DROWNED BLACK SLAVES DUMPED IN A MASS GRAVE
[ 9 October 1796 ]
During the evening of 9 October 1796, the bodies of up to sixty drowned Africans, still bound with fetters and chains, were discovered at Rapparee Cove in North Devon. The locals dumped them in a mass grave as they were mere ‘heathen’ slaves. The ship carrying them may have been heading for the slave auctions at Bristol, when bad weather had forced it to attempt to enter Ilfracombe harbour, but in the rough seas it’s hull had been smashed against the rocks.1
CAPTAIN – NEWSPAPER PROPAGANDA ON TRENCH WARFARE MAKES HIM LAUGH
[ 9 October 1916 ]
Today in 1916, the novelist Arnold Bennett, who was also working for the War Propaganda Bureau (W.P.B.), commented in his diary on an enlightening discussion with a wounded artillery officer.
‘Clegg brought Capt. B. (of his battery) to lunch. Had been out at Ypres ten months and then wounded in the head, in front of right ear. He carries a good scar. He talked well… He said the newspaper correspondents’ descriptions of men eager to go over the parapet made him laugh. They never were eager. He related how he had seen a whole company of men extremely pale with apprehension and shaking so that [they] could scarcely load their rifles. Then he said that men who nevertheless did go over in that state were really brave.’2
Bennet did not mention in his diary whether he had informed the captain that one of his jobs at the W.P.B. was to defend jingoistic press reports against occasional outbreaks of public scepticism which might undermine the war effort.
THE RAF DROPS INCENDIARY BOMBS ON NORTH WEST FRONTIER VILLAGES
[ 9 October 1919 ]
Today in 1919, sixteen RAF aircraft dropped incendiary bombs on several villages near Wana in Waziristan to punish the Mahsuds for their armed resistance to British incursions into their territory.
BRITISH GOVERNOR SUSPENDS GUIANA’S CONSTITUTION AFTER PROGRESSIVES WIN ELECTION
[ 9 October 1953 ]
On 9 October 1953, the British governor of Guiana announced the suspension of the constitution and the overthrow of the country’s first democratically elected government after 700 British troops landed, backed by three warships anchored off the coast. This followed the election of the People’s Progressive Party, committed to a policy of land reform and income redistribution, in April. The election result was seen as a threat to British financial and strategic interests and so London resorted to armed intervention on the pretext of ‘preserving the peace’ and preventing a supposed ‘communist plot’. Allegations which the British government knew were unfounded.
( For a more detailed account see 6 October 1953 )
- Nick Constable and Karen Farrington, ‘Beach yields mass grave of shipwrecked slaves,’ The Times, 24 February 1997, issue 65821, p. 9 accessed in The Times Digital Archives on 15 November 2018.
- Arnold Bennett cited in Travis Elborough (editor), Our History of the 20th Century as Told in Diaries, Journals and Letters, Michael O’Mara Books Limited, London, 2017 p. 95.
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