The First World War was in its last hours, millions of soldiers on both
sides were dead and those who fought on knew the end was near, as did English
Private Henry Tandey who served with the Duke of Wellington's Regiment.
In September of 1918, on the French battlefield of Marcoing, he won
the Victoria Cross for bravery, one of many medals the 27 year old would
win during the 'war to end all wars.' As the battle of Marcoing raged,
Allied and German forces engaged in bitter hand to hand combat. The defining
moment for Private Tandey and world history came when a wounded German
limped directly into his line of fire.
"I took aim but couldn't shoot a wounded man," said Tandey,
"so I let him go." Years later he discovered he had spared an
Austrian Corporal named Adolf Hitler.
Hitler himself never forgot that pivotal moment or the man who had spared
him. On becoming German Chancellor in 1933, he ordered his staff to track
down Tandey's service records. They also managed to obtain a print of
an Italian painting showing Tandey carrying a wounded Allied soldier
on his back, which Hitler hung with pride on the wall at his mountain top
retreat at Berchtesgaden. He showed the print to British Prime Minister
Neville Chamberlain during his historic visit in 1938 and explained its
The Führer seized that occasion to have his personal gratitude
relayed to Tandey, which Chamberlain conveyed via telephone on his return
to London from that most fateful trip.
Henry Tandey left military service before the start of World War II
and worked as a security guard in Coventry. His "good deed" haunted
him for the rest of his life, especially as Nazi bombers destroyed Coventry
in 1940 and London burned day and night during the Blitz.
"If only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all
the people, woman and children, he had killed and wounded I was sorry to
God I let him go," he said before his death in 1977 at age 86.
Baron Manfred Von Richthofen is confirmed as having shot down 80 Allied
aircraft during the First World War, a record unsurpassed during the Great
War. In a war which unleashed unspeakable horror, the Red Baron and his
distinctive red Fokker triplane provided chivalry to a world desperately
seeking honor amid the bloody conflict.
On March 30, 1917, near Fouquieres, France, Lt. Pat Garnett of the Royal
Flying Corps engaged attacking German aircraft without waiting for reinforcements,
not knowing his adversaries were none other than the Red Baron's Squadron.
The ensuing dogfight was brief and bloody, the 22 year old British aviator
and his Nieuport Scout biplane went down fighting, shot out of the sky
by German Lt. Kurt Wolff, as the Red Baron watched from a higher altitude.
Young Garnett's bravery against such odds greatly impressed the Teutonic
Lt. Garnett survived the crash and was captured by the Germans. He lived
just long enough to tell them he had only recently been married. His last
thoughts and words were for his beloved young wife, greatly moving his
Baron Von Richthofen was informed of Garnett's capture and the events
surrounding his death. The Red Baron came into possession of Garnett's
personal effects which included his favorite gold cufflinks and a piece
of his wife's wedding dress which he had kept pinned inside his coat for
The Red Baron was greatly moved by Garnett's death and wrote to his
widow, Mary, a letter of sympathy expressing his sincere regrets, accepting
overall responsibility for his death.
However, Mary Garnett was horrified, erroneously interpreting the letter
as boasting of her husband's death and promptly burned it.
Every dog has their day and the Allies had theirs. Lt. Wolff was himself
killed in action in September of 1917 after having notched 33 kills. The
Red Baron was killed in action while engaging six Allied aircraft in April
of 1918. It has since been proven the bullet ending his life came from
enemy ground fire, probably from the same Australian ground forces that
eventually recovered his body and gave the Red Baron a funeral with full
The drama surrounding the ill fated Apollo 13 mission was an ideal subject
for a series of books and movies. But the most disturbing aspect of the
near disaster has mostly been neglected. Apollo 13 was a nuclear catastrophe
waiting to happen, as aboard the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) was a plutonium
Called 'Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power' (SNAP-27) it contained
3.8 kilograms of plutonium, which is so toxic that less than a millionth
of a gram can cause cancer. Designed to be left behind on the moon, the
crippled Apollo 13 was forced to carry it back to Earth. Not only were
the three astronauts in danger but millions on the ground unwittingly lived
under threat from the toxic space junk.
When the paralyzed Apollo 13 re-entered Earth's orbit, the astronauts
transferred back to the command module, and the LEM with its nuclear payload
was jettisoned. It re-entered the atmosphere somewhere over New Zealand
and although the LEM burned up, SNAP-27 survived re-entry and plunged intact
into the Pacific Ocean off Tonga, where according to NASA it is "isolated
from man's environment." SNAP-27's radioactivity will last 2000+ years
and its watery grave comprises some of the world's prime fishing grounds.
NASA successfully concealed the crisis from the world at the time, and
continues to power some spacecraft with plutonium, recently launching the
Cassini probe with a 33 kilo plutonium cell.
British Conservative Member of Parliament, Sir George Gardiner, had
the dubious honor of being Britain's ugliest politician. Described as resembling
a bloodhound with a bad hangover, he took the unprecedented step of writing
to his constituency in Surrey to plead with them not to vote against him
because he was ugly. It worked and he won handsomely.
The word which symbolizes abstinence of alcohol came about through the
stammer of English artist Dick Turner of Lancashire. During an anti-alcohol
speech, he tried to say "total abstinence" but had a problem
saying the word total, stammering instead "tee-e-e-total." Consequent
crowds found his mispronunciation amusing and it eventually came to symbolize
Most travelers are daunted by the prospect of driving in countries which
drive on opposite sides of the road from their own. The Romans set the
original standard by driving and riding on the left, which was adopted
throughout their vast Empire until the 1800s when Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte
decreed it should be done on the right. French colonial influence in North
America resulted in its introduction there and that's why Americans and
Canadians now drive on the right.