Friday, 31 May 2013

Random Ad - Mailgear (1974)

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Unfortunately an eager letter to Mailgear will no longer get you a stylish plastic, sorry PVC jacket and blonde lady looking up your right nostril. Note the lack of a web address, it was snail-mail all the way in those days. Try Google'ing Mailgear now and it seems to be all about something called online war-gaming, which the guy in the photo looks to me like an enthusiast.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Random Cutting - Huw Weldon dies (1986)

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Sir Huw Weldon died in March 1986 and is best remembered as a BBC producer of mainly arts programmes, especially ‘Monitor’ in which he used the talents of young film-makers like John Schlesinger and Ken Russell. He was also the Managing Director of the BBC from 1968 until 1975.


Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Shroud of Turin

Daily Sketch dated Monday March 7th 1955
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This is very much a personal view by Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC and offers no scientific evidence for or against the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.  In 1954 Cheshire, having been inspired by a photo of the Shroud face while recuperating from tuberculosis, toured Britain with an exhibition of Shroud photographs.
Extensive scientific tests were carried out on the Shroud in October 1979 and in 1988 radiocarbon dating was done on some samples of the cloth, the results of which indicated that the shroud was no older than the 13th Century. Some authorities claimed that the samples were from a medieval repair rather than the original Shroud material, so the controversy continues but one mystery remains, apart from whether it is the image of Jesus or not, how was it made? 

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The shooting of Arthur Leonard by men from the Ulster Special Constabulary aka B-Specials was widely condemned in Southern Ireland as murder by trigger happy part-time policemen. The USC had been formed as a reserve police force to be used only at times of heightened threat against Northern Ireland. The IRA Cross-Border Campaign of 1955 - 1962 was one such time.

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No CCTV, cash payments for everything and a description that would fit hundreds if not thousands of men, I think even Fabian of the Yard would have been scratching his head. I can’t find any follow up to this story.

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Canadian born Paul Carpenter was a stage and radio actor, a familiar face in British cinema from 1946 and on TV from 1953 until his death in 1964 when he collapsed in his theatre dressing room at the age of 46. 

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Beniamino Gigli was an Italian opera singer whose career lasted from 1914 until this worldwide farewell tour in 1955. He died in 1957.

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Leonard John Coley was tried for the murder of his half-sister Irene but I can’t find out what happened to him. The trial records at the National Archive are closed until 2030. He is not on the list of 12 people (11 men and Ruth Ellis) that were hung in 1955.

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It’s the mid-1950’s so there must be a reference to UFO’s. Mr Girvan’s ‘Flying Saucers and Commonsense’ can be picked up on Amazon UK for as little as £3.76 or as much as £86.46. George Adamski claimed to have photographed UFO’s and even to have had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with a Venusian called Orthon.

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This very disparaging review is of Peter Ustinov’s play ‘The Moment of Truth’ which, after a short theatre run, was made for TV and starred Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance. By one of those coincidences that make you look over your shoulder fearfully, it just happens that the play is being revived in the theatre for the first time from June 26Click to Readth until July 20th 2013 at the Southwark Playhouse. 

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One of the lesser-known cartoon strips ‘Harry’ about which I can find no information except that it ran in the Sketch from at least 1953 until 1955. I’m not sure that the visual ‘joke’ works but I do admire the draughtsmanship.

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Apparently there was a crisis in British football in March 1955 and I seem to have missed it. Ah well, not to worry. Someone might find this story interesting.





Friday, 24 May 2013

Random Ad - Road Safety (1940's)

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There was a significant increase in the number of people killed or injured on British roads during World War 2 mainly due to the blackout. In 1940 and 1941 there were more road deaths (8609 and 9169) than in any other year since records started in 1926 until the present day.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Random Cutting - Women's olympic Games (1926)

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Not to be confused with the 1924 Olympic Games held in Paris, this was the the Women's Olympic Games held in 1926 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The all women event was held 4 times from 1922 until 1934. In '32 and '34 they were called the Women's World Games. They were set up as an alternative to the official Olympics which were perceived to be too male dominated.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

France signs Armistice

Sunday Express dated Sunday June 23rd 1940

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What doesn't show on these scans is that between the top and bottom halves of the front page there are a couple of lines of text missing due to the fold being badly frayed and split. This is what happens when old papers, particurarly broadsheets, are stored folded.

Launched in October 1936, the Scharnhorst battleship was doing a lot of damage to allied shipping in the North Atlantic having sunk the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious on June 8th. The Scharnhorst survived the attacks described above and was finally sunk on December 26th 1943 with the loss of over 1900 lives.

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The German Army had marched into Paris on June 14th 1940 and on the 22nd an armistice was signed and France was divided into the Occupied Zone and the so-called Free Zone under the control of Marshal Philippe P├ętain. The occupied zone covered most of Northern and Western France, which brought the German Army to within 22 miles of the English coast and a cross-Channel invasion was thought to be inevitable.


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Not as poetic as Henry V’s Agincourt speech but stirring words at a very dark time for Great Britain.

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Ernest Bevin was the Minister for Labour in Churchill’s all-party coalition government from 1940 until 1945. Due to the wartime special powers he had absolute control over the British workforce and he used it to concentrate the labour effort towards supporting the War. 

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The Krupp industrial empire dates back to 1810. Leading up to and during World War II they concentrated on military supplies including Panzer tanks and U-Boats. At the end of the War the company’s executives were put on trial for their use of slave labour in their factories. 

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His Majesty’s Trawler Moonstone was part of the 4th Anti-Submarine Group in the Mediterranean before moving to Aden where she captured the Italian submarine Galileo Galilei, which was then re-christened HMS X2 and was then used mainly for training.

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Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR had signed a non-aggression treaty in August 1939 but by June 1940 the cracks were beginning to show and twelve months later Germany invaded the USSR.


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Anderson shelters were made out of corrugated steel panels and they had to be buried in the ground and covered with soil to be effective against bomb blast damage. After the War many gardens, my parents’ included, sported sheds made out of dug up shelters. 

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If you want to know whether Hitler would have made a ‘good boss’ or not, read CJ Sansom’s latest novel ‘Dominion’, which uses the idea that Churchill turned down the offer to lead the country in 1940 and consequently Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany.

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I can see why the football and horse-racing stories were suppressed, presumably any mention of the current weather might help the enemy who might be listening in, but what was the problem with the Italian ship story and the, albeit over simplified, account of Churchill becoming Prime Minister. The Duke of Kent may have received a white feather but was actually an active member of the RAF and was subsequently killed in a Short Sunderland flying boat crash on his was to Iceland in 1942.

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In May 1940 Anthony Eden the Secretary of State for War announced the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers and in July 1940 Churchill had them renamed as the Home Guard.

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Somerset Maugham had lived on the French Riviera since 1926 but when the Nazi’s invaded France he sought refuge on a coal barge. It took him 20 harrowing days to get to England. After a short recovery he moved to the USA for the rest of the War.
Mary Borden was an American author and a quick look at Amazon shows only one book currently in print - The Forbidden Zone: A Nurse's Impressions of the First World War. In both World Wars she ran volunteer Ambulance services in combat zones. She died in 1968.
The other, and probably most famous, author to have been trapped in France at this time was P G Wodehouse as a recent TV play and a documentary showed.

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I’m not sure the headline is accurate- the families weren’t lost. They knew where they were – living in the Andes but cut-off from the civilised world, which given the situation at the time, was no bad thing. 

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Canada had its own fascists to worry about so I think the furthest West our internees travelled was to the Isle of Man. Sir Oswald Mosley was held in Brixton and then in a special co-habitation wing of Holloway with his wife, Diana Mitford.

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The Sunday Express showing its right-wing credentials with its choice of quotes about Conscientious Objectors. Unlike in the Great War the C O’s didn’t face automatic imprisonment but were given a choice of non-combat roles and many served as front line medical support and in bomb disposal units as well as essential war work on the Home Front. See the Peace Pledge Union website for historical and current information.  









Friday, 17 May 2013

Random Ad - TV Rental (1950's)

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No wonder so many people rented rather than bought a TV in the 1950's. Not only would finding 67gns (£70.35p) be a problem but at 9s (45p) a week you could get over 3 years rental for that money and wouldn't have had to pay out for the inevitable valve replacements and possible tube replacement.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Random Cutting - Air crash in Washington (1949)

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This November 1949 collision between a Douglas DC4 Skymaster and a Lockhead P38 Lightning near Washington Airport happened much as described in the cutting. A subsequent inquiry by the  Civil Aeronautics Board put the majority of the blame on the jet's Bolivian pilot but also critised the Air Traffic Controllers.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

QE2 launched

The Guardian dated Thursday September 21st 1967

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‘French make own Swing-wing’ probably refers to the Dassault Mirage G jet fighter of which a few prototypes were built but never went into active service.

The ailing Lord Clement Attlee had been the Labour Prime Minister of the UK from 1945 until 1951 and was to die of pneumonia at the age of 84 on October 8th 1967.

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This rather pessimistic account of the launch of the replacement for Cunard’s RMS Queen Elizabeth, the un-imaginatively named Queen Elizabeth 2 (or QE2), reflects the widely held opinion that this was a very odd time for Cunard to be investing in a new trans-Atlantic ocean liner. Air travel was now the preferred way of getting to America as it was faster and relatively cheap. The QE2 went on to serve Cunard as a passenger liner and a cruise ship right up to 2008, having been converted from an oil-fired steamship to diesel electric engines in 1986. 


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The ‘Soviet Scientist’ story is about Vladimir Tkachenko, a 25 year-old Russian who had been doing research at Birmingham University. When he boarded a plane bound for Moscow on the 14th September the British police and Secret Service agents pulled him off because they said he was being taken back to the USSR against his will. The Russians then claimed it was Britain that was kidnapping the scientist and a diplomatic row broke out which was calmed by Tkachenko being allowed to board another plane for Moscow on the 19th.

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This was the era when everyone wanted to go to Art School, go on anti-Vietnam War demos, smoke pot, take LSD and then become a World famous pop group member. Science? Heavy, man.

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For years the Liberals were the party that was there to vote for if you didn’t want to endorse the Tories or Labour because they would never get into power and, whichever of the other two parties won, you could say, ‘Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for them.’
Jeremy Thorpe was the Leader of the Liberal Party from 1967 until the scandal that ruined his career in 1976. See this post for details.

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The Vietnam War dominated the UK media and the Political scene throughout the late ‘60’s, despite it being one of America’s blunders that Britain didn’t get sucked into. 


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Although it is now generally accepted that Norsemen (aka Vikings) travelled from Greenland to North America, in particular Newfoundland, 1000 years before Christopher Columbus, none of the artefacts found in Canada or the USA have ever been authentically linked to the Norsemen of that period and the Vinland of Norse sagas.

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Just one of the many changes of regional government during the Nigerian Civil War that went on from 1966 until 1970 and haunted our TV news coverage with scenes of death and starvation in Biafra.

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White Rhodesian leader Ian Smith opposed the transfer of power from Britain to the black majority in his country and issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. The area came back to British rule in 1979 but was then almost immediately given independence as Zimbabwe in 1980.

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The trial ended with Neville Fineberg being found guilty of the attempted murder of Wylie Roberts. 

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The dock strike lasted 6 weeks from September 18th until the end of October 1967. Jack Dash was a Communist who wanted to see an end to the ‘casual labour’ way of staffing the docks i.e. employing men day by day and only when there was work for them to do. 

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Not your usual knights-of-the-realm littered cast for this version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Robin Bailey is remembered for his portrayal on TV and radio of the dour Northerner Uncle Mort in the stories by Peter Tinniswood, Bernard Bresslaw from 15 or more ‘Carry on@ films, Jim Dale from 8 ‘Carry on’s and Cleo Laine as the jazz singing wife of band leader Johnny Dankworth.

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Editor – We need a Beatles story. How about ‘how much they earned in the last 4 years’?
Reporter – No-one knows.
Editor – So?





Friday, 10 May 2013

Random Ad - Eyes of Youth starring Gertrude Elliott (1918)

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This unusual advert is for the stage play 'Eyes of Youth' that starred the American actress Getrude Elliott (aka Lady Forbes-Robertson) in August 1918.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Random Cutting - Ex-Tsar's Fate (1918)

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In retrospect the last sentence of this cutting from July 3rd 1918 is rather prophetic as Tsar (or Czar) Nicholas and his family (including Alexis) were murdered 14 days later in Tobolsk in Siberia on the 17th. The Tsar’s brother Michael, whose whereabouts are queried in the cutting, had in fact been murdered in Perm on the 13th of June. They do say ‘the first casualty of War is truth’, or at least accuracy.