“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
~Prime Minister Winston Churchill
House of Commons Speech
June 4, 1940
1876 – A “mere” 83 hours and 39 minutes after leaving Jersey City, NJ, the Transcontinental (Lightning) Express arrived in San Francisco via the First Transcontinental Railroad.
Traveling across the entire nation in less than four days was inconceivable to previous generations of Americans. During the early 19th century, when Thomas Jefferson first dreamed of an American nation stretching from “sea to shining sea,” it took the president 10 days to travel the 225 miles from Monticello to Philadelphia via carriage.
For the wealthy, a trip on the transcontinental railroad was a luxurious experience. First-class passengers rode in beautifully appointed cars with plush velvet seats that converted into snug sleeping berths. The finer amenities included steam heat, fresh linen daily, and gracious porters who catered to their every whim.
1913 – Emily Wilding Davison was no stranger to fighting battles. A suffragette who fought for votes for women in the United Kingdom in the early twentieth century, she was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, was arrested on nine occasions, went on hunger strike seven times, and was force fed on forty-nine occasions. On this date, she made one final attempt to make her point.
She died after being hit by King George V’s horse Anmer at the 1913 Epsom Derby when she ran onto the track during the race. She held in her hands one of the suffragette flags and reached up to the reins of Anmer to attach the flag to its bridle.
She was hit by the animal, which had rounded the final turn and was barreling down the stretch. Anmer fell in the collision and partly rolled over his jockey, who had his foot momentarily caught in the stirrup. Davison was knocked to the ground (see photo) and never regained consciousness. She died four days later.
1919 – The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which stated that “the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.
On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. Eight days later, the 19th Amendment took effect.
1939 – MS St. Louis, a German ocean liner carrying 963 Jewish refugees, was denied permission to dock in Florida after already being turned away from Cuba.
A group of academics and clergy in Canada tried to persuade Canada’s Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, to provide sanctuary to the passengers, but Canadian immigration official Frederick Blair, hostile to Jewish immigration, persuaded the prime minister not to intervene.
The United Kingdom agreed to take 288 of the passengers, who disembarked and traveled to the UK via other ships. Of the remaining St. Louis passengers who returned to continental Europe, 254 were murdered in the killing centers of Auschwitz and Sobibór.
1940 – British forces completed the evacuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk in France.
The operation had commenced after large numbers of Belgian, British, and French troops were cut off and surrounded by German troops during the six-week long Battle of France.
To rally the morale of the country, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech to the House of Commons.
In the speech, Churchill also called the situation “a colossal military disaster,” saying “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army” had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured.
He hailed their rescue as a “miracle of deliverance.”
1942 – The Battle of Midway – one of the most decisive U.S. victories against Japan during World War II – began. During the four-day sea-and-air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers of the previously “invincible” Japanese navy.
By the time the battle ended, Japan had lost four carriers, a cruiser and 292 aircraft, and suffered an estimated 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft and suffered approximately 300 casualties.
Japan’s losses hobbled its naval might, bringing Japanese and American sea power to approximate parity and marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II.
1942 – Reinhard Heydrich died as a result of injuries suffered in a May 27 ambush by a team of Czech and Slovak agents. He was 38.
He was chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo) and was also Deputy/Acting Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia.
Heydrich chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, which formalized plans for the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” – the deportation and genocide of all Jews in German-occupied Europe.
While most historians regard him as the darkest figure within the Nazi elite, Adolf Hitler described him as “the man with the iron heart.”
The story continues on June 9
1944 – The people of Rome flooded into the streets to welcome the arrival of the Allied troops. The men had marched from the south, following their success at the Battle of Monte Cassino.
Lieutenant General Mark Clark, the American commander of the 5th Army, had chosen to strike for Rome after the fall of Monte Cassino, rather than chase after the retreating German forces as he had been ordered by General Sir Harold Alexander, the British officer in overall charge.
That decision has since been described by American military historian Carlo D’Este “as militarily stupid as it was insubordinate.” Although Rome was liberated, the Germans were not decisively defeated.
Instead, they fell back to the so-called Gothic Line of defense, running across Italy just north of Florence.
The Allies did not successfully breach that line until a breakthrough in April 1945 when their final assault broke German resistance and led to capitulation on May 2.
1984 – Bruce Springsteen released his Born In The U.S.A. album.
Recorded with his E Street Band, the album produced seven Top-10 hit singles and became one of the highest-selling albums ever, with over 35 million copies sold worldwide.
1989 – Chinese troops stormed through Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, killing and arresting thousands of pro-democracy protesters.
Tens of thousands of the young students tried to escape the rampaging Chinese forces. Other protesters fought back, stoning the attacking troops and overturning and setting fire to military vehicles.
Reporters and Western diplomats on the scene estimated that nearly 300 protesters had been killed and as many as 10,000 were arrested.
U.S. Government files declassified in 2014 estimated the actual number of deaths was substantially higher.
1994 – Derek “Lek” Leckenby, the extremely talented but underrated lead guitarist with Herman’s Hermits, died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 51.
Leckenby played on the band’s early hits, but record producer Mickie Most’s use of session musicians on the band’s mid-to-late career hits diminished his stature in the rock world. He deserved a much better fate.
1997 – Ronnie Lane, co-founder and bass guitarist with the Small faces (Itchycoo Park) and later the Faces (Stay With Me) died at 51 after a 21-year battle with multiple sclerosis.
Lane’s battle with the disease did not go unnoticed in the rock community, and numerous artists banded together over the last 15 years of his life to perform benefits for Lane and MS research.
Lane’s most visible support came from 1983’s ARMS (Action Research into Multiple Sclerosis) tour, which featured Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Steve Winwood, among others.
The series of concerts raised $1 million for Lane’s treatment and ARMS.
For his work in both the Small Faces and Faces, Lane was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
2010 – John Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, died of natural causes at the age of 99.
In his 27 years as head basketball coach at UCLA, his Bruins won an unprecedented 10 national championships in 12 years, including seven straight from 1967 to 1973. UCLA also captured 19 conference titles and set an NCAA record with 88 consecutive wins.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2019 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.