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  • Bombing Roulette October 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary

    Roulette Table & Wheel

    In the early part of the Second World War the bombing of cities was deadly but piecemeal. The result was a ghastly kind of lottery as a split second of difference in letting the bombs away would decide the difference between the destruction of this street or that street: Roald Dahl has some fine short stories where, as a bomber, he reflects on the arbitrary nature of murder from the sky. In many countries that were under constant or intermittent attack there must have emerged urban legends and tall tales about the experiences of urban populations. Some of these at least slipped into print. There is, for example, in Anthony Powell’s extraordinary Dance to the Music of Time a very well written passage where the hero goes to visit his friend’s house to find that it has been destroyed, then returns home to find that that too has been destroyed. AP and RD wrote fiction, but what about this extraordinary account from a British naval man on leave in Portsmouth, admittedly one of Britain’s most bombed centres because of its full harbours. Note that Portsmouth pubs, where this story begins, got hit particularly hard. The Blue Anchor was the first casualty of the war in the city and there is legend (?) that a pub that got blown across the street in one piece. A likely story… Anyway to Portsmouth in early 1941 as the Luftwaffe did its best to put an end not only to the beer supply but to the bar itself.

    They were in a pub at the top of Queen Street as an air raid began. When bombs started dropping they evacuated the pub and sheltered in the entrance to Woolworths. The bombs came alarmingly close, so they ran over to Aggie Weston’s hostel. A moment later a bomb hit Woolworths just where they had been standing. At this point they began to get nervous. ‘Someone said they knew where there was an air raid shelter, so we crossed the road again and started to go towards the harbor, when Aggie Weston’s was hit. Arriving at the air raid shelter, we found the police there as it had received a direct hit.

    These were men from a submarine crew whose life expectancy was about three months and who were not easily spooked: source Tim Clayton’s excellent Sea Wolves (202). After this they presumably went back into their underwater homes with some relief. Other bombing stories/urban legends/anecdotes: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    History Roundup 238 including St Paul’s Viper October 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 238 including St Paul's Viper

    Today’s post is on medieval conversion in Japan and today’s links follow. 1) Amazon Speed Dating: Scythia 2) St Paul and the Snake: Malta 3) Lactose Intolerance Again: Prehistoric Europe 4) Eric Hobsbawm: A USSR hell according to the author… 5) Saving Ugbrooke Park: Earnest England 6) Getting Around Pornography Legislation: US (also this old […]

    Daily History Picture: British Nurse October 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: British Nurse

      Anna Spafford British nurse in Jerusalem?  

    Sham Virigins, Trainee Shamans, Phantom Storms and Medieval Conversion October 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Sham Virigins, Trainee Shamans, Phantom Storms and Medieval Conversion

    We are in the Middle Ages beyond the banks of the Rhine in the pagan communities there. A young man has had a great disappointment, he has married a woman only to discover that she is not a virgin. There follows a wretched series of illnesses that lead the young man towards death. In all […]

    History Roundup 237 including Easy Rider Sale October 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 237 including Easy Rider Sale

    Today’s links follow. 1) How Much Did Easy Rider Sell For: auction house 2) Curse of Scottish Castle: Loch Ness 3) 32 who didn’t Come Home: Scotland, WW1 4) Hedgehog History: stomach and folk cures 5) Saving Last Gallipoli Boat: UK 6) New Victorian Photo Archive: UK 7) Museum of Curiosities: London 8) Vampire Slaying: […]

    Daily History Picture: Twain and Tesla October 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Twain and Tesla

    Perhaps the best photograph of Mark Twain. Casting spells in Tesla’s lab…

    Telephony and Music: the Perils of Modernity October 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Telephony and Music: the Perils of Modernity

    In 1876 the telephone was born after a half dozen inventors had scrambled for the right formula for years: who could forget poor old Philip Reiss with his beer barrel, sausage skin, kinitting needle and two cups of mercury? The telephone was, in fact, one of those technologies that took off remarkably quickly and was […]

    History Roundup 236 including The Truth about Tut October 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 236 including The Truth about Tut

    Today’s links follow. 1) Tutankhamun had Girlish Hips and Buck Teeth: 2) Victorian Book of Dead Review: love the puppets 3) How Marijuana Conquered the World: Everywhere 4) Oldest Art Threatened: Australia 5) Excavating Films: West Coast 6) Footprint in the Sand: somewhere in the Pacific 7) New Holy Well: Devon 8) Weird Take on […]

    Daily History Picture: Manchester Postmen October 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Manchester Postmen

    Manchester postmen in 1894, sorting the post for their walks  

    M. R. James’ Invisible Library October 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    M. R. James' Invisible Library

    M. R. James is among the finest of the English-speaking ghost writers, finer even perhaps than Le Fanu and so much better than Howard Phillips L in style and in dialogue. But there is one undoubted problem with his canon: it is small, a mere thirty four stories. The quality is consistently high but fans […]

    History Roundup 235 including Book of the Dead October 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 235 including Book of the Dead

    Today’s post is on a strange Irish ceremony and today’s links follow. 1) Victorian Book of Dead is Here: been waiting for a long time… 2) Medieval Bark Note: Russia 3) New Ancient Greek Poem: Turkey 4) 16 Cent Dance Plague: Europe 5) Witch Bottle: England 6) Mountain Battle Archaeology: The Alps 7) Modern Air Superiority: […]

    Bathing Mystery at Lahinch October 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bathing Mystery at Lahinch

    In 1892 Laurence Gomme gave a presidential address to the Folklore Society. Gomme was particularly interested in the parallels between British (by which was meant at this date British and Irish) folklore and the folklore of the ‘savages’. If he could snap some branches from the golden bough while proving that the Aborigines and the […]

    Daily History Picture: Say it with Flowers at the Pentagon October 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Say it with Flowers at the Pentagon

      1967 flower protest at the Pentagon

    History Roundup 234 including Tarantula Hell October 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : History Roundups
    History Roundup 234 including Tarantula Hell

    Today’s links follow. 1) Somme Survivor Buys it at Loos: Sunderland 2) Mad Gay Granddad: London 3) Tarantula Hell: US and Cuba 4) Black History Denial? UK 5) Women Spies: US 6) Chariot Turns Up: UK 7) The Giantess! Scotland 8) Pre Neanderthal: France and from the archives 9) Flinders Island Other links: hogwarts does sex […]

    Daily History Picture: Disney Meal October 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures
    Daily History Picture: Disney Meal

    Disneyland cafeteria 1961

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