On this day in history….25th September 1983

On this day in history : 25th September 1983 – In a mass break-out from the Maze high security prison, near to Lisburn, Northern Ireland, 38 prisoners manage to escape….

The breakout had been planned for several months and was masterminded by Dermot Finucane…. Using smuggled-in guns and knives at just after 2.30pm prisoners overpowered prison guards and then hijacked a delivery lorry which they used to get to the main gate…. A prison officer attempted to block the entrance using his own car – and then violence erupted…. An officer was stabbed and then proceeded to suffer a fatal heart attack as a result….

Once outside the prison the escapees hijacked several cars to make their getaway…. The biggest search operation ever seen in Northern Ireland was launched…. Police and soldiers set up checkpoints on all roads within a five mile radius of the prison and the area was sealed off….

Ten prisoners were recaptured in the first few hours – nineteen more within the next few days…. The rest got away but by 1992 five more had been caught, whilst three had been killed…. Twenty prison officers had been injured during the escape, four had been stabbed and two shot….

The closing of the Maze Prison was part of the Good Friday Agreement – the last inmates were transferred in September 2000….

H-block corridor – Image credit : Patrick McAleer CC BY-SA 2.5

On this day in history….24th September 1916

On this day in history : 24th September 1916 – A local policeman rounds up and takes into custody the crew of German Zeppelin LZ-76….which had been forced down near to Colchester, Essex….

Image credit : National Archive Netherlands

On the night of the 23rd a group of four Zeppelins of the Imperial German Army had succeeded in dropping 7,100lb of bombs on London and the surrounding counties…. For Zeppelin LZ-76 this was its first mission….

On the return journey its commander, Kaptain-Leutnant Alois Bocker, altered course to take the airship over Essex – only to be attacked by No. 39 Squadron of the Royal Air Force…. RAF pilot Alfred Brandon, flying a BE.2e fighter managed to hit the Zeppelin…. The airship dumped its guns and equipment in an attempt to gain height – but Bocker soon realised they would not make it across the North Sea – so landed in a field close to Little Wigborough, Essex…. Immediately the crew set about destroying the Zeppelin but only managed to partially burn the hull before being apprehended….

British engineers were able to examine the skeleton of the Zeppelin to later help with plans for British airships R33 and R34….

Zeppelin airships made around 51 bombing raids on Britain, resulting in the deaths of some 557 people and injuring a further 1,358…. Over 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain…. Out of Germany’s 84 Zeppelins 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents….

The Lewis family, photographed with the wreckage of the Zeppelin behind – Image credit : National Archive Netherlands

On this day in history….23rd September 1976

On this day in history : 23rd September 1976 – Eight men are killed in a blaze onboard HMS Glasgow whilst she is being fitted out at a shipyard near to Newcastle-upon-Tyne….

Image : US Navy – Public domain

HMS Glasgow had been launched on the 14th of April 1976 by Lady Kirstie Treacher, the wife of Admiral Sir John Treacher…. The £23m Type 42 destroyer was being worked on at Swan Hunter’s Neptune yard and was soon due to be starting sea trials….

Survivors of the blaze reported hearing an explosion and a fire rapidly took hold, spreading to three decks of the 3,500 ton destroyer…. Over 500 men were working onboard, the smoke was so thick it was impossible to see – there was only one gangplank on and off the ship…. It took 70 firemen two hours to bring the fire under control; eight shipyard workers were killed and six others were injured….

An investigation confirmed that the fire had been started by a welder’s torch when oxygen ignited that had been leaking from a supply line all night…. The blame was put on Swan Hunter Shipbuilders for not ensuring the oxygen pipes had been turned off the previous evening…. The report also recommended escape routes from ships under construction be reviewed….

HMS Glasgow was commissioned into the Royal Navy on the 25th of May 1977 and saw active service in the Falklands War…. She was de-commissioned on the 1st of February 2005 – and on the 7th of January 2009 began her final journey as she was towed from Portsmouth bound for Turkey, to be broken up….

HMS Glasgow being towed to the breakers – Image credit : Brian Burnell CC BY-SA 3.0

On this day in history….22nd September 1999

On this day in history : 22nd September 1999 – A two-minute “SCREAM!” is held at a pub in Ashburton, Devon by Lord Sutch’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party ~ to honour his memory….

Image credit : Joe Mabel CC BY-SA 3.0

Born in 1940 David Edward Sutch had no known connection to nobility but changed his name to Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow on account of his musical career…. His band, becoming known as ‘Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages’, were influenced by American singer-songwriter Screamin’ Jay Hawkins…. In 1968 Sutch officially changed his name by deed poll….

Lord Sutch began his political career in the 1960s, as a representative of the National Teenage Party…. His first parliamentary election was in 1963 when he contested the Stratford-upon-Avon by-election after the resignation of John Profumo…. He received 208 votes….

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party was formed on the 16th of June 1982 at the Golden Lion public house in Ashburton, Devon – which then became its headquarters…. The first time the party stood under this name was in 1983, in Finchley – against Margaret Thatcher…. Lord Sutch and his party contested more than 40 by-elections…. His most successful was at Rotherham in 1994 with 1,114 votes….4.2% of the share….

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Lord Sutch carried on making his music – using the money from concerts to fund his political campaigns….with the Party renowned for its bizarre policies making a deliberate satire of British politics…. Lord Sutch was instantly recognisable in his wacky, flamboyant attire – usually sporting a top hat…. He often appeared on television – and was even in the first episode of the popular ITV comedy ‘The New Statesman’, as himself…. The advertising industry liked him; Heineken had him appear as ‘PM’ outside No.10 Downing Street in one of their advertisements – and in 1999 he appeared in a Coco Pops ad….

On the 16th of June 1999 Lord Sutch was discovered dead by his fiancée at his home in Harrow, north-west London; he had hanged himself…. He had a history of manic depression…. He was to be sadly missed in the political world which he so extrovertly livened up…. A two-minute “SCREAM!” was an appropriate memorial…. The Golden Lion at Ashburton is, incidentally, no more – it has since been converted into flats….

On this day in history….21st September 1979

On this day in history : 21st September 1979 – An RAF Harrier crashes onto houses in the Cambridgeshire town of Wisbech; two men and a young boy are killed….

Image credit : Andrew P Clarke CC BY-SA 4.0

It was 9.55am, on a Friday morning…. Two Harrier jump jets from a nearby Air Force base at Wittering were on a training exercise when they collided by clipping wings at around 8,000ft…. Both pilots managed to eject safely; one plane broke up and fell into a field…. However, the other plummeted towards Wisbech and landed on two houses and a bungalow in Ramnoth Road, narrowly missing two schools and a college…. The impact left a crater 15ft wide and 50ft deep….

Several people were injured, including a mother and her baby…. The two dead men were Bill Trumpess, a former Mayor of Wisbech and Bob Bowers – along with his two-year-old son, Jonathan….

As a result of the crash the RAF raised the minimum training height from 5,000ft to 8,000ft…. The incident at Wisbech had been the third Harrier jump jet crash of that year….