Almanac – November 04

1839 – The Newport Rising: the last large-scale armed rebellion against authority in mainland Britain.Somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 Chartist sympathisers, including many coal-miners, most with home-made arms, led by John Frost, marched on the town of Newport, Monmouthshire, intent on liberating fellow Chartists who were reported to have been taken prisoner in the town’s Westgate Hotel.

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1918 – Wilfred Owen died. English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War. His shocking, realistic war poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare was heavily influenced by his friend Siegfried Sassoon and stood in stark contrast to both the public perception of war at the time, and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets such as Rupert Brooke. Among his best-known works – most of which were published posthumously – are “Dulce et Decorum Est”, “Insensibility”, “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, “Futility” and “Strange Meeting”.

Owen was killed in action on  during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant the day after his death. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day, as the church bells were ringing out in celebration.

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Dulce et Decorum Est
    
by Wilfred Owen    

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

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1951 – Cosey Fanni Tutti born. Best known as a performance artist and for her time in Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey. She also had a long career as a stripper and in the fields of pornographic film and magazines, stemming from a desire to incorporate her own image into collages she produced in this period.

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1973 – The Netherlands experienced the first Car Free Sunday caused by the 1973 oil crisis. Highways were deserted and are used only by cyclists and roller skaters.

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1994 – Fred “Sonic” Smith died. Best known as a member of the band MC5. Married to Patti Smith.

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