Events in History over the next 15 day period that had U.S. military involvement or impacted in some way on U.S military operations or American interests
- Nov 00 1943 – WW2: USS Capelin (SS–289) » Sunk by unknown causes, either Japanese aircraft (934 Kokutai) or minelayer Wakatake, a Japanese mine in the northern Celebes, or perhaps a hull defect reported prior to her departure from Darwin. 78 killed.
Japanese records studied after the war listed an attack by minelayer Wakataka on a supposed United States submarine on 23 November, off Kaoe Bay, Halmahera, with the Japanese ship noting the attack produced oily black water columns that contained wood and cork splinters and later a raft was found. This is the only reported attack in the appropriate area at that time. Also, Japanese minefields are now known to have been placed in various positions along the north coast of Sulawesi (Celebes) in Capelin’s area, and she may have been lost because of a mine explosion. Gone without a trace, with all her crew, Capelin remains in the list of ships lost without a known cause. Capelin received one battle star for World War II service. She is credited with having sunk 3,127 tons of shipping on her single war patrol.
- Nov 01 1765 – American Revolution Era: Parliament Enacts the Stamp Act » In the face of widespread opposition in the American colonies, Parliament enacts the Stamp Act, a taxation measure designed to raise revenue for British military operations in America.
Defense of the American colonies in the French and Indian War (1754-63) and Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763-64) were costly affairs for Great Britain, and Prime Minister George Grenville hoped to recover some of these costs by taxing the colonists. In 1764, the Sugar Act was enacted, putting a high duty on refined sugar. Although resented, the Sugar Act tax was hidden in the cost of import duties, and most colonists accepted it. The Stamp Act, however, was a direct tax on the colonists and led to an uproar in America over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation. Passed without debate by Parliament in March 1765, the Stamp Act was designed to force colonists to use special stamped paper in the printing of newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and playing cards, and to have a stamp embossed on all commercial and legal papers. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense—”Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”
Outrage was immediate. Massachusetts politician Samuel Adams organized the secret Sons of Liberty organization to plan protests against the measure, and the Virginia legislature and other colonial assemblies passed resolutions opposing the act. In October, nine colonies sent representatives to New York to attend a Stamp Act Congress, where resolutions of “rights and grievances” were framed and sent to Parliament and King George III. Despite this opposition, the Stamp Act was enacted on November 1, 1765. The colonists greeted the arrival of the stamps with violence and economic retaliation. A general boycott of British goods began, and the Sons of Liberty staged attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors in Boston. After months of protest and economic turmoil, and an appeal by Benjamin Franklin before the British House of Commons, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766. However, the same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies.
Parliament would again attempt to force unpopular taxation measures on the American colonies in the late 1760s, leading to a steady deterioration in British-American relations that culminated in the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775.In the face of widespread opposition in the American colonies, Parliament enacts the Stamp Act, a taxation measure designed to raise revenue for British military operations in America.
- Nov 01 1777 – American Revolutionary War: The Continental sloop Ranger, commanded by Capt. John Paul Jones, departs for France carrying dispatches British Gen. John Burgoyne’s surrender in the Saratoga, N.Y., campaign. The news helps solidify Frances support of the patriots. During the voyage, Ranger captures two British prizes, Mary and George, and sends them to France.
- Nov 01 1827 – U.S. Navy: While in the Aegean Sea, the sloop–of–war Warren, commanded by Commodore Lawrence Kearney, burns the pirate town of Mykonos in the Cyclades Islands, recovers equipment and stores from captured merchant ships, and seizes a pirate boat.
- Nov 01 1841 – U.S. Navy: The “Mosquito Fleet”, commanded by Lt. Cmdr. J. T. McLaughlin, carries 750 Sailors and Marines into the Everglades to fight the Seminole Indians.
- Nov 01 1861 – Civil War: McClellan Replaces Scott » President Abraham Lincoln names George Brinton McClellan general in chief of the Union army, replacing the aged and infirm Winfield Scott. In just six months, McClellan had gone from commander of the Ohio volunteers to the head of the Union army.
George Brinton McClellan & Winfield Scott
McClellan, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from West Point second in his class in 1846 and went on to serve with distinction under General Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American War (1846-48). McClellan left his successful military career in 1857 for an engineering position with the Illinois Central Railroad, and by the time the Civil War broke out in 1861, he was president of the St. Louis and Cincinnati Railroad. He resigned that position to accept command of the Ohio volunteers with the rank of major general. During the summer of 1861, McClellan led Union troops in a series of small battles in western Virginia that resulted in Federal control of the strategic region. He earned a national reputation, though it is debatable just how much McClellan contributed to these achievements; in several cases, decisions by his subordinates were the main reason for the success. Nonetheless, McClellan provided Northern victories when they were in scarce supply. On July 16, 1861, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing his accomplishments in Virginia.
Just five days later, the main Union force, commanded by General Irwin McDowell, suffered a humiliating defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia. In the aftermath of the debacle, many turned to McClellan to save the war effort. He arrived in Washington, D.C., on July 26 to take command of the disorganized and demoralized Army of the Potomac and quickly began to build a magnificent fighting force, establishing a rigorous training procedure and an efficient command structure. He also demonstrated brashness, pomposity, and arrogance toward many of the nation’s political leaders. He loudly complained about Scott, and treated the president with utter contempt.
Still, McClellan was the only real choice to replace Scott. No other Union general had achieved much of anything at that point in the war. After alienating much of the administration by early 1862, McClellan moved the Army of the Potomac to the James Peninsula for an attack on Richmond, Virginia. As a field commander, he proved to be sluggish and timid, and he retreated from the outskirts of the Confederate capital when faced with a series of attacks by Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the Seven Days Battles in June 1862. In July, Henry W. Halleck was named general in chief, and much of McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was transferred to General John Pope’s Army of Virginia. After Pope was defeated at Second Bull Run in August, much of McClellan’s command was restored to him. Lee invaded Maryland, and McClellan defeated him there at the Battle of Antietam in September. Despite this victory, McClellan’s refusal to pursue the retreating Confederates led to his permanent removal in November 1862. In 1864, he challenged Lincoln for the presidency as the Democratic nominee but lost decisively.
- Nov 01 1864 – Civil War: CSS Chickamauga, commanded by Lt. John Wilkinson, captures schooners Goodspeed and Otter Rock off the northeast coast of the United States.
- Nov 01 1914 – WWI Era: The Battle of Coronel » In a crushing victory, a German naval squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee sinks two British armored cruisers with all aboard off the southern coast of Chile on November 1, 1914, in the Battle of Coronel.
World War I broke out on the European continent in August 1914; within months, it had spread by sea across the globe to South America. Previously stationed in the western Pacific, near China, Spee’s small East Asia Squadron made the two-month journey to Chile after Japan entered the war on August 22 and it was determined that the Germans could not stand up to the Japanese navy in the region. Neutral Chile, with its sizeable population of German immigrants and its ready supply of coal, would be a safer base from which to launch attacks against British shipping interests.
After eluding a large number of Japanese, British and Australian ships on its way, Spee’s ships encountered a British squadron commanded by Sir Christopher Cradock in the late afternoon of November 1, 1914. The Germans, with their newer, lighter ships, took quick advantage, opening fire at 7 pm. Cradock’s flagship, the Good Hope, was hit before its crew could return fire; it sank within half an hour. The Monmouth followed two hours later, after attempting to withdraw and being sunk by the light cruiser Nurnberg. No fewer than 1,600 British sailors, including Cradock himself, perished along with the two ships; it was the Royal Navy’s worst defeat in more than a century.
The quicker British ship Glasgow escaped the fray and fled south to warn another of Cradock’s ships, the Canopus, stationed in the Falkland Islands, of Spee’s proximity. In response, the British dispatched two battle cruisers, Inflexible and Invincible, from its Battle Cruiser Squadron in the North Sea. The two ships, commanded by Sir Doveton Sturdee, reached the Falklands on December 7; the following day they exacted their revenge on the aggressive Spee, sinking four German ships–including the Nurnberg and Spee’s flagship Scharnhorst–with 2,100 crew members aboard. Among the dead were Spee and his two sons, Otto and Heinrich. By the end of 1914, the German cruiser threat to Britain’s trade routes had been virtually eliminated; for the duration of the war, Germany’s chief weapon at sea would be its deadly U-boat submarines.
- Nov 01 1914 – WWI Era: Austria invades Serbia. This is the third attempt to conquer the Serbs in retaliation for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This attempt fails like the two before it, at the hands of highly motivated Serbs fighting on their home ground. The Austrians withdraw in mid-December, after suffering over 220,000 casualties from the three failed invasions.
- Nov 01 1915 – U.S. Marine Corps: Parris Island is officially designated a US Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
- Nov 01 1936 – Italy: Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini announces the Rome-Berlin axis after Count Ciano’s visit to Germany.
- Nov 01 1941 – WW2: FDR Puts Coast Guard Under Control of the Navy » President Roosevelt announces that the U.S. Coast Guard will now be under the direction of the U.S. Navy, a transition of authority usually reserved only for wartime.
The Coast Guard was established as the Revenue Marine Service by Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, in 1790. In 1915, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, formed in 1878, and the RMS combined to become the Coast Guard. During peacetime, the Guard was under the direction of the Department of Treasury until 1967, when the Department of Transportation took control. But during war, it was under the control of the U.S. Navy. What made FDR’s November 1 announcement significant was that the United States was not yet at war—but more and more American ships were nevertheless becoming casualties of the European war.
The Coast Guard’s mission is to enforce all laws applicable to the waters within U.S. territory, including laws and regulations promoting personal safety and protection of property. It provides support and aid to all vessels within U.S. territorial waters. It is charged with inspecting sailing vessels and their equipment for violations of safety regulations, as well as lighthouses, buoys, navigation equipment, and radio beacons. The Guard operates and maintains a network of lifeboat and search-and-rescue stations, which also employs aircraft. The Guard’s wartime duties include escorting ships, providing port security, and inspecting ships for everything from illegal drugs to munitions. They also have powers of interdiction—the right to stop, board, and inspect any vessel suspected of threatening U.S. security. In fact, Coast Guard ranks are analogous to those of the U.S. Navy; even the uniforms are similar. The Guard is headed by an admiral appointed by the president. Women have served in the Guard since 1973.
- Nov 01 1942 – WW2: Matanikau Offensive begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign and ends on November 4. Casualties and losses: US 71 – JP 400.
- Nov 01 1943 – WW2: USS Borie (DD 215) rams and sinks the German submarine U–405 in the Atlantic. As a result from the ramming, she is so badly damaged that she is scuttled the following day after a failed attempt to tow her to port. Twenty–seven crewmen lose their lives in this engagement.
- Nov 01 1943 – WW2: The Bougainville Campaign » This was a series of land and naval battles of the Pacific campaign between Allied forces and the Empire of Japan. It was part of Operation Cartwheel, the Allied grand strategy in the South Pacific. The campaign took place in the Northern Solomons in two phases. The first phase, in which American troops landed and held the perimeter around the beachhead at Torokina, lasted from November 1943 through November 1944. The second phase, in which primarily Australian troops went on the offensive, mopping up pockets of starving, isolated but still-determined Japanese, lasted from November 1944 until August 1945, when the last Japanese soldiers on the island surrendered. Operations during the final phase of the campaign saw the Australian forces advance north towards the Bonis Peninsula and south towards the main Japanese stronghold around Buin, although the war ended before these two enclaves were completely destroyed.
- Nov 01 1943 – WW2: Battle of Empress Augusta Bay » United States Marines, the 3rd Marine Division, land on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. In support of the landings U.S. aircraft carrier forces attack the huge Japanese base at Rabaul. Casualties and losses: US 19 – JP 168 to 658
- Nov 01 1944 – WW2: USS Blackfin (SS 322) attacked a Japanese convoy sinking auxiliary vessel Caroline Maru and transport No.12 Unkai Maru in Mindoro Strait. Meanwhile, USS Ray (SS 271) sinks the Japanese merchant tanker No.7 Horai Maru and lands a party of three men, together with two tons of supplies, at Mamburao on the west coast of Mindoro.
- Nov 01 1950 – U.S. Presidency: Truman Assassination Attempt » Two members of a Puerto Rican nationalist movement Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempt to assassinate President Harry S. Truman. In the autumn of 1950, the White House was being renovated and President Truman and his family were living in the nearby Blair House on Pennsylvania Avenue. On the afternoon of 1 NOV, Truman and his wife were upstairs when they heard a commotion—and gunshots—coming from the front steps of the house. Indeed, the pair of would-be assassins had strolled up to the front door of Blair House and opened fire. They never made it past the entry steps, however, due to the quick reaction of police officers and guards. Secret Service Agent Leslie Coffelt was mortally wounded in the ensuing melee, but not before he managed to kill Torresola.
Collazo later revealed to police just how poorly planned the assassination attempt was: the assailants were unsure if Truman would even be in the house when they launched their 2 o’clock attack that afternoon. Torresola and Collazo were political activists and members of the extremist Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, a group fighting for full independence from the United States. The “Independistas,” as they were commonly called, targeted Truman despite his support of greater Puerto Rican autonomy. Apparently unfazed by the attempt on his life, Truman kept his scheduled appointments for the day. “A President has to expect these things,” he remarked dryly. Oscar Collazo was sentenced to death, but in an admirable act of forgiveness on July 24, 1952, Truman commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.
- Nov 01 1951 – Cold War: Operation Buster–Jangle » 6,500 American soldiers are exposed to ‘Desert Rock’ atomic explosions for training purposes in Nevada. Participation was not voluntary. The test device, designated “NF”, was a Mk 4 bomb assembly of a composite uranium-plutonium core. The expected yield was 18-25 kt.
- Nov 01 1952 – Cold War: United States Tests First Hydrogen Bomb » The United States detonates the world’s first thermonuclear weapon, the hydrogen bomb, on Eniwetok atoll in the Pacific. The test gave the United States a short-lived advantage in the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. Following the successful Soviet detonation of an atomic device in September 1949, the United States accelerated its program to develop the next stage in atomic weaponry, a thermonuclear bomb. Popularly known as the hydrogen bomb, this new weapon was approximately 1,000 times more powerful than conventional nuclear devices. Opponents of development of the hydrogen bomb included J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the fathers of the atomic bomb. He and others argued that little would be accomplished except the speeding up of the arms race, since it was assumed that the Soviets would quickly follow suit.The opponents were correct in their assumptions. The Soviet Union exploded a thermonuclear device the following year and by the late 1970s, seven nations had constructed hydrogen bombs. The nuclear arms race had taken a fearful step forward.
- Nov 01 1952 –Korean War: USS Vammen (DE 644) is taken under fire by an estimated 105 mm gun in the vicinity of Sinuong. One man is wounded by a shell fragment, but there is no material damage.
- Nov 01 1964 – Vietnam War Era: Military and political situation in South Vietnam deteriorates » One year after the overthrow and assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem, the situation in South Vietnam is deteriorating in both the military and political spheres. Following two months of extreme political turmoil, the High National Council confirmed the appointment of Tran Van Huong as South Vietnam’s premier. Though he promised to wage total war against the communists while separating religion and politics, he proved to be only the latest in a line of ineffectual leaders that attempted to fill the void left by Diem’s death.
The military situation was no better. On this date, Viet Cong raiders infiltrated the U.S. air base at Bien Hoa, 12 miles north of Saigon, and launched a heavy mortar attack that caught the U.S. and South Vietnamese off guard. Before the Viet Cong withdrew, they killed five U.S. servicemen and two South Vietnamese soldiers, wounded 76, destroyed two B-57 bombers, and damaged another 20 U.S. and South Vietnamese aircraft. A lengthy search of the area around Bien Hoa failed to locate any of the Viet Cong. Word of the attack reached Washington early in the morning, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for “a prompt and strong response” against North Vietnam. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor called for a more limited response, but also advocated bombing in retaliation. President Lyndon Johnson, concerned with the presidential election that was only 48 hours away, decided to do nothing except order the immediate replacement of destroyed and damaged planes.
- Nov 01 1968 – Vietnam War: U.S. Initiates Two Rural Restorative Programs » The U.S. mission in Saigon initiates two operations designed to bolster rural security and development efforts. The Le Loi program was an intensified civic action campaign intended to repair the damage done by the enemy’s offensives earlier in the year and to return control of the rural population to the Saigon government. The other operation was the Phuong Hoang (Phoenix) program, a hamlet security initiative run by the Central Intelligence Agency that relied on centralized, computerized intelligence gathering to identify and eliminate the Viet Cong infrastructure–the upper echelon of the National Liberation Front political cadres and party members. This program became one of the most controversial operations undertaken by U.S. personnel in South Vietnam.
Critics charged that American-led South Vietnamese “hit teams” indiscriminately arrested and murdered many communist suspects on flimsy pretexts. Despite these charges, the program was acknowledged by top-level U.S. government officials, as well as Viet Cong and North Vietnamese leaders after the war, to have been very effective in reducing the power of the local communist cadres in the South Vietnamese countryside. According to available sources, from 1968 to 1972, the Phoenix program resulted in the capture of 34,000 Viet Cong political cadre, while an additional 26,000 were killed. The program also convinced 22,000 communists to change their loyalties and support the South Vietnamese government.
- Nov 01 1968 – Vietnam War: President Lyndon B. Johnson calls a halt to bombing in Vietnam, hoping this will lead to progress at the Paris peace talks.
- Nov 01 1993– Europe: European Union Goes into Effect » The Maastricht Treaty comes into effect, formally establishing the European Union (EU). The treaty was drafted in 1991 by delegates from the European Community meeting at Maastricht in the Netherlands and signed in 1992. The agreement called for a strengthened European parliament, the creation of a central European bank, and common foreign and security policies. The treaty also laid the groundwork for the establishment of a single European currency, to be known as the “euro.”
By 1993, 12 nations had ratified the Maastricht Treaty on European Union: Great Britain, France, Germany, the Irish Republic, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Austria, Finland, and Sweden became members of the EU in 1995. After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe were finally united in the spirit of economic cooperation.
- Nov 02 1775 – Invasion of Quebec: Siege of Fort Johns » Americans under General Brig. Richard Montgomery capture the British fort of Saint Johns. American Forces consisted of between 1,500 to 2,500 Continental Army. British Forces commanded by Gen. Charles Preston consisted of 850 British Soldiers and Indian Allies. American casualties were estimated to be 20–100 killed and wounded plus at least 900 sick. British casualties was approximately 20 dead, 23 wounded and about 700 captured. The result of the siege was a American victory which resulted in the American Army gaining control over the Quebec territory between Lake Champlain, Montreal and Quebec City. The battle was part of the Invasion of Quebec 1775-76. The British eventually reoccupied the fort St John’s in 1776 after the Continental Army abandoned it during its retreat to Fort Ticonderoga.
- Nov 02 1777 – American Revolutionary War: John Paul Jones Sets Sail » The USS Ranger, with a crew of 140 men under the command of John Paul Jones, leaves Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the naval port at Brest, France, where it will stop before heading toward the Irish Sea to begin raids on British warships. This was the first mission of its kind during the Revolutionary War. Commander Jones, remembered as one of the most daring and successful naval commanders of the American Revolution, was born in Scotland, on July 6, 1747. He became an apprentice to a merchant at 13 and soon went to sea, traveling first to the West Indies and then to North America as a young man. In Virginia at the onset of the American Revolution, Jones sided with the Patriots and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775.
After departing Brest, Jones successfully executed raids on two forts in England’s Whitehaven Harbor, despite a disgruntled crew more interested in “gain than honor.” Jones then continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones’ crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife’s teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where the Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship’s captain and lieutenant.
In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship. One of the greatest naval commanders in history, Jones is remembered as a “Father of the American Navy,” along with fellow Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry. John Paul Jones is buried in a crypt at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland, where a Marine honor guard stands at attention whenever the crypt is open to the public.
- Nov 02 1783 – Post American Revolutionary War: In Rocky Hill, New Jersey, US General George Washington gives his “Farewell Address to the Army” which he wrote in the old Berrian residence (below), better known throughout New Jersey as the Rocky Hill House
- Nov 02 1861 – Civil War: Fremont Removed from Western Department » In August 1861, the Union suffered a stunning defeat when an army under General Nathaniel Lyon was routed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in southwestern Missouri. Many criticized Fremont for failing to provide proper support for Lyon, who was killed in the battle. In response, Fremont took action to demonstrate his control over the region. He declared martial law and proclaimed freedom for all slaves in Missouri. In doing so, he placed President Abraham Lincoln’s administration in a difficult position. Lincoln was trying to keep the Border States (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri) from seceding from the Union. With the exception of Delaware, these states contained substantial numbers of slaveholders, and opinion over the issue of slavery was evenly divided. Fremont’s freeing of slaves threatened to destroy the balance and send these states into the hands of the Confederacy.
Of particular concern was Kentucky, Lincoln’s native state. It was of vital strategic importance and the movement for secession there was strong. Fremont’s actions in Missouri fueled secessionist spirit and alienated many Northerners who were unwilling to wage a war to end slavery. Lincoln requested privately that Fremont rescind the order, but he refused. The president had no choice but to negate the order of emancipation and remove Fremont from command in the West.
- Nov 02 1864 – Civil War: Union paddle–wheelers Key West and Tawah encounter transports Undine and Venus, which the Confederates captured three days earlier on the Tennessee River. After a heated running engagement, Venus is retaken. Undine is badly damaged but manages to escape and gains the protection of Confederate batteries at Reynoldsburg Island, near Johnsonville, Tenn.
- Nov 02 1899 – Philippines: The protected (i.e light) cruiser USS Charleston (C-2) runs aground on an uncharted reef near Camiguin Island north of Luzon, Philippines. Wrecked beyond salvage, she was abandoned by her crew, who made camp on a nearby island, later moving on to Camiguin while the ship’s sailing launch was sent for help. Keeping over 300 safe and together for two weeks on a desolate atoll is the stuff of blockbuster movies today but has escaped the attention of Hollywood. On 12 November, the gunboat USS Helena (PG-9) arrived to rescue the shipwrecked survivors
- Nov 02 1917 – WW1 Era: Balfour Declaration Letter Written » British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour writes an important letter to Britain’s most illustrious Jewish citizen, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, a prominent Zionist and a friend of Chaim Weizmann. The letter expressed the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine and would eventually become known as the Balfour Declaration.
Britain’s support for the Zionist movement came from its concerns regarding the direction of the First World War. Aside from a genuine belief in the righteousness of Zionism, held by Lloyd George among others, Britain’s leaders hoped that a statement supporting Zionism would help gain Jewish support for the Allies. The influence of the Balfour Declaration on the course of post-war events was immediate: According to the “mandate” system created by the Versailles Treaty of 1919, Britain was entrusted with the administration of Palestine, with the understanding that it would work on behalf of both its Jewish and Arab inhabitants.
After World War I, the Jewish population in Palestine increased dramatically, as did Jewish-Arab violence. Arab resistance and failures to reach a compromise led Britain to delay deciding on the future of Palestine. In the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, much of the international community took up the Zionist cause, and in 1948 the State of Israel was declared.
- Nov 02 1942 – WW2: Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrives in Gibraltar to set up an American command post for the invasion of North Africa.
- Nov 02 1942 – WW2: British Launch Operation Supercharge » General Montgomery breaks through Rommel’s defensive line at El Alamein, Egypt, forcing a retreat. It was the beginning of the end of the Axis occupation of North Africa. In July 1942, having already taken Tobruk, Gen. Erwin Rommel and his mixed German-Italian forces attempted to push through the British defensive line at El Alamein, but failed. The Brits and the Axis had reached a standstill, and both sides took time to regroup before resuming the battle.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Bernard Montgomery took control of the British 8th Army, and on 23 OCT launched Operation Lightfoot, a broad offensive initiated by artillery fire. Rommel’s forces had dug a five-mile-deep defensive area, replete with minefields and antitank guns. But this did not stop Montgomery, who had three armored divisions and almost seven infantry divisions. The Axis forces were without their leader, as Rommel had taken ill and was convalescing in Austria. By the time the German general was recalled to Africa by Hitler, two days after the launching of Lightfoot, Monty and his forces had pushed passed his defensive line and were six miles beyond the original stalemate point.
Rommel gave as well as he got, using his antitank weaponry to destroy four times as many British tanks as he lost (but still leaving the Brits with 800 against Rommel’s 90). Montgomery’s drive northward was stopped-but only temporarily. On 2 NOV he launched Operation Supercharge, switched the direction of his attack westward, and punched through the German-Italian line. Rommel retreated to Fukah but Hitler insisted that Rommel hold his position at El Alamein. Rommel obeyed, which was a mistake. Instead of making a stand at Fukah, he was forced to waste more time and more of his forces as the British pushed harder, forcing Rommel to retreat even farther as he attempted to escape sweeping British offensives from the south. By mid-January 1943, Rommel had been pushed through Libya into Tunisia. As Churchill would sum up: “Up to Alamein we survived. After Alamein we conquered.”
- Nov 02 1943 – WW2: In the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, U.S. cruisers and destroyers of Task Force 39, commanded by Rear Adm. Aaron S. Merrill, turn back Japanese forces as they try to attack invasion shipping off Bougainville. This action, with its successful use of radar to manage U.S. forces, marks the end of Japan’s previous advantage in night engagement.
- Nov 02 1943 – WW2: USS Halibut (SS 232), USS Seahorse (SS 304), and USS Trigger (SS 237), all operating independently of each other, attack a Japanese convoy south of Honshu and sink five enemy vessels.
- Nov 02 1947 – PostWW2: Spruce Goose Flies » The largest aircraft ever built—is piloted by designer Howard Hughes on its first and only flight. Built with laminated birch and spruce, the massive wooden aircraft had a wingspan longer than a football field and was designed to carry more than 700 men to battle.
Howard Hughes was a successful Hollywood movie producer when he founded the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932. He personally tested cutting-edge aircraft of his own design and in 1937 broke the transcontinental flight-time record. In 1938, he flew around the world in a record three days, 19 hours, and 14 minutes.
Following the U.S. entrance into World War II in 1941, the U.S. government commissioned the Hughes Aircraft Company to build a large flying boat capable of carrying men and materials over long distances. The concept for what would become the “Spruce Goose” was originally conceived by the industrialist Henry Kaiser, but Kaiser dropped out of the project early, leaving Hughes and his small team to make the H-4 a reality. Because of wartime restrictions on steel, Hughes decided to build his aircraft out of wood laminated with plastic and covered with fabric. Although it was constructed mainly of birch, the use of spruce (along with its white-gray color) would later earn the aircraft the nickname Spruce Goose. It had a wingspan of 320 feet and was powered by eight giant propeller engines.
Development of the Spruce Goose cost a phenomenal $23 million and took so long that the war had ended by the time of its completion in 1946. The aircraft had many detractors, and Congress demanded that Hughes prove the plane airworthy. On November 2, 1947, Hughes obliged, taking the H-4 prototype out into Long Beach Harbor, CA for an unannounced flight test. Thousands of onlookers had come to watch the aircraft taxi on the water and were surprised when Hughes lifted his wooden behemoth 70 feet above the water and flew for a mile before landing.
Despite its successful maiden flight, the Spruce Goose never went into production, primarily because critics alleged that its wooden framework was insufficient to support its weight during long flights. Nevertheless, Howard Hughes, who became increasingly eccentric and withdrawn after 1950, refused to neglect what he saw as his greatest achievement in the aviation field. From 1947 until his death in 1976, he kept the Spruce Goose prototype ready for flight in an enormous, climate-controlled hangar at a cost of $1 million per year. Today, the Spruce Goose is housed at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
- Nov 02 1952 – Korean War: Aircraft from USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31) and USS Oriskany (CVA 34) attack targets in the city of Pyongyang in the first of three major strikes against that city during a five day period.
- Nov 02 1963 – Vietnam War: President Diem Murdered During Coup » In the early afternoon hours of 1 NOV, the dissidents seized key military installations and communications systems in Saigon, secured the surrender of President Nhu’s Special Forces, and demanded the resignation of Diem and Nhu. The president and his brother first believed the attack to be the opening of a countercoup engineered by Nhu and General To That Dinh, who controlled nearly all forces in and around Saigon, but Dinh had joined the insurgent generals.
Diem was unable to summon any support, so he and Nhu escaped the palace through an underground passage to a Catholic church in the Chinese sector of the city. From there, Diem began negotiating with the generals by phone. He agreed to surrender and was promised safe conduct, but shortly after midnight he and his brother were brutally murdered in back of the armored personnel carrier sent to pick them up and bring them back to the palace.
President Kennedy, who was aware that the generals were planning a coup and had sent word that the United States would not interfere, was nonetheless shocked at the murder of Diem and Nhu. Few in South Vietnam shared his surprise, though, as Diem had been very unpopular, particularly with the Buddhists. In fact, many in Saigon rejoiced at his death. The Soviet newspaper Izvestia expressed satisfaction at Diem’s end while asserting that, “…new American puppets have come to power.” U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge called the insurgent generals to his office to congratulate them and cabled Kennedy that the prospects for a shorter war had greatly improved with the demise of Diem and Nhu.
Quite simply, Diem was perceived as an impediment to the accomplishment of U.S. goals in Southeast Asia. His increasingly dictatorial rule only succeeded in alienating most of the South Vietnamese people, and his brutal repression of protests led by Buddhist monks during the summer of 1963 convinced many American officials that the time had come for Diem to go. Three weeks later, an assassin shot President Kennedy. By then, the United States was more heavily involved in the South Vietnamese quagmire than ever. Its participation in the overthrow of the Diem regime signaled a growing impatience with South Vietnamese management of the war. From this point on, the United States moved step by step to become more directly and heavily involved in the fight against the communist rebels.
- Nov 02 1967 – Vietnam War: Johnson Meets with “The Wise Men” » President Johnson holds a secret meeting with some of the nation’s most prestigious leaders, who were collectively called “the Wise Men.” This group included former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, General of the Army Omar Bradley, Ambassador-at-Large Averell Harriman, and former Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge.
Johnson asked them for advice on how to unite the U.S. in the Vietnam War effort. They reached the conclusion that the administration needed to offer “ways of guiding the press to show the light at the end of the tunnel.” In effect, they decided that the American people should be given more optimistic reports. When Johnson agreed, the administration, which included senior U.S. military commander in Saigon Gen. William Westmoreland, began to paint a more positive picture of the situation in South Vietnam.
In early 1968, this decision came back to haunt Johnson and Westmoreland when the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched a major surprise attack on January 30, the start of the Tet New Year holiday. Stunned by the scope of the Communist attack after the administration had painted such an upbeat picture of Allied progress in the war, many Americans began to question the credibility of the president and antiwar sentiment increased significantly.
- Nov 02 1982 – Afghanistan: Truck explosion kills 3,000 » A truck explodes in the Salang Tunnel killing an estimated 3,000 people, mostly Soviet soldiers traveling to Kabul.
The Soviet Union’s military foray into Afghanistan was disastrous by nearly every measure, but perhaps the worst single incident was the Salang Tunnel explosion. A long army convoy was traveling from Russia to Kabul through the border city of Hairotum. The route took the convoy through the Salang Tunnel, which is 1.7 miles long, 25 feet high and approximately 17 feet wide. The tunnel, one of the world’s highest at an altitude of 11,000 feet, was built by the Soviets in the 1970s.
The Soviet army kept a tight lid on the story, but it is believed that an army vehicle collided with a fuel truck midway through the long tunnel. About 30 buses carrying soldiers were immediately blown up in the resulting explosion. Fire in the tunnel spread quickly as survivors began to panic. Believing the explosion to be part of an attack, the military stationed at both ends of the tunnel stopped traffic from exiting. As cars idled in the tunnel, the levels of carbon monoxide in the air increased drastically and the fire continued to spread. Exacerbating the situation, the tunnel’s ventilation system had broken down a couple of days earlier, resulting in further casualties from burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.
It took several days for workers to reach all the bodies in the tunnel. Because the Soviet army limited the information released about the disaster, the full extent of the tragedy may never be known.
- Nov 03 1777 – American Revolutionary War: General George Washington Learns of Conway Cabal » Washington is informed that a conspiracy is afoot to discredit him with Congress and have him replaced by General Horatio Gates. Thomas Conway, who would be made inspector general of the United States less than two months later on 14 DEC led the effort.
Conway, who was born in Ireland but raised in France, entered the French army in 1749. He was recruited to the Patriot cause by Silas Deane, the American ambassador to France, and after meeting with Washington at Morristown in May 1777, he was appointed brigadier general and assigned to Major General John Sullivan’s division. Conway served admirably under Sullivan at the battles of Brandywine, in September 1777, and Germantown, in October 1777, before becoming involved in an unconfirmed conspiracy to remove General Washington from command of the Continental Army. The rumored conspiracy would go down in history as the “Conway cabal.” After the Continental Army suffered several defeats in the fall of 1777, some members of Congress expressed displeasure with Washington’s leadership and Conway began writing letters to prominent leaders, including General Horatio Gates, that were critical of Washington.
After Washington got wind of Conway’s letter to General Gates, he responded with a letter to Congress in January 1778. Embarrassed, Conway offered his resignation in March 1778 by way of apology, and was surprised and humiliated when Congress accepted. After General John Cadwalader wounded him in a duel defending Washington’s honor, Conway returned to France, where he died in exile in 1800.
- Nov 03 1783 – Post American Revolutionary War: The American Continental Army is disbanded.
- Nov 03 1813 – U.S.*Creek War: Battle of Tallushatchee » General Jackson ordered Brigadier General John Coffee to lead 900 men in an attack against the Creek village Tallushatchee in the Mississippi Valley and hoped that the resulting battle would force the Red Stick warriors to abandon their fight. Coffee and his troops marched to the village. When his men were one mile away from the village, Coffee split into two sections and created a perimeter around the village. Once in place, two detachments of scouts were sent into the middle of the village in hopes of drawing the warriors out of their homes. While the Red Sticks hastily made defenses, they were devastated by Coffee and his much larger force. The fighting ended with the death or capture of every Red Stick warrior in the village. The battle resulted with the death of 186 Red Stick Creeks and 5 Americans killed plus 41 wounded. The remaining Red Sticks were taken as prisoners. The battle was the first victory for the Americans in the Creek War that coincided with the War of 1812 and convinced many Creek villages to seek alliances with the Americans instead of the British.
- Nov 03 1853 – U.S. Navy: The frigate Constitution, as the flagship of the African Squadron under the command of Commodore Isaac Mayo captures American slaver, the schooner H. N. Gambrill 60 miles south of Congo River. This capture is Constitution’s last prize.
- Nov 03 1865 – U.S. Navy: Following the Civil War, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles orders all naval vessels to resume rendering honors when entering British ports and exchange official courtesies with English men of war.
- Nov 03 1903 – U.S.*Panama: Panama Revolution » With the support of the U.S. government, Panama issues a declaration of independence from Colombia. The revolution was engineered by a Panamanian faction backed by the Panama Canal Company, a French-U.S. corporation that hoped to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with a waterway across the Isthmus of Panama.
In 1903, the Hay-Herrán Treaty was signed with Colombia, granting the United States use of the Isthmus of Panama in exchange for financial compensation. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, but the Colombian Senate, fearing a loss of sovereignty, refused. In response, President Theodore Roosevelt gave tacit approval to a rebellion by Panamanian nationalists, which began on November 3, 1903. To aid the rebels, the U.S.-administered railroad in Panama removed its trains from the northern terminus of Colón, thus stranding Colombian troops sent to crush the insurrection. Other Colombian forces were discouraged from marching on Panama by the arrival of the U.S. warship Nashville.
On 6 NOV, the United States recognized the Republic of Panama, and on 18 NOV the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed with Panama, granting the United States exclusive and permanent possession of the Panama Canal Zone. In exchange, Panama received $10 million and an annuity of $250,000 beginning nine years later. The treaty was negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Hay and the owner of the Panama Canal Company. Almost immediately, the treaty was condemned by many Panamanians as an infringement on their country’s new national sovereignty.
On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was inaugurated with the passage of the U.S. vessel Ancon, a cargo and passenger ship. After decades of protest and negotiations, the Panama Canal passed to Panamanian control in December 1999.
- Nov 03 1918 – WWI: Central Powers Face Rebellion on the Home Front » As the First World War draws to a close, angry rebels in both Germany and Austria-Hungary revolt on November 3, 1918, raising the red banner of the revolutionary socialist Communist Party and threatening to follow the Russian example in bringing down their imperialist governments.
By the last week of October 1918, three of the Central Powers—Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire—were in talks with the Allies about reaching an armistice, while the fourth, Bulgaria, had concluded one in September. On 28 OCT, 1,000 sailors in the German navy were arrested after refusing to follow orders from their commanders to launch a last-ditch attack against the British in the North Sea. After immobilizing the German fleet, the resistance soon spread to the German city of Kiel, where on 3 NOV some 3,000 sailors and workers raised the red flag of communism. The governor of Kiel, Admiral Wilhelm Souchon, called on naval officers loyal to the government to suppress the revolt; eight rebels were killed, but the general resistance continued.
Meanwhile, revolution was breaking out in Vienna as well as in Budapest, where the former Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Istvan Tisza, was assassinated on 31 OCT by members of the communist-led Red Guard. With its empire in shambles, the Austro-Hungarian government secured an armistice with the Allied powers on 3 NOV, ending its participation in World War I. That same day in Moscow, at a mass rally in support of the Austrian rebels, the communist leader Vladimir Lenin declared triumphantly: “The time is near when the first day of the world revolution will be celebrated everywhere.”
- Nov 03 1918 – WWI: The German fleet at Kiel mutinies. This is the first act leading to Germany’s capitulation in World War I.
- Nov 03 1931 – U.S. Navy: The dirigible USS Akron (ZRS 4) makes a 10–hour flight out of NAS Lakehurst, N.J. carrying 207 people and establishes a new record for the number of passengers carried into the air by a single craft.
- Nov 03 1941 –WW2 Era: The Order is Given: Bomb Pearl Harbor » The Combined Japanese Fleet receives Top-Secret Order No. 1: In 34 days’ time, Pearl Harbor is to be bombed, along with Mayala, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines.
Relations between the United States and Japan had been deteriorating quickly since Japan’s occupation of Indochina in 1940 and the implicit menacing of the Philippines (an American protectorate), with the occupation of the Cam Ranh naval base approximately 800 miles from Manila. American retaliation included the seizing of all Japanese assets in the States and the closing of the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping. In September 1941, Roosevelt issued a statement, drafted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that threatened war between the United States and Japan should the Japanese encroach any further on territory in Southeast Asia or the South Pacific.
The Japanese military had long dominated Japanese foreign affairs; although official negotiations between the U.S. secretary of state and his Japanese counterpart to ease tensions were ongoing, Hideki Tojo, the minister of war who would soon be prime minister, had no intention of withdrawing from captured territories. He also construed the American “threat” of war as an ultimatum and prepared to deliver the first blow in a Japanese-American confrontation: the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And so Tokyo delivered the order to all pertinent Fleet commanders that not only the United States—and its protectorate the Philippines—but British and Dutch colonies in the Pacific were to be attacked. War was going to be declared on the West.
- Nov 03 1942 – WW2: The Koli Point action begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign and ends on 12 NOV.
- Nov 03 1943 – WW2: PB4Y’s sink the Japanese stores ship Minato Mau 19 miles off Ocean Island.
- Nov 03 1943 – WW2: The battleship USS Oklahoma (BB 37) is refloated following months of laborious effort after being sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Too old and badly damaged to be worth returning to service, Oklahoma is formally decommissioned in September 1944.
- Nov 03 1943 – WW2: 500 Aircraft Devastate Wilhelmshafen Harbor in Germany » The U.S. 8th Air Force dispatched 438 B-17s and 117 B-24s along with 333 P-47s to provide penetration and withdrawal support and 45 P-38s which went go all the way to the target and back with the bombers. Consideration must be given to the fact that the bomber formations were not attacked by the massive fighter formations put up by the Luftwaffe against the attacks at Munster and Schweinfurt, and the penetration was not as deep as that at Schweinfurt. However, credit must be given to the fighters for keeping the Luftwaffe from the bomber formations. 2 of the B-17s that were lost were involved in mid-air collisions. 566 bombers were dispatched and only 7 were lost (1.236%) which is a vast improvement from the 7.559% loss rate experienced in October 1943. There was some relief, at last, and a boost in morale that this air war could be won.
- Nov 03 1944 – WW2: USS Gurnard (SS 254) attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks the Japanese freighter Taimei Maru west of the Labaun, Borneo while USS Pintado (SS-387) attacks a small detachment of Japanese warships and sinks the destroyer Akikaze west of the Lingayen Gulf.
- Nov 03 1961 – U.S. Navy: After Hurricane Hattie, helicopters from USS Antietam (CV-36) begin relief operations at British Honduras providing medical personnel, medical supplies, general supplies, and water.
- Nov 03 1967 – Vietnam War: Battle of Dak To (3-23 Nov) » In some of the heaviest fighting seen in the Central Highlands area, heavy casualties are sustained by both sides in bloody battles around Dak To, about 280 miles north of Saigon near the Cambodian border.
The 1,000 U.S. troops there were reinforced with 3,500 additional troops from the U.S. 4th Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. They faced four communist regiments of about 6,000 troops. The climax of the operation came in a savage battle from November 19-22 for Hill 875, 12 miles southwest of Dak To. The 173rd was victorious, forcing the North Vietnamese to abandon their last defensive line on the ridge of Hill 875, but the victory was a costly one because the paratroopers suffered the loss of 135 men, 30 of whom died as a result of an accidental U.S. air strike on U.S. positions. In the 19 days of action, North Vietnam fatalities were estimated at 1,455. Total U.S. casualties included 285 killed, 985 wounded, and 18 missing.
During this battle, the North Vietnamese failed to achieve one of their main objectives, which was the destruction of an American unit. They came close, but the Americans, despite heavy losses, had achieved the true victory: they mauled three enemy regiments so badly that they were unavailable for the Tet Offensive that the Communists launched in late January 1968.
- Nov 03 1969 – Vietnam War: Nixon Calls on the “Silent Majority” » President Richard Nixon goes on television and radio to call for national solidarity on the Vietnam War effort and to gather support for his policies; his call for support is an attempt to blunt the renewed strength of the antiwar movement.
Pledging that the United States was “going to keep our commitment in Vietnam,” he said U.S. forces would continue fighting until the communists agreed to a fair and honorable peace, or until the South Vietnamese were able to defend themselves on their own. He said that he had already withdrawn 60,000 U.S. troops and would make additional reductions as the situation permitted. He also reported progress in the “Vietnamization” effort to increase the combat capability of South Vietnam’s armed forces so that they could assume more responsibility for the war. Having provided this perspective on the situation, he then appealed to the American people, calling on the “great silent majority” for their support as he worked for “peace with honor” in Vietnam.
A Gallup Poll survey carried out in the wake of the president’s speech indicated that 77 percent were in support of Nixon’s policy in Vietnam. Congressional reaction to the president’s speech was also overwhelmingly favorable. Although Senator J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas) and other congressmen and senators who opposed the war questioned the president’s sincerity, more than 300 congressmen and 40 senators cosponsored resolutions supporting the president’s efforts to make peace and bring the war to an honorable end.
- Nov 03 1986 – Middle East: Iran Arms Sales Revealed » The Lebanese magazine Ash Shiraa reports that the United States has been secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon. The revelation, confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources on 6 NOV, came as a shock to officials outside President Ronald Reagan’s inner circle and went against the stated policy of the administration. In addition to violating the U.S. arms embargo against Iran, the arms sales contradicted President Reagan’s vow never to negotiate with terrorists.
On 25 NOV, controversy over the administration’s secret dealings with Iran deepened dramatically when Attorney General Edwin Meese revealed that proceeds from the arms sales were diverted to fund Nicaraguan rebels—the Contras—who were fighting a guerrilla war against the elected leftist government of Nicaragua. The Contra connection caused outrage in Congress, which in 1982 had passed the Boland Amendment prohibiting the use of federal money “for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.” The same day that the Iran-Contra connection was disclosed, President Reagan accepted the resignation of his national security adviser, Vice Admiral John Poindexter, and fired Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, a Poindexter aide. Both men had played key roles in the Iran-Contra operation. Reagan accepted responsibility for the arms-for-hostages deal but denied any knowledge of the diversion of funds to the Contras.
In December 1986, Lawrence Walsh was named special prosecutor to investigate the matter, and in the summer of 1987 Congress held televised hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal. Both investigations revealed that North and other administration officials had attempted to illegally cover up their illicit dealings with the Contras and Iran. In the course of Walsh’s investigation, eleven White House, State Department, and intelligence officials were found guilty on charges ranging from perjury to withholding information from Congress to conspiracy to defraud the United States. In his final report, Walsh concluded that neither Reagan nor Vice President George Bush violated any laws in connection with the affair, but that Reagan had set the stage for the illegal activities of others by ordering continued support of the Contras after Congress prohibited it. The report also found that Reagan and Bush engaged in conduct that contributed to a “concerted effort to deceive Congress and the public” about the Iran-Contra affair.
On Christmas Eve, 1992, shortly after being defeated in his reelection bid by Bill Clinton, President George Bush pardoned six major figures in the Iran-Contra affair. Two of the men, former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger and former chief of CIA operations Duane Clarridge, had trials for perjury pending.
- Nov 04 1791 – Native Americans: In the Northeast Indian War the Western Confederacy of American Indians win a major victory over the U.S. in the Battle of the Wabash.
- Nov 04 1862 – Civil War: Gatling Gun » Dr Richard Gatling patents Gatling machine gun in Indianapolis. Gatling invented it after he noticed that a majority of the soldiers fighting in the Civil War were lost to disease rather than gunshots. In 1877, he wrote: It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished.
The gun was based on Gatling’s seed planter. A working prototype was developed in 1861. In 1862, he founded the Gatling Gun Company in Indianapolis, Indiana to market the gun. The first six production guns were destroyed during a fire in December 1862 at the factory. All six of them had been manufactured at Gatling’s expense. Undaunted, Gatling arranged for another 13 to be manufactured at the Cincinnati Type Factory. Though the gun was developed during the Civil War, it saw very little action. This is partly because Gatling was accused of being a copperhead because of his North Carolina roots, but this was never proven. Gatling was never affiliated with the Confederate States government or military, nor did he live in the South during the Civil War.
Although General Benjamin F. Butler bought 12 and Admiral David Dixon Porter bought one, it was not until 1866 that the US Government officially purchased Gatling guns. In 1870 he sold his patents for the Gatling gun to Colt. Gatling remained president of the Gatling Gun Company until it was fully absorbed by Colt in 1897. In 1893, Gatling patented a Gatling gun that replaced the hand cranked mechanism with an electric motor, a relatively new invention at the time, achieving a rate of fire of 3,000 rounds per minute. The hand-cranked Gatling gun was declared obsolete by the United States Army in 1911. Decades later, the mechanical concept was resurrected and wedded to electrically-driven cranking in the M61 Vulcan. That cannon has given rise to numerous variations scaled up to as high as 37 mm and down to 5.56 mm calibers offering versions that are gas-operated as well.
- Nov 04 1864 – Civil War: Battle of Johnsonville, TN » Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest subjects a Union supply base to a devastating artillery barrage that destroys millions of dollars in materiel.
This action was part of a continuing effort by the Confederates to disrupt the Federal lines that supplied Union General William T. Sherman’s army in Georgia. In the summer of 1864, Sherman captured Atlanta, and by November he was planning his march across Georgia. Meanwhile, the defeated Confederates hoped that destroying his line would draw Sherman out of the Deep South. Nobody was better at raiding than Forrest, but Union pursuit had kept him in Mississippi during the Atlanta campaign.
In the fall, Forrest mounted an ambitious raid on Union supply routes in western Tennessee and Kentucky. Johnsonville was an important transfer point from boats on the Tennessee River to a rail line that connected with Nashville to the east. When Sherman sent part of his army back to Nashville to protect his supply lines, Forrest hoped to apply pressure to that force. Forrest began moving part of his force to Johnsonville in mid-October, but most of his men were not in place until early November. Incredibly, the Union forces, which numbered about 2,000, seem to have been unaware of the Confederates just across the river. Forrest brought up artillery and began a barrage on November 4. The attack was devastating. One observer noted, “The wharf for nearly one mile up and down the river presented one solid sheet of flame.” More than $6 million worth of supplies were destroyed, along with four gunboats, 14 transports, and 20 barges. General George Thomas, commander of the Union force at Nashville, had to divert troops to protect Johnsonville.
After the raid, Forrest’s reputation grew, but the raid did not deter Sherman from embarking on the March to the Sea, his devastating expedition across Georgia.
- Nov 04 1864 – Civil War: USS Undine Destroyed » The vessel was a steam-powered Civil War gunboat converted by the Union from a sternwheeler into a lightly armored vessel carrying eight (8) brass twenty-four (24) pound howitzers. On 30 OCT, the Undine was captured by Confederate forces, after an engagement on the Tennessee River near Paris Landing. Three days later on 2 NOV the Undine, now under Confederate command, was badly damaged and escaped to Reynoldsburg Island after an engagement with Union gunboats. There, on 4 NOV, the Undine was burned to the waterline by Confederate forces to prevent her recapture by Union gunboats attacking Reynoldsburg Island.
- Nov 04 1918 – WWI: Poet Wilfred Owen Killed in Action » Just one week before the armistice was declared, ending World War I, the British poet Wilfred Owen is killed in action during a British assault on the German-held Sambre Canal on the Western Front.
Born in 1893, Owen was teaching English to children near Bordeaux, France, when war broke out in the summer of 1914. The following year, he returned to England and enlisted in the war effort; by January 1916 he was on the front lines in France. As he wrote in 1918, his motives for enlisting were twofold, and included his desire to write of the experience of war: “I came out in order to help these boys—directly by leading them as well as an officer can; indirectly, by watching their sufferings that I may speak of them as well as a pleader can.”
On April 1, 1917, near the town of St. Quentin, Owen led his platoon through an artillery barrage to the German trenches, only to discover when they arrived that the enemy had already withdrawn. Severely shaken and disoriented by the bombardment, Owen barely avoided being hit by an exploding shell, and returned to his base camp confused and stammering. A doctor diagnosed shell-shock, a new term used to describe the physical and/or psychological damage suffered by soldiers in combat. Though his commanding officer was skeptical, Owen was sent to a French hospital and subsequently returned to Britain, where he was checked into the Craiglockhart War Hospital for Neurasthenic Officers.
Owen’s time at Craiglockhart—one of the most famous hospitals used to treat victims of shell-shock—coincided with that of his great friend and fellow poet, Siegfried Sassoon, who became a major influence on his work. After their treatment, both men returned to active service in France, though only Sassoon would survive the war. Owen came close, but on November 4, 1918, he was shot by a German machine-gunner during an unsuccessful British attempt to bridge the Sambre Canal, near the French village of Ors. In his hometown of Shrewsbury, near the Welsh border, his mother did not receive the telegraphed news of her son’s death until after the fighting had ended.
Now celebrated as one of the greatest English poets of the 20th century, Owen’s war poems were popularized in the 1960s when Benjamin Britten included nine of them in his War Requiem, dedicated to four friends who had been killed in World War II. The most famous of them, “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” is not only a memorial to those who died in the Great War of 1914-19, but a classic and timeless representation of the waste and sacrifice of war:
What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?—Only the monstrous anger of the guns Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all? Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall; Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
- Nov 04 1918 – WWI: The Allied armistice with Austria-Hungary, signed 3 November, goes into effect
- Nov 04 1923 – U.S. Navy: Lt. Alford J. Williams, flying an R2C–1 equipped with a Curtiss D–12 engine, raises the world speed record to 266.59 mph at Mitchel Field, Long Island, N.Y., beating the record set by Lt. Harold J. Brow only two days before.
- Nov 04 1925 – Pre WW2: Benito Mussolini Assassination Attempts » The former Socialist deputy Tito Zanibóni was arrested for attempting to assassinate Mussolini. In a hotel with a view unto Palazzo Chigi, where Mussolini had planned to give a balcony speech, Zanibóni set up a rifle with telescopic sights. Shortly before his target appeared, however, Zanibóni was arrested. A friend and double agent had informed the police. Historians believe that the plot itself was engineered by the Mussolini administration as a pretext to consolidate power, which is what followed. Mussolini’s laws enacted in late 1925 enabled the suppression of any oppositional political organization. The Italian army officer Luigi Capello was arrested in conjunction with the Zanibóni plot and received a 30-year prison sentence but was released in 1943 and later named to government positions.
On April 7, 1926 a.m. Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini was heading back to his car after having just given a speech in Rome to the International Congress of Surgeons when a bullet nearly ended his life. Irish aristocrat Violet Gibson shot at Mussolini, but because he turned his head at the last moment, the bullet went through Mussolini’s nose instead of his head. Gibson was caught immediately but never explained why she wanted to assassinate Mussolini. Assuming she was insane at the time of the shooting, Mussolini let Gibson go back to Great Britain, where she spent the rest of her life in a sanatorium.
Later in 1926, on 11 SEP, anarchist marble worker Gino Lucetti threw a bomb at Mussolini’s limousine in Porta Pia, Rome, which injured four others. The next month, on October 11, 1926, a shot fired at Mussolini, who rode in an open car through Bologna, led to the lynching of a 15-year-old boy. Terrorism specialist J. Bowyer Bell wrote that the boy was likely innocent and the affair either a put-up job or plot between Fascists. The attempt resulted in laws creating Mussolini’s secret police. As Italian Fascism became a stable institution, the potential murder of Mussolini became harder to attempt and offered less potential impact to destabilize his regime. In May 1931, American anarchist Michele Schirru was arrested and executed in Italy for plotting to kill Mussolini. The next month, Angelo Sbardellotto was arrested and executed for a similar plot.
- Nov 04 1939 – WW2: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the United States Customs Service to implement the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash–and–carry purchases of weapons by belligerents.
- Nov 04 1944 – WW2: Gen. Sir John Dill Dies » British Gen. John Dill dies in Washington, D.C., from aplastic anaemia and is buried in Arlington Cemetery, the only foreigner to be so honored.
When the Second World War broke out he was already serving as chief of the imperial general staff and renowned for his gifts as a strategist. It was his decision to reinforce the British position in Egypt with 150 tanks in August 1940, despite a shortage of such armaments back home. And in March 1941, he championed Britain’s defense of Greece against the Axis invasion.
But such early strategic successes were followed up by more cautious decision-making, which disturbed Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who favored more aggressive maneuvers against the enemy. Consequently, Churchill removed Dill from his post and transferred him to the United States, to become chief British military representative to Washington. It was there that Dill developed a close personal friendship with George C. Marshall, the U.S. chief of staff, which resulted in a closer U.S.-British alliance.
Upon Dill’s death, it was Marshall who intervened to have Dill buried at Arlington National Cemetery, normally reserved only for Americans who had served their nation during wartime. Dill’s plot is also marked by only one of two equestrian statues in the cemetery.
- Nov 04 1944 – WW2: RAF bombs Dinteloord, Netherlands – 54 killed.
- Nov 04 1955 – U.S. Navy: Gioconda R. Saraneiro becomes the first appointed female captain in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. Initially appointed a lieutenant junior grade in the WAVES during World War II in 1943, she left the Navy to teach and start a private practice. She returned to the Navy in 1949 and retired in June 1966. Capt. Saraneiro died in 1983.
- Nov 04 1956 – Hungary*Russia: Soviets Put Brutal End to Hungarian Revolution » A spontaneous national uprising that began 12 days before in Hungary is viciously crushed by Soviet tanks and troops on this day in 1956. Thousands were killed and wounded and nearly a quarter-million Hungarians fled the country.
The problems in Hungary began in October 1956, when thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding a more democratic political system and freedom from Soviet oppression. In response, Communist Party officials appointed Imre Nagy, a former premier who had been dismissed from the party for his criticisms of Stalinist policies, as the new premier. Nagy tried to restore peace and asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops. The Soviets did so, but Nagy then tried to push the Hungarian revolt forward by abolishing one-party rule. He also announced that Hungary was withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet bloc’s equivalent of NATO).
On November 4, 1956, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to crush, once and for all, the national uprising. Vicious street fighting broke out, but the Soviets’ great power ensured victory. At 5:20 a.m., Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy announced the invasion to the nation in a grim, 35-second broadcast, declaring: “Our troops are fighting. The Government is in place.” Within hours, though, Nagy sought asylum at the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest. He was captured shortly thereafter and executed two years later. Nagy’s former colleague and imminent replacement, János Kádár, who had been flown secretly from Moscow to the city of Szolnok, 60 miles southeast of the capital, prepared to take power with Moscow’s backing.
The Soviet action stunned many people in the West. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had pledged a retreat from the Stalinist policies and repression of the past, but the violent actions in Budapest suggested otherwise. An estimated 2,500 Hungarians died and 200,000 more fled as refugees. Sporadic armed resistance, strikes and mass arrests continued for months thereafter, causing substantial economic disruption. Inaction on the part of the United States angered and frustrated many Hungarians. Voice of America radio broadcasts and speeches by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had recently suggested that the United States supported the “liberation” of “captive peoples” in communist nations. Yet, as Soviet tanks bore down on the protesters, the United States did nothing beyond issuing public statements of sympathy for their plight.
- Nov 04 1962 – Johnston Atoll: The last atmospheric nuclear test is conducted by the U.S. in a test of the Nike–Hercules air defense missile, Shot Dominic–Tightrope.
- Nov 04 1967 – U.S. Navy: Landing craft from USS Navarro (APA 215) rescues 43 men from British SS Habib Marikar, which ran aground on a reef at Lincoln Island in the Tonkin Gulf.
- Nov 04 1969 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese Battle Communists Along the Cambodian Border » In the biggest battle in four months, South Vietnamese infantry, supported by U.S. planes and artillery, clash with North Vietnamese troops for 10 hours near Duc Lop near the Cambodian border. Eighty communist troops were reported killed. South Vietnamese losses included 24 killed and 38 wounded.
- Nov 04 1970 – Vietnam War: U.S. Hands Over Air Base to the Vietnamese Air Force » The United States hands over an air base in the Mekong Delta to the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) as part of the Vietnamization program. President Richard Nixon initiated this program in 1969 to increase the fighting capability of South Vietnam so they could assume more responsibility for the war. It included the provision of new equipment and weapons and an intensified advisory effort. Secretary of the Air Force Robert Seamans and Gen. Creighton Abrams, commander of Military Assistance Command Vietnam, attended the ceremony. The air base became the home of two South Vietnamese helicopter squadrons, with the United States providing 62 aircraft, 31 of which were turned over along with the air base. By 1973, after additional equipment and aircraft transfers had been made to VNAF, the air base had a fleet of 1,700 aircraft, including more than 500 helicopters.
- Nov 04 1971 – U.S. Navy: USS Nathanael Greene (SSBN 636) launches a Poseidon C–3 Missile in the first surface launch of the weapon.
- Nov 04 1979 – Middle East: Iranian Students Storm U.S. Embassy » 500 Iranian student followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini send shock waves across America when they storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The radical Islamic fundamentalists took 90 hostages. The students were enraged that the deposed Shah had been allowed to enter the United States for medical treatment and they threatened to murder hostages if any rescue was attempted. Days later, Iran’s provincial leader resigned, and the Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s fundamentalist revolutionaries, took full control of the country—and the fate of the hostages.
Two weeks after the storming of the embassy, the Ayatollah began to release all non-U.S. captives, and all female and minority Americans, citing these groups as among the people oppressed by the United States government. The remaining 52 captives were left at the mercy of the Ayatollah for the next 14 months. President Jimmy Carter was unable to diplomatically resolve the crisis, and on April 24, 1980, he ordered a disastrous rescue mission in which eight U.S. military personnel were killed and no hostages rescued. Three months later, the former shah died of cancer in Egypt, but the crisis continued. In November 1980, Carter lost the presidential election to Republican Ronald Reagan. Soon after, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations finally began between the United States and Iran.
On January 20, 1981—the day of Reagan’s inauguration—the United States freed almost $3 billion in frozen Iranian assets and promised $5 billion more in financial aid. Minutes after Reagan was sworn in, the hostages flew out of Iran on an Algerian airliner, ending their 444-day ordeal. The next day, Jimmy Carter flew to West Germany to greet them on their way home.
- Nov 05 1768 – Colonial America: William Johnson, the northern Indian Commissioner, signs a treaty with the Iroquois Indians to acquire much of the land between the Tennessee and Ohio rivers for future settlement.
- Nov 05 1775 – American Revolution Era: Washington Condemns Guy Fawkes Festivities » Continental Army commander in chief General George Washington condemns his troops’ planned celebration of the British anti-Catholic holiday, Guy Fawkes Night, as he was simultaneously struggling to win French-Canadian Catholics to the Patriot cause.
In his general orders for the day, Washington criticized “that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope,” part of the traditional Guy Fawkes celebration. He went on to express his bewilderment that there could be “Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense” and berated the troops for their inability to recognize that “defence [sic] of the general Liberty of America” demanded expressions of “public thanks” to the Canadian Catholics who Washington believed to be necessary allies, and wrote that he found “monstrous” any actions, which might “be insulting their Religion.”
On the night of November 5, 1605, the conspiracy by English Catholics to kill King James I and replace him with his Catholic daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was cut short by the arrest of Guy Fawkes, who had been charged with placing gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament. The plot involved digging a tunnel under the Palace of Westminster, filling it with gunpowder and then triggering a deadly explosion during the ceremonial opening of Parliament, which would have resulted in the death of not only James I, but also the leading Protestant nobility. From then on, November 5 was celebrated in Britain and its colonies with a bonfire burning either Guy Fawkes or the pope in effigy.
- Nov 05 1775 – American Revolution Era: Commodore Esek Hopkins is appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy. Early in 1778, he is dismissed from his position due to dissatisfaction with his service but remains popular in his local community, serving in the Rhode Island legislature.
- Nov 05 1780 – American Revolutionary War: French–American forces under Colonel LaBalme are defeated by Miami Chief Little Turtle
- Nov 05 1814 – War of 1812: Having decided to abandon the Niagara frontier, the American army blows up Fort Erie.
- Nov 05 1862 – Native Americans: 300 Santee Sioux Sentenced to Hang » More than 300 Santee Sioux are found guilty of raping and murdering Anglo settlers and are sentenced to hang. A month later, President Abraham Lincoln commuted all but 39 of the death sentences. One of the Indians was granted a last-minute reprieve, but the other 38 were hanged simultaneously on 26 DEC in a bizarre mass execution witnessed by a large crowd of approving Minnesotans.
The Santee Sioux were found guilty of joining in the so-called “Minnesota Uprising,” which was actually part of the wider Indian wars that plagued the West during the second half of the nineteenth century. For nearly half a century, Anglo settlers invaded the Santee Sioux territory in the beautiful Minnesota Valley, and government pressure gradually forced the Indians to relocate to smaller reservations along the Minnesota River. At the reservations, the Santee were badly mistreated by corrupt federal Indian agents and contractors; during July 1862, the agents pushed the Indians to the brink of starvation by refusing to distribute stores of food because they had not yet received their customary kickback payments. The contractors callously ignored the Santee’s pleas for help.
Outraged and at the limits of their endurance, the Santee finally struck back, killing Anglo settlers and taking women as hostages. The initial efforts of the U.S. Army to stop the Santee warriors failed, and in a battle at Birch Coulee, Santee Sioux killed 13 American soldiers and wounded another 47 soldiers. However, on 23 SEP, a force under the leadership of General Henry H. Sibley finally defeated the main body of Santee warriors at Wood Lake, recovering many of the hostages and forcing most of the Indians to surrender. The subsequent trials of the prisoners gave little attention to the injustices the Indians had suffered on the reservations and largely catered to the popular desire for revenge. However, President Lincoln’s commutation of the majority of the death sentences clearly reflected his understanding that the Minnesota Uprising had been rooted in a long history of Anglo abuse of the Santee Sioux.
- Nov 05 1862 – Civil War: Lincoln removes Gen. McClellan » A tortured relationship ends when President Abraham Lincoln removes General George B. McClellan from command of the Army of the Potomac.
George B. McClellan
McClellan was a promising commander who served as a railroad president before the war. In the early stages of the conflict, troops under McClellan’s command scored several important victories in the struggle for western Virginia. Lincoln summoned “Young Napoleon,” as some called the general, to Washington, D.C., to take control of the Army of the Potomac a few days after its humiliating defeat at the Battle of First Bull Run, Virginia in July 1861. Over the next nine months, McClellan capably built a strong army, drilling his troops and assembling an efficient command structure. However, he also developed extreme contempt for the president, and often dismissed Lincoln’s suggestions out of hand.
In 1862, McClellan led the army down Chesapeake Bay to the James Peninsula, southeast of the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. During this campaign, he exhibited the timidity and sluggishness that later doomed him. During the Seven Days Battles, McClellan was poised near Richmond but retreated when faced with a series of attacks by Lee. McClellan always believed that he was vastly outnumbered, though he actually had the numerical advantage. He spent the rest of the summer camped on the peninsula while Lincoln began moving much of his command to General John Pope’s Army of Virginia.
After Lee defeated Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run in late August, 1862 he invaded Maryland. With the Confederates crashing into Union territory, Lincoln had no choice but to turn to McClellan to gather the reeling Yankee forces and stop Lee. On September 17, 1962, McClellan and Lee battled to a standstill along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. Lee retreated back to Virginia and McClellan ignored Lincoln’s urging to pursue him. For six weeks, Lincoln and McClellan exchanged angry messages, but McClellan stubbornly refused to march after Lee. In late October, McClellan finally began moving across the Potomac in feeble pursuit of Lee, but he took nine days to complete the crossing. Lincoln had seen enough. Convinced that McClellan could never defeat Lee, Lincoln notified the general on November5 of his removal. A few days later, Lincoln named General Ambrose Burnside to be the commander of the Army of the Potomac.
After his removal, McClellan battled with Lincoln once more–for the presidency in 1864. McClellan won the Democratic nomination but was easily defeated by his old boss.
- Nov 05 1914 – WWI Era: France and Great Britain declare war on Turkey.
- Nov 05 1915 – U.S. Navy: Lt. Cmdr. Henry C. Mustin, in an AB–2 flying boat, makes the first underway catapult launch from a ship, USS North Carolina (ACR 12) at Pensacola Bay, Fla. This experimental work leads to the use of catapults on battleships and cruisers through World War II and to the steam catapults on present–day aircraft carriers.
- Nov 05 1917 – WW1: While escorting a convoy en route to Brest, France, USS Alcedo (SP 166) is torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine UC–71. Twenty–one crewmembers are lost with the ship.
- Nov 05 1917 – WWI: General John Pershing leads U.S. troops into the first American action against German forces near the Rhine–Marne Canal in France.
- Nov 05 1937 – PreWW2: Adolf Hitler holds a secret meeting and states his plans for acquiring “living space” for the German people.
- Nov 05 1940 – Pre WW2: FDR Re-Elected President » Franklin Delano Roosevelt is re-elected for an unprecedented third term as president of the United States.
Roosevelt was elected to a third term with the promise of maintaining American neutrality as far as foreign wars were concerned: “Let no man or woman thoughtlessly or falsely talk of American people sending its armies to European fields.” But as Hitler’s war spread, and the desperation of Britain grew, the president fought for passage of the Lend-Lease Act in Congress, in March 1941, which would commit financial aid to Great Britain and other allies. In August, Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to proclaim the Atlantic Charter, which would become the basis of the United Nations; they also drafted a statement to the effect that the United States “would be compelled to take countermeasures” should Japan further encroach in the southwest Pacific. Despite ongoing negotiations with Japan, that “further encroachment” took the form of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor—”a day that would live in infamy.” The next day Roosevelt requested, and received, a declaration of war against Japan. On 11 DEC, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
Certain wartime decisions by Roosevelt proved controversial, such as the demand of unconditional surrender of the Axis powers, which some claim prolonged the war. Another was the acquiescence to Joseph Stalin of certain territories in the Far East in exchange for his support in the war against Japan. Roosevelt is often accused of being too naive where Stalin was concerned, especially in regard to “Uncle Joe’s” own imperial desires.
- Nov 05 1943 – WW2: PB4Ys from Patrol Bombing Squadron VB–107 and U.S. Army Air Forces B–25s sink the German submarine U–848 480 miles southwest of Ascension Island.
- Nov 05 1943 – WW2: Vatican City Bombings » On 5 NOV For over half an hour an unknown plane was heard circling insistently over Rome and especially the Vatican. The moon made visibility excellent. At about 8:10, while an Allied squadron passed over the Vatican, the plane that until then had been circling over Rome dropped four bombs and flew away. The bombs fell in the Vatican Gardens: the first near the receiving Radio, another near the Government building, a third on the mosaics workshop, the fourth near the building of the Cardinal Archpriest. If they had fallen a very few meters off, they would have hit the Radio, the Government building, that of the Tribunals (where the diplomats were housed), and that of the Archpriest. They caused considerable damage, for all the windows were blown to pieces. There were no human casualties. The Vatican maintained neutrality during the war.
General opinion, and general indignation, blamed the Germans and, perhaps more, the Republican Fascists. The latter view was reinforced by notes about a telephone conversation of Barracu (Undersecretary for Home Affairs) that a telephone operator gave to the Holy Father. However, some months later, Monsignor Montini received from Monsignor Carroll, an American of the Secretariat of State, who was in Algiers to organize an information service for soldiers and civilians, a letter in which it was stated clearly that the bombs had been dropped by an American. 5 November 5th is for England, an anti-Pope day. When Monsignor Carroll came to Rome in June 1944, he answered a question on the subject saying that the American airman was supposed to have acted either to make a name for himself or out of wickedness. Monsignor Carroll did not know whether the delinquent had been punished.
There is no obscurity about the identity of the British plane that dropped bombs on the edge of Vatican City on 1 March 1944 as this was explicitly acknowledged, at least in private, by the British Air Ministry as an accidental bombing when one of its aircraft on a bombing raid over Rome dropped its bombs too close to the Vatican wall. It caused human casualties, killing a workman who was in the open and injuring a Dutch Augustinian in the College of Saint Monica. The six low-caliber bombs dropped also caused physical damage to the Palace of the Holy Office, to the Oratory of Saint Peter, and to the Pontifical Urbanian College on the nearby Janiculum Hill. Claims persist, nevertheless, that this was an Italian plane which was seen to strike an obstacle, perhaps a tree on the Janiculum, after which it jettisoned its bombs, but crashed after hitting a house on Via del Gelsomino with its wing. The Italian authorities quickly removed the wreckage and the dead pilot.
- Nov 05 1944 – WW2: Aircraft from USS Essex (CV 9), as part of Vice Adm. John S. McCain’s Task Force 38’s two day carrier strikes in the Philippines, sink the Japanese cruiser Nachi in Manila Bay.
Nachi sinking. Note her blown-off stern and bow.
- Nov 05 1945 – WW2: Ensign Jake C. West, embarked with VF–51 on board USS Wake Island (CVE 65) for carrier qualifications with the FR–1 aircraft, loses power on the forward radial engine shortly after taking off, forcing him to start his rear engine. Returning to his ship, he makes a successful landing, thus becoming the first jet landing on board an aircraft carrier.
- Nov 05 1965 – Vietnam War: U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam reports the lowest weekly death toll in five years. Twenty-four Americans died in combat during the last week of October, the fifth consecutive week that the U.S. death toll was under 50.
- Nov 05 2006 – Middle East: Former president of Iraq Saddam Hussein, along with Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, is sentenced to death for the massacre of 148 Shi’a Muslims in 1982.
- Nov 05 2009 – War On Terrorism: Army Major Kills 13 People in Fort Hood Shooting Spree » On this day 13 people are killed and more than 30 others are wounded, nearly all of them unarmed soldiers, when a U.S. Army officer goes on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in central Texas. The deadly assault, carried out by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was the worst mass murder at a U.S. military installation.
Early in the afternoon, 39-year-old Hasan, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”) and then opened fire at a crowd inside a Fort Hood processing center where soldiers who were about to be deployed overseas or were returning from deployment received medical screenings. The massacre, which left 12 service members and one Department of Defense employee dead, lasted approximately 10 minutes before Hasan was shot by civilian police and taken into custody.
In 2013, Hasan, who was left paralyzed from the waist down as a result of shots fired at him by police attempting to stop his rampage, was tried in military court, where he acted as his own attorney. During his opening statement, he admitted he was the shooter. (Hasan had previously told a judge that in an effort to protect Muslims and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, he had gunned down the soldiers at Fort Hood who were being deployed to that nation.) For the rest of the trial, Hasan called no witnesses, presented scant evidence and made no closing argument. On August 23, 2013, a jury found Hasan guilty of 45 counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder, and he later was sentenced to death for his crimes. However, to date, this sentence has not yet been carried out. The decision by the Army not to charge Hasan with terrorism was controversial.
- Nov 06 1812 – French Russian Campaign: Napoleon Bonaparte Retreats » The first winter snow falls on the French Army as Napoleon Bonaparte retreats from Moscow. Lack of food and fodder for the horses, hypothermia from the bitter cold and persistent attacks upon isolated troops from Russian peasants and Cossacks led to great losses in men, and a breakdown of discipline and cohesion in the army. By late November, only 27,000 French soldiers remained; the Grande Armée had lost some 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured during the campaign
- Nov 06 1851 – U.S. Navy: Naval expedition under Lt. William L. Herndon, which was exploring the Amazon valley and its tributaries, reaches Iquitos in the jungle region of the upper Amazon. The expedition covers 4,366 miles from Lima, Peru to Para, Brazil.
- Nov 06 1860 – Civil War: Abraham Lincoln Elected President » Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Constitutional Union candidate John Bell, and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, a U.S. senator for Illinois. The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.
By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established, with Jefferson Davis as its elected president. One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina. In 1863, as the tide turned against the Confederacy, Lincoln emancipated the slaves and in 1864 won reelection. In April 1865, he was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after the American Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.
- Nov 06 1861 – Civil War: Jefferson Davis Elected Confederate President » He ran without opposition, and the election simply confirmed the decision that had been made by the Confederate Congress earlier in the year.
Like his Union counterpart, President Abraham Lincoln, Davis was a native of Kentucky, born in 1808. He attended West Point and graduated in 1828. After serving in the Black Hawk War of 1832, Davis married Sarah Knox Taylor, the daughter of General (and future U.S. president) Zachary Taylor, in 1835.However, Sarah contracted malaria and died within several months of their marriage. Davis married Varina Howells in 1845. He served in the Mexican War (1846-48), during which he was wounded. After the war, he was appointed to fill a vacant U.S. senate seat from Mississippi, and later served as secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce.
When the Southern states began seceding after the election of Abraham Lincoln in the winter of 1860 and 1861, Davis suspected that he might be the choice of his fellow Southerners for their interim president. When the newly seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama, in February1861, they decided just that. Davis expressed great fear about what lay ahead. “Upon my weary heart was showered smiles, plaudits, and flowers, but beyond them I saw troubles and thorns innumerable.” Davis was elected to a six-year term as established by the Confederate constitution. He remained president until May 5, 1865, when the Confederate government was officially dissolved.
- Nov 06 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Rogersville TN » A conflict in and around the town of Rogersville, Tennessee between the United States Army 3rd Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division and the 2nd East Tennessee Mounted Infantry, and the Confederate States Army Jones’ Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Brigade and the 8th Virginia Cavalry. Because Federal forces were caught largely by surprise, the Confederates, under Brigadier General William E. Jones, were able to recapture Rogersville along with significant supplies from the town’s railroad storehouses.
- Nov 06 1863 – Civil War: Battle of Droop Mountain, West Virginia (Averell’s Raid) » A battle in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Around 1,200 Confederate forces under Brigadier Generals John Echols and Albert G. Jenkins engaged, but failed to prevent, Union forces of around 5,000 troops under Brigadier General W.W. Averell and Colonel Thomas M. Harris from a rendezvous with other Federal troops in a joint raid on Confederate railways. Droop Mountain was one of the largest engagements in West Virginia during the war. As a result of the Union victory, Confederate resistance in the state essentially collapsed. Casualties and losses: Union 119 killed or wounded and Confederate 275 killed or wounded. Averell’s victorious force rejoined Duffié’s brigade at Lewisburg on 7 NOV. The reunited Union columns, burdened with prisoners and captured livestock, were in no condition to continue their raid, but they had effectively ended Confederate resistance in West Virginia.
- Nov 06 1865 – Civil War: CSS Shenandoah is the last Confederate combat unit to surrender after circumnavigating the globe on a cruise on which it sank or captured 37 vessels. She was a iron–framed, teak–planked, full–rigged ship w/ auxiliary steam power.
- Nov 06 1891 – U.S. Army: Comanche, the only 7th Cavalry horse to survive George Armstrong Custer’s “Last Stand” at the Little Bighorn, dies at Fort Riley, Kansas.
- Nov 06 1914 – WWI Era: The British land troops (mostly from the Indian Army) at the head of the Persian Gulf in Mesopotamia, and begin to move westward in an attempt to draw Turkish troops from other fronts. The objective is to protect the oil pipeline from Persia. Two weeks later they capture the city of Basra.
- Nov 06 1917 – WWI: Canadians Take Passchendaele Belgium » After three months of horrific fighting, the Third Battle of Ypres finally ends when Canadian forces take the village of Passchendaele in Belgium.
In one of the bloodiest battles of World War I, a combination of over-ambitious aims, terrible weather conditions, and misguided persistence by British Field Marshal Douglas Haig led to nearly 250,000 total casualties suffered by both sides. At the time Allied forces were scheduled to begin the long-planned offensive, Allied artillery and unusually heavy rains had turned the battlefield into a sea of mud. Soldiers fought in the mud, slept in the mud, and some men drowned in the mud when they slipped into water-filled shell craters. When the offensive was finally called off, after the Canadian victory at Passchendaele, the total Allied advance amounted to only five miles.
- Nov 06 1917 – WWI: Bolsheviks Revolt in Russia » Led by Bolshevik Party leader Vladimir Lenin, leftist revolutionaries launch a nearly bloodless coup d’État against Russia’s ineffectual Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks and their allies occupied government buildings and other strategic locations in the Russian capital of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) and within two days had formed a new government with Lenin as its head. Bolshevik Russia, later renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was the world’s first Marxist state.
Lenin opposed World War I, which began in 1914, as an imperialistic conflict and called on proletariat soldiers to turn their guns on the capitalist leaders who sent them down into the murderous trenches. For Russia, World War I was an unprecedented disaster: Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by any nation in any previous war. Meanwhile, the Russian economy was hopelessly disrupted by the costly war effort, and in March 1917 riots and strikes broke out in Petrograd over the scarcity of food. Demoralized army troops joined the strikers, and on March 15, Nicholas II was forced to abdicate, ending centuries of czarist rule. In the aftermath of the February Revolution (known as such because of Russia’s use of the Julian calendar), power was shared between the weak Provisional Government and the soviets, or “councils,” of soldiers’ and workers’ committees.
- Nov 06 1918 – WWI: On the Western Front, Germany is now retreating as French and American troops cross the Meuse river and move to take Sedan, France
- Nov 06 1939 – WW2 Era: Sonderaktion Krakau » Alleged codename for a Nazi operation against academics of the Jagiellonian University and other universities in German occupied Kraków, Poland. It was carried out as part of the much broader action plan, the Intelligenzaktion, to eradicate the Polish intellectual elite especially in those centers (such as Kraków) that were intended by the Germans to become culturally German.
The Gestapo chief in Kraków SS-Obersturmbannführer Bruno Müller, commanded the Jagiellonian University rector to require all professors to attend his lecture about German plans for Polish education. The rector agreed and sent an invitation throughout the University for a meeting scheduled 6 NOV at the administrative center building in the Collegium Novum. At the lecture room at noon, all academics and their guests gathered; among them, 105 professors and 33 lecturers from Jagiellonian University, four from University of Economics and four from Lublin and Wilno. There were also 34 professors and doctors from University of Technology. They were arrested on the spot by armed policemen, frisked, and escorted out. Some senior professors were kicked, slapped in the face and hit with rifle butts. An additional 13–15 university employees and students who were onsite were also arrested, as well as the President of Kraków, Dr Stanisław Klimecki who was apprehended at home that afternoon.
All 184 persons were transported first to prison at Montelupich street, then to barracks at Mazowiecka, and—three days later—to a detention center in Breslau, Germany where they spent 18 days split between two prison facilities. The Gestapo were unprepared for such a large transfer of prisoners, and awaited permission to send them to Buchenwald concentration camp. However, that was filled to capacity and so, on 27 NOV at night, they were loaded onto a train to Sachsenhausen concentration camp located on the other side of Berlin, and in March 1940, sent further to Dachau concentration camp near Munich after a new batch of arrested younger academics arrived.
Following loud international protest by prominent Italians including Benito Mussolini and the Vatican, professors who were older than 40 were released from Sachsenhausen on February 8, 1940. Additional academics were released later. Some elderly professors did not survive the roll-calls, held three times a day even in ice and snow, and the grim living conditions where dysentery was common, warm clothes rare and food rations scarce. Twelve died in the camp within three months, and another five within weeks of release. Three professors of Jewish origin were separated and later were murdered or died of other causes. In March 1940, the able prisoners from Kraków who remained alive were sent to Dachau concentration camp and most released in January 1941 on intervention. The last one, Kazimierz Piwarski, was released in late 1941.
- Nov 06 1941 – Holocaust: Einsatzgruppen, (SS) paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany kill 15,000 Jews of Rovno Polish Ukraine.
- Nov 06 1941 – WW2 Era: USS Omaha (CL 4) and USS Somers (DD 381) intercept the German blockade runner Odenwald disguised as a U.S. freighter and board her after the German crew abandon the ship. They bring the ship to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the boarding party is awarded salvage shares.
Crew members of the USS Omaha pose on board the captured German blockade runner Odenwald
- Nov 06 1941 – WW2 Era: Stalin Celebrates the Revolution’s Anniversary » Joseph Stalin, premier and dictator of the USSR, delivers a speech to a rally of Moscow Party workers on the 24th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The rally was held underground, in the marbled halls of the Mayakovsky train station. There, Stalin encouraged the assembled Communist Party workers with the promise that if the Germans “want a war of extermination, they shall have one.” The very next day, standing atop Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square, Stalin took the salute of his troops and encouraged them to defend “holy Russia”—even as German tanks, previously mired in mud, began to roll over now—frozen ground in their advance toward the Soviet capital.
But Stalin would have more than just his military to rely on. As the Red Army marched down Gorky Street, President Franklin Roosevelt officially extended the scope of the Lend-Lease Act to include the Soviet Union. The USSR would now be eligible for an influx of American arms-including British weaponry manufactured in the United States. What had begun as a military aid program for Great Britain was growing to include other allies in their fight against fascism-even fascism’s left-wing mirror image, Bolshevik Russia.
Nov 06 1941 – WW2 Era: Japanese Fleet Readies Assault on Pearl Harbor » The Pearl Harbor naval base was recognized by both the Japanese and the United States Navies as a potential target for hostile carrier air power. The U.S. Navy had even explored the issue during some of its interwar “Fleet Problems”. However, its distance from Japan and shallow harbor, the certainty that Japan’s navy would have many other pressing needs for its aircraft carriers in the event of war, and a belief that intelligence would provide warning persuaded senior U.S. officers that the prospect of an attack on Pearl Harbor could be safely discounted.
During the interwar period, the Japanese had reached similar conclusions. However, their pressing need for secure flanks during the planned offensive into Southeast Asia and the East Indies spurred the dynamic commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto to revisit the issue. His staff found that the assault was feasible, given the greater capabilities of newer aircraft types, modifications to aerial torpedoes, a high level of communications security and a reasonable level of good luck. Japan’s feelings of desperation helped Yamamoto persuade the Naval high command and Government to undertake the venture should war become inevitable, as appeared increasingly likely during October and November 1941.
All six of Japan’s first-line aircraft carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku, were assigned to the mission. With over 420 embarked planes, these ships constituted by far the most powerful carrier task force ever assembled. Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, an experienced, cautious officer, would command the operation. His Pearl Harbor Striking Force also included fast battleships, cruisers and destroyers, with tankers to fuel the ships during their passage across the Pacific. An Advance Expeditionary Force of large submarines, five of them carrying midget submarines, was sent to scout around Hawaii, dispatch the midgets into Pearl Harbor to attack ships there, and torpedo American warships that might escape to sea.
Under the greatest secrecy, Nagumo took his ships to sea on 26 NOV, with orders to abort the mission if he was discovered, or should diplomacy work an unanticipated miracle. Before dawn on the 7th of December, undiscovered and with diplomatic prospects firmly at an end, the Pearl Harbor Striking Force was less than three-hundred miles north of Pearl Harbor. A first attack wave of over 180 aircraft, including torpedo planes, high-level bombers, dive bombers and fighters, was launched in the darkness and flew off to the south. When first group had taken off, a second attack wave of similar size, but with more dive bombers and no torpedo planes, was brought up from the carriers’ hangar decks and sent off into the emerging morning light. Near Oahu’s southern shore, the five midget submarines had already cast loose from their “mother” subs and were trying to make their way into Pearl Harbor’s narrow entrance channel.
- Nov 06 1942 – WW2: Guadalcanal Campaign – Carlson’s 29 day patrol begins.
- Nov 06 1942 – WW2: The first officer and enlisted WAVES from training schools report for shore duty at installations around the United States.
- Nov 06 1945 – WW2: The first landing of a jet powered aircraft on a carrier takes place on USS Wake Island (CVE-65) when a Ryan FR–1 Fireball touches down
- Nov 06 1951 – Cold War: U.S. Aircraft Shot Down by Soviets » A P2V–3 Neptune patrol bomber assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ–1) is attacked by two Soviet La–2 fighters over the Sea of Japan, about 18 miles from the Soviet coast near Vladivostok. All 10 crewmen are lost. Three days of search and rescue operations revealed no trace of them and they are declared deceased by the Navy in 1952. In a protest note dated 7 NOV, but not made public until 24 NOV, the Soviets claimed the aircraft flew over the city and opened fire when 2 Soviet aircraft tried to force it to land, bringing Soviet retaliatory fire. “The Russian pilots were believed to have been two who, Moscow announced 23 NOV, had been given the Order of the Red Banner for exemplary fulfillment of their service duties.”
- Nov 06 1962 – United Nations: Apartheid Condemned » The General Assembly adopts a resolution condemning South Africa’s racist apartheid policies and calling on all its members to end economic and military relations with the country. In effect from 1948 to 1993, apartheid, which comes from the Afrikaans word for “apartness,” was government-sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against South Africa’s non-white majority. Among many injustices, blacks were forced to live in segregated areas and couldn’t enter whites-only neighborhoods unless they had a special pass. Although whites represented only a small fraction of the population, they held the vast majority of the country’s land and wealth.
Following the 1960 massacre of unarmed demonstrators at Sharpeville near Johannesburg, South Africa, in which 69 blacks were killed and over 180 were injured, the international movement to end apartheid gained wide support. However, few Western powers or South Africa’s other main trading partners favored a full economic or military embargo against the country. Nonetheless, opposition to apartheid within the U.N. grew, and in 1973 a U.N. resolution labeled apartheid a “crime against humanity.” In 1974, South Africa was suspended from the General Assembly. After decades of strikes, sanctions and increasingly violent demonstrations, many apartheid laws were repealed by 1990. Finally, in 1991, under President F.W. de Klerk, the South African government repealed all remaining apartheid laws and committed to writing a new constitution. In 1993, a multi-racial, multi-party transitional government was approved and, the next year, South Africa held its first fully free elections. Political activist Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison along with other anti-apartheid leaders after being convicted of treason, became South Africa’s new president.
In 1996, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), established by the new government, began an investigation into the violence and human rights violations that took place under the apartheid system between 1960 and May 10, 1994 (the day Mandela was sworn in as president). The commission’s objective was not to punish people but to heal South Africa by dealing with its past in an open manner. People who committed crimes were allowed to confess and apply for amnesty. Headed by 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the TRC listened to testimony from over 20,000 witnesses from all sides of the issue—victims and their families as well as perpetrators of violence. It released its report in 1998 and condemned all major political organizations—the apartheid government in addition to anti-apartheid forces such as the African National Congress—for contributing to the violence. Based on the TRC’s recommendations, the government began making reparation payments of approximately $4,000 (U.S.) to individual victims of violence in 2003.
- Nov 06 1963 – Vietnam War Era: General Minh Takes Over Leadership of South Vietnam » In the aftermath of the 1 NOV coup that resulted in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem, Gen. Duong Van Minh, leading the Revolutionary Military Committee of the dissident generals who had conducted the coup, takes over leadership of South Vietnam.
U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge cabled President Kennedy, “We could neither manage nor stop [the coup] once it got started…It is equally certain that the ground in which the coup seed grew into a robust plant was prepared by us, and that the coup would not have happened [as] it did without our permission.” Lodge’s words were more than a little disingenuous since he had long been a proponent of removing Diem from power.
Following Diem’s death, a Buddhist named Nguyen Ngoc Tho became premier, but the real power was held by the Revolutionary Military Committee headed by General Minh. The new government earned U.S. approval in part by pledging not to become a dictatorship and announcing, “The best weapon to fight communism is democracy and liberty.” However, Minh was unable to form a viable government and he himself was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by Gen. Nguyen Khanh in January 1964.
- Nov 06 1967 – U.S. Navy: Helicopters from USS Coral Sea (CVA 43) rescue the 37–man crew of Liberian freighter Royal Fortunes after she runs aground on a reef in the Gulf of Tonkin.
- Nov 06 1970 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese Forces Attack into Cambodia » South Vietnamese forces launch a new offensive into Cambodia, advancing across a 100-mile-wide front in southeastern Cambodia. The new offensive was aimed at cleaning out border sanctuaries and blocking North Vietnamese forces from moving through Cambodia into South Vietnam. The 6,000-man South Vietnamese task force pulled out on November 11 after failing to find new Communist troop sanctuaries. Forty-one enemy soldiers were reportedly killed in the operation.
- Nov 06 1971 – Cold War: The United States Atomic Energy Commission tests the largest U.S. underground hydrogen bomb, code–named Cannikin, on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians.
- Nov 06 1991 – Persian Gulf War: The last burning Kuwaiti oil field is extinguished.
- Nov 07 1811 – Tecumseh’s War: Battle of Tippecanoe » The Battle is fought near present–day Battle Ground, Indiana. Rebellious Indians in a conspiracy organized in defiance of the United States government by Tecumseh, Shawnee chief, are defeated during his absence in the Battle of the Wabash (or Tippecanoe) by William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory.
- Nov 07 1814 – War of 1812: Andrew Jackson attacks and captures Pensacola, Florida, defeating the Spanish and driving out a British force.
- Nov 07 1861 – Civil War: Battle of Belmont, Missouri » Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant overrun a Confederate camp at the Battle of Belmont, Missouri, but are forced to flee when additional Confederate troops arrive. Although Grant claimed victory, the Union gained no ground and left the Confederates in firm control of that section of the Mississippi River.
This engagement was part of Grant’s plan to capture the Confederate stronghold at Columbus, Kentucky, just across the river from Belmont, by first driving away the Confederate garrison at Belmont. General Leonidas Polk, Confederate commander at Columbus, had posted about 1,000 men around Belmont to protect both sides of the river. On the evening of November 6, Grant sailed 3,000 troops down the Mississippi River from Cairo, Illinois. They landed early on November 7, just three miles above Belmont, and proceeded to attack. Upon hearing noise from the battle, Polk sent another 2,500 troops across the river to provide relief for his beleaguered Rebels. The Yankees routed the arriving reinforcements and scattered them along the river. At that point, the Union troops began to celebrate their victory and loot the Confederate camp.
Grant had ordered a small Union force under General Charles Smith to advance from Paducah, Kentucky, which lay to the northeast, to provide a diversion and keep Polk from sending any more reinforcements to Belmont. Grant hoped that Polk would believe that Smith’s advance was the primary attack and that Belmont was the diversion. Polk did not buy it, and he dispatched additional reinforcements to Belmont. Five Confederate regiments arrived as Grant ordered his men to return to the boats. Grant himself narrowly escaped capture, but was able to get most of his force back on the river. The Yankees retreated to Cairo.
Grant lost 120 dead and 487 wounded or captured, while the Confederates lost 105 dead and 536 wounded or captured. Although he gained no ground, Grant demonstrated that, unlike many other Union generals, he was willing to mount a campaign using the resources at hand rather than calling for reinforcements. This trait served Grant well during the war, and it eventually carried him to the top of the Union army.
- Nov 07 1861 – Civil War: The U.S. Naval force under Rear Adm. Samuel F. DuPont capture Port Royal Sound, S.C. During battle, DuPont’s ships steam in boldly and the naval gunners pour a withering fire into the defending forts Walker and Beauregard with extreme accuracy. Marines and sailors land to occupy the forts until turned over to Army troops under Gen. T. W. Sherman.
- Nov 07 1861 – Civil War: Battle of Port Royal » The Battle was one of the earliest amphibious operations of the American Civil War, in which a United States Navy fleet and United States Army expeditionary force captured Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, on 7 NOV. The sound was guarded by two forts on opposite sides of the entrance, Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island to the south and Fort Beauregard on Phillip’s Island to the north. A small force of four gunboats supported the forts, but did not materially affect the battle. The attacking force assembled outside of the sound beginning on 3 NOV after being battered by a storm during their journey down the coast. Because of losses in the storm, the army was not able to land, so the battle was reduced to a contest between ship-based guns and those on shore.
The fleet moved to the attack on 7 NOV, after more delays caused by the weather during which additional troops were brought into Fort Walker. Flag Officer Samuel F. Du Pont ordered his ships to keep moving in an elliptical path, bombarding Fort Walker on one leg and Fort Beauregard on the other; the tactic had recently been used effectively at the Battle of Hatteras Inlet. His plan soon broke down, however, and most ships took enfilading positions that exploited a weakness in Fort Walker. The Confederate gunboats put in a token appearance, but fled up a nearby creek when challenged. Early in the afternoon, most of the guns in the fort were out of action, and the soldiers manning them fled to the rear. A landing party from the flagship took possession of the fort.
When Fort Walker fell, the commander of Fort Beauregard across the sound feared that his soldiers would soon be cut off with no way to escape, so he ordered them to abandon the fort. Another landing party took possession of the fort and raised the Union flag the next day. Despite the heavy volume of fire, loss of life on both sides was low, at least by standards set later during the American Civil War. Only eight were killed in the fleet and eleven on shore, with four other Southerners missing. Total casualties came to less than 100.
- Nov 07 1863 – Civil War: Second Battle of Rappahannock Station » After the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, the Union and Confederate armies drifted south and for three months sparred with one another on the rolling plains of northern Virginia. Little was accomplished, however, and in late October General Robert E. Lee withdrew his Confederate army behind the Rappahannock River, a line he hoped to maintain throughout the winter. A single pontoon bridge at the town of Rappahannock Station was the only connection Lee retained with the northern bank of the river. The bridge was protected by a bridgehead on the north bank consisting on two redoubts and connecting trenches. Confederate batteries posted on hills south of the river gave additional strength to the position.
Battles of Rappahannock Station & Kelly’s Ford, Virginia
The bridgehead was an integral part of Lee’s strategy to defend the Rappahannock River line. As he later explained, by holding the bridgehead he could “threaten any flank movement the enemy might make above or below, and thus compel him to divide his forces, when it was hoped that an opportunity would be presented to concentrate on one or the other part.” The Union Army of the Potomac’s commander, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, divided his forces just as Lee expected. He ordered Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick to attack the Confederate position at Rappahannock Station while Maj. Gen. William H. French forced a crossing five miles downstream at Kelly’s Ford. Once both Sedgwick and French were safely across the river, the reunited army would proceed to Brandy Station.
The operation went according to plan. Shortly after noon on 7 NOV, French drove back Confederate defenders at Kelly’s Ford and crossed the river. As he did so, Sedgwick advanced toward Rappahannock Station. Lee learned of these developments sometime after noon and immediately put his troops in motion to meet the enemy. His plan was to resist Sedgwick with a small force at Rappahannock Station while attacking French at Kelly’s Ford with the larger part of his army. The success of the plan depended on his ability to maintain the Rappahannock Station bridgehead until French was defeated. Sedgwick first engaged the Confederates at 3 p.m. when Maj. Gen. Albion P. Howe’s division of the VI Corps drove in Confederate skirmishers and seized a range of high ground three-quarters of a mile from the river. Howe placed Union batteries on these hills that pounded the enemy earthworks with a “rapid and vigorous” fire. Confederate guns across the river returned the fire, but with little effect.
Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s division occupied the bridgehead defenses that day. Early posted Brig. Gen. Harry T. Hays’s Louisiana brigade and Captain Charles A. Green’s four gun Louisiana Guard Artillery in the works and at 4:30 p.m. reinforced them with three North Carolina regiments led by Colonel Archibald Godwin. The addition of Godwin’s troops increased the number of Confederate defenders at the bridgehead to nearly 2,000. Sedgwick continued shelling the Confederates throughout the late afternoon, but otherwise he showed no disposition to attack. As the day drew to a close, Lee became convinced that the movement against the bridgehead was merely a feint to cover French’s crossing farther downstream. He was mistaken. At dusk the shelling stopped, and Sedgwick’s infantry rushed suddenly upon the works. Col. Peter Ellmaker’s brigade advanced adjacent to the railroad, preceded by skirmishers of the 6th Maine Infantry. No Union regiment gained more laurels that day nor suffered higher casualties. At the command “Forward, double-quick!” they surged over the Confederate works and engaged Hays’s men in hand-to-hand combat. Without assistance, the 6th Maine breached the Confederate line and planted its flags on the parapet of the easternmost redoubt. Moments later the 5th Wisconsin swarmed over the walls of the western redoubt, likewise wresting it from Confederate control.
On the right, Union forces achieved comparable success. Just minutes after Ellmaker’s brigade penetrated Hays’s line, Col. Emory Upton’s brigade overran Godwin’s position. Upton reformed his lines inside the Confederate works and sent a portion of the 121st New York to seize the pontoon bridge, while the rest of his command wheeled right to attack the confused Confederate horde now massed at the lower end of the bridgehead. Confederate resistance dissolved as hundreds of soldiers threw down their arms and surrendered. Others sought to gain the opposite shore by swimming the icy river or by running the gauntlet of Union rifle fire at the bridge. Confederate troops south of the Rappahannock looked on hopelessly as Union soldiers herded their comrades to the rear as prisoners of war.
In all, 1,670 Confederates were killed, wounded, or captured in the brief struggle, more than eighty percent of those engaged. Union casualty figures, by contrast, were small: 419 in all. For the North the battle had been “a complete and glorious victory,” an engagement “as short as it was decisive,” reflecting “infinite credit upon all concerned.” Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright noted that it was the first instance in which Union troops had carried a strongly entrenched Confederate position in the first assault. Brig. Gen. Harry Hays claimed to have been attacked by no less than 20,000 to 25,000 Union soldiers—a figure ten times the actual number.
The battle had been as humiliating for the South as it had been glorious for the North. Two of the Confederacy’s finest brigades, sheltered behind entrenchments and well supported by artillery, had been routed and captured by an enemy force of equal size. Col. Walter H. Taylor of Lee’s staff called it, “the saddest chapter in the history of this army,” the result of “miserable, miserable management.” An enlisted soldier put it more plainly. “I don’t know much about it,” he said, “but it seems to be that our army was surprised.”
- Nov 07 1881 – U.S. Navy: The Naval Advisory Board submit their report to Secretary of the Navy William H. Hunt recommends new ships in the U.S. Navy be constructed of steel instead of iron, resulting in the A, B, C, D ships.
- Nov 07 1914 – WWI Era: Siege of Tsingtao Ends (31 OCT thru 7 NOV) » The Siege was the attack on the German port of Tsingtao in China by Japan and the United Kingdom. It was the first encounter between Japanese and German forces, the first Anglo-Japanese operation of the war, and the only major land battle in the Asian and Pacific theatre during World War I.
The Japanese started shelling the fort and the city on 31 OCT and began digging parallel lines of trenches, just as they had done at the Siege of Port Arthur nine years earlier. Very large 11‑inch howitzers from land, in addition to the firing of the Japanese naval guns, brought the German defenses under constant bombardment during the night, the Japanese moving their own trenches further forward under the cover of their artillery. The bombardment continued for seven days, employing around 100 siege guns with 1,200 shells each on the Japanese side. While the Germans were able to use the heavy guns of the port fortifications to bombard the landward positions of the Allies, they soon ran out of ammunition. When the artillery ran out of ammunition on 6 NOV, surrender was inevitable.
The German garrison was able to field only a single Taube aircraft during the siege, flown by Lieutenant Gunther Plüschow. The Taube was used for frequent reconnaissance flights and Plüschow made several nuisance attacks on the blockading squadron, dropping improvised munitions and other ordnance on them. Plüschow claimed the downing of a Japanese Farman MF.7 with his pistol, the first aerial victory in aviation history. Plüschow flew from Tsingtao on 6 NOV carrying the governor’s last dispatches, which were forwarded to Berlin through neutral diplomatic channels. On the night of 6 November, waves of Japanese infantry attacked the third line of defence and overwhelmed the defenders. The next morning, the German forces, along with their Austro-Hungarian allies, asked for terms. The Allies took formal possession of the colony on 16 November 1914.
Japanese casualties numbered 733 killed and 1,282 wounded; the British had 12 killed and 53 wounded. The German defenders lost 199 dead and 504 wounded. The German dead were buried at Tsingtao, while the remaining soldiers were transported to prisoner of war camps in Japan. The 4,700 German prisoners were treated well and with respect in Japan, such as in Bandō prisoner-of-war camp. The German troops were interned in Japan until the formal signature of the Versailles peace treaty in 1919, but due to technical questions, the troops were not repatriated before 1920. 170 prisoners chose to remain in Japan after the end of the war.
- Nov 07 1917 – WWI: Third Battle of Gaza » Allied forces under General Edmund Allenby launch an attack on Turkish positions at Beersheba, in Palestine, beginning the Third Battle of Gaza. After two earlier attacks at Gaza failed amid heavy Allied casualties, the British brought in Allenby from the Western Front in June 1917 to replace Sir Archibald Murray as commander of Allied forces in Egypt. Reinforcements were also called in, including Italian and French troops, to support a renewed offensive against the Gaza-Beersheba line, which stood formidably between the Allies and the all-important city of Jerusalem. The capture of Gaza was a huge undertaking, and only a step toward the capture Jerusalem on 9 DEC, which was the true goal. The 3 battles accounted for the loss of over 40,000 men.
- Nov 07 1918 – WWI: United Press Erroneously Reports Armistice Signed » A minute before noon on a November morning in 1918, a telegraph inside the United Press office on the third floor of the New York World headquarters chattered a message of salvation to a war-weary country. After reading the cable from France, pressmen grabbed the largest type they could find to set the headline for that afternoon’s extra edition: “WAR OVER.” Minutes later, the news that the Allies and Germany had signed an armistice to end World War I crossed the Dow Jones ticker on Wall Street and quickly went viral across the country’s telegraph and telephone wires.
All business in New York City came to a halt as Mayor John Hylan declared a public holiday. Barbers abandoned half-shaven customers in their chairs. Office workers who left for lunch never returned. “Who can work on a day like this? Gone to celebrate-open tomorrow” read a sign on the shuttered front door of the Rogers Peet department store. A blizzard of tickertape, newspapers and shredded telephone books were tossed from skyscrapers and fluttered down onto the weeping and cheering crowds who linked arms and danced in the streets. In Times Square, tenor Enrico Caruso waved an American flag and belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” from a second-floor window of the Knickerbocker Hotel.
Even by Manhattan’s noisy standards, an unprecedented cacophony spread across the island. Tugboat whistles sounded in the harbor, adding to a din of trolley gongs, automobile horns, air raid sirens and church bells. Newsboys with extra editions shouted: “Germany surrenders!” “Peace! War is over!” The scene in New York was “a dozen New Year’s Eves in one,” as one woman wrote to her fiancée serving in France. Bankers Trust Company president Seward Prosser told the Wall Street Journal, “November 7 will go down in history as a day for international rejoicing among the civilized nations of the world.” Yes, November 7. Four days before the actual signing of the armistice ending World War I, a premature peace report set off wild celebrations across the United States.
- Nov 07 1921 – Italy: Benito Mussolini declares himself to be the leader of the National Fascist Party in Italy.
- Nov 07 1943 – WW2: British troops launch a limited offensive along the coast of Burma.
- Nov 07 1944 – WW2: Japanese Hang Soviet Master Spy » Richard Sorge, a half-Russian, half-German Soviet spy, who had used the cover of a German journalist to report on Germany and Japan for the Soviet Union, is hanged by his Japanese captors.
Sorge fought in World War I in the German army, and then earned his doctorate in political science at the University of Hamburg. He joined Germany’s Communist Party in 1919, traveling to the USSR in 1924. His first major assignment for Soviet intelligence was in the late 1920s, when he was sent to China to organize a spy ring. Returning to Germany, he joined the Nazi Party in 1933 to perfect his cover as a loyal German. He proceeded to develop a reputation as a respected journalist working for the Frankfurter Zeitung, finally convincing his editors to send him to Tokyo as a foreign correspondent in the mid-1930s. Once in Japan, Sorge proceeded once again to create a spy ring, which included an adviser to the Japanese cabinet and an American communist, who was also working for Soviet intelligence as Sorge’s interpreter.
Sorge had so successfully ingratiated himself with the German diplomatic community in Japan that he was allowed to work out of the German embassy, giving him access to confidential files. At the same time, he also befriended Japanese government officials, attempting to convince them not to go to war with the Soviet Union. In May 1941, Sorge reported back to Moscow that Hitler was planning an invasion of the Soviet Union, and that 170 divisions were preparing to invade on June 20, but Stalin ignored the warning. Sorge was also able to report, in August 1941, that Japan had plans to attack targets in the South Pacific, not in the Soviet Union. This enabled Stalin to remove troops from the Manchurian border, freeing them up for when the Germans finally invaded, as there would be no “eastern front.”
But Sorge’s brilliant spy career came to an end on October 18, 1941, when Japanese counterintelligence exposed his operation and he was arrested, along with 34 members of his ring. Initially, the Japanese believed that, due to his Nazi party membership and German ties, Sorge was an Abwehr agent. However, the Abwehr denied that he was one of their agents. Under torture, Sorge confessed, however the Soviets still denied he was one of their agents. The Japanese made three overtures to the Soviets, offering to trade Sorge for one of their own spies. However, the Soviets declined all the offers, maintaining that Sorge was unknown to them. He was finally hanged in 1944. Twenty years later, he was officially declared a Hero of the Soviet Union.
- Nov 07 1944 – WW2: FDR Wins Unprecedented Fourth Term » America’s Commander -in-Chief Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt is reelected president of the United States for a record third time, handily defeating his Republican challenger, Thomas Dewey, the governor of New York, and becoming the first and only president in history to win a fourth term in office. By the time Roosevelt was elected, the war had taken a turn in favor of the Allies, but FDR’s health was already on the decline. His arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) had been worsened by the stress of serving as a war-time president. In April 1945, seven months before the war finally ended in an Allied victory and tree months after his inauguration while resting at his retreat at Warm Springs, Georgia, Roosevelt died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 63.
- Nov 07 1944 – WW2: USS Albacore (SS–218) reported missing. Possibly sunk by Japanese mine off northern tip of Honshu, Japan. 85 killed.
- Nov 7 1954 – Cold War: Soviets Shoot down U.S. Plane » An Air Force B-29 was shot down by Soviet fighters about 10 miles from the Soviet-controlled Kurile Islands. One crewmember was killed in the attack. The aircraft crash-landed on the northern Japanese major island of Hokkaido; all 10 other crewmembers survived. The Soviets claimed that the US plane had entered Soviet airspace and fired on Soviet aircraft; the US stated that the plane was never in Soviet airspace and did not return fire when attacked. Another RB-29 was sent up, with fighter escorts, to complete the mission of the first plane.
- Nov 07 1957 – Cold War: Gaither Report Calls for More U.S. Missiles and Fallout Shelters » The final report from a special committee called by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to review the nation’s defense readiness indicates that the United States is falling far behind the Soviets in missile capabilities, and urges a vigorous campaign to build fallout shelters to protect American citizens. The special committee had been called together shortly after the stunning news of the success of the Soviet Sputnik I in October 1957. Headed by Ford Foundation Chairman H. Rowan Gaither, the committee concluded that the United States was in danger of losing a war against the Soviets. Only massive increases in the military budget, particularly an accelerated program of missile construction, could hope to deter Soviet aggression. It also suggested that American citizens were completely unprotected from nuclear attack and proposed a $30 billion program to construct nationwide fallout shelters.
Although the committee’s report was supposed to be secret, many of its conclusions soon leaked out to the press, causing a minor panic among the American people. President Eisenhower was less impressed. Intelligence provided by U-2 spy plane flights over Russia indicated that the Soviets were not the mortal threat suggested by the Gaither Report. Eisenhower, a fiscal conservative, was also reluctant to commit to the tremendously increased military budget called for by the committee. He did increase funding for the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and for civil defense programs, but ignored most of the other recommendations made in the report. Democrats instantly went on the attack, charging that Eisenhower was leaving the United States open to Soviet attack. By 1960, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was still hammering away at the supposed “missile gap” between the United States and much stronger Soviet stockpiles.
- Nov 07 1964 – Vietnam War Era: U.S. Intelligence Asserts Numbers of North Vietnamese in South Vietnam Growing » The latest U.S. intelligence analysis claims that Communist forces in South Vietnam now include about 30,000 professional full-time soldiers, many of whom are North Vietnamese. Before this, it was largely reported that the war was merely an internal insurgent movement in South Vietnam opposed to the government in Saigon.
- Nov 07, 1964 – Vietnam War Era: In Saigon, the South Vietnamese government banned the sale of the current issue of Newsweek because it carried a photograph showing a Viet Cong prisoner being tortured by South Vietnamese army personnel.
- Nov 07, 1966 – Vietnam War: McNamara Shouted Down at Harvard Speech » Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara faces a storm of student protest when he visits Harvard University to address a small group of students. As he left a dormitory, about 100 demonstrators shouted at him and demanded a debate. When McNamara tried to speak, supporters of the Students for a Democratic Society shouted him down. Police intervention was required to allow him to leave the campus.
- Nov 07 1973 – Cold War: The U.S. Congress overrides President Richard M. Nixon’s veto of the War Powers Resolution. The War Powers Resolution becomes law. The law requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.
- Nov 07 1983 – War On Terrorism: United States Senate Bombing » In October 1983, the United States military invaded the socialist island nation of Grenada, and replaced the socialist government with the previous government under Governor-General Paul Scoon and Chairman of the Interim Advisory Council Nicholas Brathwaite, the country having been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. At the time, the invasion was supported by 64% of the US population. However, members of the left wing militant group, the Resistance Conspiracy, were perturbed. The invasion of Grenada, coupled with the October 1983 bombing of a United States Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, prompted the beginnings of a plan for the left-wing militants to take action. Members of the group felt the United States, led by President Ronald Reagan, had no business meddling in the affairs of Middle Eastern nations or small socialist island states. Thus it was decided to bring awareness to their ideals by bombing the US Senate.
On 7 NOV an explosion tore through the second floor of the Capitol’s north wing causing heavy damage but no injuries. Minutes before the blast, a caller claiming to represent the “Armed Resistance Unit” warned the Capitol switchboard that a bomb had been placed near the Chamber in retaliation for recent U.S. military involvement in Grenada and Lebanon, in which the U.S. had placed Marines. The force of the device, hidden under a bench at the eastern end of the corridor outside the Chamber, blew off the door to the office of Democratic Leader Robert C. Byrd. Senator Byrd was an active supporter of involvement in Grenada, and had recently made attempts to garner support for retaliating against recent attacks against US marines stationed in Lebanon. His recent actions may have drawn attention from the terrorist group, and led to his targeting. Furthermore, the blast also punched a hole in a wall partition, sending a shower of pulverized brick, plaster, and glass into the Republican cloakroom. The explosion caused no structural damage to the Capitol. The force shattered mirrors, chandeliers, and furniture. Officials calculated damages of $250,000 (equivalent to $630,000 in 2018).
Six members of the radical left-wing Resistance Conspiracy were arrested in May 1988 and charged with the bombing, as well as related bombings of Fort McNair and the Washington Navy Yard which occurred April 25, 1983, and April 20, 1984 respectively.
- Nov 07 2004 – Middle East: Iraq | Operation Phantom Fury » The interim government of Iraq calls for a 60–day “state of emergency” as more than 10,000 U.S. troops and a small number of Iraqi army units storm the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. The carefully designed and skillfully executed attack employed USMC Regimental Combat Teams (RCTs) 1 and 7 attacking south into the city. The Marines were well supported by Army mechanized infantry and cavalry units. This interservice and fully coordinated air-ground approach gradually overwhelmed the insurgents trapped in the doomed city. The dense urban fighting was fierce, house by house and rooftop to rooftop. Airpower, tanks and even bulldozers were employed to smash fanatical enemy fighters. The U.S. forces took care to include a bevy of embedded journalists so that news of this battle would be reported to a keenly observant world. The second Battle of Fallujah ended after a month of hard fighting.
- Nov 08 1775 – American Revolution Era: Washington Seeks to Make Militias into a Military » General George Washington seeks to resolve several problems facing the army: how to encourage experienced troops to enlist, how to assemble a capable officer corps and how to overcome provincial differences and rivalries. Describing the problems, he wrote, “Connecticut wants no Massachusetts man in her corps. Massachusetts thinks there is no necessity for a Rhode Islander…”
Just as the British had discovered the difficulties of waging war with obstreperous Yankees for soldiers during the Seven Years’ War, Washington, the Virginia planter-cum-soldier, was unimpressed upon meeting his supposed army outside Boston after being appointed commander in chief of Continental forces in 1775. He saw “stupidity” among the enlisted men, who were used to the easy familiarity of being commanded by neighbors in local militias with elected officers. Washington promptly insisted that the officers behave with decorum and the enlisted men with deference. Although he enjoyed some success with this original army, the New Englanders went home to their farms at the end of 1775, and Washington had to start fresh with new recruits in 1776.
Washington fought an uphill battle for military order until Friedrich von Steuben arrived at the Continental Army encampment at Valley Forge on February 23, 1778. The Prussian military officer commenced training soldiers in close-order drill, instilling new confidence and discipline in the demoralized Continental Army. Before von Steuben’s arrival, colonial American soldiers were notorious for their slovenly camp conditions. Von Steuben insisted on reorganization to establish basic hygiene, ordering that kitchens and latrines be put on opposite sides of the camp, with latrines facing a downhill slope. Just having latrines was a novelty to the Continental troops, who were accustomed to living in their own filth.
On the merit of his efforts at Valley Forge, Washington recommended that von Steuben be named inspector general of the Continental Army; Congress complied. In this capacity, von Steuben propagated his methods throughout the Patriot forces by circulating his “Blue Book,” entitled “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.”
- Nov 08 1861 – Civil War: The “Trent Affair” » Relations with the United States were often strained and even verged on war when Britain almost supported the Confederacy in the early part of the American Civil War. British leaders were constantly annoyed from the 1840s to the 1860s by what they saw as Washington’s pandering to the democratic mob, as in the Oregon boundary dispute in 1844 to 1846. British middle-class public opinion sensed a common “Special Relationship” between the two peoples, based on language, migration, evangelical Protestantism, liberal traditions, and extensive trade. On 8 NOV relations were further strained when the USS San Jacinto, commanded by Union Captain Charles Wilkes, intercepted the British mail packet RMS Trent and removed, as contraband of war, two Confederate diplomats: James Murray Mason and John Slidell. The envoys were bound for Britain and France to press the Confederacy’s case for diplomatic recognition and to lobby for possible financial and military support.
Public reaction in the United States was to celebrate the capture and rally against Britain, threatening war. In the Confederate States, the hope was that the incident would lead to a permanent rupture in Anglo-American relations and possibly even war or at least diplomatic recognition by Britain. Confederates realized their independence potentially depended on intervention by Britain and France. In Britain, the public disapproved of this violation of neutral rights and insult to their national honor. The British government demanded an apology and the release of the prisoners and took steps to strengthen its military forces in Canada and the Atlantic.
President Abraham Lincoln and his top advisors did not want to risk war with Britain over this issue. After several tense weeks, the crisis was resolved when the Lincoln administration released the envoys and disavowed Captain Wilkes’s actions, though without a formal apology. Mason and Slidell resumed their voyage to Britain but failed in their goal of achieving diplomatic recognition.
- Nov 08 1864 – Civil War: Lincoln Reelected » Northern voters overwhelmingly endorse the leadership and policies of President Abraham Lincoln when they elect him to a second term. With his re-election, any hope for a negotiated settlement with the Confederacy vanished.
In 1864, Lincoln faced many challenges to his presidency. The war was now in its fourth year, and many were questioning if the South could ever be fully conquered militarily. Union General Ulysses S. Grant mounted a massive campaign in the spring of that year to finally defeat the Confederate army of General Robert E. Lee, but after sustaining significant losses at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, the Yankees bogged down around Petersburg, Virginia. As the fall approached, Grant seemed no closer to defeating Lee than his predecessors. Additionally, Union General William T. Sherman was planted outside of Atlanta, but he could not take that city. Some of the Radical Republicans were unhappy with Lincoln’s conciliatory plan for reconstruction of the South. And many Northerners had never been happy with Lincoln’s 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, which converted the war from one of reunion to a crusade to destroy slavery. Weariness with the war fueled calls for a compromise with the seceded states.
On Election Day, Lincoln carried all but three states (Kentucky, New Jersey, and Delaware), and won 55 percent of the vote. He won 212 electoral votes. Most significantly, a majority of the Union troops voted for their commander in chief. Perhaps most important was the fact that the election was held at all. Before this, no country had ever held elections during a military emergency. Lincoln himself said, “We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.” Five months after Lincoln’s re-election, the collapse of the Confederacy was complete.
- Nov 08 1895 – Germany: German Scientist Discovers X-rays » Physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen (1845-1923) becomes the first person to observe X-rays, a significant scientific advancement that would ultimately benefit a variety of fields, most of all medicine, by making the invisible visible. Rontgen’s discovery occurred accidentally in his Wurzburg, Germany, lab, where he was testing whether cathode rays could pass through glass when he noticed a glow coming from a nearby chemically coated screen. He dubbed the rays that caused this glow X-rays because of their unknown nature. In 1897, X-rays were first used on a military battlefield, during the Balkan War, to find bullets and broken bones inside patients.
- Nov 08 1917 – WWI: One day after an armed uprising led by his radical socialist Bolsheviks toppled the provisional Russian government, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin rises before the newly formed All-Russian Congress of Soviets to call for an immediate armistice with the Central Powers in World War I.
- Nov 08 1923 – Germany: Beer Hall Putsch Begins » Adolf Hitler, president of the far-right Nazi Party, launches the Beer Hall Putsch, his first attempt at seizing control of the German government.
After World War I, the victorious allies demanded billions of dollars in war reparations from Germany. Efforts by Germany’s democratic government to comply hurt the country’s economy and led to severe inflation. The German mark, which at the beginning of 1921 was valued at five marks per dollar, fell to a disastrous four billion marks per dollar in 1923. Meanwhile, the ranks of the nationalist Nazi Party swelled with resentful Germans who sympathized with the party’s bitter hatred of the democratic government, leftist politics, and German Jews. In early November 1923, the government resumed war-reparation payments, and the Nazis decided to strike.
Hitler planned a coup against the state government of Bavaria, which he hoped would spread to the dissatisfied German army, which in turn would bring down the central, democratic government in Berlin. On the evening of November 8, Nazi forces under Hermann Goering surrounded the Munich beer hall where Bavarian government officials were meeting with local business leaders. A moment later, Hitler burst in with a group of Nazi storm troopers, discharged his pistol into the air, and declared that “the national revolution has begun.” Threatened at gunpoint, the Bavarian leaders reluctantly agreed to support Hitler’s new regime.
In the early morning of 9 NOV, however, the Bavarian leaders repudiated their coerced support of Hitler and ordered a rapid suppression of the Nazis. At dawn, government troops surrounded the main Nazi force occupying the War Ministry building. A desperate Hitler responded by leading a march toward the center of Munich in a last-ditch effort to rally support. Near the War Ministry building, 3,000 Nazi marchers came face to face with 100 armed policemen. Shots were exchanged, and 16 Nazis and three policemen were killed. Hermann Goering was shot in the groin, and Hitler suffered a dislocated elbow but managed to escape.
Three days later, Hitler was arrested. Convicted of treason, he was given the minimum sentence of five years in prison. He was imprisoned in the Landsberg fortress and spent his time writing his autobiography, Mein Kampf, and working on his oratorical skills. Political pressure from the Nazis forced the Bavarian government to commute Hitler’s sentence, and he was released after serving only nine months. In the late 1920s, Hitler reorganized the Nazi Party as a fanatical mass movement that was able to gain a majority in the Reichstag in 1932. By 1934, Hitler was the sole master of a nation intent on war and genocide.
- Nov 08 1939 – WW2 Era: Hitler Survives Assassination Attempt » On the 16th anniversary of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, a bomb explodes just after Hitler has finished giving a speech. He was unharmed.
Hitler had made an annual ritual on the anniversary of his infamous 1923 coup attempt, (Hitler’s first grab at power that ended in his arrest and the virtual annihilation of his National Socialist party), of regaling his followers with his vision of the Fatherland’s future. On this day, he had been addressing the Old Guard party members, those disciples and soldiers who had been loyal to Hitler and his fascist party since the earliest days of its inception. Just 12 minutes after Hitler had left the hall, along with important Nazi leaders who had accompanied him, a bomb exploded, which had been secreted in a pillar behind the speaker’s platform. Seven people were killed and 63 were wounded.
The next day, the Nazi Party official paper, the Voelkischer Beobachter, squarely placed the blame on British secret agents, even implicating Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain himself. This work of propaganda was an attempt to stir up hatred for the British and whip the German people into a frenzy for war. But the inner-Nazi Party members knew better—they knew the assassination attempt was most probably the work of a German anti-Nazi military conspiracy.
In an ingenious scheme to shift blame, while getting closer to the actual conspirators, Heinrich Himmler, the Gestapo chief, sent a subordinate, Walter Schellenberg, to Holland to make contact with British intelligence agents. The pretext of the meeting was to secure assurances from the British that in the event of an anti-Nazi coup, the British would support the new regime. The British agents were eager to gain whatever inside information they could about the rumored anti-Hitler movement within the German military; Schellenberg, posing as “Major Schaemmel,” was after whatever information British intelligence may have had on such a conspiracy within the German military ranks.
But Himmler wanted more than talk—he wanted the British agents themselves. So on November 9, SS soldiers in Holland kidnapped, with Schellenberg’s help, two British agents, Payne Best and R.H. Stevens, stuffing them into a Buick and driving them across the border into Germany. Himmler now proudly announced to the German public that he had captured the British conspirators. The man who actually planted the bomb at their behest was declared to be Georg Elser, a German communist who made his living as a carpenter.
While it seems certain that Elser did plant the bomb, who the instigators were—German military or British intelligence—remains unclear. All three “official” conspirators spent the war in Sachsenhausen concentration camp (Elser was murdered by the Gestapo on April 16, 1945—so he could never tell his story). Hitler dared not risk a public trial, as there were just too many holes in the “official” story.
- Nov 08 1942 – WW2: FDR Broadcasts Message to Vichy France Leader Marshal Petain » Just as the Allies were preparing an invasion of North Africa during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt broadcasts a message directed at Vichy France and its leader Marshal Petain. Petain, who chose to collaborate with the Germans in 1940 rather than fight them, was nominally the leader of France but the country was far from free. (Exiled French General Charles De Gaulle was considered the leader of the “Free French.”)
FDR’s radio broadcast was intended to appeal to the patriotism of Petain and the Francophile residents of the French colonies in North Africa and the Nazi-controlled portion of France. American ships had just arrived in North Africa carrying the Allied Expeditionary Force. The consummate orator, Roosevelt warned French listeners that if they did not assist the Allies in throwing off the “Axis yoke” that it would mean the “death knell of the French Empire.” In his message, Roosevelt reminded Petain that the Axis powers had plundered France of its savings, industry and transport, and looted the nation’s farms and factories “all for the benefit of a Nazi Reich and Fascist Italy.” Calling himself an “old friend of France,” Roosevelt promised that America was not looking to take over French territory in North Africa. He hoped Petain might encourage his fellow countrymen to rise up and help boot out the Germans.
Petain, however, was not moved by Roosevelt’s words. In a written reply sent the same day, Petain lamented “It is with stupor and sadness that I learned tonight of the aggression of [American] troops against North Africa.” He denied that Germany’s treatment of France had been as bad as Roosevelt described and, furthermore, promised to defend French territory against any aggressor, America included.
- Nov 08 1942 – WW2: Operation Torch » General Dwight D. Eisenhower commenced the Allied invasion of North Africa. Led by Ike, American and British forces land in Morocco and Algeria. The U.S. Navy sees most of its action around Casablanca and elsewhere on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. This ambitious trans–oceanic amphibious operation gave the Allies bases for future operations. After a month of fighting against Vichy troops, the Allies, with help from a small number of Free French forces and colonists, were able to gain a foothold in North Africa. In six more months, all of North Africa was cleared of Axis forces, opening the way for an invasion of Italy. Roosevelt’s promise to rout the Germans from North Africa was carried out by May 1943.
- Nov 08 1943 – WW2: USS Bluefish (SS 222) sinks the Japanese army tanker Kyokeui Maru in the South China Sea off the northwest coast of Luzon while USS Rasher (SS 269) sinks the Japanese merchant tanker Tango Maru in Makassar Strait and survives counterattacks by auxiliary submarine chaser Cha 41.
- Nov 08 1944 – WW2: USS Growler (SS–215) missing. Most likely sunk by Japanese destroyer Shigure, escort vessel Chiburi, and Coast Defense Vessel No. 19 off Mindoro. 86 killed
- Nov 08 1950 – Korean War: United States Air Force Lt. Russell J. Brown, while piloting an F–80 Shooting Star, shoots down two North Korean MiG–15s in the first jet aircraft–to–jet aircraft dogfight in history.
- Nov 08 1956 – U.S. Navy: Navy Stratolab balloon, piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Malcolm D. Ross and Lt. Cmdr. M. Lee Lewis, surpasses the world height record by soaring to 76,000 ft. over Black Hills, S.D. The flight gathers meteorological, cosmic ray, and other scientific data. For this record ascent, the men are awarded the 1957 Harmon International Trophy for Aeronauts.
- Nov 08 1965 – Vietnam War: Lawrence Joel earns MOH » For action this day in the Iron Triangle northwest of Saigon, Specialist Five Lawrence Joel, a medic with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade earns the Medal of Honor, becoming the first living African American since the Spanish-American War to receive the nation’s highest award for valor.
When his unit was outnumbered in an attack by an enemy force, Specialist Joel, who suffered a severe leg wound in the early stages of the battle, continued to administer aid to his wounded comrades. Wounded a second time—with a bullet lodged deep in his lungs—Joel continued to treat the wounded, completely disregarding the battle raging around him and his own safety. Even after the 24-hour battle had subsided, Joel, a 38-year-old father of two, continued to treat and comfort the wounded until his own evacuation was ordered. President Johnson presented the Medal of Honor to Specialist Joel on March 9, 1967, in ceremonies held on the South Lawn of the White House.
- Nov 08 1965 – Vietnam War: The 173rd Airborne is ambushed by over 1,200 Viet Cong in Operation Hump during the Vietnam War, while the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment fight one of the first set–piece engagements of the war between Australian forces and the Vietcong at the Battle of Gang Toi.
- Nov 08 1975 – U.S. Navy: More than 100 Sailors and Marines from USS Inchon (LPH 12) and USS Shreveport (LPD 12) fight a fire aboard a Spanish merchant vessel at Palma.
- Nov 08 2002 – Middle East: Iraq Disarmament Crisis » UN Security Council Resolution 1441 – The United Nations Security Council unanimously approves a resolution on Iraq, forcing Saddam Hussein to disarm or face “serious consequences”.
- Nov 08 2006 – Israel*Palestine: Shelling of Beit Hanoun » Shells hit a row of houses in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, killing at least 19 Palestinians and wounding more than 40. Thirteen of the dead belonged to the same family. The shelling followed the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in completion of a week-long operation codenamed Operation “Autumn Clouds”, which the Israeli government stated had been intended to stop the Qassam rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants. The Israeli government apologized and attributed the incident to a technical malfunction. An inquiry found it was caused by a faulty programming card in a counter-battery radar system, called Shilem, designed to track an enemy projectile’s trajectory back to its point of origin and direct artillery fire back at that spot. The inquiry also found that the artillery crew had not recalibrated their weapons overnight and did not have spotters monitoring whether their fire was accurate, so 12 to 15 artillery shells were fired before it was realized they were hitting an apartment complex. It is not clear what changes the IDF made to its targeting methods as a result.
- Nov 09 1780 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Fishdam Ford – British Major James Wemyss, commanding a force of 140 horsemen, attempts to surprise 300 South Carolina militiamen under General Thomas Sumter at Fishdam Ford, South Carolina. Instead of capturing Sumter as planned, Wemyss, “the second most hated man in the British army,” was wounded in the arm and knee, and captured by Sumter. Casualties and losses: US 0 – GB 20
- Nov 09 1822 – U.S. Navy: The brig Alligator, commanded by Lt. William H. Allen, recaptures several merchant ships from pirates off Matanzas, Cuba, but Allen dies in battle. Boats from Alligator capture all the pirate vessels except one schooner that manages to escape. Casualties and losses: US 7 – Pirates 14 + 1 Schooner.
- Nov 09 1862 – Civil War: Ambrose Burnside Assumes Command » The General assumes command of the Union Army of the Potomac following the removal of George B. McClellan. McClellan was well liked by many soldiers, and had a loyal following among some in the command structure. However, others detested him, and his successor would have a difficult time reconciling the pro and anti-McClellan factions within the army’s leadership. Furthermore, Ambrose Burnside was not the obvious choice to replace McClellan. Many favored General Joseph Hooker, who, like Burnside, commanded a corps in the army. Hooker had a strong reputation as a battlefield commander but had several liabilities: a penchant for drinking and cavorting with prostitutes and an acrimonious history with Henry Halleck, the general in chief of the Union armies. Halleck urged President Abraham Lincoln to name Burnside to head the Union’s premier fighting force.
Burnside was a solid corps commander, but by his own admission was not fit to command an army. The Indiana native graduated from West Point in 1847, and after serving for five years in the military, entered private business. He worked to develop a new rifle, but his firm went bankrupt when he refused to pay a bribe to secure a contract to sell his weapon to the U.S. army. Burnside then worked as treasurer for the Illinois Central Railroad under McClellan, who was president of the line.
When the Civil War erupted, Burnside became a colonel in charge of the First Rhode Island volunteers. He fought at the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, in July 1861 and then headed an expeditionary force that captured Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in February 1862. Burnside returned to the Army of the Potomac and was given command of the Ninth Corps, which fought hard at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland in September 1862. Afterward, he was tapped for the top position in the army over his own protestations. He reluctantly assumed command in November and proceeded to plan an attack on Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. In December 1862, Burnside’s army moved toward Lee at Fredericksburg, Virginia. His forces attacked Lee’s entrenched troops on 13 DEC and suffered heavy losses.
Within one month, officers began to mutiny against Burnside’s authority, and Hooker assumed command of the Army of the Potomac in late January 1863. After the war, Burnside (whose unusual facial hair is said to have inspired the word sideburns) served as governor of Rhode Island and as a U.S. senator. He died in 1881 at age 57.
- Nov 09 1863 – Civil War: The side wheel steamer James Adger, commanded by Cmdr. Thomas H. Patterson, captures blockade runner Robert E. Lee off Cape Lookout, Shoals, N.C.
- Nov 09 1863 – Civil War: Gettysburg Address » At the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.
- Nov 09 1875 – Old West: Followers of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse Identified as Hostile » Indian Inspector E.C. Watkins submits a report to Washington, D.C., stating that hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians associated with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse are hostile to the United States. In so doing, Watkins set into motion a series of events that led to the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana the following year.
- Nov 09 1900 – Russia: Russia completes its occupation of Manchuria.
- Nov 09 1901 – U.S. Navy: Teddy Roosevelt Establishes a Naval Base in the Philippines » The base was established at Subic Bay on territory won from Spain during the Spanish-American War. After the Second World War, Subic Bay’s strategic importance was recognized. The harbor became a service port for U.S. forces during the Vietnam War. The base was eventually abandoned and the area was returned to the Filipino government in 1992.
- Nov 09 1914 – WWI: Australian Warship Sydney Sinks German Raider Emden » In the first ever wartime action by an Australian warship, the cruiser Sydney sinks the German raider Emden in the Indian Ocean during the first autumn of World War I. Sydney surprised the Emden as the latter ship was raiding a British wireless communications station on the Cocos Islands. The attack killed 134 of the ship’s crew members, while Muller and the other survivors were taken prisoner by the British. British newspapers at the time praised Muller for his chivalry towards the crews and passengers of the captured vessels. “If all the Germans had fought as well as the captain of the Emden,” claimed The Times, “the German people would not today be reviled by the world.”
Despite the demise of the Emden the exploits of its crew continued, as Muller had put a landing party ashore at nearby Direction Island. The group promptly seized a schooner and sailed to Yemen, crossing the Red Sea and braving Arab attacks on its way to Damascus and finally to Constantinople in May 1915.
- Nov 09 1918 – Germany: Germany is proclaimed a republic as the Kaiser abdicates and flees to the Netherlands.
- Nov 09 1921 – Unknown Soldier: USS Olympia (C 6) arrives at the Washington Navy Yard from France carrying the body of the Unknown Soldier of World War I for internment at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
- Nov 09 1923 – Germany: Nazis Suppressed in Munich » Armed policeman and troops loyal to Germany’s democratic government crush the Beer Hall Putsch, the first attempt by the Nazi Party at seizing control of the German government. Three days later, Hitler was arrested. Convicted of treason, he was given the minimum sentence of five years in prison. He was imprisoned in the Landsberg fortress and spent his time writing his autobiography, Mein Kampf, and working on his oratorical skills. Political pressure from the Nazis forced the Bavarian government to commute Hitler’s sentence, and he was released after serving only nine months. In the late 1920s, Hitler reorganized the Nazi Party as a fanatical mass movement that was able to gain a majority in the Reichstag in 1932. By 1934, Hitler was the sole master of a nation intent on war and genocide.
- Nov 09 1935 – China: Japanese troops invade Shanghai, China.
- Nov 09 1937 – China: 1937 The Republican Chinese Kuomintang withdraw from Shanghai, leaving it to the victorious Japanese.
- Nov 09 1938 – Holocaust: Nazis Launch Kristallnacht » In an event that would foreshadow the Holocaust, German Nazis launch a campaign of terror against Jewish people and their homes and businesses in Germany and Austria. The violence, which continued through 10 NOV and was later dubbed “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of Broken Glass,” after the countless smashed windows of Jewish-owned establishments, left approximately 100 Jews dead, 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged and hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools and graveyards vandalized. An estimated 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, many of whom were then sent to concentration camps for several months; they were released when they promised to leave Germany. Kristallnacht represented a dramatic escalation of the campaign started by Adolf Hitler in 1933 when he became chancellor to purge Germany of its Jewish population.
The Nazis used the murder of a low-level German diplomat in Paris by a 17-year-old Polish Jew as an excuse to carry out the Kristallnacht attacks. On 7 NOV, Ernst vom Rath was shot outside the German embassy by Herschel Grynszpan, who wanted revenge for his parents’ sudden deportation from Germany to Poland, along with tens of thousands of other Polish Jews. Following vom Rath’s death, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ordered German storm troopers to carry out violent riots disguised as “spontaneous demonstrations” against Jewish citizens. Local police and fire departments were told not to interfere. In the face of all the devastation, some Jews, including entire families, committed suicide.
In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the Nazis blamed the Jews and fined them 1 billion marks (or $400 million in 1938 dollars) for vom Rath’s death. As repayment, the government seized Jewish property and kept insurance money owed to Jewish people. In its quest to create a master Aryan race, the Nazi government enacted further discriminatory policies that essentially excluded Jews from all aspects of public life. Over 100,000 Jews fled Germany for other countries after Kristallnacht. The international community was outraged by the violent events of November 9 and 10. Some countries broke off diplomatic relations in protest, but the Nazis suffered no serious consequences, leading them to believe they could get away with the mass murder that was the Holocaust, in which an estimated 6 million European Jews died.
- Nov 09 1944 – WW2: USS Barbero (SS 317) attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks the merchant ship Shimotsu Maru about 250 miles west of Manila while USS Queenfish (SS 393) also attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks the gunboat Chojusan Maru about 50 miles west of Kyushu. Additionally on this date, USS Haddo (SS 255) sinks the Japanese tanker No.2 Hishu Maru in Mindoro Strait.
- Nov 09 1950 – Korea: Task Force 77 makes its first attack on the Yalu River bridges. In the first engagement between MIG–15 and F9F jets, Lt. Cmdr. William T. Amen, commanding officer of VF–111, based on board USS Philippine Sea (CV 47), shoots down a MiG and becomes the first Navy pilot to shoot down a jet aircraft.
- Nov 09 1956 – U.S. Navy: Secretary of the Navy Charles S. Thomas proposes the Polaris missile program to Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson.
- Nov 09 1965 – Vietnam War: Antiwar Protestor Sets Himself Afire » In the second such antiwar incident within a week, Roger Allen LaPorte, a 22-year-old member of the Catholic Worker movement, immolates himself in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York. Before dying the next day, LaPorte declared, “I’m against wars, all wars. I did this as a religious act.” LaPorte’s act of protest followed that of Norman Morrison, a 32-year-old Quaker from Baltimore, who immolated himself in front of the Pentagon on 2 NOV.
- Nov 09 1967 – Vietnam War: Captain Lance Sijan Shot Down Over North Vietnam » While on a mission over Laos, Capt. Lance P. Sijan ejects from his disabled McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom jet near Vinh, North Vietnam. Despite suffering a skull fracture, a mangled right hand, and a compound fracture of the left leg during his ejection, Sijan successfully evaded capture for more than six weeks.
Eventually Sijan’s wounds and lack of sustenance overwhelmed him and he collapsed along a road, where he was found by North Vietnamese troops. After several days of captivity, Sijan gathered his strength and escaped. Still weakened and suffering from his injuries, Sijan was recaptured and tortured, and then transported to the infamous prison known as the Hanoi Hilton. While there, he contracted pneumonia and died. Throughout his ordeal, Captain Sijan never gave up his desire to escape and resisted his captors to the very end. When the American prisoners of war (POWs) were released in 1973, several of Sijan’s fellow POWs immediately initiated a recommendation for Sijan to receive the Medal of Honor. On March 4, 1976, President Gerald Ford presented the medal to Captain Sijan’s father in a ceremony at the White House.
- Nov 09 1970 – Vietnam War: Supreme Court Refuses to Rule on Legality of Vietnam War » The Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge by the state of Massachusetts regarding the constitutionality of the Vietnam War. By a 6-3 vote, the justices rejected the effort of the state to bring a suit in federal court in defense of Massachusetts residents claiming protection under a state law that allowed them to refuse military service in an undeclared war.
- Nov 09 1979 – Cold War: Nuclear False Alarm » The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) computers and the Alternate National Military Command Center in Fort Ritchie, Maryland detected purported massive Soviet nuclear strike. After reviewing the raw data from satellites and checking the early warning radars, the alert is cancelled.
- Nov 09 1989 – Cold War: Berlin Wall Opened » East German official opened the Berlin Wall, allowing travel from East to West Berlin. The following day, celebrating Germans began to tear the wall down. One of the ugliest and most infamous symbols of the Cold War was soon reduced to rubble that was quickly snatched up by souvenir hunters.
The East German action followed a decision by Hungarian officials a few weeks earlier to open the border between Hungary and Austria. This effectively ended the purpose of the Berlin Wall, since East German citizens could now circumvent it by going through Hungary, into Austria, and thence into West Germany. The decision to open the wall was also a reflection of the immense political changes taking place in East Germany, where the old communist leadership was rapidly losing power and the populace was demanding free elections and movement toward a free market system. The action also had an impact on President George Bush and his advisors. After watching television coverage of the delirious German crowds demolishing the wall, many in the Bush administration became more convinced than ever that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s statements about desiring a new relationship with the West must be taken more seriously. Unlike 1956 and 1968, when Soviet forces ruthlessly crushed protests in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, respectively, Gorbachev actually encouraged the East German action. As such, the destruction of the Berlin Wall was one of the most significant actions leading to the end of the Cold War.
- Nov 10 1775 – U.S. Marine Corps: Birth of the U.S. Marine Corps » The Continental Congress passes a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. The resolution, drafted by future U.S. president John Adams and adopted in Philadelphia, created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.
Serving on land and at sea, the original U.S. Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations during the Revolutionary War. The first Marine landing on a hostile shore occurred when a force of Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas captured New Province Island in the Bahamas from the British in March 1776. Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines and is celebrated as the first Marine commandant. After American independence was achieved in 1783, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded.
In the next decade, however, increasing conflict at sea with Revolutionary France led the U.S. Congress to establish formally the U.S. Navy in May 1798. Two months later, on July 11, President John Adams signed the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. U.S. Marines saw action in the so-called Quasi-War with France and then fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa during the first years of the 19th century. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In all, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.
Today, there are more than 200,000 active-duty and reserve Marines, divided into three divisions stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Okinawa, Japan. Each division has one or more expeditionary units, ready to launch major operations anywhere in the world on two weeks’ notice. Marines expeditionary units are self-sufficient, with their own tanks, artillery, and air forces. The motto of the service is Semper Fidelis, meaning “Always Faithful” in Latin.
- Nov 10 1782 – American Revolutionary War: In the last battle of the war, George Rodgers Clark attacks Indians and Loyalists at Chillicothe, in Ohio Territory.
- Nov 10 1863 – Civil War: CSS Alabama captures and burns clipper ship Winged Racer carrying a cargo of sugar, hides, and jute in the Straits of Sunda off Java.
- Nov 10 1865 – Civil War: Henry Wirz Hanged » Wirz, a Swiss immigrant and the commander of Andersonville prison in Georgia, is hanged for the murder of soldiers incarcerated there during the Civil War. He oversaw an operation in which thousands of inmates died. Partly a victim of circumstance, he was given few resources with which to work, and the Union ceased prisoner exchanges in 1864. As the Confederacy began to dissolve, food and medicine for prisoners were difficult to obtain. When word about Andersonville leaked out, Northerners were horrified. Poet Walt Whitman saw some of the camp survivors and wrote, “There are deeds, crimes that may be forgiven, but this is not among them.”
Wirz was charged with conspiracy to injure the health and lives of Union soldiers and murder. His trial began in August 1865, and ran for two months. During the trial, some 160 witnesses were called to testify. Though Wirz did demonstrate indifference towards Andersonville’s prisoners, he was, in part, a scapegoat and some evidence against him was fabricated entirely. He was found guilty and sentenced to die on 10 NOV in Washington, D.C. On the scaffold, he reportedly said to the officer in charge, “I know what orders are, Major. I am being hanged for obeying them.” The 41-year-old Wirz was one of the few people convicted and executed for crimes committed during the Civil War.
- Nov 10 1923 – Japan: Michinomiya Hirohito is enthroned as the 124th Japanese monarch in an imperial line dating back to 660 B.C. Emperor Hirohito presided over one of the most turbulent eras in his nation’s history. From rapid military expansion beginning in 1931 to the crushing defeat of Japan by Allied forces in 1945. Under U.S. occupation and postwar reconstruction, Hirohito was formally stripped of his powers and forced to renounce his alleged divinity, but he remained his country’s official figurehead until his death in 1989.
- Nov 10 1942 – WW2: Germans Take Vichy France » On this day German troops occupy Vichy France, which had previously been free of an Axis military presence. Since July 1940, upon being invaded and defeated by Nazi German forces, the autonomous French state had been split into two regions. One was occupied by German troops, and the other was unoccupied, governed by a more or less puppet regime centered in Vichy, a spa region about 200 miles southeast of Paris, and led by Gen. Philippe Petain, a World War I hero. Publicly, Petain declared that Germany and France had a common goal, “the defeat of England.” Privately, the French general hoped that by playing mediator between the Axis power and his fellow countrymen, he could keep German troops out of Vichy France while surreptitiously aiding the antifascist Resistance movement.
Petain’s compromises became irrelevant within two years. When Allied forces arrived in North Africa to team up with the Free French Forces to beat back the Axis occupiers, and French naval crews, emboldened by the Allied initiative, scuttled the French fleet off Toulon, in southeastern France, to keep it from being used by those same Axis powers, Hitler retaliated. In violation of the 1940 armistice agreement, German troops moved into southeastern-Vichy, France. From that point forward, Petain became virtually useless, and France merely a future gateway for the Allied counteroffensive in Western Europe, namely, D-Day.
- Nov 10 1943 – WW2: PB4Y–1 patrol bombers from VB–103, VB–105, and VB–110, along with British aircraft, sink the German submarine U–966 in the Bay of Biscay off northwest Spain. Spanish fishing trawlers rescue the survivors.
- Nov 10 1944 – WW2: The ammunition ship USS Mount Hood explodes at Seeadler Harbour, Manus, Admiralty Islands, killing at least 432 and wounding 371.
- Nov 10 1954 – U.S. Marine Corps: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicates the USMC War Memorial (Iwo Jima memorial) in Arlington National Cemetery.
- Nov 10 1959 – U.S. Navy: USS Triton (SSRN 586) is commissioned as a nuclear–powered radar picket submarine.
- Nov 10 1964 – Vietnam War Era: At a news conference, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara says that the United States has no plans to send combat troops into Vietnam. When asked whether the United States intended to increase its activities in Vietnam, he replied, “Wait and see.” By 1969, more than 500,000 American troops were in South Vietnam.
- Nov 10 1970 – Vietnam War: For the first time in five years, no U.S. combat fatalities in Southeast Asia are reported for the previous week. This was a direct result of President Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization program, whereby the responsibility for the war was slowly shifted from U.S. combat forces to the South Vietnamese.
- Nov 10 1971 – Vietnam War: Khmer Rouge Forces Attack Phnom Penh Airport » Communist forces bombard the airport at the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, killing 25 persons and wounding 30. This attack was another chapter in the Communist Khmer Rouge war against the government troops of Prime Minister Lon Nol. Nine airplanes were damaged in the attack. At the same time, another Khmer Rouge unit attacked a government radio transmission facility nine miles to the northwest of the city, leaving 19 Cambodians dead. This assault left Phnom Penh without access to international communications networks for several hours.
- Nov 10 1975 – U.S. Navy: The Navy enlisted rating of Intelligence Specialist (IS) is established. Intelligence Specialists analyze intelligence information, present intelligence briefings, prepare planning materials for photographic reconnaissance missions, and maintain intelligence libraries and files amongst their many duties.
- Nov 10 2001 – War On Terrorism: Bush Addresses the U.N. » In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush addresses the United Nations to ask for the international community’s help in combating terrorism around the world. He also pledged to take the fight against terrorism to any place where terrorists were harbored.
In his speech, Bush called the war on terror a case of “light overcoming darkness” and warned that civilization itself was being threatened by those who used terror to achieve their political aims. In a poignant moment, Bush pointed out that only a few miles from United Nations headquarters in New York City “many thousands still lie in a tomb of rubble,” referring to the site where the World Trade Center towers formerly stood. Bush cited the U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan against al-Qaida and the Taliban regime that had sponsored them, begun a month earlier, as proof that the U.S. was fully prepared to attack other nations that harbored or financed terrorist groups. Bush went on to promise that the U.S. would stand by its commitment to peace in the Middle East by “working toward a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders as called for” by the United Nations.
Bush concluded his speech by saying he expected the United Nations member states to live up to their global obligation to help root out terrorist cells. “The cost of inaction is far greater,” he said, and the attacks on 11 SEP proved that “the only alternative is a nightmare world where every city is a potential killing field.” This speech was the first time Bush laid out a policy of pre-emptive action against regimes that sponsored terrorists. He followed up on his threat two years later by sending American troops to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, whom he accused of funding terrorist organizations and developing weapons of mass destruction, though no such weapons were ever found.
- Nov 11 1778 – American Revolutionary War: Cherry Valley Massacre » Patriot Colonel Ichabod Alden refuses to believe intelligence about an approaching hostile force. As a result, a combined force of Loyalists and Native Americans, attacking in the snow, killed more than 40 Patriots, including Alden, and took at least an additional 70 prisoners. The attack took place east of Cooperstown, New York, in what is now Otsego County.
Alden was a New Englander from Duxbury, Massachusetts, who began his military career in the Plymouth militia before serving in the 25th Continental regiment during the siege of Boston that followed the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Alden was then sent to command the 7th Massachusetts Regiment in Cherry Valley, New York, where he was strategically out of his depth in a state deeply divided between Loyalists and Patriots and with a significant Native American military presence. Alden ignored warnings that local natives were planning an attack and left the 200 to 300 men stationed to defend Cherry Valley ill-prepared for the eventual arrival of 600 Iroquois under the adept command of Chief Joseph Brant and 200 men, known as Butler’s Rangers, under the command of Loyalist Major Walter Butler. (The Rangers had been trained by Walter’s father, Colonel John Butler.)
Ironically, on November 11, 1775, exactly three years before this so-called massacre executed by aggrieved Iroquois, the Continental Congress had engaged the missionary Samuel Kirkland to spread the “Gospel amongst the Indians,” and confirm “their affections to the United Colonies… thereby preserving their friendship and neutrality.”
- Nov 11 1813 – War of 1812: Battle of Crysler’s Farm » A force of eight hundred British and Canadian troops led by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph W. Morrison met the American advances into Canada. American Brigadier General Boyd was dispatched with 2,000 men to handle Morrison’s threat. On the evening of 10 NOV, Morrison placed his headquarters at a farmhouse of John Chrysler on the north bank of the St Lawrence. The St. Lawrence on one side and swamps on the other secured his lines. The American forces had no choice but to attack the British line directly. The British held their position and did not fire until the Americas were close. They then opened fire with devastating effect. The American line broke and the assault was over. It was a humiliating defeat for the Americans. The British lost 22 killed and 148 wounded; the Americans 102 killed and 237 wounded.
- Nov 11 1861 – Civil War: Thaddeus Lowe conducts an aerial observation of Confederate positions from balloon boat G.W. Parke Custis. This observation paves the way for the Navy’s present effective use of the air as an element of sea power.
- Nov 11 1864 – Civil War: Sherman’s March to the Sea – Union General William Tecumseh Sherman begins burning Atlanta, Georgia to the ground in preparation for his march south.
- Nov 11 1865 – Civil War: Dr. Mary E. Walker, the first female surgeon in the Union Army, is presented with the Medal of Honor, the first woman to receive that award.
- Nov 11 1870 – U.S Navy: The Navy expedition to explore the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Southern Mexico, commanded by Capt. Robert W. Shufeldt, enters the Coatzacoalcos River to begin a survey for a possible inter–oceanic canal. Support is provided by the gunboat Kansas and the screw tug Mayflower.
- Nov 11 1909 – U.S. Navy: Construction begins on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
- Nov 11 1918 – WW1: World War I Ends » At 11 o’clock in the morning of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the World War I–known at the time as the Great War–comes to an end. People keep dying right up until 11.00 am (and possibly beyond, as some isolated units only discover that the war is over after mid day). There are reports of Allied artillery pieces continuing to fire on the Germans until the very last moment, simply because doing so will save them the bother of bringing the un-used shells home.
By the end of autumn 1918, the alliance of the Central Powers was unraveling in its war effort against the better supplied and coordinated Allied powers. Facing exhausted resources on the battlefield, turmoil on the home front and the surrender of its weaker allies, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire, Germany was finally forced to seek an armistice with the Allies in the early days of November 1918. On 7 NOV, the German chancellor, Prince Max von Baden, sent delegates to Compiegne, France, to negotiate the agreement; it was signed at 5:10 a.m. on the morning of 11 NOV.
Ferdinand Foch, commander in chief of all Allied forces on the Western Front, sent a message by telegraph to all his commanders: “Hostilities will cease on the entire front 11 NOV at 11 a.m. French time.” The commanders ordered the fighting to continue throughout the morning of 11 NOV, prompting later accusations that some men died needlessly in the last few hours of the war. As the historian John Buchan has written of that memorable morning: “Officers had their watches in their hands, and the troops waited with the same grave composure with which they had fought.” As watch hands reached 11, “there came a second of expectant silence, and then a curious rippling sound, which observers far behind the front likened to the noise of a light wind. It was the sound of men cheering from the Vosges [mountains] to the sea.”
The Great War took the life of some 9 million soldiers; 21 million more were wounded. Civilian casualties caused indirectly by the war numbered close to 10 million. The two nations most affected were Germany and France, each of which sent some 80 percent of their male populations between the ages of 15 and 49 into battle. At the peace conference in Paris in 1919, Allied leaders would state their desire to build a post-war world that would safeguard itself against future conflicts of such devastating scale. The Versailles Treaty, signed on June 28, 1919, would not achieve this objective. Saddled with war guilt and heavy reparations and denied entrance into the League of Nations, Germany complained it had signed the armistice under false pretenses, having believed any peace would be a “peace without victory” as put forward by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points speech of January 1918. As the years passed, hatred of the treaty and its authors settled into a smoldering resentment in Germany that would, two decades later, be counted–to an arguable extent–among the causes of the Second World War.
But that would all come later. On November 11, 1918, the dominant emotion for many on and off the battlefield was relief at the coming of peace, mixed with somber mourning for the many lives lost. In a letter written to his parents in the days following the armistice, one soldier–26-year-old Lieutenant Lewis Plush of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF)–eloquently pondered the war’s lasting impact: “There was a war, a great war, and now it is over. Men fought to kill, to maim, to destroy. Some return home, others remain behind forever on the fields of their greatest sacrifice. The rewards of the dead are the lasting honors of martyrs for humanity; the reward of the living is the peaceful conscience of one who plays the game of life and plays it square.”
There are a number of candidates for the last man killed. Near the Meuse river Augustin Trébuchon is bringing a message to frontline troops that hot soup will be served after the armistice comes into effect; then a bullet ends his life at 10.50 am. On the outskirts of Mons, Privates Arthur Goodmurphy and George Laurence Price are so far forward that news of the impending armistice has not reached them. Without orders, they move on further to investigate some abandoned houses. Then Price is shot and killed by a sniper at 10.58 am. American troops taking part in the last stages of the Meuse-Argonne offensive are still fighting this morning but again, as news of the imminent armistice spreads they mostly choose to sit tight until the ceasefire. Private Henry Gunther has other ideas. Previously a sergeant, he was demoted after complaining to a friend in a letter about army conditions, advising him to avoid being drafted. Now he seizes a last chance for glory and makes a solo bayonet charge on a German machine-gun post. The Germans try to wave him away but he keeps coming and fires his gun before the machine guns cut him down, one minute before the armistice takes effect. The last German deaths appear not to have been recorded. In total both sides suffer some 11,000 casualties today, of which roughly 2,700 are fatalities.
World War I was known as the “war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.
- Nov 11 1919 – U.S.A.: Veterans Day » President Wilson proclaims November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926. An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Uniform Monday Holiday Act was signed into law June 28, 1968, and took effect January 1, 1971. The law was designed to increase the number of 3-day weekends for federal employees, which was a goal of the travel industry. It moved Washington’s Birthday (22 FEB) and Memorial Day (30 MAY), from fixed dates to designated Mondays. It also established Columbus Day as a federal holiday designated not on 12 OCT but on a Monday. Labor Day was also moved to the first Monday in SEP. For this reason when it was created Martin Luther King Jr. Day was also scheduled on the third Monday in January. But the law removed Veterans Day from the list of always-on-Monday” holidays, restoring it to its traditional date of 11 NOV, by a different law in 1975.
- Nov 11 1920 – U.S. Navy: Lenah S. Higbee becomes the first woman to be awarded the Navy Cross for her service as a nurse in World War I. Named in her honor, USS Higbee (DD 806) is commissioned in 1945 and is the first U.S. Navy combat ship to bear the name of a female member of U.S. Navy service.
- Nov 11 1921 – Post WW1: Unknown Soldier Interned » On 24 October 1921, U.S. Army Sgt. Edward E. Younger, who was wounded in combat, highly decorated for valor and received the Distinguished Service Medal in the “Great War’ the war to end all wars” selected the unknown soldier of World War I from four identical caskets at the city hall in Chalons-sur-Marne, France. The four unknowns had been exhumed from four World War I cemeteries in France, The chosen unknown soldier was transported to the United States aboard the USS Olympia, then laid in state in the Capital Rotunda until being interned on Armistice Day, November 11, 1921. President Warren G. Harding officiated at the internment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.
The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels. In 1998, a Vietnam War unknown, who was buried at the tomb for 14 years, was disinterred from the Tomb after DNA testing indicated his identity. Air Force Lieutenant Michael Blassie was returned to his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and was buried with military honors, including an F-15 jet “missing man” flyover and a lone bugler sounding taps.
- Nov 11 1942 – WW2: Draft Age is Lowered to 18 » Congress approves lowering the draft age to 18 and raising the upper limit to age 37. In September 1940, Congress, by wide margins in both houses, passed the Burke-Wadsworth Act, and the first peacetime draft was imposed in the history of the United States. The registration of men between the ages of 21 and 36 began exactly one month later. There were some 20 million eligible young men—50 percent were rejected the very first year, either for health reasons or because 20 percent of those who registered were illiterate.
But by November 1942, with the United States now a participant in the war, and not merely a neutral bystander, the draft ages had to be expanded; men 18 to 37 were now eligible. Blacks were passed over for the draft because of racist assumptions about their abilities and the viability of a mixed-race military. But this changed in 1943, when a “quota” was imposed, meant to limit the numbers of blacks drafted to reflect their numbers in the overall population, roughly 10.6 percent of the whole. Initially, blacks were restricted to “labor units,” but this too ended as the war progressed, when they were finally used in combat. By war’s end, approximately 34 million men had registered; 10 million had been inducted into the military.
- Nov 11 1943 – WW2: Task Force 38 and Task Group 50.3 attack Japanese shipping at Rabaul, where the Japanese destroyer Suzunami is sunk and damage is inflicted to enemy destroyers Naganami, Urakaze, and Wakatsuki. This raid is the first use of SB2C Curtiss Helldivers in combat.
- Nov 11 1944 – WW2: USS Scamp (SS–277) sunk by Japanese naval aircraft and Coast Defense Vessel No.4 in Tokyo Bay area. 83 killed.
- Nov 11 1966 – Cold War: Gemini 12 is launched with former aviator Edwin Buzz Aldrin and Cmdr. James A. Lovell, Jr., the command pilot. The mission lasts three days, 22 hours, and 34 minutes and includes 59 orbits at an altitude of 162.7 nautical miles. Recovery is done by HS–11 helicopter from USS Wasp (CVS 18).
- Nov 11 1960 – Vietnam War Era: South Vietnamese Coup Attempt » Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông and Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi of the Airborne Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) made a coup attempt against President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam. The rebels launched the coup in response to Diệm’s autocratic rule and the negative political influence of his brother Ngô Đình Nhu and his sister-in-law Madame Nhu. They also bemoaned the politicization of the military, whereby regime loyalists who were members of the Ngô family’s covert Cần Lao Party were readily promoted ahead of more competent officers who were not insiders. Đông was supported in the conspiracy by his brother-in-law Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Trieu Hong, whose uncle was a prominent official in a minor opposition party. The main link in the coup was Đông’s commanding officer Thi, whom he persuaded to join the plot.
President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam
The coup caught the Ngô family completely off-guard, but was also chaotically executed. The plotters neglected to seal the roads leading into the capital Saigon to seal off loyalist reinforcements, and they hesitated after gaining the initiative. After initially being trapped inside the Independence Palace, Diệm stalled the coup by holding negotiations and promising reforms, such as the inclusion of military officers in the administration. In the meantime, opposition politicians joined the fray, trying to exploit Diệm’s position. However, the president’s real aim was to buy time for loyalist forces to enter the capital and relieve him. The coup failed when the 5th and 7th Divisions of the ARVN entered Saigon and defeated the rebels. More than four hundred people—many of whom were civilian spectators—were killed in the ensuing battle. These included a group of anti-Diệm civilians who charged across the palace walls at Thi’s urging and were cut down by loyalist gunfire.
Đông and Thi fled to Cambodia, while Diệm berated the United States for a perceived lack of support during the crisis. Afterwards, Diệm ordered a crackdown, imprisoning numerous anti-government critics and former cabinet ministers. Those that assisted Diệm were duly promoted, while those that did not were demoted. A trial for those implicated in the plot was held in 1963. Seven officers and two civilians were sentenced to death in absentia, while 14 officers and 34 civilians were jailed. Diệm’s regime also accused the Americans of sending Central Intelligence Agency members to assist the failed plot. When Diệm was assassinated after a 1963 coup, those jailed after the 1960 revolt were released by the new military junta.
- Nov 11 1967 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong Release 3 U.S. POWs » Three U.S. prisoners of war, two of them African American, are released by the Viet Cong in a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. U.S. officials in Saigon said that the released prisoners had been brainwashed, but the State Department denied it. The Viet Cong said that the release was a response to antiwar protests in the U.S. and a gesture towards the courageous struggle of blacks in the U.S
- Nov 11 1967 – Vietnam War: Operation Wheeler and Wallowa merged in Quang Nam and Quang Tin Provinces. The purpose of these operations were to relieve enemy pressure and to reinforce the III Marine Amphibious Force in the area, thus permitting Marines to be deployed further north. The operation lasted more than 12 months and resulted in 10,000 enemy casualties. My Lai Massacre subsequently occurred 16 MAR 1968.
- Nov 11 1968 – Vietnam War: Operation Commando Hunt commences » This operation was designed to interdict Communist routes of infiltration along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, through Laos into South Vietnam. The aerial campaign involved a series of intensive air operations by U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft and lasted until April 1972. During the course of the operation, nearly 3 million tons of bombs fell on Laos. While Communist infiltration was slowed by this campaign, it was not seriously disrupted. Commando Hunt was ultimately considered a failure.
- Nov 11 1970 – Vietnam War: U.S. Army Special Forces raid the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam but find no prisoners.
- Nov 11 1972 – Vietnam War: Long Binh Base Turned Over to South Vietnam » The massive Long Binh military base, once the largest U.S. installation outside the continental United States, is handed over to the South Vietnamese. This logistical complex, which had been constructed on the outskirts of Bien Hoa near the outskirts of Saigon, included numerous ammunition depots, supply depots, and other logistics installations. It served as the headquarters for U.S. Army Vietnam, 1st Logistical Command, and several other related activities. The handing-over of the base effectively marked the end–after seven years–of direct U.S. participation in the war. After the Long Binh base was turned over, about 29,000 U.S. soldiers remained in South Vietnam, most them advisors with South Vietnamese units, or helicopter crewmen, and maintenance, supply, and office staff.
- Nov 11 1982 – Israel*Lebanon: Tyre Headquarters Bombings » After invading Lebanon in June 1982, the Israeli military set up command posts to run the cities they occupied. On 11 NOV, a Peugeot car packed with explosives struck the seven-story building being used by the Israeli military to govern Tyre. The explosion leveled the building and killed 75 Israeli soldiers, border policemen, and Shin Bet agents. In addition, anywhere from 14–27 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners that were being held by Israel were killed. Twenty-seven Israelis and 28 Arabs were injured. The Israeli government said soon after the blast, and insists to this day, that the explosion was an accident resulting from gas cylinders exploding. This is contrary to the three witnesses who saw the Peugeot speed to the building, the identification of the car’s parts in the rubble of the building, and the existence of a Shin Bet report detailing the Hezbollah preparations for the bombing.
Almost a year later, a nearly identical bombing happened in Tyre. On November 4, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a pickup truck filled with explosives into a Shin Bet building at an army base in Tyre. The explosion killed 28 Israelis and 32 Lebanese prisoners, and wounded about 40 others
- Nov 11 1993 – Post Vietnam War: A sculpture (Vietnam Women’s Memorial) honoring women who served in the Vietnam War is dedicated at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
- Nov 12 1864 – Civil War: Destruction of Atlanta, GA Begins » On this day in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman orders the business district of Atlanta, Georgia, destroyed before he embarks on his famous March to the Sea.
When Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864, he knew that he could not remain there for long. His tenuous supply line ran from Nashville, Tennessee, through Chattanooga, Tennessee, then one hundred miles through mountainous northern Georgia. The army he had just defeated, the Army of Tennessee, was still in the area and its leader, John Bell Hood, swung around Atlanta to try to damage Sherman’s lifeline. Of even greater concern was the Confederate cavalry of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a brilliant commander who could strike quickly against the railroads and river transports on which Sherman relied.
During the fall, Sherman conceived of a plan to split his enormous army. He sent part of it, commanded by General George Thomas, back toward Nashville to deal with Hood while he prepared to take the rest of the troops across Georgia. Through October, Sherman built up a massive cache of supplies in Atlanta. He then ordered a systematic destruction of the city to prevent the Confederates from recovering anything once the Yankees had abandoned it. By one estimate, nearly 40 percent of the city was ruined. Sherman would apply to the same policy of destruction to the rest of Georgia as he marched to Savannah. Before leaving on November 15, Sherman’s forces had burned the industrial district of Atlanta and left little but a smoking shell.
- Nov 12 1867 – Native Americans: U.S. Reconsiders War With Plains Indians » After more than a decade of ineffective military campaigns and infamous atrocities, a conference begins at Fort Laramie to discuss alternative solutions to the “Indian problem” and to initiate peace negotiations with the Sioux.
The United States had been fighting periodic battles with Sioux and Cheyenne tribes since the 1854. That year, the Grattan Massacre inspired loud calls for revenge, though largely unjustified, against the Plains Indians. Full-scale war erupted on the plains in 1864, leading to vicious fighting and the inexcusable Sand Creek Massacre, during which Colorado militiamen killed 105 Cheyenne women and children who were living peacefully at their winter camp. By 1867, the cost of the war against the Plains Indians, the Army’s failure to achieve decisive results, and news of atrocities like those at Sand Creek turned the American public and U.S. Congress against the Army’s aggressive military solution to the “Indian problem.”
Concluding that peaceful negotiations were preferable to war, the attendees at the Fort Laramie conference initiated talks with the Sioux. The talks bore results the following year when U.S. negotiators agreed to abandon American forts on the Bozeman Trail in Wyoming and Montana, leaving the territory in the hands of the Sioux.
However, the promise of peace on the central plains was fleeting. Concern about wars between the different Indian tribes led the U.S. to renege on its promise to provide guns to the Cheyenne, and the angry Indians took revenge on Kansas settlements by killing 15 men and raping five women. By late 1868, American soldiers were again preparing for war on the Plains.
- Nov 12 1912 – U.S. Navy: First Successful Launch of An Airplane By Catapult » Theodore Ellyson, nicknamed “Spuds”, was the first United States Navy officer designated as an aviator (“Naval Aviator No. 1”). He served in the experimental development of aviation in the years before and after World War I. He also spent several years before the war as part of the Navy’s new submarine service. He was a recipient of the Navy Cross for his antisubmarine service in World War I,
On 12 NOV he was at the controls for the first successful catapult launch of the Curtis A-1 “Flying Boat” from an anchored barge at the Washington Navy Yard. This was an important early step toward flying airplanes from ships and led to the development of aircraft carriers. His flying career distinctions also included the first night flight in a Navy airplane in 1911 and first long-distance flight by a Navy airman in 1911 (112 miles in two hours and two minutes – a nonstop distance record for hydroplanes).
Commander Ellyson was killed on 27 February 1928, his 43rd birthday, in the crash of a Loening OL-7 aircraft in the lower Chesapeake Bay while on a night flight from Norfolk, Virginia, to Annapolis, Maryland. His body washed ashore and was recovered in April 1928. Ironically, his plane came ashore at the same site his predecessor, Eugene Ely, landed his aircraft in November 1910 after the first successful takeoff from a naval vessel. Ellyson was buried in the Naval Academy Cemetery, in Annapolis.
- Nov 12 1933 – Germany: Nazis receive 92% of vote in Germany
- Nov 12 1940 – U.S. Navy: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold R. Stark, submits the memorandum to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox with four war plans if the United States enters World War II. Stark recommends the fourth war plan, Plan Dog, calling for a strong offensive in the Atlantic and defense in the Pacific.
- Nov 12 1942 – WW2: Lt. Cmdr. Bruce McCandless displays superb initiative by assuming command of the USS San Francisco (C-38) during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal after all other personnel on the navigating and signal bridges were rendered unconscious, killed, or wounded. McCandless boldy continues to engage the enemy, leading the San Francisco to victory. He is later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
- Nov 12 1942 – WW2: The Naval battle of Guadalcanal begins in the Solomon’s with Japanese air attacks on U.S. ships bringing reinforcements to the embattled island. Over the next four days, Japan loses the battleships Hiei and Kirishima, heavy cruiser Kinugasa, three destroyers and many valuable transports. Two U.S. light cruisers, Atlanta and Juneau, and seven destroyers are sunk. Japan’s losses weaken their ability to strengthen their garrison on Guadalcanal, enabling the U.S. to shift from the defensive to the offensive in this campaign.
- Nov 12 1943 – WW2: PB4Y–1 (VB–103) sinks German submarine U–508 in the Bay of Biscay. Prior to this, U–508 sank 14 Allied vessels, including the American merchant SS Nathaniel Hawthorne Nov. 7, 1942
- Nov 12 1943 – WW2: President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarks on USS Iowa (BB 61) to attend the Allied conferences at Tehran, Iran, and Cairo.
- Nov 12 1944 – WW2: Operation Catechism » A British air raid that destroyed the German battleship Tirpitz. It was conducted by 29 Royal Air Force heavy bombers that attacked the battleship at its anchorage near the Norwegian city of Tromsø. Each bomber dropped a 12,000-pound Tallboy bomb. The ship capsized after being hit by at least two and damage by the explosions of others, killing between 940 and 1,204 members of the crew. The British did not suffer any casualties. The attack ended a long-running series of air and naval operations against Tirpitz that sought to eliminate the threat she posed to Allied shipping. The battleship had been moved to the Tromsø area in October 1944 after being crippled on 15 SEP during Operation Paravane. This attack had been carried out by the RAF’s elite Nos. 9 and 617 Squadrons, who unsuccessfully attempted to strike Tirpitz again at Tromsø on 29 OCT during Operation Obviate.
Operation Catechism re-used the plans for Operation Obviate, and was conducted by the same squadrons. The aircraft departed from bases in northern Scotland and, due to clear weather conditions, the Commonwealth airmen were able to accurately target and bomb the battleship. The bombers were unmolested by a unit of German fighter aircraft that failed to take off from nearby Tromsø in time. One bomber was significantly damaged by anti-aircraft artillery. Tirpitz capsized within minutes of being hit. The German forces in the Tromsø area endeavoured to rescue the surviving members of Tirpitz’s crew. Within two hours, 596 had swum to shore or been rescued from the water. Others were trapped in air pockets within the wreck. These men were doomed unless they were able to move to what was once the bottom of the ship, and be rescued before their air supply ran out.
Shortly after Tirpitz capsized, parties of sailors climbed onto the hull and painted marks on locations where they heard signs of life. Acetylene torches were needed to cut into the thick hull, and none were initially available. Local Norwegian civilians who owned torches hid them, and only one could be found. A total of 87 men were rescued from within the hull in the 24 hours after the attack. Cutting continued for two further days, and was finally abandoned when it was assessed that the oxygen supply inside the wreck would have been exhausted; no survivors were recovered during this period.
Several German military personnel were convicted of dereliction of duty following the attack. The battleship’s destruction was celebrated in Allied countries and Norway, and is commemorated by several memorials and displays in museums. Ironically, the mighty Tirpitz fired its guns only once in aggression during the entire extent of the war-against a British coaling station on the island of Spitsbergen.
- Nov 12 1948 – Post WW2: Japanese War Criminals Sentenced » An international war crimes tribunal in Tokyo passes death sentences on seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, who served as premier of Japan from 1941 to 1944.
Eight days before, the trial ended after 30 months with all 25 Japanese defendants being found guilty of breaching the laws and customs of war. In addition to the death sentences imposed on Tojo and others principals, such as Iwane Matsui, who organized the Rape of Nanking, and Heitaro Kimura, who brutalized Allied prisoners of war, 16 others were sentenced to life imprisonment. The remaining two of the 25 defendants were sentenced to lesser terms in prison.
Unlike the Nuremberg trial of German war criminals, where there were four chief prosecutors representing Great Britain, France, the United States, and the USSR, the Tokyo trial featured only one chief prosecutor–American Joseph B. Keenan, a former assistant to the U.S. attorney general. However, other nations, especially China, contributed to the proceedings, and Australian judge William Flood Webb presided. In addition to the central Tokyo trial, various tribunals sitting outside Japan judged some 5,000 Japanese guilty of war crimes, of whom more than 900 were executed.
- Nov 12 1951 – Korean War: The U.S. Eighth Army is ordered to cease offensive operations and begin an active defense.
- Nov 12 1969 – Vietnam War: My Lai Massacre » Seymour Hersh, an independent investigative journalist, in a cable filed through Dispatch News Service and picked up by more than 30 newspapers, reveals the extent of the U.S. Army’s charges against 1st Lt. William L. Calley at My Lai. Hersh wrote: “The Army says he [Calley] deliberately murdered at least 109 Vietnamese civilians during a search-and-destroy mission in March 1968, in a Viet Cong stronghold known as ‘Pinkville.’”
The incident, which became known as the My Lai Massacre, took place in March 1968. Between 200 and 500 South Vietnamese civilians were murdered by U.S. soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. During a sweep of the cluster of hamlets known as My Lai 4, the U.S. soldiers–particularly those from Calley’s first platoon–indiscriminately shot people as they ran from their huts, and then systematically rounded up the survivors, allegedly leading them to a ditch where Calley gave the order to “finish them off.”
The original investigation–which had been conducted in April 1968 by members of the 11th Infantry Brigade, the unit involved in the affair–concluded that no massacre had occurred and that no further action was warranted. However, when the cover-up was discovered, the Army Criminal Investigation Division conducted a new investigation. Additionally, Army Chief of Staff William C. Westmoreland appointed Lt. Gen. William R. Peers to “explore the nature and scope” of the original investigation to determine the extent of the cover-up. He found that 30 persons either participated in the atrocity or knew of it and failed to do anything about it. In the end, only 14 were charged with crimes. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted, except Calley, who was found guilty of murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, Calley’s sentence was eventually reduced and he was released from prison in 1974.
- Nov 12 1971 – Vietnam War: Nixon Sets New Deadline for Next Troop Withdrawal » President Richard Nixon sets February 1, 1972, as the deadline for the withdrawal of an additional 45,000 U.S. troops. U.S. troop withdrawals had begun in the fall of 1969. After the February withdrawals were complete, the total U.S. force strength in South Vietnam was 139,000. Nixon said that most offensive activities were now being undertaken entirely by the South Vietnamese and that U.S. ground forces were “now in defensive positions.” He further stated that 80 percent of the forces that were in Vietnam when he took office had come home, and that American casualties had dropped to less than 10 a week.
- Nov 12 1979 – U.S.*Iran: Carter Shuts down Oil Imports from Iran » President Jimmy Carter responds to a potential threat to national security by stopping the importation of petroleum from Iran.
Earlier that month, on November 4, 66 Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran had been taken hostage by a radical Islamic group. The alarming event led Carter and his advisors to wonder if the same or other terrorist groups would try to strike at American oil resources in the region. At the time, the U.S. depended heavily on Iran for crude oil and Carter’s cultivation of a relationship with Iran’s recently deposed shah gave the radicals cause, in their view, to take the Americans hostage. Not knowing if future attacks were planned involving American oil tankers or refineries, Carter agreed with the Treasury and Energy Departments that oil imports from Iran should be discontinued immediately. This ended America’s formerly friendly association with the oil-rich nation.
The U.S. and Iran had previously enjoyed a healthy diplomatic relationship; Carter had even enlisted the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s help in reconvening peace talks between Israel and Egypt. Carter also sought Iran’s help in supporting nuclear non-proliferation talks with the Soviet Union. Carter and the shah affirmed their desire to collaborate on alternative energy and oil conservation. He even once toasted Iran under the shah as “an island of stability” in the Middle East.
While Carter and the shah planned closer collaboration on energy issues and the Middle East peace process, an Islamic revolution was brewing in Iran. The shah, who was reviled by the revolutionaries as catering to evil Western influences, was deposed in January 1979 and replaced by a clerical regime led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. In October 1979, the exiled shah came to the United States for cancer treatment. Carter’s hospitality toward the shah enraged the group of radical Iranian students who, on November 4, stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 66 Americans hostage. The ensuing hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days, eroded Carter’s popularity and he lost his bid for re-election to Republican Ronald Reagan. Reagan went on to serve as president from 1980 to 1988.
Nov 12 1979 – Cold War: Yuri Andropov Assumes Power in the Soviet Union » Following the death of long-time Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev two days earlier, Yuri Andropov is selected as the new general secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. It was the culmination of a long, but steady march up the Communist Party hierarchy for Andropov.
Born in Russia in 1914, by the 1930s Andropov was an active participant in the Communist Youth League. During World War II, he led a group of guerilla fighters who operated behind Nazi lines. His work led to various positions in Moscow, and in 1954, he was named as Soviet ambassador to Hungary. During the Hungarian crisis of 1956, Andropov proved his reliability. He lied to Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy about Soviet military intentions, and later assured Nagy that he was safe from Soviet reprisals. Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest in November 1956 and Nagy was captured and executed in 1958.Andropov’s work in Hungary brought him back to Moscow, where he continued to rise through the ranks of the Communist Party. In 1967, he was named head of the KGB, Russia’s secret police force. A hard-liner, he supported the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and oversaw the crackdown on dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn.
In 1982, with Brezhnev deathly ill and fading fast, Andropov left the KGB and began jockeying for power. When Brezhnev died on November 10, 1982, Andropov was poised to assume power. He was named general secretary on 12 NOV. His rule was short-lived, but eventful. At home, he tried to reinvigorate the flagging Russian economy and attacked corruption and rising alcoholism among the Soviet people. In his foreign policy, Andropov faced off against the adamantly anticommunist diplomacy of President Ronald Reagan. Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were severely strained when Soviet pilots shot down a Korean airliner in September 1983. Later that year, Soviet diplomats broke off negotiations concerning reductions in Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces and the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START). Andropov had suffered from nearly debilitating illnesses since early 1983, and died on February 9, 1984. He was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko.
Nov 13 1762 – Pre American Revolution: Treaty of Fontainebleau » This was a secret agreement in which France ceded Louisiana to Spain. The treaty followed the last battle in the French and Indian War in North America, the Battle of Signal Hill in September 1762, which confirmed British control of Canada. In Europe, the associated Seven Years’ War continued to rage. Having lost Canada, King Louis XV of France proposed to King Charles III of Spain that France should give Spain “the country known as Louisiana, as well as New Orleans and the island in which the city is situated.” Charles accepted on November 13, 1762.
This agreement covered all of Louisiana: the entire valley of the Mississippi River, from the Appalachians to the Rockies. The Treaty of Fontainebleau was kept secret even during the French negotiation and signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war with Britain. The Treaty of Paris, made between France and Great Britain following the Seven Years’ War, divided Louisiana at the Mississippi. The eastern half was ceded to Britain, and the western half and New Orleans were nominally retained by France. Spain did not contest Britain’s control of eastern Louisiana, as it already knew that it would rule in western Louisiana. Also, under the Treaty of Paris, Spain had ceded Florida to Britain for which western Louisiana was its compensation.
The Treaty of Paris provided a period of 18 months in which French colonists who did not want to live under British rule could freely immigrate to other French colonies. Many of the emigrants moved to Louisiana, where they discovered later that France had ceded Louisiana to Spain. The cession to Spain was finally revealed in 1764. In a letter dated April 21, 1764, Louis informed the governor, Jean-Jacques Blaise d’Abbadie, of the transition: Hoping, moreover, that His Catholic Majesty will be pleased to give his subjects of Louisiana the marks of protection and good will which only the misfortunes of war have prevented from being more effectual.
The colonists in western Louisiana did not accept the transition and expelled the first Spanish governor in the Rebellion of 1768. Alejandro O’Reilly, an Irish émigré, suppressed the rebellion and formally raised the Spanish flag in 1769. The acquisition of Louisiana consolidated the Spanish Empire in North America. When Great Britain returned Florida to Spain in 1783, after the American Revolutionary War, Spanish territory completely encircled the Gulf of Mexico and stretched from Florida west to the Pacific Ocean, and north to Canada west of the Mississippi River.
- Nov 13 1775 – American Revolution Era: Patriots take Montreal » Continental Army Brigadier General Richard Montgomery takes Montreal, Canada, without opposition. Montgomery’s victory owed its success in part to Ethan Allen’s disorganized defeat at the hand of British General and Canadian Royal Governor Guy Carleton at Montreal on September 24, 1775. Allen’s misguided and undermanned attack on Montreal led to his capture by the British and imprisonment in Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, England. Although a failure in the short term, Allen’s attack had long-term benefits for the Patriots. Carleton had focused his attention on suppressing Allen’s attack, while refusing reinforcements to Fort St. Jean, to which Montgomery’s expedition laid siege from 21 AUG to November 3, 1775. Fort St. Jean’s commander, Major Charles Preston, surrendered on 3 NOV, fearful of the hardship the town’s civilians would face during a winter under siege. With the final fortification between Montgomery and Montreal in Patriot hands and Carleton’s defenses depleted by the conflict with Allen, Montgomery’s forces entered Montreal with ease on 13 NOV.
After Montgomery’s success at winning Montreal for the Patriots, Carleton escaped and fled to Quebec City, where he and Montgomery would, in December, again face one another in a climatic battle that would determine the fate of the Patriot invasion of Canada. Facing the year-end expiration of their troops’ enlistment, Patriot forces advanced on Quebec under the cover of a blizzard at approximately 4 a.m. on December 31, 1775. The British defenders under Carleton were ready, however, and when Montgomery’s forces came within 50 yards of the city’s fortifications, the British opened fire with a barrage of artillery and musket fire. Montgomery was killed in the first assault, and after several more attempts at penetrating Quebec’s defenses, his men were forced to retreat.
Meanwhile, Colonel Benedict Arnold’s division suffered a similar fate during their attack on the northern wall of the city. A two-gun battery opened fire on the advancing Americans, killing a number of troops and wounding Benedict Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan assumed command and made progress against the defenders, but halted at the second wall of fortifications to wait for reinforcements. By the time the rest of Arnold’s army finally arrived, the British had reorganized, forcing the Patriots to call off their attack. Of the 900 Americans who participated in the siege, 60 were killed or wounded and more than 400 were captured.
The remaining Patriot forces then retreated from Canada. Benedict Arnold remained in Canadian territory until the last of his soldiers had crossed the St. Lawrence River to safety. With the pursuing British forces almost in firing range, Arnold checked one last time to make sure all his men had escaped, then shot his horse and fled down the St. Lawrence in a canoe. Carleton had successfully snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and secured Canada for the British Empire.
- Nov 13 1776 – American Revolutionary War: The Continental Navy ship Alfred, commanded by John Paul Jones, along with Continental sloop Providence, commanded by Hoysted Hacker, capture the British transport Mellish, carrying winter uniforms later used by Gen. George Washington’s troops. Three days later, Alfred captures the British brig Hetty off the New England coast.
- Nov 13 1835 – Texas: Texas officially proclaims its independence from Mexico, and calls itself the Lone Star Republic, after its flag, until its admission to the Union in 1845.
- Nov 13 1860 – Civil War Era: South Carolina’s legislature calls a special convention to discuss secession from the Union.
- Nov 13 1861 – Civil War: McClellan Snubs Lincoln » President Abraham Lincoln pays a late night visit to General George McClellan, who Lincoln had recently named general in chief of the Union army. The general retired to his chambers before speaking with the president.
This was the most famous example of McClellan’s cavalier disregard for the president’s authority. Lincoln had tapped McClellan to head the Army of the Potomacâ, the main Union army in the Eastâ in July 1861, after the disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia. McClellan immediately began to build an effective army, and was elevated to general in chief after Winfield Scott resigned that fall. McClellan drew praise for his military initiatives but quickly developed a reputation for his arrogance and contempt toward the political leaders in Washington, D.C. After being named to the top army post, McClellan began openly associating with Democratic leaders in Congress and showing his disregard for the Republican administration. To his wife, McClellan wrote that Lincoln was “nothing more than a well-meaning baboon,” and Secretary of State William Seward was an “incompetent little puppy.”
Lincoln made frequent evening visits to McClellan’s house to discuss strategy. On 13 NOV, Lincoln, Seward, and presidential secretary John Hay stopped by to see the general. McClellan was out, so the trio waited for his return. After an hour, McClellan came in and was told by a porter that the guests were waiting. McClellan headed for his room without a word, and only after Lincoln waited another half-hour was the group informed of McClellan’s retirement to bed. Hay felt that the president should have been greatly offended, but Lincoln replied that it was “better at this time not to be making points of etiquette and personal dignity.” Lincoln made no more visits to the general’s home. In March 1862, the president removed McClellan as general in chief of the army.
- Nov 13 1897 – Germany: The first metal dirigible is flown from Tempelhof Field in Berlin. It landed but then collapsed.
- Nov 13 1916 – WW1 Era: Battle of the Ancre (13-18 NOV) » The battle was fought by the English Fifth Army against the German 1st Army. The battle was the final large British attack of the Battle of the Somme. Their attack was to fulfil complementary objectives. Political discontent in London would be muted by a big victory, as would doubts of British commitment by its allies and British loyalty to the Chantilly strategy of 1915 would be upheld. The capture of Beaumont Hamel and Serre would go some way to redeem the failure of 1 JUL and obtain ground on which the British would have a tactical advantage.
The attack was the largest in the British sector since September and had a seven-day preliminary bombardment, which was twice as heavy as that of 1 JUL. It cut the wire on most of the attack front and destroyed many German defensive positions, except the dugouts built deep below the villages near the front-line. Each morning the British simulated an attack, which sapped the alertness of the defenders. Beaumont Hamel, St Pierre Divion and Beaucourt were captured, which threatened the German hold on Serre further north. The enemy was surprised and beaten. Four German divisions had to be relieved due to the number of casualties they suffered and over 7,000 German troops were taken prisoner.
- Nov 13 1941 – WW2: A German U-boat, the U-81, torpedoes Great Britain’s premier aircraft carrier, the HMS Ark Royal. The ship sinks the next day.
- Nov 13 1941 – WW2: Congress Revises the Neutrality Act » The United States Congress amends the Neutrality Act of 1935 to allow American merchant ships access to war zones, thereby putting U.S. vessels in the line of fire. In anticipation of another European war, and in pursuit of an isolationist foreign policy, Congress passed the Neutrality Act in August 1935, forbidding the sale of munitions by U.S. firms to any and all belligerents in any future war. This was a not-so-subtle signal to all governments and private industries, domestic and foreign, that the United States would play no part in foreign wars. Less than two years later, a second Neutrality Act was passed, forbidding the export of arms to either side in the Spanish Civil War.
The original 1935 act was made even more restrictive in May 1937, forbidding not only arms and loans to warring nations, but giving the president of the United States the authority to forbid Americans from traveling on ships of any warring nation, to forbid any U.S. ship from carrying U.S. goods, even nonmilitary, to a belligerent, and to demand that a belligerent nation pay for U.S. nonmilitary goods before shipment–a “cash and carry” plan. But such notions of strict neutrality changed quickly once World War II began. The first amendment to the act came as early as September 1939; President Roosevelt, never happy with the extreme nature of the act, fought with Congress to revise it, allowing for the sale of munitions to those nations under siege by Nazi Germany. After heated debate in a special session, Congress finally passed legislation permitting such sales. Addressing the prospect of direct U.S. intervention in the war, President Roosevelt proclaimed, also in September 1939, that U.S. territorial waters were a neutral zone, and any hostile power that used those waters for the prosecution of the war would be considered “unfriendly” and “offensive.”
Finally, when the U.S. destroyer Reuben James was sunk by a German sub in October 1941, the Neutrality Act was destined for the dustbin of history. By November, not only would merchant ships be allowed to arm themselves for self-defense, but they would also be allowed to enter European territorial waters. America would no longer stand aloof from the hostilities.
- Nov 13 1942 – WW2: Minimum draft age lowered from 21 to 18 in the US.
- Nov 13 1942 – WW2: Naval Battle of Guadalcanal – U.S. and Japanese ships engage in an intense, close–quarters surface naval engagement during the Battle of Guadalcanal on Friday the 13th.
- Nov 13 1942 – WW2: All five Sullivan brothers are lost when the USS Juneau (CL-52) is destroyed during the naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
- Nov 13 1942 – WW2: Cmdr. Herbert E. Schonland, Rear Adm. Norman Scott, Boatswains Mate First Class Reinhardt J. Keppler, and Capt. Daniel J. Callaghan courageously fight enemy forces during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Schonland later receives the Medal of Honor for his actions, while Scott, Keppler, and Callaghan posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for their actions.
- Nov 13 1942 – WW2: Gunners Mate Third Class Kenneth J. Spangenberg is killed on board USS San Francisco in the Battle of Savo Island and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. .
- Nov 13 1944 – WW2: Aircraft from Carrier Task Groups 38.1, 38.3, and 38.4 attack Japanese shipping and port facilities at Manila and central Luzon.
- Nov 13 1945 – WW2: Truman Announces Inquiry into Jewish Settlement in Palestine » President Harry Truman announces the establishment of a panel of inquiry to look into the settlement of Jews in Palestine.
In the last weeks of World War II, the Allies liberated one death camp after another in which the German Nazi regime had held and slaughtered millions of Jews. Surviving Jews in the formerly Nazi-occupied territories were left without family, homes, jobs or savings. In August 1945, Truman received the Harrison report, which detailed the plight of Jews in post-war Germany, and it became clear to him that something had to be done to speed up the process of finding Jewish refugees a safe place to live.
In late August, Truman contacted British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to propose that Jewish refugees be allowed to immigrate to Palestine, which at the time was occupied by Britain. Attlee responded that he would look into the matter and asked for a joint Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry to examine the complicated issue of integrating Jewish settlers into territory that was home to an Arab majority. Meanwhile, two U.S. senators introduced a resolution in Congress demanding the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
In April 1946, the committee issued its report, which recommended the immigration of 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine. Truman wrote to Attlee for his help in moving the repatriation process forward. However, by mid-1946, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had weighed in, bringing up the question of who would control the lucrative oil fields in a region that had the potential for unstable political and cultural relations between Jews and Arabs. Since the threat of communist expansion into politically unstable regions then dictated most of U.S. foreign policy, Truman and Attlee became convinced by their respective military advisors that Jewish communist sympathizers in a new Jewish state might jeopardize the west’s access to Middle Eastern oil. The settlement plans were put on hold.
Truman was again inundated with requests for help from the Jewish community. The issue of the establishment of a Jewish state was debated and delayed for another two years even though the newly formed United Nations, which had no enforcement power without the participation of the United States and Great Britain, had decided in favor of a Jewish state by 1946.
- Nov 13 1947 – Russia: The Soviets complete the development of the AK-47. Conceived as an intermediate rifle for Soviet foot soldiers, the AK-47 becomes the prototype of the modern assault rifle.
- Nov 13 1952 – Korea: USS Toledo (CA 133) carries out Operation “Counter–Punch” against Kojo gun emplacements. Three direct hits are reported.
- Nov 13 1957 – Cold War: The first firing of a Regulus II bombardment missile takes place at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
- Nov 13 1967 – Vietnam War: President Receives Optimistic Reports » President Lyndon Johnson is briefed on the situation in Vietnam by Gen. William Westmoreland, Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, and Robert W. Komer, the head of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support program. They painted an optimistic picture that led Johnson to state on television on 17 NOV that, while much remained to be done, “We are inflicting greater losses than we’re taking…We are making progress.” Such pronouncements haunted President Johnson and his advisers only two months later, when the communists launched a massive offensive during the Tet New Year holiday in January 1968.
- Nov 13 1969 – Vietnam War: “March Against Death” » In Washington D.C., as a prelude to the second moratorium against the war scheduled for the following weekend, protesters stage a symbolic “March Against Death.” The march began at 6 p.m. and drew over 45,000 participants, each with a placard bearing the name of a soldier who had died in Vietnam. The marchers began at Arlington National Cemetery and continued past the White House, where they called out the names of the dead. The march lasted for two days and nights. This demonstration and the moratorium that followed did not produce a change in official policy–although President Nixon was deeply angered by the protests, he publicly feigned indifference and they had no impact on his prosecution of the war.
- Nov 13 1982 – Post Vietnam War: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is Dedicated » Near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.
The designer of the memorial was Maya Lin, a Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument. Lin, born in Ohio in 1959, was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Many veterans’ groups were opposed to Lin’s winning design, which lacked a standard memorial’s heroic statues and stirring words. However, a remarkable shift in public opinion occurred in the months after the memorial’s dedication. Veterans and families of the dead walked the black reflective wall, seeking the names of their loved ones killed in the conflict. Once the name was located, visitors often made an etching or left a private offering, from notes and flowers to dog tags and cans of beer.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial soon became one of the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. A Smithsonian Institution director called it “a community of feelings, almost a sacred precinct,” and a veteran declared that “it’s the parade we never got.” “The Wall” drew together both those who fought and those who marched against the war and served to promote national healing a decade after the divisive conflict’s end.
- Nov 13 1997 – Middle East: Iraq expelled U.S. weapons inspectors causing the United Nations to halt its search for Saddam Hussein’s dangerous weapons and America’s envoy to the United Nations to warn of “grave consequences” if Iraq’s defiance continues.
- Nov 13 2001 – War on Terrorism: In the first such act since World War II, US President George W. Bush signs an executive order allowing military tribunals against foreigners suspected of connections to terrorist acts or planned acts on the United States.
- Nov 13 2002 – Middle Est: Iraq agrees to UN Resolution 1441 » On 8 NOV, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous 15–0 vote; Russia, China, France, and Arab states such as Syria voted in favor, giving Resolution 1441 wider support than even the 1990 Gulf War resolution. The resolution offered Iraq under Saddam Hussein “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations” that had been set out in several previous resolutions. It provided a justification for what was subsequently termed the US invasion of Iraq.
The Resolution stated that Iraq was in material breach of the ceasefire terms presented under the terms of Resolution 687. Iraq’s breaches related not only to weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but also the known construction of prohibited types of missiles, the purchase and import of prohibited armaments, and the continuing refusal of Iraq to compensate Kuwait for the widespread looting conducted by its troops during the 1990–1991 invasion and occupation. It also stated that “…false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations.”
Iraq agreed to the Resolution on 13 NOV. Weapons inspectors returned on 27 NOV led by Hans Blix of UNMOVIC and Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The inspectors had been absent from Iraq since December 1998 when they were withdrawn immediately prior to Operation Desert Fox. Inspectors began visiting sites where WMD production was suspected, but found no evidence of such activities, except for 18 undeclared 122mm chemical rockets that were destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision. As was discovered after the invasion of Iraq, no production of WMDs was taking place, and no stockpiles existed. U.N. inspectors also found that the Al-Samoud 2 and Al-fatah missiles violated U.N. range restrictions, the former also being partially destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision.
- Nov 13 2015 – War On Terrorism: Paris, France » A series of coordinated terrorist attacks took place in Paris, France and the city’s northern suburb, Saint-Denis. Beginning at 21:16 CET, three suicide bombers struck outside the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, during a football match. This was followed by several mass shootings and a suicide bombing, at cafés and restaurants. Gunmen carried out another mass shooting and took hostages at an Eagles of Death Metal concert in the Bataclan theatre, leading to a stand-off with police. The attackers were shot or blew themselves up when police raided the theatre.
The attackers killed 130 people, including 90 at the Bataclan theatre. One traumatized survivor committed suicide in November 2017, two years after the event, and was recognized as 131st victim. Another 413people were injured, almost 100 seriously. Seven of the attackers also died while the authorities continued to search for accomplices. The attacks were the deadliest in France since the Second World War, and the second deadliest in the European Union since the Madrid train bombings in 2004. France had been on high alert since the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices and a Jewish supermarket in Paris that killed 17 people and wounded 22, including civilians and police officers.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying that it was retaliation for the French airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq. The President of France at the time, François Hollande, said the attacks were an act of war by ISIL. The attacks were planned in Syria and organized by a terrorist cell based in Belgium. Most of the Paris attackers had French or Belgian citizenship, two were Iraqis, and some had fought in Syria. Some of them had entered Europe among the flow of migrants and refugees.
In response to the attacks, a three-month state of emergency was declared across the country to help fight terrorism, which involved the banning of public demonstrations, and allowing the police to carry out searches without a warrant, put anyone under house arrest without trial and block websites that encouraged acts of terrorism. On 15 NOV, France launched the biggest airstrike of Opération Chammal, its contribution to the anti-ISIL bombing campaign, striking ISIL targets in Raqqa. On 18 NOV, the suspected lead operative of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a police raid in Saint-Denis, along with two others.
- Nov 14 1776 – American Revolutionary War: Benjamin Franklin Takes Sides » The St. James Chronicle of London carries an item announcing “The very identical Dr. Franklyn [Benjamin Franklin], whom Lord Chatham [former leading parliamentarian and colonial supporter William Pitt] so much caressed, and used to say he was proud in calling his friend, is now at the head of the rebellion in North America.”
Benjamin Franklin, joint postmaster general of the colonies (1753-1774), and his son William traveled to London together in 1757. There, for the next five years, William studied law, and Franklin studied social climbing. They had remarkable success for a candle-maker’s son and his illegitimate progeny. By the end of their sojourn, William had become an attorney and received an honorary Master of Arts from Oxford University, while his father reveled in honorary doctorates from Oxford and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The elder Franklin’s plans for his son’s advancement succeeded, and his son won the choicest of appointments, a royal governorship, in 1762.
Franklin then accompanied his son from London to Pennsylvania, only to return to London as Pennsylvania’s agent in 1764, where he lobbied for the placement of the colony under direct royal control. He soon added Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts to the list of colonies for which he served as spokesperson in Parliament.
In 1775, Franklin returned to America as the American Revolution approached; he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and, in 1776, signed the Declaration of Independence. Ironically, his son William came out on the side of the British during the War of Independence and was imprisoned while serving as the Loyalist governor of New Jersey.
- Nov 14 1862 – Civil War: Lincoln Approves Plan to Capture Richmond » President Abraham Lincoln approves of General Ambrose Burnside’s plan to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. This was an ill-fated move, as it led to the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia in December 1862, in which the Army of the Potomac was dealt one of its worst defeats at the hands of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Lincoln approved Burnside’s plan just five days after Burnside assumed command of the army. The general had replaced George McClellan, who led the force for more than a year. McClellan’s tenure was marked by sharp disagreements with the administration and sluggishness in the field. Although McClellan was successful against Lee at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland on September 17, 1862, Lincoln removed him from command because of McClellan’s reluctance to attack the Confederate army in Virginia.
After McClellan was removed, Burnside stepped up to take his shot at Lee. His plan called for the Army of the Potomac to move some 40 miles to Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. From there, his troops would advance south to the Confederate capital of Richmond. Lincoln appreciated the fact that Burnside’s plan protected Washington, D.C. In spring 1862, McClellan had sailed the army down the Chesapeake Bay and landed it on the James Peninsula for an attempt on Richmond, a move that left the Union capital dangerously exposed. However, Lincoln and general in chief Henry Halleck were concerned that Burnside was focused solely on capturing Richmond; they believed that the goal should be to destroy Lee’s army. However, Burnside’s plan was an improvement over McClellan’s operations.
Lincoln approved the plan but warned Burnside that action needed to be taken quickly. By early December, Burnside had the army in motion. When the Yankees reached Fredericksburg, however, they experienced delays in crossing the Rappahannock, which allowed Lee to move his forces into place above the city. On 13 DEC, Burnside made a series of doomed attacks and the Army of the Potomac suffered one of the most costly and demoralizing defeats of the war.
- Nov 14 1864 –Civil War: Acting Master Lothrop Wight and Acting Ensign Frederick W. Mintzer explore Confederate naval dispositions above Dutch Gap on James River, Va. Work on the Dutch Gap would allow Union gunboats to bypass the obstructions at Trents Reach. Wight and Mintzer provide valuable information regarding the positions of the Confederate ships and troops.
- Nov 14 1882 – Westward Expansion: Billy “The Kid” Claiborne Killed » The gunslinger Franklin “Buckskin” Leslie shoots the Billy “The Kid” Claiborne dead in the streets of Tombstone, Arizona. The town of Tombstone is best known today as the site of the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. In the 1880s, however, Tombstone was home to many gunmen who never achieved the enduring fame of Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday. Franklin “Buckskin” Leslie was one of the most notorious of these largely forgotten outlaws.
There are few surviving details about Leslie’s early life. At different times, he claimed to have been born in both Texas and Kentucky, to have studied medicine in Europe, and to have been an army scout in the war against the Apache Indians. No evidence has ever emerged to support or conclusively deny these claims. The first historical evidence of Leslie’s life emerges in 1877, when he became a scout in Arizona. A few years later, Leslie was attracted to the moneymaking opportunities of the booming mining town of Tombstone, where he opened the Cosmopolitan Hotel in 1880. That same year he killed a man named Mike Killeen during a quarrel over Killeen’s wife, and he married the woman shortly thereafter.
Leslie’s reputation as a cold-blooded killer brought him trouble after his drinking companion and fellow gunman John Ringo was found dead in July 1882. Some Tombstone citizens, including a young friend of Ringo’s named Billy “The Kid” Claiborne, were convinced that Leslie had murdered Ringo, though they could not prove it. Probably seeking vengeance and the notoriety that would come from shooting a famous gunslinger, Claiborne unwisely decided to publicly challenge Leslie, who shot him dead.
The remainder of Leslie’s life was equally violent and senseless. After divorcing Killeen in 1887, he took up with a Tombstone prostitute, whom he murdered several years later during a drunken rage. Even by the loose standards of frontier law in Tombstone, the murder of an unarmed woman was unacceptable, and Leslie served nearly 10 years in prison before he was paroled in 1896. After his release, he married again and worked a variety of odd jobs around the West. He reportedly made a small fortune in the gold fields of the Klondike region before he disappeared forever from the historical record.
- Nov 14 1906 – President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first president to visit a foreign country while in office, traveling to Panama onboard USS Louisiana (BB 19).
- Nov 14 1910 – U.S. Navy: First Shipboard Plane Flight » Civilian Eugene Ely pilots the first aircraft to take–off from a warship, at Hampton Roads, VA. Ely took off in a Curtiss Pusher from a temporary platform erected over the bow of the light cruiser USS Birmingham (CL02). The airplane plunged downward as soon as it cleared the 83-foot platform runway; and the aircraft wheels dipped into the water before rising. Ely’s goggles were covered with spray, and the aviator promptly landed on a beach rather than circling the harbor and landing at the Norfolk Navy Yard as planned. John Barry Ryan, head of the U.S. Aeronautical Reserve, offered $500 to build the platform, and a $500 prize, for a ship to shore flight.
Two months later, on January 18, 1911, Ely landed his Curtiss Pusher airplane on a platform on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania anchored in San Francisco Bay. Ely flew from the Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno, California and landed on the Pennsylvania, which was the first successful shipboard landing of an aircraft. This flight was also the first ever using a tailhook system, designed and built by circus performer and aviator Hugh Robinson. Ely communicated with the United States Navy requesting employment, but United States naval aviation was not yet organized
- Nov 14 1914 – WWI Era: Ottoman Empire Declares a Holy War » In Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire, the religious leader Sheikh-ul-Islam declares an Islamic holy war on behalf of the Ottoman government, urging his Muslim followers to take up arms against Britain, France, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro in World War I.
By the time the Great War broke out in the summer of 1914, the Ottoman Empire was faltering, having lost much of its once considerable territory in Europe with its defeat in the First Balkan War two years earlier. Seeking to ally themselves with one of the great European powers to help safeguard them against future loss, the ambitious Ottoman leaders–members of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), known collectively as the Young Turks–responded favorably to overtures made by Germany in August 1914. Though Germany and Turkey secretly concluded a military alliance on August 2, the Turks did not officially take part in World War I until several months later. On October 29, the Ottoman navy–including two German ships, Goeben and Breslau, which famously eluded the British navy in the first week of the war to reach Constantinople–attacked Russian ports in the Black Sea, marking the beginning of Turkey’s participation in the war.
The sheikh’s declaration of a holy war, made two weeks later, urged Muslims all over the world–including in the Allied countries–to rise up and defend the Ottoman Empire, as a protector of Islam, against its enemies. “Of those who go to the Jihad for the sake of happiness and salvation of the believers in God’s victory,” the declaration read, “the lot of those who remain alive is felicity, while the rank of those who depart to the next world is martyrdom. In accordance with God’s beautiful promise, those who sacrifice their lives to give life to the truth will have honor in this world, and their latter end is paradise.”
- Nov 14 1916 – WWI Era: The Battle of the Somme ends. Casualties and losses: Allies 623,907 – GER 465.000
- Nov 14 1940 – WW2 Era: Coventry Blitz (14 NOV 1940 – 03 AUG 1942) » At the start of the Second World War, Coventry was an industrial city of around 238,000 people which, like much of the industrial West Midlands, contained metal and wood-working industries. In Coventry’s case, these included cars, bicycles, aeroplane engines and, since 1900, munitions factories. In the words of the historian Frederick Taylor, “Coventry was therefore, in terms of what little law existed on the subject, a legitimate target for aerial bombing”. There were 17 small raids on Coventry by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain between August and October 1940 during which around 198 tons of bombs fell. Together, the raids killed 176 people and injured around 680.
The raid that began on the evening of 14 November 1940 was the most severe to hit Coventry during the war. It was carried out by 515 German bombers, from Luftflotte 3 and from the pathfinders of Kampfgruppe 100. The attack, code-named Operation Moonlight Sonata, was intended to destroy Coventry’s factories and industrial infrastructure, although it was clear that damage to the rest of the city, including monuments and residential areas, would be considerable. The initial wave of 13 specially modified Heinkel He 111 aircraft of Kampfgruppe 100, which were equipped with X-Gerät navigational devices, accurately dropped marker flares at 19:20. The British and the Germans were fighting the Battle of the Beams and on this night the British failed to disrupt the X-Gerät signals. German bombers dropped 500 tons of explosives, 33,000 incendiary bombs, and dozens of parachute mines on the industrial city. In one night, more than 4,300 homes in Coventry were destroyed and around two-thirds of the city’s buildings were damaged. The raid was heavily concentrated on the city center, most of which was destroyed. Two hospitals, two churches and a police station were also damaged. In the aftermath of the raid an estimated 568 people were killed (the exact figure was never precisely confirmed), with another 863 badly injured and 393 sustaining lesser injuries.
On the night of 8/9 April 1941 Coventry was subject to another large air raid when 230 bombers attacked the city, dropping 315 tons of high explosive and 25,000 incendiaries. In this and another raid two nights later on 10/11 April about 451 people were killed and over 700 seriously injured. Damage was caused to many buildings including some factories, the central police station, the Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital, King Henry VIII School, and St. Mary’s Hall. The main architectural casualty of the raid was Christ Church, most of which was destroyed, leaving only the spire. The final air raid came on 3 August 1942, in the Stoke Heath district approximately one mile to the east of the city centre. Six people were killed. By the time of this air raid, some 1,236 people had been killed by air raids on Coventry
- Nov 14 1941 – WW2: Holocaust » German forces engaged in Operation Barbarossa cordoned off Slonim Ghetto and took 9,000 of its Jewish occupants by lorries to the village of Czepielów where they were shot in the pits by rifle fire. The ghettoized Jews were fully aware of the progress of the massacre because a few prisoners escaped back. During the course of the operation, the Ghetto’s collaborationist Belarusian Auxiliary Police forced the Jews out of their homes and convoyed them to Czepielów under armed escort. They also took part in the shooting by the SS, aided by the Latvian and Lithuanian auxiliaries. After the mass killings, they actively searched for the Jews in hiding. Afterwards only 7,000 skilled workers remained alive inside the ghetto, all bound into the forced labor process. The testimonies, written by the Jewish-Polish survivors, are currently held at the Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
- Nov 14 1941 – WW2: British aircraft carrier Ark Royal sinks in Mediterranean, having been torpedoed by a German submarine the day before. She sank under tow by the British tug HMS Thames with almost all of her aircraft about 25 nautical miles east of Gibraltar.
- Nov 14 1942 – WW2: Last Vichy-French troops in Algeria surrender.
- Nov 14 1943 – WW2: USS Narwhal (SS 167) delivers 46 tons of ammunition and stores, disembarks a Navy officer at Nasipit, Mindanao and embarks 32 evacuees, which include eight women, two children, and a baby, who are transported to Darwin, Australia.
- Nov 14 1944 – WW2: USS Jack (SS 259) attacks a Japanese convoy off Cape Padaran, French Indochina and sinks the freighter Hinaga Maru, while USS Raton (SS 270) attacks a Japanese convoy off the northwest coast of Luzon and sinks the merchant tanker No.5 Unkai Maru. Lastly, USS Ray (SS 271) sinks Japanese Coast Defense Vessel No.7 65 miles northwest of Cape Bolinao.
- Nov 14 1951 – Cold War: U.S. Gives Military and Economic Aid to Communist Yugoslavia » In a surprising turn of events, President Harry Truman asks Congress for U.S. military and economic aid for the communist nation of Yugoslavia. This aid was granted. The action was part of the U.S. policy to drive a deeper wedge between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.
Yugoslavia ended World War II with the communist forces of Josip Broz Tito in control. The United States supported him during the war when his group battled against the Nazi occupation. In the postwar period, as Cold War hostilities set in, U.S. policy toward Yugoslavia hardened. Tito was viewed as simply another tool of Soviet expansion into eastern and southern Europe. In 1948, however, Tito openly broke with Stalin, though he continued to proclaim his allegiance to the communist ideology. Henceforth, he declared, Yugoslavia would determine and direct its own domestic and foreign policies without interference from the Soviet Union. U.S. officials quickly saw a propaganda opportunity in the fallout between the former communist allies. Although Tito was a communist, he was at least an independent communist who might prove a useful ally in Europe.
To curry favor with Tito, the United States supported Yugoslavia’s efforts in 1949 to gain a seat on the prestigious Security Council at the United Nations. Yugoslavia proved to be a Cold War wild card, however. Tito gave tacit support to the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, but harshly criticized the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. While the United States admired Tito for his independent stance, he could sometimes be a bit too independent. During the 1950s and 1960s he encouraged and supported the nonalignment movement among Third World nations, a policy that concerned American officials who were intent on forcing those nations to choose sides in the East-West struggle. Relations between the United States and Yugoslavia warmed considerably after Tito’s denunciation of the Czech intervention, but cooled again when he sided with the Soviets during the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1973. Tito died in 1980.
- Nov 14 1951 – Vietnam War Era: French paratroopers capture Hoa Binh, Vietnam.
- Nov 14 1951 – Cuba: President Dwight Eisenhower orders U.S. naval units into the Caribbean after Guatemala and Nicaragua charge Castro with starting uprisings.
- Nov 14 1956 – Hungary*Russia: Hungarian Revolt Put down by Soviet Invasion » This was a nationwide revolution against the Hungarian People’s Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 OCT till 10 NOV. Leaderless at the beginning, it was the first major threat to Soviet control since the Red Army drove Nazi Germany from its territory at the End of World War II in Europe.
The revolt began as a student protest, which attracted thousands as they marched through central Budapest to the Hungarian Parliament building, calling out on the streets using a van with loudspeakers. A student delegation, entering the radio building to try to broadcast the students’ demands, was detained. When the delegation’s release was demanded by the protesters outside, they were fired upon from within the building by the State Security Police, known as the ÁVH (acronym for Államvédelmi Hatóság, literally “State Protection Authority”). One student died and was wrapped in a flag and held above the crowd. This was the start of the next phase of the revolution. As the news spread, disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital.
The revolt spread quickly and the government collapsed. Thousands organized themselves into militias, battling the ÁVH and Soviet troops. During the revolt there were violent incidents, some local leaders and ÁVH members were lynched or captured, while former political prisoners were released and armed. Radical impromptu workers’ councils wrested municipal control from the ruling Hungarian Working People’s Party and demanded political change.
The new government of Imre Nagy formally disbanded the ÁVH, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. By the end of October, fighting had almost stopped, and the days of normality began to return. Initially appearing open to negotiating a withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Politburo changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution. On 4 NOV, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country. The Hungarian resistance continued until 10 NOV. Over 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months thereafter. By January 1957, the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition. These Soviet actions, while strengthening control over the Eastern Bloc, alienated many Western Marxists, leading to splits and/or considerable losses of membership for communist parties in capitalist states.
- Nov 14 1960 – U.S. Navy: The first submarine with nuclear missiles, the USS George Washington, takes to sea from Charleston, South Carolina.
- Nov 14 1961 – Vietnam War: President Kennedy increases the number of American advisors in Vietnam from 1,000 to 16,000.
- Nov 14 1962 – Cuba: Cuba threatens to down U.S. planes on reconnaissance flights over its territory.
- Nov 14 1965 – Vietnam War: US government sends 90,000 soldiers to Vietnam.
- Nov 14 1965 – Vietnam War: Major Battle Erupts in the Ia Drang Valley » In the first major engagement of the war between regular U.S. and North Vietnamese forces, elements of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) fight a pitched battle with Communist main-force units in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands.
On this morning, Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore’s 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry conducted a heliborne assault into Landing Zone X-Ray near the Chu Pong hills. Around noon, the North Vietnamese 33rd Regiment attacked the U.S. troopers. The fight continued all day and into the night. American soldiers received support from nearby artillery units and tactical air strikes. The next morning, the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment joined the attack against the U.S. unit. The fighting was bitter, but the tactical air strikes and artillery support took their toll on the enemy and enabled the 1st Cavalry troopers to hold on against repeated assaults.
At around noon, two reinforcing companies arrived and Colonel Moore put them to good use to assist his beleaguered soldiers. By the third day of the battle, the Americans had gained the upper hand. The three-day battle resulted in 834 North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed, and another 1,000 communist casualties were assumed.
In a related action during the same battle, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, was ambushed by North Vietnamese forces as it moved overland to Landing Zone Albany. Of the 500 men in the original column, 150 were killed and only 84 were able to return to immediate duty; Company C suffered 93 percent casualties, half of them deaths.
Despite these numbers, senior American officials in Saigon declared the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley a great victory. The battle was extremely important because it was the first significant contact between U.S. troops and North Vietnamese forces. The action demonstrated that the North Vietnamese were prepared to stand and fight major battles even though they might take serious casualties. Senior American military leaders concluded that U.S. forces could wreak significant damage on the communists in such battles–this tactic lead to a war of attrition as the U.S. forces tried to wear the communists down. The North Vietnamese also learned a valuable lesson during the battle: by keeping their combat troops physically close to U.S. positions, U.S. troops could not use artillery or air strikes without risking injury to American troops. This style of fighting became the North Vietnamese practice for the rest of the war.
- Nov 14 1967 – Vietnam War: Marine General Killed in Vietnam » Maj. Gen. Bruno Hochmuth, commander of the 3rd Marine Division, is killed when the helicopter in which he is travelling is shot down. He was the most senior U.S. officer to be killed in action in the war to date.
- Nov 14 1968 – Vietnam War: “National Turn in Your Draft Card Day” features draft card burning.
- Nov 14 1969 – Vietnam War: A quarter of a million anti-Vietnam War demonstrators march in Washington, D.C.
- Nov 14 1972 – Vietnam War: Nixon Promises Thieu that U.S. Will Continue to Support South Vietnam » One week after his re-election, President Richard Nixon extends to South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu his “absolute assurance” that the United States will “take swift and severe retaliatory action” if Hanoi violates the pending cease-fire once it is in place.
Thieu responded with a list of 69 amendments that he wanted added to the peace agreement being worked out in Paris. Nixon instructed Henry Kissinger to present Le Duc Tho, the senior North Vietnamese negotiator in Paris, with Thieu’s amendments. Kissinger protested that the changes were “preposterous” and might destroy chances for the treaty. Despite Kissinger’s concerns, the indication that the peace accords were near completion resulted in the Dow Jones closing above 1,000 for first time. In the end, however, Kissinger was correct and the peace talks became deadlocked and were not resumed until after Nixon ordered the December bombing of North Vietnam.
- Nov 14 1979 – Middle East: US President Jimmy Carter freezes all Iranian assets in the United States in response to Iranian militants holding more than 50 Americans hostage.
- Nov 14 1988 – Palestine: The Palestinian National Council proclaims an independent State of Palestine.
- Nov 14 2001 – Afghanistan: Northern Alliance Afghan fighters take over the capital Kabul.
- Nov 15 1777 – U.S. Revolutionary War: Articles of Confederation Adopted » After 16 months of debate, the Continental Congress, sitting in its temporary capital of York, Pennsylvania, agrees to adopt the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union on this day in 1777. Not until March 1, 1781, would the last of the 13 states, Maryland, ratify the agreement.
In 1777, Patriot leaders, stinging from British oppression, were reluctant to establish any form of government that might infringe on the right of individual states to govern their own affairs. The Articles of Confederation, then, provided for only a loose federation of American states. Congress was a single house, with each state having one vote, and a president elected to chair the assembly. Although Congress did not have the right to levy taxes, it did have authority over foreign affairs and could regulate a national army and declare war and peace. Amendments to the Articles required approval from all 13 states. On March 2, 1781, following final ratification by the 13th state, the Articles of Confederation became the law of the land.
Less than five years after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, enough leading Americans decided that the system was inadequate to the task of governance that they peacefully overthrew their second government in just over 20 years. The difference between a collection of sovereign states forming a confederation and a federal government created by a sovereign people lay at the heart of debate as the new American people decided what form their new government would take.
In 1787, an extra-legal body met in seclusion during Philadelphia’s summer heat to create this new government. On March 4, 1789, the modern United States was established when the U.S. Constitution formally replaced the Articles of Confederation. Between 1776 and 1789, Americans went from living under a sovereign king, to living in sovereign states, to becoming a sovereign people. That transformation defined the American Revolution.
- NOV 15 1827 – Native Americans: Creek-Indians Lose All Their Property » The Creek Nation was once one of the largest and most powerful Indian groups in the Southeast. At their peak, the Creeks controlled millions of acres of land in the present-day states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Much of this land, however, was lost or stolen as the federal government sought land for white settlement after the American Revolution. Creek lands were taken through cessions in treaties, through scams by land speculators, through outright theft by squatters, and also through clandestine arrangements between Creek headmen and federal agents. By 1836, most Creeks had relocated voluntarily or been forced to remove to Indian Territory, as the present-day state of Oklahoma was known at the time.
On February 12, 1825, Coweta headman William McIntosh signed the Treaty of Indian Springs, which ceded all the Lower Creek land in Georgia and a large tract in Alabama to the federal government. In return, McIntosh and his followers received $200,000 and land in present-day Oklahoma. On January 24, 1826, the Treaty of Indian Springs was nullified, and Creek leaders signed the Treaty of Washington, marking the only time that a ratified treaty with an Indian nation was overturned. The Treaty of Washington restored Creek land within Alabama but allowed the state of Georgia to keep ceded Creek lands. The Treaty of Cusseta, signed in March 1832, traded the Creeks’ sovereign claim to their land in exchange for legal title to their land. Parcels of 640 acres for chiefs and 320 acres for everyone else were issued to Creek families, who could then sell them or remain on them for as long as they wished. Despite the appeal of land reserves, the Treaty of Washington failed to accomplish almost all of the goals it set out to achieve.
Whites continued to encroach on Creek land, and when Creeks tried to sell their reserves they often were cheated by unscrupulous land speculators.
- Nov 15 1864 – Civil War: Sherman’s March to the Sea (15 Nov – 21 Dec) » Union General William T. Sherman begins his expedition across Georgia by torching the industrial section of Atlanta and pulling away from his supply lines. For the next six weeks, Sherman’s army destroyed most of the state before capturing the Confederate seaport of Savannah, Georgia.
Sherman captured Atlanta in early September 1864 after a long summer campaign. He recognized his vulnerability in the city, however, as his supply lines stretched all the way from Nashville, Tennessee. Confederate raiders such as Nathan Bedford Forrest threatened to cut his lines, and Sherman had to commit thousands of troops to protect the railroads and rivers that carried provisions for his massive army. Sherman split his army, keeping 60,000 men and sending the rest back to Nashville with General George Thomas to deal with the remnants of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee, the force Sherman had defeated to take Atlanta.
After hearing that President Abraham Lincoln had won re-election on 8 NOV, Sherman ordered 2,500 light wagons loaded with supplies. Doctors checked each soldier for illness or injuries, and those who were deemed unfit were sent to Nashville. Sherman wrote to his general in chief, Ulysses S. Grant, that if he could march through Georgia it would be “proof positive that the North can prevail.” He told Grant that he would not send couriers back, but to “trust the Richmond papers to keep you well advised.” Sherman loaded the surplus supplies on trains and shipped them back to Nashville. On 15 NOV, the army began to move, burning the industrial section of Atlanta before leaving. One witness reported “immense and raging fires lighting up whole heavens… huge waves of fire roll up into the sky; presently the skeleton of great warehouses stand out in relief against sheets of roaring, blazing, furious flames.” Sherman’s famous destruction of Georgia had begun.
At the end of this campaign his troops captured Savannah on December 21, 1864. Sherman then dispatched a famous message to Lincoln, offering him the city as a Christmas. Sherman’s success in Georgia received ample coverage in the Northern press at a time when Grant seemed to be making little progress in his fight against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. A bill was introduced in Congress to promote Sherman to Grant’s rank of lieutenant general, probably with a view towards having him replace Grant as commander of the Uni on Army. Sherman wrote both to his brother, Senator John Sherman, and to General Grant vehemently repudiating any such promotion present. According to a war-time account, it was around this time that Sherman made his memorable declaration of loyalty to Grant: General Grant is a great general. I know him well. He stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk; and now, sir, we stand by each other always.
- Nov 15 1917 – WWI: USS Cassin (DD 43) is torpedoed by German submarine U 61 off the coast of Ireland. In trying to save the ship, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Osmond Kelly Ingram is killed. Ingram is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism and, in 1919, becomes the first enlisted man to have a ship named for him.
- Nov 15 1917 – WWI: Georges Clemenceau Named French Prime Minister » With his country embroiled in a bitter international conflict that would eventually take the lives of over 1 million of its young men, 76-year-old Georges Clemenceau is named prime minister of France for the second time.
The young Clemenceau was first elected to parliament in 1876, five years after France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. From that time on, he considered the newly united Germany a menace and another war as inevitable, given that “Germany believes that the logic of her victory means domination.” With a strong rate of industrial growth and a steadily increasing population, Germany pressed its advantage in the ensuing decades, while France’s economy remained static and its birth rate remained in decline. Clemenceau, who served as prime minister from 1906 to 1909, remained vehemently anti-German, arguing for greater military preparedness and tighter alliances with Britain and Russia.
Clemenceau’s predictions were confirmed in the summer of 1914 with the outbreak of World War I. Three prime ministers–Rene Viviani, Aristide Briand and Paul Painleve–served during the first three years of the war, as the continuing carnage on the battlefield combined with internal turmoil to bring the country’s morale to an all-time low. In November 1917, President Raymond Poincare put aside his personal dislike for “The Tiger”–as Clemenceau was known–and asked him to return as prime minister. Despite a long history of animosity between the two men, Poincare recognized that Clemenceau shared his desire to defeat Germany at all costs, and had the will to carry that desire to its end in spite of defeatist factions within the French government who called for an immediate end to the war.
Immediately after taking office, Clemenceau had his most vocal pacifist opponent, Joseph Caillaux, arrested and charged with treason; he subsequently vowed no surrender, telling the chamber of deputies that France’s only duty now was “to cleave to the soldier, to live, to suffer, to fight with him.” Over the next year, Clemenceau would hold his country together through the darkest days of the war and finally into the light: In November 1918, when he heard the Germans had agreed to an armistice, the old Tiger broke down in tears.
At the peace conference in Paris in 1919, Clemenceau stood alongside U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain as the three central negotiators. Clemenceau personally disliked both men, once famously remarking that he sometimes felt himself “between Jesus Christ on the one hand, and Napoleon Bonaparte on the other.” He especially clashed with Wilson, whom he viewed as far too idealistic in his view of the post-war world. Though Clemenceau successfully insisted that the Versailles Treaty require German disarmament and stiff reparations, as well as the return to France of the territories of Alsace-Lorraine, lost in the Franco-Prussian War, he remained dissatisfied with the treaty in its final form, believing it treated Germany too leniently. Many in the French electorate agreed, and in January 1920 they rejected their old hero as prime minister. In his subsequent retirement, Clemenceau published his memoirs, The Grandeur and Misery of Victory, in which he predicted another war with Germany would break out by 1940. He died on November 24, 1929, in Paris.
- Nov 15 1942 – WW2: The Battle of Guadalcanal ends in a decisive Allied victory.
- Nov 15 1943 – WW2: USS Tullibee (SS 284) attacks a 10–ship Japanese convoy in Formosa Strait and sinks the transport Chicago Maru.
- Nov 15 1943 – Holocaust: Himmler Orders Gypsies to Concentration Camps » Heinrich Himmler makes public an order that Gypsies and those of mixed Gypsy blood are to be put on “the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps.” Himmler was determined to prosecute Nazism racial policies, which dictated the elimination from Germany and German-controlled territories all races deemed “inferior,” as well as “asocial” types, such as hardcore criminals. Gypsies fell into both categories according to the thinking of Nazi ideologues and had been executed in droves both in Poland and the Soviet Union. The order of November 15 was merely a more comprehensive program, as it included the deportation to Auschwitz of Gypsies already in labor camps.
That Himmler would promulgate such a program should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his resume. As head of the Waffen-Schutzstaffel (“Armed Black Shirts”), the SS, the military arm of the Nazi Party, and assistant chief of the Gestapo (the secret police), Himmler was able over time to consolidate control over all police forces of the Reich. This power grab would prove highly effective in carrying out the Fuhrer’s Final Solution. It was Himmler who organized the creation of death camps throughout Eastern Europe and the creation of a pool of slave laborers.
- Nov 15 1948 – U.S. Navy: The first women officers on active duty are sworn in as commissioned officers in the Regular Navy under the Womens Armed Services Integration Act of June 1948 by Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan. The women are Capt. Joy B. Hancock, Lt. Cmdr. Winifred R. Quick, Lt. Cmdr. Anne King, Lt. Cmdr. Frances L. Willoughby, Lt. Ellen Ford, Lt. Doris Cranmore, Lt. j.g. Doris A. Defenderfer, and Lt. j.g. Betty Rae Tennant.
- Nov 15 1955 – U.S. Navy: The Navy sets the world speed record for the 500 km closed circuit course at Muroc, Calif. when Lt. Gordon Gray flies an A–4D Skyhawk at 695.163 mph.
- Nov 15 1957 – Cold War: Nikita Khrushchev Challenges U.S. to a Missile “Shooting Match” » In a long and rambling interview with an American reporter, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev claims that the Soviet Union has missile superiority over the United States and challenges America to a missile “shooting match” to prove his assertion. The interview further fueled fears in the United States that the nation was falling perilously behind the Soviets in the arms race.
The interview elicited the usual mixture of boastful belligerence and calls for “peaceful coexistence” with the West that was characteristic of Khrushchev’s public statements during the late 1950s. He bragged about Soviet missile superiority, claiming that the United States did not have intercontinental ballistic rockets; “If she had,” the Russian leader sneered, “she would have launched her own sputnik.” He then issued a challenge: “Let’s have a peaceful rocket contest just like a rifle-shooting match, and they’ll see for themselves.”
Speaking about the future of East-West relations, Khrushchev stated that the American and Soviet people both wanted peace. He cautioned, however, that although the Soviet Union would never start a war, “some lunatics” might bring about a conflict. In particular, he noted that Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had created “an artificial war psychosis.” In the case of war, it “would be fought on the American continent, which can be reached by our rockets.” NATO forces in Europe would also be devastated, and Europe “might become a veritable cemetery.” While the Soviet Union would “suffer immensely,” the forces of communism would ultimately destroy capitalism. Khrushchev’s remarks came just a few days after the Gaither Report had been leaked to the press in the United States. The report supported many of the Russian leader’s contentions, charging that the United States was falling far behind the Soviets in the arms race. Critics of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s foreign policy, particularly from the Democratic Party, went on the attack. The public debate concerning the alleged “missile gap” between U.S. and Soviet rocket arsenals continued through the early 1960s and was a major issue in the 1960 presidential campaign between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
- Nov 15 1960 – Cold War: The first submarine with nuclear missiles, USS George Washington, takes to sea from Charleston, South Carolina.
- Nov 15 1965 – Vietnam War: U.S. Naval Support Activity Da Nang is established. During the Vietnam War, it becomes the U.S. Navy’s largest overseas logistics command. In 1973, U.S. Naval Support Activity Da Nang is disestablished.
- Nov 15 1966 – Vietnam War: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Heckled at University » Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses a gathering at Brown University and approximately 60 students walk out to protest his defense of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Some of those who remained shouted and heckled Wheeler, while others attempted to storm the stage. Outside, over 100 students continued the protest.
- Nov 15 1969 – Vietnam War: Second Anti-War Moratorium » Following a symbolic three-day “March Against Death,” the second national “moratorium” opens with mass demonstrations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Organized by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (“New Mobe”), an estimated 500,000 demonstrators rallied in Washington as part of the largest such rally to date. It began with a march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Washington Monument, where a mass rally and speeches were held. Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and four different touring casts of the musical “Hair” entertained the demonstrators.
Later, violence erupted when police used tear gas on radicals who had split off from the main rally to march on the Justice Department. The crowd of about 6,000, led by members of the Youth International Party (“Yippies”), threw rocks and bottles and burned U.S. flags. Almost 100 demonstrators were arrested.
The largest protest outside Washington was held in San Francisco, where an estimated 250,000 people demonstrated (above). Antiwar demonstrations were also held in a number of major European cities, including Frankfurt, Stuttgart, West Berlin, and London. The largest overseas demonstration occurred in Paris, where 2,651 people were arrested.
- Nov 15 1969 – Cold War: The Soviet submarine K–19 collides with the American submarine USS Gato in the Barents Sea.
- Nov 15 1993 – U.S. Navy: USS Hurricane (PC 3) is commissioned at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. The Cyclone–class patrol craft is the first Navy ship to be named Hurricane. Originally homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., the patrol craft moved to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va. in 2005 and is now homeported at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
- Nov 15 1994 – U.S. Navy: USS Zephyr (PC 8) is commissioned at Corpus Christi, Texas. The Cyclone–class patrol craft is the first to be named for a light wind from the west. The patrol craft is operated by the Coast Guard in 2004, responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire in 2010. Zephyr is returned to the Navy in 2011 and is now homeported in Mayport, Fla.
- Nov 15 2017 – Argentine Navy: ARA San Juan Missing » The Argentine submarine San Juan had a seven-day supply of air when it last reported its position on 15 NOV. The crew of 44, including Argentina’s first female submarine officer, had been ordered to return to a naval base at Mar del Plata on the country’s east coast, after reporting water had entered the vessel through its snorkel which had leaked into the forward storage batteries the day before, which ignited a fire. After quenching the fire, the crew disconnected the forward batteries. The submarine continued to move powered by the aft batteries, The 34 year old San Juan was some 270 miles off Argentina’s Patagonian coast when it sent its last signal.
Ocean Infinity, a maritime company that can search and map the seabed, was hired by Argentina following the failure of a massive international operation to find the vessel in the South Atlantic. On November 16, 2018 they located the imploded San Juan 2625 feet below the ocean’s surface. Photographs were released showing the shattered remains of the submarine broken up on the seabed. The pictures show the imploded pressure hull, with the bow section, sail and propellers scattered in an area of 8,000 square meters.