14 March 1940

14 March 1940

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14 March 1940

Winter War

The Finnish population begins to evacuate the areas that have been ceded to the Soviet Union. It is estimated that 470,000 people will have to move

War at Sea/ War in the Air

Three trawlers are reported to have fought off an attack by three Heinkels

Nazi Germany Surrenders: February 1945-May 1945

The U.S. World War II offensive campaign against Japan in the Pacific reached a new level when the U.S. waged an air raid attack on Tokyo with incendiary bombs and killed 80,000 to 100,000 civilians. The World War II timeline below summarizes important events that occurred during the war from March 7, 1945, to March 14, 1945.

World War II Timeline: March 7-March 14

March 7: The Jewish Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Ernest Benjamin, launches operations in Italy. ­

Josip Broz Tito consolidates the government of newly liberated Yugoslavia under his authority.

The Chinese 37th Division captures Lashio, Burma, the southwest terminus of the Burma Road.

March 8: Office of Strategic Services chief Allen Dulles opens cease-fire negotiations with SS commander Karl Wolff for a surrender of German forces in Italy. ­

More than 100 civilians die when a German V-2 rocket destroys London's Smithfield Market.

March 9-10: The deadliest air raid of the Pacific war claims the lives of 80,000 to 100,000 Japanese civilians when the U.S. attacks Tokyo with incendiary bombs.

March 10: Following the Allied breach of the Rhine, Adolf Hitler appoints Field Marshal Kesselring to replace Rundstedt as commander of German armies in the West.

Transylvania, the mountainous region in central Europe that has been occupied by Nazi Germany since early in the war, is restored to Romania. ­

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tells a Spanish delegation that the United States will be unable to supply aid to Spain as long as Franco remains in power.

The Japanese disarm and eject Vichy authorities and establish the "Empire of Annam" in French Indochina.

March 11: An RAF raid on Essen, Germany, halts production at the Krupp Works munitions plant.

March 13: The U.S. House of Representatives reauthorizes the Lend-Lease Act for the last time.

March 14: The RAF drops the 22,000-pound "Grand Slam," the largest bomb of the war to date, on Nazi Germany's Bielefeld railway viaduct.

World War II Headlines

Below are more highlights that outline the events of World War II and show the details of American troops crossing the Rhine, as well as the American firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945.

More than 8,000 American troops cross the Rhine River in Nazi Germany: On March 7, 1945, American Lieutenant Karl Timmerman led his company of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion to the west end of the Ludendorff Bridge near Remagen, Germany. Since this was the last bridge still spanning the Rhine, Timmerman halted and looked closely for explosives. An explosion did occur as Timmerman and his men advanced across, but, as the smoke settled, he saw that the bridge still stood. More than 8,000 Americans crossed within 24 hours, establishing the first bridgehead across the Rhine. When Adolf Hitler learned that the bridge had not been destroyed, he had four of the officers in charge of destroying it executed.

Karl Wolff negotiates surrender of German forces in northern Italy: Longtime chief of staff to Heinrich Himmler, SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff negotiated the surrender of German forces in northern Italy. In March 1945, Wolff met secretly with OSS official Allen Dulles in Switzerland. Wolff tried (in vain) to bargain for the relocation of German forces in Italy to the Russian front. In 1945 and again in 1962, Wolff -- who denied any knowledge of extermination camps -- was convicted in German courts for sending 300,000 Jews to Treblinka. He served one week the first time, and half of a 15-year sentence the second time.

Americans B-29s bring death and destruction to Tokyo: Gnarled trees and blackened walls testify to the effectiveness of the B-29 incendiary raids on Tokyo. Dissatisfied with the results of high-level bombing, the 20th Bomber Command turned to low-level nighttime incendiary attacks in March 1945. The first major Tokyo raid on March 9-10 killed up to 100,000 people and destroyed more than 267,000 buildings -- about a quarter of the city's total. Over the next 10 days, B-29s torched a total of 32 square miles in Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe. Losses among the bomber crews were light. Though some American officers questioned the morality of the attacks, the prevailing view was that the raids were appropriate retribution for Japanese atrocities, would destroy enemy industry, and would demonstrate to the Japanese population that further resistance was futile.

As the Allies took control of the war, Adolf Hitler appeared in public for the last time on March 20, 1945, after issuing the "Nero Decree" the previous day. Continue to the next page for a detailed timeline on this and other important World War II events that occurred from March 14, 1945, to March 23, 1945.

To follow more major events of World War II, see:

Late in the Pacific war, U.S. leaders realized that con- ventional bombing missions over Japanese cities were having only a limited effect. To rectify the problem, General Curtis LeMay in 1945 implemented incendiary attacks. LeMay recognized that the wood and paper Japanese cities were highly vulnerable to fire. Such attacks also would have a greater impact on Japanese industry, much of which was dispersed in small shops.

The incendiary of choice had been developed by Standard Oil and DuPont in 1944. Only two inches in diameter and 20 inches long, these "fire sticks" were filled with jellied gasoline or napalm and weighed about six pounds. LeMay's plan called for B-29s to scatter thousands of these devices to create unmanageable fires.

On February 23-24, the U.S. launched its first fire raid on Tokyo, destroying one square mile of the city. This success was followed on the night of March 9-10, when more than 300 B-29s returned to drop 2,000 tons of incendiaries on the city. The resulting firestorm destroyed 16 square miles, incinerated as many as 100,000 Japanese people, and left a million people homeless in the most destructive attack of the war. The heat was so intense it literally boiled the water in canals.

Through June, continued low-level incendiary attacks on Japan devastated major portions of six large cities. By war's end, 66 cities had been largely reduced to ashes. An estimated 330,000 Japanese, mostly civilians, perished.

Below, French reporter Robert Guillain describes a firebomb attack on Tokyo.

Elsewhere, people soaked themselves in the water barrels that stood in front of each house before setting off again. A litter of obstacles blocked their way telegraph poles and the overhead trolley wires that formed a dense net around Tokyo fell in tangles across streets. In the dense smoke, where the wind was so hot it seared the lungs, people struggled, then burst into flames where they stood. The fiery air was blown down toward the ground and it was often the refugees' feet that began burning first the men's puttees and the women's trousers caught fire and ignited the rest of their clothing.

March 14, 1945: Biggest Non-Nuclear Bomb of World War II Dropped

On March 14, 1945, a British Lancaster heavy bomber dropped a bomb known as the “Grand Slam,” a 22,000 lb behemoth that was the largest and most powerful bomb ever used up to that time. For years, only a nuclear bomb would be more powerful.

Digging Deeper

British weapons designer extraordinaire, Barnes Wallis, designed numerous ingenious weapons, including the “Tall Boy” bomb, a 12,000 pound monster “earthquake” bomb that was used to attack hardened targets such a submarine pens and the German battleship Tirpitz (which was finally sunk with Tall Boys). Wallis also designed the “bouncing bomb” that was used to destroy dams in German held areas.

An “earthquake bomb” is so named because it does not have to hit its target, just bury itself deep in the earth before blowing up, causing shockwaves through the ground similar to an earthquake, destroying reinforced concrete and other materials indirectly. The bombs are constructed with heavier than normal casings on the front to allow deep penetration into the ground, and a delay fuse ensures the explosion takes place below the surface. When the vast amount of explosive (Torpex) is poured into the bomb casing, it takes a month to cool and harden!

The only bomber capable of dropping a Grand Slam during World War II was the Avro Lancaster, a 4 engine heavy bomber considered by the British to be the finest bomber of World War II. More or less similar to US B-17 and B-24 bombers, the Lancaster could carry a larger and heavier load, though it was not quite as heavily armed with machine guns. The Grand Slam was so big it had to be carried externally under the belly of the Lancaster.

A Grand Slam bomb being handled at RAF Woodhall Spa

On March 14, 1945, the Grand Slam made its combat debut when it was dropped from about 12,000 feet with the target being the Schildesche Viaduct near Bielefeld, Germany. The giant bomb did its job, and the viaduct was destroyed. This mission included several Grand Slam bombs and some Tall Boys thrown in for good measure. Several missions using the big bombs followed, with targets including viaducts, bridges and submarine pens. Tall Boys and Grand Slams were usually used together.

The idea of a giant blast without the nuclear fallout was resurrected by the United States during the Vietnam War when the BLU-82 bomb known as the “Daisy Cutter” weighing 15,000 pounds was used to create instant helicopter landing zones in the jungle. In 2003 the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Burst (MOAB) bomb was introduced, a 22,600 pound bomb stretched over 30 feet long and was touted as the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever made at that time. Obviously, the nickname, “Mother of All Bombs” was used by air crews! Too big for any current bomber, the Daisy Cutter and MOAB were dropped by C-130 Hercules cargo planes.

Fireball blast from the Russian “Father of All Bombs”, with the beginnings of a mushroom cloud

Not to be one upped by the US, Russia followed in the big bomb race with the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP), a weapon quickly gaining the nickname, “Father of All Bombs.” First tested in 2007, this Russian Air Force weapon weighs “only” 15,650 pounds, but has the blast characteristics of 88,000 pounds of TNT! It is indeed likely the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever made, with about 4 times the blast effect than the MOAB. Both the MOAB and the FOAB are air-burst type bombs rather than the earthquake type. Both the US and Russia plan to use these bombs in lieu of nukes, but with similar blast effect to a small nuke.

The US also developed various thermobaric type bombs, including Fuel Air Explosive (FAE) types, also sometimes called “The poor man’s nuke.” These bombs send a shock wave farther than any conventional bomb and are ideal for attacking targets such as bunkers and caves. Even terrorists have gotten on the FAE bandwagon, starting with the bomb that blew up the US Marine barracks building in Beirut in 1983, and later with the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

Underground damage after the bombing

Ever since pilots began dropping hand grenades and then mortar shells out of open cockpit bi-planes at the start of World War I, air forces have come up with increasingly effective and deadly bombs, some showing incredible ingenuity.

Question for students (and subscribers): What bombs do you find most interesting? Are there any that you would like us to write about? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

Grand Slam bomb exploding near Arnsberg viaduct 1945

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

The featured image in this article, a Royal Air Force oblique photographic-reconnaissance aerial of the twin railway viaducts at Schildesche, Bielefeld (Germany), following the successful daylight attack by 15 Avro Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron RAF on 14 March 1945, is photograph C 5086 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. This work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

This is because it is one of the following:

  1. It is a photograph taken prior to 1 June 1957 or
  2. It was published prior to 1969 or
  3. It is an artistic work other than a photograph or engraving (e.g. a painting) which was created prior to 1969.

HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide (ref: HMSO Email Reply)
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About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.

Albert Einstein born

On March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein is born, the son of a Jewish electrical engineer in Ulm, Germany. Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity drastically altered human understanding of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and, ultimately, the atomic bomb.

After a childhood in Germany and Italy, Einstein studied physics and mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Zurich, Switzerland. He became a Swiss citizen and in 1905 was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich while working at the Swiss patent office in Bern. That year, which historians of Einstein’s career call the annus mirabilis—the “miracle year”—he published five theoretical papers that were to have a profound effect on the development of modern physics.

WATCH: Albert Einstein on HISTORY Vault

In the first of these, titled “On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light,” Einstein theorized that light is made up of individual quanta (photons) that demonstrate particle-like properties while collectively behaving like a wave. The hypothesis, an important step in the development of quantum theory, was arrived at through Einstein’s examination of the photoelectric effect, a phenomenon in which some solids emit electrically charged particles when struck by light. This work would later earn him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

In the second paper, he devised a new method of counting and determining the size of the atoms and molecules in a given space, and in the third he offered a mathematical explanation for the constant erratic movement of particles suspended in a fluid, known as Brownian motion. These two papers provided indisputable evidence of the existence of atoms, which at the time was still disputed by a few scientists.

Einstein’s fourth groundbreaking scientific work of 1905 addressed what he termed his special theory of relativity. In special relativity, time and space are not absolute, but relative to the motion of the observer. Thus, two observers traveling at great speeds in regard to each other would not necessarily observe simultaneous events in time at the same moment, nor necessarily agree in their measurements of space. In Einstein’s theory, the speed of light, which is the limiting speed of any body having mass, is constant in all frames of reference. In the fifth paper that year, an exploration of the mathematics of special relativity, Einstein announced that mass and energy were equivalent and could be calculated with an equation, E=mc2.

Although the public was not quick to embrace his revolutionary science, Einstein was welcomed into the circle of Europe’s most eminent physicists and given professorships in Zurich, Prague and Berlin. In 1916, he published “The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity,” which proposed that gravity, as well as motion, can affect the intervals of time and of space. According to Einstein, gravitation is not a force, as Isaac Newton had argued, but a curved field in the space-time continuum, created by the presence of mass. An object of very large gravitational mass, such as the sun, would therefore appear to warp space and time around it, which could be demonstrated by observing starlight as it skirted the sun on its way to earth. In 1919, astronomers studying a solar eclipse verified predictions Einstein made in the general theory of relativity, and he became an overnight celebrity. Later, other predictions of general relativity, such as a shift in the orbit of the planet Mercury and the probable existence of black holes, were confirmed by scientists.

During the next decade, Einstein made continued contributions to quantum theory and began work on a unified field theory, which he hoped would encompass quantum mechanics and his own relativity theory as a grand explanation of the workings of the universe. As a world-renowned public figure, he became increasingly political, taking up the cause of Zionism and speaking out against militarism and rearmament. In his native Germany, this made him an unpopular figure, and after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933 Einstein renounced his German citizenship and left the country.

He later settled in the United States, where he accepted a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He would remain there for the rest of his life, working on his unified field theory and relaxing by sailing on a local lake or playing his violin. He became an American citizen in 1940.

In 1939, despite his lifelong pacifist beliefs, he agreed to write to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on behalf of a group of scientists who were concerned with American inaction in the field of atomic-weapons research. Like the other scientists, he feared sole German possession of such a weapon. He played no role, however, in the subsequent Manhattan Project and later deplored the use of atomic bombs against Japan. After the war, he called for the establishment of a world government that would control nuclear technology and prevent future armed conflict.

In 1950, he published his unified field theory, which was quietly criticized as a failure. A unified explanation of gravitation, subatomic phenomena, and electromagnetism remains elusive today. Albert Einstein, one of the most creative minds in human history, died in Princeton in 1955.

Mothering Sunday: Britain’s History of Mother’s Day

If you’re British or are familiar with British customs, you’ll know that in the UK there is a different date for Mother’s Day celebrations than in the States. What’s more, traditionally the British day of celebration is not known as Mother’s day, but rather as Mothering Sunday. With all these differences, it’s not surprising that the history of Mothering Sunday is a very different one from the American Mother’s Day. This article explores the story behind the origin of Mothering Sunday.

When is Mothering Sunday?

Whilst the American Mother’s Day which occurs in May, Mothering Sunday usually takes place in March. The exact Mothering Sunday date is always the fourth Sunday of Lent, which means that it falls on slightly different days each year. If you want to pencil it into your diary, Mothering Sunday falls on the following dates in the coming years:

  • 2012 :: 18 March
  • 2013 :: 10 March
  • 2014 :: 30 March
  • 2015 :: 15 March
  • 2016 :: 6 March

Why is Mothering Sunday celebrated on this date?

Historical records seem to suggest that Mothering Sunday has been celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent since at least the 16th century, however, it is likely that it was celebrated long before then because the history of its celebration may well date far earlier than this.

To further understand its allocated date of celebration, let’s journey into the history of Mothering Sunday.

The first Mothering Sunday may have been for a Greek or Roman mother goddess

Some suggest that the modern British Mother’s day celebrations evolved from a far earlier pagan celebration of a different kind of mother: a mother goddess.

Many early civilizations had a “mother goddess” figure that was honored and celebrated at certain times of the year. In Ancient Greece the Mother of the Gods (or the Magna Mater) was called Rhea, and it may be that celebrations held for this goddess around the 6th century BC were the earliest form of “Mother’s day” celebrations.

Later, around the 3rd century BC, the Greek traditions were adopted by Ancient Romans, and similar celebrations took place in honor of Rhea’s Roman equivalent, the mother goddess, Cybele. Interestingly enough, the celebrations for Cybele occurred in March, around the same time that we celebrate Mothering Sunday today.

Romans celebrated Cybele in a festival called: Hilaria. Why did they celebrate on this particular date in March? Because it was around the time of the Vernal Equinox, (where Vernal Equinox literally means: Vernal = Spring Equinox = equal night and day). It was a celebration of the first day which had a longer day than night, marking the end of the gloomy winter, and the onset of a more joyous, sunny spring.

From “Mother’s day” celebrations of Mother goddesses to celebrations of the Holy Mother and the Mother Church

Many festivals celebrated by the Ancient Romans were converted into Christian celebrations when Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire and of most of Europe. This adaptation of existing Roman festivals was done to help the people adapt more easily to the new Christian religion.

The Roman festival of Saturnalia became Christmas, the Roman celebrations of Juno Februa and Lupercalia eventually became Saint Valentine’s Day, and although the evidence is not unequivocal, it is possible that Cybele’s Hilaria celebrations became Mothering Sunday. In order to make the festival more Christian, the heads of the church may have deemed this “mother goddess” celebration to be an appropriate time at which to replace pagan customs with their own, honoring Mother Mary and the Mother Church. (Mother Church was the term given to the biggest church in the area, often where local Christians would have been baptised.) The date of the celebration was also Christianized to relate directly to Easter and Lent, setting the date of this new festival to fall on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The church services held on this day are likely to have been themed around a Motherly theme, talking about Mary’s maternal love, and of maternal love in general.

Mother Church congregations became an occasion for family reunions with an emphasis on the maternal member of the family

By the 16th century, it was customary to visit the Mother Church for a special service on Mothering Sunday. Visiting the Mother Church on this day was colloquially known as “going a-mothering”.

Although this was a holy day and had little to do with celebrating mothers in any way, the congregating of people at their Mother Church celebrated the joyous coming together again of families. In those days it was common for children as young as ten to be put to work as apprentices, maids and domestic servants, working and living in various country manors, sometimes a fair distance from home. Being given a day off for a reunion with their mothers (and the rest of the family) was an exciting occasion (particularly since some sources suggest that for many working children this was amongst the only days off they had).

On their way home from their work posts, some children would pick flowers to give as a gift to their mothers.

Others would bring home a cake from the manor house where they worked. The most common cakes that were thought to have been made were fruit cakes known as simnel cakes, which are to this day the traditional Mothering Sunday cake that is made.

In some churches, the happy reunion was integrated into the Mother-themed church service where the spring flowers that were picked by the children would be blessed by the church before being presented to the mothers. To this day, flower bouquets are amongst the most common gifts given to mothers on Mothering Sunday.

By the 1940s Mothering Sunday Traditions underwent a transformation to resemble the American Mother’s Day

Somewhere along the line between the 16th century and the early 20th century, Mothering Sunday celebrations began to fade and celebrations became more subdued. But around the 1940s two main things occured which led to the revival of Mothering Sunday and its rebirth as the official Mother’s day celebration we know today:

The first thing that happened was that in the United States, a lady called Anna Jarvis campaigned for an American celebration of mothers throughout the country. Her success resulted in the first national American celebration of Mother’s Day in 1908. Some of her enthusiasm made its way to Britain to a woman called Constance Penswick-Smith who, inspired by Anna Jarvis, campaigned for the closest British equivalent Mother’s day celebration, Mothering Sunday, to be revived. Constance’s Mothering Sunday Movement campaign lasted a good few years, all the way from 1914 to the early 1920s. Although this served to prick up a few ears, nothing much changed in Britain. What did make a huge impact on the resurgence of celebrating Mothering Sunday in Britain, was the second event that happened around this time: World War II.

During World War II, English, American and Canadian soldiers worked alongside one another and had a chance to socialize and talk. One thing that they all had in common was missing their mothers, wives and girlfriends back home. With this newly realized appreciation for their mothers in the darkness of war, at some point (perhaps even on American Mother’s day itself) conversation turned to the American tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day. Inspired by the American celebrations, the British soldiers brought back with them a new found eagerness and desire to celebrate their mothers using the closest thing they had to Mother’s Day: Mothering Sunday.

By the 1950s, Mothering Sunday was once again celebrated throughout Britain with great enthusiasm an enthusiasm that may have been helped by the exuberant marketing of the festival by merchants selling Mother’s Day related gifts.

A merging occurred between new American traditions and old Mothering Sunday traditions as British mothers began being shown love and appreciation on Mothering Sunday. The merging of traditions was so strong that people even began calling Mothering Sunday, “Mother’s Day”.

Today many people believe that Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day are one and the same thing, and although the two celebrations have distinctly different origins, they share the same principles at their core: a celebration and appreciation of mothers, be they holy, human or otherwise.

Important Events From This day in History May 14th

1973 : Skylab, the first U.S. space station measuring 118 ft tall and weighing 77 tons, is launched into orbit around the earth.

1991 South Africa Winnie Mandela

1991 : Winnie Mandela, the wife of Nelson Mandela, is given a six-year prison sentence for her part in the kidnap of four youths suspected of being police informers, one of the kidnapped boys later died of his injuries. Mrs Mandela's is believed to be behind the activities of her bodyguards - known as the "Mandela Football Club" who are involved in violence in the Soweto township including the notorious "necklace killings" which involved putting a tyre around a victim's neck and setting fire to it.

1804 U.S.A. The Lewis and Clark Expedition

1804 : The Lewis and Clark expedition started from Camp Dubois, near present day Hartford, Illinois on this day in 1804. They reached the Pacific Ocean on November 20th, 1805. They arrived back to St. Louis, Missouri on September 23rd 1806.

1920 U.S.A. Airmail Service

1920 : The airmail service continues to grow with a new service from Chicago to Omaha carrying 500 lbs of mail daily except Sundays and Holidays , the service will take about 5 1/2 hrs. The 1920s was a major growth period for Mail Delivery both domestic and later world wide.

1948 Israel Independent State

1948 : The independent state of Israel is proclaimed as British rule in Palestine came to an end. It has taken Israel 2000 years to gain nationhood status.

1931 India Mahatma Gandhi

1931 : Mahatma Gandhi the leader of the Indian Nationalist movement has agreed to talks with Britain in London to discuss more independence from Britain in return for stopping the current boycott on foreign goods in India.

Born This Day In History 14th May

Celebrating Birthdays Today

Born: May 14th, 1944, Modesto, California

Known For : A film producer and director whose work has made some of the most successful films of the last thirty-five years. The best known of these are the two Star Wars trilogies, the four Indiana Jones movies and American Graffiti. He started producing films as a student at the University of Southern California, and was awarded a scholarship by Warner Brothers in 1967. Since then, his own production company, Lucasfilm, owns Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar Animation Studios. He has four Academy Awards and three adopted children (all of whom appeared, with himself, in the Star Wars' prequel trilogy).

1940 England The Home Guard

1940 : The British Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden announced the creation of the Local Defense Volunteers (LDV) name changed in July of 1940 to "The Home Guard". The creation of the LDV was a direct result of Germany's conquest of Norway so quickly and the beginning of the invasion of France by German forces. Anthony Eden announced during the radio broadcast .

Radio Broadcast Requesting Volunteers for The Home Guard:

The government had expected 150,000 men to volunteer in total, but by the end of the first month 750,000 men had volunteered. By the end of June 1940, there were nearly 1.5 million volunteers.

1942 U.S.A. Air Travel

1942 : FDR has stated that all domestic air travel will be placed on a full wartime basis with the army operating or controlling the nations fleet of over 500 transport planes to help in the war effort.

1955 Poland Warsaw Pact Signed

1955 : The Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies including USSR, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania sign a security pact in the Polish capital, Warsaw, after a three-day conference. The Warsaw Pact will provide close integration of military, economic and cultural policy between the eight Communist nations.

Born This Day In History 14th May

Celebrating Birthday Today

Born: May 14th 1984 White Plains, NY

Known For : Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is best known for co-founding and creating the Facebook social networking service from his dormitory room on February 4, 2004, with college roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. He serves as its chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder. As of March 2021, Zuckerberg's net worth is $103.6 billion, making him the 5th-richest person in the world

Popular Music from the 1950s, Genres including Rock 'n' Roll, Traditional Pop, Country, Rhythm & Blues, top songs and artists from each year Includes a description of each Genre and the top performers and songs for each year in the Fifties

1957 England Petrol Rationing Ends

1957 : Petrol rationing, which has been in force in Britain and France for five months following the Suez crisis ends. But surcharges on petrol prices and the four-day working week for many factories are to remain in place till oil supplies are normalized.

1959 U.S.A. Illegal Gambling Crackdown

1959 : Federal Agents carried out a series of raids across the nation as part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal lotteries and gambling . The raids were carried out on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service for tax dodging , most of the illegal gambling is controlled or run by mobsters.

1963 UN Admits Kuwait

1963 : Kuwait is admitted to the United Nations.

1964 Egypt Aswan Dam

1964 : Following US refusal to help finance building the Aswan Dam, President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev mark the beginning of the project by diverting the Nile. The Aswan dam is financed and built with Russian help and thousands of cheering Egyptian and Russian construction workers as the Nile is diverted into the man-made channel which will allow the next stage of the Dam to begin. The Aswan Dam came into operation in 1971 increasing good farming land in Egypt by one third, and creating the world's largest man-made lake Lake Nasser.

1969 Canada Drink Driving Laws

1969 : Drink Driving laws are introduced as past of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 making it an offence to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) in excess of 80 mg/100 ml of blood (0.08%).

1972 U.S.A. Anti War Demonstrations

1972 : After one week of anti war demonstrations which led to a number of deaths and many thousands of arrests calls have been made for 1 minute of silence in schools and colleges as a protest against the war in Vietnam.

1986 Russia Chernobyl Accident

1986 : After 17 days with no statement from the Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev today went on Russian TV today to tell the Russian people that the death toll has reached 9 and a further 299 are hospitalized with radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl accident on April 26th. Meanwhile fallout from the nuclear accident has been identified as far away as the USA.

1991 Japan Train Crash

1991 : Two trains carrying commuters crash head-on, killing more than 40 people and injuring 400 near Shigaraki, Japan.

1996 Bangladesh Tornado

1996 : A Tornado with winds reaching 125 MPH has killed more than 400 people and injured over 32,000 in Bangladesh.

2005 Indonesia Earthquake Hits Near Sumatra

2005 : An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 hit near the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The quake's epicenter was below the seabed in the Indian Ocean, and caused residents of Sumatra and nearby islands to flee their homes in fear of a tsunami.

2007 China Launches Satellite for Nigeria

2007 : Nigeria purchased a Chinese made satellite and had the Chinese company launch it for them, marking the first time another nation had bought Chinese satellite technology and launching services. Nigeria had been experiencing a boom in its communications services and the satellite was purchased and launched with the intention of expanding internet and telephone services in Africa. The launch was successful.

2008 Mexico Drug Cartels

2008 : As the violence has escalated between cartels in Mexico and the number of both senior and junior police officials murdered. Mexico's President Felipe Calderon has pledged to take back the streets from the cartels and has sent thousands of additional troops and police to combat the country's drug cartels in Sinaloa.

2009 Opposition Leader Jailed in Burma

2009 : Pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was imprisoned in Burma after being charged with violating the conditions of her house arrest. The opposition leader had been under nearly continuous house arrest for nineteen years. The charges were brought against her after an American, John Yettaw, allegedly visited her home in secret for a couple of days.

2012 Nepal Plane Crash Kills Fifteen

2012 : A small plane that was carrying twenty-one people from Pokhara to Jomsom in Nepal crashed and left fifteen dead. The survivors were being treated at a hospital in Pokhara. Authorities did not know what caused the crash, but the aircraft had reported strong winds and was trying to fly back to Pokhara.

2013 Belize Mayan Pyramid Bulldozed

2013 : Officials in Belize stated that one of the country's biggest Mayan temples was bulldozed by a construction company looking for gravel to use as road filler. The Noh Mul temple was thought to be over 2,300 years old and archaeologists stated that the destruction of old temples was a recurring problem in the country.

14 March 1940 - History

I t took only six weeks for France to capitulate to the German invaders. A stunning defeat - particularly since before the war the French army was considered the most powerful in Europe.

France's vaunted Maginot Line failed to hold back the Nazi onslaught and the German Blitzkrieg poured into France. (see Blizkrieg, 1940) Thousands of civilians fled before it. Traveling south in

A Frenchman weeps as German
troops march into Paris
June 14, 1940
cars, wagons, bicycles or simply on foot, the desperate refugees took with them what few possessions they could salvage. It wasn't long before the roads were impassable to the French troops who were headed north in an attempt to reach the battlefield.

Paris was abandoned and declared an Open City. The French government joined the fleeing throng and after moving to, and then quickly abandoning one location after another, finally ended up in the city of Vichy.

The ultimate humiliation came at the signing of the armistice on June 22. The French had maintained as a memorial the railroad car in which the armistice ending World War I had been signed twenty-two years earlier. It occupied a hallowed space within a small forest north of Paris. Hitler insisted that France's capitulation to his Nazi jauggernaught be formally acknowledged in the same railroad car at the same spot.

Under the terms of the armistice, France was divided into two sections: Occupied France under direct German control and Vichy France - a quasi-independent territory with Marshall Petain, an eighty-four-year-old hero of the First World War, as its head.

A reporter for the London Times published his observations on defeated France shortly after its collapse:

"A problem for all who think about it is how to explain the amazing mental attitude which seems to prevail today in France. Most Frenchmen seem to regard the total collapse of their country with a resignation that has the appearance of indifference. They are, indeed, dazed by the rapidity of the collapse, but register no violent reaction to so great and unexpected a shock. Soldiers in considerable numbers are being demobilized and returning home, and so, it is felt, the catastrophe cannot be too appalling. The German propaganda machine is working on this state of mind. The R.A.F. attacks upon the aerodromes in the occupied region are used as evidence that the British, who have already deserted their Ally, are now making direct onslaughts on the Frenchman's home.

Conditions in Vichy France

"Vichy, for a nation which has reached the nadir in its history, gives an excellent picture of a certain French state of mind. Naturally the place is crowded beyond capacity. It is full of well-to-do refugees from occupied France, as well as French officers, immaculately accoutered, and political aspirants. They crowd the cafes, hotels and boulevards. The refugees and officers are enjoying the calm and the mild pleasures to be had there.

The aspirants are busily fishing in the stirring political pool in the hope of finding an agreeable job. There is adequate food for those who can afford to buy it, always provided that you are not a butter lover or do not expect to find a wide selection of luxuries in the shops. Here is little evidence that France has suffered one of the greatest defeats in her history. Outside the boundaries of this temporary capital, food is not so plentiful, yet in a minor degree the same spirit of indifference exists. The men are returning fairly quickly to their homes and to the harvests which have been in many cases ruined by inattention. But it is hard to discover any serious attempt to meet the formidable problems which are threatening the Vichy Government."

Conditions in Occupied France

"The opinion is often expressed that occupied France is in a much better shape, in spite of all the devastation, than the unoccupied territory. The Germans for many reasons are trying to whip into shape that part of the country which has fallen into their sphere of influence. Their problem is especially serious.

The division of France
North of Paris there exists a desert. Towns like Abbeville, Amiens, Cambrai, Arras, and scores of others are very largely destroyed, though in most places the churches and the cathedrals seem to be intact. The villages are deserted, the farmsteads empty.

Crops are rotting on the ground. The first wave of the German Army consumed everything. It was, in fact, until a week or two ago a land of the dead, metaphorically and literally, since the corpses of men and animals still littered the ground. Now the people are slowly creeping back, only to find that there is little to eat and less to do. Everywhere the first pick of what is going falls to the army of occupation, the second to those who work for their German masters, the scanty crumbs that remain are left for those who fulfill neither of these conditions."

Treatment of British Prisoners

"One case of refined cruelty was witnessed at Malines, where a body of British prisoners were being marched east. They were in full uniform except for their tin hats. These had been replaced by a variegated assortment of every kind of headgear, male or female: bowler hats, toppers, caps, homburgs, women's bonnets, berets, plumed Ascot models. A pathetically ridiculous spectacle. Its only purpose could have been to make the weary men look clownish or to suggest to the French inhabitants that British troops had been looting the shops. Other tales of discrimination between British and French prisoners of war are common. Nevertheless, on the whole, the treatment of prisoners whose care is left to the second-line troops is not too bad."

This article was originally published in The Times of London on August 17, 1940, republished in The Times of London, Europe Under the Nazi Scourge (1941) Shirer, William L., The Collapse of the Third Republic: an inquiry into the fall of France in 1940 (1969).

Bettman Archives, Getty Images

In 1961, a group of civil rights activists known as the Freedom Riders began a desegregation campaign. The interracial group rode together on interstate buses headed south from Washington, D.C., and patronized the bus stations along the way, to test the enforcement of Supreme Court decisions that prohibited discrimination in interstate passenger travel. Their efforts were unpopular with white Southerners who supported segregation. The group encountered early violence in South Carolina but continued their trip toward the planned destination of New Orleans.

On Mother's Day, May 14, 1961, a Greyhound bus carrying Freedom Riders arrived at the Anniston, Alabama, bus station shortly after 1:00 pm to find the building locked shut. Led by Ku Klux Klan leader William Chapel, a mob of 50 men armed with pipes, chains, and bats, smashed windows, slashed tires, and dented the sides of the Riders' bus. Though warned hours earlier that a mob had gathered at the station, local police did not arrive until after the assault had begun.

Once the attack subsided, police pretended to escort the crippled bus to safety, but instead abandoned it at the Anniston city limits. Soon after the police departed, another armed white mob surrounded the bus and began breaking windows. The Freedom Riders refused to exit the vehicle but received no aid from two watching highway patrolmen. When a member of the mob tossed a firebomb through a broken bus window, others in the mob attempted to trap the passengers inside the burning vehicle by barricading the door. They fled when the fuel tank began to explode. The Riders were able to escape the ensuing flames and smoke through the bus windows and main door, only to be attacked and beaten by the mob outside.

After police finally dispersed their attackers, the Freedom Riders received limited medical care. They were soon evacuated from Anniston in a convoy organized by Birmingham Civil Rights leader, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

Birth of the modern Commonwealth

The Dominions and other territories of the British Empire gradually became fully independent of the United Kingdom.

India became independent in 1947. India wanted to become a republic which didn't owe allegiance to the British king or queen, but it also wanted to stay a member of the Commonwealth.

At a Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in London in 1949, the London Declaration said that republics and other countries could be part of the Commonwealth. The modern Commonwealth of Nations was born.

King George VI was the first Head of the Commonwealth, and Queen Elizabeth II became Head when he died. But the British king or queen is not automatically Head of the Commonwealth. Commonwealth member countries choose who becomes Head of the Commonwealth.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge history

Welcome to a site rich in information on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

What's here?

Note: This site was developed during the construction of the 2007 Narrows Bridge. It's been preserved for the historical value, but some of the information provided was outdated by the completion of the 2007 Bridge.

Where in the world is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge?

You'll find the "Tacoma Narrows" in western Washington State in the Pacific Northwest.

It's located some 8 miles west of downtown Tacoma (the seat of Pierce County government) and 40 miles south of Seattle on State Route 16. There, the blue waters of Puget Sound become a narrow channel almost a mile wide.

Grand opening celebration of the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge, held July 1, 1940

1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Slender, elegant and graceful, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge stretched like a steel ribbon across Puget Sound in 1940. The third longest suspension span in the world opened on July 1st. Only four months later, the great span's short life ended in disaster. "Galloping Gertie," collapsed in a windstorm on November 7,1940.

The bridge became famous as "the most dramatic failure in bridge engineering history." Now, it's also "one of the world's largest man-made reefs." The sunken remains of Galloping Gertie were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 to protect her from salvagers.

A dramatic tale of failure and success

The story of the failure of the 1940 Narrows Bridge and the success of the Current Narrows Bridge is a great American saga. When Galloping Gertie splashed into Puget Sound, it created ripple effects across the nation and around the world. The event changed forever how engineers design suspension bridges. Gertie's failure led to the safer suspension spans we use today.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge, June 14, 2008

1950 Tacoma Narrows Bridge

After 29 months of construction, a new and much safer Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened on Oct. 14, 1950. The current bridge is the 5th longest suspension bridge in the United States. Located on State Route 16 between Tacoma and Gig Harbor, the bridge is 5,979 feet in length. That's 40 feet longer than its predecessor, Galloping Gertie.

Engineers designed the current bridge to carry 60,000 cars a day. But, now it handles an average of over 90,000 vehicles daily.

Here's how the current Tacoma Narrows Bridge compares with other major suspension bridges in the United States.

2007 Tacoma Narrows Bridge

In 1998 the public was asked, "Should the Tacoma Narrows Bridge be modified and a parallel bridge constructed, financed by tolls on bridge traffic and operated as a public-private partnership?" A majority of the voters answered "Yes." Work began to plan the design and construction of such a bridge. Following delays, several lawsuits and modified legislation, WSDOT signed a design-build agreement with Tacoma Narrows Constructors (a joint venture with Bechtel Infrastructure and Kiewit Construction) to not only build a new eastbound Tacoma Narrows Bridge, but also a new toll facility and plaza, 3½ miles of improvements to State Route 16, a new bridge maintenance facility, and numerous other improvements to the highway.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held on October 5, 2002, and roadway construction began over the week of January 20, 2003. Over the next 4½ years, TNC and WSDOT worked at a breathtaking pace to complete the project.

The newest Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened to traffic in the early morning hours of July 16, 2007. The day before on July 15, 2007, 60,000 visitors joined WSDOT, elected officials and others to celebrate its completion. Nowhere else had a parallel suspension bridge been built so close to an existing suspension bridge, and it was all accomplished in the challenging tidal, windy Narrows environment. No workers lost their lives during construction of this amazing engineering feat.

Speaking of bridges. A note on terminology

The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge, completed and destroyed in 1940, earned the nickname "Galloping Gertie." We use the "Gertie" label or "1940 Narrows Bridge." The westbound bridge we drive over today was completed in 1950. We call this one the "Current Narrows Bridge." The new eastbound bridge most recently completed is referred to as the "2007 Narrows Bridge."

Photo and image credits

The photographs and other graphic images on this web site are identified below each image in a caption that also credits to the loaning institution. These images are the exclusive property of the cited institutions. For questions and permission to reproduce images, please contact the institution credited.


Weird facts

The Tacoma Narrows Bridges have attracted a host of life's oddities. This special collection of "Weird Facts" offers the best of those fun and unique incidents.

Tubby trivia

"Tubby" the dog fell into fame when Galloping Gertie collapsed on November 7, 1940. As the only victim of that great disaster, Tubby has earned a special place in the hearts of many.

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