Fact of the day: 26th July

On this day in 1945 The Potsdam Declaration was signed in Potsdam, Germany.

The Potsdam Declaration or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender is a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II.

On July 26, 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the document, which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference.

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This ultimatum stated that, if Japan did not surrender, it would face “prompt and utter destruction.”

The Declaration was released to the press in Potsdam on the evening of July 26 and simultaneously transmitted to the Office of War Information in Washington. By 5 p.m. Washington time, OWI’s West Coast transmitters, aimed at the Japanese home islands, were broadcasting the text in English, and two hours later began broadcasting it in Japanese.

The Declaration was never transmitted to the Japanese government through diplomatic channels. The Japanese government did not disclose the declaration to the Japanese people. However, the ultimatum was heard by some who listened to the OWI broadcasts, and leaflets describing it were dropped from American bombers.

Although picking up leaflets and listening to foreign radio broadcasts had been banned by the government, the American propaganda efforts were successful in making the key points of the declaration known to most Japanese.

After the successful atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, President Truman in a widely broadcast speech, picked up by Japanese news agencies, warned that if Japan failed to accept the terms of the declaration, it could “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

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As a result, Prime Minister Suzuki felt compelled to meet the Japanese press, to whom he reiterated his government’s commitment to ignore the Allies’ demands and fight on.

The extent of the Allies’ demands brought home to the Japanese leaders and people the extent of the success Japan’s enemies had achieved in the war.

Fact of the day: 25th July

On this day in 1603 James VI of Scotland was crowned king of England (James I of England), bringing the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland into personal union. Political union would occur in 1707.

As Elizabeth I was the last of Henry VIII’s descendants, James was seen as the most likely heir to the English throne through his great-grandmother Margaret Tudor, who was Henry VIII’s oldest sister.

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From 1601, in the last years of Elizabeth I’s life, certain English politicians, notably her chief minister Sir Robert Cecil, maintained a secret correspondence with James to prepare in advance for a smooth succession.

In March 1603, with the Queen clearly dying, Cecil sent James a draft proclamation of his accession to the English throne. Elizabeth died in the early hours of 24 March, and James was proclaimed king in London later the same day.

On 5 April, James left Edinburgh for London, promising to return every three years (a promise he did not keep), and progressed slowly southwards

. Local lords received him with lavish hospitality along the route and James was amazed by the wealth of his new land and subjects.

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James said he was ‘swapping a stony couch for a deep feather bed’. At Cecil’s house, Theobalds, Hertfordshire, James was so in awe, he bought it there and then, arriving in the capital after Elizabeth’s funeral.

His new subjects flocked to see him, relieved that the succession had triggered neither unrest nor invasion.

When he entered London on 7 May, he was mobbed by a crowd of spectators.

His English coronation took place on 25 July, with elaborate allegories provided by dramatic poets such as Thomas Dekker and Ben Jonson.

Even though an outbreak of plague restricted festivities, “the streets seemed paved with men,” wrote Dekker. “Stalls instead of rich wares were set out with children, open casements filled up with women”.

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The kingdom to which James succeeded was, however, not without its problems.

Monopolies and taxation had engendered a widespread sense of grievance, and the costs of war in Ireland had become a heavy burden on the government.

By the time of his succession, England had incurred a debt of £400,000.

Fact of the day: 24th July

On this day in 1411 Battle of Harlaw, one of the bloodiest battles in Scotland took place.

The Battle of Harlaw was a Scottish clan battle fought on 24 July 1411 just north of Inverurie in Aberdeenshire.

It was one of a series of battles fought during the Middle Ages between the barons of northeast Scotland against those from the west coast.

The battle was fought to resolve competing claims to the Earldom of Ross, a large region of northern Scotland.

Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, had taken control of the earldom as guardian of his niece Euphemia Leslie.

This claim was contested by Donald, Lord of the Isles, who had married Euphemia’s aunt Mariota. Donald invaded Ross with the intention of seizing the earldom by force.

The ferocity of the battle gave it the nickname “Red Harlaw.”

It is commemorated by a 40-foot (12 m) high memorial on the battlefield near the town of Inverurie, supposedly by the church at Chapel of Garioch, and by ballads and music.

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Fact of the day: 23rd July

On this day in 1942 the Treblinka extermination camp was opened.

Treblinka was an extermination camp built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II.

It was located near the village of Treblinka in the modern-day Masovian Voivodeship north-east of Warsaw.

The camp operated officially between 23 July 1942 and 19 October 1943 as part of Operation Reinhard, the most deadly phase of the Final Solution.

During this time, it is estimated that somewhere between 800,000 and 1,200,000 Jews died in its gas chambers, along with 2,000 Romani people.

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Managed by the German SS and the Eastern European Trawnikis, the camp consisted of two separate units: Treblinka I and the Treblinka II extermination camp (Vernichtungslager).

The first was a forced-labour camp whose prisoners worked in the gravel pit or irrigation area and in the forest, where they cut wood to fuel the crematoria.

Between 1941 and 1944, more than half of its 20,000 inmates died from summary executions, hunger, disease and mistreatment.

The second camp, Treblinka II, was designed purely for extermination. A small number of men who were not killed immediately upon arrival became its Jewish slave-labour units called Sonderkommandos, forced to bury the victims’ bodies in mass graves.

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These bodies were exhumed in 1943 and then cremated on massive open-air pyres along with the bodies of new victims.

Gassing operations at Treblinka II ended in October 1943 following a revolt by the Sonderkommandos in early August.

Several ethnic German SS guards were killed and some 200 prisoners managed to cross to the other side of the fence, although fewer than a hundred survived the subsequent chase.

The camp was dismantled ahead of the Soviet advance. A farmhouse for a watchman was built on the site in an attempt to hide the evidence of genocide.

Fact of the day: 22nd July

On this day in Joan of England, Queen of Scotland (d. 1238) was born.

Joan of England was Queen consort of Scotland from 1221 until her death.

She was the third child of John, King of England and Isabella of Angoulême.

Joan was brought up in the court of Hugh X of Lusignan who was promised to her in marriage from an early age, as compensation for him being jilted by her mother Isabella, however on the death of John of England, Isabella decided she should marry him herself and Joan was sent back to England, where negotiations for her hand with Alexander II of Scotland were taking place.

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She and Alexander married on 21 June 1221, at York Minster. Alexander was twenty-three. Joan was ten, almost eleven.

They had no children. Joan died in her brother’s arms at Havering-atte-Bower in 1238, and was buried at Tarrant Crawford Abbey in Dorset.

Nothing now remains of this church; the last mention of it is before the Reformation. It is said that she is now buried in a golden coffin in the graveyard.

Fact of the day: 20th July

On this day in 1189 Richard I of England was officially invested as Duke of Normandy.

Duke of Normandy was the title given to the rulers of the Duchy of Normandy in northern France, a fief created in AD 911 by King Charles III “the Simple” of France for Rollo, a Scandinavian nobleman and leader of Northmen.

In 1066 the reigning duke, William the Bastard, conquered England, whereupon he became known as King William I “the Conqueror” of England.

From then on, the duke of Normandy and the king of England were usually the same man, until the king of France seized Normandy from King John in 1204.

John’s son Henry III renounced the ducal claim in the Treaty of Paris (1259).

Thereafter, the duchy formed an integral part of the French royal demesne.

The Valois Kings of France started a tradition of granting the title to their heirs apparent, until this was supplanted by the title Dauphin.

The title was granted four times between the French conquest of Normandy by Philip Augustus and the dissolution of the French monarchy in 1792.

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It’s complicated…Only it isn’t.

Last weekend one of my best friend’s got married and it was beautiful. It was funny and, sweet, and just so her.

My partner didn’t come, which was noticed by everyone. I literally walked into the Church and straight away the groom asked me where he was. I told him it was complicated and not a wedding day story. I then proceeded to tell everyone this throughout the day.

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It was only on reflection, that I realised it wasn’t actually that complicated. My partner wasn’t there because he didn’t want to be. And that is pretty awful of him, but that’s his choice. I’ve had a few people try and give me their view on it. My best friend told me what an arse he is and so on. Another friend made the point that maybe Dale didn’t want to go because, he didn’t want to put pressure on me – we’ve been engaged for a while but not really getting anywhere.

I think their both right. It was a crappy thing to not go and he is an arse for it, but my other friend does have a point.

Now looking at that, what’s complicated about it? Nothing really.

Which got me to thinking. Nowadays, we tell everyone things are complicated. Even when their not. I do it because I don’t want to talk about it. Like in the above situation – plus I didn’t want to ruin the day.

But I do it at other times as well. I don’t like my job. And tell people it’s complicated, but it’s not. It’s actually quite simple. I don’t like what I do, but I can’t afford to quit and be unemployed for six weeks until my new job starts. See? Pretty simple. Pretty crappy too, but you get the jist.

And we all do it, all the time. We do it because we don’t want to talk to people. Or because we think it’s actually really complicated and we can’t get our heads around it. You know what I say to that? Take a step back and look at things from an outsider’s point of view. It’ll make all the difference.

I’ve not been very well recently and I’ve been letting things get to me, more so than normal. I’ve basically been questioning my entire life. I know I haven’t felt so low. Ever. And, to be honest, it’s not going to get better over night.

I’m hoping that once I start my new job, I might start to feel a bit better. But I’m also worried that I’ll start my new job and find out that the way I’m feeling goes deeper than that, you know?

But I have to try. We all do.

At least my friends can try and make me happy though.

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