ValuJet Flight 592

The crash of ValuJet Flight 592. This was the worst aviation accident in Florida and happened on May 11th, 1996. The plane crashed into the Florida Everglades. There were no survivors. The aircraft took off from Dallas-Fort Worth at 8.20 in the morning. It was bound for Miami and there was a scheduled stop in Atlanta. Everything went as usual. At 2.30 in the afternoon, the plane was cleared for takeoff from Miami Airport for its...

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All the Queen’s … Pigeons

The Queen and her racing pigeons. It’s widely known that Queen Elizabeth II is extremely fond of horse racing but did you know that she’s also a pigeon fancier? She keeps a stable (if that’s the right word) of racing pigeons in the grounds of the Norfolk royal residence, Sandringham. She has over two hundred pigeons and is said to be extremely knowledgeable about the birds, their care and of course, about pigeon...

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Who Was Mr Simpson?

For anyone who is familiar with the history of the twentieth century, the name of Mrs Simpson is well known. She was the American divorcée who captivated the then king of England, Edward VIII. Famously he abdicated from the throne in order to marry her whereupon they became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Their story, somewhat erroneously referred to as the ‘love affair of the century’, has been recreated in...

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Nicole Hughes Maxwell

Who was Nicole Hughes Maxwell?  Nichole Hughes Maxwell transformed herself from a Californian socialite into a South American explorer and ethnobotanist. She later said that the wild animals,the witch doctors and the swamps held no fear for her – not,that is, compared to her pre-expedition lunch with top executives of  pharmaceutical company.”I hate asking for money’ she said. But she did receive a grant to continue...

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The Great Jacksonville Fire

Jacksonville fire: 1901. Friday, May 3rd, 1901 was a beautiful day in Jacksonville, Florida. The sky was blue and there was no wind – it was perfect Floridian weather. At the Cleveland Fibre Factory, workers were sitting outside enjoying their lunch and there was a delicious smell of food cooking on a wood burning stove from a nearby shanty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the smell that was floating through the air –...

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Batley Variety Club

Yorkshire entertainment: The Batley Variety Club It all started with two Yorkshiremen, James Corrigan and Peter Fleming. Both were from fairground families so they knew a thing or two about entertaining the public. James was married to a girl from Batley in Yorkshire and his new wife Betty and his friend Peter joined him in their dream – to bring Las Vegas-style entertainment to the sleepy Yorkshire town of Batley. Batley was...

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Lunch with Hitler

Traudl Junge was only twenty two years old when she became one of Adolf Hitler’s private secretaries. This was in 1942. The secretaries had little work to do and one of their duties was to dine with Hitler to keep him amused, keep his mind off the war for a short while and of course, to supply him with an audience. Initially Traudl found her boss to be rather charming and pleasant company. This was to change as the war...

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The Murder of Sir Harry Oakes

Sir Harry Oakes: A true life murder mystery. This story of a brutal murder has all the ingredients required to make an excellent thriller or film – but these events actually happened. The victim was a hugely wealthy businessman, we also have a Nazi spy, a beautiful socialite, the Mafia, exiled royalty and more fascinating characters and the scene is set in the beautiful Bahamas during the Second World War. The murder took place...

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So, Prince Philip swears

And this is news? In July 2015, the newspapers and the internet were full of the news that Britain’s Prince Philip had ‘appeared to use’ the f-word during a photo shoot.  Have they nothing better to report? Blimey. Royals today are no longer expected to don suits of armour and go jousting. Neither do they live in fear of being usurped and sent to the Tower to have their heads cut off.  But it does seem a little...

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Philip

Ten facts you might not know about Prince Philip. Prince Philip married Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in 1947. Few marriages have lasted as long. The prince has been hugely misunderstood in the press during all his public life but he is quite a character and there are many misconceptions about him. Here’s a selection of interesting facts that you might now know. Amaze your friends with your knowledge of royal...

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The Aberfan Disaster

The Aberfan disaster of 1966. Aberfan is a small mining village in Wales. On the misty morning of October 21st, 1966, the village’s children had just entered the classrooms of the small local school. It was just after nine o’clock. Suddenly, a loud roaring noise was heard. One teacher was sure that it was an aeroplane that was about to crash and she ordered the children to get under their desks. It was in fact, tens of...

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The Mysterious Porthole Murder

A shipboard romance – and murder: True story. They were an unlikely couple but it’s hardly surprising that they got together. In October 1947, the liner Durban Castle was making its way on a voyage between Cape Town and Southampton. Eileen Gibson (known as Gay) was a twenty one year old actress and a first class passenger aboard the ship. James Camb was also on board but the thirty one year old was an employee; he was a...

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Who Was Monica Proietti?

Monica Proietti: Machine Gun Molly Monica Proietti was the mother of two children and old twenty seven years old when she died. This young mother was killed in a gun battle with the law. I know that sounds like a story from the Wild West but this took place  in Montreal in 1967. Monica was known as Machine Gun Molly  and was a known criminal – with a curious background. She’d been married when she was only seventeen,...

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Isadora Duncan

Who was Isadora Duncan? Although she was American, Isadora Duncan was virtually unknown in the States during her short and rather scandalous lifetime. A free-spirited dancer, she found her fame in Europe. When she first appeared on the stage in Victorian New York, the public was scandalised. One critic wrote: “This woman is an outrage, scandalous and a threat to all decent societies. She should be locked up at the earliest...

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Dr Buck Ruxton

Dr Buck Ruxton. Murderer. When we were kids, we used to sing a daft little song about Dr Buck Ruxton. We had no idea what it was about really. It was only later that I discovered that Ruxton was actually a murderer whose case had caused a sensation in England in the nineteen thirties. Ruxton was born in India and given the somewhat elaborate name of Buktyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim. He studied medicine in India and then went to...

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Frances Reynolds: Life on the Run

Frances Reynolds: Wife of Great Train Robber, Bruce. Frances was just sixteen years old when Bruce Reynolds started courting her. She knew that he operated on the wrong side of the law but she was in love. She understood his rebellious character. So when he went on the run, she was with him. After Bruce and his colleagues had pulled off the Great Train Robbery in 1963, the couple had no choice. They had a small baby, Nick, but Franny...

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Seymour Worsley, The Lady in Red

The Scandalous Lady Worsley. In the eighteenth century, England was rocked by the scandalous story of Lord and Lady Worsley and her lover, George Bisset. There were many scandals amongst the aristocracy in those days but the case Seymour Worsley was seen to be one of the worst – certainly the most entertaining. Born as Seymour Fleming to a wealthy family, she married Sir Richard Worsley when she was only seventeen. The couple...

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Who was Sarah Winchester?

The mysterious Winchester House. When Sarah Winchester was widowed, she started to create one of the most bizarre homes ever seen in America. Why? It’s quite simple, it was to keep evil spirits away. Obviously really, isn’t it? No? Well, it was to Sarah. Sarah’s late husband was William Winchester, the man who made rage rifles ‘that won the West’. The distraught widow, who had discovered spiritualism some...

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Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett: Mystery. In late September 2008, a hiker was out in the Sierra Nevada in California with his wife and a couple of friends. The hiker had heard that there was an abandoned mine nearby so left the rest of the party to see if he could locate it. He didn’t – but he found something far more remarkable, although he didn’t realise it at the time. He found a pilot’s license and some banknotes. The...

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The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

In the mid nineteen fifties a contractor on Islamorada, one of the Florida Keys, was digging fill from a rock pit. He unearthed a gruesome discovery. He found three intact cars. Their out-of-state licence plates showed that they had been there since 1935. The skeletons of the occupants were still inside the vehicles. It was easy to explain what had happened to those vehicles twenty years before. They must have been visiting the...

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Today in history: September

What happened on this day in September? 1st Edgar Rice Burroughs born 1875 Titanic found by Robert Ballard 1985 Lily Tomlin born 1939 Germany invaded Poland 1939 Lady Iris Mountbatten died 1982 Princess Anne announced divorce 1989 2nd George Harrison married Olivia Arias 1978 Labor Day Hurricane 1935 Jean Spangler born 1923 3rd Steve Fossett disappeared 2007 Britain declared war on Germany 1939 Denby Dale Pie 1988 4th Robert Dudley...

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Lady Anne Savile

Who was Lady Anne Savile? Actually, she was Princess Anne of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg but Anne Savile, her maiden name, is considerably less effort to type. She was a rather eccentric aviator in the times when flying was still new and extremely dangerous – as she discovered. Lady Anne was born into a wealthy and titled British family. Her father was the Earl of Mexborough. When she married Prince Ludwig of...

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The Angels of Mons

The Angels of Mons: Did they save British soldiers in the First World War? Many people believed so at the time. The First World War – and the following years – saw a huge increase in the belief of spiritualism and the supernatural. We can understand this. So many young men were killed in the conflict and it was comforting for their loved ones to believe that they had gone to’a better place’ — and that...

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The Secret Life of Charles Lindberg

Charles Lindbergh’s secret life. Charles Lindbergh became a hero in 1927 when he flew nonstop from New York to Paris. Five years later he gained the sympathy of the public when his young child was kidnapped and murdered. Yet he fell from grace during the Second World War and after his death, his secret private life was discovered. Lindbergh had not one but three secret families. In 1941, before the United States joined the war,...

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Prince George – The Forgotten Royal

Who was Prince George? Prince George was a member of the British royal family but his name is little-known today. He was a good looking prince – he was rather dashing and loved fast airplanes, fast cars and, as you might imagine, fast women too. There are still stories coming to light about his life – we may still find out more about this somewhat mysterious character. His life was a short one and we were left with three...

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The Berners Street Hoax

Theodore Hook, Berners Street and the Sanderson Hotel. For two hundred years the Berners Street Hoax has been thought of as one of the most bizarre – and certainly chaotic -practical jokes in history. If you’ve ever seen the Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera, this event is said to have been the inspiration for one of the funniest scenes. Theodore Hook, the man you see on the right,was the person responsible. He wasn...

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Who Was Ellen Church?

Ellen Church: The first air hostess. In 1930, Ellen was ideally qualified to become the first air hostess. She was a registered pilot and a qualified nurse. In those days, airlines wouldn’t employ female pilots (for reasons known only to them) but Ellen persuaded them that cabin crew should be trained in nursing. Flying was a rather hazardous business in those days — you only have to think of the large number of...

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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Who was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu? In the eighteenth century, Lady Mary was known for her sharp satiric writing about prominent personalities. Not all this work survives however, because of her daughter. Her daughter was scandalised by her mother – who she considered to be extremely eccentric –  so when Lady Mary died, her papers were destroyed. Lady Mary was renown for her wit and her beauty but there was another side to...

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Who Was Bernarr MacFadden?

Bernarr MacFadden: Millionaire, eccentric and health nut. He fully expected to live to be a hundred and twenty. He often predicted that he would in his health magazine and his over one hundred books. He was a bodybuilder and chose to subsist, so he maintained,on a diet of nuts, carrots and beet juice. He also recommended exercise, relaxation and that sex should be performed only for the purposes of reproduction. (He was married four...

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The Last Men Hanged in Britain

Gwynne Evans & Peter Allen: The last people to be hanged in the UK. A double hanging for murder. The men you see here both have the dubious distinction of being the last person to be hanged in the UK. Why? Because they were both hanged for murder at exactly the same time – eight o’clock on the morning of 13th August 1964. Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans had committed a senseless and brutal murder and despite the fact that...

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Who was Pancho Barnes?

Who was Pancho Barnes? She was no beauty, that’s for sure, but she was one of the fastest-living, hardiest partying girls of the last century. She was married four times, was a Hollywood stunt pilot and spent her way through several fortunes.   The girl who was destined to escape from Mexican rebels by dressing as a man, and who could out-party, out-drink and out-everything most men she met, was born with the demure name of...

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Who Was Jackie Cochran?

Jackie Cochran: The mystery. Jackie Cochran isn’t as well known as her counterpart and contemporary, Amelia Earhart.  But nevertheless she was the first woman – and in some cases, the first person – to achieve an enormous number of aviation feats and challenges. But who was she and what was her background? For many years, this was the accepted story. She did not know exactly when she was born, or where. She had no...

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Florida’s German Invasion

In early summer 1942 a German submarine, U-584, lay off the coast of Florida close to Jacksonville. On June 16th it surfaced and a small rubber inflatable dinghy was launched. Four men hastily climbed into the tiny craft. They wore swimming trunks and woollen caps. They each had a suitcase containing a variety of American made clothing. Also, they loaded four wooden crates into the dinghy – these contained explosives. They also...

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Reginald Warneford: Reckless Rex

Reginald Warneford: War hero. Known as Reckless Rex because of his devil-may-care attitude, Reginald was a First World War fighter pilot. He was the first pilot for bring down one of the fearsome Zeppelins that the Germans unleashed upon Britain in 1915. And just ten days later, an air crash took Reginald’s life. He had been born in India where his father was a railway engineer. It’s said that he received no formal...

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Plane Lost in the Andes for Fifty Years

What happened to the British South American Airways Avro Lancastrian Star Dust? In 1947, an aircraft flying over the treacherous Andes Mountains, and all the passengers and crew aboard, disappeared into thin air. The radio operator sent a strange message which has not been deciphered to this day and the aircraft wasn’t seen again – for over fifty years. The plane, Star Dust, was a converted World War 2 bomber. The crew...

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Yorkshire Day

Yorkshire. Yorkshire, as all right-thinking people know, is known as ‘God’s Own County’ and quite right too. We’re lucky here at JAQUO because we have several Yorkshire writers. (As you would expect from a magazine of such quality). This means that JAQUO has quite a few articles about God’s Own County – the people and the places, the history and the food – which you can see here in our...

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The Empire State Building

Empire State Building: Trivia. What do you know about the Empire State Building? Here’s a series of weird and wonderful facts. Bore Fascinate your friends with Empire State Building trivia 🙂 For the golden anniversary of the building’s opening in 1981, workmen opened the time-capsule that had been buried in its cornerstone. The contents hadn’t stood the test of time. The items within it had rotted away during their...

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Alcock and Brown

 Who were Alcock and Brown? If you asked people to name pioneers of aviation, which names do you think you’d hear? Charles Lindbergh would be one. Amelia Earhart would probably get a mention too, as would the Wright brothers. But Alcock and Brown were the first to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. Sadly, they are largely forgotten now. Many people believe that this distinction should go to Charles Lindbergh but he was the first...

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British Prince Charles Edward: Nazi

The British prince who was a Nazi official. The grandson of Queen Victoria who was a top Nazi. Born in 1884, Prince Edward Charles was a member of the British royal family. His father, Prince Leopold, had been Victoria’s youngest son. Nevertheless, during the Second World War he was a top-ranking member of the Nazi Party. Because of this, you’re unlikely to find details of him in most history books, especially those...

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Will Camilla be Queen?

Will Camilla be Queen? In 2005, it was announced that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker -Bowles would be married. They had been living together for quite some time. The queen and the practically-minded royal family approved wholeheartedly. Princes William and Harry had come to know her well and were delighted. And yet a poll showed that only seven percent of British people wanted her to eventually be queen. Yet ten years later, as the...

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Who Was Julia Stanley?

Julia Stanley: Which version do you believe? Julia Stanley will go down in history. But her life is surrounded by myths and legends. What is the truth? Let’s look at the facts. She was born as one of five sisters in Liverpool in 1914. She wasn’t from a wealthy family but they were not poor either.  After the death of the girls’ mother, the father ruled over the household with an iron fist. When Julia was fourteen,...

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The Bobbed Haired Bandit

The Bobbed Haired Bandit. In 1989 it was clear to Ed Cooney Jr that his mother, now aged eighty five, was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Ed had been a computer programmer and had moved to Florida when he retired. His mother Celia, having no other family except Ed and his brother, had also moved from New Jersey to the Floridian sunshine. Ed didn’t realised that his mother had lived in Florida before – or anything...

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Did Ruth Ellis Really Shoot her Lover?

Did Ruth Ellis really shoot David Blakely? The world certainly thought so in 1955. It’s said that on Easter Sunday of that year, she had followed David Blakely – a racing driver – to outside a London pub. When she confronted him – their relationship had been stormy of late – she took a revolver from her handbag and shot him repeatedly. He died at once. Ruth did not run away or try to hide. She was...

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Who Was Carrie Buck?

Who was Carrie Buck? Carrie Buck was a victim of a curious belief that was sweeping the United States in the nineteen twenties. Various powerful men were becoming increasingly concerned about the health of the general population. Strange though it seems to us these days, many people thought that the answer was the sterilisation of people who were mentally or physically imperfect. The USA had previously had an open-door policy when it...

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The Mysterious Death of Wallis Simpson

What happened to Wallis Simpson after the Duke of Windsor died? Wallis was of course, the Duchess of Windsor. Her husband the duke had formerly been King Edward VIII and famously he abdicated in 1936 so that he could marry her. Their affair and subsequent marriage had tongues wagging on both sides of the Atlantic and was the constitutional crisis of the twentieth century. They had a curious, scandalous and rather sad married life but...

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Cremorne Gardens, London

Cremorne Gardens, London Cremorne Gardens provided a popular place for entertainment in the Victorian era. Close to the Battersea Bridge, it offered all sorts of amusements for the population. It sounds so very genteel, doesn’t it? It gives the impression of well-bred ladies strolling in their finery and holding their parasols to shield their fair complexions from the sun. The name evokes an image of elegant gentlemen, courtesly...

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William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy

The curious life and death of Grand Prix driver, William Grover Williams. Yes, William Grover was a racing driver and some motorsport historians will probably know his name because he was the winner of the inaugural Monte Carlo Grand Prix in 1929. But his life was much more fascinating than that last sentences implies.   He was British, having had an English father and a British mother. It was evident that he had a huge interest...

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Mrs Miniver

Mrs Miniver: The woman who won the war. Well, not literally but Winston Churchill said that her contribution to the war was worth more than six ‘divisions of war effort’ and that she had done more for the war effort than a ‘flotilla of battleships’. So who was she? Even more surprising than Churchill’s praise was the fact that she was a fictional character. But it’s said that she affected the...

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The Disappearance of the Mary Celeste

What was the fate of the Mary Celeste? The Mary Celeste became the world’s most famous ship in 1872. She had been found drifting in the North Atlantic Ocean – she was completely seaworthy and orderly but her entire crew had vanished into thin air. They were never seen again. You can read more about that here. Ever since that day, experts, the authorities and members of the general public have been speculating about the...

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Wallis Simpson’s Wedding Dress

Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress. Not a fashion success. In the nineteen thirties, when King Edward VIII gave up the throne of England for Mrs Wallis Simpson, many people just couldn’t understand what this highly eligible bachelor saw in her. Many  still don’t understand the attraction. In those days, and ever since, she has been described as a ‘fashion icon’. There is little photographic evidence to...

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Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull: The first woman to run for the US presidency. Her father was a con-man and an arsonist. He mother was illegitimate and illiterate. But that didn’t stop Victoria Woodhull from deciding that she wanted to be the president of the United States. She only went to school for three years. She was enchanted by clairvoyants and spiritualists. She was married when she was fifteen, had two children then was quickly...

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The Princesses and V.E Day

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, 1945. On May 7th, 1945, the BBC interrupted a broadcast of piano music to declare that the following day would henceforth be known as ‘Victory in Europe Day’. Hitler had killed himself several days before and the German forces had surrendered. On the following day the crowds outside Buckingham Palace were greater than they had been for the coronation of the king, George VII.  The crowds...

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Ivy Benson

Who was Ivy Benson? Have you heard of Ivy Benson? I doubt you have but her story is fascinating. Unusually, she was the leader of a swing band in England during the Second World War – and it was an all-girls band. They were incredibly popular. Women came into their own during World War Two. They drove trucks and buses, flew planes, worked as machinists and engineers, worked decoding messages and in general, took over the jobs of...

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Was Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol: The Real Pink Panther?

Was Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol: The Real Pink Panther? He was born into money. He was titled. Yet Victor Hervey became a jewel thief and was the person who masterminded several robberies of a high-class nature. When he was only twenty three years old he was sent to jail. Two years before he was sentenced to prison, he had been declared bankrupt – he had squandered the family money. What was he to do? Well, his...

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The Racing Driver and the Titanic

Washington Augustus Roebling II. Washington Roebling was named after his well-known uncle who had played a part in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and as a boy, like others in his family, he had a huge interest in engineering. But for Washington, that had nothing to do with civil engineering but with cars and racing. He co-created the Roebling-Planche car which he drove successfully in several races in the USA. But late in 1911 he...

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Franklin D. Roosevelt: Assassination Attempt

FDR saved in Miami. When Franklin D Roosevelt was elected to office  he planned to relax a little before his inauguration. That was to take place in March 1933 so the month before, he accepted an invitation to go on a fishing trip to South Florida. Eleven days into the trip the yacht he was on, the Nourmahal, docked in pier one at Miami harbour. Roosevelt planned to speak briefly in Bayfront Park to which he travelled in an open car....

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Tragic Truth Behind Sheffield’s Famous Graffiti

The story behind the ‘I love you’ bridge. In 2001 local residents in the Park Hill area of Sheffield saw a rather amazing piece of graffiti. It wasn’t just that it was an ‘aww’ moment, it was also remarkable because of its location. It was written on the side of a walkway bridge one hundred and thirty feet off the ground. It read ‘Clare Middleton I Love You Will U Marry Me’. Everyone who saw...

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The Guinea Pig Club

The Guinea Pig Club of the Second World War. This very exclusive club was started in 1941 during WW2. There were exactly six hundred and forty nine members. But there was an incredibly high price to pay for membership. Members were all airmen who had been badly burned and disfigured in action They had all been treated by pioneer surgeon, Archibald McIndoe. He pioneered plastic surgery, hence the name of this elite club. Read on to...

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The Mermaids of Mapplewell

The Mermaids of Mapplewell Come with me on a journey to the past. A past that was stranger than we could ever imagine. In olden times, unusual creatures inhabited the earth but don’t imagine for a moment that I am talking about prehistoric days. No, the story which unfolds below is only a little more than a hundred and fifty years old. It was then, despite the technological advances being made by the people of the Victorian era,...

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Eyam Village and the Great Plague

Eyam Village and the Great Plague. Eyam is a small and picturesque village in Derbyshire. If you visit, at first there is nothing to immediately distinguish it from other English villages but you’ll soon find history surrounds you. Three hundred and fifty years ago, the great plague came to the village. And the villagers decided to quarantine themselves to stop this horrible and fatal disease spreading to the rest of the north...

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Eva Braun: Mrs Hitler

Eva Braun: The woman who married Adolf Hitler. Who was the woman who married the fuhrer? Of course, it was probably one of the shortest marriages ever, ending with the couple’s death on April 30th, 1945, but at that time, she had known Hitler for sixteen years. She was born to what was then known as a lower-middle-class couple in 1912, one of three sisters. She was educated at the local catholic school and then at a convent. She...

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Who Was Timothy Evans?

Who was Timothy Evans? Timothy Evans was twenty-five years old when he died in London in 1950. He was hanged for the murder of his wife and their baby daughter. But it was later discovered that there was one big problem. Timothy Evans was innocent. Evans was illiterate. He had suffered various illnesses as a child and had hardly any education. When he was still a boy, his family moved from their native Wales to London.  When he was...

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International Women’s Day: The Origins and Future

International Women’s Day: The Origins and Future International Women’s Day has been an annual celebration since 1911 and each year reminds us to dedicate time to celebrate those women who have played a part to improve the world we all live in. From looking at achievement we can reflect on how far we have come and how far we have yet to climb. It began as a Socialist political event, first organized by the Socialist Party of America...

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The Adventures of Poon Lim

The amazing survival story of Poon Lim. On 5th April, 1943, the crew of a small Brazilian fishing vessel spotted a life raft off the coast of Brazil. When they approached it, they found that it had a single occupant – a young Chinese man called Poon Lim. He had left his homeland several years before to work on a British merchant ship as a steward. But of course, this was now the Second World War and on 23rd November, 1942 his...

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What is a Ponzi Scheme?

What is a Ponzi scheme? A Ponzi scheme is a type of fraud. Investors are encouraged to hand over their money being told they will get fabulous returns. The problem is, that there is actually no company making money to back up the claims. Charles Ponzi This scheme is named after Italian Charles Ponzi and a business venture he started in America round about 1920. As you can see from his photograph on the left,  he ended up in jail....

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1964: The Year of Royal Babies

Four royal babies: 1964. Today there is a media frenzy when a royal baby is born. This wasn’t always the case in the previous century because the media hadn’t become quite as intrusive and the general population was more inclined to allow the royal family more privacy than they do today. Yet imagine what today’s media would have made of the news in 1964 when four royal babies were born, including one to Queen...

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Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer

Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer. Christopher Wilder was rich. His friends described him as charming and gallant. He lived a playboy life in South Florida, living well and racing sports cars. He was particularly fond of beautiful young women. In the nineteen eighties he was still in his thirties and living in Boynton Beach in Florida. Murder at the 1984 Miami Grand Prix This was the second motor racing event...

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Thelma Todd

Who Killed Thelma Todd? On a Monday morning December  1935, Thelma Todd’s body was found. She was in a car that was parked in the garage of her lover, Roland West. It was the exhaust fumes from the Packard convertible that had caused her death. Police rushed to the scene above the Pacific Highway between Malibu and Santa Monica. They took photographs, questioned locals and discovered that Thelma had bruises and that her face was...

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Was Karen Silkwood Murdered?

Who was Karen Silkwood? Many people believe that she was murdered. Let’s look at her background first. She began working at an Oklahoma chemical plant in 1972.  The facility was responsible for producing plutonium pellets for use in nuclear reactors. Yes, frightening. As did her colleagues, she joined the union and became concerned about the levels of safety for the workers employed in the factory who were exposed to dangerous...

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British Money Before Decimalisation

British money before decimalisation In a strange British perverse way, those of us who remember the ‘old money’ took a secret delight in its complexity. Today, it’s easy. Like dollars and cents, there are one hundred pennies to the pound. Arithmetic is simple. Foreign visitors are no longer baffled. The old system, which evolved relatively naturally sounds quite bonkers, but even the most innumerate people (such as...

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Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Many race fans will be familiar with this circuit and in 2015, the Formula One series returned to Mexico. But what do you know about the brothers after which the circuit is named? Theirs is a story that shouldn’t be forgotten. Pedro Rodríguez was born in 1940 in Mexico City. He had three brothers and a sister. However, the other brother who is also commemorated in the name of this circuit was his...

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Who Was Isabella Beeton?

Who was Isabella Beeton? The ‘Isabella’ part of the name might not be familiar but many people have heard of ‘Mrs Beeton’, the Victorian lady who compiled the then best-selling book of  household management advice. But who was Mrs Beeton? It’s easy to have the impression that she was a rosy-cheeked, suitable plump, grandmotherly old lady who shared her years of experience  of cooking and managing a home....

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Lord Lucan

Who was Lord Lucan? And even more importantly, what happened to him? What was the eventual fate of this member of the British aristocracy who, it’s claimed, murdered his children’s nanny mistaking her for his estranged wife? These strange events took place on November 7th, 1974 and Lord Lucan, nicknamed Lucky by his friends, was never seen again. Did he kill himself in remorse after murdering his children’s nanny?...

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Lettice Curtis

Who was Lettice Curtis? During the Second World War the Air Transport Auxiliary was formed to move new, damaged or repaired aircraft to where they were needed by the Royal Air Force. Civilian pilots were used so that the trained fighter pilots could concentrate on winning the war. One hundred and sixty six of the pilots employed by the ATA were women and Lettice Curtis was one of the first to join up. By the time the war was over, she...

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The Prince & the Showgirl: Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier & Marilyn Monroe

Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier and Marilyn Monroe In the early 1950s,Prince Rainier of Monaco was the perfect age to marry – he had been born in 1923. He was wealthy, handsome and the ruler of a magical principality. However, he was a shy and retiring man. For several years he had been living with a French actress, Gisèle Pascal and the time was approaching when he needed to marry to produce heirs to his principality. However,...

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Today in history: February

What happened on this day in February? 1st Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction 2004 Clark Gable born 1901 Lettice Curtis b 1915 2nd Nathan Lane born 1956 Gisele Pascal died 2007 Arnold Hardy born 1922 Lux Interior died 2009 Robinson Crusoe rescued 1709   3rd Buddy Holly died 1959 Three parent bill passed 2015 Nancy Kulp died 1991 Norman Rockwell born 1894 Lord Lucan declared dead 2016 4th Liberace died 1987 Charles Lindberg born...

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The Spirella Lady

History ramblings about, well, ladies’ undergarments. It’s a curious thing. When I was a child, grown-up women wore corsets. Today though, women seem to have an anything-goes policy. So what if you’ve got a huge bum? So what if your belly button shows through your t-shirt nestled in several rolls of fat? Well, in the 1950s and 1960s, women were more particular or, as my mother would have no doubt put it, they had...

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The Kennedy curse?

The Kennedy curse? Did Jackie Kennedy take the curse to the Onassis family? Many people believe that the Kennedy family was cursed. It’s certainly true that they suffered many tragedies. But only three of these alleged ‘curses’ took place before the nineteen fifties – on other words, before Jacqueline Bouvier married John Kennedy in September 1953. The first tragedy was actually brought about largely by the...

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The Mystery of Amy Johnson

The mystery of Amy Johnson. As a pioneer aviator, Amy Johnson from Yorkshire had broken several flying records by the time the Second World War started in 1939. But once the war had begun, the Royal Air Force had no use for female pilots. So the only opportunity for her to use her flying skills to help the war effort was to join the ATA – the Air Transport Auxiliary. This organisation, as the name suggests, used female pilots to...

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What Happened to the Von Trapp Family Children?

The von Trapp family from ‘The Sound of Music‘. Like many people, I was just a kid when I first saw this classic movie. It’s true that it’s a sickly-sweet film – the oldies loved it – but nevertheless it had its own charm for kids. It was the idea of Mary Poppins coming to rescue a gaggle of kids from their overbearing father that did it. Now of course, we know that the story was only very loosely...

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Today in History: January

What happened on this day in January? 1st Blanche Barrow born 1911 First edition of the Time of London published 1788 Victoria became the Empress of India 1877 Alcatraz became a federal prison 1934 J.D. Salinger born 1919 Maurice Chevalier died 1972 R.T. James born 1914 Constipate goldfish’s operation 2015 R. T James born 1914 2nd Yorkshire Ripper arrested 1981 Robbie Gordon born 1969 Cuba Gooding Jr born 1968 Isaac Asimov born...

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The Monsanto House of the Future

A glimpse into the future in the nineteen fifties. I know that this sounds like something Doc Emmett Brown would say but it’s interesting to go back and see what ideas people had about the future. In 1957 the idea of the future was something that fascinated the Disney organisation and also a firm called the Monsanto Company. They thought, in common with Mr. Robinson from The Graduate, that the future could be summed up in one...

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The Queen’s Cousins: Scandal?

Queen Elizabeth II’s cousins. In 1987 the media uncovered what seemed to be a huge scandal. Newspapers reported that two sisters had been discovered in what they called an ‘asylum for mental defectives’ and what’s more, they were cousins of the queen, Elizabeth II. It was said that the two women were living in the most basic conditions and that they had no visitors. It seemed that this was a case of the royal...

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Karl Wallenda

 The Flying Wallenda Family Karl Wallenda was born in Germany in 1905 to a circus family. He was the patriarch of the famous – and often tragic – performing Wallenda family. His descendants are still performing to this day. He started performing when he was just six years old. This is a family tradition that has been continued. When he was still a teenager, he formed his own act which included his brother and a young girl...

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George Harrison Attacked at Home

In 1999, Beatle George Harrison was attacked in his own home. We like to think that we are safe in our own homes but in the early hours of December 31st, 1999, George Harrison and his wife Olivia were brutally attacked by a man wielding a knife in the Friar Park home. George said later that he was sure that he would die. George and Olivia had been watching television that night and had gone to bed at about 2am. Their son Dhani was...

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The Dreamland Fire of 1911

Coney Island: The Dreamland Fire, 1911. Have you ever thought, like me, that places such as fairgrounds, circuses and amusement parks have a vaguely creepy side to them? At these places, much of what we see is illusion. Nothing is as it appears to be. This was especially the case in the early nineteenth century and in Victorian days. Dreamland, a huge amusement park on Coney Island, was the perfect example.In many ways, it was...

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Princess Vicky & Prince Frederick William: Royal Romance

Princess Vicky & Prince Frederick William: Royal Romance. Princess Vicky was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She was a lively and intelligent girl and was well-trained by her parents to occupy a regal position. They expected her to marry well into another European royal house. They didn’t exactly arrange her marriage but they tried their best to facilitate it. When the Great Exhibition took place in...

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Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend

Princess Margaret’s married lover Peter Townsend. Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, when thirteen when she first saw Group Captain Peter Townsend. He had arrived at Buckingham Palace to be interviewed for the position of equerry to her father, the king. He was twenty-nine, a war hero, good-looking … and married. He had married a woman called Rosemary – a woman who was attractive, fun-loving and...

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The Royal Scandal of Prince Eddy

Who was Prince Eddy? As we know, due to Queen Elizabeth’s uncle abdicating from the throne to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson, the lineage to the British throne was altered. But that was also the case in the reign of Queen Victoria – in 1892. Victoria reigned for many years and, like the current situation today, the Prince of Wales had to wait a long time to become the sovereign. Similarly to Prince Charles today, he had grown...

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Royal Scandal: Prince Edward

Prince Edward: A virtually unknown member of the royal family. You might not have heard of Prince Eddy. It’s true that over the years he has been largely considered to be homosexual and, to put it nicely, mentally challenged. It’s true that his existence has been overshadowed by his the life of his brother but why did poor Eddy slip into obscurity? I say ‘poor Eddy’ because no-one seems to challenge the general...

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Florida Murder – The Sea Waif

The date was November 12th, 1963.  A crew member aboard the Gulf Lion, a tanker, spotted a small boat in the distance. In it was a man, waving frantically. The ship changed course and headed to the tiny boat and saw its single live occupant, a middle-aged man. Also in the dinghy was a seven year old girl – not alive, sadly. The man told his rescuers that his name was Julian Harvey. He had been the captain of a sixty foot...

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Diana Barnato Walker

Who was Diana Barnato Walker? Diana was an English pilot who worked extensively during the Second World War transporting aircraft to the Royal Air Force. By the time she reached twenty two years of age, she had delivered  240 planes that were vital to the war effort. She was the first British woman to break the sound barrier. Before the war, few people would have imagined the socialite Diana would have been involved in such dangerous...

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Man Removed his own Appendix

Leonid Rogozov: The man who removed his own appendix. Leonid had little choice. He was on a Russian antarctic expedition in the early nineteen sixties when he started feeling abdominal pain. Being a doctor Leonid, who was twenty seven years old at the time, realised that he had appendicitis. He had to decide what to do. The expedition was many miles from civilisation. The team were not due to be contacted or picked up until the next...

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Who Was Harriet Mordaunt?

The Harriet Mordaunt Scandal. A Royal Scandal: The Prince of Wales and Harriet Mordaunt. It’s not really unusual to hear of an older man marrying a much younger woman. But in the case of Harriet Mordaunt, it became a scandal that fascinated Victorian society. Harriet was young and attractive and her story involved British royalty and led to Harriet being locked up as insane for the rest of her life. Was a conspiracy at work?...

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The Bombing of Buckingham Palace in WW2

The Second World War: The Bombing of Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace was hit by bombs seven times during the Second World War. It was just a matter of sheer luck that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (know to most of us as the Queen Mother) weren’t killed or very badly injured when the third raid took place on September 13th, 1940.. Two German bombs fell in the quadrangle – the centre courtyard – and in...

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Sheila Chisholm

Sheila Chisholm: An ingenue’s introduction to high society. Words by Lyndsy Spence In a distant corner of the Empire, in the “Land of the Wattle and the Gum”, Sheila Chisholm, a sensitive and imaginative girl with large hazel eyes and a pale, heart-shaped face would take London society by storm. But that would have to wait for two decades; in the meantime she was busy growing up on Wollogoron, the family’s sheep farm where...

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The Dionne Quintuplets

Who were the Dionne quintuplets? When Elzire Dionne discovered that she was pregnant in 1933, she already had five children. By May the following year, she had doubled the size of her family. And she was only twenty five She and her husband Oliva lived in a farming neighbourhood in a French-speaking area of Canada. During the early part of her pregnancy, Elzire thought she might have had a miscarriage (I won’t go into details)...

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Nicholas Winton: The British Schindler

Nicholas Winton: War hero. In the winter of 1938, Nicholas Winton was a twenty eight year old banker living in London. He heard about the Jewish refugees in  Czechoslovakia so instead of going on his planned skiing holiday, he went to Prague and in the months to follow personally arranged for 669 Jewish children to be transported to the safety of England. And yet at the time, he told no-one about what he was doing.It was only...

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Michael Llewelyn Davies: The Real Peter Pan

Who was Michael Llewelyn Davies? There can’t be many people who aren’t familiar with the story of Peter Pan. But did you know that the inspiration for the book was a young boy called Michael Llewelyn Davies? And Davies, pictured on the right, suffered a mysterious death when he was only twenty years old. Michael was one of five Llewellyn brothers – he was the fourth son – and the boys first met the Peter Pan...

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George VI: The Unprepared King

George VI: The Unprepared King. The problems of King George VI. George didn’t expect to be the king. He was the second son and therefore it was his older brother who was brought up to know that one day, he would be the sovereign. And just as expected, when their father died, Edward ascended to the throne and became King Edward VIII. Just as is the case with Prince Harry today, George had no desire whatsoever to become the...

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A Few Yards — And Three Feet

Three human feet found. Subtitle: What’s afoot in Bath? Yes, I have to report even more bizarre news from the UK, this time concerning severed feet. That’s right. Well, it’s not because the first two were left. Oh I’m confusing myself already so let’s start at the beginning. Foot number one In February 2016, a couple of blokes were out dog-walking in the rather gorgeous southern English town of Bath. They...

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You’ll Never Walk Alone – Justice for the 96.

Andy Royston remembers the 96. (originally published by Ayup Online Magazine, 2000). For English football fans it is a moment etched in the memory, something never to be forgotten. The moment we heard the news. 96 lives lost in a crush of people at an FA Cup Semi-final football match taking place at the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. A moment we’ll never forget. The moment when the game stopped. The occasion was supposed to be...

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What is Operation London Bridge?

Operation London Bridge – when the queen dies There’s no other way of putting it – if you hear from a British official source that ‘London Bridge is down’ this means that Queen Elizabeth ll has died.  It seems that the plans for her death and funeral have been in place for many years. The same applies to Prince Philip (Forth Bridge) and Prince Charles (Menai Bridge). The queen was born in 1926 and...

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Who Was Violet Sharp?

Violet Sharp and the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Who was Violet Sharp? It was a famous and horrific crime. In 1932, the twenty-month-old son of one of the most famous men in American was kidnapped and an enormous ransom was demanded. The father of the infant, Charles Lindbergh, had come to the attention of the American public due to his exploits an an aviation pioneer. The baby had been taken from his crib during the evening...

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Queen Senna of England

Queen Senna of England: A New Zealand Maori. It does take a bit of a stretch of the imagination but in theory at least, it is possible (although improbable) that England could have a queen named Senna. What’s more, the small girl who bears that name is a New Zealand Maori. How is this? Well firstly, quite a lot of the existing members of the royal family would have to be wiped out before Senna could take the throne. She is...

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Miss Marple: Margaret Rutherford’s Family Murder

Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Margaret Rutherford was a much-loved British actress and probably her best known role was that of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. And yet because of a tragic murder in her own family, Miss Rutherford almost turned down the part of the famous elderly amateur detective. The public was almost denied from seeing her in  this most memorable role. MGM, the movie studio, was planning to make Murder...

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Reinhard Hardegan, George Betts and the Sinking of the SS Muskogee

The sinking of the SS Muskogee. On March 22nd 1942, the commander in charge of a German U-boat, twenty eight year old Reinhard Hardegan, spotted an American oil tanker. It was its job to prevent America sending oil to Britain for the war effort. Slowly, he turned his submarine towards the ship. The ship was the SS Muskogee, a merchant ship that had been pressed into service to transport oil to war-stricken England. There were thirty...

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John Harrison: The Yorkshireman and the Moon

The Yorkshireman who made space exploration possible Neil Armstrong, shortly after he had returned from his historical journey to the moon, dined at 10 Downing Street – the residence of the British prime minister. In his speech, he paid tribute to the Yorkshireman who had made space exploration possible; John Harrison. As you can see from his portrait above, John Harrison was born in the seventeenth century.  This was in the...

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Who Was Lance Reventlow?

He had several step-fathers. One was Cary Grant. One was a prince and another a baron. Another was Porfirio Rubirosa – famous for having an extremely large male appendage. When Lance was just a baby, his mother had an affair with Howard Hughes. She was Barbara Hutton, the heir to the Woolworth fortune and Lance was the product of her three year marriage to (deep breath) Count Kurt Heinrich Eberhard Erdmann Georg von...

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Who Was Charles Blondin?

Who was Charles Blondin? During Victorian times, tightrope walkers – or high wire performers as we would probably call them today – were often referred to by the generic name ‘blondin’. This was thanks to Frenchman Charles Blondin. Blondin was without doubt the most skillful and daring tightrope performer in the world at that time. His name became synonymous with the craft. Victorian society craved sensation....

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Who was Brownie Wise?

You may not be familiar with the name of Brownie Wise but I imagine that you know about her products – and the sales method she devised. You see, it was Brownie who developed the Tupperware party. She started her career as a secretary for a company called Stanley Home Products and sold their goods at home as a sideline. But when she discovered the Tupperware products, she dropped them to concentrate on these new bowls and...

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Marthe Cohn & Jacques Delaunay

Love and tragedy in occupied France. In 1941 Marthe Hoffnung was living with her family in occupied France. Life was hard for them. It wasn’t just the hardships of the German occupation that made life so difficult – the Hoffnung family was Jewish. In April that year, Marthe had her twenty first birthday and her parents, who tried to make life as normal as possible for Marthe and her siblings, allowed her to have a small...

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The DeAutremont Twins

Who were the DeAutremont brothers? Twins Ray and Roy were just twenty three when they attempted one of the most daring robberies in America. Their brother Hugh, who accompanied them, was a mere nineteen. The crime they committed in 1923 would have been laughable in its ineptitude had they not happened to kill four men during the debacle. But what of their earlier criminal career? This too proves without doubt that the DeAutremont...

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The D-Day Crossword Mystery

WW2: Were coded messages sent to the enemy via crossword puzzles? In the spring of 1944, Allied forces were preparing for the largest ever seaborne invasion in history. This top secret mission, which we now know as D-Day, was vital to the war.  It took months of planning and secrecy was vital. As with all military operations, code words were used for the locations, various equipment and the operation itself. As preparations continued...

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Christine Granville

The strange story of Krystyna Skarbek. On June 15th, 1952, a woman’s body was found in the Shelbourne Hotel in London.  She had been murdered, stabbed in the heart. The authorities believed her to be a thirty-seven year old married woman who worked as a stewardess on ocean liners. This was only partially true. Christine Granville was forty four year old Krystyna Skarbek, the daughter of a Polish nobleman. Yes she had been...

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Today in history: June

What happened on this day in June? 1st Sgt Pepper album released 1967 Nissan Motor Company founded 1934 Crete falls to Germany 1941 Helen Keller died 1968 Marilyn Monroe born 1926 Germany launched the first Zeppelin raid against England 1915 She’s Leaving Home released 1967 2nd: The Ways of the World published 2015 Reg Spiers sentenced to death 1987 Queen Elizabeth II crowned 1953 Peter Sutcliffe born 1946 Wallace Hartley born...

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The Russell Baby: A virgin birth?

A virgin birth? You decide. In the nineteen twenties, a married woman – Christobel Russell – became pregnant. That’s hardly remarkable in itself but there was a huge scandal. This is because that the rather posh Mrs Russell claimed that her husband had not been responsible for the pregnancy, and neither had another man. She said it was due to the ‘injudicious use of a sponge’. This is a great story. The...

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Save the Jolly Fisherman!

Skegness and the Jolly Fisherman. Skegness, a seaside resort in England, doesn’t really have too much to commend it. (Others may argue). But it has a wonderful history when it comes to graphics and promotion. The Jolly Fisherman, pictured here, was created in 1908 by an artist named John Hassall to promote the resort. And ever since, the fisherman has been doing a jolly good job too. But in July 2015, PETA (which is an American...

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Who Was Blanche Barrow?

Who was Blanche Barrow? The image you see below gives the game away. As you can see, in 1933 Blanche Barrow was in police custody.  The mugshot also shows that she was twenty two years old and charged with murder. Blanche had been born as Blanche Caldwell on 1st January, 1911. Her mother was just sixteen. When Blanche was only seventeen years old, she was married off to a much older man but left him shortly afterwards. She then met...

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The Tragic Story of Princess Cecilie

The royal tragedy of Princess Cecilie. There have been so many tragedies that have befallen royal families. This was especially the case in the twentieth century. The story of Princess Cecilie and her family must be one of the saddest of all. It was 1937 – just  couple of years before the Second World Way broke out. Celilie was a beautiful young woman married to handsome Georg Donatus, the Grand Duke of Hesse. They had two small...

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Cooking in a Foreign Language

Cooking in a ‘foreign’ language – British and American. When I moved to America from England, I didn’t realize that I’d have to learn a whole new language. Yes, I’m English and Americans speak English too, don’t they? Well, as a keen cook, it struck me almost at once that the words I’d grown up with in recipes just weren’t going to work here because of language differences....

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Porfirio Rubirosa: The pepper mill playboy

Porfirio Rubirosa: The pepper mill playboy. Rubirosa was a well-known character in the nineteen fifties and sixties. He either married,or had affairs with, some of the richest,most beautiful women in the world. This charm was legendary. Amongst the women he attracted were heiresses and movie stars. He was something of a dare-devil, enjoying fast cars, skiing, flying,playing polo and having dangerous liaisons with married women. It was...

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The Tasaday Tribe

The Stone Age Tribe: A hoax or a hoax within a hoax? In the late sixties a beautiful and heartwarming story came from the Philippines. Reports told of a cave-dwelling tribe of people –  called the Tasaday – who lived in isolation in the rainforests.  It was said that they lived in the same way as they had done for thousands of years. They were unaware of the outside world. Indeed, the twenty six people in the group...

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The First and Last Voyage of the SS Gulfamerica

The sinking of the SS Gulfamerica. In 1942, the Second World War hardly seemed real to the many people who were enjoying their Friday evening in Jacksonville Beach. The restaurants and bars were busy, teenagers were enjoying riding the merry-go-round and sailors from the nearby naval air station were taking advantage of their weekend passes. But that Friday, April 10th, was a night they would remember. The east coast was busy with...

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Who Was John Bindon?

John Bindon: A true story of murder, scandal, gangsters, sex and …. royalty. Who was John Bindon and what was his connection to the aristocracy, the criminal underworld, film stars, gangsters and even members of the British royal family? It sounds like a plot for a highly fictional movie but John Bindon was a real person and he is the common denominator between the shady world of gangland England and the highest members of the...

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Mitford Weddings: Diana Guinness & Oswald Mosley

Diana Mitford & Sir Oswald Mosley. Of the six somewhat scandalous Mitford sisters, possibly the most controversial wedding was that of Diana to Oswald Mosley. It took place in Germany in October 1936 – less than three years before the outbreak of the Second World War. The marriage service was conducted in the home of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels and the guest of honour was Adolf Hitler. Both Diana and her...

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The Bethnal Green Tube Disaster

A wartime disaster in London. In 2013, two seventy year old women met for the first time. Although they were strangers, it was a highly emotional meeting. They had a common bond which involved tragedy and immense bravery. That same year, another women who was all of ninety seven years old, was interviewed about the same event – a disaster that had been covered up by the authorities for many years. March 3rd, 1943 It was the...

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Harry Houdini

Who was Harry Houdini? Houdini was born as Ehrich Weiss in Budapest in 1974. As Harry Houdini, he became world famous as an escapologist and magician. He was best known for his daring and seemingly impossible escapes. Sometimes he was placed in a crate, in chains and submerged in water. Another famous escape act involved him being suspended high in the air in a straitjacket and handcuffs. Houdini never let down his audiences. His...

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The Leeds Dripping Riots

Yorkshire: The Leeds Dripping Riots of 1865 This is the true story of a bizarre riot that took place in Leeds in Yorkshire a hundred and fifty years ago. Although there was a death because of the riot, and hundreds of people took part, it started because of something incredibly trivial – two pounds of dripping. Here, I suspect that I have to explain to younger readers exactly what I mean by dripping <sigh>. In the north of...

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Alberta Vickridge – forgotten poet and printer

The Forgotten Bard. Alberta Vickridge? You’ve probably never heard of her. Which is a pity – because in her lifetime she was a poet of considerable talent, including poetry that won her a Bardic Crown and Bardic Chair at an Eisteddfod in 1924. She also ran her own printing press from her home in Yorkshire at a time when women in printing were uncommon. Her poetry was admired and praised by writers, such as Agatha Christie,...

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Three Identical Strangers

Why did the ‘three identical strangers’ all have sisters? Who were the three identical strangers? You may have seen the film but if you need a memory-refresh, here’s the story. And unbelievably, it’s true. The story starts in the USA in the early nineteen eighties. Robert Shafran, aged nineteen, was experiencing something strange during his first day at college. Although it was his very first day, and he knew...

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Was Thomas Ince Murdered?

The mysterious death of Thomas Ince. Thomas Ince was a pioneer of early Hollywood. Yet many people haven’t heard of him, largely because of the mystery of his death. Was he murdered or did he die of natural causes? The story itself is worthy of a Hollywood mystery film. The murder, if indeed it was, took place aboard a luxury yacht belonging to a super-wealthy newspaper mogul. Aboard were actors and actresses, writers, a ballet...

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Why Airbnb is Good for Local Businesses

Does Airbnb (or similar) help the local community? We all know that the Airbnb website (and its copycat sites) are causing controversy because of the impact of ‘the sharing economy’. But can such services actually help local communities? In my experience – and thanks to various statistics – I can say ‘yes’. Before we start looking at facts and figures, let’s take a look at the average Airbnb...

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November 22, 1963

November 22, 1963 – An event that changed everyone’s life. Arriving in Dallas, Texas – November 22, 1963   John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Mrs Nellie...

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Kanga: Camilla’s Rival, Lady Dale Tryon

Prince Charles’ other mistress, Kanga If you look up Dale Tryon in Wikipedia, you will read that she was a ‘close friend of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales’. That is not strictly speaking true.  Dale, known by the nickname of Kanga, was actually Charles’ mistress prior to his marriage and as such, a rival for his affections. Her story is tragic. Charles loved women who were blonde, attractive and...

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Charles and Camilla

Charles and Camilla. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the-then Camilla Parker Bowles before 2005? She knew, as the world knew, that Prince Charles wanted to marry her. Charles’ mother, the queen, knew and liked Camilla. So did his two sons. But what about the world’s public? The consensus of the British people was that he should be able to marry exactly who he wanted to and, after all, the relationship had...

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Life on a WW1 U-Boat

 What was life like aboard a WW1 U-boat? You have probably never pondered this question. Neither had I until I read a book which, as part of the narrative, explained what life was like aboard for the crew of a German sub in the First World War. And it sounds like a nightmare. Hellish, in fact. Of course, life in any submarine is, or was,  likely to be claustrophobic. In the last century, it’s likely that fresh air was something...

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Today in history: November

What happened on this day in November? 1st Abigail’s Party shown on TV for the first time Ricardo Rodriguez died 1962 L. S. Lowry born 1887 2nd George Bernard Shaw died 1950 3rd Bert Jansch born 1943 Lulu born 1948 4th Reg Dean born 1902 Marguerite Patten born 1915 Robert Mapplethorpe born 1946 5th John Fowles died 2005 Idina Sackville died 1955 John Alcock born 1892 6th SS City of Cairo torpedoed 1942 Charles McVay died 1968...

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Queen Elizabeth II & Marilyn Monroe

The day Queen Elizabeth met Marilyn Monroe. In very different ways, the two women were destined to become icons. What many of us don’t realise is that Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe were born only ten days apart. (April 21st and Jun 1st respectively – in 1926). And they met on October 29th, 1956. The occasion was the London premiere of The Battle of the River Plate in Leicester Square. It was the only time the two...

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Royal Feud: York and Lancaster

Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson: The Houses of York and Lancaster. In the fifteenth century, as all good students of Yorkshire history know, there were battles in England for the throne. The combatants were the House of York and the House of Lancaster. These were known as the Wars of the Roses as each house used a rose as its emblem; white for York, red for Lancaster. But in the twentieth century there was another ‘war of the...

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Alice de Janze & Raymund de Trafford

The day Alice de Janzé shot her lover. It was March 25th, 1927 and Alice had a date to meet her lover, Raymund de Trafford for lunch in Paris. Actually it would be more accurate to describe him as her ex-lover. This meeting, at the Maison Lapérouse restaurant overlooking the River Seine ended at the Gare du Nord, with a detour to Monsieur Guinon’s gun shop on the Avenue de l’Opera. When they arrived at the station, Alice...

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The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter

The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter. These trials began in November 1945 and were held to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.  It was a huge undertaking and interpreters were employed to translate – live in court – the testimonies of witnesses and the defence and comments of the most notorious and inhuman war criminals and their persecution of the Jews. Armand Jacoubovitch Imagine that you are a thirty year...

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Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?

Luca Brasi’s killer: Murdered by the mob. Who hasn’t seen The Godfather? There were some pretty gruesome scenes, that’s for sure, and one of those was the murder of Luca Brasi. Fictional Brasi was the bodyguard of Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. When Brasi was murdered in the movie, a bit player was the killer and he, Norman Bacchiocchi, was later killed by the mob — in real life. ‘He sleeps with...

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Grace Darling

Grace Darling and the sinking of the Forfarshire. The story of Grace Darling is well known. It’s often published in magazines that cater to young girls, possibly being thought to be inspirational. But why did she achieve such fame? Are the stories about her true? It’s certainly the case that she helped her father – a lighthouse keeper – to rescue nine people from a wrecked ship of the coast of Northumberland in...

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Who Was MaVynee Betsch??

Who was MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady? She was born into high society. Her great grandfather had been the first black millionaire in Florida. He founded the Afro-American Insurance Company in Jacksonville and the famous black American Beach resort in the days of segregation. MaVynee was exquisitely educated, as were her brother and sister. They were taught the piano, for example, at a very early age. MaVynee went onto study voice and...

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Lady Iris Mountbatten: Royal Black Sheep

Who was Iris Mountbatten? When she was fourteen years old,she was a train-bearer at the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece. Two years later, she performed the same function at the coronation of George VI. She grew up to have sultry film star looks. She was a direct descendant of Queen Victoria and at one time was fourteenth in line to the throne. She was one of the most photographed debutantes of her time. Yet...

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The Mystery of Flight 19

What happened to Flight 19? True life Second World War mystery from the Bermuda Triangle. The now famous phrase ‘the Bermuda Triangle’ hadn’t been coined on that day in December 1946 when, just before three o’clock in the afternoon, five planes took off on a routine training flight from Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station. The aircraft, and their young occupants, were never seen again. This is a truly fascinating...

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Princess Anne

Princess Anne: Forgotten royal. These days, we are more aware of the more ‘glamourous’ members of the royal family. In particular, this applies to the younger generation, royal babies, fashions and lifestyle. But one of the older members of the family, Princess Anne, has had an interesting life, a touch of scandal and yet is known for being one of (if not the) hardest working of the British royals today. Born in 1950, she...

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Cosmetic Surgery: Yes or No?

Cosmetic surgery: Yes or no?   I have a bit of a problem with this question. I’m inclined to say ‘no’ but cosmetic surgery is something I’ll never be able to afford. Is this clouding my judgement? Now don’t get me wrong.I’m not talking here about people who have serious problems with the way they look but those who endure cosmetic surgery to make themselves look younger. Or, I have to say,...

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The Adventures of Enid Lindeman

The Adventures of Enid Lindeman by Lyndsy Spence. Standing at six-feet tall with handsome features and platinum hair, Enid Lindeman was never going to be a wallflower. As she gallivanted through life she accumulated four husbands, numerous lovers, and during the inter-war years her high-jinx dominated the gossip columns. Evelyn Waugh satirized her set in Vile Bodies, but the workings of his menacing imagination paled in comparison to...

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Reading The Riot Act: What Does This Mean?

What is the origin of the phrase ‘reading the riot act’? Just about everyone in the English-speaking world has either said or used this phrase. But where did it come from?  For example, someone might say ‘her behaviour is terrible – I need to read her the riot act’. The phrase has its origins in 1714 in England. Those were turbulent times in the British Isles. There were riots and revolts for several...

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Who was Georgia Tann?

Who was Georgia Tann? Georgia Tann was the seemingly benevolent organiser of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, starting in the nineteen twenties. However, the society was little more than a front for her black-market dealings. Georgia Tann sold babies. Back in those days, treatment for couples who couldn’t conceive,or for women who couldn’t carry a baby to term, was very primitive compared to today’s...

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Royal Feud: Wallis Simpson and Elizabeth

The royal feud between Queen Elizabeth & Wallis Simpson. The great feuds of history usually involve the desire for power. What makes this twentieth century royal feud extraordinary is that this feud of over fifty years was brought about because of unwanted power and position. This battle royal persisted from 1935 until 1986 and its protagonists were Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson (later the Duchess of Windsor). The two women...

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Prince John: The Hidden Royal

What is the truth about Prince John? For many years, few members of the public had even heard about Prince John. And a lot of the ‘information’ that exists about him is actually incorrect. The story that many people have heard about Prince John has often been used to ‘demonstrate’ that the British royal family are a heartless, unfeeling bunch. The myth is that John, who was the youngest of George V’s...

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Occupied by the Germans in WW2: The ChanneI Islands

Under Nazi rule: Jersey, Alderney, Sark and Guernsey The scene that you see above is a typical one and shows the British island of Jersey before the Second World War. What a peaceful scene it is. The castle overlooks the calm, blue sea. Jersey cows are contentedly grazing. There is rolling countryside and a man and boy sit enjoying the scenery and the peace of the island. But this traditional and sleepy, rural way of life was to...

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Wilson B. Hickox

Wilson B. Hickox: Poisoned by the government. There’s no doubt that Wilson Hickox died a gruesome death. On 23rd June, 1927, he booked into the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Wilson was a prosperous businessman from Cleveland, Ohio. He had spent the evening out on the town and settled down in his hotel room  and poured himself a nightcap. Soon, he was struck by some unpleasant symptoms. His throat and chest began to tighten...

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The Yorkshireman and the South Pole

On December 13, 2013, Major Ibrar Ali of the Yorkshire Regiment stood at the SouthPole. With him were eleven other service-men and -women, a handful of guides and organisers, oh – and Prince Harry from the British Royal Family. The entire team had trekked (although that’s far too mild a word) across 200 kilometres of punishing snow and ice, through brutally low temperatures for thirteen days, dragging their equipment...

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Stephanie Hoffnung

Stephanie Hoffnung: Just one Jew. June 1942: Every evening, German SS officers would hammer on the door of the Hoffnung family’s home in Rue Riffault, Poitiers. This was occupied France and the Hoffnungs were Jewish. Led by Adjutant Wilhelm Hipp, the officers would visit Jewish homes to ensure that they were complying with the various rules and curfews that had been imposed. Any deviation from these rules and regulations could...

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Why Did Henry VIII Marry Six Times?

Why did Henry VIII marry six times? There was a very good reason indeed. But I was talking to someone recently who truly believed that Henry VIII married six women because he was a horny old goat who just liked to trade wives in for a newer model. Henry had a much greater goal and one that was, in those times, incredibly important to the country. In 1524, King Henry was in his early thirties. He was incredibly tall and good looking,...

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After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen?

After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen? The last time a monarch died was in 1952.  That is more than a lifetime ago for many of us and the world is a very different place now. Although many believe in the line from the National Anthem ‘long to reign over us’, we have to admit that, having been born in 1926, she may be coming to the end of her time as monarch. No, I don’t believe she will abdicate and it may be...

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The Best Royal Wedding Dress – Ever!

I don’t know about you but royal wedding dresses are usually a disappointment for me. They are either remarkably plain (apologies to the Duchess of Cambridge but hers was boring) or they compete in fluffiness with the wedding cake (the eighties was a bad time for this – Princess Diana’s and The Duchess of York’s are good examples). But there was a royal wedding in 2011 when the dress was simply perfect. In...

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Ian Fleming, James Bond and … Bob Marley

Did Ian Fleming model James Bond on himself? Ian Fleming’s most famous creation was, of course, James Bond. And to some extent, the author was the character. He had been involved in espionage during the Second World War but there are certainly other similarities. The fictional James Bond enjoyed a drink (shaken not stirred, of course) and definitely his love of women was a great feature of the 007 persona. Fleming liked a drink...

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Princess Gabriella, Countess of Carladès

Who is Princess Gabriella? You see, the thing is this. I have decided who Prince George ought to marry. OK, I know that he was born in 2013 so marriage is hardly on his list of priorities right now.  So yes, I’m a bit premature. Marriage might not be on the cards for another twenty five or thirty years by which time I might no longer be around (I’ll be amazed if I am) so I’m going to get my selection in now. I know...

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The Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

What happened to Bonnie and Clyde’s car? In March 1934 a roofing contractor from Kansas was looking for a new car. Jesse Warren chose a Ford V-8 and he paid $785 for it. Jesse had only been the proud owner of the car for a few weeks when it was stolen – by the notorious outlaws, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Bonnie and Clyde only enjoyed the car for a few weeks because on May  23rd they were ambushed by the police in...

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Fashion Revolution Day

What is Fashion Revolution Day? On April 24th, 2013, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed. Over 1100 people were killed and many more injured. Bangladesh is one of the countries that produces the most garments and many of the clothes that were being manufactured in the ill-fated factory were destined to be sent to the western world. In other words, they were making the clothes that you and I buyin our local stores. To mark the...

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Queen Elizabeth II: The world’s oldest serving monarch

Queen Elizabeth II: The world’s oldest serving monarch. Princess Elizabeth became queen on 6th February, 1952. Little did she know that she would become the oldest monarch in the world. On 23rd January, 2015, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died at the age of ninety making the queen the oldest sovereign. She was born in 1926. Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years, 216 days, a record the queen topped in September 2015. Victoria lived...

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Myths Surrounding the Sinking of RMS Titanic.

Myths & questions surrounding the sinking of RMS Titanic. It still fascinates us, doesn’t it? And yet it seems that over the years there have been many myths and legends that have appeared surrounding the loss of the RMS Titanic. Many of these, I suspect, have been due to the films that have been made about the sinking. It’s such a good subject for a movie and it’s hardly surprising that filmmakers want to add...

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Princess Mary

 Who was Princess Mary? It’s likely that you’ve never heard of England’s Princess Mary but it’s highly possible that even after all these years you are familiar with the story of her brother. For Princess Mary was the sister of Edward VIII, the English king who famously abdicated so that he could marry his American mistress, Wallis Simpson. When you look at the photograph of her on the right, you can see the...

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Apollo One Spacecraft Fire

Apollo 1: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. In summer 1966, NASA chose the crew for the first manned Apollo space mission – a mission that was to end in disaster. Gus was the oldest of the team at forty years old. He had been the second American to fly in space. Ed was thirty six and he had the distinction of being the first US astronaut to walk in space. The youngest crew member was Roger Chaffee who at thirty one was...

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Who Was Gertrude Ederle?

Gertrude, or Trudy as she was more usually known, was a sportswoman who should have been famous and remembered today but despite her achievements she faded into obscurity. In the 1920s she was seen as a pioneer in showing the world that women were not ‘the weaker sex’.  Strangely, women were still considered to be so. Gertrude was the first woman to swim the English Channel She was the first woman to do so and she...

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The Kidnapping of Princess Anne

The 1974 kidnapping attempt on Princess Anne. Princess Anne is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and in March 1974, four people were shot by a man who was trying to kidnap the princess for ransom. Anne, or the Princess Royal as she is known today, is not one of the younger, more popular members of the royal family such as Harry, William and Catherine, but she’s widely acknowledged to be the most hard-working member with a...

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Who Was Pablo Fanque?

Who was Pablo Fanque? There’s a question. But the chances are that you might well have heard the name before. There he is on the right. I imagine he looks unfamiliar to you but I think that you might have heard his name, especially if you’re a fan of the Beatles. So what on earth can a bloke who was born in England in 1796 possibly have to do with the Beatles? And how is it that you’ve probably heard his name? Read...

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The Great Sheffield Flood of 1864

The Great Sheffield Flood of 1864. At about 5.30 in the afternoon of 11th March, quarryman William Horsefield  noticed a crack in the embankment of the Dale Dyke Dam, part of a recently built reservoir near Sheffield in Yorkshire. It was only a small crack, he reckoned that he’d be able to slip the blade of a penknife into it and that’s all but nevertheless, he alerted some of the men who worked at the dam. Just over an...

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The Triangle Fire

Death in Manhattan: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Disaster. Thirty five horse-drawn fire fighting vehicles were dashing through the streets of Manhattan.  It was March in 1911 and the streets were quiet on that Saturday afternoon. But nevertheless, the firefighters were unable to save lives that day. They were headed towards the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where fire had broken out in the ten-storey building. The business, which made...

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Diana Mitford

Diana Mitford and Oswald Mosley. The true story of Diana Mitford is wonderfully scandalous and took place during an eventful period in history. The ingredients in her story include the British aristocracy, millionaires, the upper echelons of society, affairs, Hitler, royalty and more – mostly set in wartime Britain. But it is also the story of two people in love who were vilified by the general public – to some extent,...

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Is Prince Philip Greek?

Is Prince Philip really Greek? Prince Philip is often known as ‘Phil the Greek’. Often, when people use this nickname, they also make sniggering comment about kebab shops. But is it really the case? It’s true that he was born on Greek soil – on the island of Corfu to be precise – but it’s also true that he doesn’t have a drop of Greek blood. The fact remains though that he is a prince of...

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Man mailed himself from England to Australia

Man mailed himself from England to Australia. In 1964, Australian athlete, Reg Spiers, was stuck in the UK. He desperately wanted to get home to Australia but couldn’t afford the fare. So his solution was to have himself mailed home as freight. The system allowed freight to be sent cash-on-delivery, so no up-front payment was required. Reg reckoned that he’d find a way to pay for his flight (in a box in the cargo hold)...

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The Titanic: Wallace Hartley tribute violin

Arthur Lancaster’s tribute violin: Created in memory of Wallace Hartley Wallace Hartley was the bandleader of the small orchestra on board RMS Titanic. All the band members were lost in the sinking. Wallace was just thirty three at the time and had just become engaged. (The average age of the musicians at the time of the sinking was just twenty six). Wallace had been born in Colne, Lancashire, and  had played the violin in the...

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The Sad Story of Prince Friedrich

The sad story of Prince Friedrich of Hesse. Who was the prince? He was a grandchild of Queen Victoria – the son of her daughter Alice. Princess Alice married Grand Duke Louis, a member of the German royal family. Friedrich was their fifth child. When just a toddler, he was diagnosed as having haemophilia which, as we know, was hereditary  and passed down from Queen Victoria herself. Although Friedrich’s parents were...

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Frank Stranahan

Fort Lauderdale history: Frank Stranahan. It’s generally accepted that Frank Stranahan from Ohio was the first permanent resident in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When he arrived, Fort Lauderdale didn’t actually exist. It was a settlement of just handful of people on the New River. Seminole Indians lived in the Everglades nearby but in general, the are was inhospitable with a stifling climate, dangerous wildlife and lots and...

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The Mystery of the Saddleworth Moor Body

The mystery of the body found on Saddleworth Moor. One morning a cyclist found the dead body of an elderly man in a remote spot on a moor with a grisly history. At first, the cyclist thought the man was sleeping or resting, but no. When the police arrived it was discovered that the man had no identification, no cellphone — and it seemed that he had taken his own life. But who was he? The body was discovered on December 12th,...

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Kathleen Kennedy

Four months before he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, American president John Kennedy visited Ireland. Most people thought that he then flew directly to London from the US but in fact, he detoured to the tiny village of Edensor in England. There he laid a wreath on the grave of his younger sister, Kathleen. How had she died and why was she buried in a country churchyard in Derbyshire? Who was Kathleen Kennedy? Kathleen Cavendish...

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The Great Train Robbery

How the Great Train Robbers gave themselves away. On August 8th, 1963, a gang of masked men robbed a high-speed mail train. They got away with £2.6 million. That would be the equivalent of almost fifty million pounds today. The robbery had been well-planned. The self-appointed leader, Bruce Reynolds, had planned the robbery meticulously. The train was attacked when it was in open countryside, far away from any towns or villages. The...

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‘Freaks’ in Victorian times

‘Freaks’ in Victorian times. Of all the many and varied ‘facts’ we know about the Victorian era, one is that they loved freak shows. They would queue to see conjoined twins, bearded ladies, midgets, fat ladies and other ‘freaks’ who deviated from the norm. That’s one of the things we tend to dislike about the Victorian era in today’s politically-correct world. But were those people who...

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Archibald McIndoe

Archibald McIndoe was a pioneer.  During the Second World War, little was known about plastic surgery and yet for the first time, medical staff were seeing men with horrendous burn injuries due to the highly flammable aircraft fuel. Not only were doctors unsure how to rebuild these badly ‘disfigured’ men, they also had no idea that the person himself needed treatment for more than just physical wounds. Archibald McIndoe...

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Odette Sansom: WW2 Spy

Odette Sansom Hallowes: Odette was tortured by the Gestapo in the Second World War and sent to a concentration camp where she was sentenced to death. She never gave in and managed to survive – and save others – purely by her wits. In 1942, she had made sure that her three daughters were safe and well-cared for and left England to risk her life helping others. Odette was French by birth.She had married an Englishman and...

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The Police Search for Charlie Chaplin’s body

Who stole Charlie Chaplin’s body? Charlie Chaplin, the Little Tramp,  died on December 25th, 1977. He was buried in Switzerland, where he had lived since the nineteen fifties. In March 1978, his body disappeared from its grave. The grave had been marked with a simple, engraved oak cross which the police took away to fingerprint. They did not reveal whether prints had been found. It’s assumed none were because the police...

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She Captains by Joan Druett

She Captains: Heroines of the Sea. Prize winning historian and author Joan Druett has created a fabulous book which is chock-full of fascinating about women at sea throughout history. Seafaring was a dangerous business in times gone by and yet many women were attracted to life aboard. Some were captains – and even pirates – in their own right.Others went to sea with their husbands. All their stories are fascinating....

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BOAC Flight 911

BOAC Flight 911, Ninjas and James Bond What is it about the number 911?  As well as the obvious connotation that we know nowadays, it was also the number of a scheduled passenger airliner that crashed in 1966. Then there was also the mysterious disappearance of Flight 19  just after World War Two. The numbers 9 and 1 are beginning to get a bit spooky to me. The BOAC crash was certainly tragic. The plane, which had only been airborne...

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The Curious Love Life of Fabulous Fanny Cradock

The curious love life of bigamist Fanny Cradock Fanny Cradock was known as the first TV celebrity chef. She appeared on her show along with her ‘husband’, Johnny. Although he was her real-life partner, they were not married – a fact that could have scandalised some viewers when their show started in 1955. In fact, Fanny had first been married at the age of seventeen – to an RAF pilot. Accounts vary regarding...

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Who’s Flying Your Plane?

Meet Kate McWilliams and Luke Elsworth I remember many years ago hearing a strange story about a commercial flight – the passengers refused to fly because the pilot was a woman. In preparing to write this article, I went to Google to determine just when that was.  I couldn’t find that information. But what I did find was something even more weird. In 2014, a passenger left a sexist message for the female pilot who had just...

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History of Valentine’s Day

Shared by Stacey J Nelson Ph.D. From an anonymous author. Valentine’s Day – the popular festival of love and romances traces its origin to ancient Roman festival and has not been created by card companies as some people believe it to be. There are various legends associated with the festival along with the belief that birds began to mate from this day. Popularity of the Valentine’s Day festival stems from the...

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Katie Hopkins: British Broadcaster Hates Fat People

Katie Hopkins fights obesity I have to admit that I have a sneaking admiration for people who  speak their minds on public platforms. In today’s politically correct world, it’s refreshing (and even more so if I tend to agree with their opinions). Katie, and I have to admit that I had never heard of her until this furore, spoke her mind very clearly about the obese. She declared that they were lazy and that she deplores the...

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day What do you think about Valentine’s Day? Do you look forward to chocolates, gifts and romance? Or do you think is a commercialised holiday? Whatever your opinion, you’ll find plenty to do, read, watch (and eat) right here. We have some lovely recipes that are perfect for any time of year, not just for Valentine’s Day. How about some travel ideas or romantic books to read? Scroll down and see...

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Gladys Deacon

The curious life of Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough. Perhaps it became evident to Gladys that hers would be an unusual life when her father fatally shot  her mother’s lover.   Her parents were American and rich. They were in Paris in 1881 when Gladys, one of their four daughters, was born. The Deacons moved in the best social circles and their children were largely brought up and educated in France, mostly in Paris itself....

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The Kidnapping of Jean Paul Getty III

So that there would be no confusion between him, his father and his enormously wealthy grandfather, Jean Paul Getty III was generally known as Paul. In 1973, when he was only sixteen years of age, Paul was kidnapped by a ruthless Italian gang – but yet many people at the time believed it was a hoax. The Golden Hippie Paul lived in Rome where he became known for his hippie lifestyle. Being a Getty, it was not necessary for him to...

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Clark Gable’s Secret Daughter

The secret daughter of Clark Gable. In the nineteen thirties, actor Clark Gable was known as the King of Hollywood. Tall, dark and handsome, he was considered to be every woman’s dream man. Although he was married four times, for many years it was thought that he had only one child – a boy who was born four months after Clark’s death. But for many years, Hollywood insiders kept a secret – Clark Gable had...

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Bernie Ecclestone and the Great Train Robbery

Bernie Ecclestone and the Great Train Robbery: The Truth. For many years, a rumour has persisted that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, was somehow involved in the Great Train Robbery of 1963. It has often been thought that robber Bruce Reynolds was the mastermind behind this audacious robbery but nevertheless many people thought that it was exactly Bernie’s cup of tea. Most of the robbers were in their early thirties and...

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The Murder of Lord Errol

Who murdered Josslyn Hay? Joss Hay, Lord Errol, enjoyed living. He enjoyed loving too so when he was found shot in the head, most people presumed he had been murdered by a jealous husband or a spurned mistress. But which? At the time of his murder, he was involved in a curious love triangle. He was having an affair with the rather beautiful Diana – a young woman who was married to the much older Jock Delves Broughton. The trio...

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Paul Robeson’s Proud Valley

As the shadows of World War II were beginning to cast long shadows over London, Ealing Studios were beginning an ambitious new film. It was shot partly in the coal mining region of South Wales, and adapted the story of a black miner from West Virginia who drifted to Wales by way of England, searching for work. It documented the hard realities of Welsh coal miners’ lives and at the same time created a role that its star, legendary...

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