Forgotten History

AlchoPwn

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And there goes all the Parrots, Lorrikeets, Bush Turkeys, and the majority of the Scincidae species in the general area.
Absolutely correct. Poison is a scatter gun at best... but if you want to kill emus there's gonna be collateral damage.
 

Ermintruder

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This is a fascinating bit of totally-unknown (to me) history: The Black Tom Explosion -this is astounding. Why isn't this as well-known as the Zimmerman Telegram?

The Black Tom explosion on July 30, 1916, in Jersey City, New Jersey, was an act of sabotage by German agents to destroy American-made munitions that were to be supplied to the Allies in World War I. This incident, which happened prior to American entry into World War I, is also notable for causing damage to the Statue of Liberty.
Curious that there seems to have been significant doubt regarding the actual perpetrators....it took over 20yrs and the imminent start of another conflict

In 1939 a German-American Mixed Claims Commission found the German government of 1916 responsible for the blast. In 1953 the commission awarded damages of $50 million, which were finally paid off in 1979
www.historynet.com/world-war-i-intrigue-german-spies-in-new-york.htm


However: taking this incident at the level we presently must accept (ie that it was a formal Imperial Germany operational attack on US soil, by a deliberate act just on that basis, and nothing more complex) why did it take until the following year for the US to enter WW1?

This is genuinely-amazing, for me. I've read plenty about WW1, over nearly 50yrs, I've met and spoken with WW1 veterans, and thought I knew most of the key facts. It appears I was wrong.

How well-known is this incident within contemporary US culture? Bearing in mind that when Morpugo's "War Horse" was recently made into a memorable film by Spielberg, he publically-bemoaned what he described as the almost-total ignorance of WW1 displayed by most US citizens.

Very odd....on all sorts of levels
 

AlchoPwn

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I love it when forums turn up stuff I have never heard of. Thanks Ermintruder. That was great.
 

EnolaGaia

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... However: taking this incident at the level we presently must accept (ie that it was a formal Imperial Germany operational attack on US soil, by a deliberate act just on that basis, and nothing more complex) why did it take until the following year for the US to enter WW1? ...
The US didn't formally attribute blame to Germany until later. It wasn't until 1939 that a formal finding of German responsibility was made.

The Black Tom explosion was initially blamed on employee negligence and poor security at the depot facility. Fires were seen prior to the explosions, and these were first attributed to smudge pots employees had lit to ward off mosquitos. Even after the smudge pots were ruled out as the explosions' root cause, the incident was widely considered to have been an industrial accident.

There was no consolidated US federal operation for counter-intel and anti-sabotage work. The FBI hadn't been formed yet, and much of the investigation was conducted by local authorities and the companies confronted with Black Tom liability and losses. The legal basis for federal counter-intel and anti-sabotage operations wasn't established until after the Black Tom incident.

By the time investigators could demonstrate solid connections to Michael Kristoff and German operatives in early 1917 the US government had severed diplomatic relations with Germany and started down the path to war. This had resulted from Germany's resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram scandal. These two factors were sufficient to drive anti-German sentiment, so Germany's still-speculative connections to the Black Tom incident weren't really in play.

The Germans weren't the only persons of interest. The explosions destroyed a large shipment of munitions purchased by imperial Russia, so there was some suspicion of communist involvement. Irish-Americans were implicated, so there was some suspicion of radical Irish involvement as well.
 

Ermintruder

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Even after the smudge pots were ruled out as the explosions' root cause, the incident was widely considered to have been an industrial accident.
Whilst the incident might then be seen as having had an influence on the founding of the FBI etc within the US, this could hardly be described as being an open-and-shut case.

There does seem to have been huge doubts as to the genuine operational involvement of Imperial Germany. Whilst it's clear to see (even without hindsight) that Germany wanted to cut-off such a key source of munitions, why on earth did they seem so oblivious to the risk of bringing the US into WW1?

I know this thread is intended primarily to be about forgotten aspects of history (of which this is an inaguable gem) but it is impossible not to conclude that there could so easily have been a number of conspiratorial factors also at play, all intended to bring the US into WW1.

The precise route via which the Zimmerman Telegram was intercepted is also intriguing in mechanism and availability, alongside the predictable effect of its publication.

I'm unsure whether current formal historical interpretation gives credence to such blasphemous suppositions, but I wonder if these final straws were both parts of the same piece: and whether it really was the strategic intent of the Imperial Germany to awaken a sleeping eagle. Cui bono..

ps how on earth did the initial casualty estimates for Black Tom reduce from 'many hundred' to a confirmed four?
 

EnolaGaia

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...There does seem to have been huge doubts as to the genuine operational involvement of Imperial Germany. Whilst it's clear to see (even without hindsight) that Germany wanted to cut-off such a key source of munitions, why on earth did they seem so oblivious to the risk of bringing the US into WW1?

I know this thread is intended primarily to be about forgotten aspects of history (of which this is an inaguable gem) but it is impossible not to conclude that there could so easily have been a number of conspiratorial factors also at play, all intended to bring the US into WW1. ...
Both issues point to one cynical explanation for the apparent conundrum - a Euro-centric orientation that rendered all world affairs as subsidiary elements surrounding whatever the already fading European powers were squabbling about. The notion that the objective had to have been American involvement (or not ... ) in a European war belies an attitude that it was 'all about Europe'.

Woodrow Wilson did everything he could to avoid getting sucked into WWI, and keeping the USA out of the war was the key theme in his 1916 election campaign. It's no wonder his administration demurred from acting on speculation alone. In any case, by the the time the hypothetical Black Tom connections to German mischief-making were proving substantive Germany had separately provided sufficient grounds for having war declared on themselves.

The Germans may have been banking on their Mexican connection and meddling to keep the Americans preoccupied in the Western Hemisphere. They may have assumed America's dismantling of the dying Spanish Empire less than 2 decades earlier didn't prove the USA was a credible military threat.

For all I know the Germans viewed a Black Tom attack as a warning intended to keep the USA out of the war. It can't be said to have backfired, because Black Tom wasn't the focal rationale for declaring war.
 

AlchoPwn

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The Germans may have been banking on their Mexican connection and meddling to keep the Americans preoccupied in the Western Hemisphere. They may have assumed America's dismantling of the dying Spanish Empire less than 2 decades earlier didn't prove the USA was a credible military threat. For all I know the Germans viewed a Black Tom attack as a warning intended to keep the USA out of the war. It can't be said to have backfired, because Black Tom wasn't the focal rationale for declaring war.
IMO Germany lost WW1 on the issue of diplomacy. The Germans diplomatically failed to keep Italy out of the war, and I think that Italy's huge contribution is often poorly understood and by historians who don't give them adequate credit. The whole handling of submarine warfare vis the USA was handled very badly by Germany, and the Mexican nonsense was downright provocative and definitely forced the USA into the war. The Germans were competing against the British and French diplomats of course, but on most occasions the Germans did poorly. One notable exception was the German recruiting of Turkey, but really, Turkey was about to discover that they had nearly committed suicide, as they were woefully under-prepared for the war they faced. This is not to say that diplomacy was the only thing Germany did poorly, and in fact Germany did many thing superlatively well, but war is politics by other means, and I think Germany lost sight of that, trusting in their own strength and determining to carry too heavy a load. Had Germany managed to recruit Italy, the Entente would have been in serious trouble.
 

Eyespy

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I came across a local mystery last week in Midsomer Norton. A small memorial to the 12 miners ( men and boys) killed in 1839 when the rope they were being lowered into the mine on was deliberately cut. A verdict of murder by person or persons unknown was bought in.

Goggle has not been able to shed much light on this, just links to some family history researchers (rootstock) and lists of other mining disasters, has anyone else heard of this? I only spotted the small memorial stone by accident and I have not previously heard of this rather extraordinary story.
 

RaM

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I remember seeing something about a Man Engine collapsing and men being killed somewhere in Cornwall I think,
a man engine was a long beam that was attached at the top to a beam engine, it had little platform's at say
every 6ft you stepped on a platform when the beam was at the top of it's stroke it would then descend
when it reached the bottom of it's stroke you stepped off into a notch in the shaft waited till the beam was
again at the top of it's stroke then repeated the process working your way to the bottom, reverse the process
to get up, anyway the beam attachment snapped and the beams and miners ended up at the bottom of the
shaft, they had been warned by a engine man it was worn and nothing was done but I don't know if charges
were brought.
Sounds like a dangerous way-to travel to work, but could this be what you are thinking of.
 

Grumpyoldwoman

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I came across a local mystery last week in Midsomer Norton. A small memorial to the 12 miners ( men and boys) killed in 1839 when the rope they were being lowered into the mine on was deliberately cut. A verdict of murder by person or persons unknown was bought in.

Goggle has not been able to shed much light on this, just links to some family history researchers (rootstock) and lists of other mining disasters, has anyone else heard of this? I only spotted the small memorial stone by accident and I have not previously heard of this rather extraordinary story.

I've heard of it,not seen the memorial though.
 

Bad Bungle

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I came across a local mystery last week in Midsomer Norton. A small memorial to the 12 miners ( men and boys) killed in 1839 when the rope they were being lowered into the mine on was deliberately cut. A verdict of murder by person or persons unknown was bought in
Hang on - there was a murder in Midsomer ?
 

cycleboy2

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Do the inhabitants realise why their property prices are so poor?
Because it's an old Somerset mining town whose main industry vanished decades ago, along with its railway, and was never replaced. That and the endless bizarre murders - death by trebuchet, or squashed by bookcases, drowned in beer, impaled by flaming torch etc - obvs!!!
 

escargot

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Hang on - there was a murder in Midsomer ?
During Dinner at the High Table at Oxford Trinity College a couple of years ago a jovial physics Don informed me that each repeat of that highly accurate TV documentary series 'Inspector Morse' further reminds colleagues how dangerous the city is, and how important it is to find somewhere safe and quiet for one's well-earned retirement.

Many plan to leave Oxford for the peaceful county of Midsomer. Nothing bad EVER happens THERE!
 

Ermintruder

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the peaceful county of Midsomer
I hadn't appreciated until reading the Wiki that the county referenced in the named tv series is fictional, but the eponymous village is real...(have I got that right?)

So if it were a real county in a parallel (parallel) universe, might it be named Midsomershire, and be pronounced 'Misumshere'?

This is a odd a case of retroventive geonomination as I've seen in many a long year of Sunday evening ITV harmless murder mystery mini-series.
 

markrkingston1

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the county referenced in the named tv series is fictional, but the eponymous village is real...(have I got that right?)
Correct. Midsomer Norton is a real town in Somerset but it has never been mentioned in Midsomer Murders. The closest Midsomer Murders got was, I believe, "Midsomer Morton".
 

escargot

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I hadn't appreciated until reading the Wiki that the county referenced in the named tv series is fictional, but the eponymous village is real...(have I got that right?)

So if it were a real county in a parallel (parallel) universe, might it be named Midsomershire, and be pronounced 'Misumshere'?

This is a odd a case of retroventive geonomination as I've seen in many a long year of Sunday evening ITV harmless murder mystery mini-series.
The most contrived fictional place-name is surely Borsetshire, the county south of Brum wherein lies the famous village of Ambridge.
 
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Correct. Midsomer Norton is a real town in Somerset but it has never been mentioned in Midsomer Murders. The closest Midsomer Murders got was, I believe, "Midsomer Morton".
MM is mostly filmed in the Chilterns and the surround. In the early series I amused myself by playing 'spot the place I know well'.
 

markrkingston1

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MM is mostly filmed in the Chilterns and the surround. In the early series I amused myself by playing 'spot the place I know well'.
Hah, I like doing that for all sorts of tv progs and movies.

The Professionals seemed to use many locations not far from my home, for some reason. More recently, Drifters used a hotel just round the corner from my home, with a cleverly digitally altered sign outside.

I'm not sad at all. No, really!
 
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