Posts Tagged ‘World War I

12
Jun
09

World War I German Fighter: Fokker Dr I

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During World War I, it had to be an uncomfortable feeling to have this aircraft turn in behind you.  This replica Fokker Dr I hangs in the EAA Airventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  A very visible aircraft that immediately draws your attention as you walk into the museum.

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The paint scheme is authentic, representing Lt. Hans Weiss of Jasta 11, which was under the command of Baron Manfred von Richthofen — the Red Baron — famous for his blood red Fokker Dr I.  Only 320 Fokker Dr Is were ever built.  Making the planes reputation even more remarkable because its Allied counterparts were built in the thousands.

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Powered by a rotary engine the Dr I was slower than the then current Allied designs, but with impressive turning and climbing abilities this plane proved capable against most aircraft despite being slower.  Armed with a pair of Spandau machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller it delivered a fearful punch.

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With a welded aluminum frame, wooden wings and fabric stretched over, this light weight design offered little defensive protection for its pilots, which even the vaunted Red Baron discovered when he was shot down.

07
May
09

On This Day, May 7: German Unconditional Surrender

May 7, 1945

Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at Reims

On this day in 1945, the German High Command, in the person of General Alfred Jodl, signs the unconditional surrender of all German forces, East and West, at Reims, in northwestern France.

At first, General Jodl hoped to limit the terms of German surrender to only those forces still fighting the Western Allies. But General Dwight Eisenhower demanded complete surrender of all German forces, those fighting in the East as well as in the West. If this demand was not met, Eisenhower was prepared to seal off the Western front, preventing Germans from fleeing to the West in order to surrender, thereby leaving them in the hands of the enveloping Soviet forces. Jodl radioed Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, Hitler’s successor, with the terms. Donitz ordered him to sign. So with Russian General Ivan Susloparov and French General Francois Sevez signing as witnesses, and General Walter Bedell Smith, Ike’s chief of staff, signing for the Allied Expeditionary Force, Germany was-at least on paper-defeated. Fighting would still go on in the East for almost another day. But the war in the West was over.

Since General Susloparov did not have explicit permission from Soviet Premier Stalin to sign the surrender papers, even as a witness, he was quickly hustled back East-into the hands of the Soviet secret police, never to be heard from again. Alfred Jodl, who was wounded in the assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944, would be found guilty of war crimes (which included the shooting of hostages) at Nuremberg and hanged on October 16, 1946-then granted a pardon, posthumously, in 1953, after a German appeals court found Jodl not guilty of breaking international law.

“Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at Reims,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6446 [accessed May 7, 2009]

On This Day

0558 – The dome of the church of St. Sophia in Constantinople collapsed. It was immediately rebuilt as ordered by Justinian.

1429 – The English siege of Orleans was broken by Joan of Arc.

1525 – The German peasants’ revolt was crushed by the ruling class and church.

1763 – Indian chief Pontiac began all out war on the British in New York.

1800 – The U.S. Congress divided the Northwest Territory into two parts. The western part became the Indiana Territory and the eastern section remained the Northwest Territory.

1912 – The first airplane equipped with a machine gun flew over College Park, MD.

1915 – The Lusitania, a civilian ship, was sunk by a German submarine. 1,198 people were killed.

1937 – The German Condor Legion arrived in Spain to assist Franco’s forces.

1939 – Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.

1942 – In the Battle of the Coral Sea, Japanese and American navies attacked each other with carrier planes. It was the first time in the history of naval warfare where two enemy fleets fought without seeing each other.

1958 – Howard Johnson set an aircraft altitude record in F-104.

1960 – Leonid Brezhnev became president of the Soviet Union.

1975 – U.S. President Ford declared an end to the Vietnam War.

1997 – A report released by the U.S. government said that Switzerland provided Nazi Germany with equipment and credit during World War II. Germany exchanged for gold what had been plundered or stolen. Switzerland did not comply with postwar agreements to return the gold.

May 7, 1954

French defeated at Dien Bien Phu

In northwest Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces decisively defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu, a French stronghold besieged by the Vietnamese communists for 57 days. The Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu signaled the end of French colonial influence in Indochina and cleared the way for the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel at the conference of Geneva.

On September 2, 1945, hours after the Japanese signed their unconditional surrender in World War II, communist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam, hoping to prevent the French from reclaiming their former colonial possession. In 1946, he hesitantly accepted a French proposal that allowed Vietnam to exist as an autonomous state within the French Union, but fighting broke out when the French tried to reestablish colonial rule. Beginning in 1949, the Viet Minh fought an increasingly effective guerrilla war against France with military and economic assistance from newly Communist China. France received military aid from the United States.

In November 1953, the French, weary of jungle warfare, occupied Dien Bien Phu, a small mountain outpost on the Vietnamese border near Laos. Although the Vietnamese rapidly cut off all roads to the fort, the French were confident that they could be supplied by air. The fort was also out in the open, and the French believed that their superior artillery would keep the position safe. In 1954, the Viet Minh army, under General Vo Nguyen Giap, moved against Dien Bien Phu and in March encircled it with 40,000 Communist troops and heavy artillery.

The first Viet Minh assault against the 13,000 entrenched French troops came on March 12, and despite massive air support, the French held only two square miles by late April. On May 7, after 57 days of siege, the French positions collapsed. Although the defeat brought an end to French colonial efforts in Indochina, the United States soon stepped up to fill the vacuum, increasing military aid to South Vietnam and sending the first U.S. military advisers to the country in 1959.

“French defeated at Dien Bien Phu,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4981 [accessed May 7, 2009]

14
Apr
09

On This Day, April 14: Lincoln Shot

April 14, 1865

President Lincoln is shot

At Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally wounds President Abraham Lincoln. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox, effectively ending the American Civil War.

Booth, who remained in the North during the war despite his Confederate sympathies, initially plotted to capture President Lincoln and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, the president failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators lay in wait. Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Confederate armies near collapse across the South, Booth hatched a desperate plan to save the Confederacy.

Learning that Lincoln was to attend Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance in Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater on April 14, Booth plotted the simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into a paralyzing disarray.

On the evening of April 14, conspirator Lewis T. Powell burst into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth entered Lincoln’s private theater box unnoticed, and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head. Slashing an army officer who rushed at him, Booth jumped to the stage and shouted “Sic semper tyrannis! [Thus always to tyrants]–the South is avenged!” Although Booth had broken his left leg jumping from Lincoln’s box, he succeeded in escaping Washington.

The president, mortally wounded, was carried to a cheap lodging house opposite Ford’s Theater. About 7:22 a.m. the next morning, he died–the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Booth, pursued by the army and secret service forces, was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Of the eight other persons eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were hanged and four were jailed.

“President Lincoln is shot,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6867 [accessed Apr 14, 2009]

On This Day

1543 – Bartoleme Ferrelo returned to Spain after discovering San Francisco Bay in the New World.

1860 – The first Pony Express rider arrived in San Francisco with mail originating in St. Joseph, MO.

1902 – James Cash (J.C.) Penney opened his first retail store in Kemmerer, WY. It was called the Golden Rule Store.

1912 – The Atlantic passenger liner Titanic, on its maiden voyage hit an iceberg and began to sink. 1,517 people lost their lives and more than 700 survived.

1918 – The U.S. First Aero Squadron engaged in America’s first aerial dogfight with enemy aircraft over Toul, France.

1946 – The civil war between Communists and nationalist resumed in China.

1953 – Viet Minh invaded Laos with 40,00 troops.

1969 – For the first time, a major league baseball game was played in Montreal, Canada.

1981 – America’s first space shuttle, Columbia, returned to Earth after a three-day test flight. The shuttle orbited the Earth 36 times during the mission.

1985 – The Russian paper “Pravda” called U.S. President Reagan’s planned visit to Bitburg to visit the Nazi cemetery an “act of blasphemy”.

1999 – Pakistan test-fired a ballistic missile that was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching its rival neighbor India.

April 14, 1775

First American abolition society founded in Philadelphia

The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, the first American society dedicated to the cause of abolition, is founded in Philadelphia on this day in 1775. The society changes its name to the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage in 1784.

Leading Quaker educator and abolitionist Anthony Benezet called the society together two years after he persuaded the Quakers to create the Negro School at Philadelphia. Benezet was born in France to a Huguenot (French Protestant) family that had fled to London in order to avoid persecution at the hands of French Catholics. The family eventually migrated to Philadelphia when Benezet was 17. There, he joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) and began a career as an educator. In 1750, Benezet began teaching slave children in his home after regular school hours, and in 1754, established the first girls’ school in America. With the help of fellow Quaker John Woolman, Benezet persuaded the Philadelphia Quaker Yearly Meeting to take an official stance against slavery in 1758.

Benezet’s argument for abolition found a trans-Atlantic audience with the publication of his tract Some Historical Account of Guinea, written in 1772. Benezet counted Benjamin Franklin and John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, among his sympathetic correspondents. He died in 1784; his funeral was attended by 400 black Philadelphians. His society was renamed in that year, and in 1787, Benjamin Franklin lent his prestige to the organization, serving as its president.

“First American abolition society founded in Philadelphia,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=462 [accessed Apr 14, 2009]

09
Apr
09

On This Day, April 9: Robert E Lee Surrenders

April 9, 1865

Robert E. Lee surrenders

At Appomattox, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option.

In retreating from the Union army’s Appomattox Campaign, the Army of Northern Virginia had stumbled through the Virginia countryside stripped of food and supplies. At one point, Union cavalry forces under General Philip Sheridan had actually outrun Lee’s army, blocking their retreat and taking 6,000 prisoners at Sayler’s Creek. Desertions were mounting daily, and by April 8 the Confederates were surrounded with no possibility of escape. On April 9, Lee sent a message to Grant announcing his willingness to surrender. The two generals met in the parlor of the Wilmer McLean home at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property–most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee’s starving men would be given Union rations.

Shushing a band that had begun to play in celebration, General Grant told his officers, “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again.” Although scattered resistance continued for several weeks, for all practical purposes the Civil War had come to an end.

“Robert E. Lee surrenders,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4904 (accessed Apr 9, 2009).

 

On This Day

0193 – In the Balkans, the distinguished soldier Septimius Seversus was proclaimed emperor by the army in Illyricum.

0715 – Constantine ended his reign as Catholic Pope.

1241 – In the Battle of Liegnitz, Mongol armies defeated the Poles and the Germans.

1682 – Robert La Salle claimed the lower Mississippi River and all lands that touch it for France.

1833 – Peterborough, NH, opened the first municipally supported public library in the United States.

1867 – The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty with Russia that purchased the territory of Alaska by one vote.

1940 – Germany invaded Norway and Denmark.

1942 – In the Battle of Bataan, American and Filipino forces were overwhelmed by the Japanese Army.

1953 – TV Guide was published for the first time.

1965 – “TIME” magazine featured a cover with the entire “Peanuts” comic gang.

 1998 – The National Prisoner of War Museum opened in Andersonville, GA, at the site of an infamous Civil War camp.

April 9, 1918

Battle of the Lys begins

On this day in 1918, German troops launch “Operation Georgette” the second phase of their final, last-ditch spring offensive, against Allied positions in Armentieres, France, on the River Lys.

On March 21, 1918, the Germans under Erich Ludendorff, chief of the general staff, launched their first major offensive on the Western Front in more than a year, attacking the Allies in the Somme River region of France and training their huge guns on Paris. The Allies managed to halt Ludendorff’s exhausted armies by the end of March, however, thanks in part to a fresh influx of several thousand American soldiers. By the time Ludendorff shut down attacks on April 5, the Germans had gained nearly 40 miles of territory.

Ludendorff’s focus now switched to the Flanders region of northern France, aiming to push the British troops back against their ports along the English Channel, forcing them into a corner. Thus on April 9, after a four-and-a-half hour long bombardment of British forces in Armentieres, 14 German divisions attacked along a 10-mile front to begin the Battle of the Lys. As at the Somme, the ferocious German advance quickly drove the British back, punching a hole 3.5 miles wide through the British line. They also made quick and bloody work of a Portuguese division taking part in the battle, sending four divisions against the single Portuguese unit and taking some 6,000 prisoners. To make matters worse, the Germans unleashed 2,000 tons of poisonous gas–including mustard and phosgene gas–against the British at the Lys, incapacitating 8,000 (of whom many were blinded) and killing 30.

Despite the initial success of Operation Georgette, the British defensive positions in Armentieres were better prepared and more tenacious than those at the Somme, and the Germans managed to advance only 12 kilometers by the time Ludendorff closed down the operation on April 29. By this time, morale on both sides of the line was at a low point, due to heavy losses, but neither was ready to give in. The Germans looked to the next stage of their offensive, against the French at the Aisne River, as the Allies readied their defenses, each side believing that the outcome of the First World War hung in the balance.

“Battle of the Lys begins,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=428 (accessed Apr 9, 2009).

06
Apr
09

On This Day, April 6: Joseph Smith

April 6, 1830

Mormon Church established

In Fayette Township, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, organizes the Church of Christ during a meeting with a small group of believers.

Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ–later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–in Fayette Township.

The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, such as polygamy, and on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother were murdered in a jail cell by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois.

Two years later, Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, along the western wagon trails in search of religious and political freedom. In July 1847, the 148 initial Mormon pioneers reached Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Upon viewing the valley, Young declared, “This is the place,” and the pioneers began preparations for the tens of thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow them and settle there.

Mormon Church established [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4896 [Accessed 6 Apr 2009].

On This Day

1199 – English King Richard I was killed by an arrow at the siege of the castle of Chaluz in France.

1789 – The first U.S. Congress began regular sessions at the Federal Hall in New York City.

1814 – Granted sovereignty in the island of Elba and a pension from the French government, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicates at Fountainebleau. He was allowed to keep the title of emperor.

1862 – The American Civil War Battle of Shiloh began in Tennessee.

1865 – At the Battle of Sayler’s Creek, a third of Lee’s army was cut off by Union troops pursuing him to Appomattox.

1896 – The first modern Olympic Games began in Athens, Greece.

1909 – Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson claimed to be the first men to reach the North Pole.

1941 – German forces invaded Greece and Yugoslavia.

1965 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the use of ground troops in combat operations in Vietnam.

1998 – Pakistan successfully tested medium-range missiles capable of attacking neighboring India.

April 6, 1917

America enters World War I

Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I.

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 quarantine 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 vessel. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake.

On May 7, the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner 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, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels, but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany.

In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. On February 22, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. Four days later, his request was granted.

On June 26, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the western front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict marked a major turning point in the war and helped the Allies to victory. When the war finally ended, on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of them had lost their lives.

America enters World War I [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4898 [Accessed 6 Apr 2009].

15
Mar
09

On This Day, March 15: The Ides of March

March 15, -44

The Ides of March

Gaius Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome, is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by 60 conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

Caesar, born into the Julii, an ancient but not particularly distinguished Roman aristocratic family, began his political career in 78 B.C. as a prosecutor for the anti-patrician Popular Party. He won influence in the party for his reformist ideas and oratorical skills, and aided Roman imperial efforts by raising a private army to combat the king of Pontus in 74 B.C. He was an ally of Pompey, the recognized head of the Popular Party, and essentially took over this position after Pompey left Rome in 67 B.C. to become commander of Roman forces in the east.

In 63 B.C., Caesar was elected pontifex maximus, or “high priest,” allegedly by heavy bribes. Two years later, he was made governor of Farther Spain and in 64 B.C. returned to Rome, ambitious for the office of consul. The consulship, essentially the highest office in the Roman Republic, was shared by two politicians on an annual basis. Consuls commanded the army, presided over the Senate and executed its decrees, and represented the state in foreign affairs. Caesar formed a political alliance–the so-called First Triumvirate–with Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, and in 59 B.C. was elected consul. Although generally opposed by the majority of the Roman Senate, Caesar’s land reforms won him popularity with many Romans.

In 58 B.C., Caesar was given four Roman legions in Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum, and during the next decade demonstrated brilliant military talents as he expanded the Roman Empire and his reputation. Among other achievements, Caesar conquered all of Gaul, made the first Roman inroads into Britain, and won devoted supporters in his legions. However, his successes also aroused Pompey’s jealousy, leading to the collapse of their political alliance in 53 B.C.

The Roman Senate supported Pompey and asked Caesar to give up his army, which he refused to do. In January 49 B.C., Caesar led his legions across the Rubicon River from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy, thus declaring war against Pompey and his forces. Caesar made early gains in the subsequent civil war, defeating Pompey’s army in Italy and Spain, but was later forced into retreat in Greece. In August 48 B.C., with Pompey in pursuit, Caesar paused near Pharsalus, setting up camp at a strategic location. When Pompey’s senatorial forces fell upon Caesar’s smaller army, they were entirely routed, and Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was assassinated by an officer of the Egyptian king.

Caesar was subsequently appointed Roman consul and dictator, but before settling in Rome he traveled around the empire for several years and consolidated his rule. In 45 B.C., he returned to Rome and was made dictator for life. As sole Roman ruler, Caesar launched ambitious programs of reform within the empire. The most lasting of these was his establishment of the Julian calendar, which, with the exception of a slight modification and adjustment in the 16th century, remains in use today. He also planned new imperial expansions in central Europe and to the east. In the midst of these vast designs, he was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C., by a group of conspirators who believed that his death would lead to the restoration of the Roman Republic. However, the result of the “Ides of March” was to plunge Rome into a fresh round of civil wars, out of which Octavian, Caesar’s grand-nephew, would emerge as Augustus, the first Roman emperor, destroying the republic forever.

“The Ides of March.” 2009. The History Channel website. 15 Mar 2009, 07:03 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6837.

On This Day

1781 – During the American Revolution, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse took place in North Carolina. British General Cornwallis’ 1,900 soldiers defeated an American force of 4,400.

1820 – Maine was admitted as the 23rd state of the Union.

1892 – New York State unveiled the new automatic ballot voting machine.

1916 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent 12,000 troops, under General Pershing, over the border of Mexico to pursue bandit Pancho Villa. The mission failed.

1935 – Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda banned four Berlin newspapers.

1938 – Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia.

1939 – German forces occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and part of Czechoslovakia.

1944 – Cassino, Italy, was destroyed by Allied bombing.

1955 – The U.S. Air Force unveiled a self-guided missile.

1960 – The first underwater park was established as Key Largo Coral Reef Preserve.

1996 – The aviation firm Fokker NV collapsed.

2002 – U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Associated Press that the U.S. would stand by a 24-year pledge not to use nuclear arms against states that don’t have them.

March 15, 1917

Czar Nicholas II abdicates

During the February Revolution, Czar Nicholas II, ruler of Russia since 1894, is forced to abdicate the throne by the Petrograd insurgents, and a provincial government is installed in his place.

Crowned on May 26, 1894, Nicholas was neither trained nor inclined to rule, which did not help the autocracy he sought to preserve in an era desperate for change. The disastrous outcome of the Russo-Japanese War led to the Russian Revolution of 1905, which the czar diffused only after signing a manifesto promising representative government and basic civil liberties in Russia. However, Nicholas soon retracted most of these concessions, and the Bolsheviks and other revolutionary groups won wide support. In 1914, Nicholas led his country into another costly war, and discontent in Russia grew as food became scarce, soldiers became war-weary, and devastating defeats on the eastern front demonstrated the czar’s ineffectual leadership.

In March 1917, the army garrison at Petrograd joined striking workers in demanding socialist reforms, and Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. Nicholas and his family were first held at the Czarskoye Selo palace, then in the Yekaterinburg palace near Tobolsk. In July 1918, the advance of counterrevolutionary forces caused the Yekaterinburg Soviet forces to fear that Nicholas might be rescued. After a secret meeting, a death sentence was passed on the imperial family, and Nicholas, his wife, his children, and several of their servants were gunned down on the night of July 16.

“Czar Nicholas II abdicates.” 2009. The History Channel website. 15 Mar 2009, 07:04 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4838.

14
Mar
09

Halberstadt CL IV

Halberstadt CL IV

This airplane appeared late in World War I as a ground attack plane.  The Halberstadt CL II had shown it could be effective in the ground support role, so Karl Thies, Halberstadt’s chief designer, created a more effective design for ground attack.  The CL IV proved an effective ground attacker because of exceptional maneuverability.  In the hands of a capable pilot it could dogfight other fighters.  The Germans also used the CL IV in night attacks against Allied bomber formations as they returned from their bombing missions.  Capable of over a hundred miles an hour, it carried into battle one or two Spandau 7.92 millimeter machine guns synchronized to shoot through the propeller, one 7.92 Parabellum machine gun mounted on the wooden ring just behind the wing, grenades dropped by the pilot, and five twenty-two pound bombs. 

For more information see:  http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=4026




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