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Almanac – February 22

1797 – The Last Invasion of Britain began,  near Fishguard, Wales,  by Revolutionary France during the War of the First Coalition. The brief campaign, which took place between 22 February and 24 February 1797, was the most recent effort by a foreign force that was able to land on British soil.

The invasion was the plan of General Lazare Hoche, who had devised a three-pronged attack on Britain in support of Irish Republicans under Wolfe Tone. Two forces would land in Britain as a diversionary effort, while the main body would land in Ireland. While poor weather and indiscipline halted two of the forces, the third, aimed at landing in Wales and marching on Bristol, went ahead.

The invasion force consisted of 1,400 troops from the La Legion Noire (The Black Legion) under the command of Irish American Colonel William Tate, 800 of whom were irregulars.

Upon landing discipline broke down amongst the irregulars, many of whom deserted to loot nearby settlements. The remaining troops were met by a quickly assembled group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor. After brief clashes with the local civilian population and Lord Cawdor’s forces on 23 February, Tate was forced into an unconditional surrender by 24 February.

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1900 – Luis Buñuel born. Spanish filmmaker . Often associated with the Surrealist movement of the 1920s, Buñuel created films in six decades, from the 1920s through the 1970s.

His work spans two continents, three languages, and nearly every film genre, including experimental film, documentary, melodrama, satire, musical, erotica, comedy, romance, costume dramas, fantasy, crime film, adventure, and western.

Despite this variety, filmmaker John Huston believed that, regardless of genre, a Buñuel film is so distinctive as to be instantly recognizable, or, as Ingmar Bergman put it, “Buñuel nearly always made Buñuel films.”

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1918 – Robert Wadlow born. The tallest person in history for whom there is irrefutable evidence.  He  reached 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m) in height and weighed 439 lb (199 kg) at his death at age 22.

His great size and his continued growth in adulthood were due to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. He showed no indication of an end to his growth even at the time of his death.

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1950 – Genesis Breyer P-Orridge born. English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, writer and performance artist.

In the latter capacity s/he was the founder of the COUM Transmissions artistic collective, which operated from 1969 through to 1975, while as a musician, P-Orridge fronted the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle, from 1975 through to 1981, and then the acid house band, Psychic TV, from 1981 through to 1999.

An occultist, s/he is also a founding member of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth.

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1987 – Andy Warhol died. American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist.

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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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