#TodayInHistory – January 195 min read
January 19 – Some important events on this day
379 👉🏼 Theodosius installed as co-emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire
1419 👉🏼 French city of Rouen surrenders to Henry V in Hundred Years’ War
1808 👉🏼 Louis Napoleon signs 1st Dutch aviation law
1812 👉🏼 Peninsular War: After a ten day siege, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, orders British soldiers of the Light and third divisions to storm Ciudad Rodrigo
1853 👉🏼 Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Il Trovatore” premieres in Rome
1883 👉🏼 The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey
1915 👉🏼 Frederick Pile became one of the war’s early casualties.
About unknow heroes, Frederick Pile is possibly one of the most unknow. Very little is known about him, even if he is thought to have been something as a farm labourer.
What is known is that Fred was out for a walk on this day, on the very occasion that Germany decided to step up hostilities that had been going on for six months, and introduce a new phase of conflict in the World War I. For the first time they dropped bombs on Britain.
The chosen method was Zeppelin airships, which had become a not unfamiliar sight in the skies over the previous 20 years. Whether Fred saw the Zeppelin and, if he did, whether he was troubled by it, will never be known.
But the high explosive bomb that was dropped from the aerial invader certainly put an end to his days.
It is believed that the airship’s real targets were the East Coast seaports of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn, and why the pilot decided to unleash one of his deadly bombs on the lanes around the tiny Norfolk village of Wellingham, where Fred was walking, is not known.
But, in any case, Fred became one of the war’s early casualties.
When the conflict ended in 1918, this posed a problem for the villagers who had decided to erect a war memorial at St Andrew’s Church honouring those local people who had given their lives in the war. They included the 34-year-old rector, the Rev Lionel Digby, who had gone to France and was killed just before the conflict ended.
Some villagers questioned whether Fred deserved to have his name on the memorial alongside those who had volunteered to fight and made the ultimate sacrifice.
A solution eventually emerged whereby the alphabetical order that governed the position of the heroes’ names would not apply to Fred, who consequently appeared at the bottom of the list.
According to scant information held by the War Graves Commission, Fred was 45 years old, possibly the son of John and Charlotte Pile of Wellingham, and probably buried in the churchyard without a gravestone.
But maybe in the end it didn’t matter where on the list of honour his name appeared, as today all the names on the weather-worn 100-year-old memorial are virtually illegible….
1915 👉🏼 World War I: 4 people in Norfolk are killed in the 1st German Zeppelin air raid attack on the United Kingdom.
Most people associate the bombing of Britain by the Germans with the 1940-41 Blitz campaign, but during the First World War the Germans had attempted to bomb the UK into submission with the use of air raids by Zeppelin airships. The first air raid took place on this day.
The military effect of these raids was negligible, and the technology inaccurate – for instance an air raid bound for London actually hit Hull – but they created a sense of outrage and panic among civilians. On April 1, 1918, the Royal Air Force was formed after an inquiry into the defense of Britain against the air raids.
The inaccuracy and danger of airship raids, coupled with increasingly successful defense against them, led to most of them being replaced with aircraft in 1917. The developments in defense technology were important in the later creation of the ground-controlled interception system that was vital in winning against the Germans in 1940 and 1941.
The last Zeppelin raid took place on August 5, 1918, with attacks on the Midlands; one of the Zeppelins was carrying Peter Strasser, the commander of the Zeppelin force, and it was shot down resulting in his death.
1935 👉🏼 Coopers Inc. sells the world’s first men’s briefs in Chicago, calls it the “Jockey”
1966 👉🏼 Indira Gandhi elected India’s 4th Prime Minister
1977 👉🏼 World’s largest crowd gathering – the Hindu Kumbh Mela in India attracts a then record 15 million people
1978 👉🏼 The last Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany leaves VW’s plant in Emden. Beetle production in Latin America would continue until 2003.
Commissioned by Adolf Hitler as a “People’s Car” in the 1930s the Volkswagen Beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and his design team at Porsche. Significantly the car had a rear engine, unusual for the time. Only small numbers were made before WWII halted production.
After the war, production soared aided by an iconic advertising campaign “Think small”. Nicknamed “the Beetle” it overtook the Model T Ford as the best-selling car in the world in 1972, selling over 15 million. It was only after 80 years that Volkswagen announced in 2018 that it would finally cease production in 2019.
2001 👉🏼 Cult film “Donnie Darko” written and directed by Richard Kelly, starring Jake Gyllenhaal premieres at the Sundance Film Festival
2013 👉🏼 Calcium deposits are discovered on Mars by NASA’s Curiosity Rover
2013 👉🏼 Lance Armstrong admits to doping in all seven of his Tour de France victories