership of the G. A. R. sought through the following order to have the various local and regional observances of decorating soldier graves made into something like a national tradition.

Headquarters Grand Army Of The Republic
Adjutant-General’s Office, 446 Fourteenth St.
Washington, D. C., May 5, 1868.
General Orders No. 11.

From The History Channel:

By proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, the first major Memorial Day observance is held to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. In fact, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo, which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866, because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and, residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. It is customary for the president or vice president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. More than 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually. Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.

Flashback Friday: HMS Hood 1941

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HMS Hood Image One
HMS Hood
Pennant Number 51
Image Credit: rowehistory.blogspot.com

Seventy-eight years ago, today, the last battlecruiser of the Royal Navy, the HMS Hood, was sunk during the Battle of Denmark Strait by the German Kriegsmarine battleship Bismarck.

From Wikipedia:

One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, [she was] commissioned in 1920 [and] named after 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. Despite the appearance of new and, more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for 20 years after her commissioning. […] her prestige was reflected in her nickname, “The Mighty Hood”. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct [some] issues but, the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades.

In May, [she and] the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic where they were to attack convoys. When Bismarck sailed for the Atlantic […], Hood, together with […] Prince of Wales, was sent out in pursuit along with several other groups of British capital ships to intercept the German ships before they could break into the Atlantic […]. Hood was commanded by Captain Ralph Kerr and was flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Lancelot Holland. The German ships were spotted by two British heavy cruisers (Norfolk & Suffolk) on 23 May and Holland‘s ships intercepted Bismarck, and her consort, Prinz Eugen, in the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland.

Bismarck Image Two
Bismarck
Image Credit: pinterest.com

On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, less than 10 minutes after the British opened fire, a shell from Bismarck struck Hood near her aft ammunition magazines. Soon afterwards, Hood exploded and sank within three minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Prince of Wales continued to exchange fire with Bismarck but, suffered serious malfunctions in her main armament. The British battleship had only just been completed in late March 1941 and used new quadruple gun turrets that were unreliable. [She] soon broke off the engagement.

Due to [the] perceived invincibility of the Hood, the loss affected British morale.

From The History Channel:

On this day in 1941, Germany’s largest battleship, the Bismarck, sinks the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood.

The Bismarck was the most modern of Germany’s battleships, a prize coveted by other nation’s navies, even while still in the blueprint stage (Hitler handed over a copy of its blueprints to Joseph Stalin as a concession during the days of the Hitler-Stalin Neutrality Pact). The HMS Hood, originally launched in 1918, was Britain’s largest battlecruiser (41,200 tons) but, also capable of achieving the relatively fast speed of 31 knots. The two met in the North Atlantic, northeast of Iceland, where two British cruisers had tracked down the Bismarck. Commanded by Admiral Gunther Lutjens, Commander-in-Chief of the German Fleet, the Bismarck sunk the Hood, resulting in the death of 1,500 of its crew. Only three Brits survived. Captain Kerr was one of the casualties.

During the engagement, the Bismarck‘s fuel tank was damaged. Lutjens tried to make for the French coast but, was sighted, again, only three days later. Torpedoed to the point of incapacity, the Bismarck was finally sunk by a ring of British war ships. Admiral Lutjens was one of the 2,300 German casualties.

Having grown up listening to Johnny Horton, one of my favorite songs of his is, of course, Sink the Bismarck, released in 1960 (a #1 single in Canada). ~Vic


 
Lyrics
In May of 1941 the war had just begun
The Germans had the biggest ship that had the biggest guns
The Bismarck was the fastest ship that ever sailed the sea
On her decks were guns as big as steers and shells as big as trees

Out of the cold and foggy night came the British ship the Hood
And every British seaman he knew and understood
They had to sink the Bismarck the terror of the sea
Stop those guns as big as steers and those shells as big as trees

We’ll find the German battleship that’s makin’ such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us
Yeah hit the decks a runnin’ boys and spin those guns around
When we find the Bismarck we gotta cut her down

The Hood found the Bismarck and on that fatal day
The Bismarck started firing fifteen miles away
We gotta sink the Bismarck was the battle sound
But when the smoke had cleared away the mighty Hood went down

For six long days and weary nights they tried to find her trail
Churchill told the people put every ship asail
Cause somewhere on that ocean I know she’s gotta be
We gotta sink the Bismarck to the bottom of the sea

We’ll find the German battleship that’s makin’ such a fuss
We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us
Yeah hit the decks a runnin’ boys and spin those guns around
When we find the Bismarck we gotta cut her down

The fog was gone the seventh day and they saw the morning sun
Ten hours away from homeland the Bismarck made its run
The Admiral of the British fleet said turn those bows around
We found that German battleship and we’re gonna cut her down

The British guns were aimed and the shells were coming fast
The first shell hit the Bismarck they knew she couldn’t last
That mighty German battleship is just a memory
Sink the Bismarck was the battle cry that shook the seven seas

We found the German battleship ’twas makin’ such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a runnin’ and we and spun those guns around
Yeah we found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down

We found the German battleship ’twas makin’ such a fuss
We had to sink the Bismarck cause the world depends on us
We hit the deck a runnin’ and we and spun those guns around
We found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down

POTD: Wash Me

Posted on

Well…I had intended to post about the 1959/1960 Payola Scandal that involved Dick Clark but, apparently, The History Channel can’t make up its mind which day it happened on. *sigh*

So, instead, Photo of the Day. ~Vic

Wash Me Image
Gassing up my truck, saw this and started to giggle.
11-03-2016