12 October 1940

12 October 1940

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12 October 1940

October 1940

> November


Hitler postpones Operation Sea Lion until April 1941. His attention is already moving to the invasion of Russia

The Negro Struggle

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 41, 12 October 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Jim Crow in the Galley

In this week&rsquos issue of the Pittsburgh Courier there is a letter from 15 colored men now serving on the U.S.S. Philadelphia , stationed at Pearl Harbor, in which they bitterly condemn the Jim Crow system in the Navy, and sound a warning to all Negro youth considering entering this branch of the service.

Consider how they must have been driven and aroused, before they would write and sign a letter of this kind &ndash when they are still in the Navy, and still under control of the southern officer caste who run the ship!

&ldquoOn enlisting, we are given the same mental and physical examination as the white sailors and given to believe that we have the privilege of choosing any branch of the service the Navy offers. This is not true.

&ldquoWith three months of training in making beds, shining shoes and serving officers completed, we are sent to various ships and stations of the Navy.

&ldquoThe white sailor, after completing his training period, is not only eligible for the branch of service he has chosen, but he is automatically advanced in rating and his pay is increased to $36 a month without even having to take an examination.

&ldquoIn our case, we have to be in the service a full year at $21 a month before we are eligible for advancement rating. It is also necessary for us to take a competitive examination. Even if we pass, it doesn&rsquot mean necessarily that we will be rated and have our pay increased to $36 a month.

&ldquoOn this ship, out of a crew of 750, there are 18 colored boys. ranging in ages from 18 to 25. They are fresh out of high school and some have a year or two of college education.

&ldquoTheir work is limited to waiting on table and making beds for the officers.

&ldquoIn the last nine months there have been nine mess attendants given solitary confinement on bread and water.

&ldquoFive of the nine were given brig time because of fighting and arguments with other enlisted men. From this you will probably think we are a pretty bad bunch. We are not.

&ldquoWith the treading on and kicking around we receive here (without being able to do anything about it), every last one of us becomes bitter enough to fight a member of our own family.

&ldquoWe, the mess attendants of the Philadelphia, are not merely stating these facts because of our own plight. In doing so, we sincerely hope to discourage any other colored boys from joining the Navy and make the same mistake we did.

&ldquoAll they would became is sea-going bell hops, chambermaids and dishwashers.

&ldquoWe take it upon ourselves to write this letter, regardless of any action the Naval authorities may take or whatever the consequences may be.

&ldquoWe only know that it could not possibly surpass the mental cruelty inflicted upon us on this ship.&rdquo

And the letter ends with their signatures.

The same bitter story is told in an anonymous article in the July issue of The Crisis , monthly magazine of the N.A.A.C.P., written by a colored man on a warship whose home station is Long Beach, California.

U.S. Government&rsquos Color Line

It points out that contrary to popular belief:

&ldquoNegroes cannot become petty officers or chief petty officers. The highest rank that can be obtained is officers&rsquo cook or steward, and even though a steward, one is still looked upon as a mess attendant.&rdquo

&ldquoAfter all, he is a mess attendant. Just a mess attendant. Or shall we say &lsquoofficer&rsquos boy&rsquo. His duties consist of serving officers&rsquo meals, cleaning officers&rsquo rooms, shining their shoes, checking their laundry, running errands for them, caring for their uniforms, etc.&rdquo

&ldquoThe white officer is usually the type to persecute. He can and does make your career difficult for you, because he knows that you cannot defend yourself.

&ldquoOur Negro sailors should he warned never to show a spark of intelligence if they want to spend four years in the navy. Everyone does his best to keep a smart Negro &lsquoin his place&rsquo. If one doesn&rsquot mind being insulted by his superiors, if he is the kind that wants to be the rag under the white man&rsquos feet, if he is willing to stand by while others make ratings, then he is the type the navy wants. He is the type that will make a success as a messman.

&ldquoMost Negroes find that four years in the navy is much too much for them. Proof of this fact is evident in the fact that only 1% re-enlist for another four years. This shows conclusively the attitude of the modern Negro toward white supremacy and bigotry.&rdquo

&ldquoI would like to offer one suggestion, as this situation deeply concerns every Negro in America. Let&rsquos not sit and talk, and wait for sympathy. The Navy department, and the government, can and will give you your equal rights when, and only when, you have fought and successfully demanded them.&rdquo

Fight against Jim Crow in the armed forces by demanding workers&rsquo control of military training and service!

Silent-film star Tom Mix dies in Arizona car wreck

On October 12, 1940, cowboy-movie star Tom Mix is killed when he loses control of his speeding Cord Phaeton convertible and rolls into a dry wash (now called the Tom Mix Wash) near Florence, Arizona. He was 60 years old. Today, visitors to the site of the accident can see a 2-foot–tall iron statue of a riderless horse and a somewhat awkwardly written plaque that reads: “In memory of Tom Mix whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterization and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the Old West in the minds of living men.”

The star was a genuine cowboy and swaggering hero of the Wild West: He was born in Texas fought in the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion and the Boer War and served as a sheriff in Kansas, a U.S. marshal in Oklahoma and a Texas Ranger. In fact, Mix was born in Driftwood, Pennsylvania deserted the Army in 1902 and was a drum major in the Oklahoma Territorial Cavalry band when he went off to Hollywood in 1909.

None of these inconvenient facts prevented Mix from becoming one of the greatest silent-film stars in history, however. Along with his famous horse Tony, Mix made 370 full-length Westerns. At the peak of his fame, he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, earning as much as $17,500 a week (about $218,000 today).  Unfortunately, Mix and Tony had a hard time making the transition to talking pictures. Some people say that the actor’s voice was so high-pitched that it undermined his macho cowboy image, but others argue that sound films simply had too much talking for Mix’s taste: He preferred wild action sequences to heartfelt conversation.

Today in World War II History—Oct. 12, 1940 & 1945

80 Years Ago—Oct. 12, 1940: In Africa, Free French troops under Gen. Charles de Gaulle invade Vichy French-held Gabon.

First use of radar in naval combat: off Malta in Battle of Cape Pessaro, British cruiser Ajax damages Italian destroyers Artigliere and Aviere, and sinks Italian torpedo boats Ariel and Airone.

Japan establishes the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, merging all political parties into a single totalitarian ruling party.

All Japanese are required to join neighborhood associations for social control and public assistance.

75 Years Ago—Oct. 12, 1945: PFC Desmond Doss, a medic, becomes the first conscientious objector in US history to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, for saving lives at great peril on Okinawa.

Columbus reaches the "New World"

After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island, believing he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempt to find a western ocean route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia.

WATCH: Columbus: The Lost Voyage on HISTORY Vault

Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. Little is known of his early life, but he worked as a seaman and then a maritime entrepreneur. He became obsessed with the possibility of pioneering a western sea route to Cathay (China), India, and the gold and spice islands of Asia. At the time, Europeans knew no direct sea route to southern Asia, and the route via Egypt and the Red Sea was closed to Europeans by the Ottoman Empire, as were many land routes. 

Contrary to popular legend, educated Europeans of Columbus’ day did believe that the world was round, as argued by St. Isidore in the seventh century. However, Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world’s size, calculating that East Asia must lie approximately where North America sits on the globe (they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed).

With only the Atlantic Ocean, he thought, lying between Europe and the riches of the East Indies, Columbus met with King John II of Portugal and tried to persuade him to back his 𠇎nterprise of the Indies,” as he called his plan. He was rebuffed and went to Spain, where he was also rejected at least twice by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. However, after the Spanish conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492, the Spanish monarchs, flush with victory, agreed to support his voyage.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pintaਊnd the Nina. On October 12, the expedition reached land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men. The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and “Indian” captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the 10th century.

During his lifetime, Columbus led a total of four expeditions to the "New World," exploring various Caribbean islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the South and Central American mainlands, but he never accomplished his original goal𠅊 western ocean route to the great cities of Asia. Columbus died in Spain in 1506 without realizing the great scope of what he did achieve: He had discovered for Europe the New World, whose riches over the next century would help make Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth.

Born This Day In History 12th October

Celebrating Birthdays Today
Bobby Charlton
Born: 12th October 1935, Modena, Italy
Died: 6th September 2007, Modena, Italy
Known For : Italian opera tenor and a member of "The Three Tenors" (Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti) who popularized Classical Music and have the best selling classical album of all time. With his success as a world wide popular artist he still performed in many operas which continued to be his first love in music.

Rick Parfitt
Born: 12th October 1948, Woking, Surrey, England
Known For : Member of the Hard rock group Status Quo who have a number of number 1 hits in the UK including "Rockin' All Over The World," "Pictures of Matchstick Men" and "Whatever You Want."

Today in World War II History—Oct. 12, 1940 & 1945

80 Years Ago—Oct. 12, 1940: In Africa, Free French troops under Gen. Charles de Gaulle invade Vichy French-held Gabon.

First use of radar in naval combat: off Malta in Battle of Cape Pessaro, British cruiser Ajax damages Italian destroyers Artigliere and Aviere, and sinks Italian torpedo boats Ariel and Airone.

Japan establishes the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, merging all political parties into a single totalitarian ruling party.

All Japanese are required to join neighborhood associations for social control and public assistance.

75 Years Ago—Oct. 12, 1945: PFC Desmond Doss, a medic, becomes the first conscientious objector in US history to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, for saving lives at great peril on Okinawa.

Born This Day In History 21st October

Celebrating Birthdays Today
Judith Sheindlin
Born: 21st October 1942 Brooklyn, New York
Known For : American supervising family court judge in Manhattan, New York for many years. In 1996 after retiring from the bench she has became famous for presiding over her own syndicated courtroom show. Judge Judy who had a reputation as one of the most outspoken family court judges in the country took her style to arbitrate over small claims cases in Judge Judy and is watched by millions of viewers and distributed by CBS Television Distribution.

Manfred Mann
Born: 21st October 1940 Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Known For : Founding member of Manfred Mann and Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The original Manfred Mann band had a number of number of chart topping hits in the UK which included "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," "Pretty Flamingo," "Ha! Ha! Said the Clown" from 1964 to 1967. In 1971 Manfred Mann formed the progressive rock band "Manfred Mann's Earth Band" which has had over 25 years of musical success with many top 20 selling albums in the US and the popular single "Blinded By The Light" in 1976.

Columbus Day


Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. On Oct. 12, 517 years later, banks are closed and there's no mail. And despite being a federal holiday, for most in the U.S. it's another day at the office.

Observed on the second Monday in October, the holiday celebrates the achievements of Christopher Columbus, a man who lived almost three centuries before the U.S. Federal Government even existed, much less created a holiday in his honor. But for such a loosely observed federal holiday, Columbus Day generates no small amount of controversy: the day, like the man himself, is reviled by critics who feel Columbus' arrival in the New World opened the doors to hundreds of years of exploitation and genocide. Is it really worth it? (Read "The Trouble with Columbus.")

Many Italian Americans in particular think so. Columbus Day has its roots in cultural pride, a celebration of the Italian explorer's "discovery" of the Americas when he landed on a Caribbean island in what's now the Bahamas on Oct. 12, 1492. The 300-year anniversary of Columbus' landing prompted the first recorded celebration of the achievement, in New York City in 1792. On the 400th anniversary, President Benjamin Harrison issued the first official proclamation urging Americans to celebrate the day. It led the Knights of Columbus, an organization with a largely Italian, Roman Catholic membership, to lobby heavily for states and the Federal Government to make Columbus Day official. Franklin Roosevelt created the first federal observance of Columbus Day in 1937 Richard Nixon established the modern holiday by presidential proclamation in 1972.

New York City continues to show Columbus Day pride — the city holds the largest parade for it in the country. But these public shows of support draw frequent protests from Native Americans, who make the point that Columbus discovered nothing — indigenous populations were living in the Americas long before European explorers made their first tentative trips across the Atlantic. And once here, Columbus wasn't exactly kind to his new neighbors. Indeed, on his very first day in the New World, Columbus took six natives as slaves. He'd go on to press thousands more into forced labor, killing dissenters. Even his own colonists didn't like him — complaints led him to be called back by his Spanish royal sponsors in 1500. (See pictures of Italians in America.)

All that casts a bit of a pall over celebrations of the man's achievements — a pall that has extended to the holiday itself. While Colorado became the first state to set aside a day in Columbus' honor, in 1907, in recent years Denver's parade has been disrupted by angry protesters. This year an unknown hoaxster notified the media (falsely) that this year's parade was canceled. But organizers are undeterred, telling the Wall Street Journal that "the parade will not be stopped."

And neither will Columbus Day itself, at least not anytime soon. While there have been some efforts to get its federal-holiday status revoked, many seem content to simply ignore the holiday entirely. The two exceptions are retailers, for whom Columbus Day is the first big sales opportunity after August's back-to-school rush, and those who have repurposed the holiday into something less problematic (South Dakotans, for example, celebrate Native Americans Day instead). But relax, weary workers. Thanksgiving's little more than a month away, and that, at least, is a federal holiday most of us can agree is worthy of a day off.

Top 12 All-Time Most Significant Fights

There are plenty of big battles in boxing history which all fight fans want to see, and then there are the monumental clashes that attract attention from all corners and even non-sports fans and have a lasting impact. Here are the twelve matches which transcended sports and fascinate us years and decades later, as much for their political and cultural context as for how they defined, or re-defined, their combatants.

12. June 20, 1980: Roberto Duran W15 Sugar Ray Leonard. The match which ushered in a new era in boxing, “The Four Kings,” and which showed that the Age of the Heavyweights was finally over. A true “superfight,” Leonard vs Duran became a huge attraction, not just for boxing, but for sports fans worldwide. Amazingly, it lived up to the hype with fifteen thrilling rounds, the performances of both fighters exceeding all expectations. The biggest closed-circuit broadcast in boxing history to that point, it also affirmed the now crucial importance of Latin America for the sport as Panama’s Duran, who spoke no English, became its first mainstream star.

Leonard and Duran gave us an all-time great showdown.

11. Sept. 7, 1892: James J. Corbett KO21 John L. Sullivan. The end of the bare-knuckle era and the beginning of modern boxing. Sullivan vs Corbett was a major event drawing widespread interest as it was Sullivan’s first fight in over four years. During that time no one had posed enough of a threat to draw him back to the ring as few could conceive of anyone defeating the mythical “Boston Strong Boy,” the champion being a true living legend. Corbett’s upset win marked a turning point for the sport as a more disciplined ring technique became preeminent.

10. Sept. 3, 1906: Joe Gans DQ42 Battling Nelson. One of the last “fight to the finish” contests and the longest gloved title match under Marquis of Queensbury rules. An historic bout which advanced boxing technique as early ring sophisticate Gans, the first black American to hold a world title, dominated Nelson before the Dane intentionally fouled out. George “Tex” Rickard brought the match to Goldfield, Nevada to help the money interests there promote their new boom town and it was the first of many blockbusters staged by the famous promoter. The match also marks a shameful chapter in how black competitors were treated at the time as Gans, who had outgrown the lightweight division, was forced to make weight literally minutes before the fight while wearing his boxing equipment.

Nelson and Gans fight to the finish.

9. Feb. 25, 1964: Cassius Clay RTD6 Sonny Liston. The contest which signaled a sea change not just for boxing, but for all professional sports, not to mention Amercian society. New champion Clay quickly became Muhammad Ali and nothing would ever be the same.

Cassius Clay shocks the world.

8. Sept. 22, 1927: Gene Tunney W10 Jack Dempsey. The second Dempsey vs Tunney fight and the famous “Battle of the Long Count” was the end of the Dempsey era and a climax to “The Roaring Twenties.” A learned man and a socialite, cool and calculating Tunney, in contrast to the rugged “Manassa Mauler,” reflected much that was changing in an increasingly industrialized America. The fight attracted a massive crowd of some 105 000 to Soldiers Field in Chicago and it became one of boxing’s most controversial and legendary bouts when Dempsey hesitated before going to a neutral corner after decking Tunney and the defending champion was on the canvas for fourteen seconds.

Dempsey hesitates before going to a neutral corner.

7. June 11, 1982: Larry Holmes TKO13 Gerry Cooney. The richest fight ever up to that point, this contest was made massive by its overtly racial (or should that be “racist”?) elements. Mainstream, white America thirsted for a new “Great White Hope” and the untested Cooney had the chance to become bigger than boxing. Prior to the bout, it was Cooney, not champion Holmes, on the cover of Time and Sports Illustrated and it was Cooney’s dressing room that had a direct phone line to the White House. But Holmes took his challenger to boxing school, putting to rest all dreams of a great white champion in a multi-cultural America.

Larry Holmes turns back the challenge of Gerry Cooney.

6. Dec. 26, 1908: Jack Johnson TKO14 Tommy Burns. A match whose outcome shocked and dismayed — and delighted — millions, as the irrepressible Jack Johnson — ever smiling, laughing and taunting white America — became the first black heavyweight champion of the world.

5. Oct. 30, 1974: Muhammad Ali KO8 George Foreman. The astonishing return of Muhammad Ali as heavyweight king. A great upset vindicating the man who had been reviled and banned from boxing, but who was now a hero to millions and a global superstar. The event itself further reflected wider political and cultural changes as two black men fought for boxing’s biggest prize in a newly independent African nation and as part of an event staged by boxing’s first black promoter.

4. June 22, 1938: Joe Louis KO1 Max Schmeling. It was Germany’s Max Schmeling who had inflicted Louis’ first defeat two years earlier and as the young heavyweight titlist himself put it, “I ain’t no champion ’till I beat Schmeling.” But in the interim, “The Black Uhlan of the Rhine” had been adopted by his home country’s Nazi regime as a national hero. Thus the backdrop for this match was nothing less than the fascist regime of Adolf Hitler and his resolute drive towards a new world war. “The Brown Bomber’s” vicious two minute annihilation of the now reviled German elevated him to the status of national hero and made him a living symbol of America’s growing confidence.

Louis blitzes Schmeling in Yankee Stadium.

3. July 2, 1921: Jack Dempsey KO4 Georges Carpentier. Boxing’s first million dollar gate and a massive event in every way. Worldwide interest attended this match, the results of which were next morning’s front page news. A classic good vs evil narrative — with brutish, slacker Dempsey the bad guy and World War I hero Carpentier the white knight — captured the imaginations of millions. A special stadium to accommodate a mob of ninety thousand promptly sold out and during the match thousands gathered in New York and Paris just to hear announcements of telegraphed updates.

Dempey, Carpentier and a throng of ninety thousand.

2. March 8, 1971: Joe Frazier W15 Muhammad Ali. Never before had two undefeated champions clashed for the undisputed world heavyweight title. Both boxers were in their primes and thus, strictly from a competitive standpoint, it was a dream fight and a huge attraction. But the political and cultural story-lines could not be ignored. The match’s build-up exposed and enflamed serious divisions in the American public over the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, and what was already an irresistible contest between two elite fighters became an event of colossal magnitude. Millions rooted for Ali to regain the title that had been unjustly taken from him, while at least as many yearned for his defeat. The most watched sporting event in history up to that point, the fifteen round battle which followed, amazingly, more than lived up to the hype.

Frazier floors Ali in round 15.

1. July 4, 1910: Jack Johnson TKO15 James J. Jeffries. Arguably no boxing match has ever held greater significance than the first so-called “Fight of the Century,” an ugly affair which drew the attention of millions not for sporting reasons, but because this contest was, first and foremost, about the supposed superiority of the white race. Jeffries initially had no interest in coming out of retirement to face Johnson but many viewed it as his social duty to put “The Galveston Giant” in his proper place. Eventually the former champion bowed to public pressure and the much anticipated clash took place in a specially built stadium where Jeffries, the expected victor, was completely dominated. To the deep dismay of the crowd, Johnson toyed with his opponent before the one-sided battering was finally stopped. The result led to race riots in virtually every major American city and the social repercussions were felt for decades.

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