On This Day
1903 – The Women’s Social and Political Union was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst
The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was a women-only political movement and leading militant organisation campaigning for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom from 1903 to 1917. Known from 1906 as the suffragettes, its membership and policies were tightly controlled by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia (although Sylvia was eventually expelled).
The WSPU membership became known for civil disobedience and direct action. It heckled politicians, held demonstrations and marches, broke the law to force arrests, broke windows in prominent buildings, set fire to post boxes, committed night-time arson of unoccupied houses and churches, and—when imprisoned—went on hunger strike and endured force-feeding.
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Born On This Day
1920 – Gail Halvorsen, American air force pilot known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber.”
Colonel Gail Seymour “Hal” Halvorsen (born October 10, 1920) is a retired officer and command pilot in the United States Air Force. He is best known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” or “Uncle Wiggly Wings” and gained fame for dropping candy to German children during the Berlin airlift from 1948 to 1949.
Halvorsen grew up in rural Utah but always had a desire to fly. He earned his private pilot’s license in 1941 and then joined the Civil Air Patrol. He joined the United States Army Air Forces in 1942 and was assigned to Germany on July 10, 1948 to be a pilot for the Berlin Airlift. Halvorsen piloted C-47s and C-54s during the Berlin airlift (“Operation Vittles”). During that time he founded “Operation Little Vittles”, an effort to raise morale in Berlin by dropping candy via miniature parachute to the city’s residents. Halvorsen began “Little Vittles” with no authorization from his superiors but over the next year became a national hero with support from all over the United States. Halvorsen’s operation dropped over 23 tons of candy to the residents of Berlin. He became known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber”, “Uncle Wiggly Wings”, and “The Chocolate Flier”.
Halvorsen has received numerous awards for his role in “Operation Little Vittles”, including the Congressional Gold Medal. However, “Little Vittles” was not the end of Halvorsen’s military and humanitarian career. Over the next 25 years Halvorsen advocated for and performed candy drops in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Japan, Guam, and Iraq. Halverson’s professional career included various notable positions. He helped to develop reusable manned aircraft at the Directorate of Space and Technology and served as commander of Berlin Tempelhof Airport. He retired in August 1974 after logging over 8,000 flying hours.
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