Thursday, January 31, 2013

This Day in History; Jan 31, 1917: Germans unleash U-boats

On this day in 1917, Germany announces the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic as German torpedo-armed submarines prepare to attack any and all ships, including civilian passenger carriers, said to be sighted in war-zone waters.

When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America's closest trading partners and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter's attempted blockade of the British isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines and, in February 1915, Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American merchant vessel that was transporting grain to England when it disappeared. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized, calling the attack an unfortunate mistake.

The Germans' most formidable naval weapon was the U-boat, a submarine far more sophisticated than those built by other nations at the time. The typical U-boat was 214 feet long, carried 35 men and 12 torpedoes, and could travel underwater for two hours at a time. In the first few years of World War I, the U-boats took a terrible toll on Allied shipping.

In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement for the imminent sailing of the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner from New York to Liverpool. On May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans.

The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August 1915, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sank an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

At the end of January 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare. Three days later, the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany; just hours after that, the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. None of the 25 Americans on board were killed and they were picked up later by a British steamer.

On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms-appropriations bill intended to ready the United States for war. Two days later, British authorities gave the U.S. ambassador to Britain a copy of what has become known as the "Zimmermann Note," a coded message from German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence, Zimmermann stated that, in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the conflict as a German ally. In return, Germany would promise to restore to Mexico the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. On March 1, the U.S. State Department published the note and America was galvanized against Germany once and for all.
In late March, Germany sank four more U.S. merchant ships and, on April 2, President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted 82 to six to declare war against Germany. Two days later, the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50 and America formally entered World War I.

Taken from: [31.01.2013]

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This day in History: Jan 30, 1972: Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland

In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators are shot dead by British Army paratroopers in an event that becomes known as "Bloody Sunday." The protesters, all Northern Catholics, were marching in protest of the British policy of internment of suspected Irish nationalists. British authorities had ordered the march banned, and sent troops to confront the demonstrators when it went ahead. The soldiers fired indiscriminately into the crowd of protesters, killing 13 and wounding 17.

The killings brought worldwide attention to the crisis in Northern Ireland and sparked protests all across Ireland. In Dublin, the capital of independent Ireland, outraged Irish citizens lit the British embassy aflame on February 2.

The crisis in Northern Ireland escalated in 1969 when British troops were sent to the British possession to suppress nationalist activity by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and to quell religious violence between Protestants and Catholics.

In April 1972, the British government released a report exonerating British troops from any illegal actions during the Londonderry protest. Irish indignation over Britain's Northern Ireland policies grew, and Britain increased its military presence in the North while removing any vestige of Northern self-rule. On July 21, 1972, the IRA exploded 20 bombs simultaneously in Belfast, killing British military personnel and a number of civilians. Britain responded by instituting a new court system composed of trial without jury for terrorism suspects and conviction rates topped over 90 percent.

The IRA officially disarmed in September 2005, finally fulfilling the terms of the historic 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. It was hoped that the disarmament would bring with it an end to decades of politically motivated bloodshed in the region.

Two investigations have been held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the immediate aftermath of the event, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame—Widgery described the soldiers' shooting as "bordering on the reckless"—but was widely criticised as a "whitewash".[1][2][3] The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the events. Following a 12-year inquiry, Saville's report was made public on 15 June 2010, and contained findings of fault that could re-open the controversy, and potentially lead to criminal investigations for some soldiers involved in the killings.[4]

The report found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both "unjustified and unjustifiable." On the publication of the Saville report the British prime minister, David Cameron, made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom.[5]

The Dead [6][7]

 John (Jackie) Duddy. Shot in the chest in the car park of Rossville flats. Four witnesses stated Duddy was unarmed and running away from the paratroopers when he was killed. Three of them saw a soldier take deliberate aim at the youth as he ran. He is the uncle of the Irish boxer John Duddy.

Belt worn by Patrick Doherty. The notch was made by the bullet that killed him.Mural by Bogside Artists depicting all who were killed by the British Army on the day

    Patrick Joseph Doherty. Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety in the forecourt of Rossville flats. Doherty was the subject of a series of photographs, taken before and after he died by French journalist Gilles Peress. Despite testimony from "Soldier F" that he had fired at a man holding and firing a pistol, Widgery acknowledged that the photographs showed Doherty was unarmed, and that forensic tests on his hands for gunshot residue proved negative.

    Bernard McGuigan. Shot in the back of the head when he went to help Patrick Doherty. He had been waving a white handkerchief at the soldiers to indicate his peaceful intentions.

    Hugh Pius Gilmour. Shot through his right elbow, the bullet then entering his chest as he ran from the paratroopers on Rossville Street. Widgery acknowledged that a photograph taken seconds after Gilmour was hit corroborated witness reports that he was unarmed, and that tests for gunshot residue were negative.

    Kevin McElhinney. Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety at the front entrance of the Rossville Flats. Two witnesses stated McElhinney was unarmed.

    Michael Gerald Kelly. Shot in the stomach while standing near the rubble barricade in front of Rossville Flats. Widgery accepted that Kelly was unarmed.

    John Pius Young. Shot in the head while standing at the rubble barricade. Two witnesses stated Young was unarmed.

    William Noel Nash. Shot in the chest near the barricade. Witnesses stated Nash was unarmed and going to the aid of another when killed.

    Michael M. McDaid. Shot in the face at the barricade as he was walking away from the paratroopers. The trajectory of the bullet indicated he could have been killed by soldiers positioned on the Derry Walls.

    James Joseph Wray. Wounded then shot again at close range while lying on the ground. Witnesses who were not called to the Widgery Tribunal stated that Wray was calling out that he could not move his legs before he was shot the second time.

    Gerald Donaghy. Shot in the stomach while attempting to run to safety between Glenfada Park and Abbey Park. Donaghy was brought to a nearby house by bystanders where he was examined by a doctor. His pockets were turned out in an effort to identify him. A later police photograph of Donaghy's corpse showed nail bombs in his pockets. Neither those who searched his pockets in the house nor the British army medical officer (Soldier 138) who pronounced him dead shortly afterwards say they saw any bombs. Donaghy had been a member of Fianna Éireann, an IRA-linked Republican youth movement. Paddy Ward, a police informer who gave evidence at the Saville Inquiry, claimed that he had given two nail bombs to Donaghy several hours before he was shot dead.

    Gerald (James) McKinney. Shot just after Gerald Donaghy. Witnesses stated that McKinney had been running behind Donaghy, and he stopped and held up his arms, shouting "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!", when he saw Donaghy fall. He was then shot in the chest.

    William Anthony McKinney. Shot from behind as he attempted to aid Gerald McKinney (no relation). He had left cover to try to help Gerald.

    John Johnston. Shot in the leg and left shoulder on William Street 15 minutes before the rest of the shooting started. Johnston was not on the march, but on his way to visit a friend in Glenfada Park. He died 4½ months later; his death has been attributed to the injuries he received on the day. He was the only one not to die immediately or soon after being shot.


  1. ^ David Granville (28 July 2005). "More 'butcher' than 'grocer'". The Morning Star. Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  2. ^ Nick Cohen (1 February 2004). "Schooled in scandal". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  3. ^ "1972: 'Bloody Sunday' report excuses Army". BBC News. 19 April 1972. Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  4. ^ McDonald, Henry; Norton-Taylor, Richard (10 June 2010). "Bloody Sunday killings to be ruled unlawful". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  5.   ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "'Bloody Sunday', Derry 30 January 1972". CAIN. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  6. ^ "Superb new look for Museum of Free Derrya". Retrieved 17 June 2010.

Taken from: [30.01.2013] [30.01.2013] [30.01.2013]


 U2 Sunday Bloody Sunday Lyrics


I can't believe the news today
Oh, I can't close my eyes
And make it go away
How long...
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long...
'cause tonight...we can be as one

Broken bottles under children's feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won't heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

And the battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters
Torn apart

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

How long...
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long...
'cause tonight...we can be as one

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Oh, wipe your blood shot eyes
(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

And it's true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won

Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sunday Bloody Sunday...


Also on this day: This Day in History: Jan 30, 1948: Gandhi assassinated 




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This Day in History: Jan 29,1940: The Reunited National Party, in South Africa, is founded by Malan and Hertzog

From the 1920s to the 1940s J.C. Smuts, J.B.M. Hertzog and D.F. Malan were the most prominent White politicians in South Africa. In 1933 Hertzog and Smuts formed an alliance that culminated in the merger of the National Party (NP) and the South African Party (SAP), to form the United Party (UP) in 1934. They won the general election to form the Pact Government with Hertzog continuing as Prime Minister and Smuts functioning as his deputy. The coalition received strong opposition from a section of the Afrikaner community who perceived Smuts as an opponent of Afrikaner nationalism and pro-British. Subsequently, a new party, the Purified National Party, under the leadership of Malan, emerged as the alternative for the Afrikaner community.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939 Smuts wanted South Africa to participate on the side of the Allied Forces while Hertzog advocated a neutral stance. After suffering parliamentary defeat on the question of South African participation in the war, Prime Minister Hertzog resigned and recommended that an election be held to test the feeling of the electorate. Hertzog's request was rejected by the Governor-General, Sir Patrick Duncan, who ordered Smuts to form a new government. On 6 September 1939 South Africa entered WWII on the side of the Allies.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

On 23 November 1939 Malan and Hertzog met in Pretoria in an attempt to reach an agreement for collaboration. A reconciliation committee was set up and assigned with the responsibility to find a formula for unity. On 27 November 1939 a declaration appeared in the press that the Parliamentary caucuses of the two groups had reached a consensus to establish a Herenigde Nasionale or Volksparty (Reunited Nationalist or People's Party). The agreement was endorsed by the provincial congresses of the two parties. On 29 January 1940 the Reunited National Party was officially founded with Hertzog as its leader and Malan deputising him.

This party went on to win the 1948 South African elections and would eventually be known as the National Party.

The history of the National Party

  1. Liebenberg, B.J. & Spies, S.B. (eds) (1993). South Africa in the 20th Century, Pretoria: Van Schaik Academic.
  2. In the Shadow of War [online], available at: [ accessed 22 January 2010]
  3. The Great Depression and the 1930s [online], available at: [ accessed 22 January 2010]
Taken from: [29.01.2013]

Monday, January 28, 2013

This Day in History: Jan 28, 1986: Challenger explodes

At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger. She underwent months of shuttle training but then, beginning January 23, was forced to wait six long days as the Challenger's launch countdown was repeatedly delayed because of weather and technical problems. Finally, on January 28, the shuttle lifted off.

Seventy-three seconds later, hundreds on the ground, including Christa's family, stared in disbelief as the shuttle exploded in a forking plume of smoke and fire. Millions more watched the wrenching tragedy unfold on live television. There were no survivors.

In 1976, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) unveiled the world's first reusable manned spacecraft, the Enterprise. Five years later, space flights of the shuttle began when Columbia traveled into space on a 54-hour mission. Launched by two solid-rocket boosters and an external tank, only the aircraft-like shuttle entered into orbit around Earth. When the mission was completed, the shuttle fired engines to reduce speed and, after descending through the atmosphere, landed like a glider. Early shuttles took satellite equipment into space and carried out various scientific experiments. The Challenger disaster was the first major shuttle accident.

In the aftermath of the explosion, President Ronald Reagan appointed a special commission to determine what went wrong with Challenger and to develop future corrective measures. The presidential commission was headed by former secretary of state William Rogers, and included former astronaut Neil Armstrong and former test pilot Chuck Yeager. The investigation determined that the explosion was caused by the failure of an "O-ring" seal in one of the two solid-fuel rockets. The elastic O-ring did not respond as expected because of the cold temperature at launch time, which began a chain of events that resulted in the massive explosion. As a result of the explosion, NASA did not send astronauts into space for more than two years as it redesigned a number of features of the space shuttle.

In September 1988, space shuttle flights resumed with the successful launching of the Discovery. Since then, the space shuttle has carried out numerous important missions, such as the repair and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope and the construction of the International Space Station.

On February 1, 2003, a second space-shuttle disaster rocked the United States when Columbia disintegrated upon reentry of the Earth's atmosphere. All aboard were killed. Despite fears that the problems that downed Columbia had not been satisfactorily addressed, space-shuttle flights resumed on July 26, 2005, when Discovery was again put into orbit.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Pictures from:
Taken from: [28.01.2013]

Friday, January 25, 2013

This Day in History: Jan 25, 1942: Thailand declares war on the United States and England

On this day, Thailand, a Japanese puppet state, declares war on the Allies.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

When war broke out in Europe in September 1939, Thailand declared its neutrality, much to the distress of France and England. Both European nations had colonies surrounding Thailand and hoped Thailand would support the Allied effort and prevent Japanese encroachment on their Pacific territory. But Thailand began moving in the opposite direction, creating a "friendship" with Japan and adding to its school textbooks a futuristic map of Thailand with a "Greater Thailand" encroaching on Chinese territory.

Thailand's first real conflict with the Allies came after the fall of France to the Germans and the creation of the puppet government at Vichy. Thailand saw this as an opportunity to redraw the borders of French Indochina. The Vichy government refused to accommodate the Thais, so Thai troops crossed into French Indochina and battled French troops. Japan interceded in the conflict on the side of the Thais, and used its political alliance with Germany to force Vichy France to cede 21,000 square miles to Thailand.

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese made an amphibious landing on the coast of Thailand, part of the comprehensive sweep of South Pacific islands that followed the bombing raid at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese had assistance, though: Thailand's prime minister, Lang Pipul, collaborated with the Japanese, embracing the Axis power's war goal of usurping territory in China and ruling over the South Pacific. Pipul wanted to partake in the spoils; toward that end, he declared war on the United States and England. In October, he took dictatorial control of Thailand and became a loyal puppet of the Japanese.

Taken from: [25.01.2013]

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Also on this Day: Jan 25, 1905: World's largest diamond found