How a nice Jewish Boy from Baltimore made it this far. The trials and tribulations, not to mention the fun and frolics of every day life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This day in History - November 1st

November 1, 1914 Naval Battle of Coronel

Battle of Coronel, November 1, 1914, World War I naval battle off Coronel, Chile, South America, in which Germany defeated Britain. When the war began in August 1914, Germany's East Asiatic squadron, under Count Maximilian von Spee, was visiting the Caroline Islands. Eluding British and Japanese pursuers, von Spee sailed east across the Pacific with six vessels: the heavy cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the light cruisers Enden, Leipzig, and Nürnberg, as well as the cruiser Dresden. As he approached the west coast of South America, the British sent the cruisers Good Hope and Monmouth, the battleship Canopus, the light cruiser Glasgow, and the armored liner Otranto to intercept him. On November 1 the British squadron, commanded by Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, met and engaged von Spee off Coronel. The Germans sank the Good Hope (Cradock's flagship) and the Monmouth, with all hands lost, and drove off the other British vessels. Britain avenged this defeat a month later at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

HMS Good Hope
HMS Good Hope

This day in History - October 29th

October 29, 1956 2nd Arab-Israeli War begins

The 1956 War

From 1949 to 1956 the armed truce between Israel and the Arabs, enforced in part by the UN forces, was punctuated by raids and reprisals. Among the world powers, the United States, Great Britain, and France sided with Israel, while the Soviet Union supported Arab demands. Tensions mounted during 1956 as Israel became convinced that the Arabs were preparing for war. The nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egypt's Gamal Abdal Nasser in July, 1956, resulted in the further alienation of Great Britain and France, which made new agreements with Israel.

On Oct. 29, 1956, Israeli forces, directed by Moshe Dayan, launched a combined air and ground assault into Egypt's Sinai peninsula. Early Israeli successes were reinforced by an Anglo-French invasion along the canal. Although the action against Egypt was severely condemned by the nations of the world, the cease-fire of Nov. 6, which was promoted by the United Nations with U.S. and Soviet support, came only after Israel had captured several key objectives, including the Gaza strip and Sharm el Sheikh, which commanded the approaches to the Gulf of Aqaba. Israel withdrew from these positions in 1957, turning them over to the UN emergency force after access to the Gulf of Aqaba, without which Israel was cut off from the Indian Ocean, had been guaranteed.

Israeli troops preparing for combat in the Sinai peninsula.

This day in History - October 28th

October 28, 1776 Colonists defeated at White Plains

At the end of September 1776, Washington's army held only a small position on the northern tip of Manhattan Island. Howe was determined to outflank the American positions with a landing at Throgs Neck. [1]

In order to prevent himself from being surrounded, Washington withdrew his main army to White Plains when the British landing began.[3] A garrison of 1,200 men was left to defend Fort Washington.[4] Howe's army followed Washington via New Rochelle and up the Bronx River.

Washington halted his army and chose a position near White Plains that he fortified with two lines of entrenchments.[5] The trenches were situated on raised terrain, protected on the right by the swampy ground near the Bronx River. The American defenses were 3 miles (4.8 km) long. Beyond that, on the right, was Chatterton's Hill, which commanded the plain over which the British would have to advance. The hill was occupied by John Haslet's 1st Delaware Regiment, with two cannon, and supported by another brigade, in total about 1,600 men.

While Washington was inspecting the terrain, seeing where it was best to station his troops, he ran into several light horsemen who told him that the British were advancing.[6] Washington rode back to camp to prepare his men. He quickly stationed a couple hundred Continentals and a couple of artillery pieces onto Chatterton Hill to support the militia.[7] The skirmishers, who had the job of slowing the British advance, retired soon after Washington reinforced Chatterton Hill.[8]

Although the British outnumbered the Americans, Howe did not think it was wise to launch an attack on the main American position until they had taken Chatterton Hill.[5] Howe sent two columns to attack it. One was a brigade of Germans led by Johan Rall, and the other was the German Lossberg Regiment.[9] In total, the force numbered about 4,000 men.

The Germans under Rall's command attacked the militia on the crest of the hill, which fled in retreat.[10] The Lossberg Regiment were stopped by heavy fire from the Americans.[11] Two British regiments came in support of the Germans, and charged up the hill, but the Americans counter-attacked, driving them back down.[12] The British once again assaulted, this time wielding their bayonets, and the Continentals, deserted by the Militia, retreated.[13]


While the battle was a victory for the British, Howe refused to interfere with the American withdrawal, letting slip yet another opportunity to capture Washington and much of the Continental army and in the process suffering heavier casualties than the Americans.

The engagement on the White Plains, the 28th of October 1776 : between the American & British Forces / D. Martin sct.

The engagement on the White Plains, the 28th of October 1776 : between the American & British Forces

This day in History - October 26th

October 26, 1881 The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

On 25th October, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury arrived in Tombstone. Later that day Doc Holliday got into a fight with Ike Clanton in the Alhambra Saloon. Holliday wanted a gunfight with Clanton, but he declined the offer and walked off.

The following day Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury were arrested by Virgil Earp and charged with carrying firearms within the city limits. After they were disarmed and released, the two men joined Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury, who had just arrived in town. The men gathered at a place called the OK Corral in Fremont Street.

Virgil Earp now decided to disarm Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury and recruited Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday to help him in this dangerous task. Sheriff John Behan was in town and when he heard what was happening he raced to Fremont Street and urged Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury to hand over their guns to him. They replied: "Not unless you first disarm the Earps".

Behan now headed towards the advancing group of men. He pleaded for Virgil Earp not to get involved in a shoot-out but he was brushed aside as the four men carried on walking towards the OK Corral. When they reached the four men, Virgil Earp said: "I want your guns". Billy Clanton responded by firing at Wyatt Earp. He missed and Morgan Earp successfully fired two bullets at Billy Clanton and he fell back against a wall. Meanwhile Wyatt Earp fired at Frank McLaury. The bullet hit him in the stomach and he fell to the ground.

Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury were both unarmed and tried to run away. Clanton was successful but Doc Holliday shot McLaury in the back. Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury, although seriously wounded, continued to fire their guns and in the next couple of seconds Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were all wounded. Wyatt Earp was unscathed and he managed to finish off Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury.

Sheriff John Behan arrested Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday for the murder of Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and Frank McLaury. However, after a 30 day trial Judge Wells Spicer, who was related to the Earps, decided that the defendants had been justified in their actions.

Over the next few months the Earp brothers struggled to retain hold control over Tombstone. Virgil Earp was seriously wounded by an assassination attempt and Morgan Earp was killed when he was playing billiards with Wyatt Earp on 18th March, 1882. Eyewitnesses claimed that Frank Stilwell was seen running from the scene of the crime. Three days later Stilwell's was found dead. A Mexican who was also implicated in the crime was also found murdered in a lumber camp. It is believed that Wyatt Earp was responsible for killing both men.

October 26, 1917 Passchendaele Offensive is begun

two divisions of the Canadian Corps were moved into the line to replace the badly depleted ANZAC forces. After their successes at Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Hill 70. Upon his arrival, the Canadian Commander-in-Chief General Sir Arthur Currie expressed the view that the cost of the objective would be sixteen thousand casualties. While Currie viewed this figure as inordinately high in relation to the value of the objective, Haig had estimated that the casualties from remaining in place would be worse if this objective was not taken.

The Canadians moved into the line during mid-October, and on 26 October 1917, the Second Battle of Passchendaele began with twenty thousand men of the Third and Fourth Canadian Divisions advancing up the hills of the salient. It cost the Allies twelve thousand casualties for a gain of a few hundred yards.

Reinforced with the addition of two British divisions, a second offensive on 30 October resulted in the capture of the town in heavy rains. For the next five days the force held the town in the face of repeated German shelling and counterattacks, and by the time a second group of reinforcements arrived on 6 November, four-fifths of the infantrymen in two Canadian divisions had been lost.

Their replacements were the First and Second Canadian Divisions. German troops still ringed the area, so a limited attack on the 6th by the remaining troops of the Third Division allowed the First Division to make major advances and gain strong points throughout the area.

One such action on the First Division front was at Hill 52; the Tenth Battalion, CEF were called out of reserve to assist an attack on Hill 52, part of the same low rise where Passchendaele was situated. The Battalion was not scheduled to attack, but the Commanding Officer of the Tenth had wisely prepared his soldiers as if they would be making the main assault – a decision that paid dividends when the unit was called out of reserve. On 10 November 1917, the Tenth Battalion took the feature with light casualties.

A further attack by the Second Division the same day pushed the Germans from the slopes to the east of the town. The high ground was now firmly under Allied control.

After all was said and done, General Currie's casualty estimations sadly proved to be remarkably accurate. The battle of Passchendaele cost the Canadian Corps 15 654 casualties with over 4 000 dead to take roughly 6.25 square kilometres of German held territory in 16 days of fighting.[1].

Canadian soldiers won a remarkable 9 Victoria Crosses in the fighting at Passchendale.


Passchendaele could be regarded, by some, as a re-play of the Somme; an offensive mounted by the British and French Forces designed to make large gains in terms of territory. However, given the importance of the Ypres salient — the campaign to clear the high ground east and south of the much battered city was important, but once it began, it had to be completed.

After months of fighting, the Allies had crawled forward 5 miles (8 kilometres) but had gained the high ground that dominated the salient. The price had been almost half a million men of which around 140,000 had been killed. Also reminiscent of the Somme were the colossal artillery barrages which failed to destroy German defenses, but which did inflict enormous losses that the Germans couldn't afford. Ultimately, as a battle of attrition, that captured some important assets, the campaign can be said to be a lean Allied victory.

More than any other battle, Passchendaele has come to symbolise the horrific nature of the great battles of the First World War. In terms of the dead, the Germans lost approximately 260,000 men, while the British Empire forces lost about 300,000, including approximately 36,500 Australians, 3,596 New Zealanders and some 16,000 Canadians from 1915 to 1917. 90,000 British and Dominion bodies were never identified, and 42,000 never recovered. Aerial photography showed 1,000,000 shell holes in 1 square mile (2.56 km²).