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Subject: ‘Famous news stories’
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Posted in America, Famous crimes, Famous news stories, Law on Wednesday, 22 May 2013
This edited article about the American Wild West originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 262 published on 21 January 1967.
Cole Younger, a member of the Jesse James Gang, in a shoot-out at Northfield
Surrounded by a posse of armed horsemen, a creaking hay-wagon rolled into the little Minnesota town of Madelia. The citizens flocked to watch its arrival, for on the straw lay three badly wounded outlaws, the famous Younger Brothers who rode with Jesse James and his gang.
‘Cole’ Younger was the most badly hurt of the trio. But even though he had 11 bullets in his body, he managed to climb to his feet, remove his brimmed hat and bow to the ladies of Madelia as they timidly watched the prisoners being escorted to jail.
Born on 15th January, 1844, Cole Younger became one of the most daring and romantic outlaws of the Old West. He and his brothers teamed up with Jesse James who specialised in robbing trains and banks. To many people, Jesse James was a modern Robin Hood.
In the period following the Civil War in America, the James gang had the sympathy of the Confederate supporters, who believed it was the ‘Damn Yankees’ who had driven Jesse James and Cole Younger to their wild way of life.
The redeeming feature of Cole was his great sense of humour. Once when he was being hunted in several states, he became a government census taker in Texas, spending his spare time singing in a local church choir. Little did the other choir members realise that the burly, good-looking man with the powerful bass voice was a desperado with a price on his head!
Cole received the wounds that ended his career of crime on 7th September, 1876, when the James gang raided the First National Bank at Northfield, Minnesota. They rode up in true outlaw style, entered the bank and held up the cashier. He tried to give the alarm and Jesse James shot him down.
The sound of the gun alerted the citizens of the town. As the gang ran out of the bank to their waiting horses, they were met by a hail of bullets. For the next 30 minutes a battle raged between the James gang and the townsfolk.
When three of the gang had been killed and the Younger Brothers were lying wounded in the dust, Jesse James gave the order to retreat. Firing as they went, the gang swept out of town, leaving the Youngers behind them.
It was the outlaws’ last raid. Not long afterwards Jesse was killed by one of his own men, who wanted to collect a reward.
Cole Younger and his two brothers were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Posted in Bravery, Disasters, Famous news stories, Historical articles on Wednesday, 22 May 2013
This edited article about disaster and survival originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 262 published on 21 January 1967.
Glockner District, Heiligenblut, Carinthia, Austro-Hungary. Date between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900.
January 20th, 1951, was a Saturday and, although it was really Gerhard Freissegger’s free weekend, he had offered to stay on at work so that a married colleague could go home to his wife. If he had had any idea of what he was letting himself in for, he would not have been so generous.
Near Heiligenblut, in Austria, in the early 1950s, a dam for a large hydro-electric scheme was being built. A two-stage cable-car had been constructed for the transport of materials, and 26-year-old Gerhard Freissegger was employed at the middle station of the cable railway, on the Sattelalp.
On that January Saturday it was snowing hard, and it had already been snowing for several days. More than three feet had fallen, and during the course of the afternoon Gerhard noticed that the wind was getting up. When, later in the day, he and his colleague, Siegfried Lindner, were ready to close down the station and set out uphill to the three-roomed living hut some 50 yards above the station, the storm had intensified.
They were about to go to bed when one of the two men in the top station of the cable railway, the Winkelstation, telephoned to say that they had been warned of avalanche danger. It was believed that the Winkelstation was more endangered by avalanches than the middle station.
“Don’t worry,” Lindner jokingly said over the phone. “Gerhard and I will come up and dig you out in the morning if anything happens.”
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Posted in America, Famous battles, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Language, War on Wednesday, 22 May 2013
This edited article about Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 262 published on 21 January 1967.
Lincoln's address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, November 19, 1863
Who said “. . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”?
The answer is Abraham Lincoln at the end of his Gettysburg Address.
Between 1st and 3rd July, 1863, one of the decisive battles of history took place around Gettysburg, a small Pennsylvania town. It was the climax of the American Civil War, which was fought by the North (the Union) to preserve the United States, and by the South (the Confederacy) for the right of individual states to settle their own affairs, which included slavery.
Southern armies had defeated Northern ones time and again, despite smaller numbers and lack of industrial resources. But at Gettysburg a long and bitter battle led to a Southern retreat.
On 19th November, 1863, a National Soldiers’ Cemetery was dedicated at Gettysburg; 15,000 people watched parades and ceremonies until the moment came for a distinguished statesman and fine orator, Edward Everett, to speak. His address lasted two whole hours! Then the Baltimore Glee Club sang an Ode, and finally President Lincoln rose to speak a ‘few words’ – words that will live forever.
From its famous beginning, “Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”, until the even more famous final words of the quotation, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address stands as a supreme comment on freedom and democracy.
It took about two minutes to deliver, and ‘long-continued applause’ followed. Lincoln’s friends thought he had spoken well, but his political enemies said the speech was a failure! Lincoln had said: “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here.” But the world has remembered.
Posted in Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Politics, World War 2 on Tuesday, 21 May 2013
This edited article about Neville Chamberlain originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 261 published on 14 January 1967.
Chamberlain and Hitler after signing the Munich Agreement by Angus McBride
In the late summer and early autumn of 1938, Europe was again on the brink of war. Adolf Hitler, leader of Germany was casting covetous eyes on Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia had been artificially created after the First World War and Hitler now claimed that part of it, called the Sudetanland, belonged to Germany, for it sheltered some 300,000 Germans. News leaked out in May that Hitler was planning a military attack and Europe prepared for war. On 15th September, however, Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister flew to Germany and extracted promises from Hitler that seemed to remove the immediate threat of war.
A week later he again flew to Germany: to sign the agreement which had been made the week before.
But, in spite of the official welcome, Chamberlain found that Hitler was bent on increasing his demands. Chamberlain returned to England and began preparing for war – as, indeed, most countries in Europe were preparing. There was little military preparation possible, for England had fallen behind in armaments, but the little that could be done was put in hand. Slit trenches appeared in the parks, sandbags and a few anti-aircraft guns on the public buildings; children were evacuated from London and hospitals emptied.
On Wednesday, 28th September, the Prime Minister was addressing the House of Commons outlining the grave situation, when a message was brought to him. He read it and then looked up, smiling with relief. Hitler, he told the House, was prepared to have another conference. The House went wild with delight.
Chamberlain again left for Germany. This time he met Hitler in Munich and after a gruelling 14-hour session an agreement was reached. Britain and her Allies in effect abandoned Czechoslovakia, but Hitler in return promised that there would be no military action. On the following day Chamberlain had a private talk with Hitler and persuaded him to sign a document saying that the Munich agreement “was symbolic of the desire to our two countries never to go to war with one another again”. Chamberlain intended to give the maximum publicity to this document so that all the world would know what kind of man Hitler was if he broke the agreement. It was this ‘scrap of paper’ which Chamberlain waved to the anxious crowds who awaited him at the airport on his return to England. “I believe it is peace in our time,” he said.
The Prime Minister was greeted rapturously in England but nearly all the countries who would be involved in war shared the relief.
The King of England congratulated him and the British Press was unanimous in its praise.
Just 11 months afterwards, the Second World War broke out – the ‘scrap of paper’ had meant nothing to Adolf Hitler.
Posted in Animals, Bravery, Famous battles, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, War on Monday, 20 May 2013
This edited article about the Charge of the Light Brigade originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 260 published on 7 January 1967.
Lord Cardigan rode his splendid chestnut charger, Ronald, in that heroic charge at Balaclava by James E McConnell
Few people have not heard of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava in the Crimean War. On that memorable day, the 25th October, 1854, 670 of Britain’s finest cavalrymen charged to their doom in the ‘Valley of Death’.
Of course, it was a blunder. A wrong order sent the Light Brigade on its tragic charge, but that did not dim its glory. Shot at from the flanks, riding into the volleying barrel-mouths of Russian cannon, not a man hesitated.
Commanding the Light Cavalry Brigade was Major-General the Earl of Cardigan, riding his splendid chestnut charger, Ronald, a horse with two ‘white stockings’. As if on a ceremonial parade, Cardigan on Ronald trotted, then galloped up the shell-riddled valley and leapt between the Russian guns. Here, with the crash of artillery in his ears, Ronald took fright for the first and only time, and bolted towards the mass of Cossack lancers waiting beyond the guns.
The noble Earl quickly recovered control, fought off three Cossacks, and proudly rode back all the way up the valley. He had suffered only a scratch, on his thigh, and Ronald was completely unhurt. Yet there were only 195 survivors of the charge, and 500 horses were killed.
After the war, Cardigan took the horse back to his family home at Deene in Northamptonshire, where Ronald lived a long and contented life. His head and tail are still preserved there.
Ronald was a soldier’s horse, and shared a soldier’s glory.
Posted in Famous crimes, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Royalty, Superstition, World War 1 on Monday, 20 May 2013
This edited article about World War One originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 260 published on 7 January 1967.
Princip shot the Archduke and then his wife, by Neville Dear
The whole of the Austrian Royal Family was opposed to the marriage. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, it was pointed out, was heir to the thrones of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, but Countess Sophie Chotek was merely a lady-in-waiting. If the marriage took place, she would be treated as a ‘commoner’, and not as her husband’s equal.
Despite this threat, Franz Ferdinand married his Sophie on 28th June, 1900.
As they were leaving the church, an old gypsy woman burst through the crowd and ran up to the Archduke.
“Tell your fortune, Your Imperial Highness?” she asked.
Franz Ferdinand nodded his permission and held out his hand. The gypsy gazed into his palm and then looked solemnly at him.
“You will loose a great war,” she prophesied.
The young newlyweds turned to each other and laughed; they were not going to let anyone – the Royal Family or a gypsy – spoil their happiness.
But their joy was only to last until their 14th anniversary when the tragic consequences of their marriage brought about the start of the First World War.
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Posted in Boats, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, London, Ships on Monday, 20 May 2013
This edited article about Captain Bligh originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 260 published on 7 January 1967.
Captain Bligh was at sea for three months before reaching Timor, by Peter Jackson
Every schoolboy must know the name on the plaque at No. 100 Lambeth Road, the former home of Captain Bligh of the Bounty.
Bligh joined the navy when still very young, and was educated by the teachers then carried on the larger warships. Eventually he became one of Captain Cook’s officers, and with him he surveyed Tasmania and the Sandwich Islands. He was with Cook at the time of his fatal visit to New Zealand, and took part in the fight in which Cook was killed.
It was during this voyage that breadfruit was discovered at Tahiti. The event was to prove much more significant for Bligh than he could possibly have guessed at the time.
For some years it seemed that Bligh would follow a normal career of average obscurity. He saw action at the battle of the Dogger Bank in 1781 and in the following year he fought under Lord Howe at Gibraltar.
In 1787, his skill as a navigator was recognised, and he was given his first command: Bounty. He was then sent to transplant breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the West Indies. The mission was not so whimsical as it might appear, for it was thought the trees would provide a source of good, cheap food for the slaves then at work on the plantations of the New World.
At Tahiti, the ship’s company relaxed and enjoyed the natural delights of the island for much longer than was necessary. They left with reluctance. Tempers were short and Bligh was overbearing. After a heated quarrel about some coconuts, the young mate, Christian, prepared to desert. He changed his mind and instead led the famous mutiny.
Bligh was put into a small boat with 18 men, some provisions and navigational instruments, but no charts. Three months later, Captain Bligh and his men reached Timor, off Java, having spent three months at sea, touching only islands for fruit and shellfish. It was a remarkable voyage.
Back in England, Bligh was given another ship, and was dispatched once more to transplant breadfruit trees. This time he completed the mission without incident.
Three years later, mutineers again relieved him of his ship, at the Nore, but this time he was landed. He fought at the battle of Copenhagen under Nelson, and in 1805 he was appointed governor of New South Wales, Australia. His harsh, authoritative temperament was bitterly resented, and he was forcibly deposed by Major George Johnston of the 102nd Foot, who sent him back to England as a prisoner. The major was cashiered for this piece of rough justice, while Bligh continued to enjoy the favours of the Admiralty. He became a vice-admiral in 1814, but further promotion was prevented by his death three years afterwards.
Posted in Africa, Famous news stories, Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, War on Friday, 17 May 2013
This edited article about General Gordon originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 258 published on 24 December 1966.
One of the stalwarts of the British Empire was born at 29, Woolwich Common on 28th January, 1833. A plaque there bears his name: General Charles George Gordon.
Himself a son of a general, Gordon first tasted military action as a young subaltern in the Crimean War.
He next fought in China where, in 1863, the Chinese appointed him a mandarin and commander of a small native force known optimistically as the ‘Ever Victorious Army’. Rough and ill disciplined, this ‘army’ of 3,500 men was to oppose the T’ai P’ing, a powerful and well-equipped rebel army.
Undeterred, Gordon knocked his men into shape, personally quelling two mutinies. He took them into battle himself. In two years he crushed the rebels and became known to the world as ‘Chinese Gordon’.
Refusing the rewards offered him, he returned to England and took up a quieter command at Gravesend, where he spent much of his time helping the poor, often providing food, clothing, education and work for children of the streets.
Appointed to the Danubian Commission in 1871, he one day met Nuber Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt. As a result he became Governor of Equatoria – having first insisted that his salary be reduced to only a fifth of the £10,000 offered. In 1876, he became Governor-General of the Sudan, with responsibility for imposing order over one million square miles of territory occupied by savage and hostile tribes – a job he tackled with customary vigour.
He resigned in 1880, challenged the Egyptian premier to a duel for some unfortunate remarks about an English knight, received apologies, and returned to Britain.
Four years later he was again in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital city, charged with the difficult and dangerous task of evacuating the area and establishing a government. The job was virtually impossible because the country was in the throes of a holy war led by the powerful Mahdi. Nevertheless Gordon succeeded in sending 2,500 women and children to safety before the Mahdi’s army cut off all means of escape.
For nearly a year, at the head of a feeble and starving Egyptian garrison, Gordon kept the besiegers out of Khartoum. The feat was remarkable but in vain, for at home Gladstone and his government dithered, ignored appeals for help until too late, and solaced themselves with guilty grief when they learned that Khartoum was lost and Gordon dead, killed with his troops when the city was finally taken.
Posted in Africa, Famous news stories, Historical articles, Royalty on Friday, 17 May 2013
This edited article about Queen Elizabeth II originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 258 published on 24 December 1966.
The Festival of Britain in 1951 was the country’s splendid answer to the charge that she had come to the end of her career as a great nation. The war had ended six years before and, though the country was still shabby and work-worn, the Festival took the popular imagination. It was a national celebration in every sense and, in May, the King attended a dedicatory service in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
But, ever since the war, his health had been failing and in 1951 he grew worse. A month after the service in St. Paul’s his eldest daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, had to act as hostess to Haakon of Norway, and in June she deputised for her father at the Trooping of the Colour.
In October the Princess and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, were to leave for a tour of Canada. Almost on the eve of departure, the tour had to be postponed when the King had an operation. After it, ill though he still was, he insisted that the tour should take place even though he and his closest advisers knew that he might die at any time. It was with this cloud over them that the Princess and her husband left on 8th October for what was to be a triumphant tour.
There was another important and even more exhausting task ahead for the Princess and the Duke. The King had long planned to undertake a kind of global Royal Tour which would take in most of the countries of the British Commonwealth. His rapidly deteriorating health made this more and more impracticable but, reluctant to disappoint the peoples of three continents who awaited the first royal visit for many years, he decided that the Princess should go in his place. It was a hard decision. Canada and the U.S.A. had been distant enough, but the royal party had been in immediate contact with London throughout and the Princess could return within hours should anything happen. This royal tour would take the Princess to the other side of the globe and into remote regions. Nevertheless, the king again insisted even though he knew it was possible that he might never see his daughter again.
The Royal Family spent the Christmas of 1951 together at Sandringham and, in mid-January, the Princess and her husband left by air. They were bound for Ceylon on the outward journey to Australia and New Zealand but it was decided to break the journey in Kenya.
The short stop in Kenya was intended to take the place of the holiday that had been missed in Canada, and the royal party travelled to a beautiful but isolated spot near Mount Kenya. The Princess and the Duke spent the night of 6th February in what must be one of the most unusual hotels in the world. It was called Treetops – a luxurious look-out post built in the branches of a giant tree. Here, in safety, visitors could look down on a watercourse where wild animals came to drink, unaware of their human audience.
That night King George VI died peacefully. There can have been few other occasions in history when a new monarch was in such an isolated place at the moment of succession. It demonstrated in the clearest fashion how much the world had shrunk in the 20th century. Fifty years earlier it would have taken weeks before the new monarch could have received the news and returned to her capital. In 1951, barely hours elapsed. The news was flashed to Treetops immediately. An equerry informed the Duke who broke the news to the new Queen Elizabeth and on that same day of 7th February, the royal party made their way to the nearest airfield. There an aircraft of East African Airways flew them to Entebbe, where an Argonaut was waiting to fly them across Africa and Europe to England.
Posted in Exploration, Famous news stories, Geography, Historical articles, History on Friday, 17 May 2013
This edited article about Roald Amundsen originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 257 published on 17 December 1966.
For centuries men had been aware of the existence of a great land-mass in the extreme south. Captain Cook was the first to sail beyond the Antarctic circle, but no one ventured to explore the ice-bound continent.
The quest for the South Pole did not begin in earnest until the first years of this century. Scott and Shackleton are the best remembered of those who set records in degrees of latitude south that they reached. In 1910, Scott was organising an attempt on the South Pole when he found himself matched against an unexpected ‘competitor’, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.
From early youth, Amundsen was fascinated by the Unknown. He was the first to negotiate the North-West Passage (1903-06). He planned an attempt on the North Pole in the ship Fram, lent by the Norwegian government, but he was forestalled by the successful expedition of the American explorer, Commander Peary. Amundsen secretly redirected his plans to the opposite end of the earth – the South Pole – and announced his intention after Scott’s expedition had set out.
Amundsen used dogs to pull his sledges; Scott and his party dragged their own on the final stage of their trek. This was the difference which swung the balance. Amundsen’s expedition was blessed with remarkably good weather, but merciless blizzards beat down on Scott’s party.
Amundsen and his men reached the South Pole on 16th December, 1911 – a month before Scott.