There are many who have risked their lives in war for the sake of freedom, but few have done what Ken Gatward did in 1942 – to put his neck on the line for the sake of a propaganda stunt.
Gatward was born in 1914 in Hornsey, London, the son of the local Chief Inspector of police. He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1937 and when war broke out in 1939 he joined No 53 Squadron specialising in low-level raids. Read more ›››
When America initiated the Manhattan Project it relied on the talents of many brilliant scientists who were often eccentric and some of them politically compromised, none more so that the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs.
Fuchs was born in Germany in 1911, the third of four children of Lutheran pastor Emil Fuchs. His father held strong left wing views as a member Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and heavily influenced the younger Fuchs‘ political views. Read more ›››
Of all the occupations one might choose to follow, perhaps the strangest is that of executioner. What is it that might set you on that career path? Perhaps too many games of hangman as a child.
But when you look at the characteristics of the people who have become the state’s executioners, what is striking is their otherwise everyday ordinariness and one such was John Ellis. Read more ›››
Eccentric and naive he might have been, but Lord Timothy Dexter was also shrewd enough to sell coal to Newcastle, bed warmers to the West Indies and Bibles to India and managed to become a successful author despite being semi-literate.
Dexter was born in Malden Massachusetts in 1747 to a family of farm labourers when America was still a British colony. He had little or no schooling and was working in the fields at the age of eight. Read more ›››
The early days of flying was an age for pioneers and none more so than Bessie Coleman who was both the first woman of African-American descent and the first of Native American descent to hold a pilot’s licence.
Coleman was born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, the daughter of sharecropper George Coleman, who was mostly Cherokee and part African-American, and his African-American wife Susan. Read more ›››
Alan Blumlein was one of the most prolific inventors of the twentieth century filing 128 patents for electronic and audio engineering, but one we have to thank him for is ‘binaural sound’ or what we today would call stereo.
Blumlein was born in London in 1903, the son a German-born naturalised Britsh subject of Jewish descent. Read more ›››
Mary Anderson was a remarkable woman. She was a real estate developer, cattle farmer and vineyard manager, but her real claim to fame is that she invented something we all rely on – the car windscreen wiper.
Anderson was born in 1866 in Alabama in the wake of the American Civil War. Her father died when she was four years old and she and her mother and sisters continued to live in Greene County on the proceeds of his estate. Read more ›››
On 21st May this year, Ringling Bros and Barnum Bailey said a final sad farewell after almost a century of The Greatest Show on Earth, bringing to an end many of the acts unique to the circus world.
And of those acts, perhaps the bravest is the human cannonball, but who was the first person to be shot into the air? Step forward Rosa Matilda Richter, better known as Zazel. Read more ›››