John’s Believe It Or Not… August 6th

In 1942 – HMCS Assiniboine rams German submarine U-210. In 1945 American bomber drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In 1991 WWW debuts as a publicly available service on the Internet. In 1926 Gertrude Ederle becomes first woman to swim English Channel. In 1942 Isaac Hayes is born.

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John Fioravanti standing in fron of his classroom blackboard.

It’s Sunday! Did you know…

* 1942 – HMCS Assiniboine rams German submarine U-210.

Only 20 percent of the 180 trans-Atlantic convoys sailing from the end of July 1942 until the end of April 1943 lost ships to U-boat attack. U-593 reported the convoy on 5 August and torpedoed the Dutch freighter Spar.

Assiniboine’s Type 286 radar spotted U-210 in a heavy fog on 6 August. The destroyer closed on the contact and briefly spotted the submarine twice before losing her in the fog. The submarine reappeared crossing the destroyer’s bow at a range of 50 yards (46 m), and both ships opened fire. The range was too close for Assiniboine’s 4.7-inch guns to engage, but her .50-calibre machine guns shot up the submarine’s deck and conning tower. This kept the Germans from manning their 88-millimetre (3.5 in) deck gun, but the 20-millimetre (0.79 in) flak gun was already manned and firing. It punched holes through the destroyer’s plating that set some petrol tanks on the deck afire and disabled ‘A’ gun.

The destroyer was unable to ram U-210 until the rear 4.7-inch gun hit the conning tower, killing the entire bridge crew and the .50-caliber machine guns were able to silence the flak gun. This caused Lieutenant Sorber, the senior surviving officer, to order the submarine to dive, but this meant that she had to hold a straight course while doing so. Assiniboine was able to take advantage of this and rammed U-210 abaft the conning tower whilst she was diving. This caused the electric motors to fail, damaged her propellers and led to water entering the submarine, as a result of which Sorber ordered the ballast tanks to be blown and the submarine to be abandoned. The destroyer rammed her again when U-210 resurfaced, dropped a pattern of depth charges set to detonate at shallow depth and hit her one more time with a 4.7-inch shell before the submarine finally sank.

HMS Kempenfelt (prior to transfer to RCN and renamed HMCS Assiniboine I18)
HMS Kempenfelt (prior to transfer to RCN and renamed HMCS Assiniboine I18) (Wikipedia)

* 1945 American bomber drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

On this day in 1945, at 8:16 a.m. Japanese time, an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, drops the world’s first atom bomb, over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman, discouraged by the Japanese response to the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender, made the decision to use the atom bomb to end the war in order to prevent what he predicted would be a much greater loss of life were the United States to invade the Japanese mainland. And so on August 5, while a “conventional” bombing of Japan was underway, “Little Boy,” (the nickname for one of two atom bombs available for use against Japan), was loaded onto Lt. Col. Paul W. Tibbets’ plane on Tinian Island in the Marianas. Tibbets’ B-29, named the Enola Gay after his mother, left the island at 2:45 a.m. on August 6. Five and a half hours later, “Little Boy” was dropped, exploding 1,900 feet over a hospital and unleashing the equivalent of 12,500 tons of TNT. The bomb had several inscriptions scribbled on its shell, one of which read “Greetings to the Emperor from the men of the Indianapolis” (the ship that transported the bomb to the Marianas).

There were 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima before the bomb was dropped; only 28,000 remained after the bombing. Of the city’s 200 doctors before the explosion; only 20 were left alive or capable of working. There were 1,780 nurses before-only 150 remained who were able to tend to the sick and dying.

According to John Hersey’s classic work Hiroshima, the Hiroshima city government had put hundreds of schoolgirls to work clearing fire lanes in the event of incendiary bomb attacks. They were out in the open when the Enola Gay dropped its load.

There were so many spontaneous fires set as a result of the bomb that a crewman of the Enola Gay stopped trying to count them. Another crewman remarked, “It’s pretty terrific. What a relief it worked.”

The "Enola Gay" B-29 Bomber,Flying Away From The Giant Mushroom Cloud Created By The Dropping Of An Atomic Bomb Over Hiroshima
The “Enola Gay” B-29 Bomber, Flying Away From The Giant Mushroom Cloud Created By The Dropping Of An Atomic Bomb Over Hiroshima (alamy.com)

* 1991 WWW debuts as a publicly available service on the Internet.

Today is a significant day in the history of the Internet. On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web became publicly available. Its creator, the now internationally known Tim Berners-Lee, posted a short summary of the project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup and gave birth to a new technology which would fundamentally change the world as we knew it.

The World Wide Web has its foundation in work that Berners-Lee did in the 1980s at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. He had been looking for a way for physicists to share information around the world without all using the same types of hardware and software. This culminated in his 1989 paper proposing ‘A large hyper text database with typed links’.

In 1990, working on a computer built by NeXT, the firm Steve Jobs launched after being pushed out of Apple in the mid-80s, Berners-Lee developed the first Web browser software called, fittingly, WorldWideWeb. By the end of that year, he had a working prototype of the Web running on a server at CERN.

On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web went live to the world. There was no fanfare in the global press. In fact, most people around the world didn’t even know what the Internet was. Even if they did, the revolution the Web ushered in was still but a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. Instead, the launch was marked by way of a short post from Berners-Lee on the alt.hypertext newsgroup, which is archived to this day on Google Groups.

The First Web Browser: Link to New The World - Wide Web Virtual Library : Subject Catalogue Link to file
The First Web Browser: Link to New The World – Wide Web Virtual Library: Subject Catalogue Link to file (webdesign.tutsplus.com)

* 1926 Gertrude Ederle becomes first woman to swim English Channel.

On this day in 1926, on her second attempt, 19-year-old Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the 21 miles from Dover, England, to Cape Griz-Nez across the English Channel, which separates Great Britain from the northwestern tip of France.

Ederle was born to German immigrants on October 23, 1906, in New York City. She did not learn to swim until she was nine years old, and it was not until she was 15 that she learned proper form in the water. Just two years later, at the 1924 Paris Olympics, Ederle won a gold medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay and a bronze in the 100- and 400-meter freestyle races. In June 1925, Ederle became the first woman to swim the length of New York Bay, breaking the previous men’s record by swimming from the New York Battery to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, in 7 hours 11 minutes. That same summer, Ederle made her first attempt at crossing the notoriously cold and choppy English Channel, but after eight hours and 46 minutes, her coach, Jabez Wolff, forced her to stop, out of concern that she was swallowing too much salt water. Ederle disagreed and fired Wolff, replacing him with T.W. Burgess, a skilled Channel swimmer.

On August 6, 1926, Ederle entered the water at Cape Gris-Nez in France at 7:08 a.m. to make her second attempt at the Channel. The water was predictably cold as she started out that morning but unusually calm. Twice that day, however–at noon and 6 p.m.–Ederle encountered squalls along her route and Burgess urged her to end the swim. Ederle’s father and sister, though, who were riding in the boat along with Burgess, agreed with Ederle that she should stay the course. Ederle’s father had promised her a new roadster at the conclusion of the swim, and for added motivation, he called out to her in the water to remind her that the roadster was only hers if she finished. Ederle persevered through storms and heavy swells, and, finally, at 9:04 p.m. after 14 hours and 31 minutes in the water, she reached the English coast, becoming the sixth person and first woman to swim the Channel successfully. Furthermore, she had bettered the previous record by two hours.

Afterward, Ederle told Alec Rutherford of The New York Times, “I knew it could be done, it had to be done, and I did it.” Ederle’s feat was celebrated by a ticker-tape parade in New York City, and she received congratulations from fans ranging from the mayor of New York City to Henry Sullivan, the first American man ever to swim the Channel.

Ederle damaged her hearing during the Channel swim and went on to spend much of her adult life teaching deaf children in New York City to swim. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel. [1926]
Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

* 1942 Isaac Hayes is born.

It’s a long way indeed from the performing onstage at the Academy Awards to portraying a cartoon chef, but that’s the singular journey traveled by the late Isaac Hayes in a remarkable career that included hugely successful work as a singer, songwriter, record producer and actor and a late-career role as an enormously popular cartoon voice over artist. A significant force in popular culture from the mid-1960s until his death in 2008, Isaac Hayes was born in Covington, Tennessee on this day in 1942.

Except to those young enough to know him only as the voice of Chef on the animated TV series South Park, Isaac Hayes is most famous for his work as a recording artist in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a string of hit albums made him one of the biggest names in soul music. Even before he’d cut a record of his own, though, Hayes had helped establish the very sound of 1960s R&B while working at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee. As a multi-instrumentalist session musician and the co-writer of such classic hits as Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” and “Hold On! I’m Comin” Isaac Hayes put his stamp on the brilliant output of the Stax label. And the success he achieved after moving into the spotlight as a performer in the late 1960s helped save the struggling label from ruin.

With the death of Otis Redding in 1968, the most successful artist in the label’s lineup, Stax badly needed a hit from a new source. That source would be Isaac Hayes, whose second album, Hot Buttered Soul (1969), became a hit on the strength not of any catchy, three-minute singles, but of what would become Hayes’s trademark long-form reinterpretations of hit songs like Burt Bacharach’s “Walk On By” and Jimmy Webb’s “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” which clocked in at 12:03 and 18:42, respectively, complete with long spoken monologues and orchestral arrangements. Two subsequent albums in 1970 repeated the formula of Hot Buttered Soul with great success, but it was his decision to compose the score for the 1971 movie Shaft that lifted Hayes to true stardom.

The success of that soundtrack led not only to nearly four more decades in the public eye, but to the unforgettable sight of Isaac Hayes, grandson of sharecroppers, standing shirtless in heavy chains and sunglasses as he performed the #1 pop single “Theme from ‘Shaft’” on national television the night he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Score.

Composer songwriter musician and singer Isaac Hayes was born in Covington Tennessee
Composer songwriter musician and singer Isaac Hayes was born in Covington Tennessee (Black Kudos – Tumblr)

Today’s Sources: 

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology  http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php

* Wikiwand                                                                         http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Convoy_SC_94

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport                         http://www.onthisday.com/

* The Next Web                                                     https://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/08/06/20-years-ago-today-the-world-wide-web-opened-to-the-public/#.tnw_UAhhoMGz  

* This Day In History – What Happened Today                        http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

10 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… August 6th”

  1. Very powerful posting, John. It’s horrifying to think of the extensiveness of the destruction of Hiroshima. And, it is scary to think about how we humans quickly forget and then make the same mistakes again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good heavens – the dropping of the atomic bomb. What a momentous game changer. I still don’t know why they dropped the second one on Nagasaki.
    www was a game changer too in its own way. How quickly we get used to new things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Japan was instructed to surrender unconditionally immediately after Hiroshima. They supposedly missed the deadline – Japan denies that, so they dropped another on Nagasaki. Probably the most horrific days in history. Here we are 26 years later exchanging comments/views on the WWW! Thanks for your comments, Opher!

      Like

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