On this day: a king for Albania | In Times Gone By…

Otto Witte – a German circus performer – claimed he was crowned King of Albania on the 13th of August, 1913. When Albania broke free of the Ottoman Empire and Serbian occupation, a Musl…

Source: On this day: a king for Albania | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the world’s first cruise ship | In Times Gone By…

The Prinzessin Victoria Luise, recognised as the world’s first cruise ship, was launched on the 29th of June, 1900. Her maiden voyage came on the 5th of January the following year, travelling from …

Source: On this day: the world’s first cruise ship | In Times Gone By…

Operation Mincemeat: The Biggest Bluff of WWII

History Wench

The Second World War is the setting for some of history’s greatest espionage tales. Public imagination is frequently captured by the image of a suave and intelligent agent undertaking covert missions for Queen and country. This post will detail one of the more unusual of these espionage stories – ‘Operation Mincemeat. A plan which was masterminded by Ewen Montagu and targeted the German intelligence orginisation, Abwehr.

The agent used in Operation Mincemeat was worlds away from the charming and sophisticated agent popular culture often likes to depict – he was a semi-literate tramp from Aberbargoed, Wales. This agent’s name was Glyndwr Michael. Whats more is that Michael was already dead when he successfully carried out his mission.

Michael’s personal history is one of sadness and tragedy. His father committed suicide when he was just fifteen years old and his mother died sixteen years later. He was left penniless, homeless, and depressed. Shortly after the death…

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On this day: the Black Tom explosion

In Times Gone By...

Aftermath of the Black Tom explosion, an act of sabotage on American ammunition supplies by German agents which took place on July 30, 1916 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Black Tom pier photographed on the 31st of July, 1916, a day and a half after the explosion.

On the 30th of July, 1916, German agents blew up a pier in New Jersey, USA in an attempt to sabotage American-made munitions intended for World War One.

The worst of the explosions took place at 2:08am, by which point some guards had fled at the sight of fire, knowing what was to come.

The explosion was so great some of the fragments became lodged in the Statue of Liberty, and a clock was stopped over a mile away. The time was frozen at 2:12am.

Map of Jersey City, NJ circa 1905 showing location of Black Tom.

It is estimated that seven people were killed. Hundreds were injured, and the explosion was felt as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland.

It was later revealed that a Slovak immigrant, who had earlier served in the US Army, was responsible for the explosions, and…

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On this day: the Hindenburg in New Jersey in 1936

In Times Gone By...

The German zeppelin Hindenburg trundles into the U.S. Navy’s hangar at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on the 9th of May, 1936. The rigid airship had just set a record for its first north Atlantic crossing, the first leg of ten scheduled round trips between Germany and America.

The disaster that saw the destruction of the airship happened just short of a year later, on the 6th of May, 1937.

Source

The German-built zeppelin Hindenburg trundles into the U.S. Navy hangar, its nose hooked to the mobile mooring tower, at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 9, 1936.

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On this day: the Munich Air Disaster in 1958

In Times Gone By...

Munich Air Disaster

The aftermath of the crash.

On the 6th of February, 1958, a British European Airways aeroplane crashed at Munich Airport on its third attempt at take-off.

On board flight 609 were forty-four people. Twenty were killed at the scene of the crash, while three more later died in hospital.

Airspeed Ambassador G-ALZU At Munich Before Accident

Shortly before take-off.

The crash is famous because eight of the people killed were Manchester United players, but I have to say it doesn’t thrill me that playing football apparently makes your life worth more than somebody else’s.

Airspeed Ambassador G-ALZU Burning At Munich 1958

The plane burning on the runway.

The cause of the crash was eventually blamed on slush on the runway. It was not until ten years after the crash that the Captain was cleared of playing a part in the disaster.

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