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28 November 1942

28 November 1942

28 November 1942



Eastern Front

Russian offensive begins on the Central Front.

The Cocoanut Grove Fire, November 28th, 1942. The deadliest nightclub fire in history. 492 dead after the ceiling was ignited at the overcrowded Boston club. Bodies piled high behind the main exit, revolving doors, and some were killed before they could react from toxic gases.

And the same thing at The Station because of the doors.

Never enter a public building with doors that pull inward.

In the immortal words of Robert DeNiro in Ronin: “Lady, I never walk into a place that I don’t know how to walk out of.”

Once you get used to how things are done in the US due to fire codes, OSHA, ADA, etc., its really weird traveling to other countries where they have like none of it.

ADA makes life so much easier for all people.

“Bodies piled up behind both sides of the revolving door, jamming it until it broke.The oxygen-hungry fire then leaped through the breach, incinerating whoever was left alive in the pile. “-coconut grove wiki

Fire code now requires revolving doors to have a separate door accessible within 10 ft.

Also, the adjacent doors must open OUT.

Revolving doors also must have collapsing leaves, so it can turn into a one-way exit if need be.

The IKEA here had a revolving door, it was cool but they removed it a few years ago while renovating.

The who and hows that started the fire remain a debate, some saying a lit match was the likely culprit. The fire started in the corner of the nightclub's basment, burning through fake palm trees and fabrics that gave the ckub ambience. Exits were boarded up, locked, and the main exits were revolving doors, making them useless as people shoved through to escape until firefighters could dismantle them. The club was overcrowded, with more dying than the clubs allowed capacity. It happened on a cold night when hoses were frozen, and soldiers on shore leave were celebrating a night off, as well as local students celebrating a football victory. Once the fire reached the staircase upstairs, a fireball shot through, singeing people's hair and letting all hell break loose. Bodies were found in the seats, holding drinks they were killed instantly from the sheer heat and toxic fumes.

Toni Jo Henry: first woman executed in Louisiana

Henry was 26 when she was executed for murder, carried out to get her husband released from his 50-year jail term. In 1940, Henry devised a plan with Harold Burks to rob a bank to fund a defense team for Claude “Cowboy” Henry. Burks and Henry first stole 16 guns from a hardware store then posed as a couple in distress to steal a Good Samaritan’s car to use during the bank robbery. The victim was Joseph Calloway, who offered the pair a ride.

Henry and Burks quickly turned on Calloway, forcing him into the car’s rumble seat which they shut on his hand, seriously wounding it. Eventually they pulled to the side of the road and forced Calloway to strip nude, a task made difficult with his injured hand. Henry then used a pair of pliers to pull Calloway by his penis across a field and she forced him to climb through a barbed wire fence. Henry then shot Calloway in the forehead. His body was later found in the snow, covered in “long, ragged scratches” over both sides of his body as well as his limbs.

The murder disturbed Burks who voiced his desire to wait to rob the bank. Henry testified Burks had “turned yellow like a little rat,” struck him with a gun, and left him unconscious in the stolen car. Henry then visited the brothel she had previously worked in, hoping they would hide her “for old time’s sake,” though the owner convinced her to turn herself in instead. Henry and Burks were found guilty of Calloway’s murder, and each sentenced to death. As she was sentenced to death, Henry reportedly screamed at the judge “I ain’t afraid of what’s comin’!”

Henry became the first and, to date, only woman executed in the state of Louisiana. (Antoinette Frank is currently on Louisiana’s death row for a 1995 robbery-murder.) Henry reportedly smiled as she went to her death, though her eyes welled with tears as the mask was placed over her head. Burks was executed in March 1943.

28 November 1942 - History

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On the evening of November 28, 1942, a massive fire broke out in a popular Boston nightclub known as the Cocoanut Grove. That night, 492 people died. Today, the Cocoanut Grove fire remains, by far, the deadliest disaster of its kind in history.

The Cocoanut Grove first opened its doors to the public in 1927. It was initially owned by two orchestra leaders, Mickey Alpert and Jacques Renard, before it passed on to the bootlegger Charles "King" Solomon. After Solomon was gunned down in 1933, the club's ownership passed to his lawyer, Barnet "Barney" Welansky.

Welansky was a tough businessman who wasn't going to let even one penny slip away. He hired youngsters for minimum wage and he locked and bricked up emergency exits to prevents his customers from fleeing the premises without paying. Welansky didn't know it at the time but this latter move would ultimately lead to the deaths of hundreds of people.

Despite Welansky's tough tactics, the Cocoanut Grove was one of the most popular nightclubs in Boston. And for good reason: The club had a restaurant, a dancing area, bars, several lounge areas, a rooftop area for dancing under the stars, floor shows, and piano-playing entertainers. The club resembled a tropical paradise and was often frequented by movie stars.

But it all came to an end on November 28, 1942. No one knows for certain how the fire started that night.

Some say it was the fault of a 16-year-old busboy named Stanley Tomaszewski. Shortly before the fire started, a young man unscrewed a light bulb in the Melody Lounge downstairs. He needed the cover of darkness to kiss his date in privacy.

Sometime later, Tomaszewski was instructed to screw the light bulb back in and he lit a matchstick to better see the lamp. After the light bulb was screwed back in, Tomaszewski extinguished the match. Immediately afterward, some people saw flames on the fake palm trees just beneath the ceiling.

However, the official investigation ruled out the possibility that the fire was started by Tomaszewski.

Whatever its cause, the lethal fire spread rapidly and soon killed hundreds of people. Because Welanksy had boarded up most exit doors, there were few escape routes available. To make matters worse, it is believed that more than 1,000 people were present at the club during the fire even though the club's official capacity was 460 people.

Hundreds of people tried to exit through the main entrance, a revolving door. However, the panic-stricken crowd jammed the door until it broke and those still stuck inside the club were soon engulfed by flames.

In fact, the fire moved so rapidly that some patrons were found sitting dead right in their seats, still clutching their drinks in their hands. A few people survived by hiding in the walk-in-refrigerator and the ice box.

It has been estimated that access to emergency exits — the ones that Welansky had boarded up — could have saved the lives of hundreds killed during the Cocoanut Grove fire. Welanksy was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was pardoned after serving just four.

After this look at the Cocoanut Grove fire, see Boston's great molasses flood of 1919.

Mistreated Troops

Into the chaos of what Hietter calls "the extraordinariness of the times" stepped the 364th Infantry Regiment, a segregated Black unit from Lousiana formed from the leftovers of another unit.

The regiment had been implemented a year earlier in 1941 as the 367th regiment, according to the "Employment of Negro Troops," a 1965 book by Ulysses Lee commissioned by the Army. But one arm of the regiment was sent overseas in total secrecy, leaving the rest of the new troops in need of training. They were transferred to Phoenix to help guard German prisoners of war at a concentration camp in Papago Park. Before the riot, the book says, the 364th was involved in a lesser, though serious, disturbance when 500 of the men refused an order to disperse. The book doesn't detail that incident.

While the 364th is at times depicted as a rowdy group of fellows, their second-class citizen status undoubtedly weighed on them and other Black troops at all times. The great experiment of integration into the armed forces in the United States was viewed with cynicism and distrust by many. A survey showed that after the attack on Pearl Harbor, "full support of the war" by Black Americans fell short because of the "bitter" fact of discrimination in the military.

"They cherish a deep resentment against the vicious race persecution which they and their forbears have long endured," a Black newspaper in New York opined, as Lee's book relates. "They feel that they are soon to go overseas to fight for freedom over there. When their comparative new-found freedom is challenged by Southern military police and prejudiced superiors, they fight for freedom over here."

As Truman Gibson Jr., a lawyer and former presidential aide, wrote in the 2005 book, "Knocking Down Barriers: My Fight for Black America," members of the 364th were housed in "tar-paper shacks" in Papago Park that became "sweltering furnaces" in summer. An Army investigation later determined the 364th was given "inadequate clothing and footgear."

Gibson Jr., who had visited the unit in Lousiana after receiving complaint letters from some of the soldiers' parents, wrote that the unit's training officers were racists.

On top of all of that, a new Army policy meant that military police (MPs) who were in the 364th were replaced with independent MPs, according to a 1987 Arizona Republic article. Apparently, the Army suspected the MP members of the 364th of illegal activities. Two of the new MP battalions, one white and one Black, were assigned to the area, and the previous MPs were returned to regular duties in the 364th, which they resented.

(Enlisted men throughout the Army's history have sometimes distrusted MPs, so some of those feelings likely transcended race.)

On top of this powder keg of simmering emotion in the ranks, on top of the everyday struggle with racism, alcohol also helped light the fuse: The 364th's commanding officer gave the unit all the beer they could drink for Thanksgiving Day, Gibson Jr's account says, "and handed out plenty of passes. Some of the soldiers naturally went into town."

The War Diary Of Will S. Arnett, 1st Lt. USAAF: November 28, 1942 Tafaroui, Africa

The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Will Seaton Arnett, 1st Lt. USAAF and John S. Green.

Just got back from an eight hour bombing mission on Bizerte, Africa.

Up at 4:30 -- breakfast to 5:00 -- briefing at 5:30 -- take off 8:00, over the target 11:30, and landed at the base at 4:00 P.M.

No. 1 classmate "Toby" was shot down and the plane exploded when it hit the water. Capt. Bruce of the 32nd also went down. These were the first two crews and planes we've lost. It's kinda hard to take when they go down like that. Some of the crew members might have bailed but it is doubtful, nothing like living in hopes though.

This was the roughest one yet, more flak and a hell of a lot of enemy fighters -- FW 190 -- ME 109 -- and ME 210. We got a number of them but there is no way to tell how many. I saw one go down in flames and explode in mid air about 5000' above the water. I'll never forget it.

November 29, 1942 Tafaroui, Africa

Another hard day, loaded 500 lb. bombs this morning and brother that is a job winding them up by hand.

It's been like Xmas here tonight. Fred just got in from England and he brought a plane load of mail that had collected since we left. Everyone got mail and is in much better spirits. I got eleven letters and one package so I am really beaming.

We had some decent food today for the first time -- no hash thank God. The coffee is still just as horrible made from salt water.

Fred moved in with us -- so there is eleven of us in here now -- had to make room for my buddie.

Lt. Colonel Gormley just came in and announced a mission for tomorrow.

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The worst nightclub fire in history happened 73 years ago in Boston

On the Saturday following 1942’s Thanksgiving, Boston was buzzing with socialites and those looking for a space in one of the city’s most desirable dance halls. Boston College had just faced off against rival College of the Holy Cross in a highly anticipated football game, and crowds of people in the city flocked to theaters and nightclubs — including more than 1,000 who packed into one of the South End’s popular clubs, Cocoanut Grove.

Cocoanut Grove set up extra tables to seat the growing number of people as it began to exceed its official capacity of about 600, a 1943 report from the National Fire Protection Association stated. The dance floor teemed with couples and all of the chairs were claimed, witnesses said, as patrons weaved their way through thick crowds among artificial palm trees, leather walls, and ceilings covered in cloth.

Then, before many even saw the beginning sparks, the nightclub was engulfed in flames.

On November 28, 73 years ago, Cocoanut Grove nightclub caught fire in the worst nightclub tragedy in U.S. history, which killed 492 and injured 166 others. Theories on what started the fire range from faulty electrical wiring installed by an unlicensed electricican to a 16-year-old bus boy misusing a match.

Survivors and authorities have long disputed the source, but witnesses agree that the flames began in the Melody Lounge, a cocktail lounge in the club’s basement, and quickly spread through the building with the help of flammable decorations, cloth-covered ceilings, and cocoanut palms, according to the NFPA.

From Model T to Model 3: How Driving Changed Over a Century

The automotive landscape of any given year is truly a snapshot of the time period. Cars are excellent barometers of trends, styles and shifts in American culture. Curious about what cars were the big deal the year you were born? Read on.

The very first Ford Model T rolled off a very new automotive assembly line in 1908 and truly gave America its first affordable wheels. A decade later, only 1 and 13 families owned a car, but it&rsquos very likely that car was Ford&rsquos wildly successful Model T.

The 20 hp engine was modest with a top speed of around 45 mph. But speed mattered little to Model T buyers because the car was almost half of all cars sold in the U.S. The Model T got less expensive as it got older and continued to be a strong seller with 15 million finding homes until 1927 when the car was replaced by the Model A.

The Dodge Brothers, Horace and John, were a force in the early automotive industry, supplying engines for Oldsmobile and actually building complete cars for Ford. Their first car arrived in 1915 with a modest 35 hp four-cylinder engine. In 1919, the company introduced its first four-door enclosed steel roofed sedan. Sadly, both Dodge brothers died just one year later. And in 1928, the company was sold to the Chrysler Corporation.

Detroit Electric produced some of the earliest EVs and could travel about 80 miles between charges. One modified Detroit set a record, traveling 241 miles on a charge. These EVs only had a top speed of around 20 mph, so they were mainly used as dependable inner city transportation. Sales of the Detroit Electric would slide throughout the 1920s thanks to improved internal combustion engines. By the time the company finally ceased operations in 1939, it had produced around 13,000 EVs.

After spending its earliest years producing Lincoln aircraft engines for WWI, the company began automobile production. The very first Lincoln, the L Series, rode on a long 130-inch wheelbase and was powered by an 81 horsepower V8. Although this was a brand-new car company and a brand-new car, the design was dated as soon as it hit dealers and sales weren&rsquot strong. Just one year later, the company was in rough shape financially and was sold to Ford who turned it into a luxury car powerhouse, including this coupe designed by Brunn & Company in 1923.

In the 1920s, America was flirting with alternative fuels&mdashand steam was one of them. The Doble Steam Motors Corporation began production of their cars in 1922, but just 36 were built through 1931. One of them is owned by Jay Leno.

There&rsquos no need for a transmission thanks to the steam engine&rsquos incredible torque. Leno once wrote in PM, &ldquoOpen the hand throttle and acceleration from a dead stop is smooth and continuous. The Doble just continues to pull all the way. It only has about 150 hp, but the torque output is huge: 2200 lb-ft at the rear wheels.&rdquo

The new Lambda was a technical masterpiece for Lancia. Most notably, the Italian sports tourer pioneered the use of monocoque construction instead of the heavier body-on-frame designs that were the norm at the time. The Lambda was the first with this weight-saving engineering and decades ahead of other carmakers. The Lambda also broke new ground with its independent front suspension system, and was the first automaker to use a V4 engine. Lancia would use V4 engines in cars through the 1960s.

Oakland, part of the GM empire at the time, was one notch up from Chevy and was a strong seller. Oakland received updated bodywork for 1924 as well as some technical innovations like a new quick-drying paint from Dupont and four-wheel brakes&mdashvery rare at the time. Oakland&rsquos new six-cylinder was less &ldquoadvanced&rdquo than the one it replaced but offered greater reliability.

The first Pontiac was actually an Oakland model. And the strong sales of those earliest Pontiacs convinced GM it should become its own brand. That eventually led to Oakland ceasing production.

The Phantom replaced the legendary Rolls Royce 40/50 (Silver Ghost) which had been in service for almost 20 years and had a well-deserved reputation for luxury as well as reliability. The new Phantom was elegant, modern and had an improved 7.7-liter six-cylinder engine as well as disc brakes. A Springfield, Massachusetts factory had been building Rolls Royce cars since 1921 and produced the new Phantom. However British built Phantoms had unique equipment and options compared to their American counterparts.

Imperial models were the pinnacle of Chrysler&rsquos lineup and aimed to compete with luxury marques like Cadillac and Lincoln. The first Imperials were available as a roadster, sedan, a four-door convertible Phaeton and a limousine. They were powered by a 92 hp (very strong at the time) six-cylinder engine. Chrysler &ldquoguaranteed&rdquo these cars could cruise at a steady 80 mph&mdashhence the car&rsquos name. The Imperial 80 was selected to be the pace car for the 14th running of the Indy 500 in 1926. Imperial officially became its own brand from 1955-1975.

In the 1920s, General Motors attempted to woo price-sensitive car buyers with new marques that filled the space in-between the company&rsquos existing brands. LaSalle was born to attract customers looking for a more upscale car than Buick offered but one that was also less expensive than a Cadillac. LaSalles were downright gorgeous machines and the very first one was designed by Harley Earl who would go on to direct GM design for decades. LaSalles shared many parts and assemblies with Cadillac. So, in many ways these cars were more stylish Cadillacs at a less expensive price point. LaSalle lasted until 1940.

The elegant Duesenberg Model J was an exotic sports car and fashion statement all wrapped up in one. The standard eight-cylinder engine produced an astonishing 265 hp. But with the supercharger, optional on later cars, that number rose to a staggering 320 hp. A supercharged Duesy was quick.

The car&rsquos bodywork came from a variety of custom coachbuilders around the world, so no two were exactly alike. The most expensive ones touched $25,000 at the time and were so exquisitely crafted they drew movie stars and industry moguls as owners.

By the close of the decade, 4 out of 5 families now owned a car. And low-priced cars were the backbone of the auto industry. Chevy launched into this market the AC International with a new &ldquoStovebolt&rdquo six-cylinder engine upstaging Ford&rsquos four-cylinder models. The Stovebolt nickname came from the bolts on the inline-six&rsquos cylinder head that resembled those on a wood-burning stove and offered smoother, quieter operation than its four-cylinder rivals.

Still, Ford dominated sales in 1929 pushing the new Chevy slightly behind to the number 2 spot.

The 8 Litre was the last car designed by company founder W.O. Bentley and it was the final car launched before Bentley was purchased by Rolls-Royce. The 8 litre&rsquos massive 7.9-liter straight-six engine was a beast, delivering approximately 230 hp and a top speed of just over 100 mph in this luxurious grand tourer. In fact, Bentley promised every 8-Litre would hit 100 mph no matter what bodywork the car wore. At the time Bentley himself claimed the car was &ldquodead silent&rdquo at 100 mph.

Marmon&rsquos reputation for speed came from its 1911 win of the inaugural Indy 500 with the Wasp roadster. Throughout the teens and early 1920s, the aluminum-intensive Model 34 was the sports-tourer of choice for those that were attracted to style and performance.

But the pinnacle of speed and prestige came when the company built the Sixteen. The V16 engine was nearly 500 cubic-inches and delivered a solid 200 hp. It was as beautiful as it was expensive and by 1933 Marmon had only moved 400 of them. That year, the company produced its final cars.

This is the car that started Americans down the path to hot rodding, land speed racing and drag racing. The &ldquoDeuce&rdquo had an immeasurable impact on car culture. What made it so popular? The little Ford not only had handsome lines and a cheap pricetag but had an optional flathead V8, which made them quicker than the competition. And that encouraged backyard mechanics to tinker, modify and race these cars. Even today, 1932 Fords are the mainstay at any hot rod meet.

In the early 1930s, production cars were beginning to wear sheetmetal influenced by aerodynamics. The Silver Arrow&rsquos fully enclosed fenders and streamlined bodywork looked like the future. The big V12 engines packed 160 hp and could take the slippery Silver Arrow to a top speed north of 115 mph. Only a handful of these $10,000 machines were ever built. Considering the country was ravaged by the Great Depression&mdashit&rsquos no surprise why.

Most of the country&rsquos automotive production took a dive during the Great Depression. But Chrysler not only saw an uptick in 1933 but was ready to unveil its radical and inspiring Airflow. The Airlflow&rsquos design was not only shaped by the wind tunnel but it showed the way cars would look in the decade to come.

The Airflow wasn&rsquot a hit with the public, many buyers at the time preferred a more traditional look.

Today&rsquos SUV and crossover craze owes its very existence to the Suburban. Plus, this Chevy is the oldest continuously produced automotive nameplate in America. The original 8-passenger enclosed wagon was built upon a light truck chassis as it is today. However, the first ones only had two doors and a tailgate. The 90 hp six-cylinder engine certainly didn&rsquot have an easy time moving the heft but that didn&rsquot hamper the Suburban&rsquos capability. And through eleven different bodystyles the &lsquoBurban thrived for the next 83 years.

It&rsquos easy to see why the Type 57 Atlantic always occupies a top spot on every &ldquoWorld&rsquos Most Beautiful Cars&rdquo list. It&rsquos a stunner and worth north of $40 million. Only four of them were ever built, so it&rsquos unlikely your great grandparents ever saw one of these cruising through town. The aluminum-bodied car was light and fast, thanks to its 210 hp supercharged straight-eight. Many consider this Bugatti to be the very first &ldquosupercar&rdquo.

The front-drive Cord 810/812s were innovative high-performance cars in their day. When equipped with the optional Lycoming supercharger, the Cord boasted 170 hp (although some say that number is closer to 195 hp) and went on to set a 24-hour speed record of 80 mph at Indy. Even today, the Cord&rsquos sleek bodywork with covered headlamps look like nothing else on the road. Sadly, this gorgeous car was only produced from 1936 to 1937, when Cord went out of business.

Cadillac led the world with a V16 engine in 1930, and the engine and car itself received thorough redesign in 1938. Horsepower rose to a very healthy 185. These massive cars hit the scales with an SUV-like 5,700 pounds but were still some of the quickest of their time. The big sixteen cylinder engines were known for their smoothness as was the ride of the Cadillac&rsquo chassis.

Sadly &ldquosixteen&rdquo production ended in 1940 as did the La Salle sub-brand. From that point until the 1980s, all Cadillacs used V8s.

This second generation of Packard&rsquos mid-range luxury car line, named &ldquo120&rdquo after it&rsquos wheelbase, was redesigned for 1939 but lost none of the original&rsquos rugged reliability. Packard&rsquos 120 hp straight-eight provided solid performance, especially with the new &ldquoEcono-drive&rdquo, a primitive electronic overdrive supplied by Borg Warner. The transmission shifter itself was moved to the steering column, freeing up floorspace. Engineers also used a &ldquofifth&rdquo shock absorber mounted in the center of the chassis to damp out unruly road conditions.

The Graham &ldquoSharknose&rdquo models were in their final year by 1940 but still looked radical. The forward cant of the car&rsquos frontend made them appear fast and aggressive, even while parked. The plain-vanilla models had 90 hp but supercharged six-cylinder cars offered 120 hp. The car&rsquos original and avant-garde design didn&rsquot resonate with mainstream buyers. So, it was replaced for a more traditional (boring) style. Today, these are rare cars&mdasheven at the biggest collector car shows.

Though the captivating Century already had a reputation as a stylish performance car, the Buick gained more power for 1941. The Fireball straight eight-cylinder engine made 165 hp thanks to &ldquocompound carburetion&rdquo (dual carbs), and that meant this Buick was one of America&rsquos most powerful cars. It could top out at over 100 mph and cruise comfortably at 80 mph, which was certainly impressive for the time. The Century helped establish Buick as a performance brand for GM.

The 1942 model was the Continental&rsquos last year before automakers halted production to supply parts and vehicles for WWII. But this Lincoln was one of the few that year that saw some minor design revisions, including redesigned frontend sheetmetal. Under the hood, Lincolns big 292 cid, 130 hp V12 remained. It&rsquos estimated that just 136 of these beautiful Continentals were built in 1942.

Since the world was at war, global new vehicle production for civilians was paused. And certainly, the most significant new vehicle to come out of this period was built for the U.S. military&mdash the Willys MB. Of course, the &ldquoJeep&rdquo was central to the success of the allied war effort. But post war, 1945 Willys production shifted to the civilian CJ2A which became popular with farmers and ranchers. The first CJ models retailed for just over $1,000 and of course went on to become the granddaddy of all 4x4s and the genesis for the Jeep brand we know today.

Before the nameplate was synonymous with 1980s minivans, Town and Country meant &ldquowoodie&rdquo. The Town and Country was a steel-roofed station wagon prior to WWII with real wood siding and a third row of seats. But when the Town and Country returned for &rsquo46, it was launched as a stylish convertible using white ash wood and mahogany. In 1947, some of that wood trim was replaced with a faux material. The last woodies of this era hit the road in 1950.

The Chevrolet Fleetmaster didn&rsquot change for the 1947 model year and this mainsteam sedan carried styling that really echoed the late 1930s. But the country just didn&rsquot care that it looked old. Car buyers were eager for new cars and surprisingly, this Chevy was America&rsquos best-selling car for 1947. General motors moved a whopping 684,145 of them.

The revolutionary Tucker Torpedo was short-lived (just one year and only 51 cars produced) but it was packed with promise and innovation. The car had an aero bodyshell, a rear-mounted flat six-cylinder engine and a four-wheel independent suspension. The Tucker was brimming with safety tech too: a third headlight pivoted when you turned, disc brakes were standard and almost unheard of at that time, a padded dash as well as a pop-out windshield were there to protect occupants&rsquo heads during a collision. Today these rare Tuckers can sell for upwards of $3 million.

Few cars were embraced more strongly into custom car culture than the 1949 Merc. The streamlined sedan was a radical break from the previous year&rsquos model, which still had pronounced fenders and a large, peaked hood. The smooth new Merc had an upsized Flathead V8 and that helped it triple the sales of the old model. This Merc is still popular for the hot rodders that modify them today.

A Brief History of Colchester in Essex

The town of Colchester in Essex lies on the river Colne and has been a place of settlement since the late Iron Age. By the first century BC it had become the tribal capital of the Trinovantian kingdom, and was soon presided over by their powerful ruler, Cunobelin, who was king of both the Trinovantes and Catuvellauni tribes.

When the Roman army invaded the country in AD 43, their objective was the capture of Colchester or Camulodunum as it was then known. The Emperor Claudius arrived to personally take possession of Colchester where he received the formal surrender of several British kings. The town became the first capital of the new Roman province and archaeological evidence of the Roman occupation continues to be unearthed today.

Colchester fell into decline following the abandonment of Britain by the Romans in AD 410 but had begun to grow in importance again by the late Saxon period. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, Colchester witnessed considerable growth. Owing to its strategic importance on the route from East Anglia to London, William the Conqueror ordered the building of a stone castle at Colchester, which was built on the site of the earlier Roman Temple of Claudius.

Colchester prospered from the opportunity to market agricultural produce from the rich farming lands that surrounded the town. The town port at the Hythe also enabled Colchester to conduct coastal and overseas trade. However, by the late 12th century, the town began to specialise in textiles and the arrival of Dutch refugee weavers in the late 16th century helped to continue the manufacture of cloth into the mid-18th century. Another ancient industry was the oyster fishery, which was the property of the freemen of the Borough who carefully guarded the fishing rights.

Colchester suffered several setbacks in the 17th century. Firstly, the town was ravaged by the devastating effects of the Siege of Colchester in 1648 when the Parliamentarian army laid siege to the town after the Royalist forces had entered it. The town was slowly starved over a period of 76 days and when it capitulated, the Royalist commanders were captured and later executed outside the Castle. Then twenty years later, the Black Death appeared in Colchester, leaving more than a quarter of the population dead. Nevertheless, the town quickly recovered and continued to rely on agriculture and the cloth trade for its prosperity.

The town had traditionally served as a gathering point for troops en route to the Continent and the numbers of troops arriving in Colchester during the French Revolutionary Wars led to the establishment of the first permanent barracks in the town in 1794. This created new demands on the town’s services but it was not until later in the 19th century that its traditional reliance on agriculture began to give way to the arrival of new engineering industries. These contributed to a building boom at the end of the 19th century with new housing being provided for the influx of workers. The architecture of Colchester, therefore, reflects its varied historical past with Roman, Saxon and Medieval remains being evident alongside timber-framed buildings, Georgian townhouses, Victorian civic buildings and modern amenities.

By 1939, Colchester had become a large garrison town and its leading industries were engineering (Diesel engines being a speciality), clothing manufacture and rose growing. The population numbered approximately 52,000. The outbreak of war in September 1939, however, posed immediate threats to the town and its inhabitants. Colchester was vulnerable to air attack, owing to the vital role of its engineering industries in the war effort and due to its military importance as a garrison town. The town was also on the flight path for enemy bombers on their journeys to and from London and this often led to stray or unused bombs being jettisoned onto the fields surrounding the town. Finally, Colchester’s proximity to the east coast made it a likely target for invasion. The town was ringed by over 120 pillboxes and other defensive structures which formed part of the Colchester stop-line set up to repel enemy invaders. Therefore, as Eric Rudsdale began to record the events of the Second World War in his journal, he would have been well aware of the threats that this new conflict posed to his home town and to its long history.

For more information on the history of Colchester visit British History On-Line.
Maps of Colchester can be found on the Colchester Museums website.

Johnstown Genealogy (in Cambria County, PA)

NOTE: Additional records that apply to Johnstown are also found through the Cambria County and Pennsylvania pages.

Johnstown Birth Records

Johnstown Cemetery Records

Benshoff Hill Cemetery Billion Graves

Grandview Cemetery Billion Graves

Richland Cemetery Billion Graves

Saint Anthony Cemetery Billion Graves

Saint Casmir Cemetery Billion Graves

Saint John Gualbert Roman Catholic Cemetery Billion Graves

Saint Rochus Cemetery Billion Graves

Saint Theresa Cemetery Billion Graves

St. Rochus Cemetery Billion Graves

Johnstown Census Records

Cambria County Federal Census Borough of Johnstown 1840 US Gen Web Archives

Cambria County Federal Census Johnstown Extended & Clearfield Township 1840 US Gen Web Archives

United States Federal Census, 1790-1940 Family Search

Johnstown Church Records

Johnstown City Directories

White pages and Yellow Pages, Johnstown, October 1935 through October 1943 Library of Congress

White pages and Yellow Pages, Johnstown, October 1944 through Fall 1951 Library of Congress

White pages and Yellow Pages, Johnstown, October 1952 through October 1956 Library of Congress

White pages and Yellow Pages, Johnstown, October 1957 through November 1961 Library of Congress

Johnstown Death Records

Johnstown Histories and Genealogies

History of the Johnstown flood : with full accounts also of the destruction on the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers, and the Bald Eagle Creek Genealogy Gophers

The story of Johnstown : its early settlement, rise and progress, industrial growth, and appalling flood on May 31st, 1889 Genealogy Gophers

Johnstown Immigration Records

Johnstown Land Records

Johnstown Map Records

Bird's-eye view map of the Conemaugh Valley from Nineveh to the lake, Johnstown, Pa. : from personal sketches and surveys of the Pennsylvania R.R. by permission, 1889 Library of Congress

Map of Southwestern Pennsylvania heritage route guide, Altoona-Johnstown : discover industry's legacy, 1992 Library of Congress

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1895 Library of Congress

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, August 1891 Library of Congress

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, February 1886 Library of Congress

Johnstown Marriage Records

Johnstown Military Records

Johnstown Newspapers and Obituaries

Democratic Sentinel 09/13/1844 to 10/04/1844 Genealogy Bank

Johnstown Democrat 07/05/1889 to 06/27/1890 Genealogy Bank

Johnstown Somerest the Tribune Democrat 2000-2001, 2003, 2006-2008 Newspaper Archive at FindMyPast

Johnstown Weekly Democrat 1889-1890 Newspapers.com

Johnstown weekly Democrat. (Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa.) (from July 5, 1889 to June 27, 1890) Chronicling America

Johnstown weekly Democrat. 1889-07-05 to 1890-06-27 Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive

Tribune Democrat 1998-2014 Newspaper Archive at FindMyPast

Offline Newspapers for Johnstown

According to the US Newspaper Directory, the following newspapers were printed, so there may be paper or microfilm copies available. For more information on how to locate offline newspapers, see our article on Locating Offline Newspapers.

Allegheny Mountain Echo, and Johnstown Commercial Advertiser and Intelligencer. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1853-1861

Cambria Gazette. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1841-1853

Cambria Transcript. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1848-1849

Cambria Tribune. (Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa.) 1853-1864

Daily Mountain Voice. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1872-1874

Democratic Courier, and Tariff Advocate. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1846-1847

Johnstown Daily Democrat. (Johnstown, Cambria Co., Pa.) 1888-1894

Johnstown Daily Tribune. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1875-1891

Johnstown Democrat, and Cambria and Somerset Advertiser. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1835-1836

Johnstown Democrat. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1863-1889

Johnstown Democrat. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1894-1952

Johnstown Herald. (Johnstown [Pa.) 1827-1834

Johnstown News. (Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa.) 1848-1852

Johnstown Tribune. (Johnstown [Pa.]) 1873-1875

Johnstown Tribune. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1864-1875

Johnstown Tribune. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1891-1917

Johnstown Tribune. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1891-1952

Johnstown Weekly Democrat. (Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa.) 1889-1916

Johnstown Weekly Tribune. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1875-1891

Mountain Echo, Johnstown Commercial Advertiser and Intelligencer. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1852-1853

Mountain Echo, and Cambria Transcript. (Johnstown [Pa.]) 1849-1850

Mountain Echo. (Johnstown [Pa.]) 1851-1852

Mountain Echo. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1870-1873

Observer. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1942-1956

Sky. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1836-1838

Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.) 1952-Current

Voice and Echo. (Johnstown, Pa.) 1875-1878

Johnstown Probate Records

Johnstown School Records

Johnstown, PA High School 1930 Cheerleaders Old Yearbooks

Johnstown, PA High School 1930-31 Faculty and Staff Old Yearbooks

Johnstown, PA High School 1932-33 Faculty and Staff Photo Old Yearbooks

Johnstown, PA High School Alumni Notes 1914-1924 Old Yearbooks

Johnstown, PA High School Alumni Notes 1915-1920 Old Yearbooks

Johnstown, PA High School Class of 1923 Old Yearbooks

Johnstown, PA Southmont High School Class of 1927 Old Yearbooks

Johnstown, PA Southmont High School Class of 1941 Photo Old Yearbooks

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