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Milestones

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phlebas

PRIMUS POENUS
Staff member
I'm ahead of the rest of you, but it is the morning of the 4th of July here, so happy whatever-you-say-to-each-other

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It actually commemorates independence from Denmark in 1944 - though it had been a largely autonomous part of a 'united kingdom' since 1918, and when Denmark was occupied by the Nazis in 1940, British forces moved into Iceland, subsequently replaced by US, while the Althing remained in charge of civil administration, so formal independence was simply confirming what was already the situation in fact.
Before the fall of France, Iceland was in the way of U-boats trying to break out into the Atlantic by way of Norway (which is why Hitler invaded Norway). It was also on the convoy routes between Halifax in Canada and Britain. Hence the interest--the USS Reuben James was sunk on convoy duty off Iceland. For years Keflavik was a major US Navy base (Nazis having been replaced by Soviets), and Iceland is a member of NATO. Supposedly their culture revolves around the sagas and the law. Since the population is fairly homogeneous and only in the hundreds of thousands, they are a trove for genetic research on disease and other heritable conditions. The main industry is fishing, though, at least until tourism took off. During the run-up to the housing bond crash of 2007, banking was huge and they took big risks. Their banks failed and their currency tanked. They have a whole chapter in Michael Lewis' book "Boomerang". They refused to indemnify foreign (mostly British) depositors, and for a long time were pariahs and their recovery was slow because they couldn't borrow. The high-flying bankers needed new jobs, and that meant fishing. "We don't have a lot of desk jobs. People are going to get wet." They are proud that they faced down bigger powers and enforced the catch limits that saved their cod fishery from the fate of the "grand banks" off the east coast of North America in the famous "Cod Wars"--commemorated on one of the many stamps I have from there. I have toyed with the idea of getting a book on learning Icelandic. I was only there once as a teenager en route to Britain--we flew Icelandic Airlines because it was cheap (food service was cold sandwiches) and during the layover we took an airline bus around Reyjavik--lots of stone work and lots of ducks. Supposedly with their abundance of geothermal energy their green houses can supply most of their vegetables. Now people actually go there because they want to go there.
Somehow I really admire this independent, spunky little country and their egalitarian ways.
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
Iceland was in the way of U-boats trying to break out into the Atlantic by way of Norway (which is why Hitler invaded Norway).
I never saw it from that point. I thought the main reason, Hitler invaded Norway, was to secure the supply routes of Swedish iron ore trough Norwegian ports, particularly Narvik. Hitler (justly) feared, the Allies were planning to cut it off, which they actually briefly managed to do in early May 1940. But then, Germany invaded France, and the French troops holding the Narvik route, were desperately needed to defend their homeland.
 
I never saw it from that point. I thought the main reason, Hitler invaded Norway, was to secure the supply routes of Swedish iron ore trough Norwegian ports, particularly Narvik. Hitler (justly) feared, the Allies were planning to cut it off, which they actually briefly managed to do in early May 1940. But then, Germany invaded France, and the French troops holding the Narvik route, were desperately needed to defend their homeland.
It could be. Of course the ore could have come down through Swedish and Danish ports. Hitler never invaded Sweden, which given his dependence on iron ore would have made more sense.
The Norwegian coast is full of fjords, which are good places to shelter ships. There was a lot of naval activity during the war, and many ships on both sides were sunk. Even after the fall of France, Germany needed to get capital ships out of the Baltic.
He probably had more than one reason for invading Norway.
There is a book called "Winter Fortress" about the successful attempt (although fleetingly successful) of the Norwegian forces in exile to blow up the heavy water generator at Norsk Hydros facility at Vemork. The "Manhattan District" was so worried about Hitler's bomb that they overrode promises to the Norwegians not to bomb their country and sent a US Army Air Corps "milk run"--meaning easy--mission to attack the dam. There was collateral damage, including a school. I lent this book to some friends. They were bored with the background chapters, but it really picked up when the Norwegian commandos infiltrated through the cold at night and attacked the dam.

Norway, like Iceland, is a small country with a big, proud history which doesn't want to defer to anyone.


From Wikipedia:
Sweden was neutral, and was trading with Germany. the main supply of iron ore for Germany came from Sweden. Hitler invaded Norway to ensure his supply lines to the Swedish iron ore mines were secure, because in winter, the Swedes shipped iron ore to Germany through Narvik, Norway and then down the coast.
Also from Wikipedia:
On the pretext that Norway needed protection from British and French interference, Germany invaded Norway for several reasons:


  • strategically, to secure ice-free harbors from which its naval forces could seek to control the North Atlantic;
  • to secure the availability of iron ore from mines in Sweden, going through Narvik;
  • to pre-empt a British and French invasion with the same purpose; and
  • to reinforce the propaganda of a "Germanic empire".
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
Iceland was in the way of U-boats trying to break out into the Atlantic

A part of that story that deserves to be better known - The Shetland Bus:

 
A part of that story that deserves to be better known - The Shetland Bus:

The physicist Neils Bohr, when it looked like he would be arrested and forced to work on Hitler's bomb, was ferried out of Denmark via a fishing boat to a waiting RAF plane at Malmo. His head was too big to fit in the oxygen helmet, and he lost consciousness on the flight to Britain over occupied Norway.
There is another book (which I mean to buy and read) called "The Light of Days", about Jewish women in Poland who waged a private war against the Nazis with ambushes and assassinations. They were all killed in the end.
There were Jewish partisans in Poland and Belarus who hid out in the forests and waged guerilla warfare.
The Czech government in exile sent a team to Prague to (successfully) assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the SS commandant in Prague.
Some of this stuff was futile heroics, but it does show that the Allies had real passion on their side, and that often tips the balance.
 
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A part of that story that deserves to be better known - The Shetland Bus:

I have read that FDR issued only two direct orders during the war. One was to override Marshall's objections and invade North Africa to support the British campaign. The other was to transfer 60 B-24 Liberator bombers from the Pacific to remedy a gap in antisubmarine coverage of the convoy routes. Iceland was a key part of the anti-U-boat campaign.
 

bobinder

ARTISAN
United States NYC 14 07 1952.jpg

New York Harbour tugs escort SS 'United States' up the Hudson at the end of her triumphant maiden voyage on 14 July 1952. She has wrested the Blue Riband from the Queen Mary, breaking the records for the eastbound and westbound crossings, with an average speed of 35.59 knots (39.5 mph). The highest recorded speed was 38.32 knots (44 mph) and the westbound crossing was completed in 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes, beating the Queen Mary's best time by nine and a half hours. Sixty nine years later, she still holds the record. :)

United States 218125713_1169185800255390_494238010288301046_n.jpg
 

New York Harbour tugs escort SS 'United States' up the Hudson at the end of her triumphant maiden voyage on 14 July 1952. She has wrested the Blue Riband from the Queen Mary, breaking the records for the eastbound and westbound crossings, with an average speed of 35.59 knots (39.5 mph). The highest recorded speed was 38.32 knots (44 mph) and the westbound crossing was completed in 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes, beating the Queen Mary's best time by nine and a half hours. Sixty nine years later, she still holds the record. :)

This reminds me of the snippet I read that the Pennsylvania Railroad hauled all the materials to build the US Interstate Highway system, which of course killed the railroads (but now they're resurrected because of fuel efficiency among other things--but passenger railroads are still mostly dead). 1952 was not too far from the time when transatlantic flight became commonplace, and ocean liners were "retro-exotic".
 

bobinder

ARTISAN
This reminds me of the snippet I read that the Pennsylvania Railroad hauled all the materials to build the US Interstate Highway system, which of course killed the railroads (but now they're resurrected because of fuel efficiency among other things--but passenger railroads are still mostly dead). 1952 was not too far from the time when transatlantic flight became commonplace, and ocean liners were "retro-exotic".
Quite so - by the 1960s air travel had become an economic alternative to spending four days on the North Atlantic. 'United States' made her last commercial voyage in 1969.
The majority of large, new passenger vessels have since been designed for cruising, for which high speed is not a requirement.
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
The majority of large, new passenger vessels have since been designed for cruising, for which high speed is not a requirement.
The blue ribbon was partly a matter of (national) prestige. Some transatlantic lines deliberately did not take part in that competition, for the sake of their passenger's comfort. After all, when running at top speed, the ships were very subject to irritating vibrations, days and nights long.
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
The blue ribbon was partly a matter of (national) prestige. Some transatlantic lines deliberately did not take part in that competition, for the sake of their passenger's comfort. After all, when running at top speed, the ships were very subject to irritating vibrations, days and nights long.
Yes, some of my older relations worked on those liners in various jobs, and that was something they very much recalled.
 

old slave

FELIS RESPICIENS
The blue ribbon was partly a matter of (national) prestige.
I've been looking at this thread since Thursday, trying very hard Loxuru to keep my silence, but finally my resolve has cracked and pedantry has triumphed!

It is the Blue Riband
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
On July 20th 1866, today 155 years ago, a remarkable naval battle took place in the Mediterranean : the Battle of Lissa.

During the Prussian-Austrian War, Italy had chosen sides against Austria (as part of its struggle for unification). The battle, off the Dalmatian coast took place when an Austrian force tried to prevent the Italians from attacking Venice.

The Battle of Lissa is the first battle during which a substantial number of iron ships and steam driven ships was involved. Coincidentally, at the time of the battle, armouring technology was ahead of gunnery, so ships were difficult to get sunk by gunfire. This lead to the use of a remarkable tactics : deliberate ramming. The Austrians were more succesful in this, so finally, the Italians fled. The Austrian victory proved of little importance, since their army soon got defeated onland by the Prussians

Although gunnery technology soon improved, the succesful rammings left a remarkable aftermath in warship design : the ramming bow. This explains the downward forward curbing bows of warships up to designs of around 1912, far into the Dreadnought era.

The ramming bows were hardly used, however, and only contributed to damage in case of accidental rammings by friendly ships. However, in the case of HMS Dreadnought, it is the only weapon she ever used in action, by sinking the German submarine U29 on March 18th 1915.
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
On July 21st 1861, today 160 years ago, the Battle of Bull Run took place, the first major battle of the American Civil War. The battle ended with a Confederate victory, when the Union troops fled in disorder. They clearly had a lack of training. Luckily for the Union, the Confederates had the same problem, otherwise, they could have marched straight to Washington DC, only some 45 km north of the battlefield. But once the Union was on the run, the Conferdate soldiers were satisfied with the result and wandered around on the battlefield, more interested in loot than in continuing to march and fight.

Hence, on the long run, the Union would more benefit from the battle, since it was a wake-up call to strenghten training and discipline. The Conferdates on the other hand, did not take the right lesson, believing now they could easily defeat the Union Army, and thinking the war was already won after their victory.

Bull Run is a 'first' in history for the importance of transporting troops to the battlefield by train. Also, curiously, a lot of citizens from Washington DC had gathered to watch the battle.
 
On July 21st 1861, today 160 years ago, the Battle of Bull Run took place, the first major battle of the American Civil War. The battle ended with a Confederate victory, when the Union troops fled in disorder. They clearly had a lack of training. Luckily for the Union, the Confederates had the same problem, otherwise, they could have marched straight to Washington DC, only some 45 km north of the battlefield. But once the Union was on the run, the Conferdate soldiers were satisfied with the result and wandered around on the battlefield, more interested in loot than in continuing to march and fight.

Hence, on the long run, the Union would more benefit from the battle, since it was a wake-up call to strenghten training and discipline. The Conferdates on the other hand, did not take the right lesson, believing now they could easily defeat the Union Army, and thinking the war was already won after their victory.

Bull Run is a 'first' in history for the importance of transporting troops to the battlefield by train. Also, curiously, a lot of citizens from Washington DC had gathered to watch the battle.
Winfield Scott, the head of the US Army (such as it was), in responding to Lincoln's eagerness to move against the South said "Sir, this isn't an army".
"You are green, it is true. But so are they."

After Shiloh in April of 1862, with 25,000 casualties, "greeness" made its last stand. Bruce Catton's history says "and the war started to spin out of control". Grant was accused of being drunk, and Ohio politicians in particular called for his dismissal. The quote is not well attested, but Lincoln supposedly said, "I cannot dismiss Grant--he fights".
 
I've been looking at this thread since Thursday, trying very hard Loxuru to keep my silence, but finally my resolve has cracked and pedantry has triumphed!

It is the Blue Riband
Benjamin Franklin spent a lot of time crossing the Atlantic. He wondered why the transit to the east was so much faster than that to the west. He made measurements of the speed of the Gulf Stream. Having that guy on board your ship with nothing to do must have been a real pain for the officers and the crew--don't let him fall overboard.
 

Loxuru

Graf von Kreuzigung
Fifty years ago, on July 26th 1971, Apollo 15 was launched, for the fourth manned lunar mission. Crewmembers were Dave Scott (Commander), Jim Irwin (Lunar Module Pilot) and Al Worden (Command Module Pilot). For Scott, it was the third spaceflight (after Gemini 8 and Apollo 9). The landing site was Mons Hadley, in the Apennine mountains. It would be a successful mission. Particularities were :

-first landing in a mountainous region. Due to the terrain, the Lunar Module landed on a slightly (but potentially dangerous for its stability) inclining ground. Also the northernmost site of all manned landings.

-the first use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle, extending considerably the work radius on the terrain.

-the discovery of the Genesis Rock, probably the oldest rock sample collected on the Moon (the Apollo 15 mission was the first that benefited from a more advanced geology training of the crew; previously, that aspect had been given less attention, and several astronauts were not particularly interested in it, more devoted as they were to their tasks as pilots of their spacecrafts; Scott, however had a more exploring mentality and saw the necessity of paying sufficient attention to geology too).

-the first piece of art on the Lunar surface. The astronauts ‘inaugurated’ a small aluminum statuette ‘Fallen Astronaut’, created by the Belgian sculptor Paul Van Hoeydonck, to the memory of the 14 astronauts who had died in the US and Soviet space programs up to then (Scott himself had nearly escaped death, in March 1966, when a malfunctioning steering rocket had brought Gemini 8 into a spin, which was difficult to recover from – but pilot Neil Armstrong’s skills did it).

-during return, one of the three main parachutes failed to open, making it a hard splashdown.

-the ‘stamp affair’, in the aftermath of the mission. The astronauts had smuggled a few hundreds of postal covers, stamped before (on Kennedy Space Center) and after (on recovery ship USS Okinawa) the flight. The covers had been in the LM on the moon. They were to be sold at high prices. When it was uncovered, the crew and a few other astronauts were reprimanded and banned from later spaceflights.

-coronary problems. After return to the Command Module, during transfer of samples from the LM, Mission control recorded irregularities in Irwin’s heartbeat. Although the flight surgeon stated that he normally would send a patient with such arrythmias to emergency room, the crew was not informed by it (the problem was initially attributed to the already long working hours and lack of potassium). Within two years after the mission, Irwin had a heart attack. He would have three more the next 20 years, the last one, in 1991, would be fatal. He was the first of the astronauts who had walked on the Moon, to die. After NASA, Irwin had become a Reborn Christian. In the 1980’s, he undertook several (unsuccessful) expeditions to Mount Ararat (Turkey), in search for remnants of Noah’s Ark. Operating in critical area (near the Soviet and Iranian border and Kurdish rebels nearby), one time badly injured by a rock avalanche, the only human artefact he would find, was a pair of abandoned skis.

CMP Al Worden died in 2020. Only Dave Scott is still alive.
 

Gibbs505

SERVORUM DOMITOR
A couple that I had missed, first:
Om July 25th 1978 Louise Joy Brown, the first person to be conceived by in vitro fertilization is born in Oldham, England.

and, just as important,
On July 26th 1745 the first recorded women's cricket match took place in Guilford, England.
 
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