Forgotten history

Discussion in 'Urban Legends/Folklore' started by McAvennie, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. rynner2

    rynner2 Justified and Ancient

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    Even though this happened within my lifetime, I don't think I've heard of this before:
    Britain's 'big bang' in Heligoland, 70 years on
    By Kevin Connolly BBC News, Heligoland
    Video: 1m 30s.

    Brexit may have triggered a political earthquake in Europe, but 70 years ago the UK sent real shockwaves across the seas with the largest non-nuclear explosion of that era.

    As one of the four victorious allied powers after World War Two, Britain was governing a large area of occupied Germany.
    The British sector included the tiny island of Heligoland, which had long been a source of diplomatic tension between the two countries.
    So, when in 1947 the British needed a safe place to dispose of thousands of tonnes of unexploded ammunition, Heligoland must have seemed an obvious choice.
    The code-name for the plan combined the British flair for understatement with the military taste for the literal-minded; it was to be called Operation Big Bang.

    Heligoland had been a German naval fortress, and historian Jan Rueger, author of Britain, Germany, and the Struggle for the North Sea, says Operation Big Bang was designed by the British to make a big point.
    "They're very clear that there's a symbolic side to this [operation] and that is the German tradition of militarism," he explains.
    "There's a sense that Prussian militarism and its threat to Britain has to end and that's very much how Operation Big Bang is received in Britain."

    The operation was carefully stage-managed - the old black and white pictures even include a close-up of a Royal Navy officer's finger triggering the blast. Aerial footage shows the entire horizon erupting in a huge grey curtain of mud, sand and rock.
    For the Royal Navy and the British Army of Occupation it was mission accomplished.

    For the people of Heligoland it felt very different.
    Europe in 1946 and 1947 was in chaos, with millions of displaced and dispossessed families drifting between camps or sheltering in ruined buildings.
    The island had been evacuated during the war and many Heligolanders were living in exile in the coastal city of Cuxhaven about 60km (37 miles) to the south.

    Olaf Ohlsen, who was 11 years old in 1947, gathered with the rest of the exiled population on the cliffs to listen for the sound of the explosion.
    Few people in history can have lived through such a moment, standing at the edge of sea knowing that they would hear but not see an explosion that they knew would destroy their homes.

    etc...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39590752
     
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  2. Junopsis

    Junopsis Phantom

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    My high school in Maryland was like that!
    50s construction, certified fallout shelter underneath the rather large auditorium. It would make sense that the classrooms could be repurposed like that; certainly it was unlike the more recent elementary school (whose classrooms were subdivided by thin internal walls that didn't actually reach the ceiling for some reason).
     
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  3. rynner2

    rynner2 Justified and Ancient

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    This is the rusting little fishing boat that sparked the Falklands War
    By WMNAGreenwood | Posted: April 20, 2017

    [​IMG]

    The rusting hulk of the former fishing vessel the Viola sits in a snow swept harbour in the Falkland Islands – belying a long and fascinating history.
    It is difficult to imagine how the unassuming vessel managed to sink a U-boat when it first saw military action during the First World War, harder still to work out her role in sparking the Falklands War 35 years ago.
    For almost 50 years the British trawler that once battled German U-boats has lain neglected in the harbour in South Georgia, her part in history forgotten.

    But now a band of volunteers aim to return Viola, the world’s oldest steam trawler, to her original port.
    One of those behind the campaign is former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who announced on Tuesday that he is quitting politics.
    The Hull West And Hessle MP has been helping raise the funds to bring Viola home and told The Mirror: “Viola epitomises the spirit Britain showed in 1914.
    “Like so many trawlers, she and her men did the most dangerous of jobs. Bringing her back would be like bringing back a First World War heroine. She is part of our country’s history.”

    Built in 1906, Viola trawled the North Sea until 1914, when she was requisitioned for duty in the First World War and the crew turned to catching German U-boats and sweeping for mines.
    PM Herbert Asquith had told his admirals to save Royal Navy warships for the battle with the Imperial Germany Navy, and ordered the use of trawlers to patrol the British shoreline.
    Fitted with a 12-pounder gun, Viola joined His Majesty’s Armed Trawlers and was quickly drafted in for minesweeping duties – one of the first vessels equipped with anti-submarine weapons and hydrophones to listen for the U-Boats.
    Skippered by Charles Allum, a Hull-based captain, the crew proved they were as skilled with depth charges as they were with nets.

    On August 13, 1918, on a patrol with other trawlers, they sighted a U-boat periscope. With another ship, the John Brooker, Viola hunted down the sub, which had sunk 18 Allied merchant ships. It was then sunk by two depth charges dropped by HMS Landrail.

    Weeks later, the trawler was patrolling off Northumberland, when a German submarine, UB-115, was spotted by an airship. Viola destroyed her, no doubt saving many British lives as a result.

    Historian Dr Robb Robinson, of Hull University, believes Viola’s homecoming is a perfect way to honour the men who found themselves serving aboard.
    He says: “You could visit many of the major exhibitions in London and never realise that 3,000 fishing vessels and more than 39,000 fishermen were on the frontline of the war against mines and U-boats in what was known as the Auxiliary Patrol. Many of these fishing vessels were involved in what were almost pitched battles just off our coast.”

    etc...

    http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/thi...alklands-war/story-30282935-detail/story.html
     
  4. rynner2

    rynner2 Justified and Ancient

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    The fascinating hidden history of London's lost rivers
    Tom Bolton
    20 April 2017 • 2:30pm

    London is usually seen as a one-river city, just big old Father Thames. The city breathes with the rise and fall of its tide, and for centuries the Thames has posed patiently for tourist drawings, etchings and photos. But what of London’s other rivers, the capital’s unseen waterways? Twenty-one tributaries flow to the Thames within the spread of Greater London, and that is just counting the main branches. Once tributaries, and tributaries of tributaries, are included the total moves beyond numbers into the realms of conjecture.

    Many of these rivers flow quietly above ground, in plain sight but generally unnoticed beyond their neighbourhoods. Their enticing names echo London’s rural past – the Crane, the Darent, the Mutton Brook, the Pool River – or carry a whiff of the exotic – the Ching, the Moselle, the Quaggy, the Silk Stream. These rivers go about their business forgotten in the background, but many inner London waterways have been deliberately hidden. London’s landscape was shaped by the hills and valleys these rivers created, but as the city grew they began to get in the way and were buried, bit by bit, under layers of streets and houses.

    London once needed all the rivers it could get: for drinking water, for harbours and wharves, for mills, for tanneries, and for sluicing away waste. The rivers were London’s sewage system long before any system was conceived, but even tiny medieval London was too much for any stream to cope with. The Walbrook, flowing through the heart of the City of London, was mostly paved over in the 1460s; it was considered a filthy nuisance choked with refuse. London’s origins are deep in the Walbrook, the river around which the Romans founded the city. The debris dug from the river – hoes and ploughshares, chisels and saws, scalpels and spatulas, the heads of forgotten gods and a collection of 48 human skulls tell the earliest London tales.

    As London began to grow at the end of the 18th century, and then to mushroom beyond reason during the 19th century, the rivers became a big problem. Floods, filth, stench and disease put off Georgian and Victorian house-buyers. In Mayfair, the Tyburn was tucked away under mews. In West Norwood, the Effra was buried deep under grids of new Victorian villas.

    The Fleet was legendarily filthy. Redesigned as a Venetian-style canal by Christopher Wren after the Fire of London, it was quickly overtaken by grim reality. Jonathan Swift, in 1710, wrote about the Fleet filled with “the sweepings from butchers’ stalls, dung, guts and blood.” A few years later Alexander Pope described how “Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams / Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to the Thames.” It is no surprise then that the lower Fleet was culverted in huge storm sewer tunnels where it has remained ever since. Yet before the river became more trouble than it was worth, it was a crucial route in as well as out. Everything from Welsh cheese to coals from Newcastle arrived at the Fleet wharves, and even the stones for Old St. Paul’s Cathedral were unloaded here.

    The rivers may be hidden but they are far from gone. It is very hard to stop a river from flowing, so they have merely been diverted into the sewer system, often as part of Joseph Bazalgette’s monumental tunnelling programme during the 1860s and 1870s. They can still be seen if you know where to look, flowing through culverts and under gratings. Sometimes they are hidden in plain sight. The Hampstead and Highgate Ponds are former reservoirs created by damming two streams that form the Fleet. Regent’s Park Lake was originally fed by the Tyburn, while the Serpentine was landscaped from the Westbourne in 1731 for the benefit of George II’s consort, Queen Caroline. Unfortunately the sewage problem eventually rendered both rivers unsuitable for ornamental ponds, and they were diverted away.

    etc...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/d...ondon-lost-underground-rivers-hidden-history/
     
  5. amyasleigh

    amyasleigh Great Old One

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    Have just noticed this post – concerning somewhere which I find decidedly interesting. It so happens that I’d heard of the 1947 Heligoland “Big Bang", from the book Offshore by author and TV personality Ben Fogle. To be frank, I mostly find this chap an annoying saccharine / gooey twit; but he’s a big fan of islands, and has written a couple of books on the theme, including the abovementioned – which books contain some, for me, worthwhile stuff. His chapter on Heligoland, I found fascinating.

    Things derived mostly therefrom, to supplement rynner2 ’s post and its BBC article link: in World War 2, Heligoland’s inhabitants stayed in place on their island until very late indeed in the war – when the island was devastatingly attacked by over 1,000 Allied bombers on April 18th / 19th 1945 (coincidentally or otherwise, exactly two years before the Big Bang). The civilian population survived via protection in rock shelters; but with the settlement effectively destroyed, they were immediately evacuated to the German mainland. It would appear that the island was used by Britain between 1945 and 1952, as a site for assorted “long-range” military doings -- involving inter alia, chemical weapons and nuclear-associated experiments – of which the Big Bang was only the most spectacular and dramatic instance.

    The island was returned to German control, and the inhabitants allowed to go back to it, in March 1952. A remarkable job has been done thenceforth, of rebuilding and making the place habitable again.

    According to Fogle, in the First World War the Heligolanders – British subjects until a quarter-century previously, with their loyalty to Germany reckoned doubtful – were evacuated and put in internment camps in Germany; they went back home after the end of the war. BBC article says that Britain “gifted” Heligoland to Germany in 1890: one understands that in fact, this was part of a deal between the nations – we swopped Heligoland for areas of East Africa, including Zanzibar, which had up to then been claimed by Germany. This arrangement caused controversy in Britain at the time, with some seeing it as a betrayal on our part, of the islanders. Those were Queen Victoria’s sentiments; she’s on record thus: “These people have always been very loyal and it is a shame to hand them over to an unscrupulous despotic government like the Germans’ without first consulting them”.

    From what I gather, Heligoland nowadays sounds like a fascinating place – re both wreckage from wartime-and-after, and what has been reclaimed and rebuilt. Some 2,000 inhabitants, who appear to be tough characters with an independent streak, seeing their island as a would-be mini-nation of its own. The island’s economy would seem chiefly based on tourism (a duty-free-shopping Mecca; also, a wonderful place for birdwatchers); and fishing, especially for lobsters. I’d like to visit the place...
     
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  6. Ermintruder

    Ermintruder Existential pixelfixer

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    Oh, for definite. I'd very much like to visit Heligoland. It seems to have had a serial experience of varied unfair extreme treatment for centuries.
     
  7. amyasleigh

    amyasleigh Great Old One

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    Not that the islanders themselves have necessarily always been angels. Wiki tells us re times prior to the last couple of centuries, that the island’s traditional economic activities included fishing, hunting birds and seals, and wrecking...

    And Hel(i)goland gets a mention in a ballad by Longfellow:

    www.bartleby.com/270/3/437.html

    From the above, old Othere – going by his activities vis-à-vis cetaceans and pinnipeds – would seem not to have been a friend of the natural environment.
     
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  8. Ermintruder

    Ermintruder Existential pixelfixer

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    Interesting that Hel(i)goland is (sort-of) rolled-into Scotland, in terms of the 'Scotland' category by Bartelby. Ok, I accept that Longfellow does briefly mention the Hebrides in his poem.

    There's a line that catches my eye....
    "To the northward stretched the desert,
    How far I fain would know;
    "

    So: I must ask whether the original literal meaning of the word 'desert' meant "a remote deserted place of any climate"? As opposed to a hot (only) deserted place, as is now what the word means....

    Alternatively: was Longfellow writing in metaphor?? Ice deserts?
     
  9. Yithian

    Yithian Keeping The British End Up Staff Member

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    Desertus means that which is left or wasted in Latin.
     
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  10. Ermintruder

    Ermintruder Existential pixelfixer

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    So: in Longfellow's time, it was cool to talk about a cold desert? Non-ironically and/or non-metaphorically?
     
  11. Xanatic*

    Xanatic* Justified and Ancient

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    Ice deserts are a thing, they don't need to be hot. It's about rainfall.
     
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  12. Ermintruder

    Ermintruder Existential pixelfixer

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    Really? Not temperature-implicating at all? I've lived my whole life believing deserts were equatorial hot dry places, never frozen polar places?

    We live & learn (well, I feel I do....learn, that is. Not necessarily live)
     
  13. Xanatic*

    Xanatic* Justified and Ancient

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    Yep, some regions of Antarctica is considered desert due to lack of snowfall.
     
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  14. Yithian

    Yithian Keeping The British End Up Staff Member

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    Antarctica: desert.
     
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  15. rynner2

    rynner2 Justified and Ancient

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    It's still cool today: the Gobi Desert is cold.

    "The Gobi is a cold desert, with frost and occasionally snow occurring on its dunes. Besides being quite far north, it is also located on a plateau roughly 910–1,520 metres (2,990–4,990 ft) above sea level, which contributes to its low temperatures."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobi_Desert#Climate
     
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  16. Ermintruder

    Ermintruder Existential pixelfixer

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    My point is, it is diurnally cold and then hot.


    Conversely, Antarctica is eternally cold.

    But I do now accept I've actually been wrong all my life in believing that deserts had to axiomatically be hot during the day, and that phrases such as "hot baking desert sun" have been semiotically/non-ironically equivalent to "cold freezing desert gloom".

    I must go and get a to-be-confirmed percentage back of the costs of my vastly-expensive dependant education.
     
  17. amyasleigh

    amyasleigh Great Old One

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    It would seem that -- I suppose, from what is largely written, and what we largely read, and what those around us largely talk about -- probably most of us get into our bonces at an early age, the notion that desert = hot dry sandy region, where hardly anyone manages to live.

    I long harboured that notion. During that time, it puzzled me that "desert islands" (discs therewith, and otherwise) were talked about: because said islands sounded like bountiful places, with lots of coconut trees and other natural resources -- ?? In the end, I "got it" that, as Yithian says, the significance is "left or wasted": whether because the place is uninhabitable by humans, or next-door-to; or because (earthly paradise though it might be) humans have just not hitherto happened to get there. No shame to the "hot dry places" perception -- I'd reckon that nearly all of us have been there.
     
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  18. escargot1

    escargot1 Justified and Ancient

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    Yup, try the Gobi Desert in Asia, in November. Sand, cattle skeletons, bloody FREEZING!
     
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  19. amyasleigh

    amyasleigh Great Old One

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    I like its fairly near neighbour, the Takla Makan Desert. I gather that the name means, in the local language: "you go in, you don't come out".
     
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  20. amyasleigh

    amyasleigh Great Old One

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    I must be a very sad person. Since latching onto the thread-part about the 1947 “Big Bang” on the island concerned; I’ve been having thoughts about a certain telly series, highly popular in recent years, which features a name-coincidence with the event of ’47. My sentiments about said televisual offering are -- largely, it annoys me; to a lesser extent, I find it funny.


    Have been attempting to conceive of something within the required time-limit, which would somehow connect Sheldon and the rest of the loons, with the long-ago event in the North Sea; and wondering re the lengthy, orotund science-jargony names which are given to each episode – what would work thus, here? “The Heligolandic Mega-pyrotechnic”? Perhaps all the gang could go off to Heligoland to investigate traces of the momentous happening seventy years ago, and of other stuff which took place before and after, in the time when the island was a target for “whatever”? – this plot device might run to several consecutive episodes? As said, I really should get out more – I don’t even greatly like TBBT...
     
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